Amazing articles on just about every subject...


The Purpose of the School

( Originally Published 1912 )



WHAT is Education? What is its purpose? Why are there so many school-houses, so many teachers, why so vast an expenditure in money, so extensive and complicate an organization, devoted to teaching the child? There never was an age that did not know education; never a tribe, savage or civilized, a part of whose social life did not consist of the systematic training of the young.

I have just read a book by Paul Monroe, Ph.D., who was professor of the History of Education at Columbia. It is entitled A Brief Course in the History of Education. In this book Professor Monroe traces the story of educational effort from primitive times to the present day, through all its varying fashions. He records the different theories men have held with regard to it, the mutations of form and content, the peculiarities of the succeeding schools. He elucidates the views of the authorities on the subject whose views are of record. They are varied enough. They were pagans, Christians, Catholics, Protestants, atheists; they were nominalists and realists, sense-realists and naturalists, formalists, humanists, and social-realists; Aristotelians, Schoolmen, Ciceronians ; they were conservatives and radicals, Lutherans and Jesuits, ecclesiastics and Encyclopedists. In everything but one have they differed. There is one point upon which they all centred. From the early Hebrews and Greeks to the recognized modern authorities, there is a thread of agreement that holds a true course. There is one straight-edge that can be laid down upon the history of education from the beginning to now, and it will touch every great teacher from Plato to Pestalozzi, from Moses to Dr. Eliot. Differ as they may and do as to method, they all hold that the purpose of education is to make a good man. By whatever path, Virtue is the goal. By whatever method, the end is Righteousness. In all the long record there is no note of dissent upon this; in every system advanced every-thing else is secondary to the development of the moral character.

Before going back to the ancient thought on this subject it may be well to consider such primitive customs as savage life still extant, or but recently extinct, can exemplify. They give us some light; they show the same underlying purpose, the same all-pervasive principle. Fundamentally their conception of education is what ours is : it has its utilitarian side and its moral complement. The savage tribes teach their boys to hunt and fish, to fashion implements of war and chase, to build shelters and make clothing, just as we teach ours to read and write and figure, and in some cases to use their hands and brains in mechanical work. The savage lad is taught to take a living from his environment; the child of civilization, to earn a living in his. But this is not all : even among the savage tribes is the dim perception of a further need. The soul has its necessities ; a man must be something more than strong and skilful in war and chase in order to be a useful member of the tribe. Human nature is nowhere without some moral idea, and the savage instinctively feels the need of inspiration: he must learn to endure without flinching, to fight without fearing, to reverence the old, to worship the spirits his fathers worshiped. Therefore the schooling of the youth, the exercises attendant upon his initiation into the adult tribal society, are conducted by the priesthood around the totem-pole. The groping of the unenlightened mind toward the truth; the natural phenomena personified in sun-gods and air-gods and wood-gods and river-gods, which are the symbols through which the dark, uncultured soul strives to express its vague but ever-present conception of a Creative Controlling Power—these are the things that affect his education. Far from civilization, where the intellect hardly throbs, where there has been no revelation and is no light, some mysterious power weds these two things—the secular education and the religious aspiration. The affinitive quality asserts itself with the force of a natural law. This education, Mr. Monroe says, has a moral value. It is not enough that the lad shall be a useful member of his tribe : he is "taught to be a good member of the tribe."

We shall pass over the educational system of the ancient Hebrews, whose public schools-of which they had many before the time of Christ—were informed, as was all their social life, by the spirit of their revealed religion, and see what the historian finds among the ancient Greeks. Here there was no revealed religion, no authoritative moral code. They had had to form their own religion, as did the savage tribes; but their keen minds had approximated the truth, their greater thinkers had reasoned a God from the natural evidences of His Being. Unaided, their logic had postulated a Supreme Intelligence morally perfect. But that was their logic at its best. The Greek mind of a lower order might in the vague Zeus mistily perceive the outlines of God, but it naturally thought of supernatural power in terms of its highly developed aesthetic sense: its familiar deities were the personifications of Power and Speed and Beauty—with these it peopled its heaven. Consequently there was an indistinct and indirect moral impulse, which did indeed predominate as an educational motive, but which lacked the compelling force of an authoritative moral commandment. It is for this reason that Mr. Monroe regards the Greek educational period as of great interest to modern American students. These are the words in which he points out the resemblance of educational conditions here and now to educational conditions there and then:

"Since the aim of education, as limited in the work of the American schools of to-day, must eliminate the religious element, it can find no higher purpose than that of determining for each individual the things in this life that are best worth living for."

