Page images
PDF
EPUB

HIGHER EDUCATION.

THE STATE AND THE HIGHER EDUCATION,

BY FRED. M. CAMPBELL,

Superintendent of Oakland (Cal.) Schools.

66

We are living in an age and in a country where, more than ever be: fore, and more than anywhere else on the globe, the good things of life belong to all men in common. In other ages and in other countries, the many have toiled that the few might be idle; the many have been ig. norant that the few might be intelligent; the many have been slaves that the few might be free. It is the very corner-stone of our Governmentthe principle that to all men shall be secured the enjoyment of every free privilege that belongs to human nature. It is for this that the greatest minds of our times have labored; it is towards this that every good influence of the time is tending. Even the communism” of the ignorant immigrant is buta frantic and misguided attempt to help on the same effort of the age; frantic and misguided, because he fails to see that the wealth of the capitalist, and the art of the artist, and the learning of the scholar, and the wisdom of the statesman already are common property. Not a great industrial enterprise is undertaken, not a vast scheme of public improvement, not a scientific discovery but the poorest man and the most illiterate man reaps the advantage of it. For him also the telegraph works, and the railroad runs, and the ship sails, and the picture is painted, and the book is written. Nothing that adds to the commonwealth but makes every man the wealthier. It is not only that for every man the sun shines, and the rain falls, and the air is sweet, but for every man also the law is just, and the community is peaceful, and society is industrious, moral, and intelligent.

For what is it we mean by that grand word the commonwealtīı ? The etymologists tell us that just as health is derived from hale, and means the condition of being hale or whole, so wealth is derived from well, and means the condition of being sound or well. It is in this original sense of the word that the compound term is used. The commonwealth means, therefore, not the common riches or money, but the

[ocr errors]

common well-being, that soundness or health of the community which necessarily is common to all, because every man's well-being, in the highest sense, is a contribution to-nay, is an essential condition of-the well-being of all. Public virtue, then, and public intelligence, these constitute the true commonwealth. And these can be attained in but one way: in the attainment by every individual member of the com. munity of personal virtue and personal intelligence.

What, now, is the state? It is the organization of society to con. serve this common weal. Whatever else the state may do, or may leave undone, its one indispensable function is to secure to society those two foundation-stones without which no civilized society can exist-virtue and intelligence. Other good things can be left to individual effort to accomplish. The getting of a living, for instance, is a thing that chiefly concerns the individual, and can safely be left to the urgency of his own wants, for a motive. It is a good thing, no doubt, that every man should have the means of livelihood; but it is no part of the state's functions to furnish this to him; for it is an axiom in all free governments, that nothing shall be done by the state that can and will be done by the individual for himself. It is only a parental gov. ernment, and that means a tyrannical government, that oversteps this limit. But there is no nation which has ever attained these two fun. damental elements of well-being-virtue and intelligence-by merely separate, individual efforts. To put down crime, and to put down ignorance, have everywhere and always required that combined and persistent effort which can be put forth successfully only by the organized forces of the community, or what we call the state. These, then, are the two mighty arms of the state; the one arm encircling the honest and peaceable citizen, and protecting him against the murderer and the thief; the other arm infolding the coming generation, and protecting them against the brutishness or the rapacity that would withhold from them their birthright of free intelligence. And this protection simply means self-protection; for what is left of civilized society if it fail to protect its present against crime, and its future against ignorance-that prolific mother of all miseries, and wrongs, and disasters!

Such, then, being in the truest sense the common weal, and such the function of the State—to conserve this for its own self-protection, what is the relation to it of the higher education !

To begin with, what do we mean by the higher education? The term is vaguely used by many persons, and much of what is said about it, therefore, goes wide of the mark. And yet, if one reads the writings of those most competent to speak on such subjects, it is plain that they use the term for a perfectly definite and intelligible idea; an idea as to whose definition the foremost minds of our time seem entirely to agree. The term " higher education" is used by them to mean, not any particular study or set of studies, nor any particular method or plan, or grade of instruction; but every study, and all instruction which is wisely adapted

[ocr errors]

to a certain higher end; the end, namely, of the complete development of full intellectual and moral manhood and womanhood.

