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THE NATIONAL EDUCATION DEMANDED BY THE AGE,
CONSIDERED IN CONNECTION WITH THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM OF FRIEDRICH TROBEL.
By Prof. J. H. Von Fichte. *
I. EDUCATION-THE PROBLEM OF THE AGE.
Since Pestalozzi's great movement, it has become, at least in Germany, a universally recognized conviction, that only by means of an improved popular education, can the many defects of civil, social and family life be thoroughly corrected, and a better future be assured to our posterity. It may be asserted, still more universally, that the fate of a people, its growth and decay, depend, ultimately and mainly, on the education which is given to its youth. Hence follows, with the same indisputable certainty, the next axiom : that nation which, in all its classes, possesses the most thorough and varied cultivation, will, at the same time, be the most powerful and the happiest, among the peoples of its century; invincible to its neighbors and envied by its contemporaries, or an example for them to imitate. Indeed, it can be asserted, with the exactness of a mathematical truth, that even the most reliable preparation for war can be most surely reached through the right education of physicallydeveloped young men. This conviction also gains ground in Germany; and renewed efforts are now made to introduce gymnastics (turnen) into the system of common school education, freed from all cumbersome modifications, and restored to their simple, first principles.
But the problems of national education are far from being limited to these immediate, practical aims. Its workings must not alone cover the present and its necessities; the great plan of national education must comprehend unborn generations, the future of our race, the immediato and therefore the most distant. Finally, man must not be educated for the State alone (after the manner of Greece and Rome), but the highest civil and educational aim must be to lead the individual and the whole race toward their moral perfection. National education must therefore extend beyond the popular and expedient; must construct its foundations on pure and universal humanity, and then raise upon these whatever national and professional wants require. This gradation of requirements strictly held, will prove to be a guiding rule of great importance.
llere now, it may seem—and “idealizing educators” have frequently received such reproaches—as if in these demands, far off, impossible
* Translated by Emily Meyer, with slight verbal alterations and abridgements:
problems were treated of, as if educational utopias were desired, instead of looking after what is nearest and most necessary. And one could say, · even with an appearance of right, that inasmuch as we perform what is near and sure, we approach, at least progressively, our highest goal. For national education is a work so comprehensive, complicated and. prodigious, that it can be realized only in favorable periods and within very circumscribed limits.
Admitting this last, we hope still to show how directly practical the consideration of that universal question of principle is, and that the education of the present will only reach its aim by beginning at this point. We are undeniably entering a new era. We are preparing to cast aside the last remnants of the middle ages. Inherited rights are precarious, or at least they can claim no legal sanction, while, nevertheless, much in our manners and customs remind us of the past. No one is compelled to serve another, and no individual enjoys in idleness the profits of another man's labor; but for each, labor and capacity are to be the sole supports of his position in life. Thus each is thrown upon his own exertions, and the path of unlimited competition and zealous effort is opened to all.
For this reason there should no longer be a privileged class, lut to each, approximately at least, must be offered every thing which belongs to a universal human culture, and what his particular capacities demand or are able to appropriate. Only upon these two conditions can the citizen of the commonwealth be fitted for the future “struggle for existence,” to continue equal to the increased requirements, and fulfill ably his chosen calling.
This new great principle of the equal rights of all to all which their talents can grasp, demands a plan of education fundamentally renovated and readjusted. In every given case, the education must be strictly proportional to the conditions which the period offers. But it can not be denied, that in the present period this proportional relation has not been reached; yes, there is even danger that it may be missed of, by a mistaken arrangement of details. For this reason, those upon whom the responsibility of educating rests, must recognize clearly the final aim of the same, and prepare it with practical certainty, through all the necessary grades. Above all, therefore, theoretically there inust be no vacillation in principles, practically no failure in the correct issues! If we should succeed only in spreading a wholesome light over these two points, we should feel that we had solved our present problem.
Our politicians and State educators differ widely in regard to that aim; and this is the next ground where the struggle should begin. Whoever .considers a republic the highest goal to which a State can attain, laments that he sees no republicans around him; these true education must make. But what the repúblican spirit, in which the people are to be educated, really is, there is no thorough insight. This spirit is the opposite of that which has till now existed, and which sees true frecdom
only in a leveling equality, and the overthrow of old authority and social barriers; and above all admits no civil compulsion in education. Each individual must cultivate himself for such practical purposes as he chooses, and well as he can. Education and its institutions must be entirely untrammeled. As a fitting example we can refer to what is related of North America, where the educational conditions, and the consequent family life, are free in general. The pupil is prepared, as early as possible, to help himself onward, in some form of profitable business. The greatest activity, and the richest accumulation of property, is the aim of each. Though German republicanism may reject these principles, it must still admit that there is consistency in them, and that if the State has no higher aim than to become a great industrial and fiscal institution, an immense phalanstery for the most enhanced pleasures of this mortal life, this purpose is being realized on the other side of the ocean, in a highly practical way, and without unnecessary complications; not, indeed, without already displaying the moral evils which unavoidably accompany its progress, and to which our republican sages persistently shut their eyes.
Those who find their ideal state in old feudalism, in simple submission to the fatherly care of “princes by the grace of God," and see in a full return to such conditions the only safety from the dangers of the present, must also contemplate a reform, indeed a retrograde movement, of the educational system. They will insist upon clinging to old things, even to preserving what is decayed, solely because it is consecrated by authority. Nor are we without example of this; for we find a North German State, betraying a lamentable inconsistency and blindness in settling the most important question of popular education, limits the range and thoroughness of instruction, and thus destroys the germs of its future growth as a State.
