Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/284

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

it as another great unfoldment of man, comprehending, assisting and developing it. But education has been engrossed in the comparatively petty rôle of teaching lessons. It has fitted children for immediate, instinctive environment, quite omitting rational, or higher social, environment. The result is present conditions—a practical deadlock of social forces. Education can not truly awaken the interest or command the confidence of the people until it assumes the higher function.

The present obstructors of social reconstruction or variation are the ill-educated though perhaps very much schooled. For schooling and education are not the same. The new social variation now beginning is an industrial readjustment which shall enable each individual, regardless of the accident of birth, to realize to their full value all of his native powers; and this will promote progress by removing artificial restrictions on individual variation. It would be very easy in this country, on the basis of accepted American principles, to effect the transition if educators, whose business is moulding minds to grasp the larger aspect of things and training them in the power to alter their views instead of reposing in fixed ones, had done their work. The current method is to impede social transitions; the intelligent course is to facilitate them. When educators rise above mere school-mastering, social deadlocks and cataclysms will be of the past. The changes they involve will be welcomed.

While, therefore, the animal method of education is for static life—stability, with man it must be for dynamic life—change, improvement. And yet man's course in the past has not been complimentary to his intelligence, since many, if not most of his important alterations for the better have not been made by intelligent choice of the change itself, nor by choice of the best way; rather he has resisted as long as possible, until life became so bad that nature by some kind of punishment or eruption forced improvement upon him, as she does upon animals, by her power of destruction. This is the principle of revolutions. Sometimes they succeed in raising society to the level of the few higher individuals, but often they are suppressed by the forces in resistance to variation and adaptation.

This adaptation to a large nature brings with it a complete mental reorganization. Nor, indeed, is this lacking in physical confirmation. We can already trace certain corresponding physical changes in the constitution of the brain—the increase in association fibers in certain parts of the cortex shortly after eighteen years of age, indicated by Kaes's investigations, and the extension of Flechsig's association-centers in higher animals and particularly in man. Some of these cerebral changes seem to occur when increasing complexities of life are making new demands on intelligence.