Such teaching of history as is here portrayed will never fall upon dull ears or unresponsive spirits. It will thrill the youth with a consuming desire to be up and doing. He will ignite at touch of the living fire. His soul will become incandescent and the glow will warm him into noble action. He yearns to emulate the triumphs of those who have preceded him on the stage of endeavor. If he reads “The Message to Garcia” he feels himself pulsating with the zeal to do deeds of valor and heroism. Whether the records deal with Clara Barton, Nathan Hale, Frances Willard, Mrs. Stowe, Columbus, Lincoln, William the Silent, Erasmus, or Raphael, if these people are present as vital entities the young people will thrill under the spell of the entrancing stories. Then will history and biography come into their own as means to a great end, and then will aspiration take its rightful place as one of the large goals in the scheme of education. As Browning says, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” and again:
What I aspired to be
And was not, comforts me.
No one who gives the matter thoughtful consideration will ever deprecate or disparage the possession of the virtue of obedience; but, on the other hand, no such thoughtful person will attempt to deny that this virtue, desirable as it is, may be fostered and emphasized to such a degree that its possessor will become a mere automaton. And this is bad; indeed, very bad. We extol obedience, to be sure, but not the sort of blind, unthinking obedience that will reduce its possessor to the status of the mechanical toy which needs only to be wound up and set going. The factory superintendent is glad to have men about him who are able to work efficiently from blueprints; but he is glad, also, to have men about him who can dispense with blueprints altogether or can make their own. The difference between these two types of operatives spells the difference between leadership and mere blind, automatic following. Were all the workers in the factory mere followers, the work would be stereotyped and the factory would be unable to compete with the other factory, where initiative and leadership obtain.
One psychologist avers that ninety per cent of our education comes through imitation; but, even so, it is quite pertinent to inquire into the remaining ten per cent. Conceding that we adopt our styles of wearing apparel at the behest of society; that we fashion and furnish our homes in conformity to prevailing customs; that we permit press and pulpit to formulate for us our opinions and beliefs; in short, that we are imitators up to the full ninety per cent limit, it still must seem obvious to the close observer that the remaining ten per cent has afforded us a vast number and variety of improvements that tend to make life more agreeable. This ten per cent has substituted