Page images

a seat of weakness and an open door of entrance to disease. Growth must precede development.

The teacher should recognize the fact that all parts of the body do not develop with equal rapidity at the same time. During infancy the vegetative vital organs are growing and developing very rapidly. Then the heavy muscles of trunk and legs take their turn. Children romp, run, and tussle like kittens. The use of these heavy muscles stimulates the growth of the vital organs and of a steady and tough nervous system. The sense organs also are maturing rapidly. The child is inquisitive, eager to see and feel and handle everything about it, and wishes to hear everything that is said. The centers of perception in the brain are developing fast.

We can thwart nature for a time by our prejudices and invincible ignorance, but later she will exact the last farthing of a heavy penalty. Almost no child can do logical thinking before it is eleven years old. Very few of us exercise them after that period, except briefly under the spur of pain or necessity. A very little exercise of these nascent, highest powers is all that the child requires. Why compel children to thumb listlessly the leaves of their books and spoil all their future habits of study, not to mention the temper of their teachers, when if three-fourths of their time were spent in the open air they would store up health and vitality of body and mind and a longer and more useful body of knowledge ?

The tenth year of the girl and the eleventh of the boy are years of minimum growth followed by two or three years of rapid increase in height, mainly in the legs, and of slight gain in girths. The child looks lank and as if it had been violently stretcht. The trunk and the vital organs are now too small for the legs and arms. In the boy these proportions change for the better at fourteen and again at sixteen. In the girl the periods of improvement are far less markt and distinct. This is the period of pubertal metamorphosis, hurried and strong in the girl, less noticeable in the boy.

It is a period of very low death-rate but of much physical disorder. Loss of appetite, constipation, headaches, nervousness, anemia, pallor, and general lassitude or weakness are very common. Probably not onehalf of our girls could enter high school with a clean bill of health after a moderately strict physical examination. Now tuberculosis of the lungs, which is responsible for one-third of all deaths between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four, is likely to gain a foothold and intrench itself in her system. Most of these disorders are avoidable and should be greatly decreast or mitigated. A bit of mercy or even a blind side will be a good quality in the teacher, for bright girls of this age are liable to periods of dulness or stupidity, when perfect recitations are not to be expected.

The period after sixteen or seventeen in both boy and girl should be one of vigorous health and overflowing vitality. Care and attention to physical health should not be relaxt during the first year in the high school. During the later years the chief danger seems to lie in late hours and too much social excitement, altho a reasonable amount of social pleasure and training is most desirable. The old Greek motto of due proportion, “Too much of nothing," applies here as everywhere else.

The group games, with their team play, loyalty to their side and leader, and obedience to discipline for the honor of class or school, are an excellent training in civic virtues. The boy is learning to play the game of life. Waterloo was won at Rugby." But all pupils, especially the retiring, unathletic, studious, and conscientious boys—for some boys have a conscience should share in this exercise.

Every period is in a sense prophetic. Childhood stores up for puberty, and puberty prepares for adolescence. Adolescence furnishes the impetus of adult life. The instincts, cravings, and interests of every period furnish the best guide and suggestions as to form, method, and content of training and instruction. Is not this perhaps the soul and essence of the teaching of the Master whom we all delight to honor today? Every suppression of natural and normal instincts and cravings, every failure to satisfy them, leads to arrest of development or to malformation. It is his glory that this thought has become a truism of education, it is so obvious that we can no longer remember or imagine how strange his doctrine sounded when first announst to us.

Industrial and economic training has become an important part of the curriculum of our colleges and high schools, and this is excellent. Every business man recognizes the value of our system and approves it. I have used the word "value." I ask one of my students what determines the value of any object. He answers glibly, “What I can get in exchange for it.” What then is the value of friendship, virtue, honor, loyalty, and of everything which cannot be bought or sold, but which makes life worth living? Are we training our pupils to live or to get a living? Our boys and girls are emphatically intent today on a life which shall include but


far beyond getting a living; and they are quite right. Is our system of education fast becoming frankly materialistic? If so, we would do well to change it at once.

Do you say sadly, Can virtue be taught? Perhaps or probably not. But it can be imparted by that infection which streams from living, dynamic men and women whose touch and laying on of hands admits the pupil to the "apostolic succession of great souls, the only people in the world who see anything as it is and understand it.” This infecting, however, is the life of education, as you know well. Are we training our teachers to live freely and largely, or to devote their best energies to the soul study of some dead and deadening system of soul-destroying pedagogics? Do you prefer in your teachers vitality or docility? They do not always go together.

Church and school are being called upon today to give an account of their stewardship. Men are asking the impossible of religion and the church today; tomorrow they will demand the impossible from the school. If we are growing and living, what was impossible a year or a generation ago is possible today, if we are alive to our opportunities. Changes are rapid and radical. Men are ready to submit to discipline, face hardship, bear burdens, and make more sacrifices as almost never before. They are throwing aside old systems, methods, and habits. They are ready and eager to be led into something higher and better than they have yet attained. Who will lead in this forward march, if not the students 'of childhood and youth?




The deeper and richer our study of this subject becomes, the more we become convinst that the essence of life and the laws of growth are the same in plant, animal, and man. The common elements in all life are so numerous and so convincing that only the ignorant or mentally perverse need fail to see the relation and catch the spirit of the unity of life.

