MORAL AND RELIGIOUS TRAINING OF THE YOUTHRosaline Horlar
MORAL AND RELIGIOUS TRAINING
Dangers of muscular degeneration and overstimulus of brain—Difficulties in teaching morals—Methods in Europe—Obedience to commands—Good habits should be mechanized—Value of scolding—How to flog aright—Its dangers—Moral precepts and proverbs—Habituation—Training will through intellect—Examinations—Concentration—Originality—Froebel and the naive—First ideas of God—Conscience—Importance of Old and New Testaments—Sex dangers—Love and religion—Conversion.
From its nature as well as from its central importance it might be easily shown that the will is no less dependent on the culture it receives than is the mind. It is fast becoming as absurd to suppose that men can survive in the great practical strain to which American life subjects all who would succeed, if the will is left to take its doubtful chances of training and discipline, as to suppose that the mind develops in neglect. Our changed conditions make this chance of will-culture more doubtful than formerly. A generation or two ago most school-boys had either farm work, chores, errands, jobs self-imposed, or required by less tender parents; they made things, either toys or tools, out of school. Most school-girls did house-work, more or less of which is, like farm-work, perhaps the most varied and most salutary as well as most venerable of all schools for the youthful body and mind. They undertook extensive works of embroidery, bed-quilting, knitting, sewing, mending, if not cleaning, and even spinning and weaving their own or others' clothing, and cared for the younger children. The wealthier devised or imposed tasks for will-culture, as the German Kaiser has his children taught a trade as part of their education. Ten days at the hoe-handle, axe, or pitchfork, said an eminent educator lately in substance, with no new impression from without, and one constant and only duty, is a schooling in perseverance and sustained effort such as few boys now get in any shape; while city instead of country life brings so many new, heterogeneous and distracting impressions of motion rather than rest, and so many privileges with so few corresponding duties, that with artificial life and bad air the will is weakened, and eupeptic minds and stomachs, on which its vigor so depends, are rare. Machines supersede muscles, and perhaps our athleticism gives skill too great preponderance over strength, or favors intense rather than constant, long-sustained, unintermittent energy. Perhaps too many of our courses of study are better fitted to turn out many-sided but superficial paragraphists, than men who can lay deep plans, and subordinate many complex means to one remote end. Meanwhile, if there is any one thing of which our industries and practical arts are in more crying need than another, it is the old-fashioned virtue of thoroughness, of a kind and degree which does not address merely the eye, is not limited by the letter of a contract, but which has some regard for its products for their own sake, and some sense for the future. Whether in science, philosophy, morals, or business, the fields for long-ranged cumulative efforts are wider, more numerous, and far more needy than in the days when it was the fashion for men contentedly to concentrate themselves to one vocation, life-work, or mission, or when cathedrals or other yet vaster public works were transmitted, unfinished but ever advancing, from one generation of men to another.
It is because the brain is developed, while the muscles are allowed to grow flabby and atrophied, that the deplored chasm between knowing and doing is so often fatal to the practical effectiveness of mental and moral culture. The great increase of city and sedentary life has been far too sudden for the human body—which was developed by hunting, war, agriculture, and manifold industries now given over to steam and machinery—to adapt itself healthfully or naturally to its new environment. Let any of us take down an anatomical chart of the human muscles, and reflect what movements we habitually make each day, and realize how disproportionately our activities are distributed compared with the size or importance of the muscles, and how greatly modern specialization of work has deformed our bodies. The muscles that move the scribbling pen are insignificant fraction of those in the whole body, and those that wag the tongue and adjust the larynx are also comparatively few and small. Their importance is, of course, not underrated, but it is disastrous to concentrate education upon them too exclusively or too early in life. The trouble is that few realize what physical vigor is in man or woman, or how dangerously near weakness often is to wickedness, how impossible healthful energy of will is without strong muscles which are its organ, or how endurance and self-control, no less than great achievement, depend on muscle-habits. Both in Germany and Greece, a golden age of letters was preceded, by about a generation, by a golden age of national gymnastic enthusiasm which constitutes, especially in the former country, one of the most unique and suggestive chapters in the history of pedagogy. Symmetry and grace, hardihood and courage, the power to do everything that the human body can do with and without all conceivable apparatus, instruments, and even tools, are culture ideals that in Greece, Rome, and Germany respectively have influenced, as they might again influence, young men, as intellectual ideals never can do save in a select few. We do not want “will-virtuosos,” who perform feats hard to learn, but then easy to do and good for show; nor spurtiness of any sort which develops an erethic habit of work, temper, and circulation, and is favored by some of our popular sports but too soon reacts into fatigue. Even will-training does not reach its end till it leads the young up to taking a intelligent, serious and life-long interest in their own physical culture and development. This is higher than interest in success in school or college sport; and, though naturally later than these, is one of the earliest forms of will-culture in which it is safe and wise to attempt to interest the young for its own sake alone. In our exciting life and trying climate, in which the experiment of civilization has never been tried before, these thoughts are merely exercises.
But this is, of course, preliminary. Great as is the need, the practical difficulties in the way are very great. First, there are not only no good text-books in ethics, but no good manual to guide teachers. Some give so many virtues or good habits to be taught per term, ignoring the unity of virtue as well as the order in which the child's capacities for real virtue unfold. Advanced text-books discuss the grounds of obligation, the nature of choice or freedom, or the hedonistic calculus, as if pleasures and pains could be balanced as measurable quantities, etc., so that philosophic morality is clearly not for children or teachers. Secondly, evolution encourages too often the doubt whether virtue can be taught, when it should have the opposite effect. Perversity and viciousness of will are too often treated as constitutional disease; and insubordination or obstinacy, especially in school, are secretly admired as strength, instead of being vigorously treated as crampy disorders of will, and the child is coddled into flaccidity. Becomes the lowest develops first, there is danger that it will interfere with the development of the higher, and thus, if left to his own, the child may come to have no will. The third and greatest difficulty is, that with the best effort to do so, so few teachers can separate morality from religious creed. So vital is the religions sentiment here that it is hard to divorce the end of education from the end of life, proximate from ultimate grounds of obligation, or finite from infinite duties. Those whose training has been more religious than ethical can hardly teach morality per se satisfactorily to the noli me tangere [Touch me not] spirit of denominational freedom so wisely jealous of conflicting standards and sanctions for the young.
How then can we ever hope to secure proper training for the will?
More than a generation ago Germany developed the following method: Children of Lutheran, Catholic and Jewish parentage, which include most German children, were allowed one afternoon a week for several years, and two afternoons a week for a few months preceding confirmation, to spend half of a school day with instructors of these respective professions, who were nominated by the church, but examined by the state as to their competence. These teachers are as professional, therefore, as those in the regular class work. Each religion is allowed to determine its own course of religious instruction, subject only to the approval of the cultus minister or the local authorities. In this way a rupture between the religious sentiments and teaching of successive generations is avoided and it is sought to bring religious training to bear upon morals. These classes learn Scripture, hymns, church service,—the Catholics in Latin and the Jewish in Hebrew,—the history of their church and people, and sometimes a little systematic theology. In some of these schools, there are prizes and diplomas, and the spirit of competition is appealed to. A criticism sometimes made against them, especially against the Lutheran religious pedagogy, is that it is too intellectual. It is, of course, far more systematic and effective from this point of view than the American Sunday School, so that whatever may be said of its edifying effects, the German child knows these topics far better than the American. This system, with modifications, has been adopted in some places in France, England and in America, more often in private than in public schools, however.