In passing may I call attention to the two words I have italicized and their connotation that our education is a limited and an inferior education? They are valuable as an unconscious expression of the thought of an expert.

A limited and an inferior educational system the ancient Greeks had then, although they recognized the need of something better and were seeking for it ever. Aristotle declared the aim of education to be goodness. There were two kinds of goodness, he thought, goodness of intellect and goodness of character, and with regard to the latter he said: "Virtue does not consist in the mere knowledge of the good, but in the functioning of this knowledge." Socrates and Plato held the same thought with regard to the purpose of education : it must always be moral. And the Greeks, reaching out for some moral staff on which to lean, adopted various expedients : they taught youths to emulate the virtues of their elders, of the great men of the state; they provided the student with an "inspirer" whose name suggests his office. But, lacking the authoritative moral code, what was the result? How did their system, in which Mr. Monroe sees so great a resemblance to our own, work? This is his conclusion: "The ethical motive among the masses of the people was not sufficiently developed to prevent the toleration of many customs abhorrent to modern times." He tells us what these customs were—the debasement of women, the exposure of undesirable children so that they might perish, the enslavement of nine-tenths of the population—these were some; and one is startled when he thinks of what we have already upon us in the wave of women politicians, professors of eugenics and promoters of Socialism—startled at the evidence of similar causes and similar effects. But it stops not there, it goes further, and again we find modern developments keeping step with the ancient developments : "Moreover, the Greek versatility bordered on the insincere, even the dishonest, while their light-heartedness often became frivolity and licentiousness."

Possibly when Professor Monroe wrote his book the influence behind the secularization which he notes was not as clearly defined as it has since become, for he does not seem to consider that the pure socialism of the Spartan system had that particular interest for American educators which he found in the uninspired ethics of Grecian education elsewhere. Let me here remark, in order that the argumentative thread of this chapter shall remain unbroken, that even in Lacedaemon the purpose of education was moral. It was even more disciplinary in its motive and its operation than the monastic schools of the dark ages, there was a compelling force of the most direct and intimate nature behind its every precept. From the day the Spartan was born until the day he died, external influences channelled his life, his path was sharply de-fined.

"This resulted," Monroe says, "in the most perfect example of a socialistic state, and the most extreme case of government control of education, with emphasis upon the educational functions of various social institutions. In fact, society itself became a school in which every adult member was expected to participate, as an important duty of citizenship, in the education of the young Spartan."

It may be pointed out, however, that the socialistic system of the Spartans was something that was forced on them; that it was considered as a means of defense against hostile tribes by whom the state was surrounded; that its motive was military and its discipline therefore strict. The idea of the Spartan statesman was not to make happier the lot of the individual, to increase his material wealth and minister to his material comfort, but to make him a good soldier; and therefore a moral code, a strict, abstemious, laborious life, was necessary to the very purpose of the institution. This consideration has a bearing of the utmost weight upon the question Mr. Monroe asks and answers. He says their experience furnishes an affirmative answer to the question, Can morals be taught? Does it? The question is very interesting; it has been raised by the teachers of the ethical culture school; it is the principle of Dr. Eliot's theories with regard to education. Let us see, then, what it all amounted to ultimately. It cannot be denied that it kept the Lacedoemonians physically strong and nationally powerful for many years, but does it follow that it would do the same today for Americans? Would it have stood up in Sparta for any time at all had not hostile spears glistened on every frontier so that relaxation would have meant destruction to the state? Even then, would it have held together, had it not been for the fact that there was no private life, that every man lived day and night in the public view and according to a schedule prescribed by a strict and ever vigilant government? The Spartan might sin but he could not sin in secret, nor could he sin against the code established without the certainty of swift and severe punishment. But even with all this, what was the fruit of the tree, what was the effect of their system upon the moral character of this strange people?

