Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/179

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

to read, write and calculate; primary education should be chiefly for the formation of motor habits; a child's head will not hold more miscellaneous facts than can be injected in a year or two; he can learn nearly as much of his present scholastic studies in two hours a day as in eight. If the required school attendance for each child were reduced to one half or one third, then without additional expense the fewer buildings and smaller equipment might be doubled or tripled in value, and the salaries of teachers might be doubled or tripled. The best trained teachers, more men than women, should be in charge of the younger children. If society must develop a class similar to the neuter insects, it should not have charge of the education of children. The boy should stay in the high school until he is eighteen and then go to the university, or he should enter the college at sixteen and pass forward to the university in two years. The man should begin to take part in the real work of the world at twenty-one, but he should never regard his education as complete, and should for many years, if not always, continue to spend some time in work at the university.

I believe in the practice system from start to finish. Let the child learn the best that the home can teach, let the younger child learn from the older, let the novice learn by helping the master. Each child should have as wide interests and as generous sympathies as may be; he should learn to do some useful work; he should strive to become an originator and a leader. Never in our educational system should these three chief ends of education be separated, least of all in the university.

The word 'culture' has for me acquired an objectionable connotation—it calls up a picture of manure applied to turnips or of microbes growing fat by feeding on gelatine. Boys of twenty-one, chiefly interested in quasi-professional athletic competitions and social organizations, incidentally nibbling at the academic flowers and fruits from which the fences have been removed, supported by their parents at the cost of $1,000 a head, are a variety of prize animal that can not become universal. The elective system, in so far as it means that a Procrustean course of study shall not be imposed mechanically on all students, but that his work shall be selected by the boy with the advice of judicious councilors, is one of our great educational advances. But the boy should have some definite aim from the outset; he should usually prepare himself to follow the trade or profession of his father, always aiming to reach a higher plane, while at the same time he and his teachers should always be on the watch for any special aptitude or sign of genius. The boy's studies should be related to his life's work, and the relation should be evident to him. Then apart from his main interest, he should have one or two recreations or avocations, as a sport or game, some branch of science or one of the fine arts. Here too he should be an expert, only an amateur in so far as he is led by