Story type: Essay
We wish to discuss with our readers in this and in later editions of this newspaper the great and serious question of education.
It is a question as broad as the ocean, and as deep. It is a question so vast that organized discussion of it seems hopeless.
The greatest minds of the world have devoted their powers to the intricate question of developing the human brain, and the problem has been scarcely touched.
The greatest works on education in the history of the world are undoubtedly Plato’s “Republic,” Spencer’s “Education” and Rousseau’s “Emile.” The last is the greatest of all. It should be read by every father and mother and by every earnest citizen.
Other works that may be earnestly recommended are Aristotle’s “Politics,” Pestalozzi’s “How Gertrude Teaches Her Children” and Froebel’s “Education of Man.”
To Rousseau undoubtedly belongs the high honor of having thought and written most powerfully, most originally and most practically on the greatest of problems. His brain is the cornerstone of the structure of intelligent educational methods.
He foreshadowed in his “Emile” Fourier’s splendid principle of “attractive industry.” —-
THE PROGRESS OF HUMANITY DEPENDS UPON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE HUMAN BRAIN THROUGH EDUCATION.
The intricate processes of thinking separate mankind from other members of the animal creation.
Man is far from the animal in proportion as his brain is cultivated. Even the animals themselves rank in their kingdom in proportion to their brain activity.
William T. Harris said truly: “If man had let himself alone he would have remained the monkey that he was. Not only this, but if the monkey had let himself alone he would have remained a lemur, or a bat, or a bear, or some other creature that now offers only a faint suggestion of what the ape has become.”
The elephant and the ape, among our humble animal brothers, appear to have reached their limits of possibility in the way of educational development. They still remain, and always will remain, vastly inferior to their microscopic comrades–the ants and bees and other insects.
The human race has barely begun the systematic study of the problem of application, and systematic application of the truths discovered and agreed upon. In proportion to our stature and possibilities we are hideous ignoramuses compared with the ant in the garden path.
The education of children is regulated not by their brain formation and possible development, but by the wealth of their parents, the parsimony of municipalities, the baleful influences of tradition and the colossally stupid idea that thorough brain cultivation is in some way antagonistic to material success.
The greatness of a nation depends upon the average mental power of the nation’s citizens, and mental power depends absolutely upon education.
The man who doubts the importance of educating his son thoroughly–if any such man now exists–is invited to consider the following brief statement of facts:
The holders of slaves in the Southern States and outside of America desired to keep their slaves down. They wanted them to be content with slavery. They wanted them and their children to remain willing, humble, helpless machines.
THEY PUNISHED AS A CRIMINAL ANY MAN WHO TAUGHT A SLAVE TO READ. THEY KNEW THAT SLAVERY AND EDUCATION COULD NOT LONG ENDURE IN THE SAME HUMAN BEING. —-
The ignorant man who has succeeded through natural force and lucky opportunity is fond of asking these questions:
“What is the good of education? Of what practical use is scientific training?” These men are admirably answered by Herbert Spencer, to whose work they are referred.
A collection of Englishmen ruined themselves in the sinking of mines in search of coal. They might have saved their money had they known that a certain fossil which they dug up in abundance belongs to a geological stratum below which no coal is ever found. They went on digging cheerfully and wasting their money. An acquaintance with that fossil and its meaning would have saved their cash.
Some individuals spent one hundred thousand dollars trying to save the alcoholic byproduct that distils from bread in baking. They would have saved their money had they known that only a hundredth part of the flour is changed through fermentation.
The study of biology is essential in the successful fattening of cattle.
An “entozoon” seems to the practical man a foolish, imaginary creature. But millions of sheep have been saved by the discovery that one of these fancy scientific entozoa, pressing on the brain, caused the sheep’s death. When you know the entozoon you can dig him out and save the sheep’s life.
“My son’s going to be an artist,” says one proud father. “He does not need to study a lot of scientific rubbish.”
This parent does not know that the difference between a good and a bad sculptor or painter is often based on knowledge or ignorance of anatomy and mechanical principles. —-
Education is important to the individual because it means development of the brain, development of capacity for production and increased chances of success.
Education is important to the State because it means not only COMPETENT citizens, but MORAL citizens.
The animal in us yields to the influence of education. Knowledge and brutality are enemies. They do not dwell together.
The most important institutions in this country are the public schools–the gymnasiums of human brains. The most important citizens of the nation are the teachers.
The greatest criminals are the employers of child labor, because they deny education, cut down in childhood the citizen’s chance of progress and success.
Work and vote for more and better public schools.
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