Details on the development of the learning process and on various institutions of learning
I. IN GENERAL
In the broadest sense, education includes all those experiences by which intelligence is developed, knowledge acquired, and character formed. In a narrower sense, it is the work done by certain agencies and institutions, the home and the school, for the express purpose of training immature minds. The child is born with latent capacities which must be developed so as to fit him for the activities and duties of life. The meaning of life, therefore, of its purposes and values as understood by the educator, primarily determines the nature of his work. Education aims at an ideal, and this in turn depends on the view that is taken of man and his destiny, of his relations to God, to his fellowmen, and to the physical world. The content of education is furnished by the previous acquisition of mankind in literature, art, and science, in moral, social, and religious principles. The inheritance, however, contains elements that differ greatly in value, both as mental possessions and as means of culture; hence a selection is necessary, and this must be guided largely by the educational ideal. It will also be influenced by the consideration of the educative process. Teaching must be adapted to the needs of the developing mind, and the endeavor to make the adaptation more thorough results in theories and methods which are, or should be, based on the findings of biology, physiology, and psychology.
The work of education begins normally in the home; but it is, for obvious reasons, continued in institutions where other teachers stand in place of the parents. To secure efficiency it is necessary that each school be properly organized, that the teachers be qualified, and that the subjects of instruction be wisely chosen. Since the school, moreover, is so largely responsible for the intellectual and moral formation of those who will later, as members of society, be useful or harmful, there is evidently needed some higher direction than that of the individual teacher, in order that the purpose of education may be realized. Both the Church and the State, therefore, have interests to safeguard; each in its own sphere must exercise its authority, if education is to strive for the true ideal through the best content and by the soundest methods. It is thus obvious that education at any given time expresses the dominant ideas in philosophy, religion, and science, while, in its practical control, the existing relations between the temporal power and the spiritual assume concrete form. As, moreover, these ideas and relations have varied considerably in the course of time, it is quite intelligible that a solution of the central educational problems should be sought in history; and it is further beyond question that historical study, in this as in other departments, has a manifold utility. But a mere recital of facts is of little avail unless certain fundamental principles be kept in view, and unless the fact of Christian revelation be given its due importance. It is needful, then, to distinguish the constant elements in education from those that are variable; the former including man’s nature, destiny, and relations to God, the latter all those changes in theory, practice, and organization which affect the actual conduct of educational work. It is with the first aspect of the subject that the present article is mainly concerned; and from this standpoint education may be defined as that form of social activity whereby, under the direction of mature minds and by the use of adequate means, the physical, intellectual, and moral powers of the immature human being are so developed as to prepare him for the accomplishment of his life-work here and for the attainment of his eternal destiny. Neither this nor any other definition was formulated from the beginning. In primitive times the helplessness and needs of the child were so obvious that his elders by a natural impulse gave him a training in the rude arts that enabled him to procure the necessaries of life, while they taught him to propitiate the hidden powers in each object of nature, and handed on to him the tribal customs and traditions. But of education properly so called the savage knows nothing, and much less does he busy himself with theory or plan. Even civilized peoples carry on the work of education for a long time before they begin to reflect upon its meaning, and such reflection is guided by philosophical speculation and by established social, religious, and political institutions. Often, too, their theorizing is the work of exceptional minds, and presents a higher ideal than might be inferred from their educational practice. Nevertheless, an account of what was done by the principal peoples of antiquity will prove useful by bringing out the profound modification which Christianity wrought.
II. ORIENTAL EDUCATION
The invention of writing was of the utmost importance for the development of language and the keeping of records. The earliest texts, chiefly of a religious nature, became the sources of knowledge and the means of education. Such were in China the writings of Confucius, in India the Vedas, in Egypt the Book of the Dead, in Persia the Avesta. The main purpose in having these books studied by youth was to secure uniformity of thought and custom, and unvarying conformity with the past. In this respect Chinese education is typical. The sacred writings contained minute prescriptions for conduct in every circumstance and station of life. These the pupil was obliged to memorize in a purely mechanical fashion; whether he understood the words as he repeated them was quite indifferent. He simply stored his memory with a multitude of established forms and phrases, which subsequently he employed in the preparation of essays and in passing the governmental examinations. That he should learn to think for himself was of course out of the question. With such a training, the development of free personality was impossible. In China, the family, with its sacred traditions and its ancestor-worship, was dominant; in Persia, education was controlled by the State; in Egypt by the priesthood; in India by the different castes. There was, doubtless, in the Oriental mind a consciousness of personality; but no effort was made to strengthen it and give it value. On the contrary, the Hindu philosophy, which regarded knowledge as the means of redemption from the miseries of life, placed that redemption itself in nirvana, the extinction of the individual through absorption into the being of the world. The position of woman was, in general, a degraded one. Though the early training of the child devolved upon the mother, her responsibility brought with it no dignity. But little provision was made for the education of girls; their only vocation was to marry, bear children, and render service to the head of the family.
In view of these facts, it cannot be said that education as the Western world conceives it owes any great debt to the East. It is true that some of the sciences, as mathematics, astronomy, and chronology, and some of the arts, as sculpture and architecture, were carried to a certain degree of perfection; but the very success of Oriental ability and skill in these lines only emphasizes by contrast the deficiencies of Oriental education. Even in the sphere of morality the same antagonism appears between precept and practice. It cannot and need not be denied that many of the sayings, e.g. of Confucius, evince a high ideal of virtue, while some of the Hindu proverbs, such as those of the “Pantschatantra”, are full of practical wisdom. Yet these facts only make it more difficult to answer the question: Why was the actual living of these people so far removed from the formally accepted standards of virtue? Nevertheless, Oriental education has a peculiar significance; it shows quite plainly the consequences of sacrificing the individual to the interests of human institutions, and of reducing education to a machine-like process, the aim of which is to mould all minds upon one unchanging pattern; and it further shows how little can be accomplished for real education by despotic authority, which demands, and is satisfied with, an outward observance of custom and law. (See Davidson, “A History of Education”, New York, 1901.)
III. THE GREEKS
If the education of the Oriental peoples was stationary, that of the Greeks exhibits a progressive development which passes from one extreme to another through a variety of movements and reactions, of ideals and practice. What remains constant throughout is the idea that the purpose of education is to train youth for citizenship. This, however, was conceived, and its realization attempted, in different ways by the several City-States. In Sparta, the child, according to the Code of Lycurgus, was the property of the State. From his seventh year onward he received a public training whose one object was to make him a soldier, by developing physical strength, courage, self-control, and obedience to law. It was a hard training in gymnastic exercises, with little attention to the intellectual side and less to the aesthetic; even music and dancing took on a military character. Girls were subjected to the same severe discipline, not so much to emphasize the equality of the sexes as to train the sturdy mothers of a warrior race.
