Now turn to a more cosmic conception. For one moment let us isolate a man. Place him naked and alone in the midst of Nature, jn the open sunshine. Clothe him with health and beauty. Endow him with a clear mind, a warm heart, a keen love of perfection. Make him self-poised, resolute, independent. Then bring him into relation with his fellows. Have him share in all the wholesome activities of life. Let him taste of labor and joy. Let him be a son, a brother, a friend, a lover, a husband, a father, a citizen, a worker, an idler, a thinker, an artist. Let him feel. Let him philosophize. This is to taste life in its entirety. Great God, how few of us do it! How slight we are! How partial r And what a tragedy that, in the name of education, we should go on working for fragments instead of for the completed whole! And this figure of the complete man is the figure that modern education has in mind. An impossible figure, you may say. Yet less impossible the more you and I believe in it. Such a figure is not the ideal of the economists, with their extreme division of labor and their strong belief in the economic trinity of production, distribution, and consumption, but it is a figure which appeals to those men who, like myself, believe in what I may call the scientific humanism. As I see the matter, we want to turn boys toward this ideal of full living, to make them en rapport with the universe and with man, to bring them out of their smaller into their larger self, to change them from a less evolved into a more evolved existence. We want to create in them a discontent with partial, secondary, minor ends. We want to turn their faces toward the major end. To do this is to magnify the human spirit—that spirit in whose essential sanity I so profoundly believe. And so I define education as the unfolding and perfecting of the human spirit.
I do not know whether my readers agree to this answer of mine as to what we want to do. I hope that they do agree to it, for to believe less would seem to me to make out life meaner and cheaper than it is. This ideal is but a restatement of the old ideal of the earnest pagan world. To see things as they are is the mission of culture. To adjust one's life to this clear perception of things is to gain the power and perfection that come through culture. But our modern complex world has not taken this motive in its simplicity. It has modified it so that now it reads: To see some things as they are, and notably those things which have to do with material convenience and progress. This is not life in its entirety. It is life weak on the human, emotional, artistic side, life weak on the side that can least afford to be weak. We are waking up to this fact. We are waking up to a feeling that modern school life is rather juiceless. On many sides I see a hopeful discontent—a discontent which is to be the prologue to that intel-