Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/513

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
493
THE AIM OF MODERN EDUCATION.

end, we must set going adequate means. The machinery must be competent to do the work. Here it is that the older methods have been found wanting. They do not provide for life in its totality. The answer may well be made that they were never meant to. They attempted to deal only with one side of life—the intellectual. The other side, the emotional, bodily life, was left to the home. This division would not be amiss, if it were possible to so divide the child, and if both school and home were equipped, to do their share of the work and received each its due share of the child's time. But this is not the case, and, from the very nature of our being, can not be the case. The child is not divisible. It is a unit, a monistic child. The intellectual life depends for its material upon the bodily sensations, and for its motive and coloring upon the emotions. Separate these, and the result is a crippling of the whole process of education. Separate them very far, and the result is fatal. The emotions are the inner springs of action, and upon the healthy life of the emotions depend the joy and fullness of action. The poets have long known this. It has been the burden of their singing. When we love, then are we strong. It has been with them a divine intuition. It might have been a direct induction, for it is not only the teaching of the poets, but it is the teaching of life. The history of all action is the history of expressed emotion. Every conflict on the world's arena has been the drama of conflicting feeling. Stint emotion, stifle feeling, and there comes the most dreadful of all the soul's maladies—that fatal apathy which makes action impossible and life a stupid slumbering. And when action is gone, when experience is curtailed, when sensations are limited, intellection becomes feeble, for it has no stuff to work upon. Believe me, the most terrible paralysis that can befall the human spirit is the paralysis of feeling, the slow drying up of the emotions. It is this that makes old age a tragedy and life a bitter, juiceless thing. I would that we, who presume to teach children—for it is a presumption—I would that we might early learn this lesson. It would transform us into teachers of men. It is a truth beautiful in its operation when we realize it and act upon it, terrible in its operation when we lose sight of it and deny it. And this same great truth, hit upon by poets and thinkers as they wandered over the open fields or in the deep forests, under the hush of the night or in the broad sunshine, is precisely the truth hit upon by colder methods in the laboratory of the psychologist. We have been discrediting "mere feeling," and asking for something more solid and enduring. It is much as if we scorned the springs and brooks and still asked for broad rivers to float our argosies upon. The emotions are the elements out of which is built the whole life drama. They are the first terms in the syn-