The ideal of Athenian education was the completely developed man. Beauty of mind and body, the cultivation of every inborn faculty and energy, harmony between thought and life, decorum, temperance, and regularity—such were the results aimed at in the home and in the school, in social intercourse, and in civic relations. “We are lovers of the beautiful”, said Pericles, “yet simple in our tastes, and we cultivate the mind without loss of manliness” (Thucydides, II, 40). The means of culture were music and gymnastics, the former including history, poetry, the drama, oratory, and science, along with music in the narrower sense; while the latter comprised games, athletic exercises, and the training for military duty. That music was no mere “accomplishment” and that gymnastics had a higher aim than bodily strength or skill is evident from what Plato tells us in the “Protagoras”. The Greeks indeed laid stress on courage, temperance, and obedience to law; and if their theoretical disquisitions could be taken as fair accounts of their actual practice, it would be difficult to find, among the products of human thinking, a more exalted ideal. The essential weakness of their moral education was the failure to provide adequate sanction for the principles they formulated and for the counsels they gave to youth. The practice of religion, whether in public services or in household worship, exerted but little influence upon the formation of character. The Greek deities, after all, were no models for imitation; some of them could scarcely have been objects of reverence, since they were endowed with the weaknesses and passions of men. Religion itself was mechanical and external; it did not touch conscience nor awaken the sense of sin. As to the future life, the Greeks believed in the immortality of the soul; but this belief had little or no practical significance. Thus the motive for virtuous action was found, not in respect for Divine law nor in the hope of eternal reward, but simply in the desire to temper in due proportion the elements of human nature. Virtue is not self-repression for the sake of duty, but, as Plato says, “a kind of health and beauty and good habit of the soul”; while vice is “a disease and deformity and sickness of it”. The just man “will so regulate his own character as to be on good terms with himself, and to set those three principles [reason, passion, and desire] in tune together, as if they were verily three chords of a harmony, a higher, and a lower, and a middle, and whatever may lie between these; and after he has bound all these together and reduced the many elements of his nature to a real unity as a temperate and duly harmonized man, he will then at length proceed to do whatever he may have to do” (Republic, IV, 443). This conception of virtue as a self-balancing was closely bound up with that idea of personal worth which has already been mentioned as the central element in Greek life and education. But the personality referred to was not that of man for the sake of his humanity, nor even that of the Greek for the sake of his nationality; it was the personality of the free citizen, and from citizenship the artisan and the slave were excluded. The mechanical arts were held in bad repute; and Aristotle declares that “they render the body and soul or intellect of free persons unfit for the exercise and practice of virtue” (Politics, V, 1337). A still more serious limitation, affecting not only their concept of human dignity, but their regard for human life as well, consisted in the exposure of children. This was practiced at Sparta by the public authority, which destroyed the child that was unfit for the service of the State; while at Athens the fate of his offspring was committed to the father and might be decided in accordance with purely personal interests. The mother’s position was not much better than it had been in the Orient. Women were generally regarded as inferior beings, “impotent for good, but clever contrivers of all evil” (Euripides, Medea, 406). At best she was a means to an end, the bearing of children and the care of the household; her education consequently was of the scantiest sort. The only exceptions were the hetoeroe, i.e. the women who were outside the home circle and who with greater freedom of living combined higher culture than the legitimate wife could hope for. Under such circumstances marriage implied for woman a lowering of personal worth that was in marked contrast with the ideals set up for the education of men.
These ideals, again, underwent a decided change during the fifth century B.C. In one respect at least it was a change for the better; it extended the rights of citizenship. The constitution of Solon was set aside and that of Clisthenes adopted in its stead (509 B.C.). The democratic character of the latter, with the increase in prosperity at home and the widening of foreign relations, afforded new opportunities for individual ability and endeavor. This heightened activity, however, was not put forth in behalf of the common good, but rather for the advancement of personal interests. At the same time morality was deprived of even the outward support it had formerly drawn from religion; philosophy gave way to scepticism; and education, while it became more intellectual, laid emphasis on form rather than on content. The most influential teachers were the Sophists, who supplied the growing demand for instruction in the art of public discussion and offered information on every sort of subject. Developing in practical directions the principle that “man is the measure of all things”, they carried individualism to the extreme of subjectivism alike in the sphere of speculative thought and in that of moral conduct. The purposes of education were correspondingly modified, and new problems arose. Now that the old standards and basis of morality had been rejected, the main question was to replace them by others in which due allowance would be made on the one hand for individuality and on the other for social needs. The answer of Socrates was: “Know thyself” and “Knowledge is virtue”, i.e. a knowledge drawn from personal experience, yet possessing universal validity; and the means prescribed by him for obtaining such knowledge was his maieutics, i.e. the art of giving birth to ideas through the method of question and answer, by which he developed the power of thinking. As an intellectual discipline, this scheme had undoubted value; but it left unsolved the chief problem: how is knowledge, even of the highest kind, to be translated into action? Plato offered a twofold solution. In the “Republic”, setting out from his general theory that the idea alone is real, and that the good of each thing consists in harmony with the idea whence it originated, he reaches the conclusion that knowledge consists in the perception of this harmony. The aim of education, therefore, is to develop knowledge of the good. So far, this scheme contains little more promise of practical results than that of Socrates. But Plato adds that society is to be ruled by those who attain to this knowledge, i.e. by the philosophers; the other two classes, soldiers and artisans, are subordinate, yet each individual, being assigned to the class for which his abilities fit him, reaches the highest self-development and contributes his share to the social weal. In the “Laws”, Plato attempts to revise and combine certain elements of the Spartan and of the Athenian system; but this reactionary scheme met with no success.
This problem, finally, was taken up by Aristotle in the “Ethics” and the “Politics”. As in his philosophy, so in his educational theory, he departs from Plato’s teaching. The goal for the individual as well as for society is happiness: “What we have to aim at is the happiness of each citizen, and happiness consists in a complete activity and practice of virtue” (Politics, IV). More precisely, happiness is “the conscious activity of the highest part of man according to the law of his own excellence, not unaccompanied by adequate, external conditions”. Merely to know the good does not constitute virtue; this knowledge must issue in practice, the goodness of the intellect (knowledge of universal truth) must be combined with goodness of action. The three things which make men good and virtuous—nature, habit, and reason—”must be in harmony with one another (for they do not always agree); men do many things against habit and nature, if reason persuades them that they ought. We have already determined what natures are likely to be most easily moulded by the hands of the legislator. All else is the work of education; we learn some things by habit and some by instruction” (Politics, Bk. VII). Education, however, must always be adapted to the peculiar character of the State: “The citizen should be moulded to suit the form of government under which he lives” (ibid., VIII). And again, “It is right that the citizens should possess a capacity for affairs and for war, but still more for the enjoyment of peace or leisure; right that they should be capable of such actions as are indispensable and salutary, but still more of such as are moral per se. It is with a view to these objects, then, that they should be educated while they are still children, and at all other ages, till they pass beyond the need of education” (ibid., IV). “Neither must we suppose that any one of the citizens belongs to himself, for they all belong to the State, and are each of them a part of the State, and the care of each part is inseparable from the care of the whole” (ibid., VIII).
