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But an institution attains its majority only when it has become thoroughly grounded on some fundamental divine principle. The State, for instance, is organized on the principle of justice—the return of each man's deed to himself. On such principles the State may be conducted without fear of collision with the Church or other institutions.
The school, too, has certain divine principles which it has borrowed from the church through long centuries of tutelage, and perhaps can be conducted by itself without Church authority and yet be a positive auxiliary to the church and the cause of religion. Let us study these characteristics.
The school proposes at first this object, — to teach the pupil a knowledge of man and nature; in short, to initiate him into the realm of truth.
Certainly truth is divine, and religion itself is chiefly busied with discovering and interpreting the Divine First Principle of the universe and his personal relation to men. In so far, therefore, as truth — real truth in harmony with the Personality of God, and not spurious truth — is taught in the school it is a positive auxiliary to the Church and to religion.
But the intellectual pursuit of truth in the school is conditioned upon a deeper principle. Order is the first law, even of Heaven. The government of human beings in a community is a training for them in the forms of social life. The school must strictly enforce a code of laws. The so-called discipline of the school is its primordial condition, and is itself a training in habits essential to life in a social whole ; and hence is itself moral training. Let us study the relation of school discipline to the development of moral character, and compare its code of duties with the ethical code as a whole.
First let us take an ideal survey of the whole field and see what is desirable, before we examine the results of the school as actually furnished. One may distinguish moral duties or habits which ought to be taught to youth into three classes : (a) Mechanical virtues in which the youth exercises a minimum of moral choice and obeys an external rule prescribed for him. In this, the lowest species of moral discipline, the youth learns self-lenial and self-control, and not much besides. (b) Social duties, those which govern the relation of man to man and which are the properly called “ Moral” duties. In this form of moral discipline the youth learns to obey principle rather than the immediate will of another or a mechanical prescription. (c) Religious duties, or those based on the relation to God as revealed in religion. In these the youth learns the ultimate grounds of obligation, and gains both a practical principle for the conduct of life and a theoretic principle on which to base his view of the world. In his religious doctrine man formulates his theory of the origin and destiny of nature and the human race and at the same time defines his eternal vocation, his fundamental duties. The mere statement of this obvious fact is sufficient to indicate the rank and importance of the religious part of the moral duties.
Turning now to the school, let us take an inventory of its means and appliances for moral education in the line of these several divisions. Let us remember, too, that morality consists in practise rather than in theory, and that the school can teach morality only when it trains the will into ethical habits, and not when it stops short with inculcating a correct theoretical view of right and wrong, useful as such view may be.
In the school we note first the moral effect of the
requirement of imp. cit obedience — a requirement necessary within the school for its successful administration. The discipline in obedience in its strict form, such as it is found in the school-room, has four other applications which remain valid under all conditions of society: (a) obedience towards parents; (b) towards employers, overseers, and supervisors, as regards the details of work; (c) towards the government in its legally constituted authority, civil or military ; (d) towards the divine will, however revealed.
In each of these four forms there is and always remains a sphere of greater or less extent within which implicit obedience is one's duty. In the three first named this duty is not absolute, but limited — the sphere continually growing narrower with the growth of the individual in wisdom and self-directive power. In the fourth form of obedience to the divine will the individual comes more and more to a personal insight into the necessity of the divine law as revealed in Scripture, in nature, and especially in human life; and he becomes, through this, emancipated relatively from the direct personal control of men, even of the wisest and best, and becomes rather a law unto himself. He outgrows mere mechanical obedience and arrives at a truly moral will in which the law is written on the heart.
Obedience as a habit to what is prescribed by an authority is obviously a training that fits one for religion, even if religion has no direct part in such training. Hence the school, even when perfectly secular, in securing implicit obedience, is in so far an auxiliary of the church.
The pillars on which school education rest are behavior and scholarship. Deportment or behavior comes first as the sine qua non. The first requisite of the school is order: each pupil must be taught to conform his behavior to the general standard, and repress all that interferes with the function of the school. In the outset, therefore, a whole family of virtues are taught the pupil, and taught him so thoroughly that they become fixed in his character. In the mechanical duties, habit is everything and theory little or nothing. The pupil is taught, —
(a) Punctuality : he must be at school in time. Sleep, business, play, indisposition — all must give way to the duty of obedience to this external requirement — to observe the particular moment of time and conform to it. Punctuality does not end with getting to school, but while in school it is of equal importance. Combination cannot be achieved without it. The pupil must have his lessons ready at the appointed time, must rise from his seat at the tap of the bell, move to line, return; in short, he must go through all the evolutions with this observance of rhythm.
(b) Regularity is the next discipline. Regularity is punctuality reduced to a system ; conformity to the requirements of time in a particular instance is punctuality; made general it becomes regularity. Combination in school rests on these two virtues. They are the most elementary of the moral code — its alphabet, in short.
This age is often called the age of productive industry — the era of emancipation of man from the drudgery of slavery to his natural wants of food, clothing, and shelter. This emancipation is effected by machinery. Machinery has quadrupled the efficiency of human industry within the past half-century. There is one general training especially needed to prepare the generations of men who are to act as directors of machinery and managers of the business that depends upon it; this training is in the habits of punctuality and regularity.
Only by obedience to these abstract, external laws of time and place may we achieve a social combination complete enough to free us from thraldom to our physical wants and necessities.
(c) Silence is the third of these semi-mechanical duties. It is the basis for the culture of internality or reflection —the soil in which thought grows.
The pupil is therefore taught habits of silence – to restrain his natural animal impulse to prate and chatter. All ascent above his animal nature arises through this ability to hold back the mind from utterance of the immediate impulse. The first impression must be corrected by the second. Combination and generalization are required to reach deep and wide truths, and these depend upon this habit of silence.
This silence in the school-room has a two-fold significance: it is necessary in order that there may be no distraction of the attention of others from their work; secondly, it is a direct discipline in the art of combining the diffused and feeble efforts of the pupil himself.
These mechanical duties constitute an elementary training in morals without which it is exceedingly difficult to build any superstructure of moral character whatever. Moral education therefore must begin in merely mechanical obedience and develop gradually out of this stage towards that of individual responsibility.
The higher order of moral duties falls into two classes -- those that relate to the individual himself, and those that relate to his fellows:
(a) Duties to self. These are, (1) physical, and concern cleanliness, neatness in person and clothing, temperance, and moderation in the gratification of the animal appetites and passions. The school can and does teach cleanliness and