"It must be admitted, however," Monroe says, "that while the Spartans' moral training conserved certain elemental virtues, its effects morally as well as physically had a certain hardening, even brutalizing, tendency."

So that is what it all ends in. That is the best ancient history can do in the way of an affirmative answer to the question, Can morals be taught?

The Roman people, the most wonderful of all the ancients, did not deviate from the line of moral purpose in their educational work. Sober, strong, practical people, less acute mentally but of a nobler order morally than the Greeks whose civilization they borrowed, they taught sobriety and reverence to their young; they held two sublime conceptions—justice and duty. In them more than in any other of the unenlightened peoples who flourished before the dawn of Christianity, a natural morality was developed. They were very practical men, their morality was for every-day use, they endeavored to make justice and duty less abstractions than rules of living. They were utilitarians, but utilitarians of the highest order, and they had developed a natural code of moral laws which received supernatural authority when Christianity came to make light what had been dark in the ways of men.

There will hardly be any question as to the purpose of the Christian schools. The fathers of the church might differ as to whether the learning of the pagan world was conducive to a virtuous character, but that a virtuous character was the end of all educational effort was never doubted. It was not questioned by the scholastics, who endeavored to bring back some of the ancient culture, by the humanists, by the students of the dawn years of the second millennium, in whose hearts throbbed the first faint pulses of the Renaissance.

Education took on a new form and color, but the old motive persisted. The new intellectual period had begun with the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne was the first of the great Western patrons of learning; his founder of schools, Alcuin, was an abbot of the Christian church. St. Boniface, who founded schools throughout Gaul and Germany, was another high ecclesiastic. For centuries yet the only teachers were to be priests; but even when the lay schools began to be more numerous, there was no departure from the old basic idea, the precepts of religion were still the chief part of the curriculum. Vittorio da Feltra, who established his famous school at Mantua in the closing years of the fourteenth century, is called the first of the modern schoolmasters. He declared that in his system, "above all, moral and Christian influences were strongly emphasized." Nor did the intellectual ferment of the Reformation make any change in this central idea. The humanists had never entertained the suggestion that there could be other than a moral purpose in education. Erasmus, the greatest of them, held that "the moral purpose in education should ever be emphasized, and a study of religious literature and religious services should be a part of all training." Nor were the Protestant leaders of different thought. Imagine the amazement with which Luther would have listened to a suggestion that religion be divorced from education; think of Melanchthon, or Calvin, dreaming of such a possibility as a godless school!

John Milton the Puritan, the great poet, prescribes, among the subjects of study, "moral training, history, theology, church history." Comenius declared, "The ultimate end of man is beyond this life. . . . This life is but the preparation for eternity."

John Locke, the philosopher, adds this to the chorus: " 'Tis Virtue then, direct Virtue, which is the hard and valuable part to be aimed at in education, and not a forward pertness and any little arts of shifting."

And so the centuries roll on, and they have only one voice on this matter. The Encyclopedists take possession of the fashionable thought of France, and Rousseau writes his great work on education—Émile. "Now," says he, "his education is to be strictly moral and religious." This is the Rousseau who wrote The Social Contract, who even more than Voltaire "made the Revolution" in the thought of Napoleon and others. From Rousseau the thread leads to Pestalozzi, who brings us to modern thought and modern method. "In Europe," deplores Pestalozzi, "the culture of the people has become vain babbling, as fatal to faith as to true knowledge; an instruction of mere words which contain a little dreaming and show, which cannot give us the calm wisdom of faith and love, but on the contrary leads us to unbelief and superstition. " Herbart says, "The one and whole work of education may be summed up in the concept—morality." And Froebel speaks to us next; in his Education of Man he says, "All things have come from the Divine Unit, from God, and have their origin in the Divine Unity alone." And this is Huxley's description of an educated man : The servant of a tender conscience who has learned to love all beauty in nature or art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself." Less clear in expression, but of the same thought, is Professor James when he says education is "the organization of acquired habits of action such as will fit the individual to his physical and social environment"; and Professor Horne says, "Education is the superior adjustment of a physically and mentally developed conscious human being to his intellectual, emotional, and volitional environment." This last is merely the slang of the specialist for what an old Irishwoman better expressed when she said, "I'm sending Mickey to school to make a good man of him."