The other system originated in France some years after the Franco-Prussian War when the clerical influence in French education gave way to the lay and secular spirit. In these classes, for which also stated times are set apart and which are continued through all the required grades under the name of moral and civic instruction, the religious element is entirely absent, except that there are a few hymns, Bible passages and stories which all agree upon as valuable. Most of the course is made up of carefully selected maxims and especially stories of virtue, records of heroic achievements in French history and even in literature and the drama. Everything, however, has a distinct moral lesson, although that lesson is not made offensively prominent. We have here nearly a score of these textbooks, large and small. It would seen as though the resources of the French records and literature had been ransacked, and indeed many deeds of heroism are culled from the daily press. The matter is often arranged under headings such as cleanliness, acts of kindness, courage, truthfulness versus lying, respect for age, good manners, etc. Each virtue is thus taught in a way appropriate to each stage of childhood, and quite often bands of mercy, rescue leagues and other societies are the outgrowth of this instruction. It is, of course, exposed to much criticism from the clergy on the cogent ground that morality needs the support of religion, at the very least, in childhood. This system has had much influence in England where several similar courses have been evolved, and in this country we have at least one very praiseworthy effort in this direction, addressed mainly, however, to older children.
Besides this, two ways suggest themselves. First, we may try to assume, or tediously enucleate a consensus of religious truth as a basis of will training, e.g., God and immortality, and, ignoring the minority who doubt these, vote them into the public school. Pedagogy need have nothing whatever to say respecting the absolute truth or falsity of these ideas, but there is little doubt that they have an influence on the will, at a certain stage of average development, greater and more essential than any other; so great that even were their vitality to decay like the faith in the Greek or German mythology, we should still have to teach God and a future life as the most imperative of all hypotheses in a field where, as in morals, nothing is so practical as a good theory; and we should have to fall to teaching the Bible as a moral classic, and cultivate a critical sympathy for its view of life. But this way ignores revelation and supernatural claims, while some have other objections to emancipating or “rescuing” the Bible from theology just yet. Indeed, the problem how to teach anything that the mind could not have found out for itself, but that had to be revealed, has not been solved by modern pedagogy, which, since Pestalozzi, has been more and more devoted to natural and developing methods. The latter teaches that there must not be too much seed sown, too much or too high precept, or too much iteration, and that, in Jean Paul's phrase, the hammer must not rest on bell, but only tap and rebound, to bring out a clear tone. Again, a consensus of this content would either have to be carefully defined and would be too generic and abstract for school uses, or else differences of interpretation, which so pervade and are modified by character, culture, temperament, and feeling, would make the consensus itself nugatory. Religious training must be specific at first, and, omitting qualifications, the more explicit the denominational faith the earlier may religious motives affect the will.
This is the way of our hopes, to the closer consideration of which we intend to return in the future, though it must be expected that the happiest consensus will be long quarantined from most schools. Meanwhile a second way, however unpromising, is still open. Noble types of character may rest on only the native instincts of the soul or even on broadly interpreted utilitarian considerations. But if morality without religion were only a bloodless corpse or a plank in a shipwreck, there is now need enough for teachers to study its form, drift, and uses by itself alone. This, at least, is our purpose in considering the will, and this only.
The will, purpose, and even mood of small children when alone, are fickle, fluctuating, contradictory. Our very presence imposes one general law on them, viz., that of keeping our good will and avoiding our displeasure. As the plant grows towards the light, so they unfold in the direction of our wishes, felt as by divination. They respect all you smile at, even buffoonery; look up in their play to call your notice, to study the lines of your sympathy, as if their chief vocation was to learn your desires. Their early lies are often saying what they think will please us, knowing no higher touchstones of truth. If we are careful to be wisely and without excess happy and affectionate when they are good, and saddened and slightly cooled in manifestations of love if they do wrong, the power of association in the normal, eupeptic child will early choose right as surely as pleasure increases vitality. If our love is deep, obedience is an instinct if not a religion. The child learns that while it can not excite our fear, resentment or admiration, etc., it can act on our love, and this should be the first sense of its own efficiency. Thus, too, it first learns that the way of passion and impulse is not the only rule of life, and that something is gained by resisting them. It imitates our acts long before it can understand our words. As if it felt its insignificance, and dreaded to be arrested in some lower phase of its development, its instinct for obedience becomes almost a passion. As the vine must twine or grovel, so the child comes unconsciously to worship idols, and imitates bad patterns and examples in the absence of worthy ones. He obeys as with a deep sense of being our chattel, and, at bottom, admires those who coerce him, if the means be wisely chosen. The authority must, of course, be ascendancy over heart and mind. The more absolute such authority the more the will is saved from caprice and feels the power of steadiness. Such authority excites the unique, unfathomable sense of reverence, which measures the capacity for will-culture, and is the strongest and soundest of all moral motives. It is also the most comprehensive, for it is first felt only towards persons, and personality is a bond, enabling any number of complex elements to act or be treated as whole, as everything does and is in the child's soul, instead of in isolation and detail. In the feeling of respect culminating in worship almost all educational motives are involved, but especially those which alone can bring the will to maturity; and happy the child who is bound by the mysterious and constraining sympathy of dependence, by which, if unblighted by cynicism, a worthy mentor directs and lifts the will. This unconscious reflection of our character and wishes is the diviner side of childhood, by which it is quick and responsive to everything in its moral environment. The child may not be able to tell whether its teacher often smiles, dresses in this way or that, speaks loud or low, has many rules or not, though every element of her personality affects him profoundly. His acts of will have not been choices, but a mass of psychic causes far greater than consciousness can estimate have laid a basis of character, than which heredity alone is deeper, before the child knows he has a will. These influences are not transient but life-long, for if the conscious and intentional may anywhere be said to be only a superficial wave over the depths of the unconscious, it is in the sphere of will-culture.
But command and obedience must also be specific to supplant nature. Here begins the difficulty. A young child can know no general commands. “Sit in your chair,” means sit a moment, a sort of trick, with no prohibition to stand the next instant. Any just-forbidden act may be done in the next room. All is here and now, and patient reiteration, till habit is formed, and no havoc-making rules which it cannot understand or remember, is our cue. Obedience can, however, be instinct even here, and is its chief virtue, and there is no more fear of weakening the will by it than in the case of soldiers. As the child grows older, however, and as the acts commanded are repugnant, or unusual, there should be increasing care, lest authority be compromised, sympathy ruptured, or lest mutual timidity and indecision, if not mutual insincerity and dissimulation, as well as parodied disobedience, etc., to test us, result. We should, of course, watch for favorable moods, assume no unwonted or preternatural dignity or owlish air of wisdom, and command in a low voice which does not too rudely break in upon the child's train of impressions. The acts we command or forbid should be very few at first, but inexorable. We should be careful not to forbid where we cannot follow a untrusty child, or what we can not prevent. Our own will should be a rock and not a wave. Our requirements should be uniform, with no whim, mood, or periodicity of any sort about them. If we alternate from caresses to severity, are fields and capricious instead of commanding by a fixed and settled plan, if we only now and then take the child in hand, so he does not know precisely what to expect, we really require the child to change its nature with every change in us, and well for the child who can defy such a changeable authority, which not only unsettles but breaks up character anew when it is just at the beginning of the formative period. Neglect is better than this, and fear of inconsistency of authority makes the best parents often jealous of arbitrariness in teachers. Only thus can we develop general habits of will and bring the child to know general maxims of conduct inductively, and only thus by judicious boldness and hardihood in command can we bring the child to feel the conscious strength that comes only from doing unpleasant things. Even if instant obedience be only external at first, it will work inward, for moods are controlled by work, and it is only will which enlarges the bounds of personality.
