Again, we have been wont to estimate men by what they have rather than by what they are, and to regard as of value only such things as are quoted in the markets. Wall Street takes precedence over the university and to the millionaire we accord the front seat even in some of our churches. We accept the widow’s mite but do not inscribe her name upon the roll of honor. We give money prizes for work in our schools and thus strive to commercialize the things of the mind and of the spirit. We have laid waste our forests, impoverished our fields, and defiled our landscapes to stimulate increased activity in our clearing-houses. Like Jason of old, we have wandered far in quest of the golden fleece. We welcome the rainbow, not for its beauty but for the bag of gold at its end. We seek to scale the heights of Olympus by stairways of gold, fondly nursing the conceit that, once we have scaled these heights, we shall be equal to the gods.
To indulge in even such a brief review of some of the weak places and defections of society is not an agreeable task, but diagnosis must necessarily precede the application of remedies. If we are to reconstruct education in order to effect a reconstruction of society we must know our problem in advance, that we may proceed in a rational way. Reconstruction cannot be made permanently effective by haphazard methods. We must visualize clearly the objectives of our endeavors in order to obviate wrong methods and futility. We must have the whole matter laid bare before our eyes or we shall not get on in the work of reconstruction. It were more agreeable to dwell upon our achievements, and they are many, but the process of reconstruction has to do with the affected parts. These must be our special care, these the realm for our kindly surgery and the arts of healing. We need to become acutely conscious that the present will become the past and that there will be a new present which will take on the same qualities that now characterize our present. We need to feel that the future will look back to our present and commend or condemn according to the practices of this generation. And the only way to make a sane and right future is to create a sane and right present.
THE FUTURE AS RELATED TO THE PRESENT
In planning a journey the one constant is the destination. All the other elements are variable, and, therefore, subordinate. So, also, in planning a course of study. The qualities to be developed through the educational processes are the constants, while the agencies by which these qualities are to be attained are subject to change. The course of study provides for the school activities for the child for a period of twelve years, and it is altogether pertinent to inquire what qualities we hope to develop by means of these school activities. To do this effectively we must visualize the pupil when he emerges from the