CAMBRIDGE ESSAYS ON EDUCATION
EDITED BY A.C. BENSON, C.V.O., LL.D. Master of Magdalene College
With an Introduction by the Right Hon. Viscount Bryce, O.M.
The scheme of publishing a volume of essays dealing with underlying aims and principles of education was originated by the University Press Syndicate. It seemed to promise something both of use and interest, and the further arrangements were entrusted to a small Committee, with myself as secretary and acting editor.
Our idea has been this: at a time of much educational enterprise and unrest, we believed that it would be advisable to collect the opinions of a few experienced teachers and administrators upon certain questions of the theory and motive of education which lie a little beneath the surface.
To deal with current and practical problems does not seem the first need at present. Just now, work is both common as well as fashionable; most people are doing their best; and, if anything, the danger is that organisation should outrun foresight and intelligence. Moreover a weakening of the old compulsion of the classics has resulted, not in perfect freedom, but in a tendency on the part of some scientific enthusiasts simply to substitute compulsory science for compulsory literature, when the real question rather is whether obligatory subjects should not be diminished as far as possible, and more sympathetic attention given to faculty and aptitude.
We have attempted to avoid mere current controversial topics, and to encourage our contributors to define as far as possible the aim and outlook of education, as the word is now interpreted.
We have not furthered any educational conspiracy, nor attempted any fusion of view. Our plan has been first to select some of the most pressing of modern problems, next to find well-equipped experts and students to deal with each, and then to give the various writers as free a hand as possible, desiring them to speak with the utmost frankness and personal candour. We have not directed the plan or treatment or scope of any essay; and my own editorial supervision has consisted merely in making detailed suggestions on smaller points, in exhorting contributors to be punctual and diligent, and generally revising what the New Testament calls jots and tittles. We have been very fortunate in meeting with but few refusals, and our contributors readily responded to the wish which we expressed, that they should write from the personal rather than from the judicial point of view, and follow their own chosen method of treatment.
We take the opportunity of expressing our obligations to all who have helped us, and to Viscount Bryce for bestowing, as few are so justly entitled to do, an educational benediction upon our scheme and volume.
MAGDALENE COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE August 18, 1917
By the Right Hon. VISCOUNT BRYCE, O.M.
I. THE AIM OF EDUCATIONAL REFORM
By JOHN LEWIS PATON, M.A., High Master of Manchester Grammar School; formerly Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, Assistant Master at Rugby School, Head Master of University College School
II. THE TRAINING OF THE REASON
By the Very Rev. WILLIAM RALPH INGE, D.D., Dean of St Paul's, Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, and of Hertford College, Oxford; formerly Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, Assistant Master at Eton College, Fellow and Tutor of Hertford College, Oxford
III. THE TRAINING OF THE IMAGINATION
By ARTHUR CHRISTOPHER BENSON, C.V.O., LL.D., Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge; formerly Assistant Master at Eton College
IV. RELIGION AT SCHOOL
By WILLIAM WYAMAR VAUGHAN, M.A., Master of Wellington College; formerly Assistant Master at Clifton College, and Head Master of Giggleswick School
By ALBERT MANSBRIDGE, M.A., Joint-Secretary of the Cambridge University Tutorial Classes Committee; Founder and formerly Secretary of the Workers' Educational Association
VI. THE PLACE OF LITERATURE IN EDUCATION
By NOWELL SMITH, M.A., Head Master of Sherborne School; formerly Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, Fellow and Tutor of New College, Oxford, Assistant Master at Winchester College
VII. THE PLACE OF SCIENCE IN EDUCATION
By WILLIAM BATESON, F.R.S., Director of the John Innes Horticultural Institution, Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge; formerly Professor of Biology in the University of Cambridge
By FREDERIC BLAGDEN MALIM, M.A., Master of Haileybury College; formerly Assistant Master at Marlborough College, Head Master of Sedbergh School
IX. THE USE OF LEISURE
By JOHN HADEN BADLEY, M.A., Head Master of Bedales School
X. PREPARATION FOR PRACTICAL LIFE
By Sir JOHN DAVID MCCLURE, LL.D., D.MUS., Head Master of Mill Hill School
XI. TEACHING AS A PROFESSION
By FRANK ROSCOE, Secretary of the Teachers Registration Council
In times of anxiety and discontent, when discontent has engendered the belief that great and widespread economic and social changes are needed, there is a risk that men or States may act hastily, rushing to new schemes which seem promising chiefly because they are new, catching at expedients that have a superficial air of practicality, and forgetting the general theory upon which practical plans should be based. At such moments there is special need for the restatement and enforcement by argument of sound principles. To such principles so far as they relate to education it is the aim of these essays to recall the public mind. They cover so many branches of educational theory and deal with them so fully and clearly, being the work of skilled and vigorous thinkers, that it would be idle for me to enter in a short introduction upon those topics which they have discussed with special knowledge far greater than I possess. All I shall attempt is to present a few scattered observations on the general problems of education as they stand to-day.
The largest of those problems, viz., how to provide elementary instruction for the whole population, is far less urgent now than it was fifty years ago. The Act of 1870, followed by the Act which made school-attendance compulsory, has done its work. What is wanted now is Quality rather than Quantity. Quantity is doubtless needed in one respect. Children ought to stay longer at school and ought to have more encouragement to continue education after they leave the elementary school. But it is chiefly an improvement in the teaching that is wanted, and that of course means the securing of higher competence in the teacher by raising the remuneration and the status of the teaching profession.
The next problem is how to find the finest minds among the children of the country and bring them by adequate training to the highest efficiency. The sifting out of these best minds is a matter of educational organisation and machinery; and the process will become the easier when the elementary teachers, who ought to bear a part in selecting those who are most fitted to be sent on to secondary schools, have themselves become better qualified for the task of discrimination. The question how to train these best minds when sifted out would lead me into the tangled controversy as to the respective educational values of various subjects of instruction, a topic which I must not deal with here. What I do wish to dwell upon is the supreme importance to the progress of a nation of the best talent it possesses. In every country there is a certain percentage of the population who are fitted by their superior intelligence, industry, and force of character to be the leaders in every branch of action and thought. It is a small percentage, but it may be increased by discovering ability in places where the conditions do not favour its development, and setting it where it will have a better chance of growth, just as a seedling tree brought out of the dry shade may shoot up when planted where sun and rain can reach it freely. I am not thinking of those exceptionally great and powerful minds, of whom there may not be more than four or five in a generation, who make brilliant discoveries or change the currents of thought, but rather of persons of a capacity high, if not quite first rate, which enables them, granted fair chances, to rise quickly into positions where they can effectively serve the community. These men, whatever occupation they follow, be it that of abstract thinking, or literary production, or scientific research, or the conduct of affairs, whether commercial or political or administrative, are the dynamic strength of the country when they enter manhood, and its realised wealth when they are in their fullest vigour thirty years later. We need more of them, and more of them may be found by taking pains.
The volume of thought continuously applied to the work of life, whether it be applied in the library or study or laboratory, or in the workshop or factory or counting-house or council chamber, has not been keeping pace with the growth of our population, our wealth, our responsibilities. It is not to-day sufficient for the increasing vastness and complexity of the problems that confront a great nation. We in Great Britain have been too apt to rely upon our energy and courage and practical resourcefulness in emergencies, and thus have tended to neglect those efforts to accumulate knowledge, and consider how it can be most usefully applied, which should precede and accompany action. This deficiency is happily one that can be removed, while a want of qualities which are the gift of nature is less curable. The "efficiency" which is on every one's mouth cannot be extemporised by rushing hastily into action, however energetic. It is the fruit of patient and exact determination of and reflection upon the facts to be dealt with.