Yet we must not forget that even morality is relative, and is one thing for adults and often quite another for children. The child knows nothing of absolute truth, justice, or virtues. The various stimuli of discipline are to enforce the higher though weaker insights which the child has already unfolded, rather than to engraft entirely unintuited good. The command must find some ally, feeble though it be, in the child's own soul. We should strive to fill each moment with as little sacrifice or subordination, as mere means or conditions to the future, as possible, for fear of affectation and insincerity. But yet the hardier and sounder the nature, the more we may address training to barely nascent intuitions, with a less ingredient of immediate satisfaction, and the deeper the higher element Of interest will be grounded in the end. The child must find as he advances towards maturity, that every new insight, or realization of his own reveals the fact that you have been there before with commands, cultivating sentiments and habits, and not that he was led to mistake your convenience or hobby for duty, or failed to temper the will by temporizing with it. The young are apt to be most sincere at an age when they are also most mistaken, but if sincerity be kept at its deepest and best, will be least harmful and easiest overcome. If authority supplement rather than supersede good motives, the child will so love authority as to overcome your reluctance to apply it directly, and as a final result will choose the state and act you have pre-formed in its slowly-widening margin of freedom, and will be all the less liable to undue subservience to priest or boss, or fashion or tradition later, as obedience gives place to normal, manly independence.
In these and many other ways everything in conduct should be mechanized as early and completely as possible. The child's notion of what is right is what is habitual, and the simple, to which all else is reduced in thought, is identified with the familiar. It is this primitive stratum of habits which principally determines our deepest belief which all must have over and above knowledge—to which men revert in mature years from youthful vagaries. If good acts are a diet and not a medicine, are repeated over and over again, as every new beat of the loom pounds in one new thread, and sense of justice and right is wrought into the very nerve-cells and fibers; if this ground texture of the soul, this “memory and habit-plexus,” this sphere of thoughts we oftenest think and acts we oftenest do, is early, rightly and indiscerptibly wrought, not only does it become a web of destiny for us, so all-determining is it, but we have something perdurable to fall back on if moral shock or crisis or change or calamity shall have rudely broken up the whole structure of later associations. Not only the more we mechanize thus, the more force of soul is freed for higher work, but we are insured against emergencies in which the choice and deed is likely to follow the nearest motive, or that which acts quickest, rather than to pause and be influenced by higher and perhaps intrinsically stronger motives. Reflection always brings in a new set of later-acquired motives and considerations, and if these are better than habit-mechanism, then pause is good; if not, he who deliberates is lost. Our purposive volitions are very few compared with the long series of desires, acts and reactions, often contradictory, many of which were never conscious, and many once willed but now lapsed to reflexes, the traces of which crowding the unknown margins of the soul, constitute the organ of the conscious will.
It is only so far as this primitive will is wrong by nature or training, that drastic reconstructions of any sort are needed. Only those who mistake weakness for innocence, or simplicity for candor, or forget that childish faults are no less serious because universal, deny the, at least, occasional depravity of all children, or fail to see that fear and pain are among the indispensables of education, while a parent, teacher, or even a God, all love, weakens and relaxes the will. Children do not cry for the alphabet; the multiplication table is more like medicine than confectionery, and it is only affected thoroughness that omits all that is hard. “The fruits of learning may be sweet, but its roots are always bitter,” and it is this alone that makes it possible to strengthen the will while instructing the mind. The well-schooled will comes, like Herder, to scorn the luxury of knowing without the labor of learning. We must anticipate the future penalties of sloth as well as of badness. The will especially is a trust we are to administer for the child, not as he may now wish, but as he will wish when more mature. We must now compel what he will later wish to compel himself to do. To find his habits already formed to the same law that his mature will and the world later enjoin, cements the strongest of all bonds between mentor and child. Nothing, however, must be so individual as punishment. For some, a threat at rare intervals is enough; while for others, however ominous threats may be, they become at once “like scarecrows, on which the foulest birds soonest learn to perch.” To scold well and wisely is an art by itself. For some children, pardon is the worst punishment; for others, ignoring or neglect; for others, isolation from friends, suspension from duties; for others, seclusion—which last, however, is for certain ages beset with extreme danger—and for still others, shame from being made conspicuous. Mr. Spencer's “natural penalties” can be applied to but few kinds of wrong, and those not the worst. Basedow tied boys who fell into temptation to a strong pillar to brace them up; if stupid and careless, put on a fool's cap and bells; if they were proud, they were suspended near the ceiling in a basket, as Aristophanes represented Socrates. Two boys who quarreled, were made to look into each other's eyes before the whole school till their angry expressions gave way before the general sense of the ridiculous. This is more ingenious than wise. The object of discipline is to avoid punishment, but even flogging should never be forbidden. It maybe reserved, like a sword in its scabbard, but should not get so rusted in that it can not be drawn on occasion. The law might even limit the size and length of the rod, and place of application, as in Germany, but it should be of no less liberal dimensions here than there. punishment should, of course, be minatory and reformatory, and not vindictive, and we should not forget that certainty is more effective than severity, nor that it is apt to make motives sensuous, and delay the psychic restraint which should early preponderate over the physical. But will-culture for boys is rarely as thorough as it should be without more or less flogging. I would not, of course, urge the extremes of the past. The Spartan beating as a gymnastic drill to toughen, the severity which prevailed in Germany for a long time after its Thirty Years' Wars, the former fashion in many English schools of walking up not infrequently to take a flogging as a plucky thing to do, and with no notion of disgrace attaching to it, shows at least an admirable strength of will. Severe constraint gives poise, inwardness, self-control, inhibition, and not-willingness, if not willingness, while the now too common habit of coquetting for the child's favor, and tickling its ego with praises and prizes, and pedagogic pettifogging for its good-will, and sentimental fear of a judicious slap to rouse a spoiled child with no will to break, to make it keep step with the rest in conduct, instead of delaying a whole school-room to apply a subtle psychology of motives on it, is bad. This reminds one of the Jain who sweeps the ground before him lest he unconsciously tread on a worm. Possibly it may be well, as Schleiermacher suggests, not to repress some one nascent bad act in some natures, but let it and the punishment ensue for the sake of Dr. Spankster's tonic. Dermal pain is not the worst thing in the world, and by a judicious knowledge of how it feels at both ends of the rod, by flogging and being flogged, far deeper pains may be forefended. Insulting defiance, deliberative disobedience, ostentatious carelessness and bravado, are diseases of the will, and, in very rare cases of Promethean obstinacy, the severe process of breaking the will is needful, just as in surgery it is occasionally needful to rebreak a limb wrongly set, or deformed, to set it over better. It is a cruel process, but a crampy will in childhood means moral traumatism of some sort in the adult. Few parents have the nerve to do this, or the insight to see just when it is needed. It is, as some one has said, like knocking a man down to save him from stepping off a precipice. Even the worst punishments are but very faint types of what nature has in store in later life for some forms of perversity of will, and are better than sarcasm, ridicule, or tasks, as penalties. The strength of obstinacy is admirable, and every one ought to have his own will; but a false direction, though almost always the result of faulty previous training when the soul more fluid and mobile, is all the more fatal. While so few intelligent parents are able to refrain from the self-indulgence of too much rewarding or giving, even though it injures the child, it is perhaps too much to expect the hardihood which can be justly cold to the caresses of a child who seeks, by displaying all its stock of goodness and arts of endearment, to buy back good-will after punishment has been deserved. If we wait too long, and punish in cold blood, a young child may hate us; while, if we punish on the instant, and with passion, a little of which is always salutary, on the principle, ohne Affekt kein Effekt, [Without passion, no effect] an older child may fail of the natural reactions of conscience, which should always be secured. The maxim, summum jus summa injuria, [The rigor of the law may be the greatest wrong] we are often told, is peculiarly true in school, and so it is; but to forego all punishment is no less injustice to the average child, for it is to abandon one of the most effective means of will-culture. We never punish but a part, as it were, of the child's nature; he has lied, but is not therefore a liar, and we deal only with the specific act, and must love all the rest of him.
