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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/833

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CHILDREN'S QUESTIONING.

"applying theory, or putting acquisitions into practice, and for personally using for productive ends their disciplined powers." So they learn to stand up unembarrassed, to lose self-consciousness, to think on their feet, to set conditions as well as comply with them, to lead thought as well as follow it, and get that real practice in adapting themselves to constantly changing conditions that will serve them so well when school life has ended. All this work tends directly to that most important acquisition, self-control in body and mind.

Perhaps the greatest benefit derived from mutual questioning is of an ethical nature, since it affords the best opportunity in school for the cultivation of the most refined human relations. The pupils become habituated to deference, self-restraint, politeness, kindness, unconsciousness of self, and equality of rights as regards time, attention, instruction, and opportunity to work without interference. Egotism, selfishness, plagiarism, the desire for display, and the struggle for personal rewards have little room for growth on account of persistent practice in ways that make for qualities of an opposite character. The teacher's illustrations from the workings of society and the administration of government find their appropriate places and are immediately put into practice in this genuine, embryo part of the body politic. The pupil's judgment is constantly appealed to. As teachers have said many times, the pupils seem like one great family, each member working for the common good. The educational value of the boy teaching the boy by simple language and blackboard illustrations is recognized. The reflex action of teaching is seen to be as valuable to the boy as to the teacher.

The ethical value of mutual questioning is especially noticeable in the pupil's graduating exercises, which are the legitimate results of their regular work. Each pupil has an opportunity to do according to his ability. There are no picked scholars, no exhaustively trained precocities, no survival of the fittest, no false show, no tragic or comic declamations or mere mouthings of the misty words of statesmen and poets; but each reveals his own thoughts in his own way, pruned and strengthened by his training. The ease, interest, energy, self-reliance, and politeness with which they carry on their impromptu exercises in the presence of five hundred people can not be understood by even distinguished educators, versed in traditional methods only, who may be present.

The doctrine of opportunity has not been preached enough, and the wonderful constitution of the mind and its power to develop itself by its own energies when fully aroused have been so often and so unjustly claimed as the direct results of systematic or dogmatic instruction that the truth, when held up to view, may not be recognized and acknowledged.