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WHAT IS EDUCATION?
It has been held that education, according to its etymology, means a drawing out of the faculties of the mind, not a mere accumulation of things in the memory; and this is probably substantially true; but yet the etymology of education is not, directly at least, educere, but educare. Again, education has been distinguished from information; which may well be done, as the word information is now used; but yet the word informare, at first, implied as fundamental an operation on the mind as educare; the forming and giving a defined form and scheme to a mere rude susceptibility of thought in the human mind. Again, we use the term learn, both of the teacher and the scholar. (Thus we have, Psalm cxix. 66 and 71, Learn me true understanding and knowledge; and I will learn thy laws.) But the German distinguishes these two aspects of the same fundamental notion by different forms-lehren and lernen; and in a more exact stage of English, one of these is replaced by another word, to teach; which, though it is not the representative of a word used in this sense in German, is connected with the German verb zeigen, to show, and zeichen, a sign or mark; and thus directs us to the French and other daughters of the Latin language, in which the same notion is expressed by enseigner, insegnare, ensenar; which come from the Latin insignire, and are connected with signum. W. WHEWELL.
Education is the process of making individual men participators in the best attainments of the human mind in general: namely, in that which is most rational, true, beautiful, and good... the several steps by which man is admitted, from the sphere of his narrow individuality, into the great sphere of humanity; by which, from being merely a conscious animal, he becomes conscious of rationality; by which, from being merely a creature of sense, he becomes a creature of intellect; by which, from being merely a seeker of pleasurable sensations, he becomes an admirer of what is beautiful; by which, from being merely the slave of impulse, he becomes a reverencer of what is right and good. W. WHEWELL.
What is a man
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed?-a beast, no more.
Sure, He that made us with such large discourse.
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and godlike reason
In the bringing up of youth, there are three special points-truth of religion, honesty of living, and right order in learning. In which three ways, I pray God my poor children may walk.
ASCHAM. Preface to Schoolmaster.
Many examples may be put of the force of custom, both upon mind and body; therefore, since custom is the principal magistrate of man's life, let men by all means endeavor to obtain good customs. Certainly, custom is most perfect when it beginneth in young years; this we call education, which is, in effect, but an early custom. So we see in languages, the tone is more pliant to all expressions and sounds, the joints are more supple to all feats of activity and motions in youth than afterwards; for it is true, the late learners can not so well take up the ply, except it be in some minds that have not suffered themselves to fix, but have kept themselves open and prepared to receive continual amendinent, which is exceeding rare: but the force of custom, copulate and conjoined, and collegiate, is far greater; for there example teacheth, company comforteth, emulation quickeneth, glory raiseth; so as in such places the force of custom is in his exaltation.
LORD BACON. Essays. Custom and Education.
I call a complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war . . . inflamed with a study of learning, and the admiration of virtue; stirred up with high hopes of living to be brave men, and worthy patriots, dear to God, and famous to all ages.
The end of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents, by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest, by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith, makes up the highest perfection. JOHN MILTON.
First, there must precede a way how to discern the natural inclinations and capacities of children. Secondly, next must ensue the culture and furnishment of the mind. Thirdly, the molding of behavior and decent forms. Fourthly, the tempering of affections. Fifthly, the quickening and exciting of observations and practical judgment. Sixthly, and the last in order, but the principal in value, being that which must knit and consolidate all the rest, is the timely instilling of conscientious principles and seeds of religion. SIR HENRY WALTON.
How great soever a genius may be, and how much soever he may acquire new light and heat, as he proceeds in his rapid course, certain it is, that he will never shine in his full luster, nor shed the full influence he is capable of, unless to his own experience he adds of other men and other ages. BOLINGBROKE.
We are born under a law; it is our wisdom to find it out, and our safety to comply with it. DR. WHICHCOTE.
Since the time that God did first proclaim the edicts of his law upon the world, heaven and earth have hearkened unto his voice, and their labor hath been to do his will. "He made a law for the rain;" he gave his "decree unto the sea, that the waters should not pass his commandment." Now, if nature should intermit her course, and leave altogether, though it were for a while, the observation of her own laws, if these principal and mother elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world are made, should lose the qualities which they now have; if the frame of that heavenly arch erected over our heads, should loosen and dissolve itself; if celestial spheres should forget their wonted motions, and by irregular volubility turn themselves any way as it may happen; if the prince of the lights of heaven, which now, as a giant, doth run his unwearied course, should, as it were, through a languishing faintness, begin to stand, and to rest himself; if the moon should wander from her beaten way, the times and seasons of the year blend themselves by disordered and confused mixture, the winds breathe out their last gasp, the clouds yield no rain, the earth be defeated of her heavenly influence, the fruits of the earth pine away, as children at the withered breasts of their mother no longer able to yield them relief; what would become of man himself, whom these things do now all serve? See we not plainly, that obedience of creatures unto the law of nature is the stay of the whole world.
Of law there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world; all things in heaven and earth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power; both angels, and men, and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy. RICHARD HOOKER.
