Oldalképek
PDF

'You might try,' they answered. 'We don't know whether you could; only whether we could.'

There was a great, quiet space, and in it a veil like a misty cloud hanging, stirring — like a breath on waters.

Mrs. Pennefather began to say what she had to say. She thought it was the one she had come to speak to, listening. It could n't be anyone else. She had no hesitation, and said what was in her mind.

'God, O God, it isn't in the least what I expected. I did n't think it of you, God! Can't you ever let us off from living? Frittering away death — like this! They don't understand, back there, but why can't you make them let us alone? I was your faithful servant there, O God — you know I was! I did the very best I knew how. I did n't shirk or complain — much. I tried hard! And I was so tired! I thought I could go away and rest. And ever since I came, every minute, they keep calling me to help them do things. Just the way it always was — only worse: for then they used to try to spare me and not let me overdo, and now they think they're being kind to me. Kind! They really think that! I don't mean to blame them, God. It's just because they don't know any better; but really they do. The more they call me, the more they think they're being kind and loving to me. O God, I'm so disappointed in dying! Is n't there something else? Something bigger? Because if there is n't, if it's just going on living the same things over and over, with a

kind of a veil between, then I can't see what's the good of dying, you know. Because they're all such little things. One does n't see that at the time. You think they matter, and so you 're willing to pour your soul into them. But to see how little they are and how little they matter, and just when you 've drawn a long breath, then to feel them reaching, reaching, clinging to you, holding you back — when you see it does n't matter! O God, how can you let them interrupt great beautiful Death like that?'

Again the wind that blows between the worlds lifted the spirit of Mrs. Pennefather and swirled it away and away — high into ecstasies — deep into unconsciousness — far and far through the unthinkable realms that lie between the worlds. After the aeons, emerged from the spaces, she lifted eyelids from tired eyes and looked at the light of the windows of her familiar bedroom and her daughter's face bending over her.

'Am I dead?' said the living Mrs. Pennefather, slowly moving the lips of her body.

'No, dear — oh, no!' said her daughter. 'You've been sleeping a long time. It's quite late.'

'I knew it could n't be like that,' said Mrs. Pennefather after long seconds; 'God would n't fool anybody so.'

She turned her head, and her eyelids closed sleepily.

'Now,' she murmured, the words a light breath scarcely moving her lips, 'now let test thou thy servant depart in peace.'

MASTERING THE ARTS OF LIFE

AS EXEMPLIFIED IN A NEW SCHOOL

BY THEODORE M. KNAPPEN

In a greenhouse at Dayton, Ohio, where a master of scientific research once experimented with plant-life, there is being conducted an interesting experiment in juvenile life, conceived by the man of research and a group of friends and associates. There was no significance in the choice of the greenhouseforthe human experiment. It happened to be the most available shelter for the new-old school that the group had in mind. Yet a building so little suited for school purposes did complement an idea behind the school — that now, as in Garfield's time, a log with a Mark Hopkins on one end and the student on the other is enough material equipment to ensure the success of a school.

This 'Moraine Park School' began as a preparatory school, but the scheme has now been projected down to the tenderest school-years; so that it is possible for 220 of the more fortunate of the Dayton boys and girls to pass all their years, from kindergarten to college entrance, in the pleasant paths of education that have been sketched for them by the founders. The paths are many. Some are well-defined; some are merely blazed and left to the development of the boys and girls as they move forward through the years; but all lead up toward the general goal of mastery of the arts of life, which is edu

cation according to the Moraine Park conception.

The definition is important, because it shapes the scheme of this novel school. Manifestly the arts of life cannot be mastered by excising the boy from life. He cannot be prepared for life by staying out of life for twelve or sixteen years. From the standpoint of this definition, education and life cannot be kept in separate compartments for a quarter, or a third, of a lifetime. Education, regarded as something wholly preliminary to, or dissociated from, practical life, could thus be segregated, and has been these last fifty years in America — or ever since our educational system spread out to enclose the youth of the land in its meshes for nine months or more in all the formative years. The arts of life, like any technical art, are mastered by doing, not by looking on.

