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severe course of moral discipline; because its standard is a hard standard, and one less falteringly upheld than any that his elders have set up. The gang, in short, holds with what Mr. Royce has called the defiant or Titanic school of ethics, that of the hero who will not yield to gods or men.
Its spirit is fundamentally a moral spirit. It represents, I believe, the natural and dominant note in the moral nature of the boy in his teens. It is, accordingly, the boy's conscience, as the Lord has given it to speak, that we are dealing with when we attack this subject of the gang and his allegiance to it.
So also the revolt of the gang against a life too suddenly civilized is moral. It is nothing new or whimsical, but is at least as old as Abel. So far from being a matter of whim, it
. is the eternal protest of the manly mind against a way of life not suited to a man. The young savage scorns all civilized pursuits as women's work. So does the male of the barbaric age. From Nimrod to Roosevelt, war and hunting, the instinctive occupations of the gang, are those most natural to the kings of men. The famous Persian curriculum was to ride and shoot and speak the truth. A free citizen of Greece may engage in war or politics, but even the fine arts too anxiously pursued are held rather fit for slaves. The same is true of the upper ranks of European society today. In all aristocracies war and politics—the external and internal expressions of the gang—are the only pursuits not held derogatory, while the only entirely respectable title to property is that which can be traced back to some form of violence. So, or similar, was the code in our own South before the war. So it is now among those races in which temperament still rises superior to education. And the point is, in all these cases, that the objection to civilized pursuits is ethical. It is not hard work, but moral degradation that is feared. Menial occupations are held by the Greek philosophers inconsistent with the cultivation of virtue, just as in European society today they are not considered the occupations of a gentle
These are not the ethics of snobbishness. The snob takes aristocracy as he finds it: the vulgarity is in his attitude toward
it, not in the thing itself. The ethics of the gang, of aristocracy, are the ethics of the age of chivalry, of King Arthur and his Knights, of the Charlemagne of legend and his peers, They are the only code that has captured the imagination as well as the intellect of mankind. The young man's protest against our civilized pursuits is that of eternal youth against the fallacy that the world is old. It is the protest of the soul of man, perpetually renewed, against the notion that social laws are fixt, masters of life, and not its servants.
It is not merely the young man, but civilization, that is on trial. Civilization must make out a case. It must show that it has not neglected life itself in its devotion to the means of living. The Indian who finds himself at the parting of the ways—foresees that if he says, Yes, now there is no stoppingplace between the free life of the plains, in which he was brought up, and becoming the drudge of our shops and factories—is not so wholly wrong when he chooses rather to die an Indian than submit. It is my own soul and genius that it is my business to fulfil. It is the only soul I have. If society does not offer what is life to me, is it not my duty to rebel? Civilization must show the young man a way of life to which he can without degradation submit, or it can not rightly even hope for his submission.
This, then, is the moral situation as it confronts the boy who goes to work. He feels himself a warrior, a hunter, a knight, member of a fellowship of such. His imagination seems to remind him of evenings when he and his companions rowed out from the creek by moonlight, hoisted the dragon flag and sailed across to raid the hostile shore; stole down from the hills upon a cattle-driving exploit; crost the ford to rescue some Kinmont Willie; or watched for deer. Is laying brick a fulfilment of this dream? Or tending counter; or adding up columns at a desk? Charging up interest in a bank is of very inferior interest to charging up the bank, as he had dreamed it. Can he with self-respect consent to squeeze his life into the strait-jacket of such pursuits,—his life that should have been active and brave and free,--can he rightly permit it to be cramped into such mean dimensions, his nature like the potter's hand so pitifully subdued unto his call
We have here, in this maladjustment between the native tendencies and ideals of the boy who goes to work, and the industrial situation as he finds it, the elements of a tragedy of that classic and inevitable kind which consists not in the defeat of a particular scheme of life, but in a conflict of ideals which renders all schemes of life alike impossible. And often under our social arrangements as they now exist this potential tragedy is realized. What then can we do to mend a dislocation which causes such wreckage and waste of spiritual force among our boys and young men, or to mitigate its consequences ?
There are, in general, three ways of lessening this dislocation: by fitting the boy to the industrial world, by fitting the industrial world to the boy, and by providing an overflow.
