What education stands in need of to-day is just this: a stimulating and pervasive craft spirit. If a human calling would win the world’s respect, it must first respect itself; and the more thoroughly it respects itself, the greater will be the measure of homage that the world accords it. In one of the educational journals a few years ago, the editors ran a series of articles under the general caption, “Why I am a teacher.” It reminded me of the spirited discussion that one of the Sunday papers started some years since on the world-old query, “Is marriage a failure?” And some of the articles were fully as sickening in their harrowing details as were some of the whining matrimonial confessions of the latter series. But the point that I wish to make is this: your true craftsman in education never stops to ask himself such questions. There are some men to whom schoolcraft is a mistress. They love it, and their devotion is no make-believe, fashioned out of sentiment, and donned for the purpose of hiding inefficiency or native indolence. They love it as some men love Art, and others Business, and others War. They do not stop to ask the reason why, to count the cost, or to care a fig what people think. They are properly jealous of their special knowledge, gained through years of special study; they are justly jealous of their special skill gained through years of discipline and training. They resent the interference of laymen in matters purely professional. They resent such interference as would a reputable physician, a reputable lawyer, a reputable engineer. They resent officious patronage and “fussy” meddling. They resent all these things manfully, vigorously. But your true craftsman will not whine. If the conditions under which he works do not suit him, he will fight for their betterment, but he will not whine.
And yet this vow of fidelity and devotion to the spirit of schoolcraft would be an empty form without the two complementary vows that give it worth and meaning. These are the vow of poverty and the vow of service. It is through these that the true craft spirit must find its most vigorous expression and its only justification. The very corner stone of schoolcraft is service, and one fundamental lesson that the tyro in schoolcraft must learn, especially in this materialistic age, is that the value of service is not to be measured in dollars and cents. In this respect, teaching resembles art, music, literature, discovery, invention, and pure science; for, if all the workers in all of these branches of human activity got together and demanded of the world the real fruits of their self-sacrifice and labor,—if they demanded all the riches and comforts and amenities of life that have flowed directly or indirectly from their efforts,—there would be little left for the rest of mankind. Each of these activities is represented by a craft spirit that recognizes this great truth. The artist or the scientist who has an itching palm, who prostitutes his craft for the sake of worldly gain, is quickly relegated to the oblivion that he deserves. He loses caste, and the caste of craft is more precious to your true craftsman than all the gold of the modern Midas.