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Title: What Is and What Might Be - A Study of Education in General and Elementary Education in Particular
Author: Holmes, Edmond, 1850-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What Is and What Might Be - A Study of Education in General and Elementary Education in Particular" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.







  First published, May 1911.
  Second impression, July 1911.
  Third impression, September 1911.
  Fourth impression, November 1911.
  Fifth impression, January 1912.
  Sixth impression, October 1912.

|Transcriber's note: Obvious printer errors have been corrected. All   |
|other inconstancies in spelling or punctuation are as in the original.|


My aim, in writing this book, is to show that the _externalism_ of
the West, the prevalent tendency to pay undue regard to outward and
visible "results" and to neglect what is inward and vital, is the
source of most of the defects that vitiate Education in this country,
and therefore that the only remedy for those defects is the drastic
one of changing our standard of reality and our conception of the
meaning and value of life. My reason for making a special study of
that branch of education which is known as "Elementary," is that I
happen to have a more intimate knowledge of it than of any other
branch, the inside of an elementary school being so familiar to me
that I can in some degree bring the eye of experience to bear upon
the problems that confront its teachers. I do not for a moment
imagine that the elementary school teacher is more deeply tainted
than his fellows with the virus of "Occidentalism." Nor do I think
that the defects of his schools are graver than those of other
educational institutions. In my judgment they are less grave because,
though perhaps more glaring, they have not had time to become so
deeply rooted, and are therefore, one may surmise, less difficult to
eradicate. Also there is at least a breath of healthy discontent
stirring in the field of elementary education, a breath which
sometimes blows the mist away and gives us sudden gleams of sunshine,
whereas over the higher levels of the educational world there hangs
the heavy stupor of profound self-satisfaction.[1] I am not
exaggerating when I say that at this moment there are elementary
schools in England in which the life of the children is emancipative
and educative to an extent which is unsurpassed, and perhaps
unequalled, in any other type or grade of school.

I am careful to say all this because I foresee that, without a
"foreword" of explanation, my adverse criticism of what I have called
"a familiar type of school" may be construed into an attack on the
elementary teachers as a body. I should be very sorry if such a
construction were put upon it. No one knows better than I do that the
elementary teachers of this country are the victims of a vicious
conception of education which has behind it twenty centuries of
tradition and prescription, and the malign influence of which was
intensified in their case by thirty years or more[2] of Code
despotism and "payment by results." Handicapped as they have been by
this and other adverse conditions, they have yet produced a noble
band of pioneers, to whom I, for one, owe what little I know about
the inner meaning of education; and if I take an unduly high
standard in judging of their work, the reason is that they
themselves, by the brilliance of their isolated achievements, have
compelled me to take it. I will therefore ask them to bear with me,
while I expose with almost brutal candour the shortcomings of many of
their schools. They will understand that all the time I am thinking
of education in general even more than of elementary education,
and using my knowledge of the latter to illustrate statements and
arguments which are really intended to tell against the former. They
will also understand that at the back of my mind I am laying the
blame of their failures, not on them but on the hostile forces which
have been too strong for many of them,--on the false assumptions of
Western philosophy, on the false standards and false ideals of
Western civilisation, on various "old, unhappy, far-off things," the
effects of which are still with us, foremost among these being that
deadly system of "payment by results" which seems to have been
devised for the express purpose of arresting growth and strangling
life, which bound us all, myself included, with links of iron, and
which had many zealous agents, of whom I, alas! was one.







The function of education is to foster growth. By some of my readers
this statement will be regarded as a truism; by others as a
challenge; by others, again, when they have realised its inner
meaning, as a "wicked heresy." I will begin by assuming that it is
a truism, and will then try to prove that it is true.

The function of education is to foster growth. The end which
the teacher should set before himself is the development of
the latent powers of his pupils, the unfolding of their latent
life. If growth is to be fostered, two things must be liberally
provided,--nourishment and exercise. On the need for nourishment I
need not insist. The need for exercise is perhaps less obvious, but
is certainly not less urgent. We make our limbs, our organs, our
senses, our faculties grow by exercising them. When they have reached
their maximum of development we maintain them at that level by
exercising them. When their capacity for growth is unlimited, as in
the case of our mental and spiritual faculties, the need for exercise
is still more urgent. To neglect to exercise a given limb, or organ,
or sense, or faculty, would result in its becoming weak, flabby, and
in the last resort useless. In childhood, when the stress of
Nature's expansive forces is strongest, the neglect of exercise will,
for obvious reasons, have most serious consequences. If a healthy
child were kept in bed during the second and third years of his life,
the damage done to his whole body would be incalculable.

These are glaring truisms. Let me perpetrate one more,--one which is
perhaps the most glaring of all. The process of growing must be done
by the growing organism, by the child, let us say, and by no one
else. The child himself must take in and assimilate the nourishment
that is provided for him. The child himself must exercise his organs
and faculties. The one thing which no one may ever delegate to
another is the business of growing. To watch another person eating
will not nourish one's own body. To watch another person using his
limbs will not strengthen one's own. The forces that make for the
child's growth come from within himself; and it is for him, and him
alone, to feed them, use them, evolve them.

All this is--

  "As true as truth's simplicity,
  And simpler than the infancy of truth."

But it sometimes happens that what is most palpable is least
perceptible; and perhaps it is because the truth of what I say is
self-evident and indisputable, that in many Elementary Schools in
this country the education given seems to be based on the assumption
that my "truisms" are absolutely false. In such schools the one end
and aim of the teacher is to do everything for the child;--to feed
him with semi-digested food; to hold him by the hand, or rather by
both shoulders, when he tries to walk or run; to keep him under close
and constant supervision; to tell him in precise detail what he is to
think, to feel, to say, to wish, to do; to show him in precise detail
how he is to do whatever may have to be done; to lay thin veneers of
information on the surface of his mind; never to allow him a minute
for independent study; never to trust him with a handbook, a
note-book, or a sketch-book; in fine, to do all that lies in his
power to prevent the child from doing anything whatever for himself.
The result is that the various vital faculties which education might
be supposed to train become irretrievably starved and stunted in the
over-educated school child; till at last, when the time comes for him
to leave the school in which he has been so sedulously cared for, he
is too often thrown out upon the world, helpless, listless,
resourceless, without a single interest, without a single purpose in

The contrast between elementary education as it too often is, and as
it ought to be if the truth of my "truisms" were widely accepted, is
so startling that in my desire to account for it I have had recourse
to a paradox. "Trop de vérité," says Pascal, "nous étonne: les
premiers principes ont trop d'évidence pour nous." I have suggested
that the inability of so many teachers to live up to the spirit, or
even to the letter, of my primary "truism," may be due to its having
too much evidence for them, to their being blinded by the naked light
of its truth.

But there may be another explanation of the singular fact that a
theory of education to which the teacher would assent without
hesitation if it were submitted to his consciousness, counts for
nothing in the daily routine of his work. Failure to carry an
accepted principle into practice is sometimes due to the fact that
the principle has not really been accepted; that its inner meaning
has not been apprehended; that assent has been given to a formula
rather than a truth. The cause of the failure may indeed lie deeper
than this. It may be that the nominal adherents of the principle are
in secret revolt against the vital truth that is at the heart of it;
that they repudiate it in practice because they have already
repudiated it in the inner recesses of their thought. "This people
draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their
lips; but their heart is far from me." Tell the teacher that the
function of education is to foster growth; that therefore it is his
business to develop the latent faculties of his pupils; and that
therefore (since growth presupposes exercise) he must allow his
pupils to do as much as possible by and for themselves,--place these
propositions before him, and the chances are that he will say "Amen"
to them. But that lip assent will count for nothing. One's life is
governed by instinct rather than logic. To give a lip assent to the
logical inferences from an accepted principle is one thing. To give a
_real_ assent to the essential truth that underlies and animates the
principle is another. The way in which the teacher too often conducts
his school leads one to infer that the intuitive, instinctive side of
him--the side that is nearest to practice--has somehow or other held
intercourse with the inner meaning of that "truism" which he repeats
so glibly, and has rejected it as antagonistic to the traditional
assumptions on which he bases his life. Or perhaps this work of
subconscious criticism and rejection has been and is being done for
him, either by the spirit of the age to which he belongs or by the
genius of the land in which he lives.

Why is the teacher so ready to do everything (or nearly everything)
for the children whom he professes to educate? One obvious answer to
this question is that for a third of a century (1862-1895) the
"Education Department" did everything (or nearly everything) for him.
For a third of a century "My Lords" required their inspectors to
examine every child in every elementary school in England on a
syllabus which was binding on all schools alike. In doing this, they
put a bit into the mouth of the teacher and drove him, at their
pleasure, in this direction and that. And what they did to him they
compelled him to do to the child.

So far as the action of the "Education Department" was concerned,
this policy was abandoned--in large measure, if not wholly--in 1895;
but its consequences are with us still. What conception of the
meaning and purpose of education could have induced "My Lords" to
adopt such a policy, and, having adopted it, to adhere to it for more
than thirty years? Had one asked "My Lords" at any time during those
thirty years what they regarded as the true function of education,
and had one suggested to them (as they had probably never turned
their minds to the question) that the function of education was to
foster the growth of the child, they might possibly have given an
indolent assent to that proposition. But their educational policy
must have been dictated by some widely different conception. They
must have believed that the mental progress of the child--the only
aspect of progress which concerned educationalists in those
days--would best be tested by a formal examination on a prescribed
syllabus, and would best be secured by preparation for such a test;
and they must have accepted, perhaps without the consent of their
consciousness, whatever theory of education may be implicit in that

In acting as they did, "My Lords" fell into line with the
Universities, the Public Schools, the Preparatory Schools, the Civil
Service Commissioners, the Professional Societies, and (to make a
general statement) with all the "Boards" and "Bodies" that
controlled, directly or indirectly, the education of the youth of
England. We must, therefore, widen the scope of our inquiry, and
carry our search for cause a step farther back. How did the belief
that a formal examination is a worthy end for teacher and child to
aim at, and an adequate test of success in teaching and in learning,
come to establish itself in this country? And not in this country
only, but in the whole Western world? In every Western country that
is progressive and "up to date," and in every Western country in
exact proportion as it is progressive and "up to date," the
examination system controls education, and in doing so arrests the
self-development of the child, and therefore strangles his inward

What is the explanation of this significant fact? In my attempt to
account for the failure of elementary education in England to foster
the growth of the educated child, I have travelled far. But I
must travel farther yet. The Western belief in the efficacy
of examinations is a symptom of a widespread and deep-seated
tendency,--the tendency to judge according to the appearance of
things, to attach supreme importance to visible "results," to measure
inward worth by outward standards, to estimate progress in terms of
what the "world" reveres as "success." It is the Western standard of
values, the Western way of looking at things, which is in question,
and which I must now attempt to determine.

That I should have to undertake this task is a proof of the
complexity of education, of the bewildering tanglement of its
root-system, of the depths to which some of its roots descend into
the subsoil of human-life. The defect in our system of education
which I am trying to diagnose is one which the "business man," who
may have had reason to complain of the output of our elementary
schools, will probably account for in one sentence and propound a
remedy for in another. But I, who know enough about education to
realise how little is or can be known about it, find that if I am to
understand why so many schools turn out helpless and resourceless
children, I must go back to the first principles of modern
civilisation, or in other words to the cardinal axioms of the
philosophy of the West.

This does not mean that I must make a systematic study of Western
metaphysics. Professional thinkers abound in the West; but the rank
and file of the people pay little heed to them. It is true that they
take themselves very seriously; but so does every clique of experts
and connoisseurs. The indirect influence of their theories has at
times been considerable; but their direct influence on human thought
is, and has always been, very slight. For the plain average man, who
cannot rid himself of the suspicion that the professional thinker is
a professional word-juggler, has a philosophy of his own which was
formulated for him by an unphilosophical people, and which, though it
is now beginning to fail him, was once sufficient for all his needs.

At the present moment there are two schools of popular thought in the
West. For many centuries there was only one. For many centuries men
were content to believe that the outward and visible world--the world
of their normal experience--was the all of Nature. But they were not
content to believe that it was the "all of Being." The latter
conception would have said "No" to certain desires of the heart which
refuse to be negatived,--desires which are as large and lofty as they
are pure and deep: and in order to provide a refuge for these,
men added to their belief in a natural world which was bounded
by the horizon of experience (as they understood the word), the
complementary belief in a world which transcended the limits of
experience, and in which the dreams and hopes for which Nature could
make no provision might somehow or other be realised and fulfilled.
With the development of physical science, the conception of the
Supernatural has become discredited, and a materialistic monism has
begun to dispute the supremacy of that dualistic philosophy which had
reigned without a rival for many hundreds of years. But antagonistic
as these philosophies are to one another, they have one conception in
common. The popular belief that the world of man's normal experience
is the Alpha and Omega of _Nature_, is the very platform on which
their controversies are carried on. Were any one to suggest to them
that this belief was without foundation, that there was room and to
spare in Nature for the "supernatural" as well as for the normal,
that the supernatural world (as it had long been miscalled) was
nothing more nor less than "la continuation occulte de la Nature
infinie,"--they would at once unite their forces against him, and
assail him with an even bitterer hatred than that which animates them
in their own intestine strife.

The dualistic philosophy which satisfied the needs of the West for
some fifteen centuries was systematised and formulated for it, in the
language of myth and poetry, by an Eastern people. The acceptance of
official Christianity by the Graeco-Roman world was the result of
many causes, two of which stand out as central and supreme. The first
of these was the personal magnetism of Christ, in and through which
men came in contact with, and responded to, the attractive forces of
those moral and spiritual ideas which Christ set before his
followers. The second was the readiness of the Western mind to accept
the philosophy of Israel,--a philosophy with the master principles of
which it had long been subconsciously familiar, and for the clear and
convincing presentation of which it had long been waiting. Of the
personal magnetism of Christ and the part that it has played in the
life of Christendom, I need not now speak. My present concern is to
show how the philosophy of Israel--accepted nominally for Christ's
sake, but really for its own--has influenced the educational policy
of the West.

In the Old Testament the Western mind found itself face to face with
the philosophical theories--theories about the world and its origin,
about Man and his destiny, about conduct and its consequences--to
which its own mythologies had given inadequate expression, but which
the poetical genius of a practical people was able to formulate to
the satisfaction of a practical world. In the philosophy of Israel
"Nature" was conceived of, not as animated by an indwelling life or
soul, but as the handiwork of an omnipotent God. In six days--so runs
the story--"God created the heavens and the earth." Whether by the
word which we translate as "days" were meant terrestrial days or
cosmic ages matters nothing, for in either case the broad fact
remains that according to the Biblical narrative the work of creation
occupied a definite period of time, and that on a certain day in the
remote past the Creator rested from his labours, surveyed his
handiwork, and pronounced it to be very good.

His next step was to stand aside from the world that he had made,
leave it to its own devices and see how it would behave itself in the
person of its lord and his viceroy,--Man. That the Creator should
place Creation on its trial and that it should speedily misbehave
itself, may be said to have been preordained. The idea of a Creator
postulates the further idea of a Fall. The finished work of an
omnipotent Creator is presumably good,--good in this sense, if in
no other, that its actualities must needs determine the creature's
ideals and standards of good. But the world, as Man knows it, seems
to be deeply tainted with evil. How is this anomaly to be accounted
for? The story of the Fall is the answer to this question. Whether
modern theology regards the story of the Fall as literally or only as
symbolically true, I cannot say for certain. The question is of minor
importance. What is of supreme importance is that Christian theology
accepts and has always accepted the consequences of the _idea_ of the
Fall, and that in formulating those consequences it has provided the
popular thought of the West with conceptions by which its whole
outlook on life has been, and is still, determined and controlled.

The idea of the Fall, as dramatised by Israel and interpreted by the
"Doctors" of the West, gives adequate expression--on the highest
level of his thinking--to the crude dualism which constitutes the
philosophy of the average man. Hence the immense attractiveness of
the idea to the practical races of the West,--to peoples whose chief
idea is to get their mental problems solved for them as speedily, as
authoritatively, and as intelligibly as possible, that they may thus
be free to devote themselves to "business," to the tangible affairs
of life.

Let us follow the philosophy of the Fall into some of its more
obvious consequences. The Universe (to use the most comprehensive
of all terms) is conceived of as divided into two dissevered
worlds,--the world of Nature, which is fallen, ruined, and accursed,
and the Supernatural world, which shares in the perfection and
centres in the glory of God. Between these two worlds intercourse is,
_in the nature of things_, impossible. But Man is not content that
his state of godless isolation should endure for ever. As a thinker,
he has exiled God from Nature and therefore from his own daily life.
But, as a "living soul," he craves for reunion with God; and so long
as the gulf between the two worlds remains impassable, his philosophy
will be felt to be incomplete. A supplementary theory of things must
therefore be devised. Corrupt and fallen as he is, Man cannot hope
to climb to Heaven; but God, with whom nothing is impossible, can at
his own good pleasure come down to earth. And come he will, whenever
that sense of all-pervading imperfection which exiled him, in its
premature attempt to explain itself, to his supernatural Heaven, is
realised in man's heart as a desire for better things. But what will
be the signs of his advent? The philosophy of the Fall is at no loss
for an answer to this question. There was a time when Nature was
the mirror of God's face. But it is so no longer. The mirror was
shattered when Adam fell. Henceforth it is only by troubling the
waters of Nature, by suspending the operation of its laws, by turning
its order into confusion, by producing _supernatural_ phenomena, or
"miracles" as they are vulgarly called, that God can announce his
presence to Man.

The question of the miraculous is one into which we need not enter.
Let us assume that God can somehow or other come to Man, and that
Man can somehow or other recognise God's presence and interpret his
speech. We have now to ask ourselves one vital question. With what
purpose does God visit the world which has forfeited his favour, and
what does he propose to do for ruined Nature and fallen Man? For
Nature, nothing. For Man, to provide a way of escape from Nature.
The dualism of popular thought must needs control the very efforts
that men make to deliver themselves from its consequences. The
irremediable corruption of Man's _nature_ is the assumption on which
the whole scheme of salvation is to be hinged. His deliverance from
sin and death will be effected, not by the development of any natural
capacity for good, but by his being induced to quit the path (or
paths) of Nature, and to walk, under Divine direction, in some new
and narrow path.

But how will this end be achieved? That Man cannot discover the path
of salvation for himself will, of course, be taken for granted. The
catastrophe of the Fall has corrupted his whole nature, and has
therefore blinded him to the light of truth. "The way of man is not
in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." The
promptings of his own nature, which he would follow if left to
himself, can do nothing but lead him astray. It will also be taken
for granted that the path of salvation is a path of action. When the
whole inward disposition is hopelessly corrupt, the idea of achieving
salvation by growing, by bringing one's hidden life to the perfection
of maturity, must perforce be abandoned. It is only by _doing_ God's
will that Man can hope to regain his favour. One thing, then, is
clear. Man must be told in exact detail what he is to do and also
(should this be necessary) how he is to do it. In other words, an
elaborate Code of Law, covering the whole range of human life and
regulating all the details of conduct, must be delivered by God to
Man. If Man will obey this Law he will be saved. If he will not obey
it, he will be lost.

There is another aspect of the idea of a supernatural revelation on
which it is necessary to touch. As intercourse between Nature and the
Supernatural world takes place, not in the natural order of things
but at the good pleasure of the Supernatural God, revelation must
needs be conceived of as a highly-specialised process. A revelation
which was addressed to the whole human race, and to which the whole
human race was able to respond, could scarcely be regarded as of
supernatural origin. The distinction between the supernaturalness of
the appeal and the naturalness of the response would gradually tend
to efface itself: for "what is universal is natural," and the voice
which every man was able to recognise would come at last to be
regarded as a voice from within oneself. If the supernatural
character of an alleged revelation is to be established, its
uniqueness must be duly emphasised. A particular people must be
chosen for the purpose of the divine experiment. A particular
law-giver must be commissioned to declare to the chosen people the
will of the Supernatural God. And from time to time a particular
prophet must be sent to rebuke the chosen people for its
backslidings, to show it where it has gone astray, and to exhort
it to turn again to its God.

 For if it is far from Man to discern good, it is still farther from
him to desire it. How, then, shall he be induced to walk in the path
which the Law has prescribed for him? To this question there can be
but one answer: By the promise of external reward, and the threat of
external punishment. To set before Man an ideal of life--an ideal
which would be to him an unfailing fountain of magnetic force and
guiding light--is not in the power of legalism. For if an ideal is
to appeal to one, it must be the consummation of one's own natural
tendencies; but the current of Man's natural tendencies is ever
setting towards perdition, and the vanishing point of his heart's
desires is death. Were an ideal revealed to the Law-giver and by him
presented to his fellow-men, and were the heart of Man to respond
to the appeal that it made to him, the basic assumption of
legalism--that of the corruption of Man's nature--would be
undermined; for Man would have proved that it belonged to his nature
to turn towards the light,--in other words, that he had a natural
capacity for good. The plain truth is that legalism is precluded, by
its own first principles from appealing to any motive higher than
that instinctive desire for pleasure which has as its counterpart a
quasi-physical fear of pain. It is impossible for the lawgiver to
appeal to Man's better nature, to say to him: "Cannot you see for
yourself that this course of action is better than that,--that love
is better than hatred, mercy than cruelty, loyalty than treachery,
continence than self-indulgence?" What he can and must say to him is
this, and this only; "If you obey the Law you will be rewarded. If
you disobey it you will be punished." And this he must say to him
again and again.

It is true that among the many commandments which the Law sets before
its votaries, there are some--the moral commandments, properly so
called--which do in point of fact, and in defiance of the
philosophical assumption of legalism, appeal to the better nature
of Man. But these are at best an insignificant minority; and their
relative importance will necessarily diminish with the development
into its natural consequences of the root idea of legalism. For
legalism, just so far as it is strong, sincere, and self-confident,
will try to cover the whole of human life. The religion that is
content to do less than this, the religion that acquiesces in the
distinction between what is religious and what is secular, is, as we
shall presently see, a religion in decay. Religion may perhaps be
defined as Man's instinctive effort to bring a central aim into his
life and so provide himself with an authoritative standard of values.
In its highest and purest form, Religion controls Man's life, both as
a whole and in all its essential details, through the central aim or
spiritual ideal which it sets before him and the consequent standard
of values with which it equips him. But legalism is debarred by its
distrust of human nature from trying to control the details of life
through any central aim or ideal; and its assumption that all the
commandments of the Law are of divine origin, and therefore equally
binding upon Man, is obviously incompatible with the conception of
a standard of moral worth. Its attempt to cover the whole of life
must therefore resolve itself into an attempt to control the details
of conduct _in all their detail_; to deal with them, one by one,
bringing each in turn under the operation of an appropriate
commandment, and if necessary deducing from the commandment a special
rule to meet the special case. In other words, besides being told
what he is not to do (in the more strictly moral sphere of conduct),
and what he is to do (in the more strictly ceremonial sphere), Man
must be told, in the fullest detail, how he is to do whatever may
have to be done in the daily round of his life. Such at least is the
aim of legalism. The nets of the Law are woven fine, and flung far
and wide. If there are any acts in a man's life which escape through
their clinging meshes, the force of Nature is to be blamed for this
partial failure, not the zeal of the Doctors of the Law.

It is towards this inverted ideal that the doctrine of salvation
through obedience will lead its votaries, when its master
principle--that of distrust of human nature--has been followed out
into all its natural consequences,--followed out, as it was by
Pharisaism, with a fearless logic and a fixed tenacity of purpose.
An immense and ever-growing host of formulated rules, not one in a
hundred of which makes any appeal to the heart of Man or has any
meaning for his higher reason, will crush his life down, slowly and
inexorably, beneath their deadly burden. "At every step, at the work
of his calling, at prayer, at meals, at home and abroad, from early
morning till late in the evening, from youth to old age, the dead,
the deadening formula"[3] will await him. The path of obedience
for the sake of obedience speedily degenerates into the path of
mechanical obedience; and the end of that path is the triumph of
machinery over life.

For it is to the letter of the Law, rather than to the spirit, that
the strict legalist is bound to conform. The letter of the Law is
divine; and obedience to it is within the power of every man who will
take the trouble to learn its commandments. What the spirit of the
Law may be, is beyond the power of fallen Man to determine; and were
an attempt made to interpret it, the result would be a state of
widespread moral chaos, for there would be as many interpretations of
it as there were minds that had the courage and the initiative to
undertake so audacious a task. As it is with the Law as such, so it
is with each of its numerous commandments. The man who professes to
obey the spirit of a commandment is in secret revolt against its
divine authority. For he is presuming to criticise it in the light
of his own conscience and insight, and to limit his obedience to it
to that particular aspect of it which he judges to be worthy of his
devotion. From such a criticism of the Fourth Commandment as "the
Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath" to open violation
of the letter of the commandment (on this occasion or on that) there
is but a single step. The whole structure of legalism would collapse
if men were allowed to absolve themselves from obedience to the
letter of the Law, out of regard for what they conceived to be its
spirit. To interpret a commandment, in the sense of providing for its
application to the fresh cases that may arise for treatment, is the
work, not of poets and prophets but of Doctors and Scribes. The path
of literal, and therefore of mechanical, obedience is the only path
of safety; and the more punctiliously the letter is obeyed, the more
perfect will be the machinery of salvation, and the nearer will
legalism get to the appointed goal of its labours,--the extinction
of spiritual life.