The knowledge of Languages, Sciences, Histories, &c., is not innate to us; it doth not of itself spring in our minds; it is not any ways incident by chance, or infused by grace (except rarely by miracle); common observation doth not produce it; it can not be purchased at any rate, except by that for which, it was said of old, the gods sell all things, that is, for pains; without which the best wit and the greatest capacity may not render a man learned, as the best soil will not yield good fruit or grain, if they be not planted nor sown therein. BR. BARROW.
Powers act but weakly and irregularly till they are hightened and perfected by their habits. DR. SOUTH.
As this life is a preparation for eternity, so is education a preparation for this life; and that education alone is valuable which answers these great primary objects. BISHOP SHORT.
Forasmuch as all knowledge beginneth from experience, therefore also new experience is the beginning of new knowledge, and the increase of experience the beginning of the increase of knowledge Whatsoever, therefore, happeneth new to a man, giveth him matter of hope of knowing somewhat that he knew not before. And this hope and expectation of future knowledge from any thing that happeneth new and strange, is that passion which we commonly call admiration; and the same considered as appetite, is called curiosity; which is appetite of knowledge. ** And from this beginning is derived all philosophy, as astronomy from the admiration of the course of heaven; natural philosophy from the strange effects of the elements and other bodies. And from the degrees of curiosity, proceed also the degrees of knowledge among men.
A sound mind in a sound body, is a short but full description of a happy state in this world.
Of all the men we meet with, nine parts often are what they are, good or evil, useful or not, by their education. It is that which makes the great difference in mankind. The little, or almost insensible, impressions on our tender infancies, have very important and lasting consequences and there it is, as in the fountains of some rivers where a gentle application of the hand turns the flexible waters in channels, that make them take quite contrary courses; and by this little direction, given them at first, in the source, they receive different tendencies, and arrive at least at very remote and distant places.
That which every gentleman, that takes any care of his education, desires for his son, is contained in these four things: Virtue, Wisdom, Good-breeding and Learning. I place virtue as the first and most necessary of these endowments that belong to a man or a gentleman, as absolutely requisite to make him valued and beloved by others, acceptable or tolerable to himself. Without that, I think, he will be happy neither in this nor the other world.
It is virtue, direct virtue, which is the head and valuable part to be aimed at in education. All other considerations and accomplishments should give way, and be postponed, to this. This is the solid and substantial good, which tutors should not only read lectures, and talk of; but the labor and art of education should furnish the mind with, and fasten there, and never cease till the young man had a true relish of it, and placed his strength, his glory, and his pleasure in it.
As the strength of the body lies chiefly in being able to endure hardships, so also does that of the mind. And the great principle and foundation of all virtue and worth lies in this, that a man is able to deny himself his own desires, cross his own inclinations, and purely follow what reason directs as best, though the appetite lean the other way. JOHN LOCKE. Thoughts on Education.
Tis education forms the common mind,
Just as the twig is bent the tree is inclined.· POPE.
Dr. Johnson and I [Boswell] took a sculler at the Temple Stairs, and set out for Greenwich. I asked him if he really thought a knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages an essential requisite to a good education. Johnson.-"Most certainly, sir; for those who know them have a very great advantage over those who do not. Nay, sir, it is wonderful what a difference learning makes upon people, even in the common intercourse of life, which does not appear to be much connected with it." And yet, said I, people go through the world very well, and carry on the business of life to good advantage without learning. Johnson.-" Why, sir, that may be true in cases where learning can not possibly be of any use; for instance, this boy rows us as well without learning as if he could sing the song of Orpheus to the Argonauts, who were the first sailors." He then called to the boy, "What would you give my lad to know about the Argonauts?" "Sir," said the boy, "I would give what I have." Johnson was much pleased with his answer, and we gave him a double fare. Dr. Johnson then turning to me, "Sir," said he "a desire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind; and every human being, whose mind is not debauched, will be willing to give all that he has to get knowledge." DR. JOHNSON. Boswell's Life.
If you love learning you will have learning.
Whether we provide for action or conversation, whether we wish to be useful or pleasing, the first requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong; the next is an acquaintance with the history of mankind, and with these examples which may be said to embody truth, and prove by events the reasonableness of opinions.
Those authors, therefore, are to be read at school, that supply most axioms or prudence, most principles of moral truth and most materials for conversation; and these purposes are best served by poets, orators, and historians. DR. JOHNSON. Life of Milton.
Education in the most extensive sense of the word, may comprehend every preparation that is made in our youth for the sequel of our lives; and in this sense I use it. Some such preparation is necessary for all conditions, because without it they must be miserable, and probably will be vicious, when they grow up, either from the want of the means of subsistence, or from want of rational and inoffensive occupation. In civilized life, every thing is effected by art and skill. Whence, a person who is provided with neither (and neither can be acquired without exercise and instruction) will be useless; and he that is useless, will generally be at the same time mischievous to the community. So that to send an uneducated child into the world, is injurious to the rest of mankind: it is little better than to turn out a mad dog or a wild beast into the streets.
The primary principle of education is the determination of the pupil to self-activity-the doing nothing for him which he is able to do for himself. SIR WILLIAM HAMILTON. Lecture on Metaphysics.