The view that it was the finest minds that ought to be most cared for, and that to them of right belonged not merely leadership, but even control also, was carried by the ancients, and especially by Plato and Aristotle, almost to excess. Their ideal, and indeed that of most Greek thinkers, was the maintenance among the masses of the military valour and discipline which the State needed for its protection, and the cultivation among the chosen few of the highest intellectual and moral excellence. In the Middle Ages, when power as well as rank belonged to two classes, nobles and clergy, the ideal of education took a religious colour, and that training was most valued which made men loyal to the Church and to sound doctrine, with the prospect of bliss in the world to come. In our times, educational ideals have become not merely more earthly but more material. Modern doctrines of equality have discredited the ancient view that the chief aim of instruction is to prepare the few Wise and Good for the government of the State. It is not merely upon this world but also upon the material things of this world, power and the acquisition of territory, industrial production, commerce, finance, wealth and prosperity in all its forms, that the modern eye is fixed. There has been a drifting away from that respect for learning which was strong in the Middle Ages and lasted down into the eighteenth century. In some countries, as in our own, that which instruction and training may accomplish has been rated far below the standard of the ancients. Yet in our own time we have seen two striking examples to show that their estimate was hardly too high. Think of the power which the constant holding up, during long centuries, of certain ideals and standards of conduct, exerted upon the Japanese people, instilling sentiments of loyalty to the sovereign and inspiring a certain conception of chivalric duty which Europe did not reach even when monarchy and chivalry stood highest. Think of that boundless devotion to the State as an omnipotent and all-absorbing power, superseding morality and suppressing the individual, which within the short span of two generations has taken possession of Germany. In the latter case at least the incessant preaching and teaching of a theory which lowers the citizen's independence and individuality while it saps his moral sense seems to us a misdirection of educational effort. But in it education has at least displayed its power.
Can a fair statement of the educational ideals which we might here and now set before ourselves be found in saying that there are three chief aims to be sought as respects those we have called the best minds?
One aim is to fit men to be at least explorers, even if not discoverers, in the fields of science and learning.
A second is to fit them to be leaders in the field of action, leaders not only by their initiative and their diligence, but also by the power and the habit of turning a full stream of thought and knowledge upon whatever work they have to do.
A third is to give them the taste for, and the habit of enjoying, intellectual pleasures.
Many moralists, ancient and modern, have given pleasure a bad name, because they saw that the most alluring and powerfully seductive pleasures, pleasures which appeal to all men alike, were indulged to excess, and became a source of evil. But men will have pleasure and ought to have pleasure. The best way of drawing them off from the more dangerous pleasures is to teach them to enjoy the better kinds. Moreover the quieter pleasures of the intellect mean Rest, and a greater fitness for resuming work.
The pity is that so many sources capable of affording delight are ignored or imperfectly appreciated. May not this be partly the fault of the lines which our education has followed? Perhaps some kinds of study would have fared better if their defenders had dwelt more upon the pleasure they afford and less upon their supposed utility. The champions of Greek and Latin have dilated on the value of grammar as a mental discipline, and argued that the best way to acquire a good English style is to know the ancient languages, a proposition discredited by many examples to the contrary. It is really this insistence on grammatical minutiae that has proved repellent to young people and suggested the dictum that "it doesn't much matter what you teach a boy so long as he hates it." Better had it been, abandoning the notion that every one should learn Greek, to dwell upon the boundless pleasure which minds of imagination and literary taste derive from carrying in memory the gems of ancient wisdom which are more easily remembered because they are not in our own language, and the finest passages of ancient poetry. There are plenty of things—indeed there are far more things—in modern literature as noble and as beautiful as the best of the ancients can give us. But they are not the same things. The ancient poets have the freshness and the fragrance of the springtime of the world . Or take another sort of instance. Take the pleasures which nature spreads before us with a generous hand, hills and fields and woods and rocks, flowers and the songs of birds, the ever-shifting aspects of clouds and of landscapes under light and shadow. How few persons in most countries—for there is in this respect a difference between different peoples—notice these things. Everybody sees them few observe them or derive pleasure from them. Is not this largely because attention has not been properly called to them? They have not been taught to look at natural objects closely and see the variety there is in them. Persons in whom no taste for pictures has ever been formed by their having been taken to see, good pictures and told what constitutes merit, are, when led into a picture gallery, usually interested in the subjects. They like to see a sportsman shooting wild fowl, or a battle scene, or even a prize fight, or a mother tending a sick child, because these incidents appeal to them. But they seldom see in a picture anything but the subject; they do not appreciate: imaginative quality or composition, or colour, or light and shade or indeed anything except exact imitation of the actual. So in nature the average man is; struck by something so exceptional as a lofty rock, like Ailsa Craig or the Needles off the Isle of Wight, or an eclipse of the moon, or perhaps a blood-red sunset; but he does not notice and consequently draws no pleasure from landscapes in general, whether noble; or quietly beautiful. The capacity for taking pleasure, in all these things may not be absent. There is reason: to think that most children possess it, because when they are shown how to observe they usually respond, quickly perceiving, for instance, the differences between one flower and another, quickly, even when quite young, learning the distinctive characters and names of each, enjoying the process of recognising each when they walk along the lanes, as indeed every intelligent child enjoys the exercise of its observing powers. The disproportionate growth of our urban population, a thing regrettable in other respects also, has no doubt made it more difficult to give young people a familiar knowledge of nature, but the facilities for going into the country and the happy lengthening of summer holidays render it easier than formerly to provide opportunities for Nature Study, which, properly conducted, is a recreation and not a lesson. There is no source of enjoyment which lasts so keen all through life or which fits one better for other enjoyments, such as those of art and of travel. Of the value of the habit of alert observation for other purposes I say nothing, wishing here to insist only upon what it may do for delight.
It is often alleged that in England boys and girls show less mental curiosity, less desire for knowledge than those of most European countries, or even than those of the three smaller countries north and west of England in which the Celtic element is stronger than it is in South Britain. A parallel charge has, ever since the days of Matthew Arnold, been brought against the English upper and middle classes. He declared that they care less for the "things of the mind" and show less respect to eminence in science, literature and art, than is the case elsewhere, as for instance in France, Germany, or Italy (to which one may add the United States); and he thus explained the scanty interest taken by these classes in educational progress.
Should this latter charge be well founded, the fact it notes would tend to perpetuate the former evil, for the indifference of parents reacts upon the school and upon the pupils. The love of knowledge is so natural and awakens so early in the normal child, that even if it be somewhat less keen among English than among French or Scottish children, we may well believe our deficiencies to be largely due to faulty and unstimulative methods of teaching, and may trust that they will diminish when these methods have been improved.
If it be true that the English public generally show a want of interest in and faint appreciation of the value of education, the stern discipline of war will do something to remove this indifference. The comparative poverty and reduction of luxurious habits; which this war will bring in its train, along with a sense of the need that has arisen for turning to the fullest account all the intellectual resources of the country so that it may maintain its place in the world,—these things may be expected to work a change for the better, and lead parents to set more store upon the mental and less upon the athletic achievements of their sons.
Be this as it may, no one to-day denies that much remains to be done to spread a sense of the value of science for those branches of industry to which (as especially to agriculture) it has been imperfectly applied, to strengthen and develop the teaching of scientific theory as the foundation of technical and practical scientific work, and above all to equip with the largest measure of knowledge and by the most stimulating training those on whom nature has bestowed the most vigorous and flexible minds. To-day e see that the heads of great businesses, industrial and financial, are looking out for men of university distinction to be placed in responsible posts—a thing which did not happen fifty years ago—because the conditions of modern business have grown too intricate to be handled by any but the best trained brains. The same need is at least equally true of many branches of that administrative work which is now being thrust, in growing volume, upon the State and its officials.
