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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/506

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of secondary education is to lay broad, general, catholic foundations for the successful conduct of life. We should defeat ourselves by indulging in any specialty, however commendable in itself. What we are after is culture, and the power and perfection that come through culture. It is no new motive. On the contrary, it is a very old motive, as old as the birth of the human spirit itself. But it is still the motive underlying all that new movement in education of which manual training, sloyd, and the kindergarten form so prominent a part. I believe that not all the men and women taking part in the movement would agree to such a statement of motive. Some at least among them would assign more special and technical ends. I make the statement, however, quite unreservedly. What does distinguish the new movement is that in the choice of methods it differs somewhat radically from the older efforts. Be kind enough, then, at the outset to distinguish between motive and method, between ends and means.

In speaking about the present demands upon the school I do not think we hit the mark when we confine ourselves to the industrial demands, or the economic demands, or the social demands, or to any other one aspect of a very complex problem. Nor do I think we get any place when we propose to offer in satisfaction of these demands any one panacea. I would stand rather upon a broader platform, and ask your sympathy and consent to a much more catholic solution.

The problem of education is forever presenting this double interrogation point: What do you want? How are you going to get it? They are very definite questions, and it is easy enough to give equally definite answers so long as one confines one's self to general terms. We want culture, and the power and perfection that come through culture. We shall get it by surrounding the child with those influences that make for culture. But when we come to translate these general terms into something more specific, and, still more, when we come to translate our words into action, it is then that the difficulty comes; it is then that the educational sun goes under a cloud. Yet, as we love education, we must go on forever asking these questions, and we must go on forever trying to answer them. What we should pray for is clearness.

One of the most difficult branches in the modern school curriculum is apparently mathematics. We are prone to grade the children by their progress in this one branch. Yet it is not essentially difficult. If you will analyze it for a moment, mathematical study is but a study of the quantitative relations of life. It is consequently axiomatic. It needs for its mastery only clear statement. Higher and lower mathematics are equally easy of com-