I might go on quoting indefinitely, but it is needless. Even the Nationalists, the Socialists, the Ferrerists, I take it, believe that the main and important purpose of schooling is to develop the moral character. The experience of humanity from the earliest times has taught but one lesson on this point: the moral results are the touchstone of the system—if a school does not make its pupils better men, then it is a failure. Leaving out of the question altogether the religious conception of man's creation and destiny, looking to human experience only, we find that the moral life is the only social safeguard; a prosperous and happy immoral people is inconceivable. States have stood up against external hostile influences, have persisted through material poverty, have survived even ignorance, but their morality has always been the very fibre of them, its decadence is always the forerunner of political disaster.

It is worth while noting the effect of the moral objective in education upon its utilitarian efficacy. And when we meet this question we uncover one of the paradoxes of human experience. Wherever the moral purpose of education is emphasized, the utilitarian purpose is well served; wherever the utilitarian purpose is emphasized neither is well served. Not to teach mathematics, but to teach morality, is the best way to make mathematicians. That is the way it has worked out. Take the monastic schools of the "dark ages." First let us make plain what we mean by the "dark ages." The name has been applied, strangely enough, to that period in history when there began to be a diffusion of light. The Greek civilization was luminous, it is true, but the light shone like a single star in a black sky. The diameter of civilization was short, indeed. The circle of light comprehended but a few square miles of the earth's surface lying around the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Beyond that small circumference were vast black wildernesses. Toward the Orient was the faint afterglow of prehistoric civilizations Africa lay to the south, in a night that has persisted unto this generation. America was in the deepest shadow, relieved only by a glimmer, perhaps, where the Aztecs, or the Toltecs, or the sun-worshiping Incas were lighting their feeble intellectual lamps. In Europe, save for that patch on the Mediterranean shore, the sons of Japhet walked in gloom. Nor was the Greek civilization of any depth. When it was purely Greek and at its brightest, it was but a surface glow. One-tenth of the Greeks were enlightened and free, nine-tenths of them the most abject and ignorant of slaves. The extension of that civilization to Rome deepened it slightly, but it became less brilliant as it was diffused over a larger area. To some extent the enterprise and valor of the Romans spread it north and west, but it gave only a faint radiance then—its pristine brilliancy was gone forever.

The illumination of the world was a task demanding a purer and a stronger light, and Christianity furnished the torch. And when the glow of this strange supernatural light began to struggle with the darkness of the world, then began what are known as the "dark ages." It was not that they were darker than those which had gone before; it was the beginning of a consciousness on the part of the more enlightened of the fact that they were so dark. The wall between civilization and barbarism was broken down and the darkness of the world mingled with the light that had been confined to a few, but was to shine henceforth for all men. It was the beginning of a vast struggle between intellectual night and intellectual day. And little by little the light won its way and the shadows receded, little by little the civilizing influence spread, deepening the purposes and ennobling the lives of men. Little by little the arts and sciences regained what was lost, and more also, not in the narrow theatre of the past, but all over the wide world.

And how was this accomplished? By teaching the arts and the sciences? No; by teaching the worship of God. What did the work? Was it done by great universities, supported by such endowments as the Carnegie Fund, presided over by men who gave their whole lives to the study of natural sciences and secular literatures? No. It was the monk that modern culture so despises who did the work. It was the monk, preparing men for the next world, who made men fit to live in this. It was the monk who kept in his cells the treasures of ancient literature that would have been lost otherwise, and reproduced them in the scriptorium of the monastery. It was the monk who taught the peasant the agricultural arts and impressed upon the nobles the dignity of labor by putting his own hands to the plow—hands that were consecrated to the service of God.

