Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/509

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

basal enough. It does not sufficiently address itself to the question of the sort of men and women we wish to produce. How to get culture will depend upon what you mean by culture. And this can not be stated once for all. It is a shifting ideal, growing as the spirit of man grows.

Perhaps we shall the sooner see our mark by first clearing the ground a little, and disclaiming some of the ends proposed for education. My own list of unadmitted ends is somewhat long. I do not, for example, set as the object for education a good citizen, a successful breadwinner, a wise father, an expert mechanic, an adroit versifier, a keen lawyer, an eloquent preacher, a skillful physician, a learned professor, a prosperous tradesman. Some of these ends may be good enough in themselves. I do not discuss the question. But they are not the proper end of education. And they are not, because they are secondary, minor, special ends. They are not the major ends in life, though they are often mistaken for such. We are pretty far from the mark when we mistake for education any training which has a partial and special end in view. To erect any one of these ends into the end, and declare it to be the goal of education, is to fall by the wayside, and deliberately to turn one's face away from the New Jerusalem of the Intellect.

The end in education should be the major end. It should be the very biggest thing in life, the most general and far-reaching good the mind can formulate. We cheat ourselves, we cheat the children, if we express the end in terms any less catholic than this. It may include good citizenship, wise parenthood, successful breadwinning, literary or technical skill, but it is not any one of these things. The greatest thing in life is lifeā€”life in its fullness and totality. It is this that education should set its face toward. Its end should be wholeness, integrity, and nothing less than this. It is false to its mission if it turn aside into any of the bypaths of convenience, of industry, or even of accomplishment and erudition. These are broad terms that I have been using and somewhat ambitious. But I can say no less than this and say what I mean. Education has to do with the whole of life, with man, and not with any one or any group of his petty activities. He must take an acceptable part in the life of effort, and to do this he must be prepared. There is a time when special technical training is advisable, when it is the proper usurper of the time; but this is quite secondary, a mere supplement to the main business of education. It is a deplorable intrusion if it ever take the place of education. There is a marked tendency in us all to get things out of perspective, to specialize, to confound magnitudes, and, of equal elements in a problem, to see one big and the other small. We are prone to mistake the means for the end.