If we feel this as respects the internal economic life of our country, is it not true also of the international life of the world? In the stress and competition of our times, the future belongs to the nations that recognise the worth of Knowledge and Thought, and best understand how to apply the accumulated experience of the past. In the long run it is knowledge and wisdom that rule the world, not knowledge only, but knowledge applied with that width of view and sympathetic comprehension of men, and of other nations, which are the essence of statesmanship.
[Footnote 1: This has been clearly seen and admirably stated by the present President of the Board of Education.]
[Footnote 2: Take for instance this little fragment of Alcman:
Greek: Ou m heti, parthenikai meligaryest imerophonoi, Gyia pherein dynatai. Bale de Bale kerylos eien, Hos t hepi kymatos hanthos ham alkyonessi potetai Neleges hetor hechon haliporphyros eiaros hornis.
What can be more exquisite than the epithets in the first line, or more fresh and delicate and tender in imaginative quality than the three last? A modern poet of equal genius would treat the topic with equal force and grace, but the charm, the untranslatable charm of antique simplicity, would be absent.]
THE AIM OF EDUCATIONAL REFORM
By J. L. PATON
High Master of Manchester Grammar School
The last century, with all its brilliant achievement in scientific discovery and increase of production, was spiritually a failure. The sadness of that spiritual failure crushed the heart of Clough, turned Carlyle from a thinker into a scold, and Matthew Arnold from a poet into a writer of prose.
The secret of failure was that the great forces which move mankind were out of touch with each other, and furnished no mutual support. Art had no vital relation with industry; work was dissociated from joy; political economy was at issue with humanity; science was at daggers drawn with religion; action did not correspond to thought, being to seeming; and finally the individual was conceived as having claims and interests at variance with the claims and interests of the society of which he formed a part, in fact as standing out against it, in an opposition so sharply marked that one of the greatest thinkers could write a book with the title "Man versus the State." As a result, nation was divided against nation, labour against capital, town against country, sex against sex, the hearts of the children were set against the fathers, the Church fought against the State, and, worst of all, Church fought against Church.
The discords of the great society were reflect inevitably in the sphere of education. The elementary schools of the nation were divided into two conflicting groups, and both were separated by an estranging gulf from the grammar schools and high schools as the grammar schools in turn were shut off from the public schools on the one hand, and from the schools of art, music, and of technology on the other There was no cohesion, no concerted effort, no mutual support, no great plan of advance, no homologating idea.
This fact in itself is sufficient to account for the ineffectiveness, the despondencies, the insincerities and ceaseless unrest of Western civilisation in the nineteenth century. The tree of human life cannot flower and bear fruit for the healing of the nations when its great life-forces spend themselves in making war on each other.
If the experience of the century which lies before us is to be different, it must be made so by means of education. Education is the science which deals with the world as it is capable of becoming. Other sciences deal with things as they are, and formulate the laws which they find to prevail in things as they are. The eyes of education are fixed always upon the future, and philosophy of whatever kind, directly adumbrates a Utopia, thinks on educational lines.
The aim of education must therefore be as wide as it is high, it must be co-extensive with life. The advance must be along the whole front, not on a small sector only. William Morris, when he tried his hand at painting, used to say, that what bothered him always was the frame: he could not conceive of art as something "framed off" and isolated from life. Just as William Morris wanted to turn all life into art, so with education. It cannot be "framed off" and detached from the larger aspects of political and social well-being; it takes all life for its province. It is not an end in itself, any more than the individuals with whom it deals; it acts upon the individual, but through the individual it acts upon the mass, and its aim is nothing less than the right ordering of human society.
To cope with a task which can be stated in these terms, education must be free. A new age postulates a new education. The traditions which have dominated hitherto must one by one be challenged to render account of themselves, that which is good in them must be conserved and assimilated, that which is effete must be scrapped and rejected. Neither can the administrative machinery, as it exists, be taken for granted; unless it shows those powers of adaptation and growth which show it to be alive and not dead, it too must be scrapped and rejected; new wine is fatal to old skins. Education must regain once more what she possessed at the time of the Renascence—the power of direction; she must be mistress of her fate.
Further, if education is to be a force which makes for co-operation in place of conflict, she must not be divided against herself. She must leave behind forever the separations and snobberies, the misunderstandings, the wordy battles beloved of pedants and politicians. The smoke and dust of controversy obscures her vision, and she needs all her energies to tackle the great task which confronts her. In this regard nothing is so full of promise for the future as the new sense of unity which is beginning both to animate and actuate the whole teaching profession, from the University to the Kindergarten, and has already eventuated in the formation of a Teachers Registration Council, on which all sorts and conditions of education are represented.
The materialists have not been slow to see their chance, to challenge the old tradition of literary education, and to urge the claims of science. But the aim which they place before us is frankly stated—it is the acquisition of wealth; they are "on manna bent and mortal ends," and their conception of the future is a world in which one nation competes against another for the acquisition of markets and commodities. In effect, therefore, materialism challenges the classics, but it accepts the self-seeking ideals of the past generations, and accepts also, as an integral part of the future, the scramble of conflicting interests, labour against capital, nation against nation, man against man. Now the first characteristic of the genuine scientific mind is the power of learning by experience. Real science never makes the same mistake twice. Obviously the repetition of the past can only eventuate in the repetition of the present. And that is precisely what education sets itself to counteract. The materialist forgets three outstanding and obvious facts. Firstly, science cannot be the whole of knowledge, because "science" (in his limited sense of the term) deals only with what appears. Secondly, power of insight depends not so much upon the senses as on moral qualities, the sense of sympathy and of fairness; it needs self-discipline as well as knowledge both of oneself and one's fellow-man. "How can a man," says Carlyle, "without clear vision in his heart first of all, have any clear vision in the head?" "Eyes and ears," said the ancient philosopher, "are bad witnesses for such as have barbarian souls." Thirdly, the tragedy of the past generation was not its failure to accumulate wealth; in that respect it was more successful than any generation which preceded it. The tragedy of the nineteenth century was that, when it had acquired wealth, it had no clear idea, either individually or collectively, what to do with it.
And yet the house of humanity faces both ways; it looks out towards the world of appearances as well as to the world of spirit, and is, in fact, the meeting-place of both. Materialism is not wrong because it deals with material things. It is wrong because it deals with nothing else. It is wrong, also, in education because taking the point of view of the adult, it makes the material product itself the all-important thing. In every right conception of education the child is central. The child is interested in things. It wants first to sense them, or as Froebel would say "to make the outer inner"; it wants to play with them, to construct with them, and along the line of this inward propulsion the educational process has to act. The "thing-studies" if one may so term them, which have been introduced into the curriculum, such as gardening, manual training (with cardboard, wood, metal), cooking, painting, modelling, games and dramatisation, are it is true later introductions, adopted mainly from utilitarian motive; and they have been ingrafted on the original trunk, being at first regarded as detachable extras, but they quickly showed that they were an organic part of the real educative process; they have already reacted on the other subjects of the curriculum, and have, in the earlier stages of education become central. In the same way, vocation is having great influence upon the higher terminal stages of education. All this is part of the most important of all correlations, the correlation of school with life.
But the child's interest in things is social. Through the primitive occupations of mankind, he is entering step by step into the heritage of the race and into a richer fuller personal experience. The science which enlists a child's interest is not that which is presented from the logical, abstract point of view. The way in which the child acquires it is the same as that in which mankind acquired it—his occupation presents certain difficulties, to overcome these difficulties he has to exercise his thought, he invents and experiments; and so thought reacts upon occupation, occupation reacts upon thought. And out of that reciprocal action science is born. In the same way his play is social—in his games too he enters into the heritage of the race, and in playing them he is learning unconsciously the greatest of all arts, the art of living with others. In his play as well as in his school work the lines of his natural development show how he can be trained to co-operate with the law of human progress.