Our popular histories leave us with the impression that for ten centuries at least the world stood still. Before that there were some centuries of retrogression; after it, in the fifteenth century, there was a sudden leap forward. Civilization, having slept, dreaming horrid dreams, through a long black night, leaped to its feet, wide-eyed and full of life; of a sudden, the light broke on the world like a new day radiantly beautiful. It is thrilling, but it isn't true. There were scientists between the fifth century and Leonardo da Vinci; there were schools, even common primary schools, wherever there was Christianity, from the days of Constantine. The early fathers of the church were men of culture and great intellectual power. As logicians and rhetoricians they were not inferior to the best of the pagan civilization; in philosophy they do not stand out because they did not have to create philosophical systems, they merely preached the revealed truths. That was the great task of their time, and they did it well. Plato set himself to create a philosophy, and he did it well. Archimedes was a great mechanic. Augustine was a great missionary. The Renaissance was not the flash of light that we have been trained to think it. It was only a stage in the development of civilization. That development had been going on all the time. Back in the ninth century, there had been common schools under Christian control in the provinces over which Christianity was exercising its civilizing influence; they existed in Ireland, they existed in France, they existed in Germany.

The church had had its popes who were school-teachers and scientists. One of them in the tenth century had invented an abacus for the study of geometry. Another, according to the old records, was teaching astronomy and geography by means of terrestrial globes.

Oh, yes, a great many people did think the world was flat; and there was a great deal of ignorance there is today. The mass of men then didn't know any more about the shape of the earth than the mass of men now know about the history of those ages. But they were learning, just as we are learning. The strictly religious monastic schools were teaching them little by little, as the human race is always taught; teaching them with the purpose of saving their souls from perdition, and with the effect of deepening and widening steadily the circle of secular knowledge.

That is the work that religion was doing for the human race—for its secular interest, I mean, not its spiritual salvation. Prejudice would teach us other-wise, but prejudice is blind.

"The one-sided and superficial literature of the `Enlightenment,' " says Frederick William Foerster, "is raked for all possible instances of abuses, for all the degenerate and barbarous symptoms that have marked the history of the church in Europe. The eye of the searcher, like that of a nerve specialist, is on the qui vive for the abnormalities of human life. All these abuses and exaggerations are represented as the essential content of what was in reality a rich and magnificent development of civilization. And all this is done with such absolute lack of appreciation that the reader is forced to say to himself: Well, a man who wants to look at matters in that way, who in the long development of Christian civilization can see nothing but mental derangement and delirium, who thinks that the unapproachable masterpieces of medieval architecture, the rich harvest reaped in all arts and crafts, the incomparable spirit of sacrifice, the living, breathing literature, the deep and sincere holiday joy-fulness of those times, who thinks that all this has no inner connection with the living, all-embracing, all-penetrating spiritual power of the Christian church, that it is no testimony to her civilizing creative energy —well, let him think so, if he will. Such a man will do no harm, for he stands too far away from the main-springs of life to exercise any very deep influence whatsoever. Books written in this spirit are read—and forgotten. To drag abuses to light is an easy task anywhere in history, and especially in those periods when institutions with really sublime ideas and far-seeing plans have undertaken the task of recreating degenerated civilizations, since such institutions must look for success to the cooperation of just those human powers which they intend to elevate and educate. Imagine `evolutionary' ethics endeavoring to civilize the disorganized and unorganized masses which the migration of nations offered to the educators of the early middle ages !"

This is from the pen of a man regarded for years in Europe as perhaps the greatest living teacher. He was for years the foremost among the champions of "ethical culture"; his father was devoted to the cause of non-religious ethical education; his own education was conducted on that line, and he grew into man-hood an enthusiast for freedom of thought from "religious shackles," and the development of man's moral nature according to the rationalist formula. He has been the editor of the newspaper organ of the International Ethical Culture Society and the inter-national secretary of that society.

