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long been a source of sorrow to him. He assured me that this opinion did him a great injustice, and that his side of the case had never been fairly presented.
"I love America, and have there many good friends. I would like that nation to know me as I am, instead of thinking me the unscrupulous wastrel that I have been pictured. Recently I wrote a volume of memoirs, the principal purpose of which was to dispel the erroneous estimate of me that is current in America. I cannot express my indignation at the newspaper that printed it. It is true that they took no liberties with the actual text, but in their sensational captions and shocking illustrations they succeeded in putting me in a worse position than before. The lurid way in which my story was advertised and presented made me writhe in agony. I am preparing a second volume of reminiscences that will recount my experiences from the time of my divorce to the present date. I will be most careful in the selection of my publisher this time. The thing must be presented in a dignified manner, and I hope then that America will know me as I am."
He presented me with a type-written synopsis of the new work; these notes gave promise of a very interesting story indeed.
"It was not surprising that my marriage caused a considerable stir. It was the first in which an American heiress of great wealth married a titled European, and this naturally concentrated the limelight upon it. What was your own opinion of me
before we met? I dare say you thought me a very different person from the one you find."
The butler entered to call him to the telephone. Before leaving, he asked my permission, and apologized for the interruption on his return. A mirror that he confronted as he resumed his seat reflected a gray smudge on his forehead about which I had been wondering.
"You may have suspected that I forgot my bath this morning," he said smilingly, "but such is not the case. The priest sprinkled me with ashes at mass. This is Ash Wednesday, you know. I have always been a most devout Catholic, and my religion means much to me. I have never thought of marrying again because my divorce, as yet, is only a civil one, and to obtain the sanction of the church is most difficult. I could not bring myself to go against the church. Several times I have made pilgrimages to Rome, as a special dispensation from the pope only can dissolve my marriage. A civil divorce is not sufficient for me."
He told me about his sons with great pride, about extremes of poverty that he had known, and the various activities that he had pursued to recuperate his waning fortunes. On another visit I made the accompanying sketch of him, and on still another I had the pleasure of meeting his aged mother and a number of distinguished guests. My short acquaintance with him yielded a most pleasant and interesting addition to the generous sum total of hospitality that Paris, loveliest of cities, granted to me.
What Our Children Might Have
A Little Educational Fortune-Telling
BY CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN
E are feeling rather sad at present about the average mind. Recent discoveries as to our percentage of morons have checked our pride, while the activity of the Fundamentalists seems to show serious lapses even in higher mentality than the twelve-year-old's. The grade of newspaper, story, and picture most popular; our pathetic incapacity to solve immediate social problems; our childish clinging to primitive faiths or swallowing new ones without reasoning in either case, all indicate mental deficiency.
Yet we spend millions on education, not only free but compulsory, forcing into our children's minds a large amount of information. There is a most hopeful stir in modern education; but even so it may be that what we still laboriously teach is not what is most necessary, or perhaps the method is open to improvement, or both.
Suppose we try our examination system on some fairly educated people about forty years old, to ascertain what remains to them of their school studies; what they can do in complex fractions, how many States they can bound, and to how many they can correctly allocate their capital cities, principal rivers and products; what rules of grammar they can recite, what
brief résumé of any history or science promptly deliver.
Having with much effort brought forth the meager remnants of long schooling, let them further answer as to the use and value of each branch of learning in their business, social, political, or domestic life. We do acquire a certain rather fragmentary common background distinguishing the educated from the uneducated, but there is small connection between what we learn in school and what we do in life.
Pursuing our adult examination let them be questioned about some of the major issues pressing upon us, asked to write brief theses on Public Health, the Servant Question, Crime in the United States, International Relations, Immigration, Our Danger from Insects, Why We Do Not Vote, and such topics; they would be brief indeed.
If we do not remember or use most of what we were taught in school, and were not taught to understand the general problems of life, it seems as if large changes might be advantageously made both in method and matter in our system of education.
The first steps in teaching we see among animals, the old showing what little they know to the young. In our
long savage life while we had language but no literature, teaching was oral, the old telling what little they knew to the young, besides much which they did not know in accumulated superstition and tradition. The art of writing, followed by printing, enabled us largely to increase the sum of knowledge and the flow of fancy, but we failed to note that the essential service of a book is that its contents are mechanically preserved for repeated reference and need not be memorized.
Pursuing ancient habits with no regard to the constantly increasing subject-matter, we have naïvely insisted that the pupil shall memorize the books, so far as he is able.
Higher and higher rises the mountain of accumulating knowledge; the average mind is driven a little way up but soon slides again, while stronger ones struggle up on some special ridge, out of reach of the average and of the other specialists.
Besides example, speech, and literature we have now another means of transmission from mind to mind, that great new art, the moving picture. Spoken thought, feeling, and knowledge make humanity possible. Written and printed thought, feeling, and knowledge give a vast impetus to human growth, yet limited by the time required to learn to read and by the difference in languages. The moving picture can convey thought, feeling, and knowledge easily, instantly, to every age, class, race; it is the longsought universal language.
The monopolization of this art by cheap entertainers has blinded us to its greatest possibilities. As a means of communication it is more forcible than words. Even a spoken word is but a sound sent from brain to tongue, from
tongue to ear, from ear to brain, trusting that the idea aroused in the receiver will correspond with that of the giver, while the written or printed word is only a phonographic picture of a sound-a roundabout and uncertain method of communication.
Before, while, and after a child learns to read with ease and understanding a wide substratum of knowledge can be pleasurably acquired through the daily use of moving pictures. Practically all the informative part of education could be thus furnished and absorbed without the waste of nerveforce so painfully visible in our present methods, leaving free power to be spent in cultural exercises, physical and mental.