As is the life that legalism expects us to lead, so is the scheme of
rewards and punishments by which (as we have already seen) it
constrains us to lead it. The materialisation of life that takes
place under the sway of the Law is accurately matched and measured by
the materialisation of the doctrine of moral retribution. The general
idea that virtue is rewarded and vice punished is profoundly true.
But the idea is easily misinterpreted; and it necessarily shares in
the degradation of one's general conception of life. Virtue rewards
the virtuous by making them more virtuous. Vice punishes the vicious
by making them more vicious. So long as the rewards for which we hope
and the punishments which we dread are conceived of as inward and
spiritual, we are on safe ground. But such a scheme of rewards and
punishments is wholly foreign to the genius of supernaturalism. It
is not by becoming more virtuous that we are saved. It is not by
becoming more vicious that we are lost. We are saved by obedience,
we are lost by disobedience, to the formulated rules of a
divinely-delivered law. To appeal to Man's higher self, when there is
no higher self to appeal to,--to set before him as the supreme reward
of virtue the development of his better nature, when his nature is
intrinsically evil,--would be an obvious waste of labour. And as,
apart from the presumed repugnance of the "natural man" to the
presumed delights of the Law, the intrinsic attractiveness of the
life that legalism prescribes must needs diminish in exact proportion
as the authority of the Law becomes oppressive and vexatious, and the
letter of it tends to establish itself at the expense of the
spirit,--it is clear that a scheme of rewards and punishments will
become, in effect as well as in theory, the only weapon in the
armoury of the legalist. It is also clear that there will be much
work for that one weapon to do. The central tendencies of Man's
nature, besides being _ex hypothesi_ evil, are antagonistic _de
facto_ to the galling despotism and the irrational requirements of
the Law; and the lawgiver, far from being able to enlist those
tendencies under his banner by appealing to the highest of them--the
natural leaders of the rest,--must be prepared to overcome their
collective resistance by winning to his side the lowest of them, by
terrifying Man's weaker self with threats, by corrupting his baser
self with bribes. The ruin of Man's nature, whether hypothetical or
actual,[4] has left intact (or relatively intact) only the animal
base of it. It is to his animal instincts, then, that legalism must
appeal in its endeavour to influence his conduct. In other words, the
punishments and the rewards to which Man is to look forward must be
of the same _genus_, if not of the same _species_, as the lash of
the whip that punishes the lagging race-horse, or the lump of sugar
that rewards his exertions. And with the inevitable growth of egoism
and individualism in the demoralising atmosphere with which legalism
(and its lineal successors) must needs invest human life, Man's
conception of the rewards and punishments that await him will
deteriorate rather than improve. The Jewish desire for national
prosperity was an immeasurably nobler motive to action than is the
Christian's fear of the quasi-material fires of Hell. Indeed it is
nothing but our familiarity with the latter motive that has blinded
us to its inherent baseness. It is no exaggeration to say that there
have been epochs in the history of Christendom (as there are still
quarters of Christian thought and phases of Christian faith) in which
the trumpet-call that was meant to rouse the soldiers of God to
renewed exertion has rung in their ears as an ignominious "_sauve qui

The tendency of legalism to externalise life has another aspect. In
the eyes of the strict legalist there is no such thing as an inward
state of human worth. The doctrine of the corruption of Man's nature
is incompatible with the idea of "goodness" being measurable
(potentially if not actually) in terms of the health and happiness
of the "inward man." Goodness, as the legalist conceives it, is
measurable in terms of correctness of outward conduct, and of that
only. And when life is regulated by an elaborate Law, the rules of
which are familiar to all men, there is no reason why a man's outward
conduct should not be appraised, with some approach to accuracy, by
his neighbours and friends. Hence it is that in the atmosphere of
legalism an excessive deference is wont to be paid to public, and
even to parochial, opinion. The life of the votary of the Law is
lived under strict and constant _surveillance_; and a man learns
at last to value himself as his conduct is valued by a critical
onlooker, and to make it the business of his life to produce
"results" which can be weighed and measured by conventional
standards, rather than to grow in grace,--with silent, subtle,
unobtrusive growth.

Were I to try to prove that the _régime_ of the Law was necessarily
fatal to the development of Man's higher faculties--conscience,
freedom, reason, imagination, intuition, aspiration, and the rest--I
should waste my time. Legalism, as a scheme of life, is based on the
assumption that development along the lines of Man's nature is a
movement towards perdition; and to reproach the legalist for having
arrested the growth of the human spirit by the pressure of the Law
were to provoke the rejoinder that he had done what he intended
to do. The two schemes of Salvation--the mechanical and the
evolutional--have so little in common that neither can pass judgment
on the other without begging the question that is in dispute. When I
come to consider the effect of legalism--or rather of the philosophy
that underlies legalism--on education, I may perhaps be able to find
some court of law in which the case between the two schemes can be
tried with the tacit consent of both. Meanwhile I can but note
that in the atmosphere of the Law growth is as a matter of fact
arrested,--arrested so effectually that the counter process of
degeneration begins to take its place. The proof of this statement,
if proof be needed, is that legalism, when its master principle has
been fully grasped and fearlessly applied, takes the form of
Pharisaism, and that it is possible for the Pharisee to "count
himself to have apprehended," to congratulate himself on his
spiritual achievement, to believe, in all seriousness, that he has
closed his account with God.

Pharisaism is at once the logical consummation and the _reductio ad
absurdum_ of legalism. It is to the genius of Israel that we owe that
practical interpretation of the fundamental principle of
supernaturalism, which was embodied in the doctrine of salvation
through obedience to the letter of a Law. And it is to the genius
of Israel that we owe that rigorously logical interpretation of
the _axiomata media_ of legalism, which issued in due season in
Pharisaism. The world owes much to the courage and sincerity
of Israel,--to his unique force of character, to his fanatical
earnestness, to his relentless tenacity of purpose. In particular,
it owes a debt which it can never liquidate to what was at once the
cause and the result of his over-seriousness,--to his lack of any
sense of humour,--a negative quality which allowed his practical
logic to run its course without let or hindrance, and prevented
the "brakes" of common-sense from acting when he found himself, in
his very zeal for the Law, descending an inclined plane into an
unfathomable abyss of turpitude and folly. The man (or people) who is
able, of his own experience, to tell the rest of mankind what a given
scheme of life really means and is really worth, owing to his having
offered himself as the _corpus vile_ for the required experiment, is
one of the greatest benefactors of the human race. Had Israel been
less sincere or less courageous, we might never have known what
deadly fallacies lurk in the seemingly harmless dualism of popular

       *       *       *       *       *

But the West, it will be said, is Christian, not Jewish. Is it
Christian? If the word "Christian" connotes acceptance of the
teaching as well as devotion to the person of Christ, it is scarcely
applicable either to the official or to the popular religion of
the West. For Christ, the stern denouncer of the Pharisees, was
the whole-hearted enemy of legalism; and the legal conception of
salvation through mechanical obedience still dominates the religion
and life of Christendom.

The Jewish Law tried to cover, and tended more and more to cover, the
whole of human life. It is true that it controlled the details rather
than the totality of life; but the reason why it dealt with life,
detail by detail, was that its exponents, owing to their spiritual
purblindness, were unable to see the wood for the trees. In
Christendom, while the doctrine of salvation through mechanical
obedience was retained, the authority of a Church was substituted
for that of a Code of Law. The growth of the idea of Humanity, as
opposed to that of mere nationality, made this necessary. As the
former idea began to compete with the latter, the need for a
divinely-commissioned society which should declare the will and
communicate the grace of God, not to one nation only but to all men
who were willing to hearken and obey,--and whose action, as a channel
of intercourse between God and Man, should be continuous rather
than spasmodic,--began to make itself felt. A Code of Law might
conceivably suffice to regulate the life of one small nation;
but when we consider under what varying conditions of climate,
occupation, custom, tradition, and so forth, the general life of
Humanity is carried on, we see clearly that no one Code can even
begin to suffice for the needs of the whole human race. Hence, and
for other reasons which we need not now consider, the West, in
accepting the philosophy of Israel, translated its master idea of
salvation through mechanical obedience into the notation of
ecclesiastical, as distinguished from legal, control.

That obedience to a supernaturally-commissioned Church, or rather to
the One supernaturally-commissioned Church, is the first and last
duty of Man, is the fundamental assumption on which the stately
fabric of Catholic Christianity has been reared. In various ways the
Church has striven to exact implicit obedience from her children.
Through the medium of the Confessional she has secured some measure
of control over their morals. By regulating the worship of God--both
public and private--she has been able to rule off a sphere of human
conduct in which her own authority is necessarily paramount. By
supplying the faithful with rations of "theological information" (to
quote the apt phrase of a pillar of orthodoxy), and requiring them to
accept these on her authority as indisputably true, she has succeeded
in imposing her yoke on thought as well as on conduct. By claiming
to control the outflow of Divine grace, through the channels of
the Sacraments, she has been able to threaten the rebellious with
the dread penalty of being cut off from intercourse with God.
And by telling men, with stern insistence, that the choice between
obedience and disobedience to herself is the choice between eternal
happiness and eternal misery, she has sought to extend her dominion
beyond the limits of time and to raise to an infinite power her
supremacy over the souls of men.

But just because the life of collective Humanity is large, complex,
and full of change and variety, the Church which aspires to be
universal, however strong may be her desire to superintend all the
details of human thought and conduct, and however ready she may be
to adapt herself to local and temporal variations, must needs allow
whole aspects and whole spheres of human life to escape from her
control. The history of Christendom is the history of the gradual
emancipation of the Western world from the despotism of the Church.
The various activities of the human spirit--art, science, literature,
law, statecraft, and the rest--have, one and all, freed themselves by
slow degrees from ecclesiastical control, till little or nothing has
been left for the Church to regulate but her own rites and
ceremonies, the morals (in a narrow and ever-narrowing sense of the
word), and the faith (in the theological sense of the word), of the

With the emancipation of Man's higher activities from ecclesiastical
control, the distinction between the _religious_ and the _secular_
life has gradually established itself. That this should happen was
inevitable. Mechanical obedience being of the essence of supernatural
religion, the secularising of human life became absolutely necessary
if any vital progress was to be made. The Church patronised art,
music, and the drama so far as they served her purposes. When they
outgrew those purposes, in response to the expansive forces of human
nature, she treated them as secular and let them go their several
ways. In the interests of theology she tried to keep physical science
in leading-strings; but when, after a bitter struggle, science broke
loose from her control, she treated it too as secular and let it go
its way.

Let us see what this distinction involves. As salvation is to be
achieved by obedience to the Church and in no other way, it follows
that in all those spheres of life which are outside the jurisdiction
of the Church (except, of course, so far as questions of "morals" may
arise in connection with them), Man's conduct and general demeanour
are supposed to have no bearing on his eternal destiny. This is the
view of the secular life which is taken by the Church. And not by the
Church alone. As, little by little, the Institution--be it Church, or
Sect, or Code, or Scripture--which claims to be the sole accredited
agent of the Eternal God, relaxes its hold upon the ever-expanding
life of Humanity, all those developments of human nature which cease
to be amenable to its control come to be regarded as mundane, as
unspiritual, as carnal, as matters with which God has no concern.

Were this view of the secular life confined to those who call
themselves religious, no great harm would be done. Unfortunately, the
secular life, which is under the influence of the current conception
of God as one who holds no intercourse with Man except through
certain accredited agents, is ready to acquiesce in the current
estimate of itself as godless, and to accept as valid the distinction
between the religious life and its own. Hence comes a general
lowering of Man's aims. As the secular life is content to regard
itself as godless, and so deprives itself of any central and unifying
aim, it is but natural that success in each of its many branches
should come to be regarded as an end in itself. It is but natural, to
take examples at random, that the artist should follow art for art's
sake, that the man of science should deify positive knowledge, that
the statesman should regard political power as intrinsically
desirable, that the merchant and the manufacturer should live to make
money, and that the highest motive which appeals to all men alike
should be the desire to bulk large in the eyes of their fellow-men.
Even the ardent reformer, whose enthusiasm makes him unselfish,
pursues the ideal to which he devotes himself, as an end in itself,
and makes no attempt to define or interpret it in terms of its
relation to that supreme and central ideal which he ought to regard
as the final end of human endeavour. When we remind ourselves,
further, that secularism, equally with supernaturalism, tends to
identify "Nature" with lower nature--in other words, with the
material side of the Universe and the carnal side of Man's being,--we
shall realise how easy it is for the secular life, once it has lost,
through its divorce from religion, the tonic stimulus of a central
aim, to sink, without directly intending to do so, into the mire of
materialism,--a materialism of conduct as well as of thought.

But if the loss to the secular life, from its compulsory
despiritualisation, is great, the loss to religion, from the
secularisation of so much of Man's rational activity, is greater
still. The very distinction between the secular and the religious
life is profoundly irreligious, in that it rests on the tacit
assumption that there is no unity, no central aim, in human life;
and the fact that official religion is ready to acquiesce in the
distinction, is ready, in other words, to make a compromise with its
enemy "the world," is a proof that it is secretly conscious of its
own failing power, and is even beginning to despair of itself. As it
resigns itself to this feeling (as yet perhaps but dimly realised),
its reasons for entertaining it must needs grow stronger. The
progressive enlargement of the sphere of Man's secular activities is
accompanied, step for step, by the devitalisation of the idea of the
Divine. What kind of intercourse can God be supposed to hold with Man
if the latter is to be left to his own devices in what he must needs
regard as among the more important aspects of his life,--in his
commercial and industrial enterprises, in his art, in his literature,
in his study of Nature's laws, in his mastery of Nature's forces,
in his pursuit of positive truth and practical good? As in these
matters Man frees himself, little by little, from the yoke of
supernaturalism, which he has been accustomed to identify with
religion, his formal conception of his relation to God and of the
part that God plays in his life--the conception that is defined and
elucidated for him by religious "orthodoxy"--becomes of necessity
more irrational, more mechanical, more unreal, more repugnant to his
better nature and to the higher developments of his "common-sense."
The tendency to exalt the letter of what is spoken or written, at the
expense of the spirit, is as much of the essence of ecclesiasticism
as of legalism. "_Si dans les règles du salut le fond l'emporterait
sur la forme, ce serait la ruine du sacerdoce._" And, as a matter of
experience, the hair-splitting puerilities of Pharisaism under the
Old Dispensation have been matched, and more than matched, in the
spheres of ritual, of dogmatic theology, and of casuistical morality,
under the New. As Man gradually shifts the centre of gravity of his
being from the religious to the secular side of his life, this
puerile element in religion--the element of ultra-formalism, of
irrationality, of unreality--tends, like a morbid growth, to draw to
itself the vital energies of what was once a healthy organism but
is now degenerating into a "body of death." If, in these days of
absorbing secular activity, Man continues to tolerate the theories
and practices of the religious experts, the reason is--apart from the
influence of custom and tradition and of his respect for venerable
and "established" institutions--that they are things which he has
neither time nor inclination to investigate, and which he can
therefore afford to tolerate as being far removed from what is vital
and central in his life. I am told that the Catholic Church holds, in
the case of a dying man, "that the eternal fate of the soul, for good
or for evil, may depend upon the reception or the non-reception of
absolution, and even of extreme unction." That the truly appalling
conception of God which is implicit in this sentence should still
survive, that it should not yet have been swept out of existence by
the outraged common-sense and good feeling of Humanity, is a proof of
the immense indifference with which the Western world, absorbed as it
is in secular pursuits, regards religion.

It may indeed be doubted if men have ever been so non-religious as
are at the present day the inhabitants of our highly-civilised and
thoroughly-Christianised West. At any rate the absence of a central
aim in human life has never been so complete as it is now. Most men
are content to drift through life, toiling for the daily bread which
will enable them to go on living, yet neither knowing nor caring to
know why they are alive. There is a minority of stronger and more
resolute men who devote life with unwavering energy to the pursuit of
what I may call private and personal ends. Thus the man of business
lives for the acquisition of riches; the scholar and the scientist,
of knowledge; the statesman, of power; the speculator, of excitement;
the libertine, of pleasure; and so forth. Few are they who ever
dream of devoting life as a whole to the pursuit of an end which is
potentially attainable by all men, and which is therefore worthy of
Man as Man. The idea of there being such an end has indeed been
almost wholly lost sight of. Those among us who are of larger
discourse than the rest and less absorbed by personal aims, ask
themselves mournfully: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here?
Is life worth living? and other such questions; and being unable to
answer them to their satisfaction, or get them answered, resign
themselves to a state of quasi-stoical endurance. That religion
cannot be expected to answer these questions--the very questions
which it is its right and its duty to answer--seems to be taken for
granted by all who ask them. Religion, as it is now conceived of,
is a thing for priests and ministers, for churches and chapels, for
Sundays and Saints'-days, for the private devotions of women and
children, for educational debates in Parliament, for the first lesson
on the time-table (9.5 to 9.45 a.m.) of a Public Elementary School.
The "unbeliever" is eager to run a tilt against religion. The
"non-believer" is content to ignore it. The "believer" is careful to
exclude it from nine-tenths of his life. It is to this pass that the
gospel of salvation by machinery has brought the most "progressive"
part of the human race.

The phase of non-religiousness through which the West is passing has,
we may rest assured, a meaning and a purpose. At the meetings of the
Catholic Truth Society it is customary for the speakers to deplore
the steady relapse of Christendom into paganism, which is going on
before their eyes. As the Church had things her own way for ten
centuries or more, these complaints on the part of her champions are
equivalent to a confession on her part of disastrous failure. Why is
the Church, after having evangelised the West and ruled it for a
thousand years, allowing it to slide back into paganism? The answer
to this question is that she herself is unwittingly paganising it.
I mean by this that, without intending to do so, she is compelling
it to choose between secularised life and arrested growth. Were a
growing tree encircled with an iron band, the day would surely come
when the tree, by the force of its own natural expansion, would
either shatter the band or allow it to cut deep into its own stem.
The growing consciousness of Humanity has long been encircled by a
rigid and inadequate conception of God. The gradual secularisation of
the West means that the soul of man is straining that particular
conception of God to breaking-point: and it is infinitely better that
it should be broken to pieces than that its iron should be allowed to
sink deep into the soul.

The secularisation of contemporary life means this, and more than
this. It means the gradual handing back of Man's life to the control
of Nature,--of Nature which is as yet unequal to the task that is
being set it, owing to its having been through all these centuries
identified with its lower self, taught to distrust itself, and
otherwise misinterpreted and mismanaged, but which, in obedience to
the primary instinct of self-preservation, will gradually rise to
the level of the responsibility that is being laid upon it. With the
further secularisation of Man's life, the need for religion to make
effective the control of Nature, by pointing out to it its own ideal
and so co-ordinating and organising all its forces, will gradually
make itself felt, and the regeneration of religion will at last have

       *       *       *       *       *

For many centuries the current of religious belief in the West was
almost entirely confined to the one channel of Catholic Christianity.
There the mighty river pursued his course, "brimming and bright and
large," till the time came when, with the gradual loss of his
pristine energy--

              "Sands began
  To hem his wintry march, and dam his streams
  And split his currents";

Side channels were formed, and grew in number; and though Catholicism
is still the central channel for the moving waters, the river has now
fallen on evil days, and "strains along," "shorn and parcelled," like
the river of the Asian desert--

    "forgetting the bright speed he bore
  In his high mountain cradle."

Of the many side streams into which Western Christianity has split,
the majority may be spoken of collectively as Protestant.
Protestantism claims to have liberated a large part of Christendom
from the yoke of Rome; and it is therefore right that we should ask
ourselves in what sense and to what extent it has brought freedom
to the human spirit. The answer to this question is, I think, that
though Protestantism has fought a good fight for the _principle_ of
freedom, it has failed--for many reasons, the chief of which is that
it began its work before men were ripe for freedom--to lead its
votaries into the path of spiritual life and growth. Confronted by
the uncompromising dogmatism of Rome, it had to devise a counter
dogmatism of its own in order to rally round it the faint-hearted
who, though eager to absolve themselves from obedience to the
despotism of the Church, yet feared to walk by their own "inward
light." In making this move, which was not the less false because
it was in a sense inevitable, Protestantism may be said to have
renounced its mission. That it has done much, in various ways, for
human progress is undeniable; but the fact remains that it has
failed to revitalise Christianity. Its master-stroke in its struggle
with priestcraft--the substitution of "faith" for "works" as the
basis of salvation--has done little or nothing to relieve the West
from the deadly pressure of Israel's philosophy. For faith, as
Protestantism understands the word, is the movement of the soul,
not towards the ideal end of its being but towards an alleged
supernatural transaction,--the redemption of the world by the
death of Christ on the Cross. Gratitude to Christ for his love and
self-sacrifice may indeed be an effective motive to action, but faith
in the efficacy of Christ's atoning sacrifice is no guide to conduct.
The inability of Protestantism to deduce a scheme of life from its
own master-principle of salvation by "faith" has compelled it, in
its desire to avoid the pitfalls of antinomianism, to revive in a
modified form the practical legalism of the Old Testament. The
Protestant desires to show his gratitude to Christ by leading a
correct life; but his distrust of his own higher nature compels him
to go to some external authority for ethical guidance; and as he has
repudiated the authority of the supernaturally-inspired Church, he
is compelled to have recourse to the supernaturally-inspired Bible.
Hence the traditional alliance between Protestantism and the Old
Testament, in which the path of duty is far more clearly and
consistently defined than in the New. And hence the singular fact
that Calvinism, which is the backbone of Protestantism, and which in
theory, and even (at times) in practice, regards "works" as "filthy
rags," finds its other self in Puritanism, which is in the main a
recrudescence of Jewish legalism in the more strictly _moral_ sphere
of conduct.

It is owing to its alliance with the legalism of Israel, that
Protestantism has been in some respects an even greater enemy of
human freedom than Catholicism, and has on the whole done more than
the latter to narrow and maim human life. The strict legalist tries,
as we have seen, to bring the whole of human life under the direct
control of the Law; and when he finds, as the Puritan did in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, that whole aspects of life have
in point of fact escaped from the control of religion and won from
the latter a tacit acceptance of themselves as secular, he not
unnaturally tends to regard these non-religious aspects of life as
"carnal," and therefore as unacceptable to God. Hence the antipathy
of the Protestant, in his seasons of Puritanical fanaticism, to
art, music, the drama, and other noble fruits of the human spirit.
Catholicism has found itself compelled to tolerate the secular
activities of the layman; Protestantism, while tolerating those
activities by which man earns his daily bread and which may be spoken
of collectively as "business," has from time to time waged war
against all the developments of human nature which are neither
spiritual (in the narrow and rigid sense of the word) nor obviously
useful, and has sought to extirpate the corresponding desires from
the heart of Man. On the more artistic side of human life, it has
done as much to impede the growth of the soul as Catholicism has
done on the more intellectual side; and through its influence on
character it has done as much to harden the fibre of the soul as
Catholicism has done to relax it, the tendency of both religions
being to destroy that elasticity of fibre which mediates between
hardness and flabbiness, and which has its counterpart in vigorous
health and strength.

The truth is--but it is a truth which Protestantism is apt
to misinterpret, and which Catholicism finds it expedient to
ignore--that religion is not a branch or department of human life,
but a way of looking at life as a whole. Indeed, it is of the essence
of religion (as has been already suggested) that it should look
at life as a whole, and so be able to look at each of its details
in the light of that supreme synthesis which we call Divine. And
the religion which sanctions, and by its own action necessitates,
the division of life into two branches--the secular and the
religious--has obviously missed its destiny and betrayed its trust.

       *       *       *       *       *

A brief summary of the contents of this chapter will prepare the way
for the next. The movements of higher thought in the West have been
dominated, nominally by the professional thinker, really by the
average man. As a thinker, the average man is incurably dualistic.
Enslaved as he is to the requirements of his instrument, language, he
instinctively opposes mind to body, spirit to matter, good to evil,
the Creator to the Creation, God to Man; and in each case he fixes a
great gulf between the "mighty opposites" that constitute the given
antithesis. Confronted by the mystery of existence, he has explained
it by the story of Creation. Confronted by the twin mysteries of sin
and sorrow, he has explained them by the story of the Fall. From the
story of the Fall he has passed on to the doctrine of original sin,
to the belief that Nature in general, and human nature in particular,
is corrupt and ruined, and therefore intrinsically evil. Shrinking
from the hopeless prospect which this belief opens up to him, he
has found refuge in the conception of another world,--of a world
above and beyond Nature, a world of Divine perfection from which
information and guidance can at God's good pleasure be doled out
to Man. For a "supernatural revelation" (as theologians call this
sending of help from God to Man) special instruments are obviously
needed,--a special People, a special Scripture, a special Lawgiver,
a special Prophet, a special Church. Hence has arisen the idea that
certain persons, certain castes, certain institutions have a monopoly
of Divine truth and grace, and are therefore in a position to dictate
to their fellow-men how they are to bear themselves if they wish to
be "saved," what they are to believe, what they are to do. From this
the transition has been easy to the further idea that salvation is
to be achieved by blind and mechanical obedience,--by renouncing
the right to follow one's own higher nature, to obey one's own
conscience, to use one's own reason, to map out one's own life. In
order to induce men to yield the obedience which is required of them,
their lower instincts have had to be appealed to (for the higher,
ruined by the Fall, have presumably ceased to operate),--their desire
for pleasure by the promise of Heaven, their fear of pain by the
threat of Hell. And in order that their lives may be kept under
close supervision and their merits accurately appraised, an
ever-increasing stress has had to be laid on what is outward,
visible, and measurable in human life, as distinguished from what
is inward and occult,--on correctness in the details of prescribed
conduct, or again in the details of formulated belief. As the idea of
salvation through mechanical obedience develops into a systematised
scheme of life, the higher and more spiritual faculties of Man's
nature become gradually atrophied by disuse. In other words, the
channel of soul growth--the only channel that leads to spiritual
health, and therefore to "salvation"--becomes gradually obstructed,
with the result that the vital energies of the soul tend either to
dissipate themselves and run to waste, or to make new channels for
themselves,--channels of degenerative tendency, the end of which is
spiritual death.


[1] By "self-satisfaction" I mean satisfaction with the
existing system _as a system_. That strenuous efforts are being made
to improve the system, within its own limits, I can well believe. But
the system itself, with the defects and limitations which are of its
essence, seems to be regarded as adequate, and even as final, by
nearly all who work under it.

[2] 1862 to 1895 A.D.

[3] The _Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ_, by Dr.
Emil Schürer.

[4] In its extreme form legalism tends to bring about that
ruin of human nature which it starts by postulating; for, by
forbidding Man's higher faculties to energise, it necessarily arrests
their development, and so makes it possible for the lower faculties
to draw to themselves an undue share of the rising sap of Man's



The God of popular theology has been engaged for more than thirty
centuries in educating his child, Man. His system of education has
been based on complete distrust of Man's nature. In the schools which
Man has been required to attend--the Legal School under the Old
Dispensation, the Ecclesiastical School under the New--it has
been taken for granted that he can neither discern what is true,
nor desire what is good. The truth of things has therefore been
formulated for him, and he has been required to learn it by rote and
profess his belief in it, clause by clause. His duty has also been
formulated for him, and he has been required to perform it, detail by
detail, in obedience to the commandments of an all-embracing Code, or
to the direction of an all-controlling Church.

It has further been taken for granted that Man's instincts and
impulses are wholly evil, and that "Right Faith" and "Right Conduct"
are entirely repugnant to his nature. In order to overcome the
resistance which his corrupt heart and perverse will might therefore
be expected to offer to the authority and influence of his teachers,
a scheme of rewards and punishments has had to be devised for his
benefit. As there is no better nature for the scheme to appeal to,
an appeal has had to be made to fears and hopes which are avowedly
base. The refractory child has had to be threatened with corporal
punishment in the form of an eternity of torment in Hell. And he has
had to be bribed by the offer of prizes, the chief of which is an
eternity of selfish enjoyment in Heaven,--enjoyment so selfish that
it will consist with, and even (it is said) be heightened by, the
knowledge that in the Final Examination the failures have been many
and the prize-winners few.

And as, under this system of education, obedience is the first and
last of virtues, so self-will--in the sense of daring to think and
act for oneself--is the first and last of offences. It is for the
sin of spiritual initiative--the sin of trying to work out one's
own salvation by the exercise of reason, conscience, imagination,
aspiration, and other spiritual faculties--that the direst penalties
are reserved. The path of salvation is the path of blind, passive,
mechanical obedience. To deviate even a little from that path is to
incur the penalty of eternal death.

       *       *       *       *       *

As Man is educated by his father, God, so must the child be educated
by his father, the adult man. If the nature of Man is intrinsically
evil, the child must needs have been conceived in sin and shapen in
iniquity. If Man, even in his maturity, cannot be trusted to think
or desire or do what is right, still less can he be so trusted when
he is that relatively immature and helpless being, the child. If
the adult man has to be told in the fullest detail (whether by a
formulated Law or by a living Church) how he is to conduct himself,
still greater is the need for such or similar direction to be given
to the child. If the adult is to be "saved" by strict and mechanical
obedience, and by no other method, still greater is the need for
such obedience on the part of the child. If a system of external
and quasi-material rewards and punishments is indispensable in the
education of the adult, still less can it be dispensed with in the
education of the child. These _a fortiori_ arguments are strong; but
there is a stronger. The child will develop into the adult, and he
cannot too soon be initiated into the life which, as the adult, he
will have to lead. The process of educating the child is not merely
analogous to the process of "saving" the man. It is a vital part
of it. For childhood is the time when human nature is most easily
moulded; and the bent that is given to it then is, in nine cases out
of ten, decisive of its ultimate destiny.

