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Not less ridiculous are the results of education whenever the complex nature of man is lost sight of.
I propose here to mention some of the results of defective education. And by education, I mean not merely the instruction received from the professional teacher, during the time spent in school; not the religious instruction, of the Sabbath school; not the training underneath the parental roof; not the influence exerted by the thousand extraneous circumstances occurring in the life of a child,--not one, but all of these combined;-the whole training of the child from infancy to manhood; all the influences, direct, or indirect, which are brought to bear upon the physical, intellectual, or moral character.
I deem it highly important that a correct definition,the true import, of this word be understood. We often hear parents talk of giving to one of their sons an education; as though the rest were to be suffered to grow up without an education. The truth is, the child will be educated, whether the parent has ability and inclination, or otherwise. The plant, which grows up spontaneously in your garden, though it receives not the fostering care of the gardener, nevertheless it grows, and will ere long produce fruit; perhaps bitter fruit, whose taste will be death.
So it is with the child; if he receive not training from bis parents, he will train himself. If his naturat guardians are too poor, too penurious or too much engrossed with minor concerns, to point him to the path of safety, he will assuredly be allured, by his own sinful propensities, into the paths of vice and folly.
So that the ques. tion for parents to settle is, not whether they will educate their children or not,-for educated, they certainly will be,
either for good or for evil; but it is, how shall I educate my children? Shall I train them up in the way they should go, or allow them to train themselves in the way they will go?
Let not parents err so egregiously, as to think of promoting the best interests of their children by hoarding up wealth, which should be expended upon their education. If they ever need assistance, if they ever require a parent's fostering hand, it is in the commencement of their journey. To deny a child facilities for acquiring knowledge, that he may have a better setting out, as it is termed, is like filling a man's pocket with gold, and sending him to sea, in a rotten hulk, without compass, sail, or rudder, and with no knowledge of navigation. Better far expend the money in fitting up and rigging a sound ship, in furnishing it with maps and charts, and in storing the mind of the navigator with such facts as he will need in conducting his bark across the trackless ocean.
The mother 100 is sometimes heard to say, “My daughter has finished her education." Finished her education! A mere child having learned only the alphabet of an English education-with just enough of some of the fine arts to be able, in after life, to name the authors of some of the text-books,—with little more knowledge of the world than an infant, has finished her education! Possessed of an immortal mind, an emanation from the great Source of light and knowledge, created with capacities for endless progression in wisdom, —with her intellectual powers just budding, just opening to the genial influence of light;-her education finished!
With the whole circle of the sciences spread out before her and accessible to all, even the most indigent,
with the universe of God, inviting her examination, through his revealed word and the works of his hands, – concerning which, the immortal Milton, after a long life spent in the most intense application, and after gaining heights, to which the human mind had never before aspired, with true modesty, affirmed, that the knowledge he had obtained, compared with what remains, was as the pebble upon the sea shore to the whole earth, or as a drop of water to the ocean. Yet this child in knowledge, this infaut in years, has finished her education!
Life, if properly spent, is one of uninterrupted search after truth; and we should never, for a moment, entertain the idea, that our education is finished, till the lamp of life is extinguished in eternal day.
The young nian, leaving school and entering upon the active duties of life, adopts the same maxim.
“My education is finished, my stock of knowledge is complete; I have only to trade upon the capital I have; not, lowever, to acquire more knowledge, but more pelf.” The business of education is but begun in the school
The knowledge obtained is little more than the names of the tools to be used in aster life. It bears about the same relation to education, that an apprenticeship to one, does to a perfect knowledge of all the mechanic arts. And with as much propriety may the mechanic expect his trade to support him without labor, as the youth, that the taper, lighted in the school-room, without being replenislied, will guide him in safety and honor through life.
A perfect system of education has been very justly defined, “ one that brings all the physical functions into healthy action, classifies and improves the rational facul
ties, and purifies and elevates the spiritual affections."
Our common school system has chief, and in its practical application, exclusive regard to the culture of the intellect. Who ever thinks of enquiring into the capabilities of a teacher, as a moral trainer of youth? We require him to be acquainted with the accidence, with arithmetic, geography, and some of the higher branches, perhaps. We question him 100 upon his ability to govern; a word of about as much vagueness of meaning as education.
But who ever asks what knowledge a teacher has of human physiology and pathology,-of the science of human life? Who ever heard of a teacher's being rejected, because of his ignorance of moral philosophy? Is a mechanic wanted, we require him to be master of his art. But if a teacher, one to whom is to be entrusted the training of our children,—the moulding of human characters,--the most sacred trust ever committed by man to his fellow man,-if a teacher, I say, can "read, write, and cipher,” it sufficeth.
Thus, the physical and moral are both made to yield in subserviency to the intellectual: hence, most of the vagaries and blemishes which society exhibits. Hence
much of the fraud upon which quacks and mountebanks fatten.
I propose to name some of the effects of this partial culture. The reasoning powers being suffered to lie dormant, the sensual appetites soon acquire an inordinate growth. The moral faculties, being also neglected, are incapable of offering any effectual resistance to their encroachments. Shortly the voice of conscience is hushed. By degrees “the outposts of the intellect are secured, and reason is dethroned.” Hence the liability of men to fall victims to appetite.
Hence most of the evils entailed
upon the world by the use of alcoholic and narcotic substances. Would parents secure their children from the indescribable and unmitigated woes of drunkenness, let them see to it that they are educated.
Just in proportion as education is conducted upon the principles I have suggested, the danger of such a calamity is removed. In the nature of things, it is impossible that a well balanced mind should be enslaved by appetite. The laws of mind are as immutable as those of matter. We know that a heavy body unsupported will fall. It is no less certain that if all the vital energy be expended upon the physical powers, the sensual appetites will preponderate, and the whole character will be moulded in conformity to their dictates. For instance, let the child be taught that the chief end of man is to eat, drink, be clothed and sleep;- let him never hear anything about mind; or, if perchance the word come to his ear, let him be told that mind is a nonentity,—a thing, about which philosophers wrangle, but with which matter-of-fact people have nothing to do. Furthermore, let him be taught that he is accountable to God for his conduct,—that there