Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

of the infinite and fascinating variety in human capacity, of the awful responsibility for those who by the pressure of dull routine would stifle a human soul, of the almost divine mission for those who help a human soul into the fulness of life. For what is nearer the divine than to see that a child has life, and has it more abundantly? “The past was wrong,” says the educator of to-day; “let us right it. Education has been dark and cruel; let us make it bright and kind.” Thus it comes to pass that, as many a prosperous father whose boyhood was pinched by poverty is determined that his son shall not suffer as he himself has suffered, and throws away on him money which he in turn throws away on folly and on vice, — as such a father saps a young man's strength in trying to be generous, so does many an educator of to-day, atoning for the cruelty of the past by the enervating luxury of the present, sap a child's strength in trying to be kind, change a Procrustes bed to a bed of roses. Cruel as it is to assume that a boy or a girl who is dull in one or two prescribed subjects is a dunce, it may be equally cruel to watch every inclination of the young mind, and to bend school requirements to its desires and whims. How many persons we know whose lives and whose friends' lives are embittered because they have had from childhood their own way, and who, if their eyes are once opened to the selfishness of their position, denounce the weakness of those who in their childhood yielded to them Unless we abandon as obsolete the notion that children are the better for obedience, why should 2 we give them full swing in the choice – of a time for doing sums or for learning to read 2 If we do not insist that a boy shall brush his hair till he longs to have it smooth, and if then we brush it for him, we are not educating him in either neatness or efficiency; and for aught I can see, the analogy holds good. I once knew a boy of sixteen or seventeen whose mother had done most of his reading for him. His eyes were sharp enough for things he liked (such as turtles and snakes); but he had trained them so little in the alphabet that in Latin he was quite impartial in deciding whether u followed by twas ut or tu. .The effect on his translation may be easily conceived. I do not mean that he made this particular mistake many times; I mean that he was constantly making mistakes of this character; that in general he had not been trained to observe just what were the letters before him, or in what order they came. Why then teach him Latin P He was to be a scientific man, and needed some language beside his own: yet how could he learn a foreign language? how could he learn his own language? how could he learn anything from a book? how was he training himself to be “there” P “Do not make a child read,” some educators say, “until he finds the need of reading, and learns for his own pleasure. Do not enfeeble his mind by forcing it.” “Do not enfeeble his mind,” one might answer, “by letting it go undisciplined.” If he begins late, when he has felt the need, he may learn to read rapidly; but will he have the patience for those small accuracies which form the basis of accuracy in later life, and which, unless learned early, are seldom learned at all? Do not give the child long hours; do not take away the freshness of his mind by pressing him; go slowly, but go thoroughly. Teach him, whatever he does, to do it as well as he can. Then show him how next time he can do better; and when next time comes, make him do better. However short the school hours may be, however much outside of the school may rouse or charm his mind, make him feel that school standards are high, that school work is to be done, and done well. "If you are teaching a girl to sweep, you do not let her sweep the lint under the table. Why, if you are teaching a child

to study, should you let him study in a

slovenly way? Why, for instance, should you teach him reading without spelling? Get into him as early as you can a habit of thoroughness as an end in itself, of thoroughness for its own sake, and he will soon find that being thorough is interesting; that against the pain of working when he feels indolent, he may match the pain of not doing what ought to be done, just as one kind of microbe is injected to kill another. When he once gets this habit firmly fixed in him (I may say, when it has once fixed itself upon him), he may have all sorts of intellectual freedom and be safe. Immature people constantly cry out against routine. Yet routine is an almost\ necessary condition of effective human/ life. An undisciplined genius, like Shel

« AnteriorContinuar »