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Our struggle in the schools, as it should be in our homes, is against ignorance, the old, ancient, inveterate ignorance with which every generation is born into this world, the ignorance which must be first overcome and then enlightened by effort. It is not an easy task, for we are wrestling, not against flesh and blood, but against the unseen powers of darkness, darkness intellectual and darkness moral. It is then our part in the "immortal conflict," ceaseless and strenuous, "now going on and calling for marvelous vigilance" more loudly than ever.
What is the way to win? This is the question that must be answered rightly if we are to keep faith with our country. There is just one way. It is to make the proved truths of experience the one basis for our efforts and the one test of all theories offered for our acceptance. It is the test of common sense. It is also the one scientific test, for science, as Huxley put it, is nothing else than “highly trained common sense” applied to scientific questions. Let us try by this test some of the plausible assertions which are being made.
1. One is that there should be no "formal discipline” in studies. If this means that there should be no strict and regular training of the human mind, as the words naturally imply, the test is easily made. If it means something else, we have no need to consider it. All we need to do is to remember the record of facts. This record tells us that in the world's contests the undisciplined mind has generally been beaten. It has been one of the outstanding lessons of the war, notably so in the defense of Verdun.
2. Another assertion is that no student should be required to take any study which is not "interesting” to him, because if he does not like it he will get little good from it. It is hard to take this seriously. What in the world is to be done, on this basis, with those who find all studies and especially all study uninteresting? This beguiling half-truth breaks on the hard rock of facts. Duty is not always “interesting,” but it is always duty. Life is not a series of pleasant elective choices, but it has in it the element of stern compulsion, and most of all
When Duty whispers low, "Thou must."
And it is another fact, not fancy, that obedience to duty, however hard and distasteful at first, yields a most "interesting" joy of human life, the joy of the hard-won fight, and leads to the highest freedom, the freedom of assured self-conquest. Is there anything our country needs more?
3. Some are telling us that vocational and technical education is the one thing needful, because everyone should be taught to earn his living. So he should. And nine-tenths of our youths must begin to earn their living early. We grant it. But this utilitarian proposal errs in forgetting some hard facts. This view overlooks the fact that they are more than animate tools. They are human beings, with minds and hearts as well as hands. If in our just desire to prepare them for making their living we also unjustly fail to prepare them by good general schooling to make their lives better worth living, we shall create a huge proletariat of discontent to curse us, a grave menace to themselves and to the safety of our democracy.
4. One more theory needs notice. It is that we are an independent nation living in the twentieth century and should therefore have a purely American national education without reference to the past. I know no loyal American who wants anything else than that our national history shall be well studied by every boy and girl in the land, and that English shall be the only language used in our elementary schools. Is this all there is in the proposal ? Then we can all accept it with enthusiasm. But it needs definition. For we have the right to ask whether it is meant that all elementary studies are to be exclusively national. Is geography to be confined to the geography of our land ? How about arithmetic? Is there an American multiplication table? And what of "nature-study"? Are only American animals to be notist? Here is where the theory begins to crack. Our own language and history for the sake of our national unity? Yes, in plenty, and then also the elements of universal knowledge-as much as we can get. We must not forget that an exclusively American culture must tend either to absorb other systems by incorporation or domination, or, failing in that, to impair the vital unity of our international civilized freedom.
IV It is great to be a true American; it is greater to be a true man or woman here or anywhere. “That all men everywhere may be free" was Lincoln's prayer. Can we not lay aside all prejudice and then read our lesson in the fiery light around us? That lesson is that no freedom is won or held without struggle and without self-denial. That lesson is that mental and moral freedom is not won or held by any human being in any land without wholeminded training in the fundamentals of knowledge, be they pleasant or unpleasant at first, whole-souled obedience to duty, "interesting" or uninteresting, and whole-hearted devotion to the truth won and held by hard effort, not for money, place, or power, but for the sake of living decently in a decent world, made fit to be free.
In our education, as in the war, the “immortal conflict” is now on. In both the sa se is working. And in both may God defend the right!
AN INTERPRETATION OF LIFE IN TERMS OF BEAUTY AND
OF COLOR IN TERMS OF MUSIC
MAUD M. MILES, ART DEPARTMENT, MANUAL TRAINING HIGH SCHOOL,
KANSAS CITY, MO.
Perhaps in the present war civilization is bursting her chrysalis and the world is but suffering the birth pangs of the coming of a newer and higher interpretation of life, as a journey toward an ideal, physical, mental, and moral.
It is my belief that every man attains his real ambition. I do not mean that he always reaches the goal toward which he professes to aspire, but in his innermost soul he has hopes and ideals that form his character and mold his destiny. If teachers could but recognize the fact that every child is building for himself an ideal that will actually shape his destiny, they would strive, first of all, to develop in the mind of that child a worthy plan for his life.
The child should also be trained so that he will be able to give concrete expression to his thoughts and emotions. Self-expression can be accomplisht only thru the control of material. The study of art is a most valuable means to such an end. I believe that there are many people who would have been better men or women if they had learned the language, art, or trade that was the most natural means of expression for them.
All forms of idealization, physical, moral, and mental, are developt by the education received thru the senses. To develop highly the senses of seeing and hearing is to advance all the education that is subsequently received. Therefore, before any theory of art or music is taught, the sense perception should be developt. And no teaching of theory should ever be nearly equal to the development of the art and musical senses.
