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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/511

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THE AIM OF MODERN EDUCATION.

lectual and spiritual renaissance which I doubt not will grace the opening years of the coming century. This is what we want—this fullness of life. Shall we ever get it? My friends, that depends upon us—upon you and me, upon the earnestness and single-heartedness with which we want it. Assuredly we shall never get it if we continue to fix our gaze upon the partial, upon the fragment, and forget that there is such a thing as the greater whole. If you persist in saying. This is good, and That is good, and proceed to build up educational institutions for the pursuit of this and that, what you get will be simply what you pursue—this and that, and naught else. And the result of this pursuit, of this process of emphasizing one or two sides of life and ignoring many other sides of equal or even greater importance—the result is not beautiful, is not encouraging. In many cases the discipline of life at large would be more valuable. It is this feeling that makes me count myself fortunate to have gone to school but two years in all my life.

It would perhaps interest you just here to learn a bit of curious testimony in regard to the practical effect of this pursuit of the partial. It came in my own experience. Before I went to Europe to study I had charge of the science department in our older manual training school, and I noticed, or thought I noticed, that many of my brighter and more promising boys had, for some reason or other, been to school very little, less indeed than the average. The suspicion grew so strong that at last I decided to test it. I had each boy in a certain class write out his age, the number of years he had been in school, how old he was when he started, and whether the school had been public or private. There were some surprises. There were some boys who had been to school for eleven years, who had been through all the dismal grind of the primary, secondary, and grammar schools, and who were still bright and attractive. But the result of the whole scrutiny warranted the remarkable generalization that the brightness and desirability of the boys as pupils was inversely proportional to the number of years they had been at school. In a word, I could do more with the boys who had been least in school. Do you comprehend the full significance of this statement? I have never been able to forget it. It has made me critical of school processes and methods. It stands before me a silent specter. I cry aloud, Woe unto us if we are sending our children to school to their hurt!

Let us turn now to that second question. How shall we get what we want?

When I was quite a young man I went over to New York on a literary mission. My purpose was somewhat ill defined, but I think I had it in mind in a vague way that I could be very useful