« PreviousContinue »
Nay, we fear some of the most noble and philanthropic spirits of the age are led astray by this confusion of terms. It is too often announced from the halls of legislation, and the chair of state, and even the platform of the benevolent institution, that ignorance is the great evil with which we have to contend—that knowledge is the grand panacea for human misery. It is too often imagined, that if the low and degraded portion of society could only be instructed in the elements of science, and the principles of art, vice and misery would be banished from among them. But does experience prove this true? Have the most atrocious and persevering criminals been found among the ignorant ? Have the worst men been the weakest ? We believe not; and when we look at Byron and Voltaire, do we not see the most incontrovertible evidence, that knowledge is but an engine of destruction in the hands of the unprincipled, more dangerous as it is more perfect; and that the immediate welfare of society, at least, would rather be promoted by its extinction, than by placing it in improper hands ?
What is Education ?-ANNALS OF EDUCATION,
EDUCATION, therefore, we consider as consisting in the formation of the character; and a good education, in the preparation of man for usefulness and happiness.
It involves the right developement, and cultivation, and direction of all his powers, physical, intellectual, and moral. It implies instruction in all the branches of knowledge which are necessary to useful and efficient action in the sphere of the individual. But it must also include the physical training which is to render the body capable of executing the purposes of the soul; the skill which is requisite in order to apply our knowledge and strength to the
very best advantage ; and, above all, the moral discipline by which the character and direction of our efforts is to be decided. Each of these branches includes an extensive list of particulars ; and the means of education comprise all those circumstances and influences by which the human character is formed and modified.
In this view, education does not begin with the school ; nor does it terminate with the university. It is not confined to the nursery, or the family, or the public institution.
It begins with the first moment of consciousness. Every being, every object, every event forms a part of it. The first lessons are given in the arms of the mother. The parent, by her looks and movements, and the sun by its varying light, are educating the eye. The songs of the birds, and the whistling of the wind, are cultivating the ear, no less truly than the voice of the mother, or the instrument of music. The air and the temperature of the room are fitting the body to enjoy or to suffer.
Every look, and tone, and action of the mother or the nurse, or the visitor, makes an impression, exerts an influence, on the little recipient of ideas. The food which is given him calls forth his appetite, and forms him to habits of temperance or sensuality. The clothing which he wears begins to inspire the taste for simplicity, or the love of finery. In the progress of childhood, the daily and hourly treatment he receives, the conduct he witnesses, and the language he hears, in the family circle, in the company of domestics, in the little society of his schoolfellows and playmates, all exert an influence upon him, no less decided, and often more powerful, than the instructions of the school, or the exhortations of the parent, or the worship of the church; and all, therefore, make an essential part of his education.
As he advances into youth and manhood, the number of the educators who thus surround him, and the variety of influences to which he is exposed, are greatly increased. Society at length begins to act upon him, and he feels the
force of public opinion. The church presents its weekly school of instruction and discipline, which may exert the most efficient and salutary influence; and the state employs its power in directing and restraining, and thus educating, the man, by means of laws and institutions, whose operation terminates only in the grave.
But does education terminate here? Nature-reason -cast no light upon the “valley of the shadow of death." But revelation points us to a higher world, and enables us to discern, through the cloud which rests upon the
grave, that state, in which those who have improved the privileges already enjoyed on earth, shall be allowed higher and nobler means of advancement.
There the immediate perception of all that is excellent and glorious in the Creator, and in the most exalted of the rational creation, shall take the place of imperfect descriptions. There, that knowledge, which is here the result of painful study, will be seen as intuitively as the visible objects which now surround us; and there the mind will no longer have to struggle with those gross defects, that painful weakness of its material organs, which now obscure its perceptions, and arrest and retard its progress, in truth and excellence. But such a state-such progress—it is now incapable even of conceiving; and we can only rejoice in the distant glimmerings of that light whose full glory, like the beams of some of those orbs whose remoteness reduces them to stars, would overpower our minds. Nor can we suppose any termination to this glorious course. period of enlargement in the faculties, the field of vision will be extended. Unlike the mountain traveller, who sees “Alps on Alps arise," but knows that another day will bring him to the summit, where all will be beneath him—we shall only learn at every step, with the more delightful certainty, that the exhibitions of Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Goodness present a field for unending occupation and untiring enjoyment.
Education, then, in its largest sense, is not limited to
time; it is not confined to the narrow boundaries of existence which we can discern. We have said that its first lessons are given in the mother's arms. The family is its primary school ; the series of public institutions is but the academy of this great course. The world itself is the university in which man is to make his final preparation for the employments and pleasures of that future, endless state, in comparison with which the period of our residence on earth is less than the hours of infancy in the life of a century--for that true life of the soul, in which it first begins its free, its independent existence.
The social, the religious, the political institutions of the world, are the principal departments of this great school, which are placed under the control of man. But the Deity himself condescends to assume its direction, to act as the great Educator.
He has provided its library and its means of instruction, and he presents the illustrations of all its most important branches of knowledge.
Uses of Water.—ANONYMOUS.
How common, and yet how beautiful and how pure, is a drop of water! See it, as it issues from the rock to supply the spring and the stream below. See how its meanderings through the plains, and its torrents over the cliffs, add to the richness and the beauty of the landscape. Look into a factory standing by a waterfall, in which every drop is faithful to perform its part, and hear the groaning and rustling of the wheels, the clattering of shuttles, and the buzz of spindles, which, under the direction of their fair attendants, are supplying myriads of fair purchasers with fabrics from the cotton-plant, the sheep, and the silkworm.
Is any one so stupid as not to admire the splendor of the
rainbow, or so ignorant as not to know that it is produced by drops of water, as they break away from the clouds which had confined them, and are making a quick visit to our earth to renew its verdure and increase its animation ? How useful is the gentle dew, in its nightly visits, to allay the scorching heat of a summer's sun! And the autumn's frost, how beautifully it bedecks the trees, the shrubs and the grass ; though it strips them of their summer's verdure, and warns them that they must soon receive the buffetings of the winter's tempest! This is but water, which has given
its transparency for its beautiful whiteness and its elegant crystals. The snow, too—what is that but these same pure drops thrown into crystals by winter's icy hand ? and does not the first summer's sun return them to the same limpid drops ?
The majestic river, and the boundless ocean, what are they? Are they not made of drops of water? How the river steadily pursues its course from the mountain's top, down the declivity, over the cliff, and through the plain, taking with it every thing in its course! mighty ships does the ocean float upon its bosom ! How many fishes sport in its waters! How does it form a lodging-place for the Amazon, the Mississippi, the Danube, the Rhine, the Ganges, the Lena, and the Hoang Ho!
How piercing are these pure, limpid drops! How do they find their way into the depths of the earth, and even the solid rock? How many thousand streams, hidden from our view by mountain masses, are steadily pursuing their courses, deep from the surface which forms our standingplace for a few short days! In the air, too, how it diffuses itself! Where can a particle of air be found which does not contain an atom of water?
How much would a famishing man give for a few of these pure, limpid drops of water! And where do we use it in our daily sustenance ? or rather, where do we not use it?
Which portion of the food that we have taken