Cambridge Essays on Education eBook

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fellowship of emotions and interests, and that his happiness depends upon his becoming aware of this, while his usefulness and nobleness must depend upon his disinterestedness, and upon the extent to which he is willing to share his advantages.  The teaching of civics, as it is called, may be of some use in this direction, as showing a boy his points of contact with society.  But no instruction in the constitution of society is profitable, unless somehow or other the dutiful motive is kindled, and the heroic virtue of service made beautiful.

When then I speak of the training of the imagination, I really mean the kindling of motive; and here again I claim that this must be based on a boy’s own experience.  He understands well enough the possibility of feeling emotion in relation to a small circle, his home and his immediate friends.  But he is probably, like most young creatures, and indeed like a good many elderly ones, inclined to be suspicious of all that is strange and foreign, and to anticipate hostility or indifference.  What he would willingly share with a relation or friend, he eagerly withholds from an outsider.  To cultivate his imaginative sympathy, to give him an insight into the ways and thoughts of other men, to show to him that the same qualities which evoke his trust and love are not the monopoly of his own small circle—­this is just what must be taught, because it is exactly what is not instinctively evolved.

The training of the imagination then is a deliberate effort to persuade the young to believe in the real nobility and beauty of life, in the great ideas which are moulding society and welding communities together.  It cannot be done in a year or a decade; but it ought to be the first aim of education to initiate the imagination of the young into the idea of fellowship, and to make the thought of selfish individualism intolerable.  It is not perhaps the only end of education, but I can hardly believe that it has any nobler or more sacred end.

IV

RELIGION AT SCHOOL

By W. W. VAUGHAN

The Master of Wellington College

“After all, how seldom does a Christian education teach one anything worth knowing about Christianity.”  These are the words of a man whom the public schools are proud to claim, a man who has seen Christian education, whether given in the elementary or in the secondary schools tested by the slow fires of peace, and by the quick devouring furnace of war.  They seem at first sight to be a verdict of “guilty” against the teachers or the system in which they play a part.  That verdict will not be accepted without protest by those incriminated, but even the protesters will feel some compunction, and now that they can no longer question the heroic “student” as to what he means, and go to him for advice as to the remedies for this failure, they should search their hearts and their experience for the help he might have given, had he not laid down his arms and his life on the Somme last autumn.

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