Cambridge Essays on Education eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about Cambridge Essays on Education.
will talk freely to a master of architecture or music or Japanese prints, but they are chary of betraying these enthusiasms to their fellows.  And masters are not free from blame:  I suppose we all of us sometimes bow down in the house of Rimmon, and when the conversation languishes at the tea-table, fall back on a discussion of the last house match.  It is the line of least resistance, and after a strenuous day’s work it is not easy to maintain a monologue about Home Rule.  Not the least of the boons of the war is that it has ousted games from the foremost place as a topic of conversation.  I have not noticed that they are less keenly played, although the increase of military work has diminished the time given to them; but they have ceased to monopolise the thoughts of boys.  The problem then of reducing the absorption in games is the problem of finding and providing other absorbing interests.  We cannot, fortunately, always have the counter-irritant of war.  Where we fail now, is that the intellectual training of a boy does not interest him enough in most cases to give him subjects of conversation out of school.  We give some few new interests by means of societies, literary, antiquarian or scientific.  But the main problem is to make every boy see that the work he does in school is connected with his life, that it is meant to open to him the shut doors around him through which he may go out into all the highways and byways of the world.

Do school games produce the man who regards games as the main business of life?  We must emphasise “main.”  It is certain that they do encourage Englishmen to devote some part of their working life to healthy exercise—­and few, I suppose, would wish them to do otherwise.  The Indian civilian does not make a worse judge for playing polo, nor is Benin worse administered since golf-links were laid out there.  But there are men who never outgrow the boyish narrowness of view that games are the things that matter most.  These remain the ruling passion, because no stronger passion comes to drive it out.  For this the schools must bear part of the blame, for they have not taught clearly enough that athletics are a means but not an end.  Not all the blame, for surely some must rest on a society which tolerates the idler, and has no reproach for the man who says “I live only for hunting and golf.”  And here as elsewhere, I believe we are judged more by a few failures than by many successes.  We can all of us in our experience recall many an honest athlete who is now doing splendid service to Church or State, doughty curates, self-sacrificing doctors, soldiers who are real leaders of men.  When they became men they put away childish things, but they have not forgotten what they owe to the discipline of their boyish games.  Games are not the first thing in life for them now, but they have no doubt that they can do their work better from an occasional afternoon’s play.  They see things in their right proportion, because they know that the first

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Cambridge Essays on Education from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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