« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
and pleasant always; that when we speak to, look at, or even stand beside a child, we are having an influence that must always be for good; that to establish an act as wrong is to so direct his attention to it that he will surely do it if angry or disturbed. And best of all, we know that if we will persistently and consistently stand for “ Happiness First” all else will follow.
The Training School,
New Jersey, U.S.A.
CHILD TRAINING AND QUALITIES WRONGLY
By FREDERICK J. GOULD. Author of "Children's Book of Moral Lessons," " British Education after the
In order to make the point of this brief article clear at once, and even at the risk of startling the reader, I will at the outset make this affirmation—that the following qualities are not, in the strict sense of the term, moral, namely : Courage, prudence, order, punctuality, regularity, accuracy, attentiveness, patience, perseverance, diligence, discipline, temperance, peaceableness.
Assuming for the moment that the affirmation holds good, it will, of course, follow that, in our teaching and training of children, we shall refrain from recommending these qualities and their realization as intrinsically good.
By “moral ” conduct, I mean conduct performed in a spirit of love and service. Those who object to this interpretation of morality may have a difficulty in comprehending my simple argument. All I can here do is to beg them to examine the grounds of their objection and also to find a better definition.
Take the last-named quality-peaceableness, and it is one which may peculiarly appeal to our favour in a war period like the present. Many minds regard work for peace as absolutely good, and it is evident (and I speak as a member of two peace societies) that the admirable motive of love and service animates the normal peace advocate. But many sneaks, cads, and exploiters of the weak possess peaceable dispositions in the sense that they are averse from military force or bodily violence. Such natures may prefer a state of peace as affording ampler opportunities for the exercise of their special talents for trickery and swindling. The boy who never lifts an assaulting hand against another may, for all that; be a thorough prig and cheat.
Courage is illustrated by the pirate and unjust invader, as well as by a Garibaldi or a Columbus. A considerable group of the qualities in my list may adorn, more or less, the figure of the burglar or, let us say, a band of co-operative burglars, and let us imagine them to be
1 I write “normal,” so as to exclude those who press for peace negotiations at what they deem a suitable moment in a war.
armed against a possible encounter with the police. The members of the gang certainly exhibit courage. They practise prudence in scouting, order in planning, punctuality in timely arrival at the scene of their employment, regularity in pursuit of their vocation, accuracy in the use of tools, attentiveness to details, patience under trials, perseverance amid obstacles, diligence in their special industry, discipline under the command of a chief; and as to temperance, no man habitually intemperate can count on a successful career in the delicate arts of housebreaking and opening of safes.
I confess that this analysis seems to bear with cruel irony upon the well-meaning teachers, parents, and speech-makers who are in the habit of praising temperance, perseverance, pursuit of knowledge under difficulties, obedience to rule and discipline, and the rest. It must come as a shock to many honest mothers and fathers to be bluntly told that obedience is not a genuine virtue, though the fact is obvious when one thinks of obedience to a wicked command. And the “temperance" lecturer will be scandalized when he is reminded that some embezzlers, extortionate money-lenders, gluttons, inordinate smokers, and bullies may, on rigid inquiry, be discovered to be teetotallers. But John Burns, in his revolutionary days, once publicly prayed to be delivered from the “thrifty teetotal deacon.” It will be asked, Ought we not to cultivate all these qualities in young people, so far as our educational capacity permits? It would be strange if I did not answer Yes; but it would be a gross omission if I did not immediately add that these qualities are only moral when devoted to service in the spirit of love. For example, obedience, rendered in affection, is a very beautiful manifestation of child nature; and temperance, as part of a selfdiscipline for usefulness in one's world, is dignified and noble. It may be as well to observe that, in speaking of " love,” one does not ask for an effusive impulse, but a general attitude of goodwill towards mankind, varying in power as we pass from household relations, and neighbourly intercourse, to the distant fellow-creature.
