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painted with consummate art; and in this instance the art consists in so handling the relations of cause and effect as to make them speak for themselves. These pages are alive with political philosophy, and teem with object lessons of extraordinary value. It would be hard to point to any book where history more fully discharges her high function of gathering friendly lessons of caution from the errors of the past.
Of all the societies that have been composed of European men, probably none was ever so despotically organized as New France, unless it may have been the later Byzantine Empire, which it resembled in the minuteness of elaborate supervision over all the pettiest details of life. In Canada, the protective, paternal, socialistic, or nationalistic theory of government - it is the same old cloven hoof, under whatever specious name you introduce it was more fully carried into operation than in any other community known to history, except ancient Peru. No room was left for individual initiative or enterprise. All undertakings were nationalized. Government looked after every man's interests in this world and the next: baptized and schooled him; married him and paid the bride's dowry; gave him a bounty with every child that was born to him; stocked his cupboard with garden seeds and compelled him to plant them; prescribed the size of his house, and the number of horses and cattle he might keep, and the exact percentages of profit he might be allowed to make, how his chimneys should be swept, how many servants he might employ, what theological doctrines he might believe, what sort of bread the bakers might bake, and where goods might be bought and how much might be paid for them; and if, in a society so well cared for, it were possible to find indigent persons, such paupers were duly relieved from a fund established by government. Unmitigated benevolence was the theory of Louis XIV.'s NO. 439.
Canadian colony, and heartless political economy had no place there. Nor was there any room for free-thinkers: when the king, after 1685, sent out word that no mercy must be shown to heretics, the governor, Denonville, with a pious ejaculation, replied that not so much as a single heretic could be found in all Canada.
Such was the community whose career our historian has delineated with perfect soundness of judgment and unrivaled wealth of knowledge. The fate of this nationalistic experiment, set on foot by one of the most absolute of monarchs, and fostered by one of the most devoted and powerful of religious organizations, is traced to the operation of causes inherent in its very nature. The hope
less paralysis, the woeful corruption, the intellectual and moral torpor, resulting from the suppression of individualism, are vividly portrayed; yet there is no discursive generalizing, and from moment to moment the development of the story proceeds from within itself. It is the whole national life of New France that is displayed before us. Historians of ordinary calibre exhibit their subject in fragments, or they show us some phases of life and neglect others. Some have no eyes save for events that are startling, such as battles and sieges, or decorative, such as coronations and court balls; others give abundant details of manners and customs; others have their attention absorbed by economics; others, again, feel such interest in the history of ideas as to lose sight of mere material incidents. Parkman, on the other hand, conceives and presents his subject as a whole. He forgets nothing, overlooks nothing; but whether it is a bloody battle, or a theological pamphlet, or an exploring journey through the forest, or a code for the discipline of nunneries, each event grows out of its context as a feature in the total development that is going on before our eyes. It is only the historian who is also phi
losopher and artist who can thus deal in block with the great and complex life of a whole society. The requisite combination is realized only in certain rare and high types of mind, and there has been no more brilliant illustration of it than Parkman's volumes afford.
The struggle between the machinelike socialistic despotism of New France and the free and spontaneous political vitality of New England is one of the most instructive object lessons with which the experience of mankind has furnished
The depth of its significance is equaled by the vastness of its consequences. Never did destiny preside over a more fateful contest; for it determined which kind of political seed should be sown all over the widest and richest political garden plot left untilled in the world. Free industrial England pitted against despotic militant France for the possession of an ancient continent reserved for this decisive struggle, and dragging into the conflict the belated barbarism of the stone age, such is the wonderful theme which Parkman has treated. When the vividly contrasted modern ideas and personages are set
off against the romantic though lurid background of Indian life, the artistic effect effect becomes simply magnificent. Never has historian grappled with another such epic theme, save when Herodotus told the story of Greece and Persia, or when Gibbon's pages resounded with the solemn tread of marshaled hosts through a thousand years of change.
Thus great in his natural powers and great in the use he made of them, Parkman was no less great in his occasion and in his theme. Of all American historians he is the most deeply and peculiarly American, yet he is at the same time the broadest and most cosmopolitan. The book which depicts at once the social life of the stone age and the victory of the English political ideal over the ideal which France inherited from imperial Rome is a book for all mankind and for all time. The more adequately men's historic perspective gets adjusted, the greater will it seem. Strong in its individuality and like to nothing beside, it clearly belongs, I think, among the world's few masterpieces of the highest rank, along with the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Gibbon. John Fiske.