· These two parties—we have mentioned only their extreme character. istics, while numerous intermediate grades exist-designate only the extreme limits of the antithesis, which touches all the political and social questions of the age. They stand upon the broad field of the literature and opinions of our time, as if separated by a wide chasm, and in irre. concilable hostility. They could, however, by returning to their first, true principles, and acquiring a clearer insight, be brought to recognize each other; and, instead of incessantly quarreling, be made to acknowledge their relative rights, and work harmoniously upon the common task of improving the education of the people. We consider it not only desirable, but possible, that the work of reconciliation should begin with a true appreciation of popular education, which is the common aim of both sides. By this we mean that the conservatives, who will sacrifice nothing which is sanctified by age and authority, do not see how, in thus destroying, that which is truly valuable and enduring can be preserved. For the new form in which it is to arise more enduringly, does not present itself so distinctly that they can recognize it. This gives them a right to protest that it is better to retain the oldest positive form than sink into the nothingness of a bare negation; no new form should be introduced which is not at least a full compensation for the old.
On the other side, we see reformers too frequently losing themselves in what is external or unessential. They do not often get beyond empty plans of abolition. They are clear as to what they do not want, but do not perceive as clearly what is permanently to fill the place of that which they reject. They are deeply mistaken if they think, that, in ridding themselves of certain hindrances, they gain creative freedom, the power to erect a positive structure. We can not err, in asserting that most revolutions have failed and become unfortunately retrogressive, because their leaders did not know what they wanted, or at least what they ought to want.
In the first place, it is necessary to understand the past correctly, and to recognize clearly what in it has still a relative right to continue, and what must serve as a transitional basis and means for that which is new and necessary. The law of continuity, of gradual transition, which we see ruling organic life with irresistible sway, has also in all intellectual processes, whether political or social, its highest authorization, the violation of which never escapes punishment. We might call it thc educational law of the world's history.
If we may be allowed to presume that, as a general thing, the best thinkers agree upon these fundamental principles, then we may consider the following inference as admitted. It is plain, namely, that the path of this gradual, complete, and peaceful transition from the present into the new period, must take place in the field of education ; for in the growing race, the old and new time, the decaying past and vigorouslydeveloping future, meet and are reconciled. And thus in this direction, the decisive truth is proved :
All political and social controversies of the present concentrate finally in the question of education ; but not only in regard to what must be done in detail and immediately, but more universally still, in this: What is the only true education, the education worthy of the human being ?
This is plainly a psychological-ethical question. It can be decidedwith the permission of our practical teachers-only on philosophical ground. Not—and here experience must be our guide—not that a certain philosophical system is to construct for all time, an educational plan which all must follow, but that correct insight into the nature of the human intellect must first fix the nature and the end of all human education, and must at the same time designate the fundamental principles by which the several questions of education and instruction are to be decided. Thus we shall be able to dispose of the final question: Which one, of the now ruling educational systems, is best adapted to the nature of the human mind ?
(To be continued.)
II. PRESENT CONDITION
The Secondary schools of Scotland include the Burgh schools, Academies, and other institutions of a public character, with a complete and preparatory element in each. The Education Commissioners in their Third Report, submitted to Parliament in 1868, present the following summary view of the number, organization, and general condition of these schools, founded on the Report of two Assistant Commissioners, who made a personal inspection of the same, and of Mr. Fearon, an English Inspector, who examined some of the most prominent.
Kinds-Number- Constitution. These schools, while they include elementary classes, and in some instances begin with the rudimentary instruction, continue the education of children of the middle classes to the close of the sixteenth year, and until the pupils go to the University or into business. They are divided into three classes.
First, There are Burgh schools the leading characteristic of which is, that they are subjected to the regulation and control of the authorities of the Burghs as such,* and are open to the community. As examples of the Burgh school proper, we may refer to the High schools of Glasgow and Edinburgh. It should be observed, however, that in some cases where the population is small, the Parochial school discharges the functions of a Burgh school also, and is then termed a Burgh and Parochial School.
Secondly, There are Academies, or institutions, both in Burghs and out of Burghs. Generally these establishments have been founded by subscription, as supplementary to the Burgh schools, and are managed by directors selected from the subscribers. Of these the Edinburgh Academy may be taken as a specimen. In some cases, however, these Academies or Institutions have been either partially or wholly amalgamated with the Burgh school. In case of partial amalgamation, as at Ayr, the effect is to add a proprietary element to the ancient Burgh foundation. In case of complete amalgamation, as in the instance of the Madras College, St. Andrews, the ancient Public school is merged in the new Institution, the Town Council having transferred the schoolhouse and garden to the newly appointed trustees.
But besides Public, there are (thirdly) Private Secondary schools which are of various kinds. Some of these are exclusively Boarding schools, such as Merchiston; some are exclusively Day-schools, such as the Edinburgh Institution, or a mixture of both, as in the case of the Gymnasium at Aberdeen. But their characteristic is that they are private property, maintained and conducted as private speculations.
* There are fourteen districts of Parliamentary Burghs in Scotland, containing 69 Burgh towns, besides the large Parliamentary Burghs of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greenock, Paisley and Perth, which are not included in any district of Burghs, and three Royal Burghs, Peebles, Rothesay aud Selkirk, which till 1832 had a Parliamentary represenlation. This makes 79 Burghs, Parliamentary and Royal.