In the theories of Plato and Aristotle are found the highest reaches of Hellenic thought regarding the purpose and nature of education. Each of these great thinkers established schools of philosophy, and each has profoundly affected the thought of all subsequent time, yet neither succeeded in providing an education sound and permanent enough to avert the moral and political downfall of the nation. The diffusion of Greek thought and culture throughout the world by conquest and colonization was no remedy for the evils which sprang from an exaggerated individualism. Once the idea was accepted that each man is his own standard of conduct, neither brilliancy of literary production nor fineness of philosophic speculation could prevent the decay of patriotism, and of a virtue which had never looked higher than the State for its sanction. Aristotle himself, at the close of his “Ethics“, points out the radical difficulty: “Now if arguments and theories were able by themselves to make people good, they would, in the words of Theognis, be entitled to receive high and great rewards, and it is with theories that we should have to provide ourselves. But the truth apparently is that, though they are strong enough to encourage and stimulate young men of liberal minds, though they are able to inspire with goodness a character that is naturally noble and sincerely loves the beautiful, they are incapable of converting the mass of men to goodness and beauty of character. No such “conversion” was aimed at by the Sophists. Appealing to the natural tendencies of the individual, they developed a spirit of selfishness which in turn broke out in discord, thus opening the way for the conquest of Greece by Roman arms.
IV. THE ROMANS
In striking contrast with the Greek character, that of the Romans was practical, utilitarian, grave, austere. Their religion was serious, and it permeated their whole life, hallowing all its relations. The family, especially, was far more sacred than in Sparta or Athens, and the position of woman as wife and mother more exalted and influential. Still, as with the Greeks, the power of the father over the life of his child—patria potestas—was absolute, and, in the earlier period at least, the exposure of children was a common practice. In fact the Laws of the Twelve Tables provided for the immediate destruction of deformed offspring and gave the father, during the whole life of his children, the right to imprison, sell, or slay them. Subsequently, however, a check was placed on such practices. The ideal at which the Roman aimed was neither harmony nor happiness, but the performance of duty and the maintenance of his rights. Yet this ideal was to be realized through service to the State. Deep as was the family feeling, it was always subordinate to devotion to the public weal. “Parents are dear”, said Cicero, “and children and kindred, but all loves are bound up in the love of our common country” (De Officiis, I, 17). Education therefore was essentially a preparation for civic duty. “The children of the Romans are brought up that they may one day be able to be of service to the fatherland, and one must accordingly instruct them in the customs of the State and in the institutions of their ancestors. The fatherland has produced and brought us up that we may devote to its use the finest capacities of our mind, talent, and understanding. Therefore we must learn those arts whereby we may be of greater service to the State; for that I hold to be the highest wisdom and virtue.”
These words express, at any rate, the spirit of the early Roman education. The home was the only school, and the parents the only teachers. Of scientific and aesthetic training there was little or none. To learn the Laws of the Twelve Tables, to become familiar with the lives of the men who had made Rome great, and to copy the virtues which he saw in his father were the chief endeavor of the boy and youth. Thus the moral element predominated, and virtues of a practical sort were inculcated: first of all pietas, obedience to parents and to the gods; then prudence, fair dealing, courage, reverence, firmness, and earnestness. These qualities were to be developed, not by abstract or philosophical reasoning, but through the imitation of worthy models and, as far as possible, of living concrete examples. Vitoe discimus, “We learn for life”, said Seneca; and this phrase sums up the whole purpose of Roman education. In the course of time, elementary schools (ludi) were opened, but they were conducted by private teachers and were supplementary to the home instruction. About the middle of the third century B.C. foreign influences began to make themselves felt. The works of the Greeks were translated into Latin, Greek teachers were introduced, and schools established in which the educational characteristics of the Greeks reappeared. Under the direction of the literates and the grammaticus education took on a literary character, while in the school of the rhetor the art of oratory was carefully cultivated. The importance which the Romans attached to eloquence is clearly shown by Cicero in his “De Oratore” and by Quintilian in his “Institutes”; to produce the orator became eventually the chief end of education. Quintilian’s work, moreover, is the principal contribution to educational theory produced in Rome. The hellenizing process was a gradual one. The vigorous Roman character yielded but slowly to the intellectualism of the Greeks, and when the latter finally triumphed, far-reaching changes had come about in Roman society, government, and life. Whatever the causes of decline—political, economic, or moral—they could not be stayed by the imported refinement of Greek thought and practice. Nevertheless, pagan education as a whole, with its ideals, successes, and failures, has a profound significance. It was the product of the highest human wisdom, speculative and practical, that the world has known. It pursued in turn the ideals that appeal most strongly to the human mind. It engaged the thought of the greatest philosophers and the action of the wisest legislators. Art, science, and literature were placed at its service, and the mighty influence of the State was exerted in its behalf. In itself, therefore, and in its results, it shows how much and how little human reason can accomplish when it seeks no guidance higher than itself and strives for no purposes other than those which find, or may find, their realization in the present phase of existence.
V. THE JEWS
Among the pre-Christian peoples the Jews occupy a unique position. As the recipients and custodians of Divine revelation, their conceptions of life and morality were far above those of the (gentiles. God manifested Himself to them directly as a Person, a Spirit, and an ethical Being, guiding them by His providence, making known to them His will, and prescribing the minutest details of life and of religious practice. Throughout the Old Testament, God appears as the teacher of His chosen people. He sets before them a standard of righteousness which is none other than Himself: “You shall be holy, because I am holy” (Levit., xi, 46). Through Moses and the Prophets He gives them His Commandments and the promise of a Messiah to come. But He also placed upon them the duty of instructing their children. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart: and thou shalt tell them to thy children, and thou shalt meditate upon them sitting in thy house, and walking on thy journey, sleeping and rising” (Dent., vi, 4-7). In accordance with this injunction, education, at least in the earlier period, was given chiefly in the home. Jewish family life, indeed, far surpassed that of the Gentiles in the purity of its relations, in the position it secured to woman, and in the care which it bestowed on children, who were regarded as a blessing vouchsafed by God and destined for His service by fidelity to the Divine law. An important function of the synagogue also was the instruction of youth, which was committed to the scribes and the doctors. Schools, as such, came into existence only in the later period, and even then the teaching was permeated by religion. Though the Old Testament contains no theory of education in the stricter sense, it abounds in maxims and principles which are all the more weighty because they are inspired by Divine wisdom and because they have a practical bearing upon life. God Himself showed the dignity of the teacher’s office when He declared: “They that are learned shall shine as the brightness of the firmament: and they that instruct many to justice, as stars for all eternity” (Dan., xii, 3). In the light, however, of a more perfect revelation, it is clear that God‘s dealings with Israel had an ultimate purpose which was to be realized “in the fulness of time ‘. Not only the utterances of the Prophets, but many signal events in the history of the Jews and many of their ritual observances were types of the Messiah; as St. Paul says, “All these things happened to them in figure” (I Cor., x, 11), and “The law was our pedagogue in Christ” (Gal., iii, 24). As the Supreme Teacher of mankind, God, while imparting to them the truth which they presently needed, also prepared the way for the greater truths of the Gospel.