And yet, after all, indiscriminate flogging is so bad, and the average teacher is so inadequate to that hardest and most tactful of all his varied duties, viz., selecting the right outcrop of the right fault of the right child at the right time and place, mood, etc., for best effect, that the bold statement of such principles as above is perhaps not entirely without practical danger, especially in two cases which Madame Necker and Sigismund have pointed out, and in several cases of which the present writer has notes. First, an habitually good child sometimes has a saturnalia of defiance and disobedience; a series of insubordinate acts are suddenly committed which really mark the first sudden epochful and belated birth of the instinct of independence and self-regulation, on which his future manliness will depend. He is quite irresponsible, the acts are never repeated, and very lenient treatment causes him, after the conflict of tumultuous feelings has expanded his soul, to react healthfully into habitual docility again, if some small field for independent action be at once opened him. The other case is that of ennui, of which children suffer such nameless qualms. When I should open half a dozen books, start for a walk, and then turn back, wander about in mind or body, seeking but not finding content in anything, a child in my mood will wish for a toy, an amusement, food, a rare indulgence, only to neglect or even reject it petulantly when granted. These flitting “will-spectres” are physical, are a mild form of the many fatal dangers of fatigue; and punishment is the worst of treatment. Rest or diversion is the only cure, and the teacher's mind must be fruitful of purposes to that end. Perhaps a third case for palliative treatment is, those lies which attend the first sense of badness. The desire to conceal it occasionally accompanies the nascent effort to reform and make the lie true. These cases are probably rare, while the temptation to lie is far greater for one who does ill than for one who does well, for fear is the chief motive, and a successful lie which concealed would weaken the desire to cure a fault.
We have thus far spoken of obedience, and come now to the later necessity of self-guidance, which, if obedience has wrought its perfect work, will be natural and inevitable. It is very hard to combine reason and coercion, yet it is needful that children think themselves free long before we cease to determine them. As we slowly cease to prescribe and begin to inspire, a very few well-chosen mottoes, proverbs, maxims, should be taught very simply, so that they will sink deep. Education has been defined as working against the chance influences of life, and it is certain that without some precepts and rules the will will not exert itself. If reasons are given, and energy is much absorbed in understanding, the child will assent but will not do. If the mind is not strong, many wide ideas are very dangerous. Strong wills are not fond of arguments, and if a young person falls to talking or thinking beyond his experience, subjective or objective, both conduct and thought are soon confused by chaotic and incongruous opinions and beliefs; and false expectations, which are the very seducers of the will, arise. There can be little will-training by words, and the understanding can not realize the ideals of the will. All great things are dangerous, as Plato said, and the truth itself is not only false but actually immoral to unexpanded minds. Will-culture is intensive, not extensive, and the writer knows a case in which even a vacation ramble with a moralizing fabulist has undermined the work of years. Our precepts must be made very familiar, copiously illustrated, well wrought together by habit and attentive thought, and above all clear cut, that the pain of violating them may be sharp and poignant. Vague and too general precepts beyond the horizon of the child's real experience do not haunt him if they are outraged. Now the child must obey these, and will, if he has learned to obey well the command of others.
One of the best sureties that he will do so is muscle-culture, for if the latter are weaker than the nerves and brain, the gap between knowing and doing appears and the will stagnates. Gutsmuths, the father of gymnastics in Germany before Jahn, used to warn men not to fancy that the few tiny muscles that moved the pen or tongue had power to elevate men. They might titillate the soul with words and ideas; but rigorous, symmetrical muscle-culture alone, he and his Turner societies believed, could regenerate the Fatherland, for it was one thing to paint the conflict of life, and quite another to bear arms in it. They said, “The weaker the body the more it commands; the stronger it is the more it obeys.”
In this way we shall have a strong, well-knit soul-texture, made up of volitions and ideas like warp and woof. Mind and will will be so compactly organized that all their forces can be brought to a single point. Each concept or purpose will call up those related to it, and once strongly set toward its object, the soul will find itself borne along by unexpected forces. This power of totalizing, rather than any transcendent relation of elements, constitutes at least the practical unity of the soul, and this unimpeded association of its elements is true or inner freedom of will. Nothing is wanting or lost when the powers of the soul are mobilized for a great task, and its substance is impervious to passion. With this organization, men of really little power accomplish wonders. Without it great minds are confused and lost. They have only velleity or caprice. The will makes a series of vigorous, perhaps almost convulsive, but short, inconsistent efforts. As Jean Paul says, there is sulphur, charcoal, and saltpetre in the soul, but powder is not made, for they never find each other. To understand this will-plexus is preeminent among the new demands now laid on educators.
But, although this focalizing power of acting with the whole rather than with a part of the soul, gives independence of many external, conventional, proximate standards of conduct, deepening our interests in life, and securing us against disappointment by defining our expectations, while such a sound and simple will-philosophy is proof against considerable shock and has firmness of texture enough to bear much responsibility, there is, of course, something deeper, without which all our good conduct is more or less hollow. This is that better purity established by mothers in the plastic heart, before the superfoetation of precept is possible, or even before the “soul takes flight in language”; it is perhaps pre-natal or hereditary. Much every way depends on how aboriginal our goodness is, whether the will acts with effort, as we solve an intricate problem, in solitude, or as we say the multiplication table, which only much distraction can confuse, or as we repeat the alphabet, which the din of battle could not hinder. Later and earlier training should harmonize with each other and with nature. Thrice happy he who is so wisely trained that he comes to believe he believes what his soul deeply does believe, to say what he feels and feel what he really does feel, and chiefly whose express volitions square with the profounder drift of his will as the resultant of all he has desired or wished, expected, attended to, or striven for. When such an one comes to his moral majority by standing for the first time upon his own careful conviction, against the popular cry, or against his own material interests or predaceous passions, and feels the constraint and joy of pure obligation which comes up from this deep source, a new, original force is brought into the world of wills. Call it inspiration, or Kant's transcendental impulse above and outside of experience, or Spencer's deep reverberations from a vast and mysterious past of compacted ancestral experiences, the most concentrated, distilled and instinctive of all psychic products, and as old as Mr. Tyndall's “fiery cloud”—the name or even source is little. We would call it the purest, freest, most prevailing, because most inward, will or conscience.
