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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/126

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

manded in society at large is that its members shall help each other to the utmost. The only places where mutual helpfulness is not recognized as being in every way worthy is in school and in prison; in this particular the teacher behind the desk and the guard mounted on the walls have something in common. It is most unfortunate that this tendency toward mutual assistance is treated as though it were an iniquity—as an especial brand of original sin; while, in fact, it is the latest dawning and most lovable, civilizing trait in human character.

The proposition to transform the school into a well-organized social institution is not merely a matter of abstract theory or pure science. It is a definite expression of a movement to make the schools in common with other agencies a positive force in bettering the conditions of life.

This proposition rests upon the foundation stone in human character that up to date has been rejected by the educational builders—namely, the natural tendency of children toward helpfulness. The spirit of consideration and helpfulness is what we most need in human life and the schools must cherish it in the children and train directly for it. The kindergarten, here as ever, is the best type of what we want in school life clear through the university. Go into any good kindergarten and note how gladly the children participate in the many opportunities for cooperation in living their simple and beautiful life. Go then into the upper grades, and into the high school, and into the university and observe how one by one those opportunities for participation in the upbuilding of the public weal have been withdrawn and mark the degenerative effect of this loss of opportunity upon the social qualities of the pupils!

There are in this country many universities that number from 1,000 to 5,000 students each year. These young people represent a virile period of human life, when hope is young, aspirations are keen and the will is dominant. But when taken in their totality, in their power or in their desire to organize as an influence upon any phase whatever of human affairs, they are as innocuous and as ineffective as a flock of sheep on a sunny hillside in April. There is not a university president, nor a professor, nor a university department of sociology, to my knowledge, that has ever yet organized the splendid native force of a great student body towards any public end that is worth the attention of an intelligent man. Nor does the student body itself show any such disposition to organize. The highest watermark that has yet been touched in fusing together the community forces in the great universities is represented by the college yell for the foot-ball team! No other state institution could so completely withdraw these thousands of young people from a consideration of the interests of public welfare.

Even in darkest Russia, with every influence against them, with no public school system, where blackest ignorance is the rule with the