VI. CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
As in many other respects, so for the work of education, the advent of Christianity is the most important epoch in the history of mankind. Not only does the Christian conception of life differ radically from the pagan view, not only does the Christian teaching impart a new sort of knowledge and lay down a new principle of action, but Christianity moreover, supplies the effectual means of making its ideals actual and of carrying its precepts into practice. Through all vicissitudes of conflict and adjustment, of changing civilizations and varying opinions, in spite, even of the shortcomings of its own adherents, Christianity has steadfastly held up before men the life and the lessons of its Divine Founder.
A. Jesus Christ as Teacher
“God, who, at sundry times and in diverse manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days hath spoken to us by his Son” (Heb., i, 1-2). This communication through the God–Man was to reveal the true way of living: “The grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men; instructing us, that, denying un-godliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus, ii, 11, 12). Of Himself and His mission Christ declared, “I am come a light into the world; that whosoever believeth in me, may not remain in darkness” (John, xii, 46); and again, “For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth” (John, xviii, 37). The knowledge which He came to impart was no mere intellectual possession or theory: “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly” (John, x, 10). He taught, therefore, as one “having authority”; He insisted that His hearers should believe the truths which He taught, even though these might seem to be “hard sayings”. His doctrines, indeed, made no appeal either to pride of intellect or to selfishness or to passion. For the most part, as in the Sermon on the Mount, they were diametrically opposed to the maxims that had obtained in the pagan world. They were, in the highest sense, supernatural, not only in proposing eternal life as the ultimate goal of man’s existence and action, but also in enjoining the denial of self as the chief requisite for attaining that destiny. Service to the neighbor was insisted upon, but this was to be rendered in the spirit of love, the new commandment which Christ gave (John, xiii, 34). Faithfulness also to civic duty was required, but the sanction which imparted force to such obligations was man’s elevation to a higher citizenship in the Kingdom of God. To strive after this and to realize it in one’s earthly life, so far as possible, was the ideal to which every other good was subordinate; “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt., vi, 33).
Truths of this kind, so far removed from the natural tendencies of human thought and desire, could be imparted only by one who embodied in himself all the qualifications of a perfect teacher. The philosophers no doubt might, and did, formulate beautiful theories regarding knowledge and virtue; but Christ alone could say to His disciples: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John, xiv, 6). And whatever worth they attached in theory to personality was of far less significance than the actual realization of the highest ideal in Christ’s own Person. He could thus rightfully appeal to that imitative tendency which is so deeply rooted in man’s nature and from which so much is expected in modern education. The axiom, also, that we learn by doing, and that knowledge gets its full value only when it issues in action, finds its best exemplification in Christ’s dealings with His disciples. He “began to do and to teach” (Acts, i, 1). In His miracles He gave evidence of His power over all nature and therefore of His authority to require faith in His words: “The works themselves which I do give testimony of me, that the Father hath sent me” (John, v, 36). To His disciples, when they hesitated or were slow to realize that the Father abided in Him, the answer was given: “Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake” (xiv, 12). What He demanded in turn was no ere outward profession of faith or loyalty: “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father” (Matt., vii, 21).
The necessity of manifesting belief through action is constantly pointed out both in the literal teaching of Christ and in His parables. These, again, illustrate His practical wisdom as a teacher. They were drawn from objects and circumstances with which His hearers were familiar. In each instance they were adapted to the manner of thinking suggested by the local surroundings and the customs of the people; and they were often called forth by an incident that seemed unimportant or by a question which was asked now by His followers and again by His tireless enemies. Thus the simplest things of nature—the vine, the lily, the fig-tree, the birds of the air, and the grass of the field—were made to yield lessons of the deepest moral significance. His aim was not to adorn His own discourse, but rather to bring its content into the minds of his hearers more vividly, and to secure for it greater permanence by associating in their thought some supernatural truth with the facts of daily experience. Sensory perception, memory, and imagination were thus developed to form a mental setting for the great truths of the Kingdom. The same principle found its application in the institution of the sacraments whereby natural elements are made the outward signs of inward grace. As St. John Chrysostom aptly says, “Wert thou incorporeal, He would have bestowed on thee incorporeal gifts in their bare reality; but because the soul is bound up with the body, He gives thee intelligible things under sensible forms” (Homilia Ix, ad populum Antioch.). In fact the whole teaching of Christ is the clearest proof of the principle that education must adapt itself in method and practice to the needs of those who are to be taught. In accordance with this principle He prepared the minds of His followers beforehand for the institution of the Holy Eucharist, for His own death, and for the coming of the Holy Ghost (John, vi, xiv, xv); and He even reserved certain truths to be made known by the Paraclete: “I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth” (xvi, 12, 13). Thus the completion of His work as a teacher is left not to human conjecture or speculation, nor to the theories of philosophical schools, but to the Spirit of God Himself. This of course was best realized by those who were nearest to Him; yet even those of the Jews who were not among the Apostles, but were, like Nicodemus, disposed to judge fairly, confessed His superiority: “We know that thou art come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him” (John, iii 2).
B. The Aim of Christian Education
Had Christ’s mission ended when He quitted the earth, He would still have been in word and work the ideal teacher, and would have influenced for all time the education of mankind so far as its ultimate aims and basic principles are concerned. But as a matter of fact, He made ample provision for the perpetuation of His work by training a select body of men who for three years were constantly under His direction and were thoroughly imbued with His spirit. To these Apostles, moreover, He gave the command: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations… and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Matt., xxviii, 19, 20). These words are the charter of the Christian Church as a teaching institution. While they refer directly to the doctrine of salvation, and therefore to the imparting of religious truth, they nevertheless, or rather by the very nature of that truth and its consequences for life, carry with them the obligation of insisting on certain principles and maintaining certain characteristics which have a decisive bearing on all educational problems.
