Read PART I: LESSON XXI of Parent and Child Vol. III.‚ Child Study and Training, free online book, by Mosiah Hall, on ReadCentral.com.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. State the nature of the school.

2. How did the ideal of universal education arise?

3. State the chief function of the school.

4. Name the habits and ideals peculiar to the school.

5. What is the secondary purpose of the school?

6. Contrast the efficiency of the home and the school.

7. What high compliment may be paid to teachers?

8. Is the comparison made between the home and the school overdrawn?

9. Compare the practical school of to-day with the school of the past.

10. Do you favor uniform dress for high school girls?

11. What is your opinion of modern style which so many mothers foster?

12. Have you any boys taking industrial work in school?

13. Prove that high school education pays.

14. What is the duty of a nation towards its great middle class?

15. Do you believe in a national system of industrial and vocational schools?

16. Why are experts needed particularly in a democracy?

THE DUTY OF THE STATE

The Social and Civic Institutions of the State (Society) Exert a Powerful Influence over the Lives of Children. The Citizen Must See to It that this Great Educative Influence of His Community Is Uplifting in Nature

The vital relationship existing between parent and child is easy to understand, but the close interdependence of the individual and the state is much more difficult to comprehend. Yet in a very real sense the individual and the state are reciprocally related. But just as the body is more than an aggregate of all of its cells, so is society (the state) something more than the sum total of its individual units. That a group of people, or even one individual, may exert an influence over the thoughts and actions of others is a reality of profound significance; that there is a social conscience as well as an individual conscience is a fact that cannot be refuted, and the part played by custom and tradition in shaping the history of the world can hardly be estimated.

In view of the close relationship between the individual and society, it is passing strange that while the individual is expected to possess a high standard of character, society itself may indulge in all sorts of questionable practices without so much as a challenge. Many a person winks at the frivolity and immorality of society, while at the same time he expects the most circumspect behavior on the part of his neighbor. The existence of these two standards which ought to coincide but which in reality are far apart is responsible for many failures in the training of children.

As soon as the infant begins to observe and imitate the actions of members of the household, its social training begins; play with the neighbor’s child extends the process, and the social group or “gang” with which the child associated, impresses permanently its thought and action. Frequently, too, the chum or companion chosen by the child has more real influence over its life than has the combined instruction of parents and teacher. As already shown, the school is a social institution and the same is largely true of the Sunday School. The example of adults also makes a profound impression upon the conduct of children. The home and the school may teach convincingly the injurious effects of tobacco and alcohol, but so long as society sanctions the sale of these poisons and respected adults indulge in them, just so long will the efforts of home and school, be, to a large extent, counteracted. The same is true with respect to any other virtue or excellence, the home, school, and church may unite in emphasizing the most wholesome discipline, but so long as society is a living, seething contradiction of this teaching, the instruction will fall upon deaf ears and be but as “sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.”

The fact is that our nation is yet too young to be fully conscious of its opportunities and responsibilities. A democratic form of government from its very nature must develop slowly towards its ideals. It must expect at first to be much less certain and efficient in its action than is a highly centralized government. This inability on the part of popular government to attain its ideals is reflected also in its subordinate civic units; neither state nor city governments have yet solved the problem of efficient and economical administration, although it is a pleasure to note that some cities are making real progress in this direction. In many communities, however, the weakness of decentralized government is most apparent. This is particularly true in many towns; here is seen too frequently a lack of civic pride, inefficient officers and failure to enforce the law.

The humiliating fact obtains that frequently a few lawless individuals often not more than from 3 to 5 per cent of the population, are permitted to set the moral pace, while the 95 per cent, of law-abiding citizens are either asleep to their duties or else fail to see that the remedy is in their own hands. In many instances a few persons are allowed to undermine the morals of the community. In one town of our state a single individual was permitted for 25 years to corrupt the morals of many young men of the community through illegal traffic in liquor.

Parents should realize that next to heredity the social factors in a community are likely to be the chief influence at work moulding and shaping the lives of their children, and in the long run they must not expect the average child to be better than the community in which he lives.