It is clear, then, that if Man is to be "saved" by a _régime_ of
mechanical obedience, his education in his childhood must be based on
the same general conception of life and duty. This means, in the
first place, that the child must be brought up in an atmosphere of
severity. The God of the Old Testament--the Deity whose _nimbus_
overshadows the life of the West--combines in his own person the
functions of law-giver, governor, prosecutor, judge, and executioner.
His subjects are a race of vile offenders, whose every impulse is
bad, and whose nature turns towards evil as inevitably as a plant
turns towards the light. As he cannot trust them to know good from
evil, he has had to provide them with an elaborate code of law; and
he has had to take for granted that, left to themselves, they will
break his commandments, and find pleasure in doing so. From the very
outset, then, his attitude towards them has been one of suspicion and
rising anger. He is always on the look-out for disobedience, and he
is ready to chastise the offender almost before he has had time to
commit the offence. His pupils, brought up in an atmosphere of
suspicion, and taught from their earliest days to disbelieve in and
condemn themselves, can scarcely be blamed for living _down_ to the
evil reputation which they have unfortunately gained. To persuade a
man that he is a miserable sinner is to go some way towards leading
him into the path of sin. Systematic distrust paralyses and
demoralises those who live under it, and so tends to justify the
cruelty into which it too readily develops. The penalties which God
has attached to the sins which he may almost be said to have provoked
Man to commit, are so terrible and unjust that if the fear of them
has not robbed life of all its sunshine, the reason is that their
very horror has numbed Man's imagination, and made it impossible for
him even to begin to picture to himself their lurid gloom.

In the West men have loyally striven to reproduce towards their
children the supposed attitude of their God of Wrath towards
themselves. From very tender years the child has been brought up in
an atmosphere of displeasure and mistrust. His spontaneous activities
have been repressed as evil. His every act has been looked upon with
suspicion. He has been ever on the defensive, like a prisoner in the
dock. He has been ever on the alert for a sentence of doom. He has
been cuffed, kicked, caned, flogged, shut up in the dark, fed on
bread and water, sent hungry to bed, subjected to a variety of
cruel and humiliating punishments, terrified with idle--but to him
appalling--threats. In his misery he has shed a whole ocean of
tears,--the salt and bitter tears of hopeless grief and helpless
anger, not the soul-refreshing tears which are sometimes distilled
from sorrow by the sunshine of love. But of all the cruelties to
which he has been subjected, the most devilish has been that of
making him believe in his own criminality, in the corruption of his
innocent heart. In the deadly shade of that chilling cloud, the
flower of his opening life has too often withered before it has had
time to expand. For what is most cruel in cruelty is its tendency to
demoralise its victims, especially those who are of tender years--to
harden them, to brutalise them, to make them stubborn and secretive,
to make them shifty and deceitful, to throw them back upon
themselves, to shut them up within themselves, to quench the joy of
their hearts, to numb their sympathies, to cramp their expansive
energies, to narrow and darken their whole outlook on life. All this
the cruelty of his seniors would do to the child, even if he had not
been taught to believe in his own inborn wickedness. But that belief,
with which he has been indoctrinated from his earliest days,
necessarily weakens his power of resisting evil, and so predisposes
him to fall a victim to the malignant germs that cruelty sows in his
heart. We tell the child that he is a criminal, and treat him as
such, and then expect him to be perfect; and when our misguided
education has begun to deprave him, we shake our heads over his
congenital depravity, and thank God that we believe in "original

In the next place, if Man is to be faithful to his model, he must
bring up the child in an atmosphere of vexatious interference and
unnatural restraint. That Man himself has been brought up in such an
atmosphere in both his schools--the Legal and the Ecclesiastical--I
need not take pains to prove. What he has suffered at the hands of
his Schoolmaster--the God of Israel (and of Christendom)--he has
taken good care to inflict on his pupil, the child. Such phrases as:
"Don't talk," "Don't fidget," "Don't worry," "Don't ask questions,"
"Don't make a noise," "Don't make a mess," "Don't do this thing,"
"Don't do that thing," are ever falling from his lips. And they are
supplemented with such positive instructions as: "Sit still," "Stand
on the form," "Hold yourself up," "Fold arms," "Hands behind backs,"
"Hands on heads," "Eyes on the blackboard." At every turn--from
infancy till adolescence, "from early morning till late in the
evening"--these "dead and deadening formulas" await the unhappy
child. The aim of his teachers is to leave nothing to his nature,
nothing to his spontaneous life, nothing to his free activity; to
repress all his natural impulses; to drill his energies into complete
quiescence; to keep his whole being in a state of sustained and
painful tension. And in order that we may see a meaning and a
rational purpose in this _régime_ of oppressive interference, we must
assume that its ultimate aim is to turn the child into an animated
puppet, who, having lost his capacity for vital activity, will be
ready to dance, or rather go through a series of jerky movements, in
response to the strings which his teacher pulls. It is the inevitable
reaction from this state of tension which is responsible for much of
the "naughtiness" of children. The spontaneous energies of the child,
when education has blocked all their lawful outlets, must needs force
new outlets for themselves,--lawless outlets, if no others are
available. The child's instinct to live will see to that. It
sometimes happens that, when the channel of a river has been blocked
by winter's ice, the river, on its awakening in Spring, will suddenly
change its course and carve out a new channel for itself, reckless of
the destruction that it may cause, so long as an outlet can by any
means be found for its baffled current. It is the same with the river
of the child's expanding life. The naughtiest and most mischievous
boy not infrequently develops into a hero, or a leader of men. The
explanation of this is that through his very naughtiness the current
of soul-growth, which ran stronger in him than in his school-mates,
kept open the channel which his teachers were doing their best to
close. Even Hooliganism--to take the most serious of the periodic
outbursts of juvenile criminality--resolves itself, when thoughtfully
considered, into a sudden and violent change in the channel of a
boy's life, a change which is due to the normal channel (or channels)
of his expansive energies having been blocked by years of educational
repression. His wild, ruffianly outrages are perhaps the last
despairing effort that his vital principle makes to assert itself,
before it finally gives up the struggle for active existence.

       *       *       *       *       *

When severity and constraint have done their work, when the spirit of
the child has been broken, when his vitality has been lowered to its
barest minimum, when he has been reduced to a state of mental and
moral serfdom, the time has come for the system of education through
mechanical obedience to be applied to him in all its rigour. In other
words, the time has come for Man to do to the child, what the God
whom he worships is supposed to have done to him,--to tell him in the
fullest and minutest detail what he is to do to be "saved," and to
stand over him with a scourge in his hand and see that he does it. In
the two great schools which God is supposed to have opened for Man's
benefit, freedom and initiative have ever been regarded (and with
good reason) as the gravest of offences. Literal obedience has
been exacted by the Law; blind obedience by the Church; passive
obedience--the obedience of a puppet, or at best of an automaton--by
both. The need for this insistence on the part of Law and Church is
obvious. If any lingering desire to think things out for himself, if
any intelligent interest in what he was taught, survived in the
disciple, the whole system of salvation by machinery would be in
danger of being thrown out of gear.

As it has been, and still is, in the schools which God has opened
for Man, so it has been, and still is, in the schools which Man
has opened for the child. Blind, passive, literal, unintelligent
obedience is the basis on which the whole system of Western education
has been reared. The child must distrust himself absolutely, must
realise that he is as helpless as he is ignorant, before he can begin
to profit by the instruction that will be given to him. His mind must
become a _tabula rasa_ before his teacher can begin to write on it.
The vital part of him--call it what you will--must become as clay
before his teacher can begin to mould him to his will.

The strength of the child, then, is to sit still, to listen, to say
"Amen" to, or repeat, what he has heard. The strength of the teacher
is to bustle about, to give commands, to convey information, to
exhort, to expound. The strength of the child is to efface himself in
every possible way. The strength of the teacher is to assert himself
in every possible way. The golden rule of education is that the child
is to do nothing for himself which his teacher can possibly do, or
even pretend to do, for him. Were he to try to do things by or for
himself, he would probably start by doing them badly. This is not to
be tolerated. Imperfection and incorrectness are moral defects; and
the child must as far as possible be guarded from them as from the
contamination of moral guilt. He must therefore trust himself to his
teacher, and do what he is told to do in the precise way in which
he is told. His teacher must stand in front of him and give such
directions as these: "Look at me," "See what I am doing," "Watch my
hand," "Do the thing this way," "Do the thing that way," "Listen to
what I say," "Repeat it after me," "Repeat it all together," "Say it
three times." And the child, growing more and more comatose, must
obey these directions and ask no questions; and when he has done what
he has been told to do, he must sit still and wait for the next
instalment of instruction.

What is all this doing for the child? The teacher seldom asks himself
this question. If he did, he would answer it by saying that the end
of education is to enable the child to produce certain outward and
visible results,--to do by himself what he has often done, either in
imitation of his teacher, or in obedience to his repeated directions;
to say by himself what he has said many times in chorus with his
class-mates; to disgorge some fragments of the information with which
he has been crammed; and so forth. What may be the value of these
outward results, what they indicate, what amount or kind of mental
(or other) growth may be behind them,--are questions which the
teacher cannot afford to consider, even if he felt inclined to
ask them. His business is to drill the child into the mechanical
production of quasi-material results; and his success in doing this
will be gauged in due course by an "examination,"--a periodic test
which is designed to measure, not the degree of growth which the
child has made, but the industry of the teacher as indicated by the
receptivity of his class.

The truth is that inward and spiritual growth, even if it were
thought desirable to produce it and measure it, could not possibly be
measured. The real "results" of education are in the child's heart
and mind and soul, beyond the reach of any measuring tape or weighing
machine. It follows that if the work of the teacher is to be tested,
an external test must be applied. This means that external results,
results which can be weighed and measured, must be aimed at by both
teacher and child, and that the value of these as symbols of what is
inward and intrinsic must be wholly ignored. Not that the inward
results of education would in any case be seriously considered. When
education is based on the passivity of the child, nothing matters to
him or to his teacher except the accuracy with which he can reproduce
what he has been taught,--can repeat what he has been told, or do by
himself what he has been told how to do. What connection there may be
between these achievements and his mental state matters so little
that the bare idea of there being such a connection is, as a rule,
entirely lost sight of. The externalisation of religion in the West,
as evidenced by its ceremonialism and its casuistry, has faithfully
mirrored itself in the externality of Western education. The
examination system (which I will presently consider) keeps education
in the grooves of externality, and drives those grooves so deep as
to make escape from them impossible. Yet it does but give formal
recognition to, and in so doing crown and complete--as the keystone
crowns and completes the arch--the whole system of education in the
West. It is because what is outward and visible counts for everything
in the West, first in the life of the adult and then in the life of
the child, that the idea of weighing and measuring the results of
education--with its implicit assumption that the real results of
education are ponderable and measurable (a deadly fallacy which now
has the force and authority of an axiom)--has come to establish
itself in every Western land.

       *       *       *       *       *

The tendency of the Western teacher to mistake the externals for the
essentials of education, and to measure educational progress in terms
of the "appearance of things," gives rise to many misconceptions,
one of the principal of which is the current confusion between
information and knowledge. To generate knowledge in his pupils is
a legitimate end of the teacher's ambition. In schools and other
"academies" it tends to become the chief, if not the sole, end; and,
things being what they are, the teacher may be pardoned for regarding
it as such. But what is knowledge? The vulgar confusion between
knowledge and information is the accepted answer to this question.
But the answer is usually given before the question has been
seriously considered. One who allowed himself to reflect on it,
however briefly or cursorily, would quickly realise that it is
possible to have intimate and effective knowledge of a subject
without being able to impart any information about it. Successful
action, as in arts, crafts, games, sports, and the like, must needs
have subtle and accurate knowledge behind it; but the possessor of
such knowledge is seldom able to impart it with any approach to
lucidity. On the other hand, it frequently happens that one who has a
retentive memory is able to impart information glibly and correctly,
without possessing any real knowledge of the subject in question.

The truth is that knowledge, which may perhaps be provisionally
defined as a correct attitude towards one's environment, has almost
as wide a range as that of human nature itself. At one end of the
scale we have the quasi-animal instinct which governs successful
physical action. At the other end we have the knowledge, of which,
and of the possession of which, its possessor is clearly, conscious.
Between these extremes there is an almost infinite series of strata,
ranging through every conceivable degree of subconsciousness. The
knowledge that is real and effective is absorbed into one or more of
the subconscious strata, from which it gradually ascends, under the
influence of attention and reflection, towards the more conscious
levels, gaining, as it ascends, in scope and outlook what it may
possibly lose in subtlety and nearness to action. When knowledge,
after passing upwards through many subconscious strata, rises to
what I may call the surface-level of consciousness, it is ready, on
occasion, to give itself off as information. This exhalation from the
surface of consciousness is genuine information, not to be confounded
with knowledge, to which it is related as the outward to the inward
state, still less to be confounded with that spurious information
which floats, as we shall presently see, like a film on the surface
of the mind, meaning nothing and indicating nothing except that it
has been artificially deposited, and that in due season it will be
skimmed off, if the teacher's hopes are fulfilled, for the
delectation of an examiner.

There are, of course, many cases in which the conscious acquisition
of information is a necessary stage in the acquisition of knowledge.
But in all such cases, if the information acquired is to have
any educative value, it must be allowed to sink down into the
subconscious strata, whence, after having been absorbed and
assimilated and so converted into knowledge, it will perhaps reascend
towards the surface of the mind, just as the leaves which fall in
autumn are dragged down into the soil below, converted into fertile
mould, and then gradually lifted towards the surface; or as the fresh
water that the rivers pour into the sea has to be slowly absorbed
into the whole mass of salt water before it (or its equivalent) can
return to the land as rain. When information which has been received
and assimilated rises to the surface of the mind, it will be ready,
when required to do so, to reappear as information, and perhaps
to return in that form to the source from which it came. But the
information which is given off will differ profoundly from that which
has been received, for between the two will have intervened many
stages of silent absorption and silent growth.

It may be necessary, then, in the course of education, both to supply
and to demand information. But the information which is supplied must
be regarded as the raw material of knowledge, into which it is to be
converted by a subtle and secret process. And the information which
is demanded must be regarded as an exhalation (so to speak) from the
surface of a mind which has been saturated with study and experience,
and therefore as a proof of the possession of knowledge. To assume
that knowledge and information are interchangeable terms, that to
impart information is therefore to generate knowledge, that to give
back information is therefore to give proof of the possession of
knowledge,--is one of the greatest mistakes that a teacher can make.

But the mistake is almost universally made. Information being related
to knowledge, as what is outward to what is inward, it is but natural
that education in the West, which on principle concerns itself with
what is outward, and ignores what is inward, should have always
regarded, and should still regard, the supplying of information as
the main function of the teacher, and the ability of the child to
retail the information which has been supplied to him as a convincing
proof that the work of the teacher has been successfully done. In
nine schools out of ten, on nine days out of ten, in nine lessons out
of ten, the teacher is engaged in laying thin films of information on
the surface of the child's mind, and then, after a brief interval,
in skimming these off in order to satisfy himself that they had been
duly laid. He cannot afford to do otherwise. If the child, like the
man, is to be "saved" by passive obedience, his teacher must keep
his every action and operation under close and constant supervision.
Were the information which is supplied to him allowed to descend into
the subconscious strata of his being, there to be dealt with by the
secret, subtle, assimilative processes of his nature, it would
escape from the teacher's supervision and therefore from his control.
In other words, the teacher would have abdicated his function. He
must therefore take great pains to keep the processes by which the
child acquires knowledge (or what passes for such) as near to the
surface of his mind as possible; in rivalry of the nurse who should
take so much interest in the well-being of her charges that she would
not allow them to digest the food which she had given them, but would
insist on their disgorging it at intervals, in order that she might
satisfy herself that it had been duly given and received. It is no
doubt right that the teacher should take steps to test the industry
of his pupils; but the information which the child has always to keep
at the call of his memory, in order that he may give it back on
demand in the form in which he has received it, is the equivalent
of food which its recipient has not been allowed to digest.

The confusion between information and knowledge lies at the heart of
the religion, as well as of the education, of the West. In this, as
in other matters, the training of the child by his teacher has been
modelled on the supposed training of Man by God. It is scarcely an
exaggeration to say that the whole scheme of salvation by mechanical
obedience is pivoted on the assumed identity of information and
knowledge. In both the schools which Man has attended three things
have always been taken for granted. The first is that salvation
depends upon right knowledge of God. The second, that right knowledge
of God and correct information about God are interchangeable phrases.
The third, that correct information about God is procurable by, and
communicable to, Man. From these premises it has been inferred that
if Man can be duly supplied with correct information about God, and
can be induced to receive and retain it, he will be able to "save
his soul alive." The difference between the two schools is, that in
the Legal School the information supplied to Man has been largely
concerned with the _Will_ of God, so far as it bears on the life
of Man, and has therefore taken the form of a Code of formulated
commandments; whereas in the Ecclesiastical School it has mainly been
concerned with the _Being_ of God, as interpreted from his doings and
especially from his dealings with Man, and has therefore taken the
form of catechisms and creeds. And there is, of course, the further
difference that in the Legal School Man's acceptance of what he is
taught has taken the _practical_ form of doing what he is told to do,
detail by detail; whereas in the Ecclesiastical School it has been
mainly _oral_ (though also partly ceremonial), the business of the
disciple being to commit to memory the creed or catechism which has
been placed in his hands, and recite it, formula by formula, with
flawless accuracy. But the difference between the two schools is
wholly superficial, being, in fact, analogous to that between the
conventional teaching of Drawing, in which the pupil finds salvation
in doing what he is told to do, line by line, and stroke by stroke,
and the conventional teaching of History and Geography, in which the
pupil finds salvation in saying what he is told to say, name by name,
and date by date. The relation between the two great branches of
education, the education of Man by God, and the education of the
child by the man, is one, not of analogy merely, but also of cause
and effect. It is because the Jew thought to "save his soul alive" by
obeying, blindly and unintelligently, a multitude of vexatious rules,
that the teacher of to-day thinks to educate his pupils in Drawing by
telling them in the fullest detail (either in his own person or by
means of a diagram) what lines and strokes they are to make. And it
is because the Christian has thought to "save his soul alive" by
reciting with parrot-like accuracy the formulæ of his creeds and
catechisms, that the teacher of to-day thinks to educate his pupils
in History and Geography by making them repeat from memory a series
of definitions, dates, events, names of persons, names of places,
articles of commerce, and the like. I do not say that the modern
teacher consciously imitates his models; but I say that he and they
have been inspired by the same conception of life, and that the
influence of that conception has been, in part at least, transmitted
by them to him.

       *       *       *       *       *

That education in the West should ultimately be controlled by a
system of formal examination, may be said to have been predestined by
the general trend of religious thought and belief. Wherever literal
obedience is regarded as the first, if not the last, condition of
salvation, the tendency to measure worth and progress by the outward
results that are produced will inevitably spring up and assert
itself. In this tendency we have the whole examination system in
embryo. When Israel, with characteristic thoroughness, had embodied
in Pharisaism the logical inferences from his religious conceptions,
a merciless examination system came into being, in which every
one was at once examiner and examinee, and in which the whole of
human life was dragged out (as far as that was possible) into the
fierce light of public criticism, and placed under vigilant and
unintermittent supervision. When Pharisaism was revived, with many
modifications but with no essential change of character, under the
name of Puritanism, the tendency to arraign human life at the bar of
public opinion reasserted itself, and gave rise, as in New England
and covenanting Scotland, to an intolerable spiritual tyranny. In
Catholic countries the believer is subjected in the Confessional to a
periodical oral examination, in which he passes in review the outward
aspect of his inward and spiritual life, detailing for the benefit of
his confessor his sins of ceremonial omission or laxity, and such
lapses from moral rectitude as admit of being formulated in words and
accurately valued in terms of expiatory penance. Even in the Anglican
Church, which has too great a regard for the Englishman's traditional
love of personal freedom to be unduly inquisitorial, the clergyman is
apt to measure the spiritual health and progress of his parishioners
by the frequency with which they attend church and "Celebration,"
while the Bishop measures the spiritual health and progress of each
parish by the number of its communicants and the frequency with which
they communicate, statistics under both heads being (I am told)
regularly forwarded to him from all parts of his diocese.

It was inevitable, then, the relation between that sooner or later
the education of the young should come under the control of a
system of formal religion and education being what it was and is,
examination, and that it should be as much easier to apply the system
to education than to religion as it is easier to test knowledge (in
the conventional sense of the word) than conduct. It is to the vulgar
confusion between knowledge and information that we owe the formal
examination, as it is now conducted in most Western countries. In a
society which mistakes the externals for the essentials of life, it
is but natural that the teacher, with the full consent of the parents
of his pupils, should regard the imparting of knowledge as the end
and aim of his professional life, and that the parents should demand
some guarantee that knowledge has been successfully imparted to their
children. If by knowledge were meant a correct attitude of mind, the
teacher would realise that the idea of testing it in any way which
would satisfy the average parent was chimerical; and his clients, if
they continued to ask for a guarantee of successful teaching, would
require something widely different from that which has hitherto
contented them. But when information is regarded as the equivalent of
knowledge, the testing of the teacher's work becomes a simple matter,
for it is quite easy to frame an examination which will ascertain,
with some approach to accuracy, the amount of information that is
floating on the surface of the child's mind; and it is also easy to
tabulate the results of such an examination,--to find a numerical
equivalent for the work done by each examinee, and then arrange the
whole class in what is known as the "order of merit," and accepted
as such, without a moment's misgiving, by all concerned.

Unfortunately, however, it is equally easy to prepare children for an
examination of this, the normal type. As children have receptive
memories, it is easy for the teacher to lay films of information
on the surface of their minds. As they have capacious and fairly
retentive memories, it is easy for the teacher, especially if he is a
strict disciplinarian, to make his pupils retain the greater part of
what they have been taught. To skim off and give back to the teacher
(or examiner) portions of the floating films of information, is a
knack which comes with practice, and which the average child easily
acquires. The teacher will, of course, demand that his school shall
be examined on a clearly-defined syllabus; and the examiner, in his
own interest, will gladly comply with this demand. The examiner will
go further than this. If he happens to be employed by the State or by
a Local Authority, and has, therefore, many schools of the same type
to examine, he will, in order to save himself unnecessary trouble,
prescribe the syllabus on which all the schools in his area are to
be examined. This means that he will dictate to the teacher what
subjects he is to teach, how much ground he is to cover in each year
(or term), in what general order he is to treat each subject, and on
what general principles he is to teach it. Intentionally he will do
all this. Unintentionally he will do far more than this. As he wishes
his examination to be a test and not a mere formality, as he wishes
to sift the examinees and not to set the seal of approval on all of
them indiscriminately, he will take care that some at least of his
questions are different from what the teacher might expect them to
be. Also, as he is himself a rational being, he will probably
endeavour to test intelligence as well as memory; and, with this end
in view, he will set questions, the precise nature of which it will
be difficult for the teacher to forecast. But the teacher will make a
practice of studying the questions set in the periodical examinations
and of preparing his pupils accordingly, equipping them (if he is an
expert at his work) with a stock of superficial intelligence as well
as of information, and putting them up to whatever knacks, tricks,
and dodges will enable them to show to advantage on the examination
day. In his desire to outwit the teacher, the examiner will turn and
double like a hare who is pursued by a greyhound. But the teacher
will turn and double with equal agility, and will never allow himself
to be outdistanced by his quarry.

The more successful the teacher is in keeping up with the examiner,
the more fatal will his success be to his pupils and to himself.
In the ardour of the chase he is being lured on into a region of
treacherous quicksands; and the longer he is able to maintain the
pursuit, the more certain is it that he will lose himself at last
in depths and mazes of misconception and delusion. It is only by
stripping himself of his own freedom and responsibility that the
teacher is able to keep pace with the examiner, and each turn
or double that he makes involves a fresh surrender of those
prerogatives. In consenting to work on a prescribed syllabus he has
given up the idea of planning out his work for himself. In attempting
to adapt his teaching to the questions set by the examiner, he is
allowing the latter to dictate to him, in the minutest detail, how
each subject is to be taught. In other words, in order to achieve the
semblance of success, he is delivering himself, mind and soul, into
the hands of the examiner, and compelling the latter, perhaps against
his will, to become a Providence to him and to order all his goings.
This means that his distrust of himself is as complete as his
distrust of the child, and that his faith in the efficacy of
mechanical obedience has led him to seek salvation for himself,
as well as for his pupils, by following that fatal path.

It is in this way that a formal examination reacts upon and
intensifies the sinister tendencies of which it is at once a product
and a symptom. The examination system is, as I have said, the
keystone of the arch of Western education, crowning and completing
the whole structure, and at the same time holding it together, and
preventing it from falling, as it deserves to fall, into a ruinous
heap. Education, as it is now interpreted and practised in the West,
could not continue to exist without the support of the examination
system; but the price that it pays, and will continue to pay, for
this deadly preservative, is the progressive aggravation of all its
own inherent defects. The plight of an organism is indeed desperate
when the very poison which it ought, if healthy, to eliminate from
its system, has become indispensable to the prolongation of its life.

It is notorious that the application of the examination principle to
religion--the attempt to estimate spiritual health and growth in
terms of outward action--generates hypocrisy, or the pretence of
being more virtuous (and more religious) than one really is. When
applied to the education of the young, the same principle generates
hypocrisy of another kind,--the pretence of being cleverer than one
really is, of knowing more than one really knows. So long as the
hypocrite realises that he is a hypocrite, there is hope for him. But
when hypocrisy develops into self-deception, the severance between
outward and inward, between appearance and reality, is complete.
In a school which is ridden by the examination incubus, the whole
atmosphere is charged with deceit. The teacher's attempt to outwit
the examiner is deceitful; and the immorality of his action is
aggravated by the fact that he makes his pupils partners with him in
his fraud. The child who is being crammed for an examination, and who
is being practised at the various tricks and dodges that will, it
is hoped, enable him to throw dust in the examiner's eyes, may not
consciously realise that he and his teacher are trying to perpetrate
a fraud, but will probably have an instinctive feeling that he is
being led into crooked ways. If he has not that feeling, if the
crooked ways seem straight in his eyes, we may know that his sense
of reality is being poisoned by the vitiated atmosphere which he
has been compelled to breathe. Nor, if that is his case, will
he lack companionship in his delusion. In the atmosphere of the
examination system, deceit and hypocrisy are ever changing into
self-deception; and all who become acclimatised to the influence of
the system--pupils, teachers, examiners, parents, employers of
labour, ministers of religion, members of Parliament, and the
rest--fall victims, sooner or later, to the poison that infects
it, and are well content to cheat themselves with outward and
visible results, accepting "class-lists" and "orders of merit" as of
quasi-divine authority, mistaking official regulations for laws of
Nature, and the clumsy movements of over-elaborated yet ill-contrived
machinery for the subtle processes of life.