1. The truth of Christianity is to be made known to all men. It is not confined to any one race or nation or class, nor is it to be the exclusive possession of highly gifted minds. This characteristic of universality is in plain contrast with the highest conceptions of the pagan world. The cultured Greek had only contempt for the barbarian, and the Roman looked upon outside nations as subjects to be governed rather than as people to be taught. But at Athens also and at Rome there was the distinction between free citizens and slaves, in consequence of which the latter were excluded from the benefits of education. As against these narrow limitations Christ charged His Apostles to “teach all men”; and St. Paul, in the same spirit, professes himself a debtor to all men, Greeks and barbarians, the wise and the unwise alike. All, in fact, were to be dealt with as children of the same Heavenly Father and heirs of the Kingdom of God. In respect of these supernatural prerogatives, the distinctions which had hitherto prevailed were set aside: Christianity appeared as one vast school with man-kind at large for its disciples.
2. The commission given to the Apostles was not to expire with them; it was to remain in force “all days, even to the consummation of the world”. Perpetuity, therefore, is an essential feature in the educational work of Christianity. The institutions of paganism had indeed flourished and advanced from phase to phase of development, but they did not contain the element of enduring vitality. In the higher departments of learning, as in philosophy, school had followed school into vigor and into decay. And in education itself, one ideal after another had been put forward only to be displaced. Christianity, on the contrary, while it could never become a rigid system, held up to mankind certain unchangeable truths which should serve as criteria for determining the value of every fundamental theory of life and of education. By insisting, especially, that man’s destiny was to be attained, not in any form of temporal service or success, but in union with God, it proposed an ideal which should be valid for all time and amid all the variations of human thought and endeavor. That such changes would inevitably come to pass, Christ, without doubt, foresaw. In view of these, a merely human teacher would have provided for the stability of his work by devices which would, if successful, have attested his foresight, or shrewdness, or knowledge of human nature. But Christ’s guarantee to the Apostles is at once simpler and surer: “Behold I am with you all days”. The task of instructing the world in Christian truth would have been impossible but for this permanent abiding of Christ with His appointed teachers. On the other hand, once the force of His promise is realized, the significance of Christianity as a perpetual institution becomes evident: it means that Christ Himself through a visible agency was to continue for all time the work He began during His earthly life as Teacher of the human race.
3. It has already been pointed out that some of the pagan peoples, and notably the Greeks, had attained a very high conception of personality; and it has also been shown that this conception was by no means perfect. The teaching of Christianity in this respect is so far superior to any other that if a single element could be designated as fundamental in Christian education it would be the emphasis which it lays on the worth of the individual. In the first place, Christianity had its origin, not in any abstract speculation as to goodness or virtue, but in the actual, concrete life of a Person who was absolutely perfect. It was not, then, obliged to cast about for the ideal man, or to present a theory as to what that ideal might possibly be: it could and it did point to a realization which far surpassed the most exalted ideas of human wisdom. In Christ first appeared the full dignity of human nature through its elevation to personal union with the Word of God; and in Him, as never before or since, were manifest those traits which furnish the noblest models for imitation.
Christianity, furthermore, elevated human personality by the value it set upon each human soul as created by God and destined for eternal life. The State is no longer the supreme arbiter, nor is service to the public weal the ultimate standard. These, it is true, within their legitimate sphere have just claims upon the individual. Christianity by no means teaches that such claims can be disregarded or the corresponding duties neglected, but rather that the discharge of all social and civic obligations will be more thorough when subordinated to, and inspired by, fidelity in the duties that man owes to God. While the value of personality is thus enhanced, the sense of responsibility is correspondingly increased; so that the freer development of the person is not allowed to culminate in selfishness nor in that extreme individualism which is a threat to social organization.
4. From these principles Christianity drew consequences which were totally at variance with the thought and practice of paganism. The position of woman was lifted at once to a higher plane; she ceased to be a chattel, or a mere instrument of passion, and became the equal of man, with the same personal worth and the same eternal destiny. Marriage was no longer a union entered into through caprice or convention, but an indissoluble bond involving mutual rights and duties. Moreover, it was raised to the dignity of a sacrament, which not only sanctified the marital relation and its purposes, but also conferred the graces needful for the due fulfilment of its obligations. The whole meaning of the family was thus transformed. Parental authority was indeed maintained, but such an exercise of the patria potestas as the destruction or the exposure of children could not have been tolerated once it was realized that the child’s personality also is sacred, and that parents are responsible not simply to the State, but also to God, for the proper education of their offspring. Christianity, moreover, laid upon the child the duty of respecting and obeying his parents, not out of servile fear or hard necessity, but through a spirit of reverence and filial love. The ties of home-life were thereby strengthened, and the whole work of education took on a new character because it was consecrated in its very source by religion.
5. In respect of its content Christianity opened up to the human mind wide realms of truth which unaided reason could not possibly have attained, and which nevertheless are of far deeper import for life than the most learned speculations of pagan thought. Upon those truths, also, which the philosophers had but vaguely discerned, or about which they had remained in doubt, it shed a new light. There could be no further questioning, for the Christian, as to the existence of a personal God, the reality of His providence, the immortality of the soul, the freedom of the will, and the resulting accountability of man to Divine Justice. Above all, the nature of the moral order was set forth in unmistakable terms. Christianity insisted that morality was not mere outward conformity to custom or law, but the inner rectitude of the will, that aesthetic refinement was of far less consequence than purity of heart, and that love of the neighbor as proven in deeds, not personal gain or advantage, was the true norm of human relationships. That such a conception of life, with its emphasis on really spiritual aims, must lead to the formation of educational ideals unknown to the pagan world, is obvious. But on the other hand it would be wrong to infer that Christianity, in its “otherworldliness”, reduces or neglects the values of the present life. What it consistently maintains is, that life here gets its highest value by serving as a preparation for the life to come. The question is not whether one should live now without any regard to the future or look forward to the future with no concern for the present; but rather how one should profit by the opportunities of this life in such wise as to secure the other. The problem, then, is one of establishing proportions, i.e. of determining values according to the standard of man’s eternal destiny. When education is defined as “preparation for complete living” (Herbert Spencer), the Christian can take no objection to the words as they stand; but he will insist that no living can be “complete” which leaves out of consideration the ultimate purpose of life, and hence that no education really “prepares” which thwarts that purpose or sets it aside. It is just this completeness—in teaching all men, in harmonizing all truths, in elevating all relationships, and in leading the individual soul back to the Creator—that forms the essential characteristic of Christianity as an educational influence.
