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insight depends on education, and education in its turn depends on insight. Hence it follows that education can advance only by degrees, and that a true conception of the method of education can arise only when one generation transmits its stores of experience and knowledge to the following one, which in turn adds something of its own before handing them down to its successor. What vast culture and experience does not this conception presuppose! Accordingly it can originate only at a remote period, and we ourselves have not fully realized it. The question arises whether the education of the individual should be conformed to the education of the human race through its successive generations?
There are two inventions of man which may be regarded as the most difficult of all, namely, the art of government and the art of education; and people are still divided as to their true idea.
8. Since the development of man's natural gifts does not take place of itself, all education is an art. Nature has placed no instinct in him for that purpose. The origin as well as the progress of this art is either mechanical and without plan, ordered according to given circumstances, or it involves the exercise of intelligent judgment. Education is mechanical when on only chance occasions we learn by experience whether anything is useful or harmful to man. All education which is merely mechanical must carry with it many mistakes and deficiencies because it rests on no basal principle. If education is to develop human nature so that it may attain its destiny, it must involve the exercise of judgment. Educated parents are models which children use for imitation. But if children are to progress beyond their parents, pedagogy must become a study; otherwise we can hope nothing from it, and men of defective education will become the educators of others. Mechanism in education
must be changed into a science; otherwise it will never become a consistent pursuit, and one generation may pull down what another had built up.
9. One principle of education which those men especially who form educational schemes should keep before their eyes is this — children ought to be educated, not for the present, but for a possibly improved condition of man in the future; that is, in a manner which is adapted to the idea of humanity and the whole destiny of man. This principle is of great importance. Parents usually educate their children in such a manner that they may be adapted to the present conditions, however degenerate the world may be. But they ought to give them a better education, in order that a better condition of things may thereby be brought about in the future.
Here, however, we encounter two difficulties: (1) Parents usually care only that their children make their way in the world, and (2) Princes consider their subjects only as instruments for their own purposes. Parents care for the home, princes for the state. Neither have as their aim the universal good and the perfection to which man is destined and for which he has also the natural gifts. But the basis of a scheme of education must be cosmopolitan. And is, then, the idea of the universal good hurtful to us as individuals? Never! for though it may appear that something must be sacrificed with this idea, nevertheless it furthers the best interests of the individual under his present conditions. And then what splendid results follow! It is through good education that all the good in the world arises. The germs which lie hidden in man need only to be more and more developed. For the elements of evil are not to be found in the natural endowments of man. The failure to bring nature under control — this is the cause of evil. In man there are only germs of good.
II. But by whom is this better condition of the world to be brought about? By rulers, or by their subjects? Shall the latter improve themselves so that they meet a good government half way? If this better condition is to be established by princes, then their own education must first be improved, for their training has long suffered the great mistake of not allowing them to meet with opposition in their youth.
Accordingly the management of schools should entirely depend upon the judgment of the most enlightened experts. All culture begins with the individual, and radiates from him as a center. It is only through the efforts of people of broader views, who take an interest in the general good, and who are capable of entertaining the idea of a better condition of things in the future, that the gradual progress of human nature towards its goal is possible.
12. Thus, in education, man must in the first place, be made the subject of discipline. Discipline means the effort to restrain the animal side of our nature, in the individual as well as in social life, from working harm. It is thus nothing but the subjugation of our brutality. In the second place, man must acquire culture. Culture includes information and instruction. It is culture that brings out ability. Ability is the possession of a faculty which is capable of being adapted to all desired ends. It does not determine ends, but leaves that to subsequent circumstances. On account of the multitude of ends, ability is in some sense infinite. In the third place, man must acquire discretion and be able to conduct himself in society so that he may be esteemed, and possess influence. To this end there is needed a kind of culture which we call refinement. This includes manners, courtesy, and a certain discretion, which will enable their possessor to use all men for his own ends. This refinement changes according to the varying taste of successive ages.
Thus, some decades ago, ceremonies were the fashion in social intercourse. In the fourth place, moral training must form a part of education. It is not enough that a man be fitted for any end, but he must also acquire the disposition to choose only good ends. Good ends are those which are necessarily approved by everyone, and which may at the same time be the aim of everyone.
13. Man may be either broken in, trained, and mechanically taught, or he may be really enlightened. Horses and dogs are broken in, and man, too, may be broken in. But it is not enough that children should be merely broken in; it is eminently important that they learn to think. That leads to the principle from which all transactions proceed. Thus we see that a real education involves a great deal. But as a rule, in private education, the fourth and most important point is still too much neglected, for children are substantially educated in such a way that moral training is left to the preacher. And yet how infinitely important it is that children be taught from youth up to detest vice, not merely on the ground that God has forbidden it, but because it is in itself detestable.
14. Experimental schools must be established before we can establish normal schools. Education and instruction must not be merely mechanical; they must be based on fixed principles. Yet education must be not entirely theoretical, but at the same time, in a certain sense, mechanical.
People commonly imagine that experiments in education are not necessary, and that we can judge from our reason whether anything is good or not. But this is a great mistake, and experience teaches that the results of our experiments are often entirely different from what we expected. Thus we see that, since we must be guided by experiments, no one generation can set forth a complete scheme of education.
15. Education is either private or public. The latter is concerned only with instruction, and this can always remain public. The practice of what is taught is left to private education. A complete public education is one which unites instruction and moral culture. Its aim is to promote a good private education.
Education in the home is conducted either by the parents themselves, or, should the parents not have the time, aptitude, or inclination, by others who are paid to assist them. But in education carried on by these assistants, one very great difficulty arises, namely, the division of authority between parent and tutor. The child must obey the regulations of his teacher, and at the same time follow the whims of his parents. The only way out of this difficulty is for parents to surrender entirely their authority to the tutor.
16. How far, then, has private education an advantage over public education, or vice versa? In general it seems to me that, not merely for the development of ability but also for the cultivation of civic character, public education is to be preferred. Private education, in many cases, not only fosters family failings, but transmits them to the new generation.
17. One of the greatest problems of education is how to unite submission to legal restraint with the exercise of freewill. For restraint is necessary! How am I to develop freedom in the presence of restraint?) I am to accustom my pupil to endure a restraint of his freedom, and at the same time I am to guide him to use his freedom aright. Without this all education is merely mechanical, and the child, when his education is over, does not know how to make a proper use of his freedom. He must be made to feel early the inevitable opposition of society, that he may learn the difficulty of supporting himself, enduring privation, and acquiring what is necessary to make him independent.