Mr. Foerster, . too, has an answer to the question, Can morals be taught? His answer is more to the point than is that furnished by the experience of the Spartans, for it deals with the teaching of morals in modern conditions of life. He lives today, he is the most modern of moderns. He knows the ethical culture theory and practice from alpha to omega; he has been through all that. This is his career, briefly sketched: His father, William Foerster, an astronomer of note and a privy councillor at one time to the German emperor, was among those intellectual Germans who were leaders in the rationalist movement and who regarded revealed religion as of no further value to humanity. The theory of ethical culture, of supplying the moral need the abolition of religion had created, made a strong appeal to him, and on the model of the Society for Ethical Culture founded in New York in 1876 by Dr. Felix Adler, he founded an ethical culture society in Berlin. In the spirit and according to the rule of the new cult William Foerster educated his son Frederick, who was born in Berlin in 186g. No religious influence played any part in the training of the younger Foerster, who partook of his father's enthusiasm for ethical culture. Frederick was so ardent, indeed, in the cause that he resolved to make character-training his life-work. It was characteristic of him that he recognized the educational value of the study of human life itself. After obtaining his degree of doctor of philosophy from the University of Freiburg in 1893, he spent two years journeying among the poor in Germany, England, and America, studying at first hand and with his own eyes the conditions he hoped to ameliorate if not remedy by the magic of a rational cultivation of natural morality. In 1895 he became the editor of Ethische Kultur, the official organ of the German ethical culture movement; and so brilliant was his work, so ardent his spirit, so truly did he typify the movement at its best, that the first International Ethical Culture Congress, held in Zurich the following year, created the office of international secretary and elected Foerster its first incumbent. No finer selection could have been made. Young, strong, profound, sincere, he was an ideal champion of the cause. He was ready to give proof of the sincerity of the faith that was in him, and he did give it—an article of his on the Kaiser and the Social Democracy was condemned as treasonable, and its author offered the choice between retraction and imprisonment. He suffered the imprisonment. Since 1896 his home has been in Zurich and his principal work has been the teaching of ethics in the public schools of that city, although he is also a lecturer at the University of Zurich.

This is the character of the man, this his training and experience, who has found that ethical culture must be alive or it will not work; that the conscience of man is not a physical organ, but a part of his soul. For a little more than a year it has been realized on both sides that his path and that of the society of which he was a leader for seventeen years are diver-gent instead of coincident or parallel, and that the distance between them is widening rapidly.

"My one-time persuasions," he says, "were the result, not merely of my consistently irreligious education, but likewise of the bookworm enlightenment that our universities offer to the young man of to-day —an enlightenment that keeps him a stranger to real life, that allows no deep insight into the shadows of modern society. At one time I was a very earnest free-thinker, and endeavored to follow the system to its deepest conclusions. But just the earnestness of my endeavors led me to bid adieu to free thought. Instinctively I felt it my duty to remodel my views by contact with real life. So I interrupted my academical studies soon after receiving the degree of doctor, devoted myself for two years to the study of the labor problem and youthful delinquents, gave myself to practical personal care of the poor, made journeys to other lands to study the same problems, and finally, in Zurich, began the practical work in the formation of character. The insight thus gained into real life, into the concrete problems of the living man, is the real cause of my inner transformation. I began to see Christianity with other eyes. Christianity, until then, had seemed to be a foreign, antiquated element of life —now I saw that I had been a stranger to life, a dead man. `When the dead rise!' And I am fully persuaded that this same method of living observation of life and self would bring many of my contemporaries to the views which I to-day uphold. Nor could they rest satisfied with the shallow, diluted Christianity of modern academic culture, but would be drawn by the concrete knowledge of what is human—all too human—to understand anew and revere anew the superhuman grandeur of Christ."

Dr. Foerster has had the usual experience of a rationalist who uses his reason instead of setting it on a shrine and swinging a censer before it: the reason-worshipers announced sadly that he was "ultramontane," "orthodox," "Catholic." It was too bad, some-thing like his being mentally deranged. That is the habit of rationalists; a convenient habit it is, too, be-cause you do not have to answer one who is "ultra-montane," or "orthodox," or "Catholic," any more than you would have to answer one who is mentally deranged; you just announce the fact and let it go at that. But there is a new mental atmosphere in Germany—they do have new mental atmospheres over there every once in a while—and in the case of Dr. Foerster it doesn't go at that. In the first place, Dr. Foerster isn't "ultramontane," and he isn't "Catholic," and he is regarded quite generally in German educational circles as the deepest student and most successful practitioner of character cultivation now living. Consequently the German world, or rather the Germanic world, that listened to "ethical culture" because he preached it, is eager for his new message, and rationalism is quite put out about it. To those here who hesitate to adopt a just, common-sense plan of restoring religion to its proper place in the training of the young because of an unrecognized, but for that reason all the more powerful, prejudice against the Catholic Church, the defense of his recent views by this non-Catholic German scholar should be interesting.

