Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/574

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has told us in words which may be hackneyed by frequent quotation, but which can never lose their truth, that

"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-con-
These three alone lead life to sovereign

Modern state education can hardly recognize such a sentiment as this; but it must be recognized somewhere, or else we shall go backward, not forward. If every generation faithfully gives of its best to the generation that follows after, progress will be continuous and the equilibrium of society will be secure; but if at a given moment we begin to trust to governmental machinery and external forms and the general framework of laws to sustain the moral life of society the result will be disastrous. There is no life in these things. The poet moralist of ancient Rome had found this out when he exclaimed, "What are empty laws worth, unsupported by the moral sense of the people?" What is wanted is a deepened popular consciousness of certain commonplace moral principles—principles as old as the beginning of civilization, and yet which can not be held to, even in our own day, without an effort. To inculcate these is something very different from inculcating a system of fetich-worship; but it is the appointed task of the parents and teachers of to-day, and one which can not be neglected without grave responsibility.


An interesting little book published by Dr. Louis Waldstein, under the title of The Subconscious Self, contains many hints that should be of use not only in the education of children, but in the general guidance of life. What the author principally shows is that the larger, and perhaps the more important, part of each person's character is made up of habits, tendencies, preferences, aversions, moods, and principles of which for the most part the individual has little distinct consciousness, and that these at critical moments have often a decisive effect on his destinies. The recognized business of education is to cultivate the consciousness of the individual, and to furnish him with such a working capital of knowledge, ideas, and mental and moral habits as may enable him to do business, in the widest sense, in the world as it exists to-day. But what is thus by direct educative effort brought into a man's consciousness may not penetrate very deeply into his nature. It may,to a considerable extent, be a mere external equipment, and the real man may have been molded and stamped by circumstances and influences of which neither he nor his educators took much or any account.

The more we reflect on this the more we shall recognize both its truth and its importance. Parents sometimes wonder why the multiplied precepts which they bestow upon their children do not more powerfully influence their conduct. The fact is that the precepts in question go to form in the children's minds a fund of conventional opinions—those which they will use before the world—but the parents own example, the thousand and one ways in which they practically manifest themselves, are subconsciously received by the children and go to form the underlying character from which most of their actions spring. Hence the common maxim that example is better than precept. Precept strikes the consciousness, but example constantly present sinks into the heart.

In every department of life we see only too frequently a very wide