=The Idealist.=—This is equally true of the vitalized teacher. She is a practical idealist. In the words of the poet, her reach is beyond her grasp, and this proclaims her an idealist. In her capacity as a politician she makes a close study of the wants of her constituents, both pupils and parents, and so learns how best to articulate school work with the interests of the community. She does not hold aloof from her pupils or their homes, but studies them at close range, as do the missionary and the politician. She lives among them and so learns their language and their modes of thinking and living. Only so can she come into sympathetic relations with them and be of greatest service to them in promoting right substitutions. She finds one boy surcharged with the instinct of pugnacity. This tendency manifests itself both in school and at home. Her own conclusions are ratified by the parents. He wants to fight. His whole nature cries aloud for battle. In such a case, neither repression nor suppression will avail. So she attaches a phase of school work to this native disposition and gives his pugnacious instinct a fair field.
=An example.=—Enlisting him as her champion in a tournament, she pits against him a doughty antagonist in the form of a problem in arithmetic. In tones of encouragement she gives the signal and the fight is on. The boy pummels that problem as he would belabor a schoolmate on the playground. His whole being is focused upon the adventure. And when he has won his meed of praise, he feels himself a real champion. The teacher merely substituted mind for hands in the contest and so fell in with his notion that fighting is quite right if only the cause is a worthy one. He is quick to see the distinction and so makes the substitution with alacrity and with no loss of self-respect. Ever after he disdains the vulgar brawl and does not lose the fighting instinct. Thus the vitalized teacher by knowing how to make substitutions wins for society a valiant champion. If we multiply this example, we shall readily see how such a teacher-politician deserves the distinction of being termed a practical idealist.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. Distinguish the following terms: demagogue; politician; statesman; and practical idealist.
2. Subject to what limitations should a successful teacher be a politician?
3. Enumerate the qualities of a successful politician that teachers should possess.
4. How does the author define education? Criticize this definition.
5. What resemblances has the process of education to the evolution of machinery? to the evolution of biological species?
6. Describe methods by which the tactful teacher may secure helpful substitutions in the child’s life.
7. In what respects does society resemble a vitalized school?
8. Illustrate how teachers may utilize for the education of the child seemingly harmful instincts.