Imatges de pàgina
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posterity are concerned, a cultivated intelligence based upon a bad physique is of little worth, seeing that its descendants will die out in a generation or twoit needs but to bear in mind that a good physique, however poor the accompanying mental endowments, is worth preserving, because, throughout future generations, the mental endowments may be indefinitely developed—it needs but to contemplate these truths, to see how important is the balance of instincts above described. But, purpose apart, the instincts being thus balanced, it is a fatal folly to persist in a system which undermines a girl's constitution that it may overload her memory. Educate as highly as possible—the higher the better-providing no bodily injury is entailed (and we may remark, in passing, that a high standard might be so reached were the parrot-faculty cultivated less, and the human faculty more, and were the discipline extended over that now wasted period between leaving school and being married.) But to educate in such a manner, or to such extent, as to produce physical degeneracy, is to defeat the chief end for which the toil and cost and anxiety are submitted to.

GENERAL RESULTS OF MODERN PHYSICAL TREATMENT.

9. Our general conclusion is, that the ordinary treatment of children in various ways, is seriously prejudicial. It errs in deficient feeding; in deficient clothing; in deficient exercise (among girls at least;) and in excessive mental application. Considering the régime as a whole, its tendency is too exacting: it asks too much and gives too little. In the extent to which it taxes the vital energies, it make the juvenile life much more like the adult life than it should be. It overlooks the truth that, as in the fætus the entire vitality is expended in the direction of growth-as in the infant, the expenditure of vitality in growth is so great as to leave extremely little for either physical or mental action; so throughout childhood and youth growth is the dominant requirement to which all others must be subordinated: a requirement which dictates the giving much and the taking away of little--a requirement which, therefore, restricts the exertion of body and mind to a degree proportionate to the rapidity of growth—a requirement which permits the mental and physical activities to increase only as fast as the rate of growth diminishes.

Regarded from another point of view, this high-pressure education manifestly results from our passing phase of civilization. In primitive times, when aggression and defense were the leading social activities, bodily vigor with its accompanying courage were the desiderata; and then education was almost wholly physical: mental cultivation was little cared for, and indeed, as in our own feudal ages, was often treated with contempt. But now that our state is relatively peaceful--now that muscular power is of use for little else than manual labor, while social success of nearly every kind depends very much on mental power; our education has become almost exclusively mental. Instead of respecting the body and ignoring the mind, we now respect the mind and ignore the body. Both these attitudes are wrong. We do not yet sufficiently realize the truth that as, in this life of ours, the physical underlies the mental, the mental must not be developed at the expense of the physical. The ancient and modern conceptions must be combined.

PRESERVATION OF HEALTH A DUTY.

10. Few seem conscious that there is such a thing as physical morality. Men's habitual words and acts imply the idea that they are at liberty to treat their bodies as they please. Disorders entailed by disobedience to Nature's dictates, they regard simply as grievances: not as the effects of a conduct more or less flagitious. Though the evil consequences inflicted on their dependents, and on future generations, are often as great as those caused by crime; yet they do not think themselves in any degree criminal. It is true, that, in the case of drunkenness, the viciousness of a purely bodily transgression is recognized; but none appear to infer that, if this bodily transgression is vicious, so too is every bodily transgression. The fact is, that all breaches of the laws of health are physical sins. When this is generally seen, then, and perhaps not till then, will the physical training of the young receive all the attention it deserves.

II. MORAL EDUCATION.

SPECIAL PREPARATION NECESSARY FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.

1. To prepare the young for the duties of life is tacitly admitted by all to be the end which parents and schoolmasters should have in view; and happily the value of the things taught, and the goodness of the method followed in teaching them, are now ostensibly judged by their fitness to this end. The propriety of substituting for an exclusively classical training a training in which the modern languages shall have a share, is argued on this ground. The necessity of increasing the amount of science is urged for like reasons. But though some care is taken to fit youth of both sexes for society and citizenship, no care whatever is taken to fit them for the still more important position they will ultimately have to fill the position of parents. While it is seen that for the purpose of gaining a livelihood, an elaborate preparation is needed, it appears to be thought that for the bringing up of children, no preparation whatever is needed. While many years are spent by a boy in gaining knowledge, of which the chief value is that it constitutes “the education of a gentleman;" and while many years are spent by a girl in those decorative acquirements which fit her for evening parties; not an hour is spent by either of them in preparation for that gravest of all responsibilities—the management of a family. Is it that this responsibility is but a remote contingency? On the contrary, it is certain to devolve on nine out of ten. Is it that the discharge of it is easy? Certainly not: of all functions which the adult has to fulfill this is the most difficult. Is it that each may be trusted by self-instruction to fit himself, or herself, for the office of parent? No: not only is the need for such self-instruction unrecognized, but the complexity of the subject renders it the one of all others in which self-instruction is least likely to succeed. No rational plea can be put forward for leaving the Art of Education out of our curriculum. Whether as bearing upon the happiness of parents themselves, or whether as affecting the characters and lives of their children and remote descendants, we must admit that a knowledge of the right methods of juvenile culture, physical, intellectual, and moral, is a knowledge second to none in importance. This topic should occupy the highest and last place in the course of instruction passed through by each man and woman. As physical maturity is marked by the ability to produce offspring, so mental maturity is marked by the ability to train those offspring. The subject which involves all other subjects, and therefore the subject in which the education of every one should culminate, is the Theory and Practice of Education.

