Puslapio vaizdai

tributes to the wealth of others. But if the inequality is not produced by law, it is perfectly consistent with liberty, because different men with different powers, being left free to pursue each his own line of action, will plainly produce unequal results; and a law which prevented their reaching unequal results could do so only by infringing upon their freedom to direct their efforts as they wished. We may be sure that freedom is a good thing, because, as the etymology of the word happens to imply, it leads to happiness. We may also be sure that the inequality which is inconsistent with freedom is a bad thing. But the inequality which is consistent with freedom is probably a good thing.


Complaints brought against our publicschool system by newspapers commonly receive little respect from instructors. Teachers assembled in conventions seem to think it a perfectly adequate answer to a criticism if they can point out a grammatical or rhetorical error in its language. It is not so much teachers, however, who need resent criticism of the public-school system, since the system in large measure relieves them of responsibility. They are employed with the understanding that they shall conform to the system, and if it happens to be a bad system others are more responsible than they.

President Eliot, of Harvard, points to secondary instruction as the weakest part of our educational system. Primary instruction is fairly well organized; but the country is very insufficiently provided with high schools, and those which it has are very defective. The secondary schools of Massachusetts probably compare favorably with those of any other State; and yet "the plain fact is in Massachusetts that not one tenth of the schools called "high" habitually maintain a course of study which enables the pupil to prepare himself for admission to Harvard College, or to any other college

in the State which enforces its requirements for admission as stated in its catalogue."

A much more important consideration is whether the course of study is calculated to prepare the pupil for life. The assumptions which the State makes when it attempts to supply education to all children are, that it is essential to society that every member shall have "an education," and that the State can furnish this better than any other agency. The State definition of education, where the word has been defined most strictly, seems to be "the amount of knowledge which a child necessarily gets in attending school twenty weeks (more or less) in the year, from the ages of five to fifteen." This is the minimum of education which must be forced upon every citizen or very direful results might follow.

The question is very chaotic, because not all States are agreed upon compelling every child to go to school: many are content simply to furnish schools and leave the compulsion to the parent; while all provide more education than they compel the child to receive. The implication seems to be that a certain amount is essential, and that the State undertakes to supply to those desiring it enough to prepare them fairly well for living. Moreover, a certain amount and kind of knowledge is necessary in order that a person may live at all; he must, for instance, know that fire burns, know how to adapt his movements with reference to surrounding objects, know that certain substances are poisonous, etc. But the State does not attempt to supply knowledge of this kind, neither does it attempt to teach trades or professions; its object must be, then, not to prepare for life, but for living well.

But it does not apparently prepare pupils for admission to Harvard College, and therefore, according to President Eliot, its high schools are defective. Now, since the great majority of pupils in high schools do not enter colleges, the criticism loses much of its force, unless preparation for

college is the same as the best preparation for life that could be given in a high-school course. No sane man would contend that this is so; the most that can be said for Harvard in this connection is, that pupils are admitted there whose preparatory course is not necessarily so worthless a preparation for life as that insisted on in most other colleges. The facts which a boy learns, after leaving the grammar school, in order to get into college are of little value except perhaps as a basis for a "liberal education."

The matter may be looked at in a different way. If the education given by the State prepared pupils for life as well as might reasonably be expected from its cost and from the effort demanded from the child, it would be no criticism to say that this education is not sufficient to secure

admission to colleges. But the high schools, most of them, teach the subjects required by colleges of their candidates, and do not teach them well enough to secure admission. It is a simple thing to teach a boy what he needs for admission to college, compared with teaching him what he needs for life; and if our public schools try, and fail to do the first, how much more must they fail of the second.

The objection to leaving education in the hands of parents is that many could not, or would not, procure it for their children, and that most of those who did would not be sufficiently interested and of sufficient judgment to see that it was a good education which they were procuring. This last objection applies equally, or, rather, more strongly, to State education. It is in reality the parents (and a few who are not parents) who secure this. And the reason why they do not secure a better article is that they are not sufficiently interested or sufficiently good judges of what a good education is. But they are not so much interested and do not take so much pains to inform themselves as they would if they were directly responsible. A man who

buys an article and pays for it directly will usually make an effort to get the best he can for the money; but a man who is forced to pay for an article whether he wants it or not is likely to accept what is tendered him, with perhaps a little grumbling. Moreover, suppose as many as a third of the parents had definite ideas of changes which would vastly improve the present educational system; it would evidently require from them much more energy to get those changes made by the State than it would if they were directly employing persons to educate their children. To effect a real improvement in anything which is under State control has always been one of the most difficult things in the world, usually requiring some shedding of blood. Take the case of our civil service. Certainly more than a third of the citizens are impressed with the evils of the spoils system, and hardly any one believes that it is the best system practicable. Yet an agitation for improvement has been going on for fifteen years, and the progress has been exceedingly small.

But the belief that "free" public schools are an essential part of our "institutions" is deeply implanted in the minds of the people, and is not likely to be given up. Men have always been governed largely by catchwords, and "free education," or, in some States, compulsory free education, is a very taking one. The movement in this country has been in the direction of placing the education of children more and more in the hands of the State, and taking it away from the direct control of parents. We have only to contrast the system of district schools with that pursued in cities, and to consider the legislation of the States in recent years, to perceive the truth of this statement. That the movement has not yet reached its height is proved by the fact that almost every suggestion for the improvement of schools advocates the extension of State aid and State supervi



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This little book should be in the hands of every one. It is designed to help the American, German, and Frenchman to master the every-day language of the others.

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Edited by Rev. Sir G. W. 00X, Bart., M. A., and by C. SANKEY, M. A.

Beesly's Gracchi, Marius, and Sulla.

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Cox's Greeks and Persians.

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Merivale's Roman Triumvirates.



Church's Beginning of the Middle Ages.

Creighton's Age of Elizabeth.

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