Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/508

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.




THE educational sequence in America is not yet an established order. The amount of schooling that a boy or girl is supposed to need is not the same in the Carolinas that it is in Massachusetts. In the more highly evolved communities the pressure is all in the direction of an elaborate educational process. The gap between the minimum and the maximum requirements is very great. It would be unfortunate, however, to believe that virtue lies at either extreme. It is quite possible to have an educational process so meager as to be utterly inadequate to the needs of modern evolved living. And this extreme is apt to be found in communities where either Nature is too bountiful in her offer of a living, or where the invitations to action are too strong to be resisted. It is difficult to imagine the educational process as too comprehensive in Florida and Louisiana, or at the present time in gold-smitten Alaska. But it is also quite possible for the educational process to be so elaborate, so exacting, so time-consuming, that it takes the juice quite out of life, and gives us weakness instead of strength. The friends of action have, I think, quite as just cause for complaint in the devitalized and unattractive specimens of manhood and womanhood that the schoolmen are apt to send them, as the friends of thought have in the crude and ignorant youth who turn out of a holiday.

It is impossible to overeducate, but it is very possible to overschool.

In my own experience I have found that I could accomplish more with the boys who had been least in school. I have had boys graduate at a high school whom I could not induce to take a college course. They had been under instruction eleven long years—for remember that in childhood the years are long—and they were simply tired out. I could not blame them for wanting a change, though I did feel very strongly that they had put in their time at the wrong end of the sequence, and were giving up the far better part. And I have talked with clever young fellows in high school and college and have asked them if they could remember anything useful that they learned below the high-school grade. They have replied that they could not, or else they have mentioned something so trivial that when balanced against six or eight years of human life it seemed absolutely pitiful. I should be sorry to use a false standard in estimating the value of these schools. Their work is to be judged not by the