[Footnote 1: In this connection it may be noted that 43 per cent. of the members of Trinity College—where the normal number of undergraduates in residence is over 600—on leaving the university devote themselves to business.]
It ought to be clearly stated that in writing of schools I have had in mind those which are usually known as public schools; for in the general preparation for practical life the public school boy enjoys many advantages which do not fall to the lot of his less-favoured brother in the elementary school. Not only does his education continue for some years longer, but it is conducted along broader lines, and gives him a greater variety of knowledge and a wider outlook. He comes, too, as a rule, from those classes of the community in which there are long standing traditions of discipline, culture, and what may be called the spirit of noblesse oblige. These traditions do not, of themselves, keep him from folly, idleness, or even vice; but they do help him to endure hardship, to submit to authority, to cultivate the corporate spirit, to maintain certain standards of schoolboy honour, and, as he himself would say, “to play the game.” Though in the class-room it may be that appeals are largely made to individualism and selfishness, yet on the playing fields he learns something of the value of co-operation and the virtue of unselfishness. From the very first he begins to develop a sense of civic and collective responsibility, and, in his later years at school, he finds that as a prefect or monitor he has a direct share in the government of the community of which he is a member, and a direct responsibility for its welfare. Nor does this sense of corporate life die out when he leaves, for then the Old Boys’ Association claims him, and adds a new interest to the past, while maintaining the old inspiration for the future.
With the elementary school boy it is not so. To him, as to his parents, the primal curse is painfully real: work is the sole and not always effectual means of warding off starvation. He realises that as soon as the law permits he is to be “turned into money” and must needs become a wage-earner. As a contributor to the family exchequer he claims a voice in his own government, and resists all the attempts of parents, masters, or the State itself to encroach upon his liberty. He begins work with both mind and body immature and ill-trained. There has been little to teach him esprit de corps; he has never felt the sobering influence of responsibility; the only discipline he has experienced is that of the class-room, for the O.T.C. and organised games are to him unknown; and when he leaves there is very rarely any Association of Old Boys to keep him in touch with his fellows or the school. Here and there voluntary organisations such as the Boy Scouts have done something—though little—to improve his lot; but, in the main, the evils are untouched. To find the remedy for them is not the least of the many great problems of the future.