But the remedy for inefficient, free government is not far to seek; universal education will solve the problem provided it includes, as it should, instruction and training in civic and social duties. There is no need to argue the superiority of democratic government over that of all other forms; the freedom which we possess is worth all the suffering and bloodshed of all the patriots that have ever lived. But nothing will run itself; perpetual motion is a myth, and even a small town to be well governed, must receive conscious, expert attention.

Unquestionably, a free government is the most complex and difficult of all forms of government to administer, but the problem can be solved, and the secret of success will be found in the individual himself. He must become educated to realize his full duties and responsibilities as a free citizen, in other words, he must become socialized. He must get over the notion that the school is the only educational agency and must understand that every influence that modifies conduct is educative in nature. Especially must he learn that the community itself is the chief civic and social educator of children, and as such it should be consciously organized to perform well this responsibility.

Already communities are awakening to the need of perfect sanitary and hygienic conditions, and clean town contests are the order of the day; this is one of the most hopeful signs of better times, but there ought to be a moral and mental awakening and contests for civic righteousness should be inaugurated. Any community that can say: “In this town no influence is permitted that could in any way corrupt the morals or ideals of children,” should receive the highest award in the gift of the people and its praises should be commemorated in song and story.

In ancient Greece every citizen regarded himself as a parent or guardian of every child, and if any youth was seen in public to violate any of the customs or ideals of the nation, it was the duty of the citizen to chastise the boy and to otherwise instruct him in the duties of citizenship. At the same time the citizen was careful himself to set an example worthy of emulation. The result was the most perfect and harmonious education that the world has ever seen at once the inspiration and the despair of all succeeding civilizations. Why should we not adopt some of the Grecian methods suited to our needs? In Greece no citizen would think of doing in public, or permitting to be done, anything which was not desirable for the child to do either in public or private. Why should any man who walks upright, with his head pointing to the stars, be permitted to profane the name of Deity, to stagger under the influence of liquor, to puff at a cigar, to gamble, to run a disorderly resort or show, to enrich himself through the manufacture and sale of poisons, or to do anything else that corrupts the community and destroys her children? Surely in our feeble attempts at free government, the right hand knows not what the left is doing.

But the remedy, as I have said, is in the hands of the citizens. While it is true that certain reforms to be most effective must be national rather than local, such, for example, as prohibiting the manufacture and sale of poisonous drugs, tobacco and alcohol, it is, nevertheless, evident that the initiative must be taken by the individual. His first duty is to convert himself and then his neighbors before any nation-wide reform can be undertaken.

It is one of the chief glories of a democracy that any desired good may be obtained through conversion and co-operation. But since in most communities 90 per cent, or more of the citizens are law-abiding and would not consciously do anything to destroy the children of the commonwealth, it ought to be a simple matter to restrain the few that are lawless and unsocial. There can be no possible doubt that any community that is fully alive to its needs and responsibilities can bring about just such civic and social conditions as it may desire. To help accomplish these purposes, it is necessary that efficient officers are elected who will enforce the laws and that public sentiment be aroused in support of these officials; in some communities sympathy for law-breakers is so easily awakened that justice cannot be enforced and law and order are placed in contempt.

The citizen in a democracy should realize that his training and education are never completed, that life itself is the great school-master and that one of the chief pleasures of existence is continued study and investigation. His occupation, no matter what it is, will offer him some opportunity for study and improvement, and a portion of his leisure time ought to be devoted to books and magazines. He may, also, if he desires, take an extension course or correspondence work offered by a higher institution of learning, some of which are making earnest efforts to take the college to the people. Every citizen should at least be identified with some civic, social, or industrial organization in his town, such as a debating and literary club, an agricultural society, or a commercial club. If each community would seek out and utilize the talent within its precinct, it might develop an intellectual and civic consciousness that would rival the spirit of ancient Greece.

An old-time prophet uttered the inspiring thought: “The Glory of God is intelligence,” and the great latter-day Prophet added the supplement: “No man can be saved in ignorance.” It is the duty of the individual, therefore, to be an eternal seeker after knowledge and perfection. In this blessed age when the sun of education shines so brilliantly, none need to slumber under the clouds of ignorance. May the sun shine until under its regenerating influence the home, school, church and state may each awaken to the full measure of its power and so prepare the way for the coming of that mightier Son of Righteousness, who promises to reign for a thousand years over a redeemed world.