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fixed points, of making his ground good as he goes, of distinguishing what he knows from what he does not know, and I conceive he will be gradually initiated into the largest and truest philosophical views, and will feel nothing but impatience and disgust at the random theories and imposing sophistries and dashing paradoxes, which carry away half-formed and superficial intellects.”
The child who learns to do small things well when he is small gets the best training for doing big things well when he is big. He lifts the calf every day; and behold, he has lifted the cow! Wherever you go, you meet, not merely people who scamp their work, but people who do not know the difference between a good job and a bad one. “My great difficulty,” says the master of a large private school, “is to find teachers who know anything, or who seem as if they had ever seen anybody that knew anything. They have plenty of educational progress' and
educational theory;' but they don't know anything." After all, why should they know anything? They have a good deal of more or less accurate information, such as people get who have studied what came easiest and seemed at the time most interesting, and have let the rest go. Then, with a little pedagogy superadded, they have been turned loose to hand down their principles to others. “The Austrian ballet” [Australian ballot], a New York schoolgirl wrote in an examination book, "was introduced into this country by Cleveland to corrupt the people and keep it secret.” The state of mind evinced by this sentence has been too common in school children under any system of learning; but I believe we do less to clear it now than when we paid more attention to those fundamental principles which tend to promote accuracy in thought and in expression.
I have said elsewhere — and I believe it with all my might — that one reason for the hold of athletic sport on our schools and colleges is its awakening in many boys their first, or almost their first, ambition to do something as well as it can be done, and the recognition of severe routine as a means to that end. In football they are judged by an innumerable jury of their peers. Failure is public disgrace; success, if decently bought, is glory. “ Jack,” said a great football player to a shiftless student whom he was trying to look after morally, “ did you ever do anything as well as you could ?” “No, Tom," said the other, “I don't believe I ever did.” The amateur athlete is held up to his best by the immediate, certain, and widespread fame of good playing, and the equally prompt and notorious shame of bad playing. He is held up, further, by the conviction that what he is doing is for his college or for his school. Never again, unless he holds public office, will such a searchlight be turned on him ; and never again will so many persons see what he does or fails to do. As a result, a thoroughly trained football player, meeting the supreme test, may find himself lifted up by the inspiration of the moment, of the crowd, of the cheering, and of college patriotism, so that -- as some one has put it — he plays better than he knows how. In a few instances every man in a team plays better than he knows how.
Older people can hardly appreciate the stimulus to every power of mind and body in a great athletic contest. Here is work in which youth itself is an advantage, in which the highest honor may be won by a young man who has missed all earlier opportunities for doing anything as well as he knew how; here is a fresh chance to show of what stuff - mental and physical — he is made, and a cause that appeals to youth so strongly as to make obstacles springs of courage. Here is something that rouses a young man's powers as the elective system in study is designed to do, yet does not require that basis of intellectual accuracy which is essential to success in study. Here, also, is something in which a young man who can succeed knows that success may mean an opening for the work of his life. Thousands of men actually see his success with their own eyes; thousands more hear of it. If on graduation he applies for work, he is not the unknown quantity that a young graduate usually is. He has already been tried in times of stress and found not wanting. If, as sometimes happens, he has shown, not merely that he is always to be counted on, but that in the thick of things he is inspired and inspiring, he has marked himself as a leader of men. Besides, no man can thoroughly succeed in football who plays for himself alone. There are few more searching tests of men's motives and spirit. This is why class officers chosen from football