In the absence of this preparation, the management of children, and more especially the moral management, is lamentably bad. Parents either never think about the matter at all, or else their conclusions are crude and inconsistent. In most cases, and especially on the part of mothers, the treatment adopted on every occasion is that which the impulse of the moment prompts: it springs not from any reasoned-out conviction as to what will most conduce to the child's welfare, but merely expresses the passing parental feelings, whether good or ill; and varies from hour to hour as these feelings vary. Or if these blind dictates of passion are supplemented by any definite doctrines and methods, they are those that have been handed down from the past, or those suggested by the remembrances of childhood, or those adopted from nurses and servants-methods devised not by the enlightenment, but by the ignorance of the time,

The great error made by those who discuss questions of juvenile discipline, is in ascribing all the faults and difficulties to the children, and none to the parents. The current assumption respecting family government, as respecting national government, is that the virtues are with the rulers and the vices with the ruled. Judging by educational theories, men and women are entirely transfigured in the domestic relation. The citizens we do business with, the people we meet in the world, we all know to be very imperfect creatures. In the daily scandals, in the quarrels of friends, in bankruptcy disclosures, in lawsuits, in police reports, we have constantly thrust before us the pervading selfishness, dishonesty, brutality. Yet when we criticise nursery management, and canvass the misbehavior of juveniles, we habitually take for granted that these culpable men and women are free from moral delinquency in the treatment of their offspring! So far is this from the truth, that we do not hesitate to say that to parental misconduct is traceable a great part of the domestic disorder commonly ascribed to the perversity of children. We do not assert this of the more sympathetic and selfrestrained, among whom we hope most of our readers may be classed, but we assert it of the mass. What kind of moral discipline is to be expected from a mother who, time after time, angrily shakes her infant because it will not suckle her, which we once saw a mother do? How much love of justice and generosity is likely to be instilled by a father who, on having his attention drawn by his child's scream to the fact that its finger is jammed between the window sash and the sill, forth with begins to beat the child instead of releasing it? Yet that there are such fathers is testified to us by an eye-witness. Or, to take a still stronger case, also vouched for by direct testimony—what are the educational prospects of the boy who, on being taken home with a dislocated thigh, is saluted with a castigation ? It is true that these are extreme instances-instances exhibiting in human beings that blind instinct which impels brutes to destroy the weakly and injured of their own race. But extreme though they are, they typify feelings and conduct daily observable in many families. Who has not repeatedly seen a child slapped by nurse or parent for a fretfulness probably resulting from bodily derangement? Who, when watching a mother snatch up a fallen little one, has not often traced, both in the rough manner and in the sharply-uttered exclamation—"You stupid little thing !"-an irascibility foretelling endless future squabbles? Is there not in the harsh tones in which a father bids his children be quiet, evidence of a deficient fellow-feeling with them? Are not the constant, and often quite needless, thwartings that the young experience the injunctions to sit still, which an active child can not obey without suffering great nervous irritation, the commands not to look out of the window when traveling by railway, which on a child of any intelligence entails serious deprivation-are not these thwartings, we ask, signs of a terrible lack of sympathy? The truth is, that the difficulties of moral education are necessarily of dual origin-necessarily result from the combined faults of parents and children. If hereditary transmission is a law of nature, as every naturalist knows it to be, and as our daily remarks and current proverbs admit it to be; then on the average of cases, the defects of children mirror the defects of their parents ;-on the average of cases, we say, because, complicated as the results are by the transmitted traits of remoter ancestors, the correspondence is not special but only general. And if, on the average of cases, this inheritance of defects exists, then the evil passions which parents have to check in their children imply like evil passions in themselves: hidden, it may be, from the public eye; or perhaps obscured by other feelings; but still there.

