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Its streets must be widened, its slums depopulated. But how? The city furnishes abundant opportunities for mental, but not enough for physical development. No man can be normal who does nothing but work with his mind. On the other hand, the slum dweller soon becomes a defective for lack of regular and remunerative labor of the hands. Since this cannot be had in the slums, it will be necessary to remove him to the frontier camp or homestead. There he will find opportunities to develop the physical side of his nature. But it is equally true that no man whose whole horizon is bounded by sordid toil (sordid only because excessive) can become a citizen worthy of an empire greater than the chief Apostle ever knew. Neither mental nor manual labor for all is possible in the city. But both mental and manual labor are feasible on the frontier. Therefore the only solution of the slum problem and of the high cost of living is provision on the frontier for the education of the frontiersman. No "back-to-the-land” movement will ever amount to anything unless men, women and children have the same opportunities for study and entertainment at the camp and on the quarter section that they have in the city. Is this possible? In my opinion it is not only possible but natural. Higher education should never have become the monopoly of the cities.
The advocates of manual training and consolidated schools have done yeoman service in this direction. More and more the tendency is so to adapt primary and secondary education as to bring it to the door of every boy and girl in agricultural communities. High school and university education will soon follow. An effort is made to place schools at strategic points in order that they may be reached by the greatest number of children. To aid in this, arrangements are made to drive them to central schools. The expense incurred in transportation has been the greatest obstacle but this is being lessened by the improvement of roads.
It is only another step from the settled country to the homestead, the lumbering, mining, fishing and railway construction camps where men are already gathered together in convenient groups awaiting the instruction and entertainment so long denied them. Would our city dwellers not be happier and healthier if this step were taken and our tenement houses decimated to fill up a few more of our vacant one hundred and sixty acre lots ? Every school and college in every large city between Halifax and Victoria is overcrowded, the atmosphere vitiated, and the ends of education to some extent at least defeated. There never was a period in the history of the world when more attention was given to the cities. What with institutional churches, college settlements, night schools, etc., the slum dweller is beginning to think that he is a necessary factor in the situation. There is a danger of poulticing the social cancer so comfortably that a state of sickness in the metropolis with all this interest and fuss is more alluring than a condition of healthy activity at the camp or on the homestead. The true solution is not in needlessly multiplying institutions for the cities' slums, but in making frontier life so attractive that the laborer will spurn the city with its ease and luxuries, and the college man hasten to God's open.
The University makes little pretence at educating men for the frontier. It seeks to fit them for the learned professions. Naturally the surplus are not drawn to the farm and frontier camp any more than are the graduates of the industrial and technical schools and agricultural colleges. The University has long neglected to teach the young the dignity and the worship of labor. It has frittered away their time and health and means in acquiring mere shibboleths of “culture”, while to accomplish this they have been allowed, even encouraged to burn the midnight oil and become intoxicated with the strong wine of distant aerial will-o'-the-wisp professions to which they seldom attain and for which their training unfits them. This too has been done in the very face and within hearing of helpless men and women and children in the slums calling for guides whose hands and feet and reasoning powers are alike educated to lead them, to help them develop the natural resources of our common home—the soil, the waters, the woods, the ores.
The writer has always claimed that the scene of men's labor is the proper place for their education. Even on pedagogical grounds the reason is evident. The idea should not be separated from the object. It cannot be fully grasped apart from the object and the impression is more than doubled when the two are studied together. Forestry, botany, zoology, min
eralogy, geology, surveying, mathematics, can all be studied to better advantage in the light and open. The student will remember a proposition in Euclid that he demonstrates with sticks for lines, cords for radii and barrel hoops for circles. The student of chemistry could not only learn the names of acids and alkalis, with a few for ready use; he could also learn to manufacture at will from plants secured by his own hands, what he required, while the formulae used and reactions obtained in these circumstances would never be forgotten. What precious time is frittered away by the artist in badly ventilated, poorly lighted and heated studios copying other people's mistakes, while he might be painting Nature among the massive pillars of pine and maple under a canopy that has the Milky Way for a web and Orion and the Pleiades for woof by night and the blue sky by day.