This free, habitual guidance by the highest and best, by conviction with no sense of compulsion or obligation, impractical if not dangerous ideal, for it can be actually realized only by the rarest moral genius. For most of us, the best education is that which makes us the best and most obedient servants. This is the way of peace and the way of nature, for even if we seriously try to keep up a private conscience at all, apart from feeling, faction, party or class spirit, or even habit, which are our habitual guides, the difficulties are so great that most hasten, more or less consciously and voluntarily, to put themselves under authority again, serving only the smallest margin of independence in material interests, choice of masters, etc, and yielding to the pleasing and easy illusion that inflates the minimum to seem the maximum of freedom, and uses the noblest ideal of history, viz., that of pure autonomous oughtness, as a pedestal for idols of selfishness, caprice and conceit. The trouble is in interpreting these moral instincts, for even the authorities lack the requisite self-knowledge in which all wisdom culminates. The moral interregnum which the Aufklärung [Enlightenment] has brought will not end till these instincts are rightly interpreted by in intelligence. The richest streams of thought must flow about them, the best methods must peep and pry till their secrets are found and put into the idea-pictures in which most men think.
This brings us, finally, to the highest and also immediately practical method of moral education, viz., training the will by and for intellectual work. Youth and childhood must not be subordinated as means to maturity. Learning is more useful than knowing. It is the way and not the goal, the work and not the product, the acquiring and not the acquisition, that educates will and character. To teach only results, which are so simple, without methods by which they were obtained, which are so complex and hard, to develop the sense of possession without the strain of activity, to teach great matters too easily or even as play, always to wind along the lines of least resistance into the child's mind, is imply to add another and most enervating luxury to child-life. Only the sense and power of effort, which made Lessing prefer the search to the possession of truth, which trains the will in the intellectual field, which is becoming more and more the field of its activity, counts for character and makes instruction really educating. This makes mental work a series of acts, or living thoughts, and not merely words. Real education, that we can really teach, and that which is really most examinable, is what we do, while those who acquire without effort may be extremely instructed without being truly educated.
It is those who have been trained to put forth mental power that come to the front later, while it is only those whose acquisitions are not transpeciated into power who are in danger of early collapse.
It is because of this imperfect appropriation through lack of volitional reaction that mental training is so often dangerous, especially in its higher grades. Especially wherever good precepts are allowed to rest peacefully beside undiscarded bad habits, moral weakness is directly cultivated. Volitional recollection, or forcing the mind to reproduce a train of impressions, strengthens what we may call the mental will; while if multifarious impressions which excite at the time are left to take their chances, at best, fragmentary reproduction, incipient amnesia, the prelude of mental decay, may be soon detected. Few can endure the long working over of ideas, especially if at all fundamental, which is needful to full maturity of mind, without grave moral danger. New standpoints and ideas require new combinations of the mental elements, with constant risk that during the process, what was already secured will fall back into its lower components. Even oar immigrants suffer morally from the change of manners and customs and ideas, and yet education menus change; the more training the more change, as a rule, and the more danger during the critical transition period while we oscillate between control by old habits, or association within the old circle of thought, and by the new insights, as a medical student often suffers from trying to bring the regulation of his physical functions under new and imperfect hygienic insights. Thus most especially if old questions, concerning which we have long since ceased to trust ourselves to give reasons, need to be reopened, there is especial danger that the new equilibrium about which the dynamic is to be re-resolved into static power will be established, if at all, with loss instead of with gain. Indeed, it is a question not of schools but of civilization, whether mental training, from the three R's to science and philosophy, shall really make men better, as the theory of popular education assumes, and whether the genius and talent of the few who can receive and bear it can be brought to the full maturity of a knowledge fully facultized—a question paramount, even in a republic, to the general education of the many.
The illusion is that beginnings are hard. They are easy. Almost any mind can advance a little way into almost any subject. The feeblest youth can push on briskly in the beginning of a new subject, but he forgets, and so does the examiner who marks him, that difficulties increase not in arithmetical but in almost geometrical ratio as he advances. The fact, too, that all topics are taught by all teachers and that we have no specialized teaching in elementary branches, and that examinations are placed in the most debilitating part of our peculiarly debilitating spring, these help us to solve the problem which China has solved so well, viz., how to instruct and not to educate. A pass mark, say of fifty, should be given not for mastery of the first half of the book, or for knowledge of half the matter in it, but for that of three-fourths or more. Suppose one choose the easier method of tattooing his mind by attaining the easy early stages of proficiency in many subjects, as is possible and even encouraged in too many of our school and college curricula, he weakens the will-quality of his mind. Smattering is dissipation of energy. Only great, concentrated and prolonged efforts in one direction really train the mind, because only they train the will beneath it. Many little, heterogeneous efforts of different sorts leave the mind in a muddle of heterogeneous impressions, and the will like a rubber band is stretched to flaccidity around one after another bundle of objects too large for it to clasp into unity. Here again, in der Beschränkung zeigt sich der Meister [The master shows himself in self-limitation]; all-sidedness through one-sidedness; by stalking the horse or cow out in the spring time, till he gnaws his small allotted circle of grass to the ground, and not by roving and cropping at will, can he be taught that the sweetest joint is nearest the root, are convenient symbols of will-culture in the intellectual field. Even a long cram, if only on one subject, which brings out the relations of the parts, or a “one-study college,” as is already devised in the West, or the combination of several subjects even in primary school grades into a “concentration series,” as devised by Ziller and Rein, the university purpose as defined by Ziller of so combining studies that each shall stand in the course next to that with which it is inherently closest connected by matter and method, or the requirements of one central and two collateral branches for the doctorate examination—all these devices no doubt tend to give a sense of efficiency, which is one of the deepest and proudest joys of life, in the place of a sense of possession so often attended by the exquisite misery of conscious weakness. The unity of almost any even ideal purpose is better than none, if it tend to check the superficial one of learning to repeat again or of boxing the whole compass of sciences and liberal arts, as so many of our high schools or colleges attempt.
Finally, in the sphere of mental productivity and originality, a just preponderance of the will-element makes men distrust new insights, quick methods, and short cuts, and trust chiefly to the genius of honest and sustained work, in power of which perhaps lies the greatest intellectual difference between men. When ideas are ripe for promulgation they have been condensed and concentrated, thought traverses them quickly and easily—in a word, they have become practical, and the will that waits over a new idea patiently and silently, without anxiety, even though with a deepening sense of responsibility, till all sides have been seen, all authorities consulted, all its latent mental reserves heard from, is the man who “talks with the rifle and not with the water-hose,” or, in a rough farmer's phrase, “boils his words till he can give his hearers sugar and not sap.” Several of the more important discoveries of the present generation, which cost many weary months of toil, have been enumerated in a score or two of lines, so that every experimenter could set up his apparatus and get the results in a few minutes. Let us not forget that, in most departments of mental work, the more we revise and reconstruct our thought, the longer we inhibit its final expression, while the oftener we return to it refreshed from other interests, the clearer and more permeable for other minds it becomes, because the more it tends to express itself in terms of willed action, which is “the language of complete men.”