VII. THE EDUCATIONAL WORK OF THE CHURCH
Next in importance to Christ’s personal teaching was the establishment of a teaching body whose mission was identical with His own: “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you” (John, xx, 21); and “He that heareth you, heareth me” (Luke, x, 16). He was not content with proclaiming once for all the truth of the Gospel, nor did He leave its wider dissemination to individual enthusiasm or initiative; He founded a Church to carry on His work. The spread of His doctrine was entrusted, not to books, nor to schools of philosophy, nor to the governments of the world, but to an organization that spoke in His name and with His authority. No other body of teachers ever undertook so vast a work, and no other ever accomplished so much for education in the highest sense. Apart from the preaching of the Apostles, the earliest form of Christian instruction was that given to the Catechumen (q.v.) in preparation for baptism. Its object was twofold: to impart a knowledge of Christian truth, and to train the candidate in the practice of religion. It was conducted by the bishop and, as the number of catechumens increased, by priests, deacons, and other clerics. Until the third century this mode of instruction was an important adjunct to the Apostolate; but in the fifth and sixth centuries it was gradually replaced by private instruction of the converts, who were then less numerous, and by the training given in other schools to those who had been baptized in infancy. The catechumenal schools, however, gave expression to the spirit which was to animate all subsequent Christian education: they were open to every one who accepted the Faith, and they united religious instruction with moral discipline. The “catechetical” schools, also under the bishop’s supervision, prepared young clerics for the priesthood. The courses of study included philosophy and theology, and naturally took on an apologetic character in defense of Christian truth against the attacks of pagan learning. One of the oldest of these schools was at the Lateran in Rome; the most famous was that of Alexandria (see Christian Doctrine).
In addition to this formal instruction, the Church from the beginning carried on through her worship an educational work embodying the deepest and soundest psychological principles. The ritual at first was of necessity simple; but as the Church was allowed a larger freedom, and her worship passed from the catacomb to the basilica, statelier forms were introduced; yet their essential purpose was the same. The Mass, which has always been the central liturgical function, appeals to the mind through the medium of sense. It combines light and color and sound, the action of the priest, and the dramatic movement that fills the sanctuary, especially in the mote solemn service. Beneath these outward forms lies the inner meaning. The altar itself, in every detail, is full of a symbolism that brings vividly to mind the life and personality of Christ, the work of redemption, and the enduring sacrifice of the Cross. In due proportion, each item of the liturgy conveys a lesson through eye and ear to the highest faculties of the soul. Sense, memory, imagination, and feeling are thus aroused, not simply as aesthetic activities, but as a support of intellect and will which thereupon issue in adoration and thanksgiving for the “mystery of faith”. On the other hand, the liturgy has always included in its purpose the participation of the faithful, and hence it prescribes the response of the people to the prayers at the altar, the chanting of certain portions of the service, bodily postures and movements in keeping with the various phases of the sacred rite. The faithful are not merely bystanders or onlookers; they are not to maintain a passive, receptive attitude, but rather to give active expression to the religious thought and feeling aroused in them. This is especially evident in the sacramental system. While each of the sacraments is a sign to be perceived, it is also a source of grace to be received; and the reception involves in each case a series of actions which manifest the faith and disposition of the recipient. Moreover, each sacrament is adapted to some particular need, and the whole system of sacraments, from baptism to extreme unction, builds up the spiritual life by processes of cleansing, strengthening, nourishing, and healing, which parallel the stages and requirements of organic growth.
In a larger way, also, the liturgical year, as it commemorates the principal events in the life of Christ, brings into Christian worship a variety which affects to some extent both the details of the liturgy itself and the religious feelings which it inspires—from the joy of Christmas to the triumph of Easter and Pentecost. For the due observance of the greater festivals the Church provides, as in Advent and Lent, by seasons of preparation. The Old Law with its types foreshadowed the New; the Baptist announced the Messiah; Christ himself prepared His disciples beforehand for the mystery of the Eucharist, for His death, and for the coming of the Holy Ghost. The Church, following the same practice, arouses in the mind of the faithful those thoughts and feelings which form an apperceptive preparation for the central mysteries of faith and their proper observance at appointed times. Along with these greater solemnities come year by year the commemorations of the Christian heroes, the men and women who have walked in the footsteps of Christ, labored for the spread of His kingdom, or even shed their blood for His sake. These are held up as models to be imitated, as realizations more or less perfect of the sublime ideal which is Christ Himself. And among the saints the foremost place is given to Mary the Mother of Christ, the ideal of Christian womanhood, to whom the Son of God was “subject” in the home at Nazareth. Each festival in her honor is at once an exhortation to copy her virtues and an evidence of the high station to which woman was raised by Christianity. The liturgy, then, is an application on a large scale of those principles which underlie all real teaching—appeal to the senses, association, apperception, expression, and imitation. The Church did not begin by theorizing about these, nor did she wait for a psychological analysis to determine their value. Instructed by her Founder, she simply incorporated in her liturgy those elements which were best fitted to teach men the truth and lead them to act in conformity with the Gospel. It is none the less significant that modern education is adopting for its own purposes, i.e. the teaching of secular subjects, the psychological principles which the Church from the beginning has put into practice.
While the Church, in her interior life and in the execution of her mission, gave proof of her vitality and of her ability to teach mankind, she necessarily came into contact with influences and practices which were the legacy of paganism. In point of religious belief there was, of course, a clean breach between the polytheism of Athens and Rome and the doctrines of Christianity. But philosophy and literature were factors which had to be counted with as well as the educational system, which was still largely under pagan control. Schools had been opened by converts who were imbued with the ideas of Greek philosophy—by Justin at Rome, and Aristides at Athens; while, at Alexandria, Clement and Origen enjoyed the highest repute. These men regarded philosophy as a means of guiding reason to faith, and of defending that faith against the attacks of paganism. Others again, like Tertullian, condemned philosophy outright as something with which the Christian could have nothing to do: In regard to the pagan classics the conflict of opinion was even sharper. Some of the greatest theologians and Fathers, like St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Gregory of Nyssa, had studied the classics under pagan masters and were therefore in favor of sending Christian youths to non-Christian schools on the ground that literary studies would enable them the better to defend their religion. At the same time these Fathers would not permit a Christian to teach in such schools lest he should be obliged to take part in idolatrous practices. Tertullian (de Idololatriae, c. x) insists on the same distinction: the teacher, he says, by reason of his authority, becomes in a way the “catechist of demons”; the pupil, imbued with Christian faith, profits by the letter of classical instruction, but rejects its false doctrine and holds aloof from the superstitious practices which the teacher can hardly avoid. Such a distinction was naturally the source of difficulties and gave rise to much discussion. The situation was not remedied by the edict of Julian the Apostate, forbidding the Christians to teach; though this called forth some protests and suggested the creation of a Christian literature based on classical models of style, nothing decisive resulted. On the other hand, fear of the corrupting influence of pagan literature had more and more alienated Christians from such studies; and it is not surprising to find among the opponents of the classics such men as St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine. Though they had received a thorough classical education, and though they appreciated fully the worth of the pagan authors, their final attitude was adverse to the study of pagan literature. Apart from many controverted points in this subject, it is clear that the Fathers, at a time when the environment of the Church was still pagan, were far more anxious for the purity of faith and morals than for the cultivation of literature. In later ages, as the danger of contamination grew less, classical studies were revived and encouraged by the Church; but their value has more than once been questioned (see Lalanne, Influence des Pères de l’Eglise sur l’éducation publique, Paris, 1850).