Of the many evils inherent in Western education, which the
examination system tends to intensify, one of the greatest is that of
starving the child's activities, of making him helpless, apathetic,
and inert. Original sin finds its equivalent, in the sphere of mental
action, in original impotence and stupidity. It is not in the child
to direct his steps, and the teacher must therefore direct them for
him, and, if necessary, support him with both hands while he makes
them. Even if the outward results which are the goal of the teacher's
ambition were to be produced for his own satisfaction only, he would
take care to leave as little as possible to the child's independent
effort. But when the results in question have to satisfy an examiner,
and when, as may well happen, the teacher's own professional welfare
depends on the examiner's verdict, it is but natural that he should
hold himself responsible for every stroke and dot that his pupil
makes. When the education given in a school is dominated by a
periodical examination on a prescribed syllabus, suppression of
the child's natural activities becomes the central feature of the
teacher's programme. In such a school the child is not allowed to do
anything which the teacher can possibly do for him. He has to think
what his teacher tells him to think, to feel what his teacher tells
him to feel, to see what his teacher tells him to see, to say what
his teacher tells him to say, to do what his teacher tells him to do.
And the directions given to him are always minute. Not the smallest
room for free action is allowed him if his teacher can possibly help
it. Indeed, it is the function of the skilful teacher to search for
such possible nooks and crannies, and fill them up. It is true that
if an examination is to be passed with credit some thinking has to be
done. But the greater part of this thinking must be done by the
teacher, the _rôle_ of the pupil, even when he is an adult student,
being essentially passive and receptive. The pupil must indeed be
actively passive and industriously receptive; but for the rest, he
must as far as possible leave himself in the teacher's hands. How
to outwit the examiner is the one aim of both the teacher and the
examinee; and as the teacher is presumably older, wiser, and far
more skilful at the examination game than his pupil, the duty of
thinking--of planning, of contriving, and even (in the deeper sense
of the word) of studying--necessarily devolves on the former; and the
latter, instead of relying upon himself and learning to use his own
wits and resources, becomes more and more helpless and resourceless,
and gradually ceases to take any interest in the work that he is
doing, for its own sake, his chief, if not his sole, concern being
to outwit the examiner and pass a successful examination. (One
frequently meets with clever University students who, having read a
certain book for a certain examination and had no question set from
it, regard the time given to the study of it as wasted, and have
no compunction about expressing this opinion!) If these are evils
incidental--I might almost say essential--to the examination of adult
scholars, it stands to reason that they will be greatly aggravated
when the examinees are young children. For the younger the child, the
more ignorant and helpless he is (however full he may be of latent
capacity and spontaneous activity), and therefore the more ready he
is to lean upon his teacher and to look to him for instruction and

The desire to outwit, and so win approval from, an examiner, is not
the only reason why the teacher so often reduces to an absurdity the
traditional distrust of the child. His own inability to educate the
child on other lines is another and not less potent reason. The
examination _régime_ to which he has been subjected himself, partly,
perhaps, under compulsion, but also and in larger measure of his
own choice, deprives him, as we have already seen, of much of his
freedom, initiative, and responsibility; and that being so, it is
inevitable that within the limited range of free action which is left
to him, he in his turn should devote his energies to depriving his
pupils of the same vital qualities, and to making them the helpless
creatures of habit and routine which he himself is tending to become.
To give free play to a child's natural faculties and so lead him
into the path of self-development and self-education, demands a high
degree of intelligence on the part of the teacher, combined with the
constant exercise of thought and initiative within a wide range of
free action. If you tell a teacher in precise detail, whether
directly or indirectly, that he is to do this thing, and that
thing, and the next thing, he will not be able to carry out your
instructions, except by telling his pupils, again in precise detail,
that they are to do this thing, and that thing, and the next thing.
He cannot help himself. He has no choice in the matter. He is the
victim of a quasi-physical compulsion. The pressure which is put upon
him will inevitably be transmitted by him and through him to his
pupils, and will inevitably be multiplied (the relations between
teacher and pupil being what they are) in the course of transmission.

There is nothing that a healthy child hates so much as to have the
use of his natural faculties and the play of his natural energies
unduly restricted by parental or pedagogic control. We may therefore
take for granted that the child will find himself ill at ease in a
school in which every vital activity is rigidly repressed, and in
which he spends most of his time in sitting still and waiting for
orders. Nor will it add to his happiness to live habitually in an
atmosphere of constraint, of austerity, of suspicion, of gloom. But I
need not take pains to prove that education, as it is conducted in
Western countries, is profoundly repugnant to the natural instincts
of the healthy child. For that is precisely what it is intended to
be. The idea of a child enjoying his "lessons" is foreign to the
genius of the West. Dominated as he is by the inherited conviction
that Man's nature is corrupt and that his instincts are evil, the
Western teacher has set himself the task of doing violence to the
child's instinctive tendencies, of thwarting his inborn desires, of
working against the grain of his nature. He has expected the child to
rebel against this _régime_, and he has welcomed his rebellion as a
proof of the corruption of Man's nature, and therefore of the
soundness of the traditional philosophy of education.

But if education is hateful to the child, how is he to be induced to
submit to being educated? Some co-operation on his part will be
necessary. How is it to be secured? By precisely the same methods as
those by which Man, in the course of his education, has been induced
to co-operate with God. The child, like Man, is to be "saved"--to be
rescued from Nature and from himself--by being led into the path of
mechanical obedience. The child, like Man, is to be kept in that path
by a system of external rewards and punishments. If he will not do
what he is told to do, he will be punished by his teacher. If he
will do what he is told to do, he will escape punishment, and he may
possibly, when his merits have accumulated sufficiently, receive a
reward. In the education of Man by the God of Israel the balance
between rewards and punishments has been kept fairly even. Hell has
been balanced by Heaven, calamity by prosperity, death by life. It
has been far otherwise with the child. His punishments have been
many, and his rewards few. At the present day men are more humane
than they used to be; and corporal punishment, though still resorted
to, counts for less than it used to do in the training of the child.
But punishments of various kinds are still regarded as indispensable
adjuncts to school discipline; and it is still taken for granted in
far too many schools that the fear of punishment and the hope of
reward are the only effective motives to educational effort.

It is difficult to say which of the two motives is the more likely to
demoralise the child. A _régime_ of punishment is not necessarily a
_régime_ of cruelty; but punishment can scarcely fail to savour of
severity, and when the doctrine of original sin is in the ascendant,
and the inborn wilfulness and stubbornness of the child are
postulated by his teachers, the indefinable boundary line between
severity and cruelty is easily crossed. Of the tendency of cruelty
to demoralise its victims I have already spoken. But the effect of
punishment on the child must be considered in its relation to his
mental, as well as to his moral, development. Scholarships, prizes,
high places in class, and other such rewards are for the few, not for
the many. If the many are to be roused to exertion, the fear of
punishment (in the hypothetical absence of any other motive) must
be ever before them. What will happen to them when that motive is
withdrawn, as it will be when the child becomes the adolescent? His
education has been distasteful to the child, partly because his
teachers have assumed from the outset that it would be and must be
so, but chiefly because in their ignorance they have taken pains to
make it so, his school life having been so ordered as to combine the
maximum of strain with the maximum of _ennui_. His teachers have done
everything for him, except those mechanical and monotonous exercises
which they felt they might trust him to do by himself. Some of
his mental faculties have become stunted and atrophied through lack
of exercise. Others have been allowed to wither in the bud. If he
happens to belong to the "masses," he will have completed his school
education at the age of thirteen or fourteen. What will he do with
himself when there is no longer a teacher at his elbow to tell him
what to do and how to do it, and to stand over him (should this be
necessary) while he does it? Why should he go on with studies which
he has neither the inclination nor the ability to pursue, and
which, in point of fact, he has never really begun? And why should he
continue to exert himself when, owing to his being at last beyond the
reach of punishment, the need for him to do so--the only need which
he has been accustomed to regard as imperative--has ceased to exist?

The objections to the hope of reward as a motive to educational
effort are of another kind. Prizes, as I have said, are for the few;
and it is the consciousness of being one of the elect which invests
the winning of a prize with its chief attraction. The prize system
makes a direct appeal to the vanity and egoism of the child. It
encourages him to think himself better than others, to pride himself
on having surpassed his class-mates and shone at their expense. The
clever child is to work hard, not because knowledge is worth winning
for its own sake and for his own sake, but because it will be
pleasant for him to feel that he has succeeded where others have
failed. It is a just reproach against the examination system that
while, by its demand for outward results it does its best to destroy
individuality, the essence of which is sincerity of expression, it
also does its best to foster individualism, by appealing, with its
offer of prizes and other "distinctions," to those instincts which
predispose each one of us to affirm and exalt that narrow,
commonplace, superficial aspect of his being which he miscalls his

Thus the hope of reward tends to demoralise the clever child by
making an appeal to basely selfish motives. At the same time it is
probably deluding him with the belief that he has more capacity than
he really has. If the examination system is, as I have suggested, the
keystone of the arch of Western education, it is by means of the
prize system that the keystone has been firmly cemented into its
place. An examination which had no rewards or distinctions to offer
to the competitors would not be an effective stimulus to exertion.
That being so, our educationalists have taken care that to every
examination some external reward or rewards shall be attached. Even
if there are no material prizes to appeal to the child's cupidity,
there is always the class-list, with its so-called "order of merit,"
to appeal to his vanity. Our educationalists have also taken care
that during the periods of childhood, adolescence, and even early
maturity, every prize that is offered for competition shall be
awarded after a formal examination and on the consideration of its
tabulated results. The appointments in the Home, Colonial, and Indian
Civil Services, the promotions in the Army and Navy, the fellowships
and scholarships at the Universities, the scholarships at the Public
Schools, the medals, books, and other prizes that are offered to
school-children, are all awarded to those who have distinguished
themselves in the corresponding examinations, no other qualification
than that of ability to shine in an examination being looked for in
the competitors. There are, no doubt, exceptions to these general
statements, but they are so few that they scarcely count. We have
seen that the ascendency of the examination system in our schools and
colleges is largely due to the vulgar confusion between information
and knowledge; and we have also seen that the examination system
reacts upon that fatal confusion and tends to strengthen and
perpetuate it. If, then, the effect of the prize system is to
consolidate the authority of the formal examination and intensify
its influence, we shall not go far wrong in assuming that in the
various competitions for prizes the confusion between information
and knowledge will play a vital part. And, in point of fact, the
cleverness which enables the child--I ignore for the moment the
adolescent and the adult student--to win prizes of various kinds is
found, when carefully analysed, to resolve itself, in nine cases out
of ten, into the ability to receive, retain, and retail information.
As this particular, ability is but a small part of that mental
capacity which education is supposed to train, it is clear that the
clever child who gets to the top of his class, and wins prizes in so
doing, may easily be led to over-estimate his powers, and to take
himself far more seriously than it is either right or wise of him to
do. His over-confidence may for a time prove an effective stimulus to
exertion; but the exertion will probably be misdirected; and later
on, when he finds himself confronted by the complex realities of
life, and when problems have to be solved which demand the exercise
of other faculties than that of memory, his belief in himself, which
is the outcome of a false criterion of merit, may induce him to
undertake what he cannot accomplish, and may lead at last--owing to
his having lost touch with the actualities of things--to his complete

And as under the prize system the child who is high in his class is
apt to over-estimate his ability, so the child who is low in his
class is apt to accept the verdict of the class-list as final, and to
regard himself as a failure because he lacks the superficial ability
which enables a child to shine on the examination day. Again and
again it happens that the dunce of his class goes to the front in the
battle of life. But numerous and significant as these cases are, they
are unfortunately exceptions to a general rule. For one dunce who
emerges from the depths of "apparent failure," there are ten who go
under after a more or less protracted struggle, and sink contentedly
to the bottom. The explanation of this is that though every child
has capacity (apart, of course, from the congenital idiot and the
mentally "defective"), there are many kinds of capacity which a
formal examination fails to discover, and which the education that
is dominated by the prize system fails to develop. The child whose
particular kind of capacity does not count, either in the ordinary
school lesson or on the examination day, is not aware that he is
capable; and as he is always low on the class-list, and is therefore
regarded by his teachers as dull and stupid, he not unnaturally
acquiesces in the current and apparently authoritative estimate, of
his powers, and, losing heart about himself, ends by becoming the
failure which he has been taught to believe himself to be. In brief,
while the prize system breeds ungrounded and therefore dangerous
self-esteem in the child whom it labels as bright, it breeds
ungrounded but not the less fatal self-distrust in the child whom
it labels as dull.

We have seen that there comes a time in the life of every man when
the fear of punishment ceases to act as a stimulus to educational
exertion. It is the same with the hope of reward. Examinations, and
the prizes which reward success in examinations, are for the young.
What will happen to the prize-winner when there are no more prizes
for him to compete for? Will he continue to pursue knowledge for its
own sake? Alas! he has never pursued it for its own sake. He has
pursued it for the sake of the prizes and other honours which it
brought him. When he has won his last prize the chances are that
he will lose all interest in that branch of learning in which he
achieved distinction, unless, indeed, he has to earn his livelihood
by teaching it. Of the scores of young men who distinguish themselves
in "Classics" at Oxford and Cambridge, how many will continue to
study the classical writers when they have gained the "Firsts" for
which they worked so diligently? Apart from those who are going
to teach Classics in the Public Schools or Universities, a mere
handful,--one in ten perhaps, though that is probably an extravagant
estimate. And yet the poets, philosophers, and historians whom they
have studied are amongst the greatest that the world has produced.
What is it, then, that kills, in nine cases out of ten, the
classical student's interest in the masterpieces of antiquity? The
obvious fact that he was never interested in them for their own
sakes--that he studied them, not in order to enjoy them or profit by
them, but in order to pass an examination in them, of which he might
be able to say in after years:

  "I am named and known by that hour's feat,
  There took my station and degree."

How many Wranglers, other than those who have or will become
schoolmasters or college tutors, continue to study mathematics? How
many of the First Classmen in Science, History, Law, and other Honour
"Schools" continue to study their respective subjects? In every case
an utterly insignificant minority.

But if the prize system does this to the young man of twenty-two or
twenty-three, if it kills his interest in learning, if it makes him
register an inward vow never again to open the books which he has
crammed so successfully for his examinations, what may it be expected
to do to the child whose school education comes to an end when he
is only thirteen or fourteen years old? When, with the fear of
punishment, the complementary hope of reward is withdrawn from him,
is it reasonable to expect him to continue his education, to continue
to apply himself to subjects with which his acquaintance has been
entirely formal and superficial, and which he has never been allowed
to digest and assimilate? The utter indifference of the average
ex-elementary scholar to literature, to history, to geography, to
science, to music, to art, is the world-wide answer to this question.

For what is, above all, hateful in any scheme of rewards and
punishments, when applied to the school life of the young, is that it
wholly externalises what is really an inward and spiritual process,
the evolution of the youthful mind. Just as in the sphere of religion
it is postulated as a self-evident truth that righteousness is not
its own reward, nor iniquity its own punishment,--so in the sphere of
education it is postulated as a self-evident truth, that knowledge is
not its own reward, nor ignorance its own punishment. And just as in
the sphere of religion the appeal to Man's selfish hopes and ignoble
fears has generated a radical misconception of the meaning and
purpose of righteousness, which has caused his moral and spiritual
energies to be diverted into irreligious or anti-religious channels,
to the detriment of his inward and spiritual growth,--so in the
sphere of education the appeal to the child's selfish desires and
ignoble fears has generated a radical misconception of the meaning
and purpose of knowledge, which has caused his mental energies to be
diverted into uneducational channels, to the detriment of his mental
growth. In each case the scheme of rewards and punishments, acting
like an immense blister, when applied to a healthy body, draws to the
surface the life-blood which ought to nourish and purify the vital
organs of the soul (or mind), thereby impoverishing the vital
organs, and inflaming and disfiguring the surface. For if the surface
life, with its outward and visible "results," is to be happy and
productive, the health of the vital organs must be carefully
maintained. This is the fundamental truth which those who control
education in the West have persistently ignored.

The system of education which I have tried to describe is a practical
embodiment of the ideas that govern the popular philosophy of the
West. One who had studied that philosophy, and who wished to
ascertain what provision it made for the education of the young,
would in the course of his inquiry construct _a priori_ the precise
system of education which is in vogue in all Western countries.
The supposed relation between God and his fallen and rebellious
offspring, Man, is obviously paralleled by the relation between the
teacher and the child; and it is therefore clear that the supposed
dealings of God with Man ought to be paralleled by the dealings of
the teacher with the child. That they are so paralleled--that
salvation by machinery has found its most exact counterpart in
education by machinery--the history of education has made abundantly

Whatever else the current system of education may do to the child,
there is one thing which it cannot fail to do to him,--to blight his
mental growth. What particular form or forms this blighting influence
may take will depend in each particular case on a variety of
circumstances. Experience tells us that what happens in most cases is
that Western education strangles some faculties, arrests the growth
of others, stunts the growth of a third group, and distorts the
growth of a fourth.

Is it intended that education should do all this? This question is
not so paradoxical as it sounds. My primary assumption that the
function of education is to foster growth may be a truism in the
eyes of those who agree with it; but Western orthodoxy, just so
far as it is self-conscious and sincere, must needs repudiate it
as a pestilent heresy. For if what grows is intrinsically evil,
what can growth do for it but carry it towards perdition?

What is it that grows? It is time that I should ask myself this
question. My answer to it is, in brief, that it is the whole human
being that grows, the whole nature of the child,--body, mind, heart
and soul. When I use these familiar words, I am far from wishing
to suggest that human nature is divisible into four provinces or
compartments. In every stage of its development human nature is a
living and indivisible whole. Each of the four words stands for a
typical aspect of Man's being, but one of the four may also be said
to stand for the totality of Man's being,--the word _soul_. For it
is the soul which manifests as _body_, which thinks as _mind_, which
feels and loves as _heart_, and which is what it is--though not
perhaps what it really or finally is--as _soul_.

The function of education, then, is to foster the growth of the
child's whole nature, or, in a word, of his soul. I ought, perhaps,
to apologise for my temerity in using this now discredited word. In
the West Man does not believe in the soul. How can he? He does not
believe in God either as the eternal source or as the eternal end of
his own nature. It follows that he does not and cannot believe in
the unity of his own being. He has been taught that his nature is
corrupt, evil, godless; and that the "soul," which is somehow or
other attached to his fallen nature during his "earthly pilgrimage,"
was supernaturally created at the moment of his birth. He is now
beginning to reject this conception of the soul; but he cannot yet
rise to the higher conception of it as the vital essence of his
being, as the divine germ in virtue of which his nature is no mere
aggregate of parts or faculties, but a living whole. So deeply rooted
in the Western mind is disbelief in the reality of the soul that it
is difficult to use the word, when speaking to a Western audience,
without exposing oneself to the charge of insincerity,--not to speak
of the graver charge of "bad form." A savour either of _cant_ or
_gush_ hangs about the word, and is not easily detached from it. That
being so, it must be clearly understood that I mean by the soul the
nature of Man considered in its unity and totality,--no more than
this, and no less.

In the opening paragraph of this book I said that some of my readers
would regard my fundamental assumption as a truism, others as a
challenge, and others again as a wicked heresy. Whether it shall be
regarded as a truism, a challenge, or a heresy, will depend on the
way in which it is worded. To say that the function of education is
to foster the growth of human nature, is to invite condemnation from
those who regard human nature as ruined and corrupt. To say that the
function of education is to foster the growth of the soul, is to
issue a challenge to Western civilisation, which is based on the
belief that the end of Man's being is not the growth of his soul, but
the growth of his balance at the bank of material prosperity. To say
that the function of education is to foster the growth of certain
faculties, is to insist on what no one who had given his mind to
the matter would care to deny. For even the orthodox, who regard
Man's nature in its totality as intrinsically evil, admit without
hesitation that there are faculties in Man which can be and ought
to be trained; while the "man of the world," whom we may regard as
the most typical product of Western civilisation, is clamorous in
his demand that education shall foster the growth of certain mental
faculties which will enable the child to become an efficient clerk or
workman, and so contribute to the enrichment of his employer and the
community to which he belongs.

The Western educationalist will admit, then, that the function of
education is to foster growth; and if you ask him what it is that
grows or ought to grow under education's fostering care, he will give
you a long list of faculties--mental, for the most part, but also
moral and physical--and then break off under the impression that he
has set education an adequate and a practicable task. But he has
set it an inadequate and an impracticable task. For behind all the
faculties that he enumerates dwells the living reality which he
cannot bring himself to believe in,--the soul. And because he cannot
bring himself to believe in the soul, he deprives the faculties
which he proposes to cultivate of the very qualities which make
them most worthy of cultivation,--of their interrelation, their
interdependence, their organic unity. In other words he devitalises
each of them by cutting it off from the life which is common to all
of them, and so paralyses its capacity for growing in the very act
of taking thought for its growth. He forgets that every faculty which
is worth cultivating both draws life from, and contributes life to,
the general life of the growing child. He forgets that the child
himself--"the living soul"--is growing in and through the growth of
each of his opening faculties; and that unless, when a faculty seems
to be growing, the life of the child is at once expressing itself in
and renewing itself through the process of its growth, its semblance
of growth is a pure illusion, the results that are produced being in
reality as fraudulent as artificial flowers on a living rose-bush.

But the whole question may be looked at from another point of view.
Let us assume, for argument's sake, that the function of education
is to train, or foster the growth of, certain faculties, which are
mainly though not exclusively mental, and that when those faculties
have been duly trained the teacher has done his work. What, then,
are the faculties which education is supposed to train? In my attempt
to answer this question I will confine myself to the elementary
school,--the only school which I can pretend to know well. A glance
at the time-table of an ordinary elementary school might suggest to
us that there were two chief groups of faculties to be trained--those
which perceive and those which express, those which take in and those
which give out. When such subjects as History, Geography, or Science
are being taught, the child's perceptive faculties are being trained.
When such subjects as Composition, Drawing or Singing are being
taught, the child's expressive faculties are being trained. So at
least one might be disposed to assume.

In what relation do the perceptive faculties stand to the expressive?
Is it possible to cultivate either group without regard to the other?
It must be admitted that the methods employed in the ordinary
elementary school seem to be governed by the assumption that the
perceptive and the expressive faculties are two distinct groups which
admit of being separately trained. In the ordinary Drawing lesson,
for example, the child is trying to express what he does not even
pretend to have perceived; whereas in the ordinary History or Science
lesson the process is reversed, and the child pretends to perceive
what he makes no attempt to express.

But is the assumption correct? Do the two groups of faculties admit
of being separately trained? Is it possible to devote this hour or
half-hour to the training of perception, and that to the training
of expression? Surely not. Perception and expression are not two
faculties, but one. Each is the very counterpart and correlate, each
is the very life and soul, of the other. Each, when divorced from
the other, ceases to be its own true self. When perception is real,
living, informed with personal feeling, it must needs find for
itself the outlet of expression. When expression is real, living,
informed with personal feeling, perception--the child's own
perception of things--must needs be behind it. More than that. _The
perceptive faculties_ (at any rate in childhood) _grow through the
interpretation which expression gives them, and in no other way. And
the expressive faculties grow by interpreting perception, and in no
other way_. The child who tries to draw what he sees is training his
power of observation, not less than his power of expression. As he
passes and repasses between the object of his perception and his
representation of it, there is a continuous gain both to his vision
and to his technique. The more faithfully he tries to render his
impression of the object, the more does that impression gain in truth
and strength; and in proportion as the impression becomes truer and
stronger, so does the rendering of it become more masterly and more
correct. So, again, if a man tries to set forth in writing his views
about some difficult problem--social, political, metaphysical, or
whatever it may be--the very effort that he makes to express himself
clearly and coherently will tend to bring order into the chaos and
light into the darkness of his mind, to widen his outlook on his
subject, to deepen his insight into it, to bring new aspects of it
within the reach of his conscious thought. And here, as in the case
of the child who tries to draw what he sees, there is a continuous
reciprocal action between perception and expression, in virtue of
which each in turn helps forward the evolution of the other. Even in
so abstract and impersonal a subject as mathematics, the reaction of
expression on perception is strong and salutary. The student who
wishes to master a difficult piece of bookwork should try to write
it out in his own words; in the effort to set it out concisely and
lucidly he will gradually perfect his apprehension of it. Were he to
solve a difficult problem, he would probably regard his grasp of the
solution as insecure and incomplete until he had succeeded in making
it intelligible to the mind of another. When perception is deeply
tinged with emotion, as when one sees what is beautiful, or admires
what is noble, the attempt to express it in language, action, or art,
seems to be dictated by some inner necessity of one's nature. The
meaning of this is that the perception itself imperatively demands
expression in order that, in and through the struggle of the artistic
consciousness to do full justice to it, it may gradually realise its
hidden potentialities, discover its inner meaning, and find its true

Once we realise that expression is the other self of perception, it
becomes permissible for us to say that to train the perceptive
faculties--the faculties by means of which Man lays hold upon the
world that surrounds him, and draws it into himself and makes it his
own--is the highest achievement of the teacher's art. Even from the
point of view of my primary truism, this conception of the meaning
and purpose of education holds good. For according to that truism the
business of the teacher is to foster the growth of the child's soul;
and the soul grows by the use of its perceptive faculties, which, by
enabling it to take in and assimilate an ever-widening environment,
cause a gradual enlargement of its consciousness and a proportionate
expansion of its life. But the perceptive faculties in their turn
grow by expressing themselves; and unless they are allowed to express
themselves--unless the child is allowed to express himself (for
expression, if it is genuine, is always self-expression)--their
growth will be arrested, and the mission which _all_ educationalists
assign to education will not have been fulfilled.

The question is, then, Does the system of education which prevails in
all Western countries provide for self-expression on the part of the


[5] I mean by the words "original sin" what the plain,
unsophisticated, believing Christian means by them. A modern poet,
in a moment of impulsive orthodoxy, praises Christianity because it

      "taught original sin,
  The corruption of man's heart ..."

This definition is sufficiently accurate. "Original sin," says the
Ninth Article of the Anglican Church, "... is the fault and
corruption of the Nature of every man ... whereby man is of his own
nature inclined to evil ... and therefore, in every person born into
the world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation." How far the
popular interpretation of the doctrine of original sin coincides with
the latest theological refinement of the doctrine, I cannot pretend
to say. When it finds it convenient to explain things away, theology,
like Voltaire's Minor Prophet, "est capable de tout"; and the need
for reconciling the doctrine of original sin with the teaching of
modern science has in recent years laid a heavy tax on its



In this chapter I shall have in my mind a type of school which is
familiar to all who are interested in elementary education. What
percentage of the schools of England are of that particular type
I cannot pretend to say. In the days of payment by results the
percentage was unquestionably very high. The system under which we
all worked made that inevitable. The days of payment by results are
over, but their consequences are with us still. The pioneer is abroad
in the land, but he has had, and still has, formidable difficulties
to overcome. The percentage of routine-ridden schools is considerably
lower than it used to be, and it is falling from year to year. Of
this there can be no doubt. Each teacher in turn who reads this
chapter will, I hope, be able to say that the school which is in my
mind is not his. But I can assure him that there are thousands of
schools in which all or most of the evils on which I am about to
comment are still rampant; and I will add, for his consolation, that
it would be a miracle if this were not so.