As a basis for sound physical ambition every school should be adorned with casts and pictures of the most nobly beautiful human bodies, to which the moving picture could add games and dances, races and competitions, showing how such bodies are developed.
The women of to-day, who so cheerfully suffer deformed feet in order to support hard-working shoe dealers and chiropodists, have probably never seen a perfect foot. They do not know what a human foot ought to look like or how it works. In early years they should have seen vivid pictures of feet and their normal action: birds' feet, the kind that scratch or clutch or wade or swim; paws and hoofs of beasts, the diggers of the mole and the aardvark; the retractile claws of the felines; the cloven hoofs of deer and cow, and the single toe-nail of the horse; and the human foot, free, delicate, and strong, with its natural spread and movement.
Beautiful pictures should be given, of the most perfect feet, and then, in hideous contrast, pictures of the warped and corny, arch-lamed things we hide in expensive shoes. Then women would at least know how ugly are their pinched deformities.
Our recent rapid progress in the art of propaganda ought to give valuable suggestion to educators. When political conviction is important, when emotion must be aroused, we have learned how quickly and forcibly to inoculate the public mind. The advertiser, with no higher motive than to sell goods, has developed to a fine art the psychology of carrying irresistible conviction. In thus dealing with the adult mind we hear nothing of the beneficial effects of hard work and enforced attention. We seek to convey thought, feeling, or knowledge as easily and swiftly as possible, and find pictures, still and moving, invaluable aids.
The cartoon has tremendous carrying power, even as a "still"; the animated cartoon opens limitless possibilities. In time we shall learn to sell ideas to our pupils as efficiently as we sell goods to their elders.
Once we get over the idea of education as a sort of penal servitude, and begin to apply business sense to the problem, we shall learn to save the wasted motion, wasted time, wasted strength, of our children, and bend our efforts toward supplying better arranged information in more easily as similable form. The energies of the child should be sparingly used in learning things to be done, as reading, writing, singing, dancing, drawing, and arithmetic. But things to be known should be supplied with as little cost in time and strength as possible.
What do we most need to know?
What common background of knowledge is desirable in citizens of a democracy, members of a partially civilized society, workers in a world where failure to work should be held contemptible?
We need a broad general knowledge of the world we are on, how it was made, and how it works; of the development of life on earth, vegetable and animal; of the appearance of the human race, its upward progress and the means of that progress, this most particularly. We should all understand something of the natural sciences and their application to our life, and of the main lines of industrial development with their application to life. Especially we should early learn the nature of our present social structure, city and country, state, nation, and world; with our duties and responsibilities therein.
By present methods we spend from ten to twenty years in being educated, and at that there are few of us who have gathered any broad orderly survey of the above field. By the pictorial method such a background could be acquired without conscious effort or lost time.
To begin with, children of five and six could be shown enough astronomy to learn what it meant; the night sky as a reference, animated cartoons showing our sun with its planets rolling around it, and their rings and satellites rolling around them; this little earth among them, with the moon they know; with some meteors and wandering comets.
The north star is a simple point of interest, and how we steer by it; the mystery of the magnet and compass enters here; the major constellations revolving before us are interesting also.
In a few weeks' time such carefully planned pictures could give the outlines of astronomy to be referred to in later lessons, or to be really studied in later years if loved.
The story of the earth would come next, its pyrotechnical performances while cooling, the spreading crust, the upheavals by volcano and earthquake, so laying a foundation for geology. As the story progressed, effects of wind, water, and ice could be shown, until at last we have a partially finished world, with plenty of warm water, ocean, continent and island, river, lake, and mountain, the foundation of physical geography.
Then the beginnings of life, the great fairy story. Such simple tiny things at first, mere moss and seaweed things, and then serial stories as it were, showing the development of one thing from another, till we have giant trees and all the wild variety of shrub, vine, plant, and grass, the foundation of botany.
So to zoology, more interesting still. Children take an unquenchable delight in the strange shapes and habits of animals. Here they could see the appearance and development of various forms in water, in air, and on land, with their lines of growth. In all these great fields of life the underlying process, evolution, would be constantly before the child, not as a thing told but as a thing seen. Nothing is more important for a grasp of life and its duties than the recognition of this law of growth, that the world is not finished and fallen, but a young thing, still progressing, and that we are able to change it for the better. If out of years of education this one truth were wholly grasped, so that instead of merely knowing what is, we were all
interested in what it was and what it might be, we should be far more prompt and strong to improve the conditions of life.
It would be specially attractive in this treatment of animal evolution to take some spectacular instance of which we know most, as that of genus Equus, and show "the little animal no bigger than a fox," growing and changing before our eyes, from eohippus up through miohippus, pliohippus, orohippus, and the rest, till he diverged from ass and zebra and became unmistakably horse.
They could easily learn that this swift growth was greatly condensed, for we could give similar cartoons of a baby growing to manhood, or a tree rising to its full height, while they watched, a year in a second as it were.
When the story of mankind was reached, a scene of excitement and delight would open before young eyes, never to be forgotten. The line that led up toward him could be indicated, the missing links left out with statement of our partial knowledge; yet early man, low-browed and hairy, but erect and grasping a weapon with his opposable thumb, is there within our reach.
The story is a thrilling one indeed. As an animal he was practically finished, though growing taller, whiter, more beautiful, and dexterous; but the way those animals grew to be human is a fascinating serial. Show them hiding in caves, nesting in trees, fighting saber-toothed tigers and incredible bears, by no means always victorious. Show them poking along narrow trails like other beasts, the squaws dragging on long poles what they had to carry; the tremendous discovery of wheelslog rollers, wooden disks, hub and