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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/127

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SCHOOL ORGANIZATION AND INSTRUCTION

people, the student bodies in the universities represent perhaps the most powerful hostile influences with which despotism must contend.

This shows the power of student life when it organizes itself under the whip of a great, purpose, and it mercilessly exposes the enormous moral loss to society and the delinquencies of an educational theory which permits any diversion of these forces of youth from the work of upbuilding the social and national life.

The economic vandalism of our time can be charged to no one person or thing; but responsibility for it may be laid directly at the door of a school system which permits this social deterioration to begin in the earliest years and thence onward to increase in a steady ratio throughout the higher institutions of learning.

All schools, however, have always had some social life of a more or less organized character. In the plays and games outside of school hours; in the stolen whispers of the study and recitation periods; in the clandestine schemes laid for the discomfiture of the teacher; in the literary societies, and in many other ways, through the exercise of their social instincts, the pupils have managed to make their school days tolerable for themselves and, to a like extent, often intolerable for the teacher. But these aspects of school life have been, and still are, considered as diversions, as incidents and somewhat as detriments to what is called, in school parlance, the 'regular work.' It is largely due to this fact that in most schools the socializing process as yet remains inchoate.

There is a misconception, almost universal, concerning the organizing center of the school as a social body. Recognizing that in the past the chief organizing influence has come through the exercise of the play instinct, the unguarded inference is that it is now proposed to socialize the school through play alone; or, what comes to the same thing, by the introduction of work which shall be turned into play! It is through this perverted idea that the New Education stands charged with triviality in its methods and with a disregard for that robust discipline which comes through sturdy and purposeful work. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Students in the philosophy of education are slowly coming to understand that the spelling-book, as such; that the endless repetitions which usually accompany 'formal number'; that the struggle with words merely for the sake of a vocabulary in reading; that the wrestle with technical grammar as an introduction to the study of languageā€”that all these and other subjects of like kind, as they generally appear in the schools, are essentially unsocial in their influence. Such students believe that herein lies a great obstacle to that reform which seeks to socialize the schools. If, however, this so-called work is to be removed from its present dominating position in the curriculum, it is as yet inconceivable to most people how there can be