The first forty minutes of the morning session are given, in almost
every elementary school, to what is called _Religious Instruction_.
This goes on, morning after morning, and week after week. The child
who attends school regularly and punctually, as many children do,
will have been the victim of upwards of two thousand "Scripture
lessons" by the time he leaves school.

The question of religious education in elementary schools has long
been the centre of a perfect whirlpool of controversial talk. The
greater part of this talk is, to speak plainly, blatant cant. Every
candidate for a seat in the House of Commons thinks it incumbent upon
him to say something about religious education, but not one in a
hundred of them has ever been present in an elementary school while
religious instruction was being given. The Bishops of the Established
Church wax eloquent in the House of Lords over the wickedness of a
"godless education" and the virtue of "definite dogmatic teaching,"
but it may be doubted if there is a Bishop in the House who has in
recent years sat out a Scripture lesson in a Church of England
school. It would be well if all who talked publicly about religious
education could be sentenced to devote a month to the personal study
of religious instruction as it is ordinarily given in elementary
schools. At the end of the month they would be wiser and sadder men,
and in future they would probably talk less about religious education
and think more.

The Scripture lesson, as it is familiarly called, is supposed to make
the children of England religious, in the special sense which each
church or sect attaches to that word,--to make them good Catholics,
good Churchmen, good Wesleyans, good Bible Christians, good Jews. But
as those who are most in earnest about religion, and most sincere in
their religious convictions, unite in assuring us that England is
relapsing into paganism, it may be doubted if the religious education
of the elementary school child--a process which has been going on for
half a century or more--has been entirely successful. While the fact
that the English parent, who must himself have attended from 1,500
to 2,000 Scripture lessons in His schooldays, is not under any
circumstances to be trusted to give religious instruction to his own
children, shows that those who control the religious education of the
youthful "masses" have but little confidence in the effect of their
system on the religious life and faith of the English people.

They have good ground for their subconscious distrust of it. We have
seen that the vulgar confusion between information and knowledge is
at the root of much that is unsound in education. There is no branch
of education in which this confusion is so fallacious or so fatal as
in that which is called religious. The process of converting
information into knowledge is a comparatively easy one when we are
dealing with matters of detailed fact. Information as to the dates of
the kings of England, as to the bays and capes of the British Isles,
as to the exports and imports of Liverpool, as to the weights and
measures of this or that country, is in each case readily convertible
into knowledge of the given facts. But directly we get away from mere
facts, and begin to concern ourselves with what is large, vague,
subtle, and obscure,--with forces, for example, with causes, with
laws, with principles,--the difficulty of collecting adequate and
appropriate information about our subject becomes great, and the
difficulty of converting such information into knowledge becomes
greater still. Information as to the dates and names of the English
kings, and other historical facts, is easily converted into knowledge
of those facts, but it is not easily converted into knowledge of
English history. Information as to the names and positions of capes
and bays, as to areas and populations, and other geographical facts,
is easily converted into knowledge of those facts, but it is not
easily converted into knowledge of geography. Information as to
arithmetical rules and tables, as to weights and measures, and other
arithmetical facts, is easily converted into knowledge of those
facts, but it is not easily converted into knowledge of arithmetic.
In each case a _sense_ must be evolved if the information is to be
assimilated, and so converted into real knowledge; and though it is
true that the sense in question grows, in part at least, by feeding
on appropriate information, it is equally true that if, owing to
defective training, the sense remains undeveloped, the information
supplied will remain unassimilated, and the tacit assumption that the
possession of information is equivalent to the possession of real
knowledge will delude both the teacher and the taught. It is
possible, as one knows from experience, for a boy to have mastered
all the arithmetical rules and tables with which his master has
supplied him, and to have all his measures and weights at his
fingers' ends, and yet to be so destitute of the arithmetical sense
as to give without a moment's misgiving an entirely nonsensical
answer to a simple arithmetical problem,--to say, for example, as I
have known half a class of boys say, that a _room_ is _five shillings
and sixpence wide_. Such a boy, though his head may be stuffed with
arithmetical information, has no knowledge of arithmetic.

The gulf between memorised information and real knowledge becomes
deep and wide in proportion as the subject matter is one which
demands for its effective apprehension either intellectual effort or
emotional insight. When both these variables are demanded, the gulf
widens and deepens at a ratio which is "geometrical" rather than
"arithmetical"; and when a high degree of each is demanded, the
separation between knowledge and information is complete.

The Art Master who should try to train the æsthetic sense of his
pupils by making them learn by heart a string of propositions in
which he had set out the artistic merits of sundry masterpieces of
painting and sculpture, would expose himself to well-merited
ridicule. So would the teacher who should try to train the scientific
sense of his pupils by no other method than that of making them
learn scientific formulæ by heart. What shall we say, then, of the
teacher who tries to train the religious sense of his pupils by
supplying them with rations of theological and theologico-historical
information? Whatever else we may mean by the word God, we mean what
is infinitely great, and therefore beyond the reach of human thought,
and we mean what is "most high," and therefore beyond the reach of
the heart's desire. It follows that for knowledge of God the maximum
of intellectual effort is needed, in conjunction with the maximum of
emotional insight; and it follows further that the gulf between
knowledge of God and information about God is unimaginably wide and
deep,--so wide and so deep that out of our very attempts to span or
fathom it the doubt at last arises whether the idea of acquiring
information about God may not, after all, be the idlest of dreams.

Nevertheless the pastors and masters of our elementary schools are,
with few exceptions, engaged, _sanctâ simplicitate_, in trying to
make the children of England religious by cramming them with
theological and theologico-historical information,--information as to
the nature and attributes of God, as to the inner constitution of
his being, as to his relations to Man and the Universe, as to his
reported doings in the past. And in order that the giving, receiving,
and retaining of this unverifiable information may be regarded by
all concerned as the central feature of the Scripture lesson, to
the neglect of all the other aspects of religious education, the
spiritual "powers that be" (and also, I am told, some of the Local
Education Authorities) have decreed that the schools under their
jurisdiction shall be subjected to a yearly examination in
"religious knowledge" at the hands of a "Diocesan Inspector," or some
other official.

To one who has convinced himself, as I have, that a right attitude
towards the thing known is of the essence of knowledge, and that
reverence and devotion--to go no further--are of the essence of a
right attitude towards God, the idea of holding a formal examination
in religious knowledge seems scarcely less ridiculous than the idea
of holding a formal examination in unselfishness or brotherly love.
The phrase "to examine in religious knowledge" has no meaning for me.
The verb is out of all relation to its indirect object. What the
Diocesan Inspector attempts to do cannot possibly be done. The test
of religious knowledge is necessarily practical and vital, not formal
and mechanical. Even if I were to admit, for argument's sake, that
the information with which we cram the elementary school child
between 9.5 and 9.45 a.m. had been supernaturally communicated by God
to Man, my general position would remain unaffected. For experience
has amply proved that a child--or, for the matter of that, a man--may
know much theology and even be "mighty in the Scriptures," and yet
show by his conduct that his religious sense has not been awakened,
and that therefore he has no knowledge of God; just as we have seen
that a child may know by heart all arithmetical rules and tables, and
yet show, by his helplessness in the face of a simple problem, that
his arithmetical sense has not been awakened, and that therefore he
has no knowledge of arithmetic.

The time given to religious instruction is, to make a general
statement, the only part of the session in which the children are
being prepared for a formal _external_ examination. That being so, it
is no matter for wonder that many of the glaring faults of method and
organisation which the examination system fostered in our elementary
schools between the years 1862 and 1895, and which are now being
abandoned, however slowly, reluctantly, and sporadically, during the
hours of "secular" instruction, still find a refuge in the Scripture
lesson. Overgrouping of classes, overcrowding of school-rooms,
collective answering, collective repetition, scribbling on slates,
and other faults with which inspectors were only too familiar in
bygone days, are still rampant while religious instruction is being
given.[7] The Diocesan Inspector is an examiner, pure and simple, and
is never present when the Scripture lesson is in progress. Whether he
would find anything to criticise if he were present, may be doubted.
I have frequently been told by teachers that it is his demand for a
good volume of sound, when he is catechising the children, which
keeps alive during the Scripture lesson the pestilent habit of
collective answering, in defiance of the obvious fact that what is
everybody's business is nobody's business, and that an experienced
bell-wether can easily give a lead to a whole class. An inconvenient
train service may compel H.M. Inspector to be present when religious
instruction is being given; but though he may find much to deplore
in what he sees and hears, he must abstain from criticism, and be
content to play the _rôle_ of the man who looks over a hedge while a
horse is being stolen.

In most elementary schools religion is taught on an elaborate
syllabus which is imposed on the teacher by an external authority,
and which therefore tends to destroy his freedom and his interest in
the work. It is not his business to take thought for the religious
training of his pupils, to consider how the religious instinct may
best be awakened in them, how their latent knowledge of God may
best be evolved. His business is to prepare them for their yearly
examination, to cram them with catechisms, hymns, texts, and
collects, and with stories of various kinds,--stories from the
folk-lore of Israel, from the history of the Jews, from the Gospel
narratives. To appeal to the reasoning powers of his pupils would be
foreign to his aim, and foreign, let me say in passing, to the whole
tradition of religious teaching in the West. The burden of preparing
for an examination, whatever the examination may be, falls mainly on
the faculty of memory. This is a rule to which there are very few
exceptions. When the examination is one in "religious knowledge," the
burden of preparing for it falls wholly on the faculty of memory.
To appeal to the reasoning powers of the scholars might conceivably
provoke them to ask inconvenient questions, and might even give
rise to a spirit of rationalism in the school,--the spirit which
"orthodoxy" has always regarded as the very antipole to religious

But what of the child's emotional faculties? Will not the beauty of
the Gospel stories, will not the sublimity of the Old Testament
poetry, make their own appeal to these? They might do so if they were
allowed to exert their spiritual magnetism. But what chance have
they? The chilling shadow of the impending examination falls upon
them and cancels their educative influence. It is not because the
Gospel stories are full of beauty and spiritual meaning that the
child has to learn them, but because he will be questioned on them by
the Diocesan Inspector. It is not because certain passages from the
Old Testament are poetry of a high order that the child commits them
to memory, but because he may have to repeat them to the Diocesan
Inspector. We cannot serve God and Mammon,--the God of poetry and the
inward life, the Mammon of outward results. The thing is not to be
done, and the pretence of doing it is a mockery and a fraud. The
compulsory preparation of the plays of Shakespeare and other literary
masterpieces for a formal examination, too often gives the schoolboy,
or the college student, a permanent distaste for English literature.
The study of the Ancient Classics for the Oxford "Schools" or the
Cambridge "Tripos" too often gives the studious undergraduate a
permanent distaste for the literatures of Greece and Rome. Does it
not follow _a fortiori_ that to cram a young child, for the purposes
of a formal examination, to cram him, year after year, with the
idyllic stories of the New Testament and the poetic beauties of the
Old, will in all probability go a long way towards blighting in the
bud the child's latent capacity for responding to the appeal, not of
the Bible alone, but of spiritual poetry as such?

I do not wish to suggest that the religious instruction given in
our elementary schools is always formal and mechanical. There are
teachers who can break through the toils of any system, however
deadly, and give life to their teaching in defiance of conditions
which would paralyse the energies of lesser men. As I write, I recall
two teachers of elementary schools, who, in spite of having to
prepare their pupils for diocesan inspection, succeeded in quickening
their religious instincts into vital activity. The first was a
schoolmaster,--a "strong Churchman," and a sincerely religious man.
The second was a woman of genius, whose extraordinary sympathy with
and insight into the soul of the child, enabled her to give free play
to all his expansive instincts, and in and through the evolution of
these to foster the growth of his religious sense. I can never feel
quite sure that this teacher fully realised how deeply, and yet
healthily, religious her children were. If she did not, I can but
apply to her what Diderot said to David the painter, when the latter
confessed that he had not intended to produce some artistic effect
which the former had discovered in one of his pictures: "Quoi! c'est
à votre insu? C'est encore mieux." To make children religious without
intending to do so is a profoundly significant achievement, for
it means that the fatal distinction between religious and secular
education has been "utterly abolished and destroyed."

Both these teachers fell, as it happened, under the ban of the
Diocesan Inspector's displeasure. The schoolmaster took over a
school which was not only inefficient in the eyes of the Education
Department, in respect of instruction and discipline, but was also
tainted in its upper classes with moral depravity. He speedily
restored it to efficiency, and reformed its moral tone. In
accomplishing these salutary changes, he relied mainly on an appeal
which he made, in all manly sincerity, to the religious sense of the
older boys. The faith in human nature which prompted him to make this
appeal was justified by the response which it evoked. In less than a
year the school was transformed beyond recognition. In less than two
years it was one of the best in its county; indeed in respect of
moral tone and religious atmosphere it was perhaps _the_ best.
Meanwhile the work of cramming the children for the yearly diocesan
examination must have fallen into arrears; for the school, which
under my friend's incompetent predecessor had always been classed as
"Excellent," sank to the level of "Good" in the year after he left,
and in the following year to the level of "Fair." Any one who has any
acquaintance with the reports of the Diocesan Inspector knows that
the summary mark "Fair," when employed by him, is equivalent to
utter damnation.

The schoolmistress always had a horror of formal teaching, and a
special horror of cramming young children for formal examinations;
and I can only wonder that her downfall was so long delayed. Sooner
or later, if she was to remain true to her own first principles, her
work was bound to incur the condemnation of the Diocesan Inspector.

Nevertheless, having read hundreds of diocesan reports, and realised
how lavish of praise and chary of blame the Diocesan Inspector
usually is, I am inclined to suspect that the comparative failure
of the children on the examination day was not the sole or even the
chief cause of the severe censure which these two schools received.
I am inclined to think that in each case the inspector recognised in
the exceptional religious vitality of a school which was deficient,
from his point of view, in religious knowledge, an implicit challenge
to his own preconceived notions, and that, without for a moment
intending to be unfair, he responded to this challenge by giving the
school a strongly adverse report. Immorality and irreligiousness
as such are comparatively venial offences in the eyes of religious
orthodoxy. What it cannot tolerate is that men should be moral and
religious in any but the "orthodox" ways.

Apart from these two exceptional cases, there are of course hundreds
and even thousands of teachers whose personal influence is a partial
antidote to the numbing poison which is being distilled but surely,
from the daily Scripture lesson. But the net result of giving formal
and mechanical instruction on the greatest of all "great matters" is
to depress the spiritual vitality of the children of England to a
point which threatens the extinction of the spiritual life of the
nation. My schoolmaster friend, who, besides being deeply religious
(in the best sense of the word), is a man of sound judgment and wide
and varied experience, has more than once assured me that religious
instruction, as given in the normal Church of England school (his
experience has been limited to schools of that type), is paganising
the people of England,--paganising them because it presents religion
to them in a form which they instinctively reject, accepting it at
first under compulsion, but turning away from it at last with
deep-seated weariness and permanent distaste.

The boy who, having attended two thousand Scripture lessons, says to
himself when he leaves school: "If this is religion, I will have no
more of it," is acting in obedience to a healthy instinct. He is to
be honoured rather than blamed for having realised at last that the
chaff on which he has so long been fed is not the life-giving grain
which, unknown to himself, his inmost soul demands.

That England is relapsing into paganism is, as we have seen, the
sincere conviction of many earnest Christians. Why this should be so,
they cannot understand. In their desire to account for so distressing
a phenomenon, they will have recourse to any explanation, however
far-fetched and fantastic, rather than acknowledge that it is the
Scripture lesson in the elementary school which is paganising the
masses. If the Churches could have their way, they would doubtless
try to mend matters by doubling the hours that are given to
religious instruction, by making the Diocesan Inspector's visit
a half-yearly instead of a yearly function, and by cramming the
children for it with redoubled energy. In their refusal to reckon
with human nature, they are true to the first principles of their
religion and their philosophy. But it is possible to buy consistency
at too high a price. The laws and tendencies of Nature are what they
are; and it is madness, not heroism, to ignore them. To those who
refuse to reckon with human nature, the day will surely come when
human nature, evolving itself under the stress of its own forces and
in obedience to its own laws, will cease to take account of them.[8]

When the hands of the clock point to a quarter to ten, the religious
education of the child is over for the day, and his secular
instruction has begun. That the religious education of the child
should be supposed to end when the Scripture lesson is over, is the
last and strongest proof of the fundamental falsity of that
conception of religion on which, as on a quicksand, his education,
religious and secular, has been based.

 After Scripture comes as a rule Arithmetic. During the former lesson
the teacher, acting under compulsion, does his best, as we have seen,
to deaden the child's spiritual faculties. During the latter, he not
infrequently does his best to deaden the child's mental faculties. In
each case he is to be pitied rather than blamed. The conditions under
which he works, and has long worked, are too strong for him. If we
are to understand why secular instruction, as given in our elementary
schools, is what it is, we must go back for half a century or so and
trace the steps by which the "Education Department" forced elementary
education in England into the grooves in which, in many schools,
it is still moving, and from which even the most enlightened and
enterprising teachers find it difficult to escape.

In 1861 the Royal Commission (under the Duke of Newcastle as
Chairman), which had been appointed in 1858 in order to inquire into
"the state of popular education in England, and as to the measures
required for the extension of sound and cheap elementary instruction
to all classes of the people," issued its report, in which it
recommended _inter alia_ that the Grants paid to elementary schools
should be expressly apportioned on the examination of individual
children. This recommendation was carried into effect in the Lowe
Revised Code of 1862; and from that date till 1895 a considerable
part of the Grant received by each school was paid on the results of
a yearly examination held by H.M. Inspector on an elaborate syllabus,
formulated by the Department and binding on all schools alike. On the
official report which followed this examination depended the
reputation and financial prosperity of the school, and the reputation
and financial prosperity of the teacher.[9] The consequent pressure
on the teacher to exert himself was well-nigh irresistible; and he
had no choice but to transmit that pressure to his subordinates and
his pupils. The result was that in those days the average school was
a hive of industry.

But it was also a hive of misdirected energy. The State, in
prescribing a syllabus which was to be followed, in all the subjects
of instruction, by all the schools in the country, without regard to
local or personal considerations, was guilty of one capital offence.
It did all his thinking for the teacher. It told him in precise
detail what he was to do each year in each "Standard," how he was to
handle each subject, and how far he was to go in it; what width of
ground he was to cover; what amount of knowledge, what degree of
accuracy was required for a "pass," In other words it provided him
with his ideals, his general conceptions, his more immediate aims,
his schemes of work; and if it did not control his methods in all
their details, it gave him (by implication) hints and suggestions
with regard to these on which he was not slow to act; for it told him
that the work done in each class and each subject would be tested
at the end of each year by a careful examination of each individual
child; and it was inevitable that in his endeavour to adapt his
teaching to the type of question which his experience of the
yearly examination led him to expect, he should gradually deliver
himself, mind and soul, into the hands of the officials of the
Department,--the officials at Whitehall who framed the yearly
syllabus, and the officials in the various districts who examined
on it.

What the Department did to the teacher, it compelled him to do to the
child. The teacher who is the slave of another's will cannot carry
out his instructions except by making his pupils the slaves of
his own will. The teacher who has been deprived by his superiors
of freedom, initiative, and responsibility, cannot carry out his
instructions except by depriving his pupils of the same vital
qualities. The teacher who, in response to the deadly pressure of a
cast-iron system, has become a creature of habit and routine, cannot
carry out his instructions except by making his pupils as helpless
and as puppet-like as himself.

But it is not only because mechanical obedience is fatal, in the
long run, to mental and spiritual growth, that the regulation of
elementary or any other grade of education by a uniform syllabus is
to be deprecated. It is also because a uniform syllabus is, in the
nature of things, a bad syllabus, and because the degree of its
badness varies directly with the area of the sphere of educational
activity that comes under its control. It is easy for us of the
Twentieth Century to laugh at the syllabuses which the Department
issued, without misgiving, year after year, in the latter half of the
Nineteenth. We were all groping in the dark in those days; and our
whole attitude towards education was so fundamentally wrong that the
absurdities of the yearly syllabus were merely so much by-play in
the evolution of a drama which was a grotesque blend of tragedy and
farce. But let us of the enlightened Twentieth Century try our hands
at constructing a syllabus on which all the elementary schools of
England are to be prepared for a yearly examination, and see if
we can improve appreciably on the work of our predecessors. Some
improvement there would certainly be, but it would not amount to very
much. Were the "Board" to re-institute payment by results, and were
they, with this end in view, to entrust the drafting of schemes of
work in the various subjects to a committee of the wisest and most
experienced educationalists in England, the resultant syllabus would
be a dismal failure. For in framing their schemes these wise and
experienced educationalists would find themselves compelled to take
account of the lowest rather than of the highest level of actual
educational achievement. What is exceptional and experimental cannot
possibly find a place in a syllabus which is to bind all schools and
all teachers alike, and which must therefore be so framed that the
least capable teacher, working under the least favourable conditions,
may hope, when his pupils are examined on it, to achieve with decent
industry a decent modicum of success. Under the control of a uniform
syllabus, the schools which are now specialising and experimenting,
and so giving a lead to the rest, would have to abandon whatever was
interesting in their respective curricula, and fall into line with
the average school; while, with the consequent lowering of the
current _ideal_ of efficiency, the level of the average school would
steadily fall. A uniform syllabus is a bad syllabus, for this if for
no other reason, that it is compelled to idealise the average; and
that, inasmuch as education, so far as it is a living system, grows
by means of its "leaders," the idealisation of the average is
necessarily fatal to educational growth and therefore to educational

It was preordained, then, that the syllabuses which the Department
issued, year by year, in the days of payment by results should have
few merits and many defects. Yet even if, by an unimaginable miracle,
they had all been educationally sound, the mere fact that all the
teachers in England had to work by them would have made them potent
agencies for evil. To be in bondage to a syllabus is a misfortune for
a teacher, and a misfortune for the school that he teaches. To be in
bondage to a syllabus which is binding on all schools alike, is a
graver misfortune. To be in bondage to a bad syllabus which is
binding on all schools alike, is of all misfortunes the gravest. Or
if there is a graver, it is the fate that befell the teachers of
England under the old _régime_,--the fate of being in bondage to a
syllabus which was bad both because it had to come down to the level
of the least fortunate school and the least capable teacher, and also
because it was the outcome of ignorance, inexperience, and
bureaucratic self-satisfaction.

Of the evils that are inherent in the examination system as such--of
its tendency to arrest growth, to deaden life, to paralyse the higher
faculties, to externalise what is inward, to materialise what is
spiritual, to involve education in an atmosphere of unreality and
self-deception--I have already spoken at some length. In the days of
payment by results various circumstances conspired to raise those
evil tendencies to the highest imaginable "power." When inspectors
ceased to examine (in the stricter sense of the word) they realised
what infinite mischief the yearly examination had done. The children,
the majority of whom were examined in reading and dictation out of
their own reading-books (two or three in number, as the case might
be), were drilled in the contents of those books until they knew
them almost by heart. In arithmetic they worked abstract sums, in
obedience to formal rules, day after day, and month after month;
and they were put up to various tricks and dodges which would, it
was hoped, enable them to know by what precise rules the various
questions on the arithmetic cards were to be answered. They learned
a few lines of poetry by heart, and committed all the "meanings and
allusions" to memory, with the probable result--so sickening must
the process have been--that they hated poetry for the rest of their
lives. In geography, history, and grammar they were the victims of
unintelligent oral cram, which they were compelled, under pains and
penalties, to take in and retain till the examination day was over,
their ability to disgorge it on occasion being periodically tested by
the teacher. And so with the other subjects. Not a thought was given,
except in a small minority of the schools, to the real training of
the child, to the fostering of his mental (and other) growth. To get
him through the yearly examination by hook or by crook was the one
concern of the teacher. As profound distrust of the teacher was the
basis of the policy of the Department, so profound distrust of the
child was the basis of the policy of the teacher. To leave the child
to find out anything for himself, to work out anything for himself,
to think out anything for himself, would have been regarded as a
proof of incapacity, not to say insanity, on the part of the teacher,
and would have led to results which, from the "percentage" point of
view, would probably have been disastrous.

There were few inspectors who were not duly impressed from 1895
onwards by the gravity of the evils that inspection, as distinguished
from mere examination, revealed to them; but it may be doubted
if there were many inspectors who realised then, what some among
them see clearly now, that the evils which distressed them were
significant as symptoms even more than as sources of mischief,--as
symptoms of a deep-seated and insidious malady, of the gradual
ossification of the spiritual and mental muscles of both the teacher
and the child, of the gradual substitution in the elementary school
of machinery for life.

For us of the Twentieth Century who know enough about education to
be aware of the shallowness of our knowledge of it, and of the
imperfection of the existing educational systems of our country, it
may be difficult to realise that in the years when things were at
their worst, at any rate in the field of elementary education, the
Nation in general and the "Department" in particular were well
content that things should remain as they were,--well content that
the elementary school should be, not a nursery of growing seedlings
and saplings, but a decently efficient mill, and that year after year
this mill should keep on grinding out its dreary and meaningless
"results." But in truth that ignorant optimism, that cheap content
with the actual, was a sure proof that things _were_ at their

  "When we in our viciousness grow hard,
  (O misery on't) the wise gods seal our eyes
  In our own filth; drop our clear judgments: make us
  Adore our errors";

and the multiform discontent with education in its present stage of
development, which is characteristic of our own generation, and which
is in some ways so confusing and disconcerting, and so unfavourable
to the smooth working of our educational machinery, has the merit of
being a healthy and hopeful symptom.

But bad as things were in those days, there was at least one
redeeming feature. The children were compelled to _work_, to exert
themselves, to "put their backs into it." The need for this was
obvious. The industry of the child meant so much professional
reputation and, in the last resort, so much bread and butter to his
teacher. It is true that the child was not allowed to do anything by
or for himself; but it is equally true that he had to do pretty
strenuously whatever task was set him. He had to get up his two (or
three) "Readers" so thoroughly that he could be depended upon to pass
both the reading and the dictation test with success. He had to work
his abstract sums in arithmetic correctly. He had to take in and
remember the historical and geographical information with which he
had been crammed. And so forth. There must be no shirking, no
slacking on his part. His teachers worked hard, though "not according
to knowledge"; and he must do the same. Active, in the higher sense
of the word, he was never allowed to be; but he had to be actively
receptive, strenuously automatic, or his teacher would know the
reason why.