This fitness and readiness to co-operate with the great movement of human progress, all-round fitness of body, mind and spirit, provides the formula which fuses and reconciles two growing tendencies in modern education.
There is in the first place the movement towards self-expression and self-development—postulating for the scholar a larger measure of liberty in thought and action, and self-direction than hitherto—this movement is represented mainly by Dr Montessori, and by "What is and what might be"; it is a movement which is spreading upwards from the infant school to the higher standards. Side by side with it is the movement towards the fuller development of corporate life in the school, the movement which trains the child to put the school first in his thoughts, to live for the society to which he belongs and find his own personal well-being in the well-being of that society. This has been, ever since Arnold, sedulously fostered in the games of the public schools, and fruitful of good results in that limited sphere; it has been applied with conspicuous success to the development of self-government, and it has reached its fullest expression in the little Commonwealth of Mr Homer Lane. But we are beginning to recognise its wider applications, it is capable of transforming the spirit of the class-room activities as well as the activities of a playing field, it is in every way as applicable to the elementary school as to Eton, or Rugby, or Harrow, and to girls as well as to boys.
These two movements towards a fuller liberty of self-fulfilment, and towards a fuller and stronger social life, are convergent, and supplement, or rather complement, each other. Personality, after all, is best defined as "capacity for fellowship," and only in the social milieu can the individual find his real self-fulfilling. Unless he functions socially, the individual develops into eccentricity, negative criticism, and the cynical aloofness of the "superior person." On the other hand without freedom of individual development, the organisation of life becomes the death of the soul. Prussia has shown how the psychology of the crowd can be skilfully manipulated for the most sinister ends. It is a happy omen for our democracy that both these complementary movements are combined in the new life of the schools. To both appeals, the appeal of personal freedom, and the appeal of the corporate life, the British child is peculiarly responsive. Round these two health-centres the form of the new system will take shape and grow.
And growth it must be, not building. The body is not built up on the skeleton, the skeleton is secreted by the growing body. The hope of education is in the living principle of hope and enthusiasm, which stretches out towards perfection. One distrusts instinctively at the present time anything schematic. There are men, able enough as organisers, who will be ready to sit down and produce at two days' notice a full cut-and-dried scheme of educational reconstruction. They will take our present resources, and make the best of them, no doubt, re-arranging and re-manipulating them, and making them go as far as they can. They will shape the whole thing out in wood, and the result will be wooden. It will be static and stratified, with no upward lift. But that is not the way. Education is a thing of the spirit, it is instinct with life, [Greek: thermon ti pragma] as Aristotle would say, drawing upon resources that are not its own, "unseen yet crescive in its faculty" and in its growth taking to itself such outward form as it needs for the purpose of its inward life. Six years at least it will take for the new spirit to work itself out into the definite larger forms.
That does not mean that it will come without hard purposeful thinking and much patient effort. Education does not "happen" any more than "art happens,"—and just as with the arts of the middle ages, so the well-being of education depends not on the chance appearance of a few men of genius but on the right training and love of the ordinary workman for his work. Education is a spiritual endeavour, and it will come, as the things of the spirit come, through patience in well-doing, through concentration of purpose on the highest, through drawing continually on the inexhaustible resources of the spiritual world. The supreme "maker" is the poet, the man of vision. For the administrator, the task is different from what it has been. It is for him to watch and help experiments, to prevent the abuse of freedom, not to preserve uniformities but to select variations. But he is handling a power which, as George Meredith says, "is a heaven-sent steeplechaser, and takes a flying leap of the ordinary barriers."
To-morrow is the day of opportunity. To-day is the day of preparation. Yesterday's ideals have become the practical politics of the present hour. Our countrymen recognise now as they have never done before that the problem of national reconstruction is in the main a problem of national education: "the future welfare of the nation," to use Mr Fisher's words, "depends upon its schools." Men make light now of the extra millions which a few years ago seemed to bar the way of progress. At the same time the discipline of the last three years has hammered into us a new consciousness of national solidarity and social obligation. As the whole energies of a united people are at this moment concentrated on the duty of destruction which is laid upon us, so after the war with no less urgency and no less oneness of heart the whole energies of a united nation must be concentrated on the upbuilding of life. That upbuilding is to be economic as well as spiritual, but those who think out most deeply the need of the economic situation, are most surely convinced that the problems of industry and commerce are at the bottom human problems and cannot find solution without a new sense of "co-operation and brotherliness."
Such is the need and such the task. England is looking to her schools as she never did before. The aim of her education must be both high and wide, higher than lucre, wider than the nation. And the aim of our education cannot be fulfilled until the education of other peoples is infused with the same spirit. Education, like finance, must be planned on international lines by international consensus with a view to world peace. Only so can it fulfil the ultimate end which already looms on the horizon,
Becoming when the time has birth A lever to uplift the earth And roll it on another course.
[Footnote 1: Mr Angus Watson in Eclipse or Empire, p. 88.]
THE TRAINING OF THE REASON
By W. R. INGE
Dean of St Paul's
The ideal object of education is that we should learn all that it concerns us to know, in order that thereby we may become all that it concerns us to be. In other words, the aim of education is the knowledge not of facts but of values. Values are facts apprehended in their relation to each other, and to ourselves. The wise man is he who knows the relative values of things. In this knowledge, and in the use made of it, is summed up the whole conduct of life. What are the things which are best worth winning for their own sakes, and what price must I pay to win them? And what are the things which, since I cannot have everything, I must be content to let go? How can I best choose among the various subjects of human interest, and the various objects of human endeavour, so that my activities may help and not hinder each other, and that my life may have a unity, or at least a centre round which my subordinate activities may be grouped. These are the chief questions which a man would ask, who desired to plan his life on rational principles, and whom circumstances allowed to choose his occupation. He would desire to know himself, and to know the world, in order to give and receive the best value for his sojourn in it.
We English for the most part accept this view of education, and we add that the experience of life, or what we call knowledge of the world, is the best school of practical wisdom. We do not however identify practical wisdom with the life of reason but with that empirical substitute for it which we call common sense. There is in all classes a deep distrust of ideas, often amounting to what Plato called misologia, "hatred of reason." An Englishman, as Bishop Creighton said, not only has no ideas; he hates an idea when he meets one. We discount the opinion of one who bases his judgment on first principles. We think that we have observed that in high politics, for example, the only irreparable mistakes are those which are made by logical intellectualists. We would rather trust our fortunes to an honest opportunist, who sees by a kind of intuition what is the next step to be taken, and cares for no logic except the logic of facts. Reason, as Aristotle says, "moves nothing"; it can analyse and synthesise given data, but only after isolating them from the living stream of time and change. It turns a concrete situation into lifeless abstractions, and juggles with counters when it should be observing realities. Our prejudices against logic as a principle of conduct have been fortified by our national experience. We are not a quick-witted race; and we have succeeded where others have failed by dint of a kind of instinct for improvising the right course of action, a gift which is mainly the result of certain elementary virtues which we practise without thinking about them, justice, tolerance, and moderation. These qualities have, we think and think truly, been often wanting in the Latin nations, which pride themselves on lucidity of intellect and logical consistency in obedience to general principles. Recent philosophy has encouraged these advocates of common sense, who have long been "pragmatists" without knowing it, to profess their faith without shame. Intellect has been disparaged and instinct has been exalted. Intuition is a safer guide than reason, we are told; for intuition goes straight to the heart of a situation and has already acted while reason is debating. Much of this new philosophy is a kind of higher obscurantism; the man in the street applauds Bergson and William James because he dislikes science and logic, and values will, courage and sentiment. He used to be fond of repeating that Waterloo was won on the playing fields of our public schools, until it was painfully obvious that Colenso and Spion Kop were lost in the same place. We have muddled through so often that we have come half to believe in a providence which watches over unintelligent virtue. "Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever," we have said to Britannia. So we have acquiesced in being the worst educated people west of the Slav frontier.