Meanwhile the work of education was not neglected. If the Empire gave way before barbarian invasion, the Church found a new field of activity among the vigorous races of the North. To these she brought not only Christianity and civilization, but also the best elements of classical culture. Through her missionaries she became the teacher of Germany and France, of England and Ireland. The task was a difficult one, and its accomplishment was marked by many vicissitudes of temporary failure and hard-won success. At times, indeed, it would seem that the desire for learning had quite disappeared even among those for whom the acquisition of knowledge was a sacred obligation. Yet these drawbacks only served to stimulate the zeal of ecclesiastical and civil rulers in behalf of a more thorough and systematic education. Thus the salient feature of the Middle Ages is the cooperation of Church and State for the development of schools. Theodoric in Italy, Alfred in England, and Charlemagne in the Frankish Kingdom are illustrious examples of princes who joined their authority with that of bishops and councils to secure adequate instruction for clergy and people. Among churchmen it suffices to mention Chrodegang of Metz, Alcuin, St. Bede, Boethius, and Cassiodorus (see the several articles). As a result of their efforts, education was provided for the clergy in the cathedral schools under the direct supervision of the bishop and for the laity in parochial schools to which all had access. In the curriculum, religion held the first place; other subjects were few and elementary, comprising at best the trivium and quadrivium (see Seven Liberal Arts). But the significance of this education lies not so much in its content as in the fact that it was the means of arousing a love of learning among peoples that had just emerged from barbarism, and of laying the foundations of Western culture and science. The history of education records no greater undertaking; for the task was not one of improving or perfecting, but of creating, and had not the Church gone vigorously about her work, modern civilization would have been retarded for centuries. (See Schools; Middle Ages.)
One of the chief factors in this progress was Monasticism (q.v.). The Benedictine monasteries especially were homes of study and depositories of the ancient learning. Not only sympathetic writers, like Montalembert, but those also who are more critical, acknowledge the service which the monks rendered to education. “In those restless ages of rude culture, of constant warfare, of perpetual lawlessness and the rule of might, monasticism offered the one opportunity for a life of repose, of contemplation, and of that leisure and relief from the ordinary vulgar but necessary duties of life essential to the student…. Thus it happened that the monasteries were the sole schools for teaching; they offered the only professional training; they were the only universities of research; they alone served as publishing houses for the multiplication of books; they were the only libraries for the preservation of learning; they produced the only scholars; they were the sole educational institutions of this period” (Paul Monroe, A Text-Book in the History of Education, New York, 1907, p. 255). In addition to their prescribed studies, the monks were constantly occupied in copying the classic texts. “While the Greek classics owed their safe preservation to the libraries of Constantinople and to the monasteries of the East, it is primarily to the monasteries of the West that we are indebted for the survival of the Latin classics” (Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, 2nd ed. Cambridge, 1906, p. 617). The specific work of education was carried on in the monastery school and was intended primarily for the novices. In some cases, however, a schola exterior, or outer school, was added for lay students and for aspirants to the secular priesthood. The course of study included, besides the seven liberal arts, the reading of Latin authors and the music of the Church. Finally, through their annals and chronicles, the monks provided a rich store of information concerning medieval life, which is invaluable to the historian of that period. The chief importance, however, of the monastic schools is found in the fact that they were conducted by an organized body of teachers who had withdrawn from the world and devoted their lives, under the guidance of religion, to literary pursuits and educational work. The same Christianity that had sanctified the family now gave to the profession of teacher a sacredness and a dignity which made teaching itself a noble vocation.
Two other movements form the climax of the Church‘s activity during the Middle Ages. The development of Scholasticism (q.v.) meant the revival of Greek philosophy, and in particular of Aristotle; but it also meant that philosophy was now to serve the cause of Christian truth. Men of faith and learning like Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, far from dreading or scorning the products of Greek thought, sought to make them the rational basis of belief. A synthesis was thus effected between the highest speculation of the pagan world and the teachings of theology. Scholasticism, moreover, was a distinct advance in the work of education; it was an intellectual training in method, in systematic thought, in severe logical reasoning, and in accuracy of statement. But taken as a whole, it furnished a great object-lesson, the purport of which was that, for the keenest intellect, the findings of reason and the truths of Revelation could be harmonized. Having used the subtitles of Greek thought to sharpen the student’s mind, the Church thereupon presented to him her dogmas without the least fear of contradiction. She thus united in a consistent whole whatever was best in pagan science and culture with the doctrine entrusted to her by Christ. If education be rightly defined as “the transmission of our intellectual and spiritual inheritance” (Butler), this definition is fully exemplified in the work of the Church during the Middle Ages.
The same synthetic spirit took concrete form in the Universities (q.v.). In founding these the popes and the secular rulers cooperated; in university teaching all the then known branches of science were represented; the student body comprised all classes, laymen and clerics, seculars and religious; and the diploma conferred was an authorization to teach everywhere. The university was thus, in the educational sphere, the highest expression of that completeness which had all along characterized the teaching of the Church; and the spirit of inquiry which animated the medieval university remains, in spite of other modifications, the essential element in the university of modern times. The changes which have since taken place have for the most part resulted in separating those elements which the Church had built into a harmonious unity. As Protestantism by rejecting the principle of authority brought about innumerable divisions in belief, so it led the way to rupture between Church and State in the work of education. The Renaissance in its extreme forms ranked pagan culture above everything else; and the Reformation in its fundamental tenet went beyond the individualism which led to the decline of Greek education. Once the schools were secularized, they fell readily under influences which transformed ideals, systems, and methods. Philosophy detached from theology formulated new theories of life and its values, that moved, at first slowly then more rapidly, away from the positive teachings of Christianity. Science in turn cast off its allegiance to philosophy and finally proclaimed itself the only sort of knowledge worth seeking. The most serious practical result was the separation of moral and religious from purely intellectual education—a result which was due in part to religious differences and political changes, but also in large part to erroneous views concerning the nature and need of moral training. Such views again are in general derived from the denial, explicit or implicit, of the supernatural order, and of its meaning for human life in its relations to God; so that, during three centuries past, the main endeavor outside the Catholic Church has been to establish education on a purely naturalistic basis, whether this be aesthetic culture or scientific knowledge, individual perfection or social service. In its earlier stages Protestantism, which laid so much stress on faith, could not consistently have sanctioned an education from which religious ideals were eliminated. But according as its principles worked out to their legitimate consequences, it became less and less capable of opposing the naturalistic movement. The Catholic Church has thus been obliged to carry on, with little or no help from other Christian bodies, the struggle in behalf of those truths on which Christianity is founded; and her educational work during the modern period may be described in general terms as the steadfast maintenance of the union between the natural and the supernatural.
