The Vitalized School eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 208 pages of information about The Vitalized School.

5.  To what extent must individual differences be recognized by the teacher in the recitation? in discipline?

6.  Suggest means whereby pupils may be induced to spend their evenings with Dickens, Eliot, Macaulay, or Irving in preference to the “movies.”

CHAPTER VII

DEMOCRACY

=A conflict.=—­There was a fight on a railway train—­a terrific fight.  The conductor and two other Americans were battling against ten or more foreigners.  These foreigners had come aboard the train at a mining town en route to the city for a holiday.  The train had hardly got under way, after the stop, when the fight was on.  The battle raged back and forth from one car to the other across the platform amid the shouts and cursing of men and the screams of women.  Bloody faces attested the intensity of the conflict.  One foreigner was knocked from the train, but no account was taken of him.  The train sped on and the fight continued.  Nor did its violence abate until the train reached the next station, where the conductor summoned reenforcements and invoked the majesty of the law in the form of an officer.  The affray, from first to last, was most depressing and gave to the unwilling witness a feeling that civilization is something of a misnomer and that men are inherently ferocious.

=Misconceptions.=—­More mature reflection, however, served to modify this judgment, and the application of some philosophy resolved the distressing combat into a relatively simple proposition.  The conductor and his assistants were fighting for their conception of order, and their opponents were fighting for their conception of manhood.  Reduced to its primal elements, the fight was the result of a dual misconception.  The conductor was battling to vindicate his conception of order; the foreigners were battling to vindicate their conception of the rights of men in a democracy.  Neither party to the contest understood the other, and each one felt himself to be on the defensive.  Neither one would have confessed himself the aggressor, and yet each one was invading the supposed rights of the other.  Judicial consideration could readily have averted the whole distressing affair.

=Foreign concept of democracy.=—­The foreigners had come to our country with roseate dreams of democracy.  To their conception, this is the land where every man is the equal of every other man; where equal rights and privileges are vouchsafed to all men without regard to nationality, position, or possessions; where there is no faintest hint of the caste system; and where there are no possible lines of demarcation.  Their disillusionment on that train was swift and severe, and the observer could not but wonder what was their conception of a democracy as they walked about the streets of the city or gave attention to their bruised faces.  Their dreams of freedom and equal rights must have seemed a mockery.  They must have felt that they had been lured into a trap by some agency of cruelty and injustice.  After such an experience they must have been unspeakably homesick for their native land.

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The Vitalized School from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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