I do not wish to dwell on the disadvantages which we have thus incurred in international competition—our inferiority to Germany in chemistry, and to almost every continental nation in scientific agriculture. This lesson we are learning, and are not likely to forget. It is our spiritual loss which we need to realise more fully. In the first place, the majority of Englishmen have no thought-out purpose in life beyond the call of "duty," which is an empty ideal until we know what our duty is. Confusion of means and ends is especially common in this country, though it is certainly to be found everywhere. The passion for irrational accumulation is one example of the error, which causes the gravest social inconvenience. The largest part of social injustice and suffering is caused by the unchecked indulgence of the acquisitive instinct by those who have the opportunity of indulging it, and who have formed a blind habit of indulging it. No one, however selfish, who had formed any reasonable estimate of the relative values of life, would devote his whole time to the economical exploitation of his neighbours, in order to pile up the instruments of a fuller life, which he will never use. To regard business as a kind of game is, from the highest point of view, right, and our nation gains greatly by applying the ethics of sport to all our external activities; but we err in living for our games, whether they happen to be commerce or football. A friend of mine expostulated with a Yorkshire manufacturer who was spending his old age in unnecessary toil for the benefit of a spendthrift heir. The old man answered, "If it gives him half as much pleasure to spend my half million as it has given me to make it, I don't grudge it him." That is not the spirit of the real miser or Mammon-worshipper. It is the spirit of a natural idealist who from want of education has no rational standard of good. When such a man intervenes in educational matters, he is sure to take the standpoint of the so-called practical man, because he is blind to the higher values of life. He will wish to make knowledge and wisdom instruments for the production of wealth, or the improvement of the material condition of the poor. But knowledge and wisdom refuse to be so treated. Like goodness and beauty, wisdom is one of the absolute values, the divine ideas. As one of the Cambridge Platonists said, we must not make our intellectual faculties Gibeonites, hewers of wood and drawers of water to the will and affections. Wisdom must be sought for its own sake or we shall not find it. Another effect of our misologia is the degradation of reasonable sympathy into sentimentalism, which regards pain as the worst of evils, and endeavours always to remove the effects of folly and wrong-doing, without investigating the causes. That such sentimentalism is often kind only to be cruel, and that it frequently robs honest Peter to pay dishonest Paul, needs no demonstration. Sentimentalism does not believe that prevention is better than cure, and practical politicians know too well that a scientific treatment of social maladies is out of the question in this country. Others become fanatics, that is to say, worldlings who are too narrow and violent to understand the world. The root of the evil is that a whole range of the higher values is inaccessible to the majority, because they know nothing of intellectual wealth. And yet the real wealth of a nation consists in its imponderable possessions—in those things wherein one man's gain is not another man's loss, and which are not proved incapable of increase by any laws of thermo-dynamics. An inexhaustible treasure is freely open to all who have passed through a good course of mental training, a treasure which we can make our own according to our capacities, and our share of which we would not barter for any goods which the law of the land can give or take away. "The intelligent man," says Plato, "will prize those studies which result in his soul getting soberness, righteousness and wisdom, and will less value the others." The studies which have this effect are those which teach us to admire and understand the good, the true and the beautiful. They are, may we not say, humanism and science, pursued in a spirit of "admiration, hope and love." The trained reason is disinterested and fearless. It is not afraid of public opinion, because it "counts it a small thing that it should be judged by man's judgment"; its interests are so much wider than the incidents of a private career that base self-centred indulgence and selfish ambition are impossible to it. It is saved from pettiness, from ignorance, and from bigotry. It will not fall a victim to those undisciplined and disproportioned enthusiasms which we call fads, and which are a peculiar feature of English and North American civilisation. Such reforms as are carried out in this country are usually effected not by the reason of the many, but by the fanaticism of the few. A just balance may on the whole be preserved, but there is not much balance in the judgments of individuals.
Matthew Arnold, whose exhortations to his countrymen now seem almost prophetic, drew a strong contrast between the intellectual frivolity, or rather insensibility, of his countrymen and the earnestness of the Germans. He saw that England was saved a hundred years ago by the high spirit and proud resolution of a real aristocracy, which nevertheless was, like all aristocracies, "destitute of ideas." Our great families, he shows, could no longer save us, even if they had retained their influence, because power is now conferred by disciplined knowledge and applied science. It is the same warning which George Meredith reiterated with increasing earnestness in his late poems. What England needs, he says, is "brain."
Warn her, Bard, that Power is pressing Hotly for his dues this hour, Tell her that no drunken blessing Stops the onward march of Power, Has she ears to take forewarnings, She will cleanse her of her stains, Feed and speed for braver mornings Valorously the growth of brains. Power, the hard man knit for action Reads each nation on the brow; Cripple, fool, and petrifaction Fall to him—are falling now.
She impious to the Lord of hosts The valour of her off-spring boasts, Mindless that now on land and main His heeded prayer is active brain.
These faithful prophets were not heeded, and we have had to learn our lesson in the school of experience. She is a good teacher but her fees are very high.
The author of Friendship's Garland ended with a despairing appeal to the democracy, when his jeremiads evoked no response from the upper class, whom he called barbarians, or from the middle class, whom he regarded as incurably vulgar. The middle classes are apt to receive hard measure; they have few friends and many critics. We must go back to Euripides to find the bold statement that they are the best part of the community and "the salvation of the State"; but it is, on the whole, true. And our middle class is only superficially vulgar. Vulgarity, as Mr Robert Bridges has lately said, "is blindness to values; it is spiritual death." The middle class in Matthew Arnold's time was no doubt deplorably blind to artistic values; its productions survive to convict it of what he called Philistinism; but it is no longer devoid of taste or indifferent to beauty. And it has never been a contemptible artist in life. Mr Bridges describes the progress of vulgarity as an inverted Platonic progress. We descend, he says, from ugly forms to ugly conduct, and from ugly conduct to ugly principles, till we finally arrive at the absolute ugliness which is vulgarity. This identification of insensibility to beauty with moral baseness was something of a paradox even in Greece, and does not fit the English character at all. Our towns are ugly enough; our public buildings rouse no enthusiasm; and many of our monuments and stained glass windows seem to shout for a friendly Zeppelin to obliterate them. But we British have not descended to ugly conduct. Pericles and Plato would have found the bearing of this people in its supreme trial more "beautiful" than the Parthenon itself. The nation has shaken off its vulgarity even more easily and completely than its slackness and self-indulgence. We have borne ourselves with a courage, restraint, and dignity which, a Greek would say, could have only been expected of philosophers. And we certainly are not a nation of philosophers. We must not then be too hasty in calling all contempt for intellect vulgar. We have sinned by undervaluing the life of reason; but we are not really a vulgar people. Our secular faith, the real religion of the average Englishman, has its centre in the idea of a gentleman, which has of course no essential connection with heraldry or property in land. The upper classes, who live by it, are not vulgar, in spite of the absence of ideas with which Matthew Arnold twits them; the middle classes who also respect this ideal, are further protected by sound moral traditions; and the lower classes have a cheery sense of humour which is a great antiseptic against vulgarity. But though the Poet Laureate has not, in my opinion, hit the mark in calling vulgarity our national sin, he has done well in calling attention to the danger which may beset educational reform from what we may call democratism, the tendency to level down all superiorities in the name of equality and good fellowship. It is the opposite fault to the aristocraticism which beyond all else led to the decline of Greek culture—the assumption that the lower classes must remain excluded from intellectual and even from moral excellence. With us there is a tendency to condemn ideals of self-culture which can be called "aristocratic." But we need specialists in this as in every other field, and the populace must learn that there is such a thing as real superiority, which has the right and duty to claim a scope for its full exercise.