Such was the old _régime_. Its defects were so grave and so vital
that, now that it has become discredited (in theory, if not in
practice), we can but wonder how it endured for so long. As an
ingenious instrument for arresting the mental growth of the child,
and deadening all his higher faculties, it has never had, and I
hope will never have, a rival. Far from fostering the growth of
those great expansive instincts--sympathetic, æsthetic, and
scientific--which Nature has implanted in every child, it set itself
to extirpate them, one and all, with ruthless pertinacity. As a
partial compensation for this work of wanton destruction, it made the
child blindly obedient, mechanically industrious, and (within very
narrow limits) accurate and thorough. I have described it at some
length because I see clearly that no one who does not realise what
the elementary school used to be, in the days of its sojourn in the
Land of Bondage, can even begin to understand why it is what it is

Having for thirty-three years deprived the teachers of almost every
vestige of freedom, the Department suddenly reversed its policy and
gave them in generous measure the boon which it had so long withheld.
Whether it was wise to give so much at so short a notice may be
doubted. What is beyond dispute is that it was unwise to expect so
great and so unexpected a gift to be used at once to full advantage.
A man who had grown accustomed to semi-darkness would be dazzled to
the verge of blindness if he were suddenly taken out into broad
daylight. This is what was done in 1895 to the teachers of England,
and it is not to be wondered at that many of them have been purblind
ever since. For thirty-three years they had been treated as machines,
and they were suddenly asked to act as intelligent beings. For
thirty-three years they had been practically compelled to do
everything for the child, and they were suddenly expected to give him
freedom and responsibility,--words which for many of them had
well-nigh lost their meaning. To comply with these unreasonable
demands was beyond their power. The grooves into which they had been
forced were far too deep for them. The routine to which they had
become accustomed had far too strong a hold on them. The one change
which they could make was to relax their own severe pressure on the
child. This they did, perhaps without intending to do it. Indeed,
now that there was no external examination to look forward to, the
pressure on the child may be said to have automatically relaxed
itself. What happened--I will not say in all schools, but in far too
many--was that the teaching remained as mechanical and unintelligent
as ever, that the teacher continued to distrust the child and to do
everything for him, but that the child gradually became slacker and
less industrious. Not that his teacher wished him to "slack," but
that the stimulus of the yearly examination had been withdrawn at a
time when there was nothing to take its place. Exercise is in itself
a delightful thing when it is wholesome, natural, and rational;
but when it is unwholesome, unnatural, and irrational, it will not
be taken in sufficient measure except in response to some strong
external stimulus. Under the old examination system an adequate
stimulus had been supplied by the combined influence of competition
and fear (chiefly the latter). When the examination system was
abolished, that stimulus necessarily lost its point. Had it then been
possible for the teacher to make the exercise which his pupils were
asked to take wholesome, natural, and rational, a new stimulus--that
of interest in their work--would have been applied to the pupils, and
they would have exerted themselves as they had never done before.
But it was not possible for the average teacher to execute at a
moment's notice a complete change of front, and it was unwise of the
Department to expect him to do so. Apart from an honourable minority,
who had always been in secret revolt against the despotism of the
Code, the old teachers were helpless and hopeless. The younger ones
had been through the mill themselves, first in the Elementary School,
then in the Pupil-Teacher Centre, and then in the Training College
(both the latter having been in too many cases cramming
establishments like the Elementary School); and when they went back
to work under a head teacher who was wedded to the old order of
things, they found no difficulty in falling in with his ways and
carrying out his wishes. If a young teacher, fresh from an
exceptionally enlightened Training College, became an assistant under
an old-fashioned head teacher, he soon had the "nonsense knocked out
of him," and was compelled to toe the line with the rest of the

But it was not only because the teachers of England had got
accustomed to the Land of Bondage, that they shrank from entering the
Promised Land. There was, and still is, another and a stronger
reason. Wherever the teacher looks, he sees that the examination
system, with its demand for machine-made results, controls education;
and he feels that it is only by an accident that his school has
been exempted (in part at least) from its pressure. The Board of
Education still examine for labour certificates, for admission as
uncertificated assistants, for the teacher's certificate. They expect
head teachers to hold terminal examinations of all the classes in
their schools. They allow Local Authorities to examine children in
their schools as formally and as stringently as they please, and to
hold examinations for County Scholarships, for which children from
elementary schools are eligible. Admission to secondary schools of
all grades depends on success in passing entrance examinations. So
does admission to the various Colleges and Universities. In the
schools which prepare little boys for the "Great Public Schools,"
the whole scheme of education Is dominated by the headmaster's desire
to win as many entrance scholarships as possible. In the "Great
Public Schools" the scheme of education is similarly dominated by
the headmaster's desire to win as many scholarships as possible
at the Oxford and Cambridge Colleges. In the Universities all the
undergraduates without exception are reading for examinations of
various kinds,--pass "schools," honour "schools," Civil Service
examinations, and the like. Officers in the Army and Navy have never
done with examinations; and there is not a single profession which
can be entered through any door but that of a public examination.
Wherever the teacher looks he sees that examinations are held in high
honour, and that the main business of teachers of all grades is to
produce results which an outside examiner would accept as
satisfactory; and he naturally takes for granted that the production
of such results is the true function of the teacher, whether his
success in producing them is to be tested by a formal examination or
not. The air that he breathes is charged with ideas--ideas about life
in general and education in particular--which belong to the order of
things that he is supposed to have left behind him, and are fiercely
antagonistic to those as yet unrecognised ideas which give the new
order of things its meaning, its purpose, and its value.

How can we expect the teacher to look inward when all the conditions
of his existence, not as a teacher only but also as a citizen and a
man, conspire to make him look outward? But if the Fates are against
his looking inward, to what purpose has he been emancipated from the
direct control of a system which had at least the merit of being in
line with all the central tendencies of Western civilisation? How
does it profit him to be free if, under the pressure of those
tendencies, the chief use that he makes of his freedom is to grind
out from his pupils results akin to those which were asked for in the
days of schedules and percentages? Freedom was given him in order
that he might be free to take thought for the vital welfare of his
pupils. Or, if freedom was not given to him for that purpose, it were
better that it had been withheld from him until those who were able
to give or withhold it had formed a juster conception of its meaning.

The truth is that the exemption of the elementary school, and of it
alone among schools, from the direct pressure of the examination
system, is an isolated and audacious experiment, which is carried on
under conditions so unfavourable to its success that nothing but a
high degree of intelligence and moral courage (not to speak of
originality) on the part of the teacher can make it succeed. Can we
wonder that in many cases the experiment has proved a failure?

At the end of the previous chapter I asked myself whether the
education that was given in the ordinary elementary school tended to
foster self-expression on the part of the child. We can now see what
the answer to this question is likely to be. For a third of a
century--from 1862 to 1895--self-expression on the part of the child
may be said to have been formally prohibited by all who were
responsible for the elementary education of the children of England,
and also to have been prohibited _de facto_ by all the unformulated
conditions under which the elementary school was conducted. In 1895
the formal prohibition of self-expression ceased, but the _de facto_
prohibition of it in the ordinary school is scarcely less effective
to-day than it was in the darkest days of the old _régime_. For

  "The evil that men do lives after them,"

and the old _régime_, though nominally abrogated, overshadows us
still. When I say this I do not merely mean that many teachers who
were brought up under the old _régime_ have been unable to emancipate
themselves from its influence. I mean that the old _régime_ was
itself the outcome and expression of traditional tendencies which
are of the essence of Western civilisation, of ways of thinking
and acting to which we are all habituated from our earliest days,
and that these tendencies and these ways of thinking and acting
overshadow us still. The formal abrogation of the old _régime_ counts
for little so long as the examination system, with its demand for
visible and measurable results and its implicit invitation to cram
and cheat, is allowed to cast its deadly shadow on education as
such,--and so long as the whole system on which the young of all
classes and grades are educated is favourable to self-deception on
the part of the teacher and fatal to sincerity on the part of the
child. Constrained by every influence that is brought to bear upon
him to judge according to the appearance of things, the teacher can
ill afford to judge righteous judgment,--can ill afford to regard
what is outward and visible as the symbol of what is inward and
spiritual, can ill afford to think of the work done by the child
except as a thing to be weighed in an examiner's balance or measured
by an examiner's rule.

Things being as they are in the various grades of education and in
the various strata of social life, it is inevitable that the
education given in many of our elementary schools should be based,
in the main, on complete distrust of the child. In such schools,
whatever else the child may be allowed to do, he must not be allowed
to do anything by or for himself. He must not express what he really
feels and sees; for if he does, the results will probably fall short
of the standard of neatness, cleanness, and correctness which
an examiner might expect the school to reach. At any rate, the
experiment is much too risky to be tried. In the lower classes
the results produced would certainly be rough, imperfect, untidy.
Therefore self-expression must not be permitted in that part of the
school. And if not there, it must not be permitted anywhere, for the
longer it is delayed the greater will be the difficulty of starting
it and the greater the attendant risk. The child must not express
what he really perceives; and as genuine perception forces for itself
the outlet of genuine expression, he must not be allowed to exercise
his perceptive faculties. Instead of seeing things for himself, he
must see what his teacher directs him to see, he must feel what his
teacher directs him to feel, he must think what his teacher directs
him to think, and so on. But to forbid a child to use his own
perceptive faculties is to arrest the whole process of his growth.

I will now go back to the _Arithmetic_ lesson. During the years in
which the children in elementary schools were examined individually
in reading, writing, and arithmetic, the one virtue which was
inculcated while the arithmetic lesson was in progress was that of
obedience to the formulated rule. On the yearly examination day it
was customary to give each child four questions in arithmetic, of
which only one was a "problem." Two sums correctly worked secured
a "pass"; and it was therefore possible for the child to achieve
salvation in arithmetic by blindly obeying the various rules with
which his teacher had equipped him. He had, indeed, to decide for
himself in each case which rule was to be followed; but he did this
(in most schools), not by thinking the matter out, but by following
certain by-rules given him by his teacher, which were based on a
careful study of the wording of the questions set by the inspector,
and which held good as long as that wording remained unchanged. For
example, if a subtraction sum was to be dictated to "Standard II,"
the child was taught that the number which was given out first was to
be placed in the upper line, and that the number which came next was
to be subtracted from this. He was not taught that the lesser of the
two numbers was always to be subtracted from the larger; for in order
to apply that principle he would have had to decide for himself which
was the larger of the two numbers, and the consequent mental effort
was one which his teacher could not trust him to make. It is true
that in his desire to save the child from the dire necessity of
thinking, the teacher ran the risk of being discomfited by a sudden
change of procedure on the part of an inspector. The inspector, for
example, who, having been accustomed to say "From 95 take 57," chose
to say, for a change, "Take 57 from 95," would cause widespread havoc
in the first two or three schools that were the victims of his
unlooked-for experiment. But the risks which the teacher ran who
taught his pupils to rely on trickery rather than thought were worth
running; for the inspectors, like the teachers and the children, were
ever tending to become creatures of routine, and the vagaries of
those who had the reputation of being tiresomely versatile could be
provided against--largely, if not wholly--by increased ingenuity on
the part of the teacher, and increased attention to tricky by-rules
on the part of the child.

The number of schools in which arithmetic is intelligently and even
practically taught is undoubtedly much larger than it was in the days
of payment by results; but there are still thousands of schools in
which obedience to the rule for its own sake is the basis of all
instruction in arithmetic. Now to live habitually by rule instead of
by thought is necessarily fatal, in every field of action, to the
development of that _sense_ or perceptive faculty, on which right
action ultimately depends. Following his reputed guide blindly,
mechanically, and with whole-hearted devotion, the votary of the rule
never allows his intuition, his faculty of direct perception and
subconscious judgment, to play even for a moment round the matters
on which he is engaged; and the result is that the faculty in
question is not merely prevented from growing, but is at last
actually blighted in the bud. This is but another way of saying what
I have already insisted upon,--that to forbid self-expression on the
part of the child is to starve his perceptive faculties into

There is no folly perpetrated in the elementary school of to-day for
which there are not authoritative precedents to be found in the
conduct of one or other of the two great schools which the God of
Western theology is supposed to have opened for the education of Man.
And it is in that special development of the Legal School which
is known as Pharisaism that we shall look for a precedent for the
conventional teaching of arithmetic in our elementary schools. The
ultra-legalism of the Pharisee in the days of Christ finds its exact
counterpart in the ultra-legalism of the child who has been taught
arithmetic by the methods which the yearly examination fostered, and
which are still widely prevalent. In the one case there was, in the
other case there is, an entire inability on the part of the zealous
votary of the rule to estimate the intrinsic value of the results of
his blind and unintelligent action. The sense of humour, which is a
necessary element in every other healthy sense, and which so often
keeps us from going astray, by suddenly revealing to us the inherent
absurdity of our proposed action, is one of the first faculties to
succumb to the blighting influence of an ultra-legal conception of
life. As an example of the unwavering seriousness of the Pharisee in
the presence of what was intrinsically ridiculous, let us take his
attitude towards the problem of keeping food warm for the Sabbath
day. "According to Exodus xvi. 23, it was forbidden to bake and to
boil on the Sabbath. Hence the food, which it was desired to eat hot
on the Sabbath, was to be prepared before its commencement, and kept
warm by artificial means. In doing this, however, care must be taken
that the existing heat was not increased, which would have been
'boiling.' Hence the food must be put only into such substances as
would maintain its heat, not into such as might possibly increase it.
'Food to be kept warm for the Sabbath must not be put into oil-dregs,
manure, salt, chalk, or sand, whether moist or dry, nor into straw,
grape-skins, flock, or vegetables, if these are damp, though it may
if they are dry. It may, however, be put into clothes, amidst fruits,
pigeons' feathers, and flax tow. R. Jehudah declares flax tow
unallowable and permits only coarse tow.'"[10] Following his rule
out, step by step, with unflinching loyalty, into these ridiculous
consequences, the Pharisee had entirely lost the power of seeing that
they were ridiculous, and was well content to believe, with Jehudah,
that the difference between keeping food warm in coarse tow and in
flax tow was the difference between life and death. This _reductio
ad absurdum_ of legalism is exactly paralleled, in many of our
elementary schools, in the answers to arithmetical questions given by
the children. The "Fifth Standard" boys who told their inspector, as
an answer to an easy problem, that a given room was five shillings
and sixpence wide, had followed out their rule--they had
unfortunately got hold of a wrong rule--step by step, till it led
them to a conclusion, the intrinsic absurdity of which they were one
and all unable to see.[11] There are many elementary schools in
England in which a majority of the answers given to quite easy
problems would certainly be wrong, and a respectable minority of them
ludicrously wrong. Nor is this to be wondered at; for though the
types of problems that can be set in elementary schools are not
numerous, to provide his pupils with the by-rules which shall enable
them in all, or even in most cases, to determine which of the
recognised rules are appropriate to the given situation, passes the
wit of the teacher. But if the helplessness of so many elementary
scholars in the face of an arithmetical problem is lamentable, still
more lamentable is the fact that the scholar is seldom met with who,
having given an entirely wrong answer to an easy problem, is able to
see for himself that, whatever the right answer may be, the answer
given is and must be wrong. So fatal to the development of the
arithmetical sense is the current worship of the rule for its own
sake, and so deadly a narcotic is the conventional arithmetic lesson
to all who take part in it!

 It is not in the arithmetic lesson, then, that provision is
ordinarily made for the development of a sense, or perceptive
faculty, through the medium of self-expression on the part of the
child. On the contrary, the very _raison d'être_ of the arithmetic
lesson, as it is still given in many schools, is to destroy the
arithmetical sense, and make the child an inefficient calculating
machine, which, even when working, is too often inaccurate and
clumsy, and which the slightest change of environment throws at
once and completely out of gear.

After the arithmetical lesson come, as a rule, lessons in "_Reading_"
and "_Writing_"--in reading in some classes, in writing in others.
The first thing that strikes the visitor who enters an ordinary
elementary school while a reading lesson is in progress, is that the
children are not reading at all, in the accepted sense of the word.
They are not reading to themselves, not studying, not mastering the
contents of the book, not assimilating the mental and spiritual
nutriment that it may be supposed to contain. They are standing up,
one by one, even in the highest class of all, and reading aloud to
their teacher.

Why are they doing this? Is it in order that their teacher may show
them how to master the more difficult words in their reading lesson?
This may be the reason, in some schools; but there are others,
perhaps a majority, in which the teacher tells his pupils the words
that puzzle them instead of helping them to make them out for
themselves. Besides, if reading were properly taught in the lower
classes, the children in the upper classes would surely be able to
master unaided the difficulties that might confront them.

Or is it in order that elocution may be cultivated? But elocution is
seldom, if ever, cultivated in the ordinary elementary school, the
veriest mumbling on the part of the child being accepted by his
teacher (who follows him with an open book in his hand), provided
that he can read correctly and with some attempt at "phrasing."
Indeed, the indistinct utterance of so many school children may be
attributed to the fact that they have read aloud to their teachers
for many years, and that during the whole of that time a very low
standard of distinctness has been accepted as satisfactory.

Or is it in order that the teacher may help his pupils to understand
what they are reading? This may be one of his reasons for hearing
them read aloud; but so far as the higher classes are concerned it is
a bad reason, for the older the child the more imperative is it that
he should try to make out for himself the meaning of what he reads;
and the teacher who spoon-feeds his pupils during the reading lesson
is doing his best to make them incapable of digesting the contents of
books for themselves.

No, there are two chief reasons why the teacher makes children of
eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen years of age read aloud to him
as if they were children of six or seven. The first reason is that
the unemancipated teacher instinctively does to-day what he did
twenty years ago, and that twenty years ago, when children were
examined in reading from their own books, the teacher heard them read
aloud, day after day in order that he might make sure that they knew
their books well enough to pass the inspector's test. The second
reason, which is wider than the first, and may be said to include and
account for it, is that the reading-aloud lesson fits in with the
whole system of Western education, being the outcome and expression
of that complete distrust of the child which is, and always has been,
characteristic of the popular religion and philosophy of the West. If
you ask the teacher why the children, even in the highest classes,
are never allowed to work at such subjects as history and geography
by themselves, he will tell you frankly that he cannot trust them to
do so, that they do not know how to use a book. And he cannot see
that in giving this excuse he is condemning himself, and making open
confession of the worthlessness of the training that he has given to
his pupils.

Whatever else the reading-aloud lesson may be, it is a dismal waste
of time. Child after child stands up, reads for a minute or so, and
then sits down, remaining idle and inert (except when an occasional
question is addressed to him) for the rest of the time occupied
by the so-called lesson. In this, as in most oral lessons, the
elementary school child passes much of his time in a state which is
neither activity nor rest,--a state of enforced inertness combined
with unnatural and unceasing strain. Activity is good for the child,
and rest, which, is the complement of activity, is good for the
child; but the combination of inertness with strain is good for
neither his body nor his mind. Indeed, it may be doubted if there is
any state of mind and body which is so uneducational as this, or so
unfavourable to healthy growth.

 But the main objection to the reading-aloud lesson is, I repeat, that
while it is going on the children are not reading at all, in the
proper sense of the word, not attacking the book, not enjoying it,
not extracting the honey from it. And the consequences of the
inability to read which is thus engendered are far-reaching and
disastrous. The power to read is a key which unlocks many doors. One
of the most important of these doors--perhaps, from the strictly
scholastic point of view, _the_ most important--is the door of study.
The child who cannot read to himself cannot study a book, cannot
master its contents. It is because the elementary school child cannot
be trusted to do any independent study, that the oral lesson, or
lecture, with its futile expenditure of "chalk and talk," is so
prominent a feature in the work of the elementary school. And it is
because the oral lesson necessarily counts for so much, that the
over-grouping of classes, with all its attendant evils, is so widely
practised. The grouping together of "Standards" V, VI, and VII, with
the result that the children who go through all those Standards are
compelled to waste the last two years of their school life, is a
practice which is almost universal in elementary schools of a certain
size. And there are few schools of that size in which those Standards
could not be broken up into two, if not three, independent classes,
if the children, whose ages range as a rule between eleven and
fourteen, could be trusted to work by themselves. In many cases this
over-grouping is wholly inexcusable, the headmaster having no class
of his own to teach, and being therefore free to do what obviously
ought to be done,--to separate the older and more advanced children
from the rest of the top class, and form them into a separate class
(a real top class) for independent study and self-education under his
direction and supervision. But so strong is the force of habit, and
so deeply rooted in the mind of the teacher is distrust of the child,
that it is rare to find the head teacher to whom the idea of breaking
up an over-grouped top class has suggested itself as practicable, or
even as intrinsically desirable.

We owe it, then, to the reading-aloud fetich that in many of our
schools the children are compelled to spend the last two (or even
three) years of their school life--the most important years of all
from the point of view of their preparation for the battle of
life--in marking time, in staying where they were. It is to those
years of enforced stagnation that the reluctance of the ex-elementary
scholar to go on with his education is largely due; for no one can
keep on moving who is not already on the move, and the desire to
continue education is scarcely to be looked for in one who has been
given to understand that his education has come to an end. But there
is another and a shorter cut from the conventional reading lesson to
the early extinction of the child's educational career. The child who
leaves school without having learned how to use a book, will find
that the one door through which access is gained to most of the halls
of learning--the door of independent study--is for ever slammed in
his face. Not that he will seriously try to open it; for with the
ability to read the desire to read will have aborted. The distrust of
the child, on which Western education is based, is a bottomless gulf
in which educational effort, whatever form it may take or in whatever
quarter it may originate, is for the most part swallowed up and made
as though it had not been. The child who leaves school at the age of
fourteen will have attended some 2,000 or 3,000 reading lessons in
the course of his school life. From these, in far too many cases, he
will have carried nothing away but the ability to stumble with
tolerable correctness through printed matter of moderate difficulty.
He will not have carried away from them either the power or the
desire to read.

In the days of percentages, instruction in "_Writing_" below Standard
V was entirely confined to handwriting and spelling; and even in the
higher Standards the teacher thought more about handwriting and
spelling than any other aspect of this composite subject. Now
handwriting and spelling are merely means to an end,--the end of
making clear to the reader the words that have been committed to
paper by the writer. But it is the choice rather than the setting
out of words that really matters, and the name that we give to the
choosing of words is Composition. The excessive regard that has
always been paid in our elementary schools to neat handwriting and
correct spelling is characteristic of the whole Western attitude
towards education. No "results" are more easily or more accurately
appraised than these, and it follows that no "results" are more
highly esteemed by the unenlightened teacher. For wherever the
outward standard of reality has established itself at the expense of
the inward, the ease with which worth (or what passes for such) can
be measured is ever tending to become in itself the chief, if not the
sole, measure of worth. And in proportion as we tend to value the
results of education for their measureableness, so we tend to
undervalue and at last to ignore those results which are too
intrinsically valuable to be measured.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hence the neglect of _Composition_ in so many elementary schools. I
mean by composition the sincere expression in language of the child's
genuine thoughts and feelings. The effort to "compose," whether
orally or on paper, is one of the most educational of all efforts;
for language is at once the most readily available and the most
subtle and sympathetic of all media of expression; and the effort
to express himself in it tends, in proportion as it is sincere
and strong, to give breadth, depth, and complexity to the child's
thoughts and feelings, and through the development of these to weave
his experiences into the tissue of his life. But sincerity of
expression is not easily measured, and the true value of the thoughts
and feelings that are struggling to express themselves in a child's
composition is beyond the reach of any rule or scale; whereas
neatness of handwriting and correctness of spelling are, as we have
seen, features which appeal even to the carelessly observant eye.

Knowing this, the teacher takes care that the exercise-books of his
pupils shall be filled with neat and accurate composition exercises,
and that some of the neatest and most accurate of these shall be
exhibited on the walls of his school. The visitor whose eye ranges
over these exercises and goes no further may be excused if he forms
a highly favourable opinion of the school which can produce such
seemingly excellent work. But let him spend a morning in the school,
and see how these "results" have been produced. He will probably
change his mind as to their value. The teaching of composition in
the ordinary elementary school is too often fraudulent and futile.
Indeed, there is no lesson in which the teacher's traditional
distrust of the child goes further than in this. In the lower classes
the child is taught how to construct simple sentences (as if he
had never made one in the previous course of his life), and he is
not trusted to do more than this. He listens to a so-called object
lesson, and when it is over he is told to write a few simple
sentences about the Cow or the Horse, or whatever the subject of the
lesson may have been; and lest his memory (the only faculty which he
is allowed to exercise) should fail him, the chief landmarks of the
lesson are placed before him on the blackboard. This string of simple
sentences reproduced from memory passes muster as composition. And
yet that child began to practise oral composition at the age of
eighteen months, and at the age of three was able to use complex
sentences with freedom and skill. In the upper classes the
composition is too often as mechanical, as unreal, and as insincere
as in the lower. Sometimes a given subject is worked out by the
teacher with the class, the children, one by one, suggesting
sentences, which are shaped and corrected by the teacher and then
written up on the blackboard, until there are enough of them to fill
one page of an ordinary exercise book. Then the whole essay (if one
must dignify it with that name) is copied out, very neatly and
carefully, by every child in the class; and the result is shown to
the inspector as original composition. At other times or in other
schools the class teacher does not go quite so far as this. He
contents himself with talking the subject over with the class, and
then writing a series of headings[12] on the blackboard. Or, again,
trusting to the child's red-hot memory, he will allow him to write
out what he remembers of an object-lesson, or a history lesson, or
whatever it may be. Composition exercises which are the genuine
expression of genuine perception, which have behind them what the
child has experienced, what he has felt or thought, what he has read,
what he has studied, are the exception rather than the rule; for
in such exercises there would probably be faults of spelling,
faults of grammar, colloquialisms, careless writing (due to the
child's eagerness), and so forth; and the work would therefore be
unsatisfactory from the showman's point of view. The child's natural
capacity for expressing himself in language is systematically starved
in order that outward and visible results, results which will win
approval from those who judge according to the appearance of things,
may be duly produced.

The case of oral composition in the unemancipated elementary school
is even more hopeless than that of written composition. The latter
has a time set apart for it on the time-table, and is at any rate
supposed to be taught. The former is wholly ignored. Many teachers
seem to have entirely forgotten that the desire and the ability to
talk are part of the normal equipment of every healthy child. There
was, indeed, a time when children were taught to answer questions
in complete sentences even when one-word answers would have amply
sufficed. For example, when a child was asked how many pence there
were in a shilling, he was expected to answer, "There are twelve
pence in a shilling"; when he was asked what was the colour of snow,
he was expected to answer, "The colour of snow is white "; and so on.
And both he and his teacher flattered themselves that this waste of
words was oral composition! In point of fact the sentence in each of
these cases was worth no more, as an effort of self-expression, than
its one important word--_twelve_, _white_, or whatever it might be;
and the child, who was allowed to think that he had produced a real
sentence, had in effect done no more than envelop one real word in a
hollow formula. There are still many schools in which this ridiculous
practice lingers, and in which it constitutes the only attempt at
oral composition that the child is allowed to make. Where it has died
out the idea of teaching oral composition has too often died with it.
Young children are, as a rule, voluble talkers, with a considerable
command of language. But it not infrequently happens that at the
close of his school life the once talkative child has lapsed into a
state of sullen taciturnity. In common with other vital faculties,
his power of expressing himself in speech has withered in the
repressive atmosphere to which he has so long been exposed.

It is in the oral lesson that one would expect oral composition to
be taught or at any rate practised. In such subjects as _History_,
_Geography_, _English_, _Elementary Science_, the teaching in most
elementary schools is mainly, if not wholly, oral. In the days of
payment by results separate and variable grants were given for these
subjects; and which, if either, of two grants should be recommended
depended in each case on the result of an oral examination conducted
by H.M. Inspector, the employment of a written test in any class
being strictly forbidden by "My Lords." In this examination proof
of the possession of information was all that the inspector could
demand; and the quickest and easiest way of obtaining such proof
was to ask the class questions which could be briefly answered by
the children individually. Questions which were designed to test
intelligence might, of course, have been asked, and in some districts
were freely asked; but to have reduced the grant because the children
failed to answer these would have provoked an outcry; while, had the
inspector asked questions which demanded long answers, he would, in
the limited time at his command, have given but few children the
chance of showing that they had been duly prepared for the
examination. The consequence was that the oral lesson on a "class
subject" usually took the form of stuffing the children with pellets
of appropriate information, some of which they would, in all
probability, have the opportunity of disgorging when they were
questioned by the inspector on the yearly "parade day."