But what are these arts of life, whose mastery constitutes education according to the Moraine Park way of thinking? They do not consist of technical expertness in any particular formal study, or in any craft. They are not based on the attainment of a rating of 70 per cent in algebra, or on such and such a rating in making tools and machines. On the contrary, 'the arts of life' are described as occupations, ten in number. And these occupations do not respond to the ordinary definition of the word, as a means of gaining a living; rather are they the departments of human activity which, taken together, make up the whole life. In the 'pedagese' of the school publications these 'occupations' are set down as (1) Body-building; (2) Spirit-building; (3) Society-serving; (4) Man-conserving; (5) Opinion-forming; (6) Truthdiscovering; (7) Thought-expressing; (8) Wealth-producing; (9) Comrade- or mate-seeking; (10) Life-refreshing.

The ordinary studies of the schools are relegated to places in these 'occupations.' In the monthly report cards that go to the parents, the latter have to look closely to find out how their boy is doing in history. They find it listed as No. 3 under opinion-forming, such unheard-of qualities in scholastic reports as fairness of mind and judgment being listed above it in this' occupation' or art of life. This grouping illustrates the theory of the school. It does not look upon history as something to be taught for itself, but as something to be studied as a means of developing the ability to form sound opinions. The boy may be very lame in history as a study, and yet stand up well in his rating in opinion-forming.

Should the parent wish to know how his son is doing in chemistry, or zoology or physics, or botany, he will consult the score-card in vain. In the space set aside for appraisal of progress in truthdiscovering, he will, however, get a hint of how well the boy is doing in science as a whole, as one of the seven factors that contribute to the mastery of truth-discovering — but that is all. Manifestly the boy might have only an 'unsatisfactory' in science as a study, and being excellent and satisfactory in the six other elements of truth-discovering, make a most excellent showing as a discoverer of truth. The other elements of the mastery of truth-dis

covering are set down as alertness, thoroughness, skill in observing, skill in experimenting, soundness in interpreting, and geography.

Following the obscured trail of the traditional studies through the Moraine Park curriculum, we find French, Latin, Spanish, and mathematics set down as contributors to thought-expressing, with truthfulness and accuracy listed ahead of them. Unless we except manual training, listed under wealthproducing, this completes the list of mention of 'studies' in the ordinary acceptation. Grouped with manual training under wealth-producing are 'project work,' diligence, perseverance, honesty, initiative, thriftiness. As for the other 'occupations,' body-building includes eating carefully, general care of health, regular exercise. Spirit-building is made up of loyalty to high ideals, efforts to do the best, trustworthiness, power to will to do the right. Under society-serving come obedience, respect for law, faithfulness in office, interest in the community, punctuality. Manconserving is made up of generosity, spirit of helpfulness, home-making. Contributing to comrade- or mate-seeking ability are the elements of cooperation, courtesy, agreeableness, frankness. Elements of the mastery of the art of life-refreshing are play interest, sportsmanlike spirit, courage, self-control, resourcefulness.

The report card really tells the story of the Moraine Park School. The parent examines it to learn whether and how the child is progressing in his mastery of the art of living and its component arts; the child views it as a picture of his progress in the adventure of life. Neither worries about the progress in studies, school-exercises, or methods, for both conceive of them as but 'the material and means of education.' In fact, the so-called studies, which must be carried on for drill purposes, and to keep up the articulation of the school with the colleges and universities, and also to keep the student from coming short of the mastery of living because of lack of understanding of the formal education of the past and present, are only a part of the instruments of education at Moraine Park. Training in business and in citizenship are granted as much importance and as much time as the formal studies; and beneath all three is the ever-considered basic occupation of being physically well and strong.

II

The method of the school varies in detail from day to day, from year to year, from class to class and pupil to pupil, but, in gerteral, it seeks always to blend studies and life, mental and moral drill, with business and citizenship. So far as practicable, all things are learned or acquired by doing. Citizenship is mastered by making the school democratically self-governing, even to the conducting of the classes, wherein one of the class presides and does the 'paper work,' leaving the teacher free to be 'one of the bunch.' The studies are absorbed by utilizing them. This utilization may be through the 'projects' or through the working out of real-life problems. The book learning comes in as a tool in handling the problem. Instead of leading a boy up to a textbook on arithmetic, for example, and giving him so many rules to learn and so many examples to do, the textbook is arrived at by indirection. If a boy is going through all the phases of a duplication of earning money, saving it, and building a home on the installment plan, he finds himself up against many real-life problems in mathematics and naturally wants to know how to meet them. At this stage he is eager for the study of mathematics. He takes up arithmetic now

because he has a compelling interest in it.

