Cambridge Essays on Education eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 194 pages of information about Cambridge Essays on Education.

[Footnote 5:  Charles Morley, 1897.]

II

INDIRECT TRAINING FOR CITIZENSHIP

After all is said and done the ideal training for citizenship in the schools depends more upon the wisdom engendered in the pupil than upon the direct study of civics.  If the spirits of men and women are set in a right direction they will reach out for knowledge as for hid treasure.  “Wisdom is more moving than any motion; she passeth and goeth through all things by reason of her pureness[1].”

It happens also in natural sequence that the spirit developed in a school will lead to the construction of institutions in connection with school life calculated to secure its adequate expression.

Elementary schools, however, are much handicapped in this way.  If it comes about that work other than educational or recreative is forbidden to children during the years of attendance at school, and also that the period of school life is lengthened, there will be opportunity for the development of games on a self-governing basis.  Elementary school children have a large measure of initiative; all they need is a real chance to exercise it.  They would willingly make their schools real centres of child life.  Many children at present have little else than narrow tenements and the streets, out of which influences arise which war continually against the social influences of the school.

The opportunity afforded by well-ordered leisure would be accentuated by the more complete operation of movements such as boys’ brigades, boy scouts, girl guides, and Church lads’ brigades, which are in their several ways doing much to develop citizenship.  Such bodies are now in effect educational authorities, and classes are organised by them in connection with the Board of Education.

There have been many attempts to introduce self-governing experiments into elementary schools and, whilst they have often been defeated by reason of the immaturity of the children, yet some of them have met with great success.  The election of monitors on the lines of a general election is an instance of success in this direction.  The ideas which have arisen from the advocacy of the Montessori system have induced methods of greater freedom in connection with many aspects of elementary school life.  The Caldecott Community, dealing with working-class children in the neighbourhood of St. Pancras, has tried many interesting experiments.  That, however, of the introduction of children’s courts of justice had to be abandoned, but not until many valuable lessons in child psychology had been learnt.

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