So closely bound together are moral and religious training that a discussion of one without the other would be incomplete. In a word, religion is the most generic kind of culture as opposed to all systems or departments which are one sided. All education culminates in it because it is chief among human interests, and because it gives inner unity to the mind, heart, and will. How now should this common element of union be taught?
To be really effective and lasting, moral and religious training must begin in the cradle. It was a profound remark of Froebel that the unconsciousness of a child is rest in God. This need not be understood in guy pantheistic sense. From this rest in God the childish soul should not be abruptly or prematurely aroused. Even the primeval stages of psychic growth are rarely so all-sided, so purely unsolicited, spontaneous, and unprecocious, as not to be in a sense a fall from Froebel's unconsciousness or rest in God. The sense of touch, the mother of all the other senses, is the only one which the child brings into the world already experienced; but by the pats, caresses, hugs, etc., so instinctive with young mothers, varied feelings and sentiments are communicated to the child long before it recognizes its own body as distinct from things about it. The mother's face and voice are the first conscious objects as the infant soul unfolds, and she soon comes to stand in the very place of God to her child. All the religion of which the child is capable during this by no means brief stage of its development consists of those sentiments—gratitude, trust, dependence, love, etc., now felt only for her—which are later directed toward God. The less these are now cultivated toward the mother, who is now their only fitting if not their only possible object, the more feebly they will later be felt toward God. This, too, adds greatly to the sacredness and the responsibilities of motherhood. Froebel perhaps is right that thus fundamental religious sentiments can be cultivated in the earliest months of infancy. It is of course impossible not to seem, perhaps even not to be, sentimental upon this theme, for the infant soul has no other content than sentiments, and because upon these rests the whole superstructure of religion in child or adult. The mother's emotions, and physical and mental states, indeed, imparted and reproduced in the infant so immediately, unconsciously, and through so many avenues, that it is no wonder that these relations see mystic. Whether the mother is habitually under the influence of calm and tranquil emotions, or her temper is fluctuating or violent, or her movements are habitually energetic or soft and caressing, or she be regular or irregular in her ministrations to the infant in her arms, all these characteristics and habits are registered in the primeval language of touch upon the nervous system of the child. From this point of view, poise and calmness, the absence of all intense annuli and of sensations or transitions which are abrupt or sudden, and an atmosphere of quieting influences, like everything which retards by broadening, is in the general line of religious culture. The soul of an infant is well compared to a seed planted in a garden. It is not pressed or moved by the breezes which rustle the leaves overhead. The sunlight does not fall upon it, and even dew and evening coolness scarcely reach it; but yet there is not a breath of air or a ray of sunshine, nor a drop of moisture to which it is responsive, and which does not stir all its germinant forces. The child is a plant, must live out of doors in proper season, and there must be no forcing. Religion, then, at this important stage, at least, is naturalism pure and simple, and religious training is the supreme art of standing out of nature's way. So implicit is the unity of soul and body at this formative age that care of the body is the most effective ethico-religious culture.
Next to be considered are the sentiments which unfold under the influence of that fresh and naive curiosity which attends the first impressions of natural objects from which both religion and science spring as from one common root. The awe and sublimity of a thunderstorm, the sights and sounds of a spring morning, objects which lead the child's thoughts to what is remote in time and space, old trees, ruins, the rocks, and, above all, the heavenly bodies—the utilization of these lessons is the most important task of the religious teacher during the kindergarten stage of childhood. Still more than the undevout astronomer, the undevout child under such influences is abnormal. In these directions the mind of the child is as open and plastic as that of the ancient prophet to the promptings of the inspiring Spirit. The child can recognize no essential difference between nature and the supernatural, and the products of mythopoeic fancy which have been spun about natural objects, and which have lain so long and so warm about the hearts of generations and races of men, are now the best of all nutriments for the soul. To teach scientific rudiments only about nature, on the shallow principle that nothing should be taught which must be unlearned, or to encourage the child to assume the critical attitude of mind, is dwarfing the heart and prematurely forcing the head. It has been said that country life is religion for children at this stage. However this may be, it is clear that natural religion is rooted in such experiences, and precedes revealed religion in the order of growth and education, whatever its logical order in systems of thought may be. A little later, habits of truthfulness are best cultivated by the use of the senses in exact observation. To see a simple phenomenon in nature and report it fully and correctly is no easy matter, but the habit of trying to do so teaches what truthfulness is and leaves the impress of truth upon the whole life and character. I do not hesitate to say, therefore, that elements of science should be taught to children for the moral effects of its influences. At the same time all truth is not sensuous, and this training alone at this age tends to make the mind pragmatic, dry, and insensitive or unresponsive to that other kind of truth the value of which is not measured by its certainty so much as by its effect upon us. We must learn to interpret the heart and our native instincts as truthfully as we do external nature, for our happiness in life depends quite as largely upon bringing our beliefs into harmony with the deeper feelings of our nature as it does upon the ability to adapt ourselves to our physical environment. Thus not only all religious beliefs and moral acts will strengthen if they truly express the character instead of cultivating affectation and insincerity in opinion, word, and deed, as with mistaken pedagogic methods they may do. This latter can be avoided only by leaving all to naturalism and spontaneity at first, and feeding the soul only according to its appetites and stage of growth. No religious truth must be taught as fundamental—especially as fundamental to morality—which can be seriously doubted or even misunderstood. Yet it must be expected that convictions will be transformed and worked over and over again, and only late, if at all, will an equilibrium between the heart and the truth it clings to as finally satisfying be attained. Hence most positive religious instruction, or public piety, if taught at all, should be taught briefly as most serious but too high for the child yet, or as rewards to stimulate curiosity for them later, but sacred things should not become too familiar or be conventionalized before they can be felt or understood.
The child's conception of God should not be personal or too familiar at first, but He should appear distant and vague, inspiring awe and reverence far more than love; in a word, as the God of nature rather than as devoted to serviceable ministrations to the child's individual wants. The latter should be taught to be a faithful servant rather than a favorite of God. The inestimable pedagogic value of the God-idea consists in that it widens the child's glimpse of the whole, and gives the first presentment of the universality of laws, such as are observed in its experiences and that of others, so that all things seem comprehended under one stable system or government. The slow realization that God's laws are not like those of parents and teachers, evadible, suspensible, but changeless, and their penalties sure as the laws of nature, is most important factor of moral training. First the law, the schoolmaster, then the Gospel; first nature, then grace, is the order of growth.
The pains or pleasures which follow many acts are immediate, while the results that follow others are so remote or so serious that the child must utilize the experience of others. Artificial rewards and punishments must be cunningly devised so as to simulate and typify as closely as possible the real natural penalty, and they must be administered uniformly and impartially like laws of nature. As commands are just, and as they are gradually perceived to spring from superior wisdom, respect arises, which Kant called the bottom motive of duty, and defined as the immediate determination of the will by law, thwarting self-love. Here the child reverences what is not understood as authority, and to the childish “Why?” which always implies imperfect respect for the authority, however displeasing its behest, the teacher or parent should always reply, “You cannot understand why yet,” unless quite sure that a convincing and controlling insight can be given, such as shall make all future exercise of outward authority in this particular unnecessary. From this standpoint the great importance of the character and native dignity of the teacher is best seen. Daily contact with some teachers is itself all-sided ethical education for the child without a spoken precept. Here, too, the real advantage of male over female teachers, especially for boys, is seen in their superior physical strength, which often, if highly estimated, gives real dignity and commands real respect, and especially in the unquestionably greater uniformity of their moods and their discipline.