Nor is this, by any means, the end had in view by all the advocates of education, and by all their various schemes. There are, in fact, two totally different theories about education, and about the office, specially, of public education. The one is the theory that the schools and colleges, at least so far as they are supported by the State, should confine themselves to teaching how to get a living, or how to make money; we may call this the narrow education (if, indeed, it is proper to dignify it by the name of education at all); the other is the theory that the schools and colleges should first insure virtue and high intelligence as the safeguards of society; and it is this higher end that is denoted by the term, the higher education.” This is no new idea. It has been the view of the broadest minds of all times. It is expressed in those noble words of Milton :

I call, therefore, a complete and generous education, that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously, all the offices (that is, the duties], both private and public, of peace and war.

And John Stuart Mill says: The very corner-stone of an education intended to form great minds must be the recognition of the principle, that the object is to call forth the greatest quantity of intellectual power, and to inspire the intensest love of truth; and this without a particle of rogard to the results to which the exercise of that power may lead, even though it should conduct the pupil to results diametrically opposite to those of his teachers.

And Matthew Arnold says: The aim and office of instruction, say many people, is to fit a man to get on in the world. It is not this, and the modern spirit more and more discovers it not to be this. This is, at best, but a secondary aim of instruction. Its prime, direct aim is to enable a man to know himself and the world. Such knowledge is the only sure basis for action, and such basis it is the true aim and office of instruction to supply. To know himself, a man must know the ca ilities and performances of the human spirit; and the value of the humanities is, that they afford for this purpose an unsurpassed source of light and stimulus. As our public instruction gets a clearer view of its own functions, and the relation of the human spirit to knowledge, and to the entire circle of knowledge, it will certainly more learn to awaken in its pupils an interest in that entire circle, and less allow them to remain strangers to any part of it.

And again Matthew Arnold expresses the essential liberality of the idea implied in the term "higher education,” thus:

This one's special aptitudes are for knowing men-the study of the humanities; that one's special aptitudes are for knowing the world—the study of nature. Tho circle of knowledgo comprehends both, and we should all bave some notion, at any rate, of the whole circle of knowledge. The rejection of the humanities by the realists, the rejection of nature by the humanists, are alike ignorant. Evidently, the beginnings of a liberal culture should be the same for both. The mother tongue, the elements of Latin and of the chief modern languages, the elements of history, of arithmetic, of geometry, of geography, and of the knowledge of nature should be the studies of the lower classes in all secondary schools, and should be the sanio for all boys at thisstage.

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

a

And Sir John Lubbock says: It will, no doubt, be said by some, that it is better to know four subjects well than to have a smattering of many. This is no doubt trne, but no one wishes that boys should have a smattering of any. It is one thing to know a few stray facts of a subject; it is quito a different thing to be well grounded in it.

President Gilman, in an address delivered at Baltimore, asks this question :

What, then, in our American system, is the right scopo and aim of a college ? It is not [ho says] a place of professional and technical study-not a place where lawyers, doctors, preachers, engineers, army and navy officers, and teachers receive their special training. Schools for such purposes may exist in connection with colleges, but are not what we commonly call colleges. But it is a place where a foundation, liberal and thorough, is laid for future study; and where the mind is well trainod, according to the best experience of the world, in those habits and traits which are essential to intellectual success.

And if I may add one more quotation to illustrate the meaning in which this term, “the higher education," is used by our foremost men, let me quote from an address by Bishop Harris at a commencement of the University of Michigan :

