Cambridge Essays on Education eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about Cambridge Essays on Education.
upon the way in which he uses the hours of leisure.  It is one of the greatest of the many functions of a good school to train its members to a wise use of leisure; and though this is not always achieved by direct means the result is none the less valuable.  In every calling there must needs be much of what can only be to all save its most enthusiastic devotees—­and, at times, even to them—­dull routine and drudgery.  A man cannot do his best, or be his best, unless he is able to overcome the paralysing influences thus brought to bear upon him by securing mental and spiritual freshness and stimulus; in other words his “inward man must be renewed day by day.”  There are many agencies which may contribute to such a result; but school memories, school friendships, school “interests” take a foremost place among them.  Many boys by the time they leave school have developed an interest or hobby—­literary, scientific or practical; and the hobby has an ethical, as well as an economic value.  Nor is this all.  Excessive devotion to “Bread Studies,” whether voluntary or compulsory, tends to make a man’s vocation the prison of his soul.  Professor Eucken recently told his countrymen that the greater their perfection in work grew, the smaller grew their souls.  Any rational interest, therefore, which helps a man to shake off his fetters, helps also to preserve his humanity and to keep him in touch with his fellows.  Dr A.C.  Benson tells of a distinguished Frenchman who remarked to him, “In France a boy goes to school or college, and perhaps does his best.  But he does not get the sort of passion for the honour and prosperity of his school or college which you English seem to feel.”  It is this wondrous faculty of inspiring unselfish devotion which makes our schools the spiritual power-houses of the nation.  This love for an abstraction, which even the dullest boys feel, is the beginning of much that makes English life sweet and pure.  It is the same spirit which, in later years, moves men to do such splendid voluntary work for their church, their town, their country, and even in some cases leads them “to take the whole world for their parish.”

However much we may strive to reach the beautiful Montessori ideal, the fact remains that there must be some lessons, some duties, which the pupil heartily dislikes and would gladly avoid if he could; but they must be done promptly and satisfactorily, and, if not cheerfully, at least without audible murmuring.  Eventually he may, and often does, come to like them; at any rate he realises that they are not set before him in order to irritate or punish him, but as part of his school training.  It will be agreed that the acquirement of a habit of doing distasteful things, even under compulsion, because they are part of one’s duty is no bad preparation for a life in which most days bring their quota of unpleasant duties which cannot be avoided, delegated, or postponed.

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Cambridge Essays on Education from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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