Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/280

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sodden in ignorance, and living lives of children or savages amid the light of a scientific age.


We fear that, with all the alleged improvements that are being introduced into the methods of education, the true end of education is being more and more lost sight of. The idea that education is essentially a preparation for money-making is, it seems to us, gradually taking complete possession of the popular consciousness. It is needless to say that this was not the ancient ideal. To-day we look upon arithmetic as indispensable for the earning of a living. Plato, as Oscar Browning remarks in his little book on Educational Theories, considered it "as the best spur to a sleepy and uninstructed spirit." Admitting that the modern view must be recognized, why should not the more elevated ancient view be recognized as well? But what child is made aware to-day that in studying arithmetic he is doing more than acquiring an instrument by which afterward money may be made? There is just as much need to rouse sleepy spirits now as there ever was; and there are more sleepy spirits than ever to be roused. We fear the arithmetic of the public schools is not doing as much to rouse them as might be desired, and the reason may partly be that the higher intellectual and moral uses of the study are not kept sufficiently in view.

In the Greek scheme of education "reading" (we quote from Mr. Browning) "was taught with the greatest pains; the utmost care was taken with the intonation of the voice and the articulation of the throat." If anything of the kind were proposed to-day, objection would at once be raised that such training of the ear and vocal organs might be very useful, and pecuniarily profitable, to a youth who was going to be a professional elocutionist, but that for others it would be a waste of time. So with the study of modern languages: their utility is recognized in so far as they may be required for business purposes, and perhaps for actual use in foreign travel. That they may become a source of refined intellectual pleasure by extending one's survey of the development and differentiation of thought is, to say the least, not an everyday conception. Geography is, of course, regarded as an essentially commercial study, not as one that ought to liberalize the mind by removing ignorance in regard to foreign countries, and creating a sense of the kinship of the whole human race.

Even in our higher seats of learning the ultra-practical or technical view of the use of education more or less prevails. In an excellent article by Mr. Irving Babbit, in a recent number of the Atlantic Monthly, we read that "one of the first things that struck M. Brunetière on coming into contact with our university life was the predominance of purely analytical scholarship—a predominance which he attributes to an excessive imitation of German models. He even agreed with the opinion expressed by one of the Harvard professors, that several of our great universities are in danger of degenerating into mere technical schools as a result of losing hold on the old humanistic ideal."

The humanistic ideal is founded on the old truth which, in a manner, we still profess to believe, that "the life is more than meat, and the body than raiment." According to that ideal, the business of education is to enable a human being to enter on full possession of all his faculties, in order that, so far as possible, he