But with all this there is, of course, the danger that so much energy may be absorbed in these pursuits that little is left for the ordinary school work. In some few cases, where there is a strong natural bent and the free-time pursuit is a serious object of study, this may be a thing not to be discouraged, as it will provide the truest means of education. But in most cases care is needed to see that the due proportion is kept, and especially that mere amusement is not allowed to occupy the whole of leisure, still less to distract thought and effort from serious work. By making entertainments, which might, if too frequent or too elaborate, have this effect, dependent on the school work being well done, this danger can be minimised. For the rest, if free-time work is found to take the first place in a boy’s thoughts, may not this be a sign that the ordinary curriculum and methods of teaching are capable of improvement, and that more use of these natural interests may with advantage be made in class time as well? Not that work of any kind can be all pleasure or always outwardly interesting; there is plenty of hard spade-work needed in any study seriously followed, in class or out. But if in education keenness is the first essential and personality the final aim, interest and freedom must have a larger place than is usually allowed them in the class-room if the real education is not to centre in the self-chosen and self-directed pursuits of leisure.
One word more. It must not be supposed that all that has been described is only possible, or only needed, in the boarding school or only for a specially leisured class. If, as has here been urged, these activities and interests form an integral part of education in its fullest meaning, they are just as necessary in the day school and cannot be left to chance and the home to see to. And of all the needed reforms in elementary education, amongst the most needed is the greater utilisation of the active interests and instincts of children, in a training that would have a wider outlook and a closer bearing, through practical experience, both on the work of life and the use of leisure.
PREPARATION FOR PRACTICAL LIFE
By SIR J. D. McCLURE
Head Master of Mill Hill School
It is, perhaps, the chief glory of the Ideal Commonwealth that each and every member thereof is found in his right place. His profession is also his vocation; in it is his pride; through it he attains to the joie de vivre; by it he makes his contribution to the happiness of his fellows and to the welfare and progress of the State. The contemplation of the Ideal, however, would seem to be nature’s anodyne for experience of the Actual. In practical life, all attempts, however earnest and continuous, to realise this ideal are frustrated by one or more of many difficulties; and though the Millennium follows hard upon Armageddon, we cannot assume that in the period vaguely known as “after the war” these difficulties will be fewer in number or less in magnitude. Some of the more obvious may be briefly considered.