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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/519

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THE AIM OF MODERN EDUCATION.

the lower and secondary schools already in existence, and that the work should take its place alongside of the other recognized means of culture. It has a substantial contribution to make toward that fullness of life which is the modern aim. It enlarges the experience of children by bringing them into closer contact with the outer world of force and matter; it develops that many-sided interest which gives alertness to youth and redeems old age from ennui; it increases the sensitiveness of the bodily organism; it makes possible activities which would otherwise be impossible; in a hundred ways it makes for righteousness—that righteousness which consists of fullness of life.

And the method of the new education is admittedly psychological. It is in harmony with the desires of childhood. It offers occupations which are welcome to the children, and at the same time rich in thought reaction. It is a proposition to educate children through their own self-activity, with their co-operation instead of against their protest.

In estimating the several forms of manual training, I have come to believe that the Swedish form, sloyd, has some advantages over the more formal Russian manual training, in giving better gymnastics in its movements and a more human interest to its occupations. A finished article makes a stronger appeal to the childish sympathy than the abstract exercises of manual training proper. It is psychologically truer and, I believe, morally more effective. Children wholesomely occupied, children busy in trying to realize some form of usefulness and beauty, must, I think, daily grow into that unconscious goodness which I hold to be the highest morality; must illustrate Emerson's favorite doctrine, that evil, like cold, is a negation, is but the absence of good.

I have indicated the ideal in modern education. I have tried to indicate somewhat of the method. The practical question remains: Who shall carry it out? It would be unfortunate to intrust this most important interest of society to any but the best men and women, and by best I do not mean those who know the most, but those who are the strongest, the most beautiful, the most lovable, the most cultured, as well as the most skillful and the best informed. And in the newer education the need for wise and beautiful teachers is particularly great. Now that education has taken this truer and more psychological turn and is building its work upon the basis supplied by Nature, upon the feelings and desires of childhood, upon its wonderful self-activity and constructive instinct, you can readily see how utter will be the defeat if the realization of the method be left in the hands of men and women devoid of the requisite insight. Profoundly as I believe in this aspect of education, in the underlying principles of the kindergarten, sloyd, and manual training, I greatly prefer the