The fashionable disparagement of reason, and exaltation of will, feeling or instinct would be more dangerous in a less scientific age. The Italian metaphysician Aliotta has lately brought together in one survey the numerous leaders in the great "reaction against science," and they are a formidable band. Pragmatists, voluntarists, activists, subjective idealists, emotional mystics, and religious conservatives, have all joined in assaulting the fortress of science which half a century ago seemed impregnable. But the besieged garrison continues to use its own methods and to trust in its own hypotheses; and the results justify the confidence with which the assaults of the philosophers are ignored. We are told that the scientific method is ultimately appropriate only to the abstractions of mathematics. But nature herself seems to have a taste for mathematical methods. A sane idealism believes that the eternal verities are adumbrated, not travestied, in the phenomenal world, and does not forget how much of what we call observation of nature is demonstrably the work of mind. The world as known to science is itself a spiritual world from which certain valuations are, for special purposes, excluded. To deny the authority of the discursive reason, which has its proper province in this sphere, is to destroy the possibility of all knowledge. Nor can we, without loss and danger, or instinct or intuition above reason. Instinct is a faculty which belongs to unprogressive species. It is necessarily unadaptable and unable to deal with any new situation. Consecrated custom may keep Chinese civilisation safe in a state of torpid immobility for five thousand years; but fifty years of Europe will achieve more, and will at last present Cathay with the alternative of moving on or moving off. Instinct might lead us on if progress were an automatic law of nature, but this belief, though widely held, is sheer superstition.
We have to convert the public mind in this country to faith in trained and disciplined reason. We have to convince our fellow-citizens not only that the duty of self-preservation requires us to be mentally as well equipped as the French, Germans and Americans, but that a trained intelligence is in itself "more precious than rubies." Blake said that "a fool shall never get to Heaven, be he never so holy." It is at any rate true that ignorance misses the best things in this life If Englishmen would only believe this, the whole spirit of our education would be changed, which is much more important than to change the subjects taught. It does not matter very much what is taught; the important question to ask is what is learnt. This is why the controversy about religious education was mainly fatuous. The "religious lesson" can hardly ever make a child religious; religion, in point of fact, is seldom taught at all; it is caught, by contact with someone who has it. Other subjects can be taught and can be learnt; but the teaching will be stiff collar-work, and the learning evanescent, if the pupil is not interested in the subject. And how little encouragement the average boy gets at home to train his reason and form intellectual tastes! He may probably be exhorted to "do well in his examination," which means that he is to swallow carefully prepared gobbets of crude information, to be presently disgorged in the same state. The examination system flourishes best where there is no genuine desire for mental cultivation. If there were any widespread enthusiasm for knowledge as an integral part of life the revolt against this mechanical and commercialised system of testing results would be universal. As things are, a clever boy trains for an examination as he trains for a race; and goes out of training as fast as possible when it is over. Meanwhile the romance of his life is centred in those more generous and less individual competitions in the green fields, which our schools and universities have developed to such perfection. In classes which have small opportunities for physical exercises, vicarious athletics, with not a little betting, are a disastrous substitute. But the soul is dyed the colour of its leisure thoughts. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." This is why no change in the curriculum can do much for education, as long as the pupils imbibe no respect for intellectual values at home, and find none among their school-fellows. And yet the capacity for real intellectual interest is only latent in most boys. It can be kindled in a whole class by a master who really loves and believes in his subject. Some of the best public school teachers in the last century were hot-tempered men whose disciplinary performances were ludicrous. But they were enthusiastic humanists, and keen scholars passed year by year out of their class-rooms.
The importance of a good curriculum is often exaggerated. But a bad selection of subjects, and a bad method of teaching them, may condemn even the best teacher to ineffectiveness. Nothing, for example, can well be more unintelligent than the manner of teaching the classics in our public schools. The portions of Greek and Latin authors construed during a lesson are so short that the boys can get no idea of the book as a whole; long before they finish it they are moved up into another form. And over all the teaching hangs the menace of the impending examination, the riddling Sphinx which, as Seeley said in a telling quotation from Sophocles, forces us to attend to what is at our feet, neglecting all else—all the imponderables in which the true value of education consists. The tyranny of examinations has an important influence upon the choice of subjects as well as upon the manner of teaching them; for some subjects, which are remarkably stimulating to the mind of the pupil, are neglected, because they are not well adapted for examinations. Among these, unfortunately, are our own literature and language.
It is therefore necessary, even in a short essay which professes to deal only with generalities, to make some suggestions as to the main subjects which our education should include. As has been indicated already, I would divide them into main classes—science and humanism. Every boy should be instructed in both branches up to a certain point. We must firmly resist those who wish to make education purely scientific, those who, in Bacon's words, "call upon men to sell their books and build furnaces, quitting and forsaking Minerva and the Muses and relying upon Vulcan." We want no young specialists of twelve years old; and a youth without a tincture of humanism can never become
A man foursquare, withouten flaw ywrought.
Of the teaching of science I am not competent to speak. But as an instrument of mind-training, and even of liberal education, it seems to me to have a far higher value than is usually conceded to it by humanists. To direct the imagination to the infinitely great and the infinitely small, to vistas of time in which a thousand years are as one day; to the tremendous forces imprisoned in minute particles of matter; to the amazing complexity of the mechanism by which the organs of the human body perform their work; to analyse the light which has travelled for centuries from some distant star; to retrace the history of the earth and the evolution of its inhabitants—such studies cannot fail to elevate the mind, and only prejudice will disparage them. They promote also a fine respect for truth and fact, for order and outline, as the Greeks said, with a wholesome dislike of sophistry and rhetoric. The air which blows about scientific studies is like the air of a mountain top—thin, but pure and bracing. And as a subject of education science has a further advantage which can hardly be overestimated. It is in science that most of the new discoveries are being made. "The rapture of the forward view" belongs to science more than to any other study. We may take it as a well-established principle in education that the most advanced teachers should be researchers and discoverers as well as lecturers, and that the rank and file should be learners as well as instructors. There is no subject in which this ideal is so nearly attainable as in science.
And yet science, even for its own sake, must not claim to occupy the whole of education. The mere Naturforscher is apt to be a poor philosopher himself, and his pupils may turn out very poor philosophers indeed. The laws of psychical and spiritual life are not the same as the laws of chemistry or biology; and the besetting sin of the scientist is to try to explain everything in terms of its origin instead of in terms of its full development: "by their roots," he says, "and not by their fruits, ye shall know them." This is a contradiction of Aristotle [Greek: (he physis telos hestin)], and of a greater than Aristotle. The training of the reason must include the study of the human mind, "the throne of the Deity," in its most characteristic products. Besides science, we must have humanism, as the other main branch of our curriculum.
The advocates of the old classical education have been gallantly fighting a losing battle for over half a century; they are now preparing to accept inevitable defeat. But their cause is not lost, if they will face the situation fairly. It is only lost if they persist in identifying classical education with linguistic proficiency. The study of foreign languages is a fairly good mental discipline for the majority; for the minority it may be either more or less than a fair discipline. But only a small fraction of mankind is capable of enthusiasm for language, for its own sake. The art of expressing ideas in appropriate and beautiful forms is one of the noblest of human achievements, and the two classical languages contain many of the finest examples of good writing that humanity has produced. But the average boy is incapable of appreciating these values, and the waste of time which might have been profitably spent is, under our present system, most deplorable. It may also be maintained that the conscientious editor and the conscientious tutor have between them ruined the classics as a mental discipline. Fifty years ago, English commentatorship was so poor that the pupil had to use his wits in reading the classics; now if one goes into an undergraduate's room, one finds him reading the text with the help of a translation, two editions with notes, and a lecture note-book. No faculty is being used except the memory, which Bishop Creighton calls "the most worthless of our mental powers." The practice of prose and verse composition, often ignorantly decried, has far more educational value; but it belongs to the linguistic art which, if we are right, is not to be demanded of all students. Are we then to restrict the study of the classics to those who have a pretty taste for style? If so, the cause of classical education is indeed lost. But I can see no reason why some of the great Greek and Latin authors should not be read, in translations, as part of the normal training in history, philosophy and literature. I am well aware of the loss which a great author necessarily suffers by translation; but I have no hesitation in saying that the average boy would learn far more of Greek literature, and would imbibe far more of the Greek spirit, by reading the whole of Herodotus, Thucydides, the Republic of Plato, and some of the plays in good translations, than he now acquires by going through the classical mill at a public school. The classics, like almost all other literature, must be read in masses to be appreciated. Boys think them dull mainly because of the absurd way in which they are made to study them.
