« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Results of inquiry.-Knowledge not undervalued.
son, Dwight, and many others of our own countrymen. Let him, enlightened by all this, carefully observe human nature around him ; consider its tendencies, its wants, and its capabilities; and after a patient survey of all the truth he can discover upon the subject, let him come to an honest conclusion as to what is a correct answer to the query with which he started—“What is it to educate a human being aright ?"
The conclusions of the honest and intelligent inquirer after the truth in this matter, will be something like the following :-That education (from e and duco, to lead forth) is development; that it is not instruction merelyknowledge, facts, rules—communicated by the teacher; but it is discipline, it is a waking up of the mind, a growth of the mind,-growth by a healthy assimilation of wholesome aliment. It is an inspiring of the mind with a thirst for knowledge, growth, enlargement,-and then a disciplining of its powers so far that it can go on to educate itself. It is the arousing of the child's mind to think, without thinking for it; it is the awakening of its powers to observe, to remember, to reflect, to combine. It is not a cultivation of the memory to the neglect of every thing else; but it is a calling forth of all the faculties into harmonious action. facts simply is education, then an encyclopædia is better educated than a man.
It should be remarked that though knowledge is not education, yet there will be no education without knowledge. Knowledge is ever an incident of true education. No man can be properly educated without the ac
If to possess
The body-the intellect-the heart.-Mr. Fox.
quisition of knowledge ; the mistake is in considering knowledge the end when it is either the incident or the means of education. The discipline of the mind, then, is the great thing in intellectual training; and the question is not, how much have I acquired ?-but, how have my powers been strengthened in the act of acquisition ?
Nor should the intellectual be earlier cultivated than the moral powers of the mind. The love of moral truth should be as early addressed as the love of knowledge. The conscience should be early exercised in judging of the character of the pupil's own acts, and every opportunity afforded to strengthen it by legitimate use. Nor should the powers of the mind be earlier cultivated than those of the body. It is the theory of some, indeed, that the body should engross most of the attention for several of the first
years childhood. This I think is not nature's plan. She cultivates all the powers at once,—the body, mind, and heart. So should the teacher do. “Education," in the pertinent language of Mr. Fox,* “has reference to the whole man, the body, the mind, and the heart; its object, and, when rightly conducted, its effect is, to make him a complete creature after his kind. To his frame it would give vigor, activity, and beauty ; to his senses, correctness and acuteness ; to his intellect, power and truthfulness; to his heart, virtue. The educated man is not the gladiator, nor the scholar, nor
* Lecture before the Am. Institute, 1835.
Egregious mistakes.—“Good scholars.”_-"Poor scholars."
the upright man, alone ; but a just and well-balanced combination of all three. Just as the educated tree is neither the large root, nor the giant branches, nor the rich foliage, but all of them together. If you would mark the perfect man, you must not look for him in the circus, the university, or the church, exclusively; but you must look for one who has “mens sana in corpore sano'-a healthful mind in a healthful body. The being in whom you find this union, is the only one worthy to be called educated. To make all men such, is the object of education.”
I have dwelt thus fully on this subject, because it is so obvious that egregious mistakes are made in education. How many there are who are called “good scholars” in our schools, of whom we hear nothing after they go forth into the world. Their good scholarship consists in that which gives them no impulse to go on to greater attainments by themselves. Their learning is either that of reception—as the sponge takes in water
or that of mere memory. Their education is not discipline ; it kindles none of those desires which nothing but further progress can satisfy ; it imparts none of that self-reliance which nothing but impossibilities can ever subdue. While these are pointed out by their teachers as the ornaments of their schools, there are others, known as the heavy, dull, "poor scholars,” in no way distinguished but by their stupidity,—of whom no hopes are entertained because of them nothing is expected,-who in after-life fairly outstrip their fellows and strangely astonish their teachers. Almost
Misjudgment of character.-Nature at fault !
every teacher of fifteen years' experience has noticed this. Now why is it so ? There must have been somehow in such cases a gross misjudgment of character. Either those pupils who promised so much by their · quickness, were educated wrong, and perhaps educated too much, while their teachers unwittingly and unintentionally educated their less distinguished companions far more judiciously; or else nature in such cases must be said to have been playing such odd pranks that legitimate causes could not produce their legitimate effects. We must charge nature as being extremely capricious, or we must allege that the teachers entirely misunderstood their work, failing where they expected most, and succeeding, as if by chance-almost against their will, where they expected least. I incline to the latter alternative; and hence I infer that there is such a thing as teaching a mind naturally active too much -exciting it too much, --so that it will prematurely exhaust its energies and gladly settle back into almost imbecility; and that there is such a thing as leaving the mind so much to its own resources, that without dazzling the beholder like the flash of the meteor when it glares upon the startled vision, it may be silently gathering materials to support the more enduring light of the morning-star which anon will arise in majesty and glory.
It will be well for our youth when our teachers shall so understand human nature, and so comprehend the science and the art of education, that these mistakes shall seldom occur; and when he who tills the nobler