Cambridge Essays on Education eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about Cambridge Essays on Education.

  We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
    That Shakespeare spake, the faith and morals hold
  That Milton held.  In everything we are sprung
    Of Earth’s best blood, have titles manifold.

It is a high boast, but it is true.  But what have we done to fire the imagination of our boys and girls with the vision of our great and ancient nation, now struggling for its existence?  What have we taught them of Shakespeare and Milton, of Elizabeth and Cromwell, of Nelson and Wellington?  Have we ever tried to make them understand that they are called to be the temporary custodians of very glorious traditions, and the trustees of a spiritual wealth compared with which the gold mines of the Rand are but dross?  Do we even teach them, in any rational manner, the fine old language which has been slowly perfected for centuries, and which is now being used up and debased by the rubbishy newspapers which form almost the sole reading of the majority?  We have marvelled at the slowness with which the masses realised that the country was in danger, and at the stubbornness with which some of the working class clung to their sectional interests and ambitions when the very life of England was at stake.  In France the whole people saw at once what was upon them; the single word patrie was enough to unite them in a common enthusiasm and stern determination.  With us it was hardly so; many good judges think that but for the “Lusitania” outrage and the Zeppelins, part of the population would have been half-hearted about the war, and we should have failed to give adequate support to our allies.  The cause is not selfishness but ignorance and want of imagination; and what have we done to tap the sources of an intelligent patriotism?  We are being saved not by the reasoned conviction of the populace, but by its native pugnacity and bull-dog courage.  This is not the place to go into details about English studies; but can anyone doubt that they could be made the basis of a far better education than we now give in our schools?  We have especially to remember that there is a real danger of the modern Englishman being cut off from the living past.  Scientific studies include the earlier phases of the earth, but not the past of the human race and the British people.  Christianity has been a valuable educator in this way, especially when it includes an intelligent knowledge the Bible.  But the secular education of the masses is now so much severed from the stream of tradition and sentiment which unites us with the older civilisations, that the very language of the Churches is becoming unintelligible to them, and the influence of organised religion touches only a dwindling minority.  And yet the past lives in us all; lives inevitably in its dangers, which the accumulated experience of civilisation, valued so slightly by us on its spiritual side, can alone help us to surmount.  A nation like an individual, must “wish his days to be bound each to each

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Cambridge Essays on Education from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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