I shall not make any ambitious attempt to sketch out a scheme of literary studies. My subject is the training of the reason. But two principles seem to me to be of primary importance. The first is that we should study the psychology of the developing reason at different ages, and adapt our method of teaching accordingly. The memory is at its best from the age of ten to fifteen, or thereabouts. Facts and dates, and even long pieces of poetry, which have been committed to memory in early boyhood, remain with us as a possession for life. We would most of us give a great deal in middle age to recover that astonishingly retentive memory which we possessed as little boys. On the other hand, ratiocination at that age is difficult and irksome. A young boy would rather learn twenty rules than apply one principle. Accordingly the first years of boyhood are the time for learning by heart. Quantities of good poetry, and useful facts of all kinds should be entrusted to the boy's memory to keep: will assimilate them readily, and without any mental overstrain. But eight or ten years later, "cramming" is injurious both to the health and to the intellect. Years have brought, if not the philosophic mind, yet at any rate a mind which can think and argue. The memory is weaker and the process of loading it with facts is more unpleasant. At this stage the whole system of teaching should be different. One great evil of examinations is that they prolong the stage of mere memorising to an age at which it is not only useless but hurtful. Another valuable guide is furnished by observing what authors the intelligent boy likes and dislikes. His taste ought certainly to be consulted, if our main object is to interest him in the things of the mind. The average intelligent boy likes Homer and does not like Virgil; he is interested by Tacitus and bored by Cicero; he loves Shakespeare and revels in Macaulay, who has a special affinity for the eternal schoolboy.
My other principle is that since we are training young Englishmen, whom we hope to turn into true and loyal citizens, we shall presumably find them most responsive to the language, literature, and history of their own country. This would be a commonplace, not worth uttering, in any other country; in England it is, unfortunately, far from being generally accepted Nothing sets in a stronger light the inertia and thoughtlessness, not to say stupidity, of the British character in all matters outside the domain of material and moral interests, than our neglect of the magnificent spiritual heritage which we possess in our own history and literature. Wordsworth, in one of those noble sonnets which are now, we are glad to hear, being read by thousands in the trenches and by myriads at home, proclaims his faith in the victory of his country over Napoleon because he thinks of her glorious past.
We must be free or die, who speak the tongue That Shakespeare spake, the faith and morals hold That Milton held. In everything we are sprung Of Earth's best blood, have titles manifold.
It is a high boast, but it is true. But what have we done to fire the imagination of our boys and girls with the vision of our great and ancient nation, now struggling for its existence? What have we taught them of Shakespeare and Milton, of Elizabeth and Cromwell, of Nelson and Wellington? Have we ever tried to make them understand that they are called to be the temporary custodians of very glorious traditions, and the trustees of a spiritual wealth compared with which the gold mines of the Rand are but dross? Do we even teach them, in any rational manner, the fine old language which has been slowly perfected for centuries, and which is now being used up and debased by the rubbishy newspapers which form almost the sole reading of the majority? We have marvelled at the slowness with which the masses realised that the country was in danger, and at the stubbornness with which some of the working class clung to their sectional interests and ambitions when the very life of England was at stake. In France the whole people saw at once what was upon them; the single word patrie was enough to unite them in a common enthusiasm and stern determination. With us it was hardly so; many good judges think that but for the "Lusitania" outrage and the Zeppelins, part of the population would have been half-hearted about the war, and we should have failed to give adequate support to our allies. The cause is not selfishness but ignorance and want of imagination; and what have we done to tap the sources of an intelligent patriotism? We are being saved not by the reasoned conviction of the populace, but by its native pugnacity and bull-dog courage. This is not the place to go into details about English studies; but can anyone doubt that they could be made the basis of a far better education than we now give in our schools? We have especially to remember that there is a real danger of the modern Englishman being cut off from the living past. Scientific studies include the earlier phases of the earth, but not the past of the human race and the British people. Christianity has been a valuable educator in this way, especially when it includes an intelligent knowledge the Bible. But the secular education of the masses is now so much severed from the stream of tradition and sentiment which unites us with the older civilisations, that the very language of the Churches is becoming unintelligible to them, and the influence of organised religion touches only a dwindling minority. And yet the past lives in us all; lives inevitably in its dangers, which the accumulated experience of civilisation, valued so slightly by us on its spiritual side, can alone help us to surmount. A nation like an individual, must "wish his days to be bound each to each by natural piety." It too must strive to keep its memory green, to remember the days of old and the years that are past. The Jews have always had, in their sacred books, a magnificent embodiment of the spirit of their race; and who can say how much of their incomparable tenacity and ineradicable hopefulness has been due to the education thus imparted to every Jewish child? We need a Bible of the English race, which shall be hardly less sacred to each succeeding generation of young Britons than the Old Testament is to the Jews. England ought to be, and may be, the spiritual home of one quarter of the human race, for ages after our task as a world-power shall have been brought to a successful issue, and after we in this little island have accepted the position of mother to nations greater than ourselves. But England's future is precious only to those to whom her past is dear.
I am not suggesting that the history and literatures of other countries should be neglected, or that foreign languages should form no part of education. But the main object is to turn out good Englishmen, who may continue worthily and even develop further a glorious national tradition. To do this, we must appeal constantly to the imagination, which Wordsworth has boldly called "reason in her most exalted mood." We may thus bring a little poetry and romance into the monotonous lives of our hand-workers. It may well be that their discontent has more to do with the starving of their spiritual nature than we suppose. For the intellectual life, like divine philosophy, is not dull and crabbed, as fools suppose, but musical as is Apollo's lute.
Can we end with a definition of the happiness and well-being, which is the goal of education, as of all else that we try to do? Probably we cannot do better than accept the famous definition of Aristotle, which however we must be careful to translate rightly. "Happiness, or well-being, is an activity of the soul directed towards excellence, in an unhampered life." Happiness consists in doing rather than being; the activity must be that of the soul—the whole man acting as a person; it must be directed towards excellence—not exclusively moral virtue, but the best work that we can do, of whatever kind; and it must be unhampered—we must be given the opportunity of doing the best that is in us to do. To awaken the soul; to hold up before it the images of whatsoever things are true, lovely, noble, pure, and of good report; and to remove the obstacles which stunt and cripple the mind; this is the work which we have called the Training of the Reason.
THE TRAINING OF THE IMAGINATION
BY A. C. BENSON
Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge
It might be hastily assumed by a reader bent on critical consideration, that the subject of my essay had a certain levity or fancifulness about it. Works of imagination, as by a curious juxtaposition they are called, are apt to lie under an indefinable suspicion, as including unbusinesslike and romantic fictions, of which the clear-cut and well-balanced mind must beware, except for the sake, perhaps, of the frankest and least serious kind of recreation. Considering the part which the best and noblest works of imagination must always play in a literary education, it has often surprised me to reflect how little scope ordinary literary exercises give for the use of that particular faculty. The old themes and verses aimed at producing decorous centos culled from the works of classical rhetoricians and poets. No boy, at least in my day, was ever encouraged to take a line of his own, and to strike out freely across country in pursuit of imagined adventures. Even English teaching in its earlier stages seldom aimed at more than transcriptions of actual experience, a day spent in the country, or a walk beside the sea. Only quite recently have boys and girls been encouraged to write poems and stories out of their own imaginations; and even now there are plenty of educational critics who would consider such exercises as dilettante things lacking in practical solidity.
