A book was published in the United States in 1910 with the title, education: How old the new. A companion volume might be written with a similar title, education: How new the old, and it would only exhibit another aspect of the same truth.
This does not pretend to be that possible companion volume, but to present a point of view which owes something both to old and new, and to make an appeal for the education of Catholic girls to have its distinguishing features recognized and freely developed in view of ultimate rather than immediate results.
“Oh! say not, dream not, heavenly notes
To childish ears are vain,
That the young mind at random floats,
And cannot reach the strain.
“Dim or unheard, the words may fall.
And yet the Heaven-taught mind
May learn the sacred air, and all
The harmony unwind.”
The principal educational controversies of the present day rage round the teaching of religion to children, but they are more concerned with the right to teach it than with what is taught, in fact none of the combatants except the Catholic body seem to have a clear notion of what they actually want to teach, when the right has been secured. It is not the controversy but the fruits of it that are here in question, the echoes of battle and rumours of wars serve to enhance the importance of the matter, the duty of making it all worth while, and using to the best advantage the opportunities which are secured at the price of so many conflicts.
The duty is twofold, to God and to His children. God, who entrusts to us their religious education, has a right to be set before them as truly, as nobly, as worthily as our capacity allows, as beautifully as human language can convey the mysteries of faith, with the quietness and confidence of those who know and are not afraid, and filial pride in the Christian inheritance which is ours. The child has a right to learn the best that it can know of God, since the happiness of its life, not only in eternity but even in time, is bound up in that knowledge. Most grievous wrong has been done, and is still done, to children by well-meaning but misguided efforts to “make them good” by dwelling on the vengeance taken by God upon the wicked, on the possibilities of wickedness in the youngest child. Their impressionable minds are quite ready to take alarm, they are so small, and every experience is so new; there are so many great forces at work which can be dimly guessed at, and to their vivid imaginations who can say what may happen next? If the first impressions of God conveyed to them are gloomy and terrible, a shadow may be cast