During the first years of school life, a point of prime importance in ethico-religious training is the education of conscience. This latter is the most complex and perhaps the most educable of all our so-called “faculties.” A system of carefully arranged talks, with copious illustrations from history and literature, about such topics as fair play, slang, cronies, dress, teasing, getting mad, prompting in class, white lies, affectation, cleanliness, order, honor, taste, self-respect, treatment of animals, reading, vacation pursuits, etc., can be brought quite within the range of boy-and-girl interests by a sympathetic and tactful teacher, and be made immediately and obviously practical. All this is nothing more or less than conscience-building. The old superstition that children have innate faculties of such a finished sort that they flash up and grasp the principle of things by a rapid sort of first “intellection,” an error that made all departments of education so trivial, assumptive and dogmatic for centuries before Comenius, Basedow and Pestalozzi, has been banished everywhere save from moral and religious training, where it still persists in full force. The senses develop first, and all the higher intuitions called by the collective name of conscience gradually and later in life. They first take the form of sentiments without much insight, and are hence liable to be unconscious affectation, and are caught insensibly from the environment with the aid of inherited predisposition, and only made more definite by such talks as the above. But parents are prone to forget that healthful and correct sentiments concerning matters of conduct are, at first, very feeble, and that the sense of obligation needs the long and careful guardianship of external authority. Just as a young medical student with a rudimentary notion of physiology and hygiene is sometimes disposed to undertake a more or less complete reform of his diet, regimen, etc., to make it “scientific” in a way that an older and a more learned physician would shrink from, so the half-insights of boys into matters of moral regimen are far too apt, in the American temperament, to expend, in precocious emancipation and crude attempts at practical realization, the force which is needed to bring their insights to maturity. Authority should be relaxed gradually, explicitly, and provisionally over one definite department of conduct at a time. To distinguish right and wrong in their own nature is the highest and most complex of intellectual processes. Most men and all children are guided only by associations of greater or less subtlety. Perhaps the whole round of human duties might be best taught by gathering illustrations of selfishness and tracing it in its countless disguises and ramifications through every stage of life. Selfishness is opposed to a sense of the infinite and is inversely as real religion, and the study of it is not, like systematic ethics, apt to be confused and made unpractical by conflicting theories.
The Bible, the great instrument in the education of conscience, is far less juvenile than it is now the fashion to suppose. At the very least, it expresses the result of the ripest human experience, the noblest traditions of humanity. Old Testament history, even more than most very ancient history, is distilled to an almost purely ethical content. For centuries Scripture was withheld from the masses for the same reason that Plato refused at first to put his thoughts into writing, because it would be sure to be misunderstood by very many and lead to that worst of errors and fanaticism caused by half-truths. Children should not approach it too lightly.
The Old Testament, perhaps before or more than the New, is the Bible for childhood. A good, protracted course of the law pedagogically prepares the way for the apprehension of the Gospel. Then the study of the Old Testament should begin with selected tales, told, as in the German schools, impressively, in the teacher's language, but objectively, and without exegetical or hortatory comment. The appeal is directly to the understanding only at first, but the moral lesson is brought clearly and surely within the child's reach, but not personally applied after the manner common with us.
Probably the most important changes for the educator to study are those which begin between the ages of twelve and sixteen and are completed only some years later, when the young adolescent receives from nature a new capital of energy and altruistic feeling. It is physiological second birth, and success in life depends upon the care and wisdom with which this new and final invoice of energy is husbanded. These changes constitute a natural predisposition to a change of heart, and may perhaps be called, in Kantian phrase, its schema. Even from the psychophysic standpoint it is a correct instinct which has slowly led churches to center so much of their cultus upon regeneration. In this I, of course, only assert here the neurophysical side, which is everywhere present, even if everywhere subordinate to the spiritual side. As everywhere, so here, too, the physical may be called in a sense regulative rather than constitutive. It is therefore not surprising that statistics show that far more conversions, proportionately, take place during the adolescent period, which does not normally end before the age of twenty-four or five, than during any other period of equal length. At this age most churches confirm.
Before this age the child lives in the present, is normally selfish, deficient in sympathy, but frank and confidential, obedient to authority, and without affectation save the supreme affectation of childhood, viz., assuming the words, manners, habits, etc., of those older than itself. But now stature suddenly increases, and the power of physical and mental endurance and effort diminishes for a time; larynx, nose, chin change, and normal and morbid ancestral traits and features appear. Far greater and more protracted, though unseen, are the changes which take place in the nervous system, both in the development of the cortex and expansion of the convolutions and the growth of association-fibers by which the elements shoot together and relation of things are seen, which hitherto seemed independent, to which it seems as if for a few years the energies of growth were chiefly directed. Hence this period is so critical and changes in character are so rapid. No matter how confidential the relations with the parent may have been, an important domain of the soul now declares its independence. Confidences are shared with those of equal age and withheld from parents, especially by boys, to an extent probably little suspected by most parents. Education must be addressed to freedom, which recognizes only self-made law, and spontaneity of opinion and conduct is manifested, often in extravagant and grotesque forms. There is now a longing for that kind of close sympathy and friendship which makes cronies and intimates; there is a craving for strong emotions which gives pleasure in exaggerations; and there are nameless longings for what is far, remote, strange, which emphasizes the self-estrangement which Hegel so well describes, and which marks the normal rise of the presentiment of something higher than self. Instincts of rivalry and competition now grow strong in boys, and girls grow more conscientious and inward, and begin to feel their music, reading, religion, painting, etc., and to realize the bearing of these upon their future adult life. There is often a strong instinct of devotion and self-sacrifice toward some, perhaps almost any, object, or in almost any cause which circumstances may present. Moodiness and perhaps a love of solitude are developed. “Growing fits” make hard and severe labor of body and mind impossible without dwarfing or arresting the development, by robbing of its nutrition some part of the organism—stomach, lungs, chest, heart, back, brain, etc.—which is peculiarly liable to disease later. It is never so hard to tell the truth plainly and objectively and without any subjective twist. The life of the mere individual ceases and that of person, or better, of the race, begins. It is a period of realization, and hence often of introspection. In healthy natures it is the golden age of life, in which enthusiasm, sympathy, generosity, and curiosity are at their strongest and best, and when growth is so rapid that, e.g., each college class is conscious of a vast interval of development which separates it from the class below; but it is also a period subject to Wertherian crises, such as Hume, Richter, J.S. Mill, and others passed through, and all depends on the direction given to these new forces.