Running the school and the classes on a democratic plan inevitably leads to a desire to study civics and politics. In these ways the student comes to get, as a means to an end, what in the ordinary school is the end of his work. He follows his interests. He acquires with feverish enthusiasm the things that he might otherwise rebel against. The idea is, not to lay a course of education before a boy and tell him to swallow it, nolens volens, but to lead him along to a point where he demands it. He works out his own education. The teacher stays in the background as friend and adviser. He does not do all the swimming himself, but gets the boy to come into the pool with him. Education flows from the irresistible impulsion of his own activities — until it becomes his life.

So wide are the boundaries within which the girls and boys may follow the needle of their own inclinations that if, as sometimes happens, a class votes to pursue a study in the conventional manner of study, recitations, and examinations, it has its way; for the old way is held to be as good as any for those who like it. This does not often occur. Usually the indirect route is the one followed.

Take English, for example. Spelling and grammar are merely incidental. The pupils read pretty much what they want to read, fix a minimum of achievement, and choose their own themes. Eager to write or to understand, they perceive the necessity of knowing what is correct in composition and rhetoric. Spelling, grammar, and composition are now appealed to. Themes written in the pursuance of any study or occupation serve for the themes of the English class. A boy who was all for agriculture in his interests was utterly indifferent to literature. But to acquire the facts that appealed to him, he had to read various agricultural papers and bulletins. Then he noticed that some of these publications were easy to read and had an appealing style, while others were obscure and dull. This observation opened the door of English and literature to him. He desired to learn how to write lucidly and interestingly himself.

The learners of the arts of life can go as slowly or as rapidly as their abilities and energies determine. They receive credits, not on the basis of so many hours a week or on mere memory examinations and formal recitations, but rather on what they have mastered as shown by inquiry, ability-testing examinations, and observation. As the child progresses, he is informally appraised from time to time, and fundamentally surveyed and checked up at long intervals. Many children are notoriously slow in grasping particular drill studies, as, for example, mathematics. For them there are no despairing moments of agonizing tests and torturing examinations at Moraine. The mastery of mathematics being but one seventh of the mastery of 'thought-expressing,' the child to whom numbers come but slowly has abundant opportunity to compensate his pride and defend himself from mortification. Left to his own evolution in ample time, he generally finds himself sufficiently informed, even in the most backward studies, to master minimum requirements before the day comes for him to be graduated.

The so-called projects are related to all the ten occupations. They are reallife enterprises, in the development of which the child finds understanding of the arts of life. One group of boys has a project for building an air-plane — a natural enterprise in an aeronautical centre like Dayton. This project has its mechanical, scientific, and business aspects. First, of all, it must be financed;

and the financing must be earned. So the boys rent a plot of land and plant popcorn, which they tend, harvest, and sell. This involves many business activities and much business initiative. Incidentally they learn something of agriculture, something of the popcorn business, something of banking, something of commercial correspondence. At each stage of the progress of the project they have to do something that is done in everyday life — and their natural prompting is to find out how to do it in the best way. They are turned to composition, to arithmetic, to typewriting, to bookkeeping. The mechanical and scientific by-paths are many and obvious. The air-ship boys were unfortunate enough to purchase an engine that was not satisfactory.- In trying to unload it, they fell into a commercial temptation. They bethought themselves to offer it to the school bank, which is the project of another group, as collateral for a loan, leave the loan unpaid, and let the bank take possession of the worthless engine. At this point they learned something of business ethics and morals.

The bank project, besides being one means of the mastery of the arts of life for its shareholders and officers, is important in the financing of the other projects, as well as a convenience to the students in general, and an open door to banking practice. It has about a hundred accounts and its deposits amount to one thousand dollars. It makes loans at current interest rates, and on notes supported by collateral or good indorsements.

The projects number more than a hundred. Usually they are of a moneyearning or money-absorbing nature, but they are sometimes purely research or educational, and may be within the school's purview or outside it. Among them are a school drug-store; a printing-shop; a newspaper; managing the

« ElőzőTovább »