THE ETHICAL PROBLEM OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
THE political instincts of the people of the United States have led them to seek the best possible system of public schools, and the supreme motive for the expenditure of the vast sums of money that have been voted with great willingness for their foundation and their continued support has been the education of the youth of the country for citizenship. The final test of all citizenship must be an ethical one; and especially is this true in a democracy where the stability of its life depends upon the character of its citizens. With this fact in view, it is perti
nent to ask whether the public schools are fulfilling the mission for which they were founded.
There has been for some time an increasing interest in the moral aspect of the public school problem. One indication of this is seen in the appearance during the last two years of seven rather notable textbooks upon ethics, especially designed for schools of lower grade. The question that is now asked, however, does not find its answer in any reply given to the query raised as to the wisdom of publishing these books, for it seeks to go
behind the inquiry, Should ethics be taught at all to boys and girls of the age of those in the public schools? It asks whether the problem of public morals is involved in the very nature of the system as such.
No one denies that the education of the thirteen million children in these schools has much to do with the destiny of the republic, nor that the country has placed its future, for good or evil, in the hands of the public school teacher.
The church may have the capacity for the moral training of the youth of the country; but, great as is its influence, the ethico-religious movement is not at present far reaching enough to fashion even the majority of these thirteen million pupils into citizens in whom righteousness shall be the controlling element; and there is no reason for thinking that it will be in the immediate future.
The home comes much nearer meeting the need; but doubtless Mr. G. H. Palmer's statement is correct, in his article Can Moral Conduct be Taught in Schools? "The home," he says, "which has hitherto been the fundamental agency for fostering morality in the young, is just now in sore need of repair. We can no longer depend upon it alone for moral guardianship. It must be supplemented, possibly reconstructed." It still does, and always will, train the choice few for leadership; but after enumerating the homes in which the best that was in Puritanism still is the controlling element, and those that develop morality by means of the self-respect engendered by intellectual and aesthetic culture, in fact, all those in which high ideals predominate, - there is still left a vast number where self-seeking is the main principle of life. If to the number of children in these latter homes are added the thousands who exist with scarcely any trace of home life to shelter them, we shall be forced to admit that there would be a moral crisis if the public school were not doing its beneficent work.
The question still awaits us, however, What is the public school system achieving for public morals?
Just at present there is a movement in various quarters to introduce instruction in the theory of morals into even the lower grades of the schools; but no one seems to be sure that this will not produce self-conscious prigs, or encourage morbid introspection rather than sturdy morality. But all are agreed that it is the function of the public schools not to say of all schools, for that matto produce what some one calls "unconscious rectitude" in these thirteen million children. All appear to believe that development of morality is essential, and few that the teaching of mere ethical theories will be of much value.
The problem involves, then, the study of the system as a system from the standpoint of practical morality, to see if it is a moral force in and of itself. Its power for righteousness depends upon what it is by virtue of its plan, purpose, and scope; upon its spirit, genius, and the manner in which it is realizing the ideal that has brought it into existence.
It is not possible at present to make a comprehensive and accurate study of the moral value of the public school system. The method of examination must be inductive, and the conditions vary so greatly in different communities that it is exceedingly difficult to reach conclusions that are drawn from a sufficiently large number of facts to make one's deductions satisfactory. The literature upon the subject, and in fact upon the general subject of the public schools, especially from a sociological and economic point of view, is exceedingly meagre. A good illustration of this point is the article in the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, where, in over one hundred of its large and closely printed pages upon the United States, less than quarter of a page is devoted to this institution, and even what is written is of no special value. Such papers as the articles of Dr. Rice
which have lately appeared in The Forum will furnish the basis of other work, and encouragement should be given to such critical examinations of the system; and much more work of this nature must be done before a comprehensive and discriminating thesis can be written upon the real influence of the public schools upon the morals of the country.
Certain conclusions, however, in regard to their power can be reached, and these ought to be stated in an article attempting to give a judicial opinion of their ethical merits. First there should be indicated the points both of direct and of indirect ethical value, and then the lines of weakness or of positive failure.
Modern psychology, leading to the study of the objective manifestations of mind, tells us that "habit covers a very large part of life;" that instincts are simply habits to which there is an innate tendency; and that these habits are due to what is characterized as the "plasticity" of brain matter to outward influences. Whether, for example, as one of our distinguished writers upon psychophysics has told us, the habit of putting one's hands into one's pockets is mechanically nothing but the reflex discharge, or not, the fact remains that "the walking bundle of habits of later years" does spin his fate for good or evil in that plastic state which covers the time when the child is usually a pupil in the public schools. If this is true, there is reason for saying that there is ethical value in the systematic order and discipline that are found in the majority of these schools. The constant and punctual attendance, the orderly arrangement of pupils, together with strict requirements in connection with these matters, fit one for successful business life, and create a sense of responsibility in regard to the use of time. The system of the public schools tends to make the pupil systematic, and helps to produce the accurate and methodical man or woman of later years. The testimony in regard to this is incontrovertible.
