Cambridge Essays on Education eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about Cambridge Essays on Education.
by natural piety.”  It too must strive to keep its memory green, to remember the days of old and the years that are past.  The Jews have always had, in their sacred books, a magnificent embodiment of the spirit of their race; and who can say how much of their incomparable tenacity and ineradicable hopefulness has been due to the education thus imparted to every Jewish child?  We need a Bible of the English race, which shall be hardly less sacred to each succeeding generation of young Britons than the Old Testament is to the Jews.  England ought to be, and may be, the spiritual home of one quarter of the human race, for ages after our task as a world-power shall have been brought to a successful issue, and after we in this little island have accepted the position of mother to nations greater than ourselves.  But England’s future is precious only to those to whom her past is dear.

I am not suggesting that the history and literatures of other countries should be neglected, or that foreign languages should form no part of education.  But the main object is to turn out good Englishmen, who may continue worthily and even develop further a glorious national tradition.  To do this, we must appeal constantly to the imagination, which Wordsworth has boldly called “reason in her most exalted mood.”  We may thus bring a little poetry and romance into the monotonous lives of our hand-workers.  It may well be that their discontent has more to do with the starving of their spiritual nature than we suppose.  For the intellectual life, like divine philosophy, is not dull and crabbed, as fools suppose, but musical as is Apollo’s lute.

Can we end with a definition of the happiness and well-being, which is the goal of education, as of all else that we try to do?  Probably we cannot do better than accept the famous definition of Aristotle, which however we must be careful to translate rightly.  “Happiness, or well-being, is an activity of the soul directed towards excellence, in an unhampered life.”  Happiness consists in doing rather than being; the activity must be that of the soul—­the whole man acting as a person; it must be directed towards excellence—­not exclusively moral virtue, but the best work that we can do, of whatever kind; and it must be unhampered—­we must be given the opportunity of doing the best that is in us to do.  To awaken the soul; to hold up before it the images of whatsoever things are true, lovely, noble, pure, and of good report; and to remove the obstacles which stunt and cripple the mind; this is the work which we have called the Training of the Reason.




Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge

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Cambridge Essays on Education from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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