Not only, then, did the official examination in history, geography
and elementary science direct the teaching of these subjects into
channels in which the golden opportunities that they offer for the
practice of written composition were perforce thrown away, but also
the examination was so framed that even the practice of oral
composition, in preparation for it, was actively discouraged. And the
neglect of composition acted disastrously on the teaching of the
subjects in question; for wherever self-expression on the part of the
child is forbidden, the appropriate "sense," or perceptive faculty,
cannot possibly evolve itself,--perception and expression being, as
we have elsewhere seen, the very life and soul of each other; and in
the absence (to take pertinent examples) of the historical or the
geographical sense, the possession of historical or geographical
information cannot possibly be converted into knowledge of history
or geography. The prompt, accurate, and general answering which was
rewarded by the award of the higher grants for "class subjects" was,
in nine cases out of ten, the outcome of assiduous and unintelligent
cram,--a mode of preparation for which the policy of the Education
Department was mainly responsible.

 But when separate grants ceased to be paid for class subjects, were
not the teachers free to teach them by rational methods? No doubt
they were--in theory. In point of fact they were in bondage to the
strongest of all constraining influences,--the force of inveterate
habit. For twenty years they had taught the class subjects by the one
safe method of vigorous oral cram. This method had answered their
purpose, and it was but natural that they should continue to teach by
it. What happened, when separate grants ceased to be paid, was that
the need for responsiveness on the part of the scholar gradually
lessened. The pellets of information were still imparted, but it
became less and less incumbent upon the teacher to see that his
pupils were ready to disgorge them at a moment's notice. And so the
cramming lesson gradually transformed itself into a _lecture_, in
which the teacher did all or nearly all the talking, while the
children sat still and listened or pretended to listen, an occasional
yawn giving open proof of the boredom from which most of them were

That is the type of oral lesson which is most common at the present
day. "Results" in history, geography, nature study and English are
seldom asked for by the inspector; and the teacher takes but little
trouble to produce them. But his distrust of the child is as firmly
rooted as ever, and his unwillingness to allow the child to work by
or for himself is as strong as it ever was. The consequence is that
there are many schools in which the teacher now does everything
during the oral lesson, while the child does as nearly as possible
nothing. Formerly the child was at any rate allowed (or rather
required) to be actively receptive. Now he is seldom allowed to do
anything more active than to yawn. And all the time he is secretly
longing to energise--to do something with himself--to use his mental,
if not his physical faculties--to work, if not to play. One might
have thought that in the history and geography lessons, if in no
other, "Standards VI" and "VII" (where the numbers were too small
to admit of these standards having a teacher to themselves) would
be separated from "Standard V," and allowed to work out their own
salvation by studying suitable text-books under proper supervision
and guidance. But no; the force of habit is too strong for the
machine-made teacher. Twenty years ago history and geography were
"class subjects," and as such were taught orally to whole classes of
children. And they must still be taught as "class subjects," even
if this should involve the "Sixth" and "Seventh Standards" being
brigaded with, and kept down for one or even two years to, the level
of the "Fifth,"--kept down, it would seem, for no other purpose than
that of being the passive recipients of the teacher's windy "talk,"
and the helpless witnesses of his futile "chalk," and of having their
own activities paralysed and their own powers of expression starved
into inanition.

I will deal with one more "secular" subject before I bring this
sketch to a close. There are still many schools in which the hours
that are set apart for _Drawing_ are devoted in large measure to the
slavish reproduction of flat copies. A picture of some familiar
object--outlined, shaded, or tinted as the case may be, and not
infrequently highly conventionalised--hangs in front of the class;
and the children copy it, stroke by stroke, and curve by curve, and
put in the shading and lay on washes of colour. As long practice at
work of this kind develops a certain degree of manual dexterity, and
as the free use of india-rubber is permitted and even encouraged, the
child's finished work may be so neat and accurate as to become worthy
of a place on the school wall. But what is the value, what is the
meaning of work of this kind? When such a drawing lesson as I have
described is in progress, the divorce between perception and
expression is complete. And as each of these master faculties is the
very life and soul of the other, their complete divorce from one
another involves the complete eclipse of each. The child who copies
a flat copy does not perceive anything except some other person's
reproduction of a scene or object; and even this he does not
necessarily grasp as a whole, his business being to reproduce it with
flawless accuracy, line by line. Indeed, it may well happen that he
does not even know what the picture or diagram before him is intended
to represent. Nor is he expressing anything, for he has not made his
model in any sense or degree his own. Thus, during the whole of a
lesson in which the perceptive and expressive faculties are supposed
to be receiving a special training, they are lying dormant and inert.
Each of them is, for the time being, as good as dead. And each of
them will assuredly die if this kind of teaching goes on for very
long, die for lack of exercise, die wasted and atrophied by disuse.
The extent to which the copying of copies can injure a child's power
of observation exceeds belief. I have seen a bowl placed high above
the line of sight of a class of fifty senior boys, each one of whom
(his memory being haunted, I suppose, by some diagram which he had
once copied) drew it as if he were looking into it from above. Not
one of those boys could see the bowl as it really was, or rather
as it really was to be seen. A child who had never drawn a stroke
in his life, but whose perceptive faculties had not been deadened
by education, would have sketched the bowl more correctly than
any of those quasi-experts. And with the wasting of the power of
observation, the executive power is gradually lost; for perception
is ever interpenetrating, reinforcing, and stimulating expression;
and when the eye is blind, the hand, however skilful its mere
manipulation may be, necessarily falters and loses its cunning.

Four or five years ago, had one entered an elementary school while
drawing was being taught, such a lesson as I have just described
would have been in progress in ninety-nine cases out of every
hundred. Since then a systematic warfare has been waged by the Board
against the "flat copy"; and though it is still very far from
extinct, there is now perhaps an actual majority of schools in which
its use has been discontinued. But the number of schools in which
drawing from the object is effectively taught, though increasing
steadily, is still small. In those schools, indeed, the results are
surprisingly good,--so good as to justify, not only the new gospel of
drawing from the object, but also the whole gospel of education
through self-reliance and self-expression. But elsewhere there has
been but little improvement, except so far as it may be better to
draw from an object without guidance, or with quite ineffective
guidance, than to draw from a flat copy. In some schools the formula
or "tip" is beginning to take the place of the flat copy. There is a
formula for the tulip, a formula for the snowdrop, a formula for the
daffodil, and so on; and the children draw from these formulæ while
the actual flowers are before them and they are making believe to
reproduce them. In other schools an object is placed before the
class, and the teacher draws this for them on the blackboard,
explaining to them in detail how it ought to be drawn; and when he
has finished, the children pretend to draw the object, but really
copy his blackboard copy of it. In this, as in other matters, the
teacher who has become a victim of routine will give a facile but
mainly "notional" assent to the suggestions that are placed before
him, will promise to try them, and will make an unintelligent and
half-hearted attempt to do so, but will as often as not slide back
into practices which do not materially differ from those which he
professes to have abandoned. The pressure of the whole system of
Western education--not to speak of Western civilisation--will be too
strong for him. The flat copy, with its demand for mechanical work
and servile obedience, fits into that system. Drawing from the
object, with its demand for initiative and self-reliance, does not.
Hence the attractive force of the former,--a secret attractive force
which will neutralise the efforts that the teacher consciously makes
to free himself from its influence, and will arm him, as with
a hidden shirt of mail, against the missionary zeal of his
inspector.[13] Even the zeal of the inspector will be affected by his
possible inability to harmonise his gospel of self-expression in
drawing with any general system of self-education. It is because the
educational reformer is fighting, in his sporadic attempts at reform,
against his own deepest conviction, that he achieves so little even
in the particular directions in which he sees clearly that reform is

But how, it will be asked, is such a school as I have described to be
kept going? The whole _régime_ must be eminently distasteful to the
healthy child, and it can scarcely be attractive to his teacher. By
what motive force, then, is the school to be kept in motion,--in
motion, if not along the path of progress, at any rate along the
well-worn track of routine? By the only motive force which
the religion and the civilisation of the West recognise as
effective,--the hope of external reward, with its complement, the
fear of external punishment. From highest to lowest, from the head
teacher of the school to the youngest child in the bottom class, all
the teachers and all the children are subjected to the pressure of
this quasi-physical force. The teachers hope for advancement and
increase of salary, and fear degradation and loss of salary, or at
any rate loss of the hoped-for increment.[14] The children hope for
medals, books, high places in their respective classes, and other
rewards and distinctions, and fear corporal and other kinds of
punishment. The thoroughly efficient school is one in which this
motive force is duly transmitted to every part of the school
by means of a well-planned and carefully-elaborated machinery,
analogous to that by which water and gas are laid on at every
tap in every house in a well-governed town. Only those who are
intimately acquainted with the inside of the elementary school can
realise to what an extent the machinery of education has in recent
years encroached upon the vital interests of the school and the time
and thought of the teacher. In schools which are administered by
business-like and up-to-date Local Authorities, this encroachment is
becoming as serious as that of drifting sands on a fertile soil.
Time-tables, schemes of work, syllabuses, record books, progress
books, examination result books, and the rest,--hours and hours are
spent by the teachers on the clerical work which these mechanical
contrivances demand. And the hours so spent are too often wholly
wasted. The worst of this machinery is that, so long as it works
smoothly, all who are interested in the school are satisfied. But
it may all work with perfect smoothness, and yet achieve nothing
that really counts. I know of hundreds of schools which are to all
appearance thoroughly efficient,--schools in which the machinery of
education is as well contrived as it is well oiled and cleaned,--and
yet in which there is no vital movement, no growth, no life. From
highest to lowest, all the inmates of those schools are cheating
themselves with forms, figures, marks, and other such empty symbols.

The application of the conventional motive force to the school
children goes by the name of _Discipline_. If the pressure at each
tap is steady, constant, and otherwise effective, the discipline is
good. If it is variable, intermittent, and otherwise ineffective,
the discipline is bad. The life of the routine-ridden school is so
irksome to the child, that if he is healthy and vigorous he will long
to find a congenial outlet for his vital energies, which are as a
rule either pent back (as when he sits still listening to a lecture),
or forced into uninteresting and unprofitable channels. When this
desire masters him during school hours, it goes by the name of
"naughtiness," and is regarded as a proof of the inborn sinfulness
of his "fallen" nature. To repress the desire, to keep the child in
a state either of absolute inaction or of mechanically regulated
activity, is the function of school discipline. Whatever in the
child's life is free, natural, spontaneous, wells up from an evil
source. If educational progress is to be made, that source must be
carefully sealed. As an educator, the teacher must do his best
to reduce the child to the level of a wire-pulled puppet. As a
disciplinarian, he must overcome the child's instinctive repugnance
to being subjected to such unworthy treatment. The better the
"discipline" of the school, the easier it will be for the mechanical
education given in it to achieve its deadly work.

In making this sketch of what is still a common type of elementary
school, my object has been to provide myself with materials for
answering the question: Does elementary education, as at present
conducted in this country, tend to foster the growth of the child's
faculties? If my sketch is even approximately faithful to its
original, the answer to the question, so far at least as thousands of
schools are concerned, must be an emphatic No. For in the school, as
I have sketched it, the one end and aim of the teacher is to prevent
the child from doing anything whatever for himself; and where
independent effort is prohibited, the growth of faculty must needs be
arrested, the growth of every faculty, as of every limb and organ,
being dependent in large measure on its being duly and suitably
exercised by its owner. If this statement is true of faculty as such,
and of effort as such, still more is it true of the particular
faculties which school life is supposed to train, the faculties which
we speak of loosely as perceptive,--and of the particular effort by
which alone the growth of the perceptive faculties is effected, the
many-sided effort which we speak of loosely as self-expression. Far
perception and expression are, as I have endeavoured to prove, the
face and obverse of the same vital process; and the educational
policy which makes self-expression, or, in other words, sincere
expression, impossible, is therefore fatal to the outgrowth of the
whole range of the perceptive faculties.

The education given in thousands of our elementary schools is, then,
in the highest degree anti-educational. The end which education
ought to aim at achieving is the very end which the teacher labours
unceasingly to defeat. The teacher may, indeed, contend that his
business is not to evoke faculty but to impart knowledge. The answer
to this argument is that the type of education which impedes the
outgrowth of faculty is necessarily fatal to the acquisition of
knowledge. For the teacher can no more impart knowledge to his pupils
than a nurse can impart flesh and blood to her charges. What the
teacher imparts is information, just as what the nurse imparts is
food; and until information has been converted into knowledge the
child is as far from being educated as the infant, whose food
remains unassimilated, is from being nourished. The teacher may pump
information into the child in a never-ending stream; but so long as
he compels the child to adopt an attitude of passive receptivity, and
forbids him to react, through the medium of self-expression, on the
food that he is receiving, so long will the food remain unassimilated
and even undigested, and the soul and mind of the child remain
uneducated and unfed.

Whether, then, we concern ourselves, as educationalists, with the
growth of the child's whole nature, or with the growth of his master
faculties, or again with the growth of those special "senses"
which evolve themselves in response to the stimulus of special
environments, we see that in each case the effect of the teacher's
policy of distrust and repression is to arrest growth. When the
stern supernaturalist reminds us that the child's nature is
intrinsically evil, and that therefore in arresting its growth
education renders him a priceless service, we answer that, in
arresting the growth of the child's nature as a whole, education
arrests the growth of all the master faculties of his being, and
that there are some at least among these which, even in the judgment
of the supernaturalist, imperatively need to be trained. When the
strait-laced, result-hunting teacher reminds us that his sole
business is to teach certain subjects, and that therefore he cannot
concern himself with growth, we answer that, in neglecting to foster
growth, he makes it impossible for the child to put forth a special
"sense," a special faculty of direct perception, in response to each
new environment, and so (for reasons which have already been given)
incapacitates him for mastering any subject. There is always one
point of view, if no more, from which my primary assumption--that
the function of education is to foster growth--is seen to be a
truism. And from that point of view, if from no other, the failure
of the routine-ridden school to fulfil its destiny is seen to be
final and complete.

Yet to say that elementary education, as it is given in such a
school, tends to arrest growth, is to under-estimate its capacity for
mischief. In the act of arresting growth it must needs distort
growth, and in doing this it must needs deaden and even destroy the
life which is ever struggling to evolve itself. It is well that from
time to time we should ask ourselves what compulsory education has
done for the people of England. How much it has done to civilise
and humanise the masses is beginning to be known to all who are
interested in social progress, and I for one am ready to second any
vote of thanks that may be proposed to it for this invaluable
service.[15] But when we ask ourselves what it has done to _vitalise_
the nation, we may well hesitate for an answer. Twenty years ago, in
the days of "schedules" and "percentages," elementary education was,
on balance, an actively devitalising agency. The policy of the
Education Department made that inevitable. But things have changed
since then; and it is probable that the balance is now in favour of
the elementary school. But the balance, though growing from year to
year, is as yet very small compared with what it will be when the
teacher, relieved from the pressure of the still prevailing demand
for "results," is free to take thought for the vital interests of the

Whom shall we blame for the shortcomings of our elementary schools?
The Board of Education? Their Inspectors? The Teachers? The Training
Colleges? The Local Authorities? We will blame none of these. We will
blame the spirit of Western civilisation, with its false philosophy
of life and its false standard of reality.

Shall we blame the Board because, in the days when they called
themselves the Department, they made the teachers of England the
serfs of their soul-destroying Code? For my own part I prefer to
honour the Board, not only because on a certain day they liberated
their serfs by a departmental edict, but also and more especially
because, in defiance of the protests and criticisms of Members of
Parliament, employers of labour, Chairmen of Education Committees,
and others, in defiance of the ubiquitous pressure of Western
externalism and materialism, in defiance of the trend of contemporary
opinion, in defiance of their own practice,--for they themselves are
an examining body whose nets are widely spread,--they refuse to
revoke the gift of freedom, which they gave, perhaps over-hastily, to
the teachers of England, and continue to exempt them, so far as their
own action is concerned, from the pressure of a formal examination on
a uniform scheme of work.

Shall we blame the teachers as a body because too many of them are
machine-made creatures of routine? For my own part I honour the
teachers as a body, if only because here and there one of them has
dared, with splendid courage, to defy the despotism of custom, of
tradition, of officialdom, of the thousand deadening influences that
are brought to bear upon him, and to follow for himself the path of
inwardness and life. To blame the average teacher for being unable to
resist the pressure to which he is unceasingly exposed would be
almost as unfair as to blame a pebble on the seashore for being
unable to resist the grinding action of the waves, and would ill
become one who has special reason to remember how the Department, in
its misguided zeal for efficiency, strove for thirty years or more
to grind the teachers of England to one pattern in the mill of
"payment by results." It is to a certificated teacher that, as an
educationalist (if I may give myself so formidable a title), "I owe
my soul." And there are many other teachers to whom my debts, though
less weighty than this, are by no means light. Most of the failings
of the elementary teachers are wounds and strains which adverse Fate
has inflicted on them. Most of their virtues are their own.

Shall we blame the Training Colleges because, with an unhappy past
behind them, they have yet many things to unlearn?

Shall we blame the local Education Authorities because, with an
unknown future before them, they have yet many things to learn?

No, I repeat, we will blame none of these. We will lay the blame on
broader shoulders. We will blame our materialistic philosophy of
life, which we complacently regard--orthodox and heretics alike--as
"_The_ truth"; and we will blame our materialised civilisation, which
we complacently regard--cultured and uncultured alike--as
civilisation, pure and simple, whatever lies beyond its confines
being lightly dismissed as "barbarism." These are the forces against
which every teacher, every manager, every inspector, who strives for
emancipation and enlightenment, has to fight unceasingly. If the
fight is an unequal one; if there are many would-be reformers who
have shrunk from it; if there are others who retired from it early in
the day; if there are others, again, who have been crushed in
it;--we will blame the forces of darkness for these disasters; we
will not blame their victims. On the contrary, we will honour all who
have fought and fallen; for when the cause is large and worthy of
devotion, failure in the service of it is only less triumphant than
success. But if there is honour for failure what shall be the guerdon
of success? What tribute shall we pay to those who have fought and

For there are some who have fought and won.


[6] It must be clearly understood that throughout this
chapter the school that I have in mind is one for "older children"
only. Whatever may be the defects of the elementary infant schools,
an excessive regard for outward and visible results is not one of
them. Exemption from the pressure of a formal external examination
has meant much more to them than to the schools for older children;
and the atmosphere of the good infant schools is, in consequence,
freer, happier, more recreative, and more truly educative than that
of the upper schools of equivalent merit. And when we compare grade
with grade, we find that the superiority of the elementary infant
schools is still more pronounced. The "Great Public Schools," and the
costly preparatory schools that lead up to them, may or may not be
worthy of their high reputation; but as regards facilities for the
education (in school) of their "infants," the "classes" are
unquestionably much less fortunate than the "masses."

[7] Not long ago I happened to enter the Boys' Department of
an urban Church School at about 9.15 a.m. The Headmaster was sitting
at his desk, drawing up schemes of "secular" work. All the boys above
"Standard III"--94 in number--were grouped together, listening, or
pretending to listen, to a "chalk-and-talk" lecture on "Prayer" [of
which there are apparently five varieties, viz., (1) Invocation, (2)
Deprecation, (3) Obsecration, (4) Intercession, (5) Supplication].
The Headmaster explained to me that "of course it was only during the
Scripture lesson" that this overgrouping went on. The lecture on
Prayer was given by a young Assistant-master, whose naive delight in
the long words that he rolled out _ore rotundo_ and then chalked up
on the blackboard, had blinded him to the obvious fact that he was
making no impression whatever on his audience. The boys, one and all,
reminded me forcibly of the "white-headed boy" in Dickens' village
school, who displayed "in the expression of his face a remarkable
capacity of totally abstracting his mind from the spelling on which
his eyes were fixed."

[8] There are many elementary schools which the Diocesan
Inspector does not enter. In the "Provided" or "Council" Schools
"undenominational Bible teaching" takes the place of the "definite
dogmatic instruction in religious knowledge" which is tested by
Diocesan Inspection. But even when undogmatic Bible teaching is
given, the shadow of an impending examination, external or internal
as the case may be, too often sterilises the efforts of the teacher.
Not that the efforts of the teacher would in any case be productive
so long as the attitude of popular thought towards the Bible remained
unchanged. To go into this burning question would involve me in an
unjustifiable digression; but I must be allowed to express my
conviction that the teaching of the Bible in our elementary schools
will never be anything but misguided and mischievous until those who
are responsible for it have realised that the Old Testament is the
inspired literature of a particular people, and have ceased to regard
it as the authentic biography of the Eternal God. It is to the
current misconception of the meaning and value of the Bible, and the
consequent misconception of the relation of God to Nature and to Man,
that the externalism of the West, which is the source of all the
graver defects of modern education, is (as I contend) largely due;
and it is useless to try to remedy those defects so long as we allow
our philosophy of life to be perennially poisoned at its highest

[9] In far too many cases the teacher received a certain
proportion of the Grant; and in any case his value in the market
tended to vary directly with his ability to secure a large Grant for
his school by his success in the yearly examination.

[10] _The Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ_, by Dr.
Emil Schürer.

[11] Here is another example of the mental blindness which
rule-worship in Arithmetic is apt to induce. The boys in a large
"Standard II," who had been spending the whole year in adding,
subtracting, multiplying, and dividing tens of thousands, were given
the following sum: A farmer had 126 sheep. He bought nine. How many
had he then? Out of 50 boys, one only worked the sum correctly. Of
the remaining 49, about a third _multiplied_ 126 by 9, another third
_divided_ 126 by 9, while the remaining third _subtracted_ 9 from

[12] Reinforced in many cases by suggestive words. I
recently found myself in an urban school while the "Fourth Standard"
boys were doing "Composition." The subject--Trees--had already been
dealt with in a preparatory "talk." In front of the class was a
blackboard, on which were written the following words:

                              "fruit, flowers,
   I. _Roots_ tough, strong, stretch, extend.
  II. _Trunk_ thick, branches, bark.
 III. _Branches_ strong, tough, leaves.
  IV. _Leaves_ green, shapes, sizes, beautiful, clothe, autumn, brown."

I am told that sometimes as many as twelve headings are given, each
with its own list of suggestive words.

[13] I was recently present at a large gathering of teachers
who had assembled to discuss the teaching of Drawing and other
kindred topics. The district is one in which the gospel of self-help
in Drawing has been preached with diligence and with much apparent
success. One of the teachers, who was expected to support the Board
in their crusade against the "flat copy," played the part of Balaam
by reading out letters from certain distinguished R.A.'s, in which
the use of the flat copy in elementary schools was openly advocated.
It was evident that those distinguished R.A.'s knew as much about
elementary education as the man in the street knows about naval
tactics, for the arguments by which they supported their paradoxical
opinions were worth exactly nothing. But the salvos of applause,
renewed again and again, which greeted the extracts from their
letters showed clearly in which direction the current of subconscious
conviction was running in that evangelised and apparently converted

[14] There are few teachers who do not also work from higher
motives than these; but there are very few who are exempt from the
pressure of these.

[15] It is pleasant to read that at Southend on Easter
Monday (1910) there were 65,000 excursionists and only two cases of
drunkenness. It is also pleasant to hear from an officer who has
served for many years in India that the modern English private
soldier in India is an infinitely superior being to his predecessors,
and that India could not now be held by the old type of British
soldier. We must not, however, forget that the "old type" conquered







Having painted in gloomy colours some of the actualities of
elementary education, I will now try to set forth its possibilities.
In opposing the actual to the possible, I am perhaps running the risk
of being misunderstood. The possible, as I conceive it, is no mere
"fabric of a dream." What are possibilities for the elementary
school, as such, are already actualities in certain schools. Were it
not so, I should not speak of them as possibilities. I do not pretend
to be a prophet, in the vulgar sense of the word. The ends which I am
about to set before managers and teachers are ends which have been
achieved, and are being achieved, _under entirely normal conditions_,
in various parts of the country, and which are therefore not
impracticable. There are many elementary schools in England in which
bold and successful departures have been made from the beaten track;
and in each of these cases what is at present a mere possibility for
most schools has been actually realised. And there is one elementary
school at least in which the beaten track has been entirely
abandoned, with the result that possibilities (as I may now call
them) which I might perhaps have dismissed on _a priori_ grounds as
too fantastic for serious consideration, have become part of the
everyday life of the scholars.

 That school shall now become the theme of my book; for I feel that I
cannot serve the cause of education better than by trying to describe
and interpret the work that is being done in it. The school belongs
to a village which I will call Utopia. It is not an imaginary
village--a village of Nowhere--but a very real village, which can be
reached, as all other villages can, by rail and road. It nestles at
the foot of a long range of hills; and if you will climb the slope
that rises at the back of the village, and look over the level
country that you have left behind, you will see in the distance the
gleaming waters of one of the many seas that wash our shores. The
village is fairly large, as villages go in these days of rural
depopulation; and the school is attended by about 120 children. The
head teacher, whose genius has revolutionised the life, not of the
school only, but of the whole village, is a woman. I will call her
Egeria. She has certainly been my Egeria, in the sense that whatever
modicum of wisdom in matters educational I may happen to possess, I
owe in large measure to her. I have paid her school many visits, and
it has taken me many months of thought to get to what I believe to be
the bed-rock of her philosophy of education,--a philosophy which I
will now attempt to expound.

Two things will strike the stranger who pays his first visit to this
school. One is the ceaseless activity of the children. The other is
the bright and happy look on every face. In too many elementary
schools the children are engaged either in laboriously doing
nothing,--in listening, for example, with ill-concealed yawns, to
_lectures_ on history, geography, nature-study, and the rest; or
in doing what is only one degree removed from nothing,--working
mechanical sums, transcribing lists of spellings or pieces of
composition, drawing diagrams which have no meaning for them, and
so forth. But in this school every child is, as a rule, actively
employed. And bearing in mind that "unimpeded energy" is a recognised
source of happiness, the visitor will probably conjecture that there
is a close connection between the activity of the children and the
brightness of their faces.

That the latter feature of the school will arrest his attention is
almost certain. Utopia belongs to a county which is proverbial for
the dullness of its rustics, but there is no sign of dullness on the
face of any Utopian child. On the contrary, so radiantly bright are
the faces of the children that something akin to sunshine seems
always to fill the school. When he gets to know the school, the
visitor will realise that the brightness of the children is of two
kinds,--the brightness of energy and intelligence, and the brightness
of goodness and joy. And when he gets to know the school as well as I
do, he will realise that these two kinds of brightness are in their
essence one.

Let me say something about each of them.

The Utopian child is alive, alert, active, full of latent energy,
ready to act, to do things, to turn his mind to things, to turn his
hand to things, to turn his desire to things, to turn his whole being
to things. There is no trace in this school of the mental lethargy
which, in spite of the ceaseless activity of the teachers, pervades
the atmosphere of so many elementary schools; no trace of the fatal
inertness on the part of the child, which is the outcome of five or
six years of systematic repression and compulsory inaction. The air
of the school is electrical with energy. We are obviously in the
presence of an active and vigorous life.