NATURE'S LAW OF DISCIPLINE. 2. When a child falls, or runs its head against the table, it suffers a pain, the remembrance of which tends to make it more careful for the future; and by an occasional repetition of like experiences, it is eventually disciplined into a proper guidance of its movements. If it lays hold of the fire-bars, thrusts its finger into the candle-flame, or spills boiling water on any part of its skin, the resulting burn or scald is a lesson not easily forgotten. So deep an impression is produced by one or two such events, that afterwards no persuasion will induce it again to disregard the laws of its constitution in these ways.

Now in these and like cases, Nature illustrates to us in the simplest way, the true theory and practice of moral discipline a theory and practice which, how ever much they may seem to the superficial like those commonly received, we shall find on examination to differ from them very widely.

Observe, in the first place, that in bodily injuries and their penalties we have misconduct and its consequences reduced to their simplest forms. Though, according to their popular acceptations right and wrong are words scarcely applicable to actions that have none but direct bodily effects; yet whoever considers the matter will see that such actions must be as much classifiable under theso heads as any other actions. From whatever basis they start, all theories of morality agree in considering that conduct whose total results, immediate and remote, are beneficial, is good conduct; while conduct whose total results, immediate and remote, are injurious, is bad conduct. The happiness or misery caused by it are the ultimate standards by which all men judge of behavior. We consider drunkenness wrong because of the physical degeneracy and accompanying moral evils entailed on the transgressor and his dependents. Did theft uniformly give pleasure both to taker and loser, we should not find it in our catalogue of sins. Were it conceivable that benevolent actions multiplied human pains, we should condemn them—should not consider them benevolent. It needs but to read the first newspaper leader, or listen to any conversation touching social affairs, to see that acts of parliament, political movements, philanthropic agitations, in common with the doings of individuals, are judged by their anticipated results in multiplying the pleasures or pains of men. And if on looking on all secondary superinduced ideas, we find these to be our ultimate tests of right and wrong, we can not refuse to class purely physical actions as right or wrong according to the beneficial or detrimental results they produce.

Note, in the second place, the character of the punishments by which these physical transgressions are prevented. Punishments, we call them, in the absence of a better word; for they are not punishments in the literal sense. They are not artificial and unnecessary inflictions of pain; but are simply the beneficent checks to actions that are essentially at variance with bodily welfare-checks in the absence of which life would quickly be destroyed by bodily injuries. It is the peculiarity of these penalties, if we must so call them, that they are nothing more than the unavoidable consequences of the deeds which they follow: they are nothing more than the inevitable reactions entailed by the child's actions.

Let it be further borne in mind that these painful reactions are proportionate to the degree in which the organic laws have been transgressed. À slight accident brings a slight pain, a more serious one, a greater pain. When a child tumbles over the door-step, it is not ordained that it shall suffer in excess of the amount necessary, with the view of making it still more cautious than the necessary suffering will make it. But from its daily experience it is left to learn the greater or less penalties of greater or less errors; and to behave accordingly.

And then mark, lastly, that these natural reactions which follow the child's wrong actions, are constant, direct, unhesitating, and not to be escaped. No threats: but a silent, rigorous performance. If a child runs a pin into its finger, pain follows. If it does it again, there is again the same result: and so on perpetually. In all its dealings with surrounding inorganic nature it finds this unswerving persistence, which listens to no excuse, and from which there is no appeal; and very soon recognizing this stern though beneficent discipline, it becomes extremely careful not to transgress.

Still more significant will these general truths appear, when we remember that they hold throughout adult life as well as throughout infantine life. It is by an experimentally-gained knowledge of the natural consequences, that men and women are checked when they go wrong. After home education has ceased, and when there are no longer parents and teachers to forbid this or that kind of conduct, there comes into play a discipline like that by which the young child is taught its first lessons in self-guidance. If the youth entering upon the business of life idles away his time and fulfills slowly or unskillfully the duties intrusted to him, there by-and-by follows the natural penalty: he is discharged, and left to suffer for awhile the evils of relative poverty. On the unpunctual man, failing alike his appointments of business and pleasure, there continually fall the consequent inconveniences, losses, and deprivations. The avaricious tradesman who charges too high a rate of profit, loses his customers, and so is checked in his greediness. Diminishing practice teaches the inattentive doctor to bestow more trouble on his patients. The too credulous creditor and the over-sanguine speculator alike learn by the difficulties which rashness entails on them, the necessity of being more cautious in their engagements. And so throughout the life of every citizen. In the quotation so often made àpropos of these cases." The burnt child dreads the fire"- "-we see not only that the analogy between this social discipline and Nature's early discipline of infants is universally recognized; but we also see an implied conviction that this discipline is of the most efficient kind. Nay more, this conviction is not only implied, but distinctly stated. Every one has heard others confess that only by "dearly bought experience" had they been induced to give up some bad or

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