The educated man she says) can always command and use his faculties for all they are worth. He may be a man of much or little capacity, according as nature has endowed him. He may be a man of much or little power; but if he is truly educated, ho will count for all that he is worth. He will fulfil his destiny. He will do his part. To be completely and symmetrically educated in this sense is the birthright of every man; and the denial or perversion of this inalienable right is a terrible wrong, for which there is no earthly compensation. Therefore, I hold [he continues] that it is wrong, unspeakably wrong, to require a child to work for his living. It is perfectly true that it is good for a child to learn habits of industry and self-reliance; but these things are good only when subordinated to the purposes of education. They become evil when they are allowed to usurp its place. Therefore, I repeat, it is unspeakably wrong to require a child to work merely for his living. The pitying heavens yearn over no sight so dreadful as children bound like galley slaves to their cruel tasks in factory or field, and toiling with joyless faces to earn their daily bread. The story of wronged and oppressed and distorted childhood, neglected by worldliness, or held in slavery by mammon, has yet to be fitly told. A few years ago England's poetess thrilled the heart of Christendom with a wail of agony as she told the horror of it in the Cry of the Children. Let it resound throughout the world, I say, till all earth's little one are emancipated, and the sun in his course shall no more look down upon the joyless face of a child that pines in bondage to mammon. For the birthright of childhood is education, and it is a sight to make angels weep to see it forced or permitted to barter its birtbright for its daily bread. Hardly less cruel is tho introduction of a false utilitarianism into education. The usefulness of a study is not to be measured by its availability for the business purposes of later life, but solely by its fitness to educate or develop the student's powers. Till that is completed he should never be required or permitted to learn a thing simply because he hopes to use it to make money with. The object of education is not to learn useful things, but to become able to learn and to use them; and it is a great wrong to the student to intrude the instruments and the spirit of money-getting into his educational life. The allurements of mammon and worldliness are too often permitted to call our youth away from the proper business of the school and college. Short roads and by-paths are opened up to tempt them to abandon the proper work of education, and to go, prematurely, to schools of professional or technicalinstruction. The consequence is the sending forth of half-educated men, and inexperienced men, to plead the causes, and

882_No. 2-17

a

heal the diseases, and lead the thinking of the generation. Let us all protest against this great evil; for, unless it is counteracted, it will lead to the impoverishment of the age. Let our colleges and universities make men first, and then make lawyers, and physicians, and teachers of them. For that nation is greatest, not whose natural resources are greatest and most abundant, not whose wealth, or civic or military achievements are most splendid, but whose people are best filling up and realizing the capabilities of their being; whose men are counting for most in individual and national life; whose men are best able to use themselves for all that they are worth, and so are true lords of the earth beneath, and true children of the heaven above them.

This, then, as expressed in these quotations, these utterances of some of our leading minds, is the sense in which we understand the higher education--the education, namely, whether in school or college, not with any lower aim of ministering to selfish greed or ambition, but with the higher aim of developing high intelligence for the service of society.

And now, if the true well-being of society consists in the virtue and intelligence of its individual members, and if the true function of the State is to secure these, guarding its very existence from crime in the present generation, and from ignorance in the coming generation, is it not easy to see what are the true relations of the State and the higher education? Cau any one doubt that this education is the thing of all others which the State must, at any cost and at all hazards, secure and maintain ?

Yet there are many who seem to be as blind as noonday owls to this vital truth. Probably there is no subject on which so many fallacies and false doctrines are afloat. It is, as I have said, an age when all things are diffused among all men, and both the wisdom and the unwisdom of the age are common property. Every one talks, and nearly every one writes; and it would be strange, indeed, if such a question as that of public education did not get its share of sophistry and shallow misconception from many an idle tongue and pen. Men do not know what vital interests they are aiming to destroy. Indeed, one is sometimes reminded of the famous mountain howitzer of which our earliest American humorist, John Phoenix, told in early California days. He de. scribes his experience on a wonderful surveying expedition. They were called upon to explore a very dangerous part of the mountains, and in order to arm themselves adequately against the savages, they conceived the bold and original idea of mounting a howitzer on the back of a mule. On the first occasion of attack they rapidly wheeled the mule into position, aimed the gun with beautiful precision, and—lighted the fuse. But no sooner did the sagacious animal become aware of the fizzing of the fuse than he commenced a series of rapid revolutions, bringing the howitzer to bear on all points of the landscape in quick succession. The surveying party is said to have disappeared in all directions, and—the end never was known. So, when any speaker, or writer, or sect, or party takes frantic aim in their shallow fanaticism, or bigotry, or ignorance at public education, we look to see them shortly

« EelmineJätka »