By the first I do not mean lopping human nature down to fit the bed we have made for it, but bending it so that it will grow and express itself under the unavoidable conditions. The aim of all is not efficiency, but integrity, not increasing industrial output, but promoting life.
I. FITTING THE BOY TO THE WORLD
1. Under this first head-fitting the boy to the world—the first thing to do is to cease to unfit him, to permit the powers that underlie industrial pursuits, along with all his other powers, free opportunity for development. Such free opportunity, if we follow nature's law, will be continued at least up to the age of fourteen, or to the period of adolescence which comes at about that time.
Man as nature made him is a great deal more of an industrial being than our modern education has permitted him to be. There are other instincts besides those of hunting and fighting -instincts especially aimed toward useful labor,which are under our present school system systematically starved. There is the creative instinct, which impels little children to make houses and mud pies, small girls to sew, and small boys to handle tools. This instinct, if we gave it free play—if we did not lock up the materials from the child, or the child, in school, away from the materials—would drill the maker in him. Man is an artificer by nature. It is by shutting the door on nature that we make a barbarian of him in this respect.
Then there is the nurturing instinct that makes every little girl nurse her doll, that impels every child to acquire and care for plants and pets, that makes them love to tend the horse, to feed the pigs, or milk the cow. This instinct also we sterilize by permitting very meager opportunity, or none at all, for its expression. Allowed its natural scope it would have made a nurse, a teacher, a fosterer of life, of every child. The rhythmic instinct that sets every phrase and motion of early childhood to music is only now regaining, thru singing and dancing and drawing, its normal ascendency in education. Its power to set mechanical drudgery to music, illustrated by every European washerwoman, is only beginning to be recognized. Even the instinct of curiosity, or scientific impulse, which we do cultivate, we permit only such feeble methods of expression as afford but a nerveless training compared to what it naturally exacts. Instead of the drill in investigating the causes of actual phenomena that it would have provided, we confine it almost entirely to abstract problems, largely in grammar and arithmetic. And even in these we mostly supply the solution ourselves and ask the child to learn it, thus resterilizing our curriculum already sterile of methods applicable to productive life.
Our children are far less prepared for industrial life than can be the case with those of any savage tribe. To make small spears and bows and use them, to help grown people in the hundred necessary domestic arts, is a far better preparation in this direction than any that our schools afford or leave time for. The only part of our children's nature that now gains executive expression—that is to say, actual liberation into the world of action—is the barbaric part. For the running and fighting plays that can be carried on in the street or on the playground, and do not require tools or much material, some sort of opportunity exists—very imperfect, it is true, but far better than can be found, at least in the case of the city child, for quiet play in satisfaction of the nurturing, creative, or scientific instincts. In our civilized life it is the civilized productive side of the child's nature that gets wholly starved.
I am not one of those who think that even our present schools are upon the whole an evil. The training they give for social and intellectual life, thru language and arithmetic, and thru habits of regularity and order, more than makes up for the industrial inaptitudes they cause. But they do cause such inaptitudes, and in the most wanton and unnecessary way, by neglecting the industrial faculties, while taking up the time in which these might otherwise be trained.
What I am advocating in this first proposition is not definite industrial training, not specialization, but on the contrary the all-round cultivation of the child. I would advocate the same even if it had no bearing on industrial life; for I believe that up to the age of adolescence the child's business is to grow, not to prepare for a vocation but to become a man, the kind of creature to whom our industrial life and all else we institute must be made to minister and conform. What I desire to point out is that when we do provide an all-round education we shall release in our children industrial powers which we now deliberately starve. We shall cease to train them away from the serviceable life that nature intended them to lead. I agree absolutely with those who uphold culture rather than direct preparation for practical life as the true aim of primary education. I disagree only with the belief held by some of them that culture of the human being consists in developing only one corner of his nature, and that in a peculiarly passive and ineffective way, and in thus incidentally unfitting him for useful life.
When by truly all-round education we shall have restored to our children those main strands of their being that are now starved out of them, we shall find them possest of a nature that it is not so easy to defeat. The first choice or preferred expression of the boy's life will still be toward war and foray, and there will still be real spiritual loss from insufficient op