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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (May 1, 1877)
A. Fai.sk Idka ok Education.
who hud himself before played with
hearts, and laughed the smiles and wiles
of beauty to scorn, had heen conquered
hy a frnnk, common-sense girl.
(to bo continued.)
A FALSE IDEA OF EDUCATION.
It is held hy some that education con
feists of u symmetrical development of the
mental faculties, produced hy a prescribed
course of study in all the various depart
ments of knowledge. They seem to re.
gard man's intellectual condition as at
first deformed, and to believe that the
mental powers must all be developed in
even proportions, as nearly as possible.
We reject this definition as false, and
based upon partial observation; for, were
it true, education would be an injury to
many persons. It would be a direct war
fare upon a law which God has deeply
impressed upon the Universe that of
variety. It would seek to train up all
persons alike, regardless of their natural
girts. It would endeavor to suppress one
talent where it does exist, and to create
another where such talent is denied.
Could such an end be realized, its an
tagonism to the law of variety in mental
pifts would be apparent even to the super
llcial observer; its practical working is
therefore injurious. A natural gift, which,
if allowed to develop as it ought, will
lead its possessor on to distinction, is
suppressed in a. futile attempt to equalize
the mental po-vers. In this attempt time
is spent upon studies, which, when not
injurious, are at least of questionable ad
vantage. This unnatural attempt at uni
formity, it is said, is necessary, for cduca-
tion must be symmetrical, iu.d it requires
a proper balance!
Now it is not true that any person may be
equally expert in every department of in.
vestigation; such an attainment is impos
sible. Each person lias some leading
natural gift; if he exercise this gift, he
may rise to great distinction, if not to a
distinction beyond all competitors. It is
only when all exercise their individual
specialties that liumun knowledge assumes
its symmetrical appearance.
The attempt to secure this uniformity
is a frequent and glaring fault in our
systems of education. For an illustration
the ordinary college course is suflicicnt.
Too often it Is but another form of the
bed of Procrustes; a rigid line of study in
all the brunches of knowledge, and admit
ting of but few variations to the student,
or none at all. It is usually arranged
very much in accordance with the idea
of uniformity before alluded to. Many
of the honors and benefits gained by the
completion of a college course are denied
to the student, unless he conform to the
requiremonts, take the "regular course,"
and, in so doing, study much that Is often
repulsive to him, if not lucking in actual
The law of variety prevails among stu
dents, as among all others. One class .f
them, it is true, have the facultiis some
what evenly distributed, and llnd no very
special objection to the course of study.
But otners, while proficient in one branch,
show a decided repugnance to another.
To them, taking a college course is s,imi.
lar to dining at a Chinese table and being
compelled to partake of all the viands
thereon, the character of which it is pre
sumed the reader is aware.
The advocates of uniformity tell us
that the study of mathematics is necessa.
ry to secure a proper balance of the mind.
So the student is obliged, whether profi
cient in mathematics or not, to delve in
the intricacies of algebra, geometry and
physics. If not proriVient, yet he may, by
dint of great labor and expenditure of
time, attain to n fair understanding of
them, but the benefits are seldom in pro
portion to the attention bestowed. If he
cannot well master them, his labor is a
positive injury to himself. Many cmU
nent men have received no disciplinary
benefit from the study of mathematics;
some have even gone so far as to question
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