"Especially emphatic has been the protest," he says, "against the `Catholic' tone of the book, and not a few have stamped the author as a `strictly orthodox Catholic.' The whole proceeding is a proof of the narrow-mindedness with which, in the present clash of sects and parties, the majority of men open a book that does justice to their opponent, or even affirms that much may and should be learned from an opponent who enjoys the advantage of centuries of experience in the field that is in question. These years have furnished me with many instances of the incredible prejudices with which so many `unprejudiced' scholars regard the Catholic Church. It is for them an unquestioned dogma that every position which she defends is nonsense, disease, superstition. They cannot grasp the idea of a really unprejudiced observer arriving by impartial research and earnest meditation at the conclusion that certain educational ideas of the Roman Church are the unavoidable consequences of any science of life and soul that penetrates below the surface. Such a concession on the part of a non-Catholic is simply unallowable. Truth ceases where Catholicism begins. To find truth beyond that line is to forfeit one's title in the aristocracy of science. That is the `prescribed route' of modern radicalism, and woe to the man who leaves the beaten path! What does it matter that scientific earnestness and honest conviction force him to do so? He is stigmatized with the fatal epithet of `ultramontane' and thus made harmless. I ask my honorable opponents to keep one fact clearly before their eyes : the truth and indispensability of an idea or method for culture and civilization do not become null and non-existent just because that idea is upheld by the Roman Catholic Church. Or is it so absolutely impossible to conceive that this church, during the centuries which she has been en-gaged in caring for souls, has discovered one and the other essential truth of pedagogy and civilization, truths that must be admitted even from a non-Catholic standpoint as soon as the searcher digs into the psychological and ethical depths of the problem in question?"

Two facts stand out, then. First, the human mind of all ages agrees that the purpose of education must be moral. Second, the highest authority on ethical culture declares that ethical culture is insufficient.

"I know very well," he says, "how far `purely human' inspiration will lead the world of youth. . . . I understand what a severe blow it must be to those who would replace religion by ethics when my convictions force me to oppose them with all my energy, when I assert that just my thorough-going efforts in purely ethical instruction have convinced me that such instruction is insufficient—yea, that the ethical appeal, in order to become deeper, is forced by its own inner psychology to become religious ; that the natural disposition to good must be impregnated, clarified, fortified by superhuman ideals before it can cope successfully with the inborn tendencies to evil."

On the 13th day of July, 1787, the Confederate Congress, consisting of the delegates of the United States of America appointed by each State under the Articles of Confederation, passed what was known as the Northwest Ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of the River Ohio. By the authority vested in them, and for the purpose, as they expressed it, of "extending the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty which formed the basis whereon these republics, their laws and constitutions, are erected," they did ordain, as follows :

"Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be encouraged." (Art. 3.)

These delegates were those to whom we appropriately refer as the Fathers of the Nation. They were making the fundamental law for a new territory. They were expressing fundamental ideas. It is plain that they regarded "schools and the means of education" as places and instruments for the instruction of the young in "religion, morality and knowledge." Moreover, they gave enduring recognition to their belief that not only did education, properly considered, include instruction in religion, morality and knowledge, but that these three purposes or ends of instruction were "necessary to good government," and, being necessary to good government, should be recognized, provided for and encouraged as essentials of government, if it were to be good government.

There could be no clearer proof than this that the conception of education and morality as combined and interdependent factors was fundamental in this government and informed our constitution. With the help of this illuminating statute we may with certainty define the precise meaning of those subsequent constitutional provisions of the Federal Government and the various States which have been wrenched from their original purpose. They were a simple prohibition framed in the interests of justice, and intended to preclude the possibility of the use of public funds for proselyting purposes by any one church. Not religion, but discrimination against religion, was what the Fathers of the Republic feared.



Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com