Page images
PDF
EPUB

to 16. The child would then be started in the world with a far greater mental equipment, and fitter, physically, for the battle of life. Possibly it might be wise to grant exemption from school at the age of 14 providing the boy was leaving to be apprenticed to a skilled industry. The boys who remained at school would be given special technical training, possibly in trade schools, which are just beginning to be established.

The proposal to raise the school age raises also the question of the English secondary schools. These roughly correspond to the American High Schools and take children up to the age of 18 or 19. But, unlike the American High School, they are not free and are therefore chiefly used by the middle and upper classes. Except for facilities given in the shape of scholarships, they are largely closed to the children of the poor. In raising the school age, therefore, we want to construct a ladder from the elementary school to the secondary school, along which the children of the poor may pass without charge and continue their education until they are at least 16; in many cases, we hope, until a still later age. This, of course, means a great change in the character of many of the secondary schools. More will be needed, and many of them must take the form of technical and trade schools. The change must come gradually, but the country must certainly face a great increase in the cost of its education. We cannot doubt but that eventually this additional cost will be gladly borne by the nation which is realizing that the brains of its people are its greatest asset, and that these are not to be found in any one class of society.

The new spirit in English education is also to be seen in the importance which is now being given to the development of character and personality in the elementary schools. Many of us greatly lament that so much time has been wasted in the past on bitter discussions as to whether or no questions of religious dogma should be taught to young children. Not a few of us feel that such instruction would

fitly come later, but that in the case of the young children, the most important influence upon them in their school life is the personality of their teacher. Where this personality is great and noble and chivalrous, the character of the children will be influenced in similar directions, and will be further developed by wise religious training suited to the age of the children, and without appeal to questions of dogma which are the subject of sectarian contention.

The importance of organized play for the children of the elementary schools is also being recognized. As is well known the value of games to the great public boarding schools of England has long been recognized. Games have been one of their chief glories and have been a great factor in character building. In the elementary schools, until quite recent years, organized games have been in many cases quite unknown. The teacher's influence over the children has been confined to the hours spent in the schoolroom. The out-of-school life of the children has not been organized. The causes of this were various. The teachers were engaged only for the school hours. The elementary schools were frequently and necessarily built in crowded districts and adequate playing space very rarely existed. The value of organized play for the children of these schools was not sufficiently urged. Now, these conditions are being changed, and the latest code which has been issued by the Government Education department allows organized games to take place during school hours. As a result children from schools in crowded parts of London are now taken regularly to the public parks, or other suitable places, for the playing of games under the supervision, and with the coöperation of their teachers. The movement is only in its infancy but the physical and moral advantages of organized play for all the children of our schools are realized by all serious educationalists and without doubt the movement will steadily develop

We must not end this paper without speaking of the growing realization of the country that to many of the chil

dren in the elementary schools the State has a parental duty. Attendance at the schools is compulsory and many of the children come from extremely poor homes and from parents having low ideals of responsibility. In such cases the schools have to take the place of the parents and as far as possible to take charge of the whole life of the child. The attempt to carry out this policy is seen in the measure which has already been referred to for the feeding of underfed children. The attempt to organize the outdoor life of the children is another expression of this sense of the nation's responsibility. In the near future we shall probably see powers obtained for the systematic medical inspection of the whole of the children in the elementary schools. Such inspections have already been partially carried out through private enterprise in several parts of the country. The results show how urgently necessary such inspections are and what great good may result therefrom. Another movement is in the direction of teaching a higher standard of personal cleanliness. Much has been done in this connection already, but it is hoped that before long no school will be built in a city which is not fitted with adequate washing baths, where all the children will regularly bathe as a matter of course, and where instruction in the details of personal hygiene will be given.

It has been urged that the assumption of these various duties by the nation must lead to a great weakening of the sense of parental responsibility. The reply of the present writer to that objection is that in many thousands of homes in England the sense of responsibility does not exist, and our problem therefore is so to train the children of the nation, physically, morally, and intellectually, that the parents of the future will be a greater and nobler race. We seek by wiser care of our children to eliminate the criminal the drunkard, the unemployable. We seek to replace them by men and women, capable of living happy and healthy lives in a country whose future must depend upon the nobility not of any one class within it, but of its people as a whole.

66

By Carl H. Grabo. THERE are few Miltons and Tennysons to commemo

rate such young men of promise as Edward King and Arthur Henry Hallam, whose names have become footnotes to literary history. Many another young man to whom a short life precluded an adequate expression of his force and genius, has passed with no greater memorial than the influence which he imposed upon the lives of his friends. Such an influence is all but incommunicable; it is felt but is beyond expression, for its essence is that peculiarity of personal charm which only the greatest artists have been able to convey through the clouded medium of words. But the influence is none the less strong and enduring in that it intangible and its only impression to be found in the lives of other men. In this is an immortality of a subtle and gracious kind

The choir invisible
Of those immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence; live
In pulses stirred to generosity,
In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn
For miserable aims that end in self,
In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars,
And with their mild persistence urge man's search
To vaster issues.

So to live is heaven:
To make undying music in the world."

Such are one's thoughts upon reading the brief life of Arnold Toynbee which Mr. S. C. Montague, Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, contributed in 1889, to the series of Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science. University studies in political science seldom afford entertaining reading to other than specialists and one is the more surprised and delighted, therefore, to discover from such a source, a biographical sketch which endeavors to convey and does convey, some conception of the charm which a young man of great intellectual ability and rare spiritual force exercised upon all who knew him personally. Arnold Toynbee died at the age of thirty-one, at the very beginning of what promised to be an invaluable working life. He has left his name to an institution which has become the type of University Settlement throughout England and America -Toynbee Hall, London. He has, besides, left a few inadequate literary fragments, a promise of his maturing powers as an economist, historian, and social worker.

Arnold Toynbee exhibited early that passion for truth which characterized him in later life. His interests were two-fold, theological and historical. For his theology, he evolved a simple creed that saved him from the harassing doubts and spiritual torments which are the usual lot of men of his type. He seems to have been curiously free from spiritual conflict but was none the less profoundly interested in spiritual things. It was his part to help others who could not so readily find peace. A quotation from a letter written to a friend indicates clearly and beautifully his belief-a belief freed from all superfluities—a religion in essence:

“To love God—those words gather amazing force as life gets more difficult, mysterious and unfathomable; one's soul in its loneliness at the last finds religion the only clue. And yet how weary is the search for God among the superstitions, antiquities, contradictions and grossness of popular religion; but gleams of divinity are everywhere, and slowly in the end comes divine peace. It seems to me that the primary element of all religion is the faith that the end for which the whole universe of sense and thought from the Milky Way to the lowest form of animal life, the end for which everything came into existence, is that the dim idea of perfect holiness which is found in the mind of man might be realized; that this idea is God Eternal and the only reality; that the relation between this idea which is God and each individual is religion, the consciousness of the relation creating the duty of perfect purity of inner life or being, and the duty of living for others, that they too may be perfectly pure in thought and action; and, lastly, that the world is so ordered that the triumph of righteousness is not impossible through the efforts of the individual will in relation to eternal existence. I speak of God as an idea and not as personal; I think you will understand what I mean if you ask yourself if the pure love and thoughts of a man are not all that make his personality clear to you-whether you would care that

« PreviousContinue »