The dangers of this period are great and manifest. The chief of these, far greater even than the dangers of intemperance, is that the sexual elements of soul and body will be developed prematurely and disproportionately. Indeed, early maturity in this respect is itself bad. If it occurs before other compensating and controlling powers are unfolded, this element is hypertrophied and absorbs and dwarfs their energy and it is then more likely to be uninstructed and to suck up all that is vile in the environment. Far more than we realize, the thoughts and feelings of youth center about this factor of his nature. Quite apart, therefore, from its intrinsic value, education should serve the purpose of preoccupation, and should divert attention from an element of our nature the premature or excessive development of which dwarfs every part of soul and body. Intellectual interests, athleticism, social and esthetic tastes, should be cultivated. There should be some change in external life. Previous routine and drill-work must be broken through and new occupations resorted to, that the mind may not be left idle while the hands are mechanically employed. Attractive home-life, friendships well chosen and on a high plane, and regular habits, should of course be cultivated. Now, too, though the intellect is not frequently judged insane, so that pubescent insanity is comparatively rare, the feelings, which are yet more fundamental to mental sanity, are most often perverted, and lack of emotional steadiness, violent and dangerous impulses, unreasonable conduct, lack of enthusiasm and sympathy, are very commonly caused by abnormalities here. Neurotic disturbances, such as hysteria, chorea, and, in the opinion of some physicians, sick-headache and early dementia are peculiarly liable to appear and become seated during this period. In short, the previous selfhood is broken up like the regulation copy handwriting of early school years, and a new individual is in process of crystallization. All is solvent, plastic, peculiarly susceptible to external influences.
Between love and religion, God and nature have wrought a strong and indissoluble bond. Flagellations, fasts, exposure, excessive penances of many kinds, the Hindoo cultus of quietude, and mental absorption in vacuity and even one pedagogic motive of a cultus of the spiritual and supernatural, e. g. in the symposium of Plato, are all designed as palliatives and alteratives of degraded love. Change of heart before pubescent years, there are several scientific reasons for thinking means precocity and forcing. The age signalized by the ancient Greeks as that at which the study of what was comprehensively called music should begin, the age at which Roman guardianship ended, as explained by Sir Henry Maine, at which boys are confirmed in the modern Greek, Catholic, Lutheran and Episcopal churches, and at which the child Jesus entered the temple, is as early as any child ought consciously to go about his heavenly Father's business. If children are instructed in the language of these sentiments too early, the all-sided deepening and broadening of soul and of conscience which should come with adolescent years will be incomplete. Revival sermon which the writer has heard preached to very young children are analogous to exhorting them to imagine themselves married people and inculcating the duties of that relation. It is because this precept is violated in the intemperate haste for immediate results that we may so often hear childish sentiments and puerile expressions so strangely mingled in the religious experience of otherwise apparently mature adults, which remind one of a male voice constantly modulating from manly tones into boyish falsetto. Some one has said of very early risers that they were apt to be conceited all the forenoon, and stupid and uninteresting all the afternoon and evening. So, too, precocious infant Christians are apt to be conceited and full of pious affectations all the forenoon of life, and thereafter commonplace enough in their religious life. One is reminded of Aristotle's theory of Catharsis, according to which the soul was purged of strong or bad passions by listening to vivid representations of them on the stage. So, by the forcing method we deprecate, the soul is given just enough religious stimulus to act as an inoculation against deeper and more serious interest later. At this age the prescription of a series of strong feelings is very apt to cause attention to concentrate on physical states in a way which may culminate in the increased activity of the passional nature, or may induce that sort of self-flirtation which is expressed in morbid love of autobiographic confessional outpourings, or may issue in the supreme selfishness of incipient and often unsuspected hysteria. Those who are led to Christ normally by obeying conscience are not apt to endanger the foundation of their moral character if they should later chance to doubt the doctrine of verbal inspiration or some of the miracles, or even get confused about the Trinity, because their religious nature is not built on the sand. The art of leading young men through college without ennobling or enlarging any of the religious notions of childhood is anti-pedagogic and unworthy philosophy, and is to leave men puerile in the highest department of their nature.
At the age we have indicated, when the young man instinctively takes the control of himself into his own hands, previous ethico-religious training should be brought to a focus and given a personal application, which, to be most effective, should probably, in most cases, be according to the creed of the parent. It is a serious and solemn epoch, and ought to be fittingly signalised. Morality now needs religion, which cannot have affected life much before. Now duties should be recognised as divine commands, for the strongest motives, natural and supernatural, are needed for the regulation of the new impulses, passions, desires, half insights, ambitions, etc., which come to the American temperament so suddenly before the methods of self-regulation can become established and operative. Now a deep personal sense of purity and impurity are first possible, and indeed inevitable, and this natural moral tension is a great opportunity to the religious teacher. A serious sense of God within, and of responsibilities which transcend this life as they do the adolescent's power of comprehension; a feeling for duties deepened by a realization and experience of their conflict such as some have thought to be the origin of religion itself in the soul—these, too, are elements of the “theology of the heart” revealed at this age to every serious youth, but to the judicious emphasis and utilization of which, the teacher should lend his consummate skill. While special lines of interest leading to a career must be now well grounded, there must also be a culture of the ideal and an absorption in general views and remote and universal ends. If all that is pure and disciplining in what is transcendent, whether to the Christian believers, the poet or the philosopher, had even been devised only for the better regulation of human energies set free at this age, but not yet fully defined or realized, they would still have a most potent justification on this ground alone. At any rate, what is often wasted in excess here, if husbanded, ripens into philosophy, the larger love to the world, the true and the good, in a sense not unlike that in the symposium of Plato.
Finally, there is danger lest this change, as prescribed and formulated by the church, be too sudden and violent, and the capital of moral force which should last a lifetime be consumed in a brief, convulsive effort, like the sudden running down of a watch if its spring be broken. Piety is naturally the slowest because the most comprehensive kind of growth. Quetelet says that the measure of the state of civilization in a nation is the way in which it achieves its revolutions. As it becomes truly civilized, revolutions cease to be sudden and violent, and become gradually transitory and without abrupt change. The same is true of that individual crisis which psycho-physiology describes as adolescence, and of which theology formulates a higher spiritual potency as conversion. The adolescent period lasts ten years or more, during all of which development of every sort is very rapid and constant, and it is, as already remarked, intemperate haste for immediate results, of reaping without sowing, which has made so many regard change of heart as an instantaneous conquest rather than as a growth, and persistently to forget that there is something of importance before and after it in healthful religious experience.
[Footnote 1: See author's Boy Life, in Massachusetts Country Town Forty Years Ago. Pedagogical Seminary, June, 1906, vol. 13, pp. 192-207.]
[Footnote 2: Those interested in school statistics may value the record kept by a Swabian schoolmaster named Hauberle, extending over fifty-one years and seven months' experience as a teacher, as follows: 911,527 blows with a cane; 124,010 with a rod; 20,939 with a ruler; 136,715 with the hand; 19,295 over the mouth; 7,905 boxes on the ear; 1,115,800 snaps on the head; 22,763 nota benes with Bible, catechism, hymnbook and grammar; 777 times boys had to kneel on peas; 613 times on triangular blocks of wand; 5,001 had to carry a timber mare; and, 7,701 hold the rod high; the last two being punishments of his own invention. Of the blows with the cane 800,000 were for Latin vowels, and 76,000 of those with the rod for Bible verses and hymns. He used a scolding vocabulary of over 3,000 terms, of which one-third were of his own invention.]
[Footnote 3: For most recent and elaborate study of children's lies see Zeitschrift für pädagogische Psychologie, Pathologie und Hygiene, Juli, 1905. Jahrgang 7, Heft 3, pp. 177-205.]
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