Now the training of this spirit of humanity is the supreme and, therefore, the most arduous, purpose of education. It would be foolish to expect the wisest parent or teacher to reveal this great end rapidly to the imagination of the child. And, besides, the child has very little character, in the exact sense of the word; and only souls that possess
1 This remark is free from prejudice, since for forty years I have abstained from alcoholic drinks.
character1 can rightly display morality in action. Hence, when we think of our own limitations, and when we think of the hindrances issuing from the social environment, we must not grieve unduly if the unfolding of the vision of love and service is so slow. Civilization is slow, history is slow, and the growth of character is slow. Only this one thing we must do we must, with increasing plainness, as the years of education elapse, teach that courage, patience, discipline, and the other qualities here discussed have to be dedicated to the one high end. And this one thing we must not do: we must not treat courage, patience, discipline, and the rest as moral values in themselves.
2A, Woodfield Avenue,
1 Bycharacter" I understand the executive powers of courage, discretion, persistence, judgment and the like.
ABSTRACTS AND EXTRACTS.
Under this heading it is proposed to gather thoughts from literature, both ancient and modern, and
provide information likely to be of assistance to students of child life and practical workers for child welfare. It is hoped that our roaders will co-operate in making this section both suggestive and serviceable.
PLAYTHINGS. The Bureau of Educational Experiments, 70, Fifth Avenue, New York, is accomplishing valuable service by the issue of its Bulletins. The first of its series is a careful report on “ Playthings” by the Committee on Toys and School Equipment (price 10 cents). The views expressed will be appreciated by many educationists on both sides of the Atlantic, as the following quotation will afford evidence : “ Toys-real toys-are the tools of play. And since play is serious business for children, these tools must be selected with serious intent. The requisite for toys is that they must be efficient as toys. That is, they should be suggestive of play and made for play. They should be selected in relation to each other, both in size and in kind. They should be consistent with the environment of the child who is to them. They should be constructed simply, so that they may serve as models for other toys to be constructed by the children. They should suggest something besides domestic play, so that the child's interests may be led to activities outside the home life. They should be durable, because they are the realities in a child's world and deserve the dignity of good workmanship. Toys of this sort may obviously form an equipment for a child's laboratory, and anything which answers these requirements becomes in this sense a toy-a tool for play. Some toys of this sort-for example, blocks-are as old as the proverbial hills; they have even been used in the schoolroom. But to use them as a basis for constructing a miniature world, a world in which the related toys -the dolls and the horses-live, move, and have their being, an incomplete world which may be supplemented by all sorts of plasticene and bench-made things, a world, moreover, which may be decorated to any extent-to use blocks in this way is an innovation in education. Yet there is no appliance better suited to
a laboratory for play than simple blocks. Work benches, with real tools, are an essential for the laboratory. The possibility for purposive action which a workbench holds is literally boundless. So, too, with play materials, such as crayons, coloured papers, plasticene and clay. If children are let alone with paper and pencil, they will quickly learn to these playthings quite as effectively as they do blocks and dolls. Left to dig out for himself the soul' of an object and transfer this soul to paper, which is, after all, the true province of art, a child under 6 may produce something that at first sight seems to our hide-bound imaginations grotesque. But rest assured that this absurdity is based on some reality. He has drawn the essential rather than the object itself. Take the small boy of 6 who drew aeroplanes, guns, ships, and then smudged the whole thing with red crayon. When asked what his drawing represented, he said, 'Why, that's war. Isn't it a mess?' Or the child who drew a barely perceptible automobile in white crayon because, as he explained, 'It's going so fast you can't see it.'
Or again, the 7-year-old who passed a green crayon lightly over sheet of paper and placed at the bottom a tiny figure who 'thinks he is walking in the grass, but he really is in the bottom of the sea !! If a laboratory is to give each child the full freedom for his own expression, it has to provide not only appliances which he can easily manipulate to his own ends, but physical space and guarantee from interruption as well. The school's task is no light one. It must see to it that children have the playthings which are the nucleus of a significant life-process known to them through their own experiences; that is, tog's which are related and suggestive; that they have at hand materials with which they themselves can supplement these provided toys; and then, that they be given time and space in which to work out their own experiments in their own