Press enter after choosing selection

Old-fashioned Education

Old-fashioned Education image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The numerous college cornmencements which take place about this time of year always attraot a particular degree of inerest to the subject of education. We propose iu thia article to.speak of the mental training of youth as it was conducted 40 or 50 years ago. Great changs, in regard to plans and methods of promoting intellectual development, have occurred in that period. Many of these alierationa have unquestionably been for ;he better. It will do no harm to look ack and inquire whether they have all )een so. One of the most prominent points in education in í'ormer years, as compared with the present time, was ita greater implicity. There were not half so many tudieg. There were fewer books. There was much less machinery. The appliances for instruction in those days were sueh as would now appear to many people not mly altogether ïnsufficient, but ludicrousy primitivo. This was the caso in alinost every department, trom colleges to primary schools. One of our largest colleges, or inatance, in former times would have )resented a curioua contrast to a " university" of the present day ; and the chango in some other classes of institu;ions has been still greater than in coleges. In connection with the simplicity of old fashioned education, was the greater degree to which pupils were expected to depend on their own efibrts. There was a good deal of meaning in the old word ' schoolmaster,"' as compared with tho more euphonious title, " teacher." An ld-fashioned pedagogue expected his )oys to puzzle out things tor themselves. 3e seldom aliowed theni to make ubo of his brains when they eould empJoy their own. In the enforceinent of this latter jrocess he was materially assisted by the character of the school-books used. The jrinciple acted upon by the authors of such productions was not so much that of adapting tho lunguage of the books to he ideas of the learners, as of making the earners adapt their ideas to the language of the books. The qucstion what'bboy earned waa apt, in schools, to be considered of entirely subordínate importance to ;he inquiry by whatprocess he learnedit. A very slight advunee in knowledge, produaed by his own intellectual strugjles, was usually cousidered ot' far more value than much greater attainments reached by the direct assistance of others. Another element of old-fashioned education, as compared with that of modern days, was what many people would consider ita much lesa " practical" character. The word " practical," with groat numbers of persons, almost iuvariably has a pretty direct referenco to dollars and cents. This is very apt to be its meaning when applied to educatiou. The mental training of former days was, in this senae, generally much less " practical" than now. Indeed, there was far less oppDitunity for it. The innumerable applicationa of science to the ordinary employments of life which we now see were, most of them, not even thought of. If for instance, a boy who intended to be a farmer went to an academy, it was most certainly not with a view of learning agricultural chemistry. Youths who wero to enter ono of " the three learned proiessions," it is true, went through college with reference to thit object, just as they do now. But, apart from these cases the training which was expected to make a boy able to earn his own living was, with the exception of tho ñrst rudiments of education, almost entirely obtained from sources independent of his school studies. The characteristics which we have here mentioned are often regarded as among the most decided defects of old-fashioned education. In some respects this view is correct; in others it is very fallacious. That the old-fashioned simplicity was accompanied by very great incompleteness - that the required dependeuce of the pupils upon their own effurts was often not realized, and even when attained was frequently reached by too great sacrifices of other objects, and sometimes by the exercise of revolting cruelty - and that there was frequently a very disadvantageous want ot' connection between the knowledge a boy acquired from books and the knowledge he needed for the purposo of making his living, are facts which it would be impossible lo deny. But with all this, the absence of needless and perplexing complications, and promotion of originality of thought and self-dependence, and the inculcation of the great truth that education is valuable for other purposoa than money-making, were features in old-fashioned education of which we should be glad to see more in the popular ideas upou the subject in our own


Old News
Michigan Argus