Music is so generally understood that I need not dwell upon the value of teaching it. Art is not so well understood nor so well taught, because it has not been put upon a dependable scientific basis. I do not mean that beauty can be proved by science, but I do mean that the study of art is furthered by a general knowledge of the scientific beginnings. All arts are one. All science is a unit. Both science and art are but parts of the totality of human understanding. The pursuit of this understanding we call education.
The music student should know a little about the nature of sound. The art student should know something of the nature of light and color, of perspective, and the theory of design. A small amount of dependable theory makes the study of art strengthen the mind and inspire the soul. Rightly taught, art is the study that does the most to develop the powers of the child into a living force. The art teacher should approach the child with the feeling that he already may have a sense of beauty and a richness of imagination, fresher and in some cases finer than her own.
Art is not taught sufficiently in relation to everyday life. A woman's club which I recently addrest in a clubroom with dirty and poorly arranged walls was studying mural decoration in Italy. The walls of the room in which they met should have been of more importance to them than European walls, which few of them had ever seen or would ever see.
The design classes in the public schools spend weary hours on the study of intricate geometrical contortion, when the time would be better spent in making them see the practical value of good spacing and the need of restraint in the decoration of the things that surround them. Our homes and our cities are often hideous in form and color. This can only be remedied by art education.
Our greatest need of reform lies in the teaching of color. Color work, in school, was sometimes good, as long as teachers depended for guidance on the natural sense of color. This sense was more or less limited, so the educational world was forst to seek a standard method of teaching color. Attempts were made to make color scientific, and the practical results were color that was the worst the world has ever known. The movement was, however, in the right direction.
Light vibrations are too rapid to be measured with sufficient accuracy to invent a theory of scientific color independent of some system of vibration that is easier to compute. The most scientific and educationally valuable of these theories were those that sought to standardize color according to its relation to music. There is actually a physical relationship between light and sound, and it is upon this that the many so-called parallels between color and music are based. Practically all such parallels place red on middle C and divide the one octave of light into six fundamental colors.
For three years I have been teaching color in relation to music and have developt a music-color parallel of my own that seems to have solved the problem. I believe that I am the first music-colorist in America who does not attempt to fit the six equal divisions of light, which we call color, to the seven unequal divisions of the diatonic musical scales. I divide the usual six colors into twelve semitones of color. These twelve equal divisions of the color octave exactly fit the twelve semitones of the chromatic musical scale. This makes the diatonic scales derived from my parallel show a half-tone between E and F and between B and C. It is probably the first music-color parallel in America that exactly fits the one octave of light to one octave of music and so is the first so-called parallel that is really parallel, as far as such a thing is possible. My theory leads past the violent spectral colors to the everyday color that we see in all nature about us. For color, as we use it, is not direct light. Even in the spectrum no other color is as light as yellow and no other as dark as violet. In all there are seven degrees of dark and light in the one octave of light when it is divided into twelve Semitones of color. As an experiment, I thought I would try to see how each color would look if represented in each of the seven tone values. I found that I had a range of color equivalent to the piano keyboard. With color parallel to the notes of the piano, one has only to apply the laws of musical harmony to the color equivalent of musical notes to produce color harmony.
Comparing twenty or more paintings of the Madonna by old masters, I found the color schemes of most to be red, yellow, and blue-green--the do, mi, and sol of the key of C. The early Assyrians, ignorant of the laws of vibration, had a pipe that played C, E, and G. The works of the old music masters prove very significant in color, when translated into color according to my parallel.
A standard color theory would be useful commercially, as well as educationally. The country needs color names that have a definite meaning. Colors come in keys as do music notes. The housewife could enter a store and purchase furnishings that would exactly suit some room if she knew in what color key that room was decorated.
I find color taught in relation to music the easiest color theory to teach. The pupil enjoys it because he finds this theory directly related to another theory of which he already knows something. He likes it also because he finds it dependable, in that it brings good color results. It relates the study of art to music, and it relates both of these arts to science. One of the greatest needs of modern education is the elimination of unnecessary and unrelated theories and facts.
Public-school art has suffered from the fact that full credit is not given for it. This lowers it in the mind of the pupil. We have discouraged the pupils who wisht to specialize in art. We have told them to be more practical. We must concede that we have a real and practical need of more art understanding in America. The training of a child's mind to a contemplation of the beauty that surrounds or might be made to surround him is a good way to prevent him from forming an ambition that is selfish or sordid.
It seems cruel to talk of art when the world is bleeding and in tears. But the only artist who ever succeeded to any exalted measure was the one . who had suffered. It is a world that has known a recent and terrible agony that will find its balance by turning again to a higher ideal for the interpretation of life.
Our threadbare theories, our inane conventionalities, our mediaeval smugness, are all rudely cast aside, and we stand naked in soul before the God who made us. Shall we try to develop the finer senses, the choicest gifts he has given us ? For ourselves it may be impossible to redeem our lost heritage. But we should permit the children to develop and should help them as best we can in our weak way. They should enjoy art and music to the fullest extent. If we could only learn to see as a child sees, to keep the fresh vision of youth; if we could feel his frankness of purpose and keep his freshness of mind, we should regain much of the power we have lost to interpret life in terms of beauty.