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proportions should be completely unfolded. To this end, we must have first in our minds the Ideal of a true man; we must comprehend, in its length and breadth, what humanity is. Many parents have never done this. They have seen now an eye, and now an arm, here the light and there the shade of the picture, but the full-length portrait, man as God intended he should be, and as every child that bears his image can be, how few of us have gone even so far in the work of education as to see that glorious Ideal.
The consequence of our imperfect conception of what is to be done, is that we have seldom considered all the means and methods of human culture. We have hence framed plans of instruction which regarded but one, or a few, of the faculties of our nature. “Now,” has the father said to himself, “I must take this my son and give him a good education." But what was the thought then
” in his mind? To qualify that son, it may be, to gain a subsistence in the world; to make him as much like his companions as possible ; to follow the fashion of his
: times ; to render him a respectable man; in any event, let the idea in his mind have been broad as it may, it embraced but a portion of the child's capacities, and extended through one period only of his immortal existence. And now what was straightway accomplished ? Was the child placed where his whole nature would be called into action ? Were light and warmth admitted to the divine germs implanted in him at his birth? Was he entrusted to teachers whose employment and endeavor it was to train their pupils to be perfect children, that they might make perfect men ? No, the parent did not desire this ; he had not so much as considered the subject of educa
tion in that broad light. And the teacher, to secure his approbation, must form a contracted plan, and confine himself rigidly to it. This he has done, and behold the fruit of his labors.
How many faculties do we see, even in the adult, slumber as in their infancy. Here is a genius, quick of apprehension, full of thick-coming fancies, but destitute of sound judgment, having much uncommon, but no com
There is a man of a giant intellect; he has mastered the sciences; perhaps he can reason and write, declaim and convince. But that is all; for his affections are torpid ; and in social morality he falls even below mediocrity. For religion, the very word is to him as yet an enigma. Now we encounter the student, filled with the lore of ages, yet with a pale countenance and an emaciated form. The physical man, this poor, despised body has received at his hands no care whatever. It seems not even to have occurred to his friends or himself that there was a “law of the flesh.” The only aim
” with him was books, knowledge, talent, intellect. But a part, surely, of a man is such an individual.
Next we see the man of over-educated physical faculties. There are those who dwell so much
their health, as to give little attention to any thing else. Such an one, if exempt from every bodily pain, thinks himself the happiest of mortals, and takes pride in his successful preventives that keep him in such perfect health, or in his excellent prescriptions and remedies.
When we meet one thus servilely, thus nervously, devoted to his bodily welfare, we recall the remark of the London physician, that “it were well for half the world did they not know that they had any stomach.”
Other perversions of nature are seen in the inordinate culture of the devotional, to the neglect of the active man, or in so overestimating moral cultivation as to omit, in the pursuit of it, the imperious duties of religion. But let partial views and imperfect training affect one or another part of our nature ; let the boy be a mere scholar, or a mere tool at the workbench, in either his
parents have done him an inconceivable injury, and through all his succeeding years the retribution of their error must be felt.
If parents and guardians be uninformed on this subject, or insensible to the true character of a good school, they may frustrate the best endeavors of the friends of reform in popular education. The voice of God seems, therefore, to be now saying to this country, “ let there be light,”_light in reference to our common nature and the claims of the young,— light on the means of training them, intellectually and morally, for the duties, stations, and prospects before them.
The Ignorance and Indifference of parents on this subject are a serious obstacle to the improvement of our schools. It is by no means uncommon to hear mothers say, they “send their children to school to keep them out of the way.” If, therefore, the teacher dismiss them a little too soon, the complaint is heard that “he is paid for six hours work in the day, and yet he has sent my boy home to trouble me full fifteen minutes before his time was out.” How many regard their whole duty in this matter as discharged, if they send their children a few weeks or months in the year to the school in their vicinity. They do not converse with them upon their daily studies; they do not visit the school ; they take no
notice of the instructer. They leave him to toil on without counsel, encouragement, or sympathy. Perhaps they feel not even sufficient interest in his success to aid him, by sending their children to him daily and punctually at the appointed hour. How often does the parent keep bis child at home to do some household, or mechanic, or farm-house, work. How different is all this from the state of things in Prussia, a monarchy to which I shall again refer. There an individual cannot partake of the communion, until he brings a certificate that he has passed, or is passing, the requisite time in the common school. Nay, the same condition is required of those who would be joined in marriage. When shall we prize an education, such as the common school furnishes in Prussia, so highly, so truly, as this? Would that we could feel as Napoleon must have felt, when on leaving a school he once visited, he is reported to have said to the pupils, “my young friends, every hour lost here is a chance of future wretchedness.”
A misapprehension of the true purpose of school education, is another insurmountable obstacle to its success. Not a few parents conceive that this purpose is to qualify their children for some secular pursuit. Is the son to be trained for a counting-room? He must be taught arithmetic and book-keeping alone ; or, at least, every other study must be made subordinate to these ; and a similar course is pursued with reference to any and every other avocation of life.
But they who commit this error should consider, in the first place, that it is by no means certain their son will pursue through life that calling for which they intend him to be thus exclusively prepared. How often do we see
men in early manhood change their employment. The merchant leaves his business for a farm. The mechanic is compelled, by a failure of health, perhaps, to seek some labor less trying to the body. Such changes, in this country, we daily witness. Is he, then, a wise father or guardian, who would qualify a child for one calling alone ?
But again, to take a broader view of the subject, what is the leading Object of a good education ? If our children were created to be merchants, mechanics, farmers, housekeepers, or dressmakers alone, the course we have taken might be plausibly justified. But is it so ? Far, far from it.
They were made to be true men and women. And is he who has studied the art of penmanship, or accounts, or navigation, or surveying, qualified by these alone to make a good and true man? Will you teach him nothing of the history of his race ? Shall he be left in ignorance of the nature of that mind on whose energies and exercises his whole character is to depend ? May he pass his childhood without learning how to communicate his thoughts and sentiments by the pen, or in correct language by the voice ? Is it right to debar him from a knowledge of the laws of health, that precious possession, without which he can never become a perfect man? How often, alas ! do we see this noble work of God, the Man, degraded and sunken in the mere trade or profession. I have known students in college, possessed with the idea of becoming a lawyer, a physician, or a clergyman, to neglect every branch of study that did not seem to them to bear directly on the particular profession in view. I have traced the course of such students, and how did it termi