From a human point of view the Church was under many disadvantages. The loss of the universities, the confiscation of monastic and other ecclesiastical property, and the opposition of various governments seemed to make her task hopeless. Yet these difficulties only served to call forth new manifestations of her vitality. The Council of Trent gave the impulse by decreeing that a more thorough education of the clergy should be secured through the seminaries (q.v.) and by urging upon bishops and priests the duty of building up the parochial schools. Similar measures were adopted by provincial and diocesan synods throughout Europe. Then came the religious orders founded for the express purpose of educating Catholic youth. (See especially Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools; Society of Jesus; Oratorians.) And to these finally must be added the numerous congregations of women who devoted their lives to the Christian training of girls. However different in organization and method, these institutions had for their common purpose the spread of religious truth along with secular knowledge among all classes. Thus there arose, by force of circumstances, a distinctly Catholic system of education, including parish schools, academies, colleges, and a certain number of universities which had remained under the control of the Church or were founded anew by the Holy See. It is especially the parochial school that has served in recent times as an essential factor in the work of religion. In some countries, e.g. Canada, it has received support from the Government; in others, as in the United States, it is maintained by voluntary contributions. As Catholics have also to pay their share of taxes for the public school system, they are under a double burden; but this very hardship has only served to place in clearer light their practical loyalty to the principles on which Catholic education is based. In fact, the whole parochial school movement during the nineteenth century forms one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of education. It proves on one side that neither loss of the State’s cooperation nor lack of material resources can weaken the determination of the Church to carry on her educational work; and on the other side it shows what faith and devotion on the part of parents, clergy, and teachers can accomplish where the interests of religion are at stake. (See Schools.)
As this attitude and this action of Catholics place them in a position which is not always rightly understood, it may be useful to present here a statement of the principles on which the Church has based her course in the past, and to which she adheres unswervingly at the present time when the problems of education are the subject of so much discussion and the cause of agitation in various directions. The Catholic position may be outlined as follows:
1. Intellectual education must not be separated from moral and religious education. To impart knowledge or to develop mental efficiency without building up moral character is not only contrary to psychological law, which requires that all the faculties should be trained, but is also fatal both to the individual and to society. No amount of intellectual attainment or culture can serve as a substitute for virtue; on the contrary, the more thorough intellectual education becomes, the greater is the need for sound moral training.
2. Religion should be an essential part of education; it should form not merely an adjunct to instruction in other subjects, but the center about which these are grouped and the spirit by which they are permeated. The study of nature without any reference to God, or of human ideals with no mention of Jesus Christ, or of human legislation without Divine law is at best a one-sided education. The fact that religious truth finds no place in the curriculum is, of itself, and apart from any open negation of that truth, sufficient to warp the pupil’s mind in such a way and to such an extent that he will feel little concern in his schooldays or later for religion in any form; and this result is the more likely to ensue when the curriculum is made to include everything that is worth knowing except the one subject which is of chief importance.
3. Sound moral instruction is impossible apart from religious education. The child may be drilled in certain desirable habits, such as neatness, courtesy, and punctuality; he may be imbued with a spirit of honor, industry, and truthfulness—and none of this should be neglected; but if these duties towards self and neighbor are sacred, the duty towards God is immeasurably more sacred. When it is faithfully performed, it includes and raises to a higher plane the discharge of every other obligation. Training in religion, moreover, furnishes the best motives for conduct and the noblest ideals for imitation, while it sets before the mind an adequate sanction in the holiness and justice of God. Religious education, it should be noted, is more than instruction in the dogmas of faith or the precepts of the Divine law; it is essentially a practical training in the exercises of religion, such as prayer, attendance at Divine worship, and reception of the sacraments. By these means conscience is purified, the will to do right is strengthened, and the mind is fortified to resist those temptations which, especially in the period of adolescence, threaten the gravest danger to the moral life.
4. An education which unites the intellectual, moral, and religious elements is the best safeguard for the home, since it places on a secure basis the various relations which the family implies. It also ensures the performance of social duties by inculcating a spirit of self-sacrifice, of obedience to law, and of Christian love for the fellowman. The most effectual preparation for citizenship is that schooling in virtue which habituates a man to decide, to act, to oppose a movement or to further it, not with a view to personal gain nor simply in deference to public opinion, but in accordance with the standards of right that are fixed by the law of God. The welfare of the State, therefore, demands that the child be trained in the practice of virtue and religion no less than in the pursuit of knowledge.
5. Far from lessening the need of moral and religious training, the advance in educational methods rather emphasizes that need. Many of the so-called improvements in teaching are of passing importance, and some are at variance with the laws of the mind. Upon their relative worth the Church does not pronounce, nor does she commit herself to any particular method. Provided the essentials of Christian education are secured, the Church welcomes whatever the sciences may contribute toward rendering the work of the school more efficient.
6. Catholic parents are bound in conscience to provide for the education of their children, either at home or in schools of the right sort. As the bodily life of the child must be cared for, so, for still graver reasons, must the mental and moral faculties be developed. Parents, therefore, cannot take an attitude of indifference toward this essential duty nor transfer it wholly to others. They are responsible for those earliest impressions which the child receives passively, before he exercises any conscious selective imitation; and as the intellectual powers develop, the parents’ example is the lesson that sinks most deeply into the child’s mind. They are also obliged to instruct the child, according to his capacity, in the truths of religion and in the practice of religious duties, thus cooperating with the work of the Church and the school. The virtues, especially of obedience, self-control, and purity, can nowhere be inculcated so thoroughly as in the home; and without such moral education by the parents, the task of forming upright men and women and worthy citizens is difficult, if not impossible.
That the need of moral and religious education has impressed the minds of non-Catholics also, is evident from the movement inaugurated in 1903 by the Religious Education Association in the United States, which meets annually and publishes its proceedings at Chicago. An international inquiry into the problem of moral training was started in London in 1906, and the report has been edited by Professor Sadler under the title, “Moral Instruction and Training in Schools” (London, 1908).
For the respective rights and duties of the Church and the civil authority, see Schools; State.
E. A. PACE