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CAN THE SMILE BE DEVELOPED? Can we develop the smile? Does it lie within the province of education? One of our great artists has said, “No man can teach expression. He can teach only its grammar.” According to this theory you can teach the painter only drawing, the use of his tools, the nature of colors and how to mix them. You can teach the musician only his piano or violin or flute. Is this true? Is there no awakening of ideals which is an essential part of education? The very word “education ” means to draw out. Is there no stimulation of the imagination which is a necessary part of the development of any artist? Is it possible that art education is merely a mechanical process?
How often are sad examples of modern art education found. A young woman, with high ideals, deep artistic nature and feeling, entered one of the leading so-called art schools. For the better part of a year she was compelled to draw only from a cast. The drudgery began to pall; art became to her a mechanical thing; she lost her aspirations, her ideals. Her artistic instincts were dulled. She had no relief from that one mechanical performance. She had no study of expression, nothing was given to her to awaken her creative imagination, her emotional energies, her love of beauty, her power of insight into fundamental elements or causes of beauty. She had no study of herself, no study of the different modes by which
imagination and emotion are unfolded. How few artists are made by such a process! How many are unmade by such drudgery! Such a mechanical process may be some explanation of the fact that processes of art expression are so little prized in education. Can you teach expression? Assuredly, if you can teach anything. No one can say that students of painting do not have to learn to draw. Every art has a technique which must be mastered; there is even a technique of speaking. But with a mastery of technique the actions of the mind must be awakened, the deeper insight, the intuitions. No amount of grammar can teach a man to think.
Technique is the true mode of revealing mental actions. It is the best way of conveying impressions.
Every art is a mode of thinking. The student must learn not merely grammar. He must learn to think. Grammar is but an outward shell, hard and mechanical, the result of formulation. Woe to the man who clamps these on the backs of students before the real life is awakened, before the soul has seen any vision. The same mistake is made in many of our public schools even more than in our art schools. Too much attention is paid to mere mechanical rules.
To acquire correct and beautiful English, boys and girls must be inspired with the desire to express; they must receive true impressions; they must be awakened by contact with great literature. When their imaginations are awakened, when they have seen something beautiful and are asked to describe it, they are led to the desire to express it well. In this way they discover the simple rules of grammar.
On the contrary, the mechanical teacher of grammar turns all attention to mere words. The student has nothing to say but there is an endeavor to teach him to say it in correct English,—thus he loses all real interest, and there is no awakening of the desire to express.
The aim and the first step of all education is to awaken, to inspire. To speak correctly we must think correctly. The great law of education is like the smile, which must come from within outward.
The highest education is a sharing of the universal life. Each human being as an individual is a centre of conscious identity, but this does not mean that the individual is shut up in some corner. To live at all we must communicate. A universal conception of the immortal life is that it is one of love.
You can improve a smile only according to the laws of all development. You can awaken a man's better nature. You can enkindle a higher love. You can make him more conscious of his ideals and give him more courage to feel them. You can stimulate aspirations. You can give him a better point of view of life,-a higher conception of his race. This causes the.smile to be deeper, to diffuse itself all over the face and body and become a permanent part of his countenance.
Of course we cannot force a smile. The smile can never be improved by rule. It cannot be built or constructed. It has no grammar but it can be awakened. The improvement of the smile depends upon a deeper and truer view of life, upon better health and a healthier vision, upon encouragement to enjoyment, upon greater sympathy with one's kind, upon increase of faith, confidence in truth and in men.
spontcording that ex fectually
The problem of improving the smile is the same problem of all human education. Education must awaken the very depths of our being. It cannot proceed mechanically or by rule. All human education must simply awaken and direct the impulses of nature.
The secret of Froebel's teaching, according to a critic and advocate of his method, consists in bringing such objects around the child as will stimulate spontaneous activity.
According to this all education is primarily an awakening; that exercise is the most important which will most effectually quicken the human powers and bring them into co-ordinate activity.
The smile can be developed; and its development shows the right processes of all education.
If you believe that a smile cannot be improved observe closely the smile of a baby. Its first smile is local, but watch the child daily for some weeks. What a transformation, slow but decided! Every day some deeper action becomes apparent, some additional part of his face is filled with joy and love until at last there is no part that does not beam with feeling. Many men retain the constricted smile of early childhood. None of their smiles have ever visited their foreheads. There is simply action at the corners of the mouth and that is all. Activity at the outer corners of the eyes, and especially of the lower eyelid, is weak. Sometimes the lips are drawn back in a constricted and tightened way and become cramped and set upon the teeth.
The majority of people have constrictions in their smiles, constrictions that could be easily removed if the facial muscles receive the proper rhythmic treatment. The fingers may be laid
gently upon the face at those points where there are constrictions and the muscles may be gently moved or kneaded so the part may be set free and the emotion allowed to diffuse its action through the whole face.
How does this slow transformation take place? In the same way that development proceeds in us all. The whole face gradually becomes more responsive. Each little muscle awakens. Nature's great process, the localization of function, rapidly progresses.
The improvement in the looks is astonishing. Of all beautifiers the smile is the greatest, but it must be genuine; it must bring every feature of the face into co-ordination; every muscle must be stimulated to act simultaneously. The development of the smile need not lead to affectation. If the process is properly carried on affectation may be avoided. It is one of the faults to be removed. There are assumed smiles all around us.
All expression implies a certain giving up of the muscles and parts of the body to the diffusion of feeling.
Some men's hands are cramped and constricted. Feeling causes little more than a jerk of the muscles of the arm. By relaxing the hand feeling and emotion will be diffused into every part. We can train the hand from a mere constricted pair of nippers or paws into a sympathetic sequence of unfolding actions more beautiful than the flower. We can feel every finger receiving its quota of tenderness and co-ordination, bringing it into action and unity natural to the human hand. Possibly there is nothing else in all the universe that can perform that action. Certainly there is nothing in this world that can compare with it.