Man begins the journey of life, as do the plants or other animals, with a single cell. By adult life the single cell of the beginning has multiplied to represent more than four hundred billion cells, clustered into groups and differentiated into organisms, each with its special function and work to perform. Any disturbance of a single organ may be sufficient to throw the whole machinery out of gear.

The individual of today represents the accumulated experiences of countless generations. At the bottom of the push for greater and better life is the will to live. Every cell or organism, whether acting alone or in group, manifests this particular individual will to live; when acting in group, it takes on a new function without surrendering the old, i.e., the will to live as a member of the special group. This is the essence of all later development, whether physical or psychical, and probably represents the biological root of individualism and socialism, a dualism in all that cannot be changed without the destruction of life itself.

In this growth and living over the history of the past the individual does so on many different levels. There are three in particular, found in childhood and again repeated in adolescence, to which I desire to call your attention. From birth to the age of twenty, or possibly twenty-five, the individual passes thru two important life-cycles of growth, each containing three distinct stages or levels of growth. The first, from birth to two or possibly three, is the emotional level, when the feelings are dominant. The child is now a dermal animal. The epithelial tissue, which includes not only the covering of the body but also the alimentary canal, the lungs, nervous system, etc., is making its greatest growth, and since it contains all the sensitive end-organs it is easy to see why the feelings are now storing up a rich harvest for future use.

The second, from three to seven or eight, is the volitional level, when will is dominant. The child is now a motor animal. The muscles, especially the large fundamental muscles, are passing thru their most rapid growth and require the exercise that makes of the child a dramatic or doing animal.

The third, from eight to twelve or fourteen, is the intellectual level, when intelligence begins to get control and is dominant. The child is now a discriminating animal. The finer muscles are developing and demanding exercise or use. Skill of movement now takes the place of the awkwardness of former years and lays the foundation of the formal side of education essential in later years.

The second cycle is known as the cycle of adolescence. It repeats in a similar order the same three levels or stages of development. A new birth occurs, the entire physical growth begins anew. The motive is sex hunger, procreation, and parental instincts. Socialism and altruism become necessary concomitants of future existence and tend to increase the individual love of life and interest in nature.

The difference in the rate of development now between the boy and the girl makes it necessary in our scheme to separate them. Hence I shall proceed with the boy in mind. From fourteen to sixteen the dominant growth changes seem to be dermal, affecting the epithelial tissue and producing innumerable new feelings and emotional desires. This is known as the adolescence period par excellence in gathering, testing, trying out, and storing away new experiences, laying the foundation for later versatility and strength.

From sixteen to eighteen (the definiteness of these statements should not indicate that there are not many overlappings) is the second period of most rapid growth of the large fundamental muscles, when the will and the desire to do are again dominant. This is the time for general training and education. The boy now delights in rivalry and frats of strength. If he is not handled right he may leave school before his time to enter the dynamic world where he can do and dare. Woe to the insipid teacher in this stage and the next, if later generations must suffer for the want of a man. Today, as never before, the world needs men, truly educated men; men of clear vision and consecrated will; men who believe in God and love his children; men who will not hesitate nor falter where truth points the way.

From eighteen to twenty or twenty-five is the period of the second rapid development of the finer or accessory muscles. This is the period par excellence for specialization in education, the selecting of a profession or trade and the perfecting of ability and worth in it; for seeing, appreciating, and promulgating the finer things of life.

As the individual passes thru his ontogeny by means of special steps or levels, so he lives over and develops his racial history on definite strata or special levels, three of which must have held his forbears fixt for ages. If we now take a sweeping view of racial history and experience we note that besides the dualism resulting from the interaction of the physical and psychical there is the well-known trinity of the psyche emotion, volition, and intelligence. Now if we consider the larger period of human development, when the feelings and emotions are dominant and body growth is the principal function, I think we can safely say that it covers the first twenty to twenty-five years of life. Barring the stress and strain and the many struggles of altruism that appear, it is the period of selfish individualism, the perfecting of the body, and of being stimulated thru the fundamental feelings and emotions. It is a period of body-building, egoism, and selfpreparation. The chief motive is physical hunger, including the instinct of self-preservation.

From the early twenties to forty-five or fifty the whole purpose and nature of life change. It is now actuated by sex hunger, procreation, parenthood, and the protection and care of the young. As the former life centered in the immediate interest of the individual, the development of a strong body and an energetic mind, the present life centers around the needs and immediate interests of offspring. It is to a degree social and altruistic. In a broad sense it is the volitional period of life par excellence, when man, for the sake of offspring and his immediate group, executes the earlier fundamental functions of the world's work.

From fifty to seventy-five or eighty, as life is now constituted, is another vitally important period to every normal individual. It is the period of intelligence par excellence, when the individual who has lived in harmony with nature's plan is free and ready to render his best service to humanity. The individual who has lived wisely and past normally through the other two stages is now ready to enter efficiently and religiously upon his highest life's work. The fundamental motive now is the hunger for truth, the desire to know the true purpose of life, and the will to render the greatest service to mankind.

One fact of human development I should like to leave with you with such burning clearness that you can never forget it. The book of nature from which I have been sketching is written, thru nervous complexes, impulses, traits, and instincts, indelibly in the soul of every individual. The least stimulation of these latent elements, when nascent and ripe, will set them off. When nature becomes to you a mirror, look in, behold yourself, and see God. Why any man who by controlling his own complexes and working out his own salvation might become great should desire to force his thought and methods of thinking upon another, thus preventing the other from reaching his highest goal, is an enigma hard to understand.

« PreviousContinue »