More than this, however, there is ethical value in the very conception from which the movement started, and the idea along which it has developed. The notion of self-improvement for a high end has in itself moral worth; for it demands that the youth of the country shall be upright not only because excellence of character is a good in itself, but because it promotes the good of the state. The expenditure of such a large proportion of the public revenues, the erection of so many buildings, the employment of such large numbers of high-minded persons, the creation and constant support of such an elaborate scheme, for the one purpose of producing good citizens, are object lessons that must have great influence upon the public.
What has been said indicates some of the lines in which the schools exert a direct moral influence; but in addition to this a large amount of testimony shows that, especially where there is a compulsory school law, a sense of responsibility has been developed in parents, making them recognize their own obligations. This, the reflex influence of the public schools upon the communities in which the system is at its best, is shown in many ways. Parents whose education has been meagre and faulty have become learners themselves, and have been led for the first time to consider seriously the duties and future of their children; and this thought for the welfare of others has had a wholesome reaction upon their own lives.
In naming the elements that give moral value to the public schools mention should be made of the indirect good accomplished by keeping large numbers of children from the haphazard companionship of the streets, and from idleness and degrading influences. Especially in the larger towns and cities has this been true. To this negative protective good should be added the positive advantage derived from the acquisition of habits of neatness, personal cleanliness, and, in many schools, good manners.
After enumerating these things, which are more or less incidental to the system, and others that might and ought to be considered, it still remains to be said that the greatest ethical value in the public school system is, and must ever be, the intellectual work that is accomplished by it. There can be no doubt that there is a great amount of teaching that is not only unmoral, but positively immoral, in its direct or indirect influence. Recent publications demonstrate this fact, and show that the public schools will be at their best as a moral force when their work is thoroughly scientific.
Their success, then, in achieving the purpose for which they have been created depends primarily upon the character of the instruction that is given in them. It may be true that "pupils will not learn their lessons in arithmetic if they have not already made some progress in concentration, in self-forgetfulness, in acceptance of duty;" but it is equally true that mental exactitude and thoroughness of work, under the influence of a teacher whose method is scientific and whose spirit is earnest, will develop the elements that produce concentration, self- forgetfulness, and dutifulness. The tendency of mechanical, unscientific instruction is towards immorality. Schools that are under the control of selfish officials, with incompetent supervision and antiquated methods of teaching, have no power to quicken those springs of action which are the sources of morality. On the other hand, ethical capacity and moral strength can and ought to be produced by a high-minded instructor in and through the very process of teaching arithmetic, grammar, and geography. Mental activity and intellectual self-respect are important factors in the truest morality. Habits of attention and observation may be developed into self-control, and the power of judgment into capacity for distinguishing between right and wrong. The ability to hold one's self uninterruptedly to any task may
be power for resisting wrong or for the performance of duty.
In this connection mention should be made of a certain force of character which may be produced by the element of continuity in the courses of study through which the pupils are required to pass. So far as these are fitted to the normal, natural method of mental growth in the pupil they have ethical value. Obedience to the laws of mental development is essential to the highest type of manhood, and abnormal, restricted, unnatural mental growth is apt to produce immorality.
The things that have been mentioned lie on the hopeful side of this problem, and on the whole they make the outlook encouraging. They lead, however, to the question, How can an institution which is fraught with so much good, and which is necessary to the life of the state, be still. further improved, and how can certain evils within it be eradicated? To do a little in the effort to answer this question, and also that this statement of the moral problem of the public schools may not be one-sided, an examination must be made of the evils that at least modify their usefulness.
Dr. Rice says, in his last article on Our Public School System, "One half the work of placing the schools upon a healthful foundation has been accomplished when the members of the boards of education become endowed with the desire to improve the schools." To accept as final the opinion that they are perfect always results in the evil elements' becoming conspicuous. The most dangerous official is the one who regards no criticism as valid simply because it is uttered against the public schools. Neglect of such an essential institution is not worse than bigoted satisfaction with it and all that pertains to it.
The pride of its friends is that it is a great system of education. Mention has already been made of the value of the element of continuity in a course of study,