This would result probably in fewer Johnsons and Macaulays to catalogue and make records for us, but in more Wordsworths to enrich us with the joy of Nature; more Bessemers to endow the world with some new process of improving the value of its ores to the saving of millions in human life and treasure; more Stephensons, Watts and Wrights to create new means of transportation and eliminate war by making man our neighbor and creating a better understanding; more railsplitting Lincolns to strike the fetters from the slaves of every color and race and tongue; more Edisons to harness the powers of Nature as yet mysterious and untamed, and teach the world to laugh and sing.
These two classes, the professional man and the toiler, the rich and the poor, the master and man, need each other. But who will show them that each can find his own highest good in sharing the burdens of the other? The University! Two years ago a young young farmer, E. T. Mitchell, an undergraduate of the University of Alberta, acting in the dual capacity of navvy and instructor on the G.T.P., was working on a trestle crossing the Yellow Head River, British Columbia. By means of ropes and a cable, workmen, most of whom were Belgians, were being transported on a scow from one side to the other. The strong current upset the crude transport and the men were thrown into the water. One man was carried away and perished. Others struggled to a place of safety, but one was still in imminent danger and unable to make shore. A crowd had gathered on the bank waving their hands and arms but none ventured to try to save him. Mitchell sprang from the bridge, ran to the men and, extending his hand, formed a human chain, waded into the river and rescued the drowning man. The presence of mind and consecration of heart that inspire the healthy, well-developed man to take a risk in a worthy cause, are the qualifications that lead us to look to the University for young men who will bridge over the great chasm that exists between the toiler in the eddy and the man of wealth and influence on the bank. This right type of college man, made physically as well as mentally fit by actual labor of the hands in his daily toil as well as by study, is the connecting link between rural and urban life, between employer and employee, between labor and capital.
The slums of our cities must be depopulated, the vast stretches of our great heritage settled. We have hitherto made the mistake of educating one class at the expense of another and injuring both. The frontiersman is the brother who is debauched by doing too much of the drudgery for the family, and the college lad is often spoiled by being satiated and made effeminate with a one-sided education he does not earn. The latter should be allowed to do part of the work at the camp, on the farm, and in the workshop, to relieve his abused and neglected brother and to secure for him too a little leisure to acquire an education on his own account. In my opinion the only way to get men to remain on the farm and in the camp is to educate them there, and the task of educating them there is the duty of the university graduate. Here is missionary work of the best kind that lies ready to the hands of all who will undertake it. Will the graduates of our Canadian Universities rise to their opportunities and make Canada the country where the men who do the rough pioneer work on the widening frontiers of civilization are given a chance to have at least some of the advantages enjoyed by the men in the towns and cities?
SOME years ago while travelling on a Western railway, the
to his business. He replied that he was a professor of Education. "Why!” remarked his questioner, "I thought every professor was a professor of Education.” In a certain very important sense the implied criticism was a valid one. Every professor, at least in so far as he reflects upon the organization of his subject matter as distinguished from the subject matter itself, and upon the various principles and methods of teaching which he employs in his daily work, is a professor of Education, but in posse rather than in esse.
The professor of Education in esse is a very recent addition to the academic circle, and since he is something of a parvenu it is natural that, in some quarters at least, he should be regarded with a measure of suspicion.
The fact, however, that education is being accepted as a study worthy of University rank in the most conservative institutions, both on this continent and in Europe, is strong presumptive evidence of the worth of its content and the value of the contribution which it conceivably can make to the sum total of human knowledge and human efficiency. What that content at present is, and what that contribution may be, are the topics of the two main divisions of the present article.
Any person who has spent even an hour before a class knows that there is a great deal more in teaching than simply telling what one knows. The process of teaching has for its correlative the process of learning and the mind of the learner is proverbially an uncertain quantity. Now in the centuries of schoolroom practice which are already behind us there has been accumulated a considerable body of professional lore, ranging as to the character of its contents from philosophic maxims general if not universal in their scope, to specific devices and tricks of the trade. When training schools for teachers were established this body of knowledge in an organized and systematized form became, naturally, the basis for lecture and comment and demonstration.