But I desire in this essay to go further back into the roots of the subject, and my first position is plainly this; that imagination, pure and simple, is a common enough faculty; not perhaps the creative imagination which can array scenes of life, construct romantic experiences, and embody imaginary characters in dramatic situations, but the much simpler sort of imagination which takes pleasure in recalling past memories, and in forecasting and anticipating interesting events. The boy who, weary of the school-term, considers what he will do on the first day of the holidays, or who anxiously forebodes paternal displeasure, is exercising his imagination; and the truth is that the faculty of imagination plays an immense part in all human happiness and unhappiness, considering that, whenever we take refuge from the present in memories or in anticipations, we are using it. The first point then that I shall consider is whether this restless and influential faculty ought not in any case to be trained, so that it may not either be atrophied or become over-dominant; and the second point will be the further consideration as to whether the faculty of creative imagination is a thing which should be deliberately developed.
In the first place then, it seems to me simply extraordinary that so little heed is paid in education to the using and controlling of what is one of the most potent instinctive forces of the mind. We take careful thought how to strengthen and fortify the body, we go on to spending many hours upon putting memory through its paces, and in developing the reason and the intelligence; we pass on from that to exercising and purifying the character and the will; we try to make vice detestable and virtue desirable. But meanwhile, what is the little mind doing? It submits to the drudgery imposed upon it, it accommodates itself more or less to the conditions of its life; it learns a certain conduct and demeanour for use in public. Yet all the time the thought of the boy is running backwards and forwards in secrecy, considering the memories of its experience, pleasant or unpleasant, and comforting itself in tedious hours by framing little plans for the future. I remember my old schoolmastering days, and the hours I spent with a class of boys sitting in front of me; how constantly one saw boys in the midst of their work, with pen suspended and page unturned, look up with that expression denoting that some vision had passed before the inward eye—which, as Wordsworth justly observes, constitutes "the bliss of solitude"—obliterating for a moment the surrounding scene. I do not mean that the thought was a distant or an exalted one—probably it was some entirely trivial reminiscence, or the anticipation of some coming amusement. But I do not think I exaggerate when I say that probably the greater part of a human being's unoccupied hours, and probably a considerable part of the hours supposed to be occupied, are spent in some similar exercise of the imagination. What a confirmation of this is to be found in the phenomena of sleep and dreams! Then the instinct is steadily at work, neither remembering nor anticipating, but weaving together the results of experience into a self-taught tale.
And then if one considers later life, it is no exaggeration to say that the greater part of human happiness and unhappiness consists in the dwelling upon what has been, what may be, what might be, and, alas, in our worst moments, upon what might have been "My unhappiest experiences," said Lord Beaconsfield, "have been those which never happened"; and again the same acute critic of life said that half the clever people he knew were under the impression that they were hated and envied, the other half that they were admired and loved;—and that neither were right!
The imaginative faculty then is a species of self-representation, the power of considering our own life and position as from the outside; from it arise both the cheerful hopes and schemes of the sound mind, and the shadowy anxieties and fears of the mind which lacks robustness. It certainly does seem singular that this deep and persistent element in human life is left so untrained and unregarded, to range at will, to feed upon itself. All that the teacher does is to insist as far as possible on a certain concentration of the mind on business at particular times, and if he has ethical purposes at heart, he may sometimes speak to a boy on the advisability of not allowing his mind to dwell upon base or sensual thoughts; but how little attempt is ever made to train the mind in deliberate and continuous self-control!
The latest school of pathologists, in the treatment of obsessed or insane persons, pay very close attention to the subjects of their dreams, and attribute much nerve-misery to the atrophy, or suppression by circumstances, of instincts which betray themselves in dreams. I am inclined to think that the educators of the future must somehow contrive to do more—indeed they cannot well do less than is actually done—in teaching the control of that secret undercurrent of thought in which happiness and unhappiness really reside. Those who have lived much with boys will know what havoc suspense or disappointment or anxiety or sensuality or unpopularity can make in an immature character. It seems to me that we ought not to leave all this without guidance or direction, but to make a frontal attack upon it. I do not mean that it is necessary to probe too deeply into the imagination, but I believe that the subject should be frankly spoken about, and suggestions made. The point is to get the will to work, and to induce the mind, in the first place, to realise and practise its power of self-command; and in the second place, to show that it is possible to evict an unwholesome thought by the deliberate welcoming and entertaining of a wholesome one. The best of all cures is to provide every boy with some occupation which he indubitably loves. There are a good many boys whose work is not interesting to them, and a certain number to whom the prescribed games are a matter of routine rather than of active pleasure. Indeed it may be said that hardly any boys enjoy either work or games in which they see no possibility of any personal distinction. It is therefore of great importance that every boy whose chances of successful performance are small should be encouraged to have a definite hobby; for an occupation which the mind can remember with pleasure and anticipate with delight supplies the food for the restless imagination, which may otherwise become dreary from inaction, or tainted by thoughts of baser pleasure. A schoolmaster only salves his conscience by supplying a strict time-table and regular games. A house master ought to be most careful in the case of boys whose work is languid and proficiency in games small, to find out what the boy really likes and enjoys, and to encourage it by every means in his power. That is the best corrective, to administer wholesome food for the mind to digest. But I believe that good teachers ought to go much further, and speak quite plainly to boys, from time to time, on the necessity of practising control of thought. My own experience is that boys were always interested in any talk, call it ethical or religious, which based itself directly upon their own actual experience. I can conceive that a teacher who told a class to sit still for three minutes and think about anything they pleased, and added that he would then have something to tell them, might have an admirable object-lesson in getting them to consider how swift and far-ranging their fancies had been; or again he might practise them in concentration of thought by asking them to think for five minutes on a perfectly definite thing—to imagine themselves in a wood, or by the sea, or in a chemist's shop, let us say, and then getting them to put down on paper a list of definite objects which they had imagined. The process could be infinitely extended; but if it were done with some regularity, it would certainly b possible to train boys to concentrate themselves in reflection and recollected observation. Or again a quality might be propounded, such as generosity or spitefulness, and the boys required to construct an imaginary anecdote of the simplest kind to illustrate it. This would have the effect of training the mind at all events to focus itself, and this is just what drudgery pure and simple will not do. The aim is not to train mere memory or logical accuracy, but to strengthen that great faculty which we loosely call imagination, which is the power of evoking mental images, and of migrating from the present into the past or the future.
I believe it to be a very notable lack in our theory of education that so little attempt is made to bring the will to bear upon what may be called the subconscious mind. It is that strange undercurrent of thought which is so imprudently neglected which throws up on its banks, without any apparent purpose or aim, the ideas and images which lurk within it. I do not say that such a training would immediately give self-control, but most peoples' worst sufferings are caused by what is called "having something on their mind"; and yet, so far as I know, in the process of education, no attempt whatever is made, except quite incidentally, to dispossess the strong man armed by the stronger victor, or to help immature minds to hold an unpleasant or a pleasant thought at arm's length, or to train them in the power of resolutely substituting a current of more wholesome images. The subconscious mind is too often treated as a thing beyond control, and yet the pathological power of suggestion, by which a thought is implanted like a seed in the mind, which presently appears to be rooted and flowering, ought to show us that we have within our reach an extraordinarily potent psychological implement.