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The following work by Prof. Painter takes up tho subject from the standpoint of the history of civilization. The educational ideals that have prevailed have been derived from the principles that have controlled nations and religions. Each State has evolved a system of education in conformity with the fundamental idea of its civilization. It may or may not have had a system of schools, but it has possessed instrumentalities for education in the family, civil society, and religious ceremonial, besides its own direct discipline through the laws and their administration and through its public service, civil and military. In religion,
, whether Christian or “heathen,” there is implied a definite fundamental view of the world which is referred to in all concrete relations, and by this there is given a sort of systematic unity to the details of life. The first object of parental government is to train the child into habits of conformity to the current religious
view. The government seeks to enforce an observance of regulations that establish social relations founded on the view of the world furnished in religion.
We learn, therefore, to look for the explanation of the system of education in the national ideal as revealed in its religion, art, social customs, and form of government. A new phase of civilization demands a new system of education. The school, originally organized as an instrumentality of the Church, is needed to re-enforce the other institutions, and accordingly in modern times gets expansion and modification for this object. It is in this study of the civilization as a whole that we learn to comprehend the organization of the schools of a country.
The attention of the reader is called, first, to the broad contrast between the spirit of education as it existed in Asia and that in Europe. Subjection to anthority is the principle on which most stress is laid in the former. The development of the individual seems to be the constantly growing tendency in the latter, and especially in its colonies. Absolute rulers, castes, parental government, and ethical codes, form the chief themes of interest in Oriental education. Personal adventure, its celebration in works of art, the growth of constitutional forms of government that protect the individual from the substantial might of the ruling authority, free thought, its organization into sciencethese are the features that attract us in the civilization of the Occident, and which explain its educational systems.
Inasmuch as the element of authority continues throughout all history as a necessary strand of civilization, it follows that Oriental civilization has important lessons for all people, even the most democratic. The net result of the life of the race must be summed up and given to the child, so that he shall be saved from repeating the errors that had to be lived through before the wisdom expressed by the ethical code could be generalized. Implicit obedience has to be the first lesson for the child. How he shall gradually become endowed with self-control, and finally have the free management of all his affairs, is the further problem of the educational system.
After the reader has studied the spirit of the Asiatic systems, he will find his interest in fixing as clearly as possible the spirit of Christianity before his mind, as it is portrayed in the third chapter of this book. The influence of such an idea as that of the Divine-human God condescending to assume the sorrows and trials of mortal life, all for the sake of the elevation of individual souls, the humblest and weakest as well as the mightiest and most exalted, is potent to transform civilization. That the divine history should be that of infinite tenderness and consideration for the individual, even in his imperfections, acts as a permanent cause to affect the relation of the directing and
controlling powers in human society to the masses beneath them. The whole policy of the institutions of civilization-family, state, church—becomes more and more one of tender nurture and development of individuality as the highest object to be sought by humanity.
In the fourth chapter, Prof. Painter has traced the process of fixing the course of the new civilization, just as in the third chapter the chief theme is the reaction against the old forms of heathen education that still survived. After the Church has become firmly established politically and doctrinally, there arises the struggle within it of the two tendencies represented, on the one hand, by the so-called “humanist” direction which lays chief stress on language-studies, and puts forward the mastery of Latin and Greek as the propedeutics of all genuine culture; and, by the naturalism on the other, that insists upon the study of Nature and experimental science as the true road to culture.
In the struggle between the study of the “humanities” and the study of the “moderns” (or science, w.odern languages, modern literature, and history), we have reached the process that still goes on in our own day unadjusted by the discovery of a common ground that conserves the merits of both tendencies. In Chinese education, with its exclusive training of the memory, in the study of Latin and Greek among modern European nations, and, indeed, in such trivial matters