And the activity of the Utopian child is his own activity. It is
a fountain which springs up in himself. Unlike the ordinary
school-child, he can do things on his own account. He does not wait,
in the helplessness of passive obedience, for his teacher to tell him
what he is to do and how he is to do it. He does not even wait, in
the bewilderment of self-distrust, for his teacher to give him a
lead. If a new situation arises, he deals with it with promptitude
and decision. His solution of the problem which it involves may be
incorrect, but at any rate it will be a solution. He will have faced
a difficulty and grappled with it, instead of having waited inertly
for something to turn up. His initiative has evidently been developed
_pari passu_ with his intelligence; and the result of this is that he
can think things out for himself, that he can devise ways and means,
that he can purpose, that he can plan.

In all these matters the Utopian child differs widely and deeply from
the less fortunate child who has to attend a more ordinary type of
elementary school. But when we turn to the other aspect of the
Utopian brightness, when we consider it as the reflected light of
goodness and joy, we find that the difference between the two
children is wider and deeper still. There are many schools outside
Utopia that pride themselves on the excellence of their discipline;
but I am inclined to think that in some at least of these the
self-satisfaction of the teacher is equivalent to a confession of
failure. There was a time when every elementary school received a
large grant for instruction and a small grant for discipline; and
inspectors were supposed to report separately on each of these
aspects of the school's life. A strange misconception of the meaning
and purpose of education underlay this artificial distinction; but on
that we need not dwell. Were an inspector called upon to report on
the discipline of the Utopian school, his report would be brief.
There is no discipline in the school. There is no need for any. The
function of the strict disciplinarian is to shut down, and, if
necessary, sit upon, the safety-valve of misconduct. But in Utopia,
where all the energies of the children are fully and happily
employed, that safety-valve has never to be used. Each child in turn
is so happy in his school life that the idea of being naughty never
enters his head. One cannot remain long in the school without
realising that in its atmosphere

  Love is an unerring light,
  And joy its own security.

It recently happened that on a certain day one of the
assistant-teachers had to go to a hospital, that another had to take
her there, that the third was ill in bed, and that Egeria--the only
available member of the staff--was detained by one of the managers
for half-an-hour on her way to school. The school was thus left
without a teacher. On entering it, Egeria found all the children in
their places and at work. They had looked at the time-table, had
chosen some of the older scholars to take the lower classes, and had
settled down happily and in perfect order. This incident proves to
demonstration that the _morale_ of the school has somehow or other
been carried far beyond the limits of what is usually understood by
discipline. I have seen historical scenes acted with much vigour by
some of the children in the first class, and applauded with equal
vigour by their class-mates, while all the time the children in the
second class, who were drawing flowers in the same room, never lifted
their eyes from their desks. Yet no children can laugh more merrily
or more unrestrainedly than these, or make a greater uproar when it
is fitting that they should do so.

And if there is no need for punishment, or any other form of
repression, in this school, it is equally true that there is no need
for rewards. To one who has been taught to regard competition in
school as a sacred duty, and the winning of prizes as a laudable
object of the scholar's ambition, this may seem strange. But so it
is. No child has the slightest desire to outstrip his fellows or rise
to the top of his class. Joy in their work, pride in their school,
devotion to their teacher, are sufficient incentives to industry.
Were the stimulus of competition added to these, neither the zeal nor
the interest of the children would be quickened one whit, but a
discordant element would be introduced into their school life. Happy
as he obviously is in his own school life, it would add nothing to
the happiness of the Utopian to feel that he had outstripped his
class-mates and won a prize for his achievement. So far, indeed, are
these children from wishing to shine at the expense of others, that
if they think Egeria has done less than justice to the work of some
one child, the rest of the class will go out of their way to call her
attention to it. If some children are brighter, cleverer, and more
advanced than others, the reward of their progress is that they are
allowed to help on those who lag behind. This is especially
noticeable in Drawing, in which the pre-eminence of one or two
children has again and again had the effect of lifting the work of
the whole class to a higher level. But the laggards are as far from
being discouraged by their failure as are the more advanced scholars
from being puffed up by their success. From the highest to the
lowest, all are doing their best and all are happy together.

From morals to manners the transition is obvious and direct. Be the
explanation what it may, the whole atmosphere of this school is
evidently fatal to selfishness and self-assertion; and in such an
atmosphere good manners will spring up spontaneously among the
children, and will scarcely need to be inculcated, for the essence of
courtesy is forgetfulness of self and consideration of others in the
smaller affairs of social life. The general bearing of the Utopian
children hits the happy mean between aggressive familiarity and
uncouth shyness,--each a form of self-conscious egoism,--just as
their bearing in school hits the happy mean between laxity and undue
constraint. They welcome the stranger as a friend, take his goodwill
for granted, take him into their confidence, and show him, tactfully
and unostentatiously, many pretty courtesies. And they do all this,
not because they have been drilled into doing it, but because it is
their nature to do it, because their overflowing sympathy and
goodwill must needs express themselves in and through the channels of
courtesy and kindness. There is no trace of sullen self-repression in
this school. Accustomed (as we shall presently see) to express
themselves in various ways, the children cannot entertain kindly
feelings without seeking some vent for them. But whether their kindly
feelings lead them to dance in a ring round their own inspector,
singing "For he's a jolly good fellow," or to escort another
visitor, on his departure, through the playground with their
arms in his, their tact,--which is the outcome, partly of their
self-forgetfulness, partly of the training which their perceptive
faculties are always receiving,--is unfailing, and they never allow
friendliness to degenerate into undue familiarity.

There is one other feature of the school life which I cannot pass
over. I have never been in a school in which the love of what is
beautiful in Nature is so strong or so sincere as in this. The
æsthetic sense of the Utopian child has not been deliberately
trained, but it has been allowed, and even encouraged, to unfold
itself; and the appeal that beauty makes to the heart meets in
consequence with a ready response. Of the truth of this statement
I could, if necessary, give many proofs. One must suffice. The
children, who are adepts at drawing with brush and pencil, wander in
field and lane with sketch-books in their hands; and one of them at
least was so moved by the beauty of a winter sunrise, as seen from
his cottage window, that, in his own words, he felt he _must_ try to
paint it, the result being a water-colour sketch which I have shown
to a competent artist, who tells me that the _feeling_ in the sky is
quite wonderful.

In this brief preliminary sketch of the more salient features of the
Utopian school, I have, I hope, said enough to show that its scholars
differ _toto coelo_ from those who attend that familiar type of
school which I have recently described. Yet the Utopian children are
made of the same clay as the children of other villages. If anything,
indeed, the clay is heavier and more stubborn in Utopia than
elsewhere. Some ten or twelve years ago, when Egeria took charge of
the school, the children were dull, lifeless, listless, resourceless.
Now they are bright, intelligent, happy, responsive, overflowing with
life, interested in many things, full of ability and resource. How
has this change been wrought? Not by veneering or even inoculating
the children with good qualities, but simply by allowing their better
and higher nature to evolve itself freely, naturally, and under
favourable conditions.

That the child's better and higher nature is his real nature, is the
assumption--let me rather say, the profound conviction--on which
Egeria's whole system of education has been based. In basing it on
this assumption, she has made a bold departure from the highway which
has been blindly followed for many centuries. We have seen that the
basis of education in this country, as in Christendom generally, is
the doctrine of original sin. It is taken for granted by those who
train the child that his nature, if allowed to develop itself freely,
will grow in the wrong direction, and will therefore lead him astray;
and that it is the function of education to counteract this
tendency, to do violence to the child's nature, to compel it by main
force to grow (or make a pretence of growing) in the right direction,
to subject it to perpetual repression and constraint. The wild whoops
to which children so often give vent, when released from school, show
that a period of unnatural tension has come to an end; and in these,
and in the further conduct of the released child--in the roughness,
rudeness, and bad language, of which the passer-by (especially in
towns) not infrequently has to complain--we see a rebound from this
state of tension, an instinctive protest against the constraint to
which he has been subjected for so many hours. The result of all this
is that the child leads two lives, a life of unnatural repression and
constraint in school, and a life--also unnatural, though it is
supposed to be the expression of his nature--of reaction and protest
out of school. Such a dislocation of the child's daily life is not
likely to conduce to his well-being; while the teacher's assumption
that his _rôle_ in school is essentially active, and that of the
child essentially passive, will lead at last to his turning his back
on the root-idea of growth, to his forgetting that the child is a
living and therefore a growing organism, to his regarding the child
as clay in his hands, to be "remoulded" by him "to his heart's
desire," or even as a _tabula rasa_, on which he is to inscribe words
and other symbols at his will.

In Utopia the training which the child receives may be said to be
based on the doctrine of original goodness. It is taken for granted
by Egeria that the child is neither a lump of clay nor a _tabula
rasa_, but a "living soul"; that growth is of the very essence of
his being; and that the normal child, if allowed to make natural
growth under reasonably favourable conditions, will grow happily and
well. It is taken for granted that the potencies of his nature are
well worth realising; that the end of his being--the ideal type
towards which the natural course of his development tends to take
him--is intrinsically good; in fine, that he is _by nature_ a "child
of God" rather than a "child of wrath." It is therefore taken for
granted that growth is in itself a good thing, a move in the right
direction; and that to foster growth, to make its conditions as
favourable as possible, to give it the food, the guidance, and the
stimulus that it needs, is the best thing that education can do for
the child.

It is further taken for granted that the many-sided effort to grow
which is of the essence of the child's nature is the mainspring of,
and expresses itself in, certain typical instincts which no one who
studies the child with any degree of care can fail to observe; and
that by duly cultivating these instincts,--_expansive_ instincts, as
one may perhaps call them, since each of them tends to take the child
away from his petty self,--the teacher will make the best possible
provision for the growth of the child's nature as a whole.

Above all, it is taken for granted that the growth which the child
makes must come from within himself; that no living thing can grow
vicariously; that the rings of soul-growth, like the rings of
tree-growth, must be evolved from an inner life; that the teacher
must therefore content himself with giving the child's expansive
instincts fair play and free play; and that, for the rest, he must as
far as possible efface himself, bearing in mind that not he, but the
child, is the real actor in the drama of school life.

But though so much is left to the child in Utopia, and so much
demanded of him, it is not feared that the effort to grow will be
repugnant to him. On the contrary, it is taken for granted that in
growing, in developing his expansive instincts, the child will be
following the lines and obeying the laws of his own nature; that he
will be fulfilling the latent desires of his heart; that he will be
seeking his own pleasure; in fine, that he will be leading a happy

All this is taken for granted in Utopia, and the child's life is
therefore one of unimpeded, though duly guided and stimulated,
activity. Every instinct that makes for the expansion and elevation
(for growth is always upward as well as outward) of the child's
nature is given the freest possible play, and the whole organisation
of the school is subordinated to this central end.

In order to find out what are the instincts which make for the
expansion and elevation of the child's nature, and which education
ought therefore to foster, we must do what Egeria has always done, we
must observe young children, and study their ways and works. Now
every healthy child wants to eat and drink, and to run about. Here
are two instincts--the instinctive desire for physical nourishment,
and the instinctive desire for physical exercise--through which
Nature provides for the growth of the body. How does she provide for
the growth of what we have agreed to call the soul? We need not
be very careful observers of young children in order to satisfy
ourselves that, apart from physical nourishment and exercise, there
are six things which the child instinctively desires, namely:

  (1) to talk and listen:
  (2) to act (in the dramatic sense of the word):
  (3) to draw, paint, and model:
  (4) to dance and sing:
  (5) to know the why of things:
  (6) to construct things.

Let us consider each of these instincts, and try to determine its
meaning and purpose.

(1) The child instinctively desires to enter into communion with
other persons,--his parents, his brothers and sisters, his nurse, his
governess, his little friends. He wants to talk to them, to tell them
what he has done, seen, felt, thought; and he wants to hear what they
have to tell him,--not only of what they themselves have done, but
also of what other persons and other living things have done, in
other times, in other countries, in other worlds. Later on, the
desire to talk and listen will develop into the desire to write and
read; but the desire will still be one for communion, for intercourse
with other lives.

We will call this the _communicative instinct_.

(2) The child desires, not only to enter into communion with other
persons and other living things, but also, in some sort, to identify
his life with theirs. Watch him when he is playing with other
children, or even when he is alone, except for the companionship of
his dolls and toys. He is pretty sure to be _acting_, playing at
make-believe, pretending to be something that he is not, some
grown-up person of his acquaintance, some hero of history or
romance, some traveller or other adventurer, some giant, dwarf, or
fairy, some animal, wild or tame. He plays the part of one or other
of these, and his playmates play other parts, and so a little drama
is enacted. If he has no playmates, his dolls have to play their
parts, or his toy animals have to be endowed with life, so that they
may become fellow-actors with him on the stage that he has selected.
No instinct is more inevitable, more sure to energise, than this.

We will call it the _dramatic instinct_.

In both these instincts the child is struggling to grow, to expand
his being, by going out of himself, through the medium of sympathy
and imagination--twin aspects of the same vital tendency--into the
lives of other living beings. We will therefore call these the
_Sympathetic Instincts_, and place them in a class by themselves.

(3) From his very babyhood the child delights in colour, and at a
very early age he learns to love and understand pictures. Then comes
the desire to make these for himself. Give him pencil and paper, give
him chalk, charcoal, a paint-box, and other suitable materials, and
he will set to work of his own accord to depict what he sees or has
seen, either with his outward or his inward eye. Give him a lump of
clay, and he will try to mould it into the likeness of something
that has either attracted his attention, or presented itself to his
imagination. In all these attempts he is trying, unknown to himself,
to express his perception of, and delight in, the visible beauty of
Nature. This instinct will expand, in the fullness of time, into a
strong and subtle feeling for visible beauty, and into a restless
desire to give expression to that feeling.

We will call this the _artistic instinct_, the word _artistic_ being
used, for lack of a more suitable term, in its narrow and
conventional sense.

(4) While the child is still a baby in arms, his mother will sing to
him, and dance him on her knee. This is her first attempt to initiate
him into the mystery of music; and the response that he makes to her
proves that she is a wise teacher, and is appealing to a genuinely
natural faculty. It will not be long before he begins to dance and
sing for himself. Watch the children in a London court or alley when
a barrel-organ appears on the scene. Without having any one to direct
or teach them, they will come together and dance in couples, often
with abundant grace and charm. Nature is their tutor. Her own rhythm,
of which the musician must have caught an echo, is passing through
their ears into their hearts and into their limbs. No instinct is
so spontaneous as this. A child will whistle or sing while his mind
is engaged on other things. If he is happy he will dance about as
naturally, and almost as inevitably, as the leaves dance when the
breeze passes through them.

We will call this the _musical instinct_. So elemental is it that man
shares it, in some degree, with other living things. The birds are
accomplished musicians, and their movements, and those of many other
creatures, are full of rhythm and grace.

In both these instincts the child is struggling to grow, to expand
his being, by going out of himself, in response to the attractive
force of beauty, into that larger life which is at the heart of
Nature, but which is not ours until we have made it our own. We will
therefore call these the _Æsthetic Instincts_, and place them in a
class by themselves.

(5) From a very early age the child desires to know the why and
wherefore of things, to understand how effects are produced, to
discover new facts, and pass on, if possible, to their causes. In
response to the pressure of this instinct, the child breaks his toys
in order that he may find out how they work, and asks innumerable
questions which make him the terror and despair of his parents and
the other "Olympians." No instinct is more insistent in the early
days of the child's life. No instinct is more ruthlessly repressed by
those to whom the education of the child is entrusted. No instinct
dies out so completely (except so far as it is kept alive by purely
utilitarian considerations) when education of the conventional type
has done its deadly work. It has been said that children go to school
ignorant but curious, and leave school ignorant and incurious. This
gibe is the plain statement of a patent truth.

We will call this the _inquisitive instinct_.

(6) After analysis comes synthesis. The child pulls his toys to
pieces in order that he may, if possible, reconstruct them, and so be
the better able to control the working of them. The ends that he sets
before himself are those which Comte set before the human
race,--"savoir pour prévoir, afin de pouvoir: induire pour déduire,
afin de construire." The desire to make things, to build things up,
to control ways and means, to master the resources of Nature, to put
his knowledge of her laws and facts to a practical use, is strong in
his soul. Give him a box of bricks, and he will spend hours in
building and rebuilding houses, churches, towers, and the like. Set
him on a sandy shore, with a spade and a pail, and he will spend
hours in constructing fortified castles with deep, encircling moats
into which the sea may be duly admitted. Or he will make harness and
whips of plaited rushes, armour of tea-paper, swords of tin-plate,
boxes and other articles of cardboard, waggons, engines, and other
implements of wood.

We will call this the _constructive instinct_.

In both these instincts the child is struggling to grow, to expand
his being, by going out of himself, through the correlated channels
of theory and practice, into what I may call the machinery of
Nature's life,--an aspect of that life which reveals its mysteries to
reason rather than to emotion, or (to use the language of Eastern
philosophy) to the faculties that try to find order in the Many,
rather than to those which try to hold intercourse with the One.[16]
Whichever channel he may use,--and indeed they are not so much two
channels as one, for each in turn is for ever leading into and then
passing out of the other,--his concern is always for "facts," for the
actualities of things, for "objective truth." We will therefore call
these the _Scientific Instincts_, and place them in a class by

There are six instincts, then,--six formative and expansive
instincts--which Nature has implanted in every normal child, and
which education, so far as it aims at being loyal to Nature, should
take account of and try to foster. Two of these are _sympathetic_;
two are _æsthetic_; two are _scientific_. In and through the
sympathetic instincts the soul grows in the direction of _love_. In
and through the æsthetic instincts the soul grows in the direction of
_beauty_. In and through the scientific instincts the soul grows in
the direction of _truth_. It is towards this triune goal that Nature
herself is ever directing the growth of the growing child. The
significance of this conclusion will unfold itself as we proceed.

These instincts manifest themselves in various ways, but chiefly in
the direction that they give to that very serious occupation of young
children which we call play. It is clear, then, that if these
instincts are to be duly cultivated, the work of the school must be
modelled, as far as possible, on the lines which children, when at
play, spontaneously follow. This Egeria, with her inspired sagacity,
has clearly seen; and she has taken her measures accordingly. In
Utopia the school life of the child is all play,--play taken very
seriously, play systematised, organised, provided with ample
materials and ample opportunities, encouraged and stimulated in
every possible way. Each of the fundamental instincts that manifest
themselves in the child's play, and in doing so give a clear
indication of Nature's aims in the child's life, and of the
directions in which she wishes him to grow, is duly ministered to in
this school, the current that wells up in and through it being
skilfully guided into a suitable channel, and every obstacle to its
free development being carefully removed. But the guidance which
Egeria gives tends, as we shall see, to foster rather than fetter the
freedom of the child. When the current has been led into a suitable
channel, it is expected to shape its own further course, and even to
impose on itself the limits--the containing walls--which are needed
if its depth and strength are to be maintained.

Let us now consider each of the six instincts in turn, and see what
special steps Egeria takes to foster its growth.

(1) _The Communicative Instinct_.

Through this instinct the child goes out of himself into the lives of
other persons and other living things. The desire is in its essence
one for intercourse, for communion, for the interchange of thoughts,
of feelings, of experiences. The normal child is, as we all know, an
inveterate chatterbox; but he is also a rapt listener. If he desires,
as he certainly does, to tell others about himself, he desires, in no
less a degree, to hear about others, either from themselves, or from
those who are best able to tell him about them. The balance between
the two desires is well maintained by Nature; and it should be
carefully maintained by those who train the young, if the
communicative instinct as a whole is to make healthy growth.

In too many elementary schools the instinct is systematically
starved, the scholars being strictly forbidden to talk among
themselves, while their conversational intercourse with their teacher
is limited to receiving a certain amount of dry information, and
giving this back, collectively or individually, when they are
expressly directed to do so. The child's instinctive desire to
converse, being deprived by education of its natural outlets, must
needs force for itself the subterranean and illicit outlet of
whispering in class, either under the teacher's nose, if he happens
to be unobservant or indolent, or behind his back, if he happens to
be vigilant and strict. And as the child is forbidden to talk about
things which are wholesome and interesting, it is but natural that in
his surreptitious conversations he should talk about things which
are less edifying, things which are trivial and vulgar, or even
unwholesome and unclean. Children are naturally obedient and
truthful; but in their attempts to find outlets for healthy
activities which are wantonly repressed, they will go far down the
inclined plane of disobedience and deceit.

In Utopia free conversation is systematically encouraged. No
elementary school is supposed to open before 9 a.m.; but Egeria is in
the habit of coming to school at 8.45 or earlier, so that the
children who wish to do so may come and talk to her freely about the
things that interest them,--what they have observed on their walks to
or from school, what they have heard or read at home, what they think
about things in general, and so on. The school has a good library of
books which are worth reading, both in prose and verse. These the
children read in school and out of school, and are thus brought into
communication with other minds, with other times, with other lands.
They are also accustomed to talk freely to one another about the
books that they are reading. Whatever lesson may be going on, they
are encouraged to ask questions about the matter in hand, and even to
express their own views about it. They go out into the playground in
groups and make up games and plays, discussing things freely among
themselves. When they are preparing to act an historical scene or a
passage from some dramatic author, they hold a sort of informal
parliament, in which the actors are selected and various important
questions are provisionally settled. They write letters in school to
real people. The older girls take the little ones in hand, and talk
to them and draw them out. When an interesting phenomenon is noticed,
_e.g._ in a Nature ramble, the children are accustomed to discuss it
in groups, and to try to think out among themselves its cause and
its meaning. Gossip is of course discouraged; but it is scarcely
necessary for Egeria to proscribe it; for idle talk has no attraction
for children who are allowed to talk freely and frankly, at all times
and in all places, about things that are really worth discussing.
Life is full of interest for children who are allowed, as these are,
to take an active interest in it; and subjects of conversation are
therefore ever presenting themselves, in school and out of school,
to the happy children of Utopia. This means that the life of each
individual child is overflowing through many channels, an overflow
which will carry the out-welling life into the lives of other living
beings--human and infra-human, actual and imaginary--and even beyond
these, when it has been met and reinforced by other surging currents,
into the impersonal life of Humanity and of Nature.

(2) _The Dramatic Instinct_.

Whatever else young children may be, they are all born actors; and in
a school which bases its scheme of education on the actualities of
child life, it is but natural that the dramatic instinct should be
fostered in every possible way. "Work while you work, and play
while you play," is one of those trite maxims which have been
unintelligently repeated till they have lost whatever value they may
once have possessed. "Work while you play, and play while you work,"
seems to be Egeria's substitute for it; and she would, I think, do
well to write those words over the porch of her school.

In the ordinary elementary school a fair amount of acting goes on
in the infant department, and an occasional attempt is made, in
one of the higher classes of the upper department, to act a scene
from Shakespeare or an episode in English history. But during
the five years or so of school life which intervene between the
infant department and "Standard VI," the dramatic instinct is
as a rule entirely neglected; and the consequent outgrowth of
self-consciousness in the children is too often a fatal obstacle to
the success of the spasmodic attempts at dramatisation which are
made in the higher classes.

In Utopia "acting" is a vital part of the school life of every class,
and every subject that admits of dramatic treatment is systematically
dramatised. In History, for example, when the course of their study
brings them to a suitable episode, the children set to work to
dramatise it. With this end in view, they consult some advanced
text-book or historical novel or other book of reference, and
having studied with care the particular chapter in which they are
interested, and having decided among themselves who are to play what
parts, they proceed to make up their own dialogues, and their own
costumes and other accessories. They then act the scene, putting
their own interpretation on the various parts, and receiving
the stimulus and guidance of Egeria's sympathetic and moeutic
criticism. Their class-mates and the rest of the children in the main
room look on, with their history books open in front of them, and
applaud; and, by gradually familiarising themselves with the various
parts, qualify themselves half-unconsciously to act as under-studies
in the particular scene, and in due course to play their own parts as
interpreters of some other historical episode. I know of no treatment
of history which is so effective as this for young children. The
actual knowledge of the facts of history which a child carries away
with him from an elementary school cannot well be large, and is, in
many cases, a negligible quantity. But the child who has once acted
history will always be interested in it, and being interested in it
will be able, without making a formal study of it, to absorb its
spirit, its atmosphere, and the more significant of its facts. Nor
do the advantages of the dramatic treatment of history end with the
subject itself. The actors in these historical scenes are, as I have
said, expressing their own interpretation of the various parts, and
their own perception of the meaning of each episode as a whole. This
means that they are training their imaginative sympathy,--a
sovereign faculty which of all faculties is perhaps the most
emancipative and expansive,--and training it, as I can testify, with
striking success; for the dramatic power which they display is
remarkable, and can have been generated by nothing less than
sympathetic insight into the feelings of the various historical
personages and the possibilities of the various situations.

It is probable that History lends itself more readily to dramatic
treatment than any other subject, but it is by no means the only
subject that is dramatised in Utopia. An interest in Geography is
awakened by scenes in foreign lands and episodes from books of travel
being acted by the children. An interest in Arithmetic, by a shop
being opened, which is well equipped with weights, measures, and
cardboard money, and in which a salesman stands behind the counter
and sells goods to a succession of customers. An interest in
Literature by the acting, with improvised costumes, of passages from
Shakespeare's plays, or scenes from Scott's and Dickens' novels.
Simple plays to illustrate Nature-study are acted by the younger
children; while the Folk Songs, which, as we shall see, play a
prominent part in the musical life of the children, are acted as
well as sung.

However rude and simple the histrionic efforts of the children may
be, they are doing two things for the actors. They are giving them a
living interest in the various subjects that are dramatised; and, by
teaching them to identify themselves, if only for a moment, with
other human beings, they are leading them into the path of tolerance,
of compassion, of charity, of sympathy,--the ever-widening path
which makes at last for Nirvânic oneness with the One Life.[17]

(3) _The Artistic Instinct_.

The desire to reproduce with pencil, paint, or clay the form and
colour of the outward world will, if duly cultivated, gradually
transform itself into the desire to feel, to understand, to
interpret, to express, not the form and colour only of the outward
world, but also that less palpable but more spiritual quality which
we call beauty. But in order that this transformation may take place,
the child must always endeavour to reproduce with due fidelity the
more palpable qualities of colour and form. In this endeavour he
must bring many faculties into play. He must observe closely and
attentively. He must reflect on what he observes. He must reflect on
what he himself is doing. He must compare his work with the original,
and try to discover how far he has succeeded, and where he has gone
astray. The more faithfully he tries to reproduce what he has seen,
the clearer and surer will be his insight into the less palpable
properties of things,--into those details, those aspects, those
qualities, which do not reveal themselves to the first careless
glance, but which will gradually reveal themselves to those who will
take the trouble to discover them. When he is asked to reproduce
things which are intrinsically beautiful--flowers, branches, buds,
shells, butterflies, and the like--he begins to realise that if his
work is to be successful, he must do justice to many impalpable,
though not imperceptible, details which go to the making up of
beauty. So the sense of beauty, the feeling for it, the desire to
bring it into his work, grows up in his heart; and a new kind of
fidelity--fidelity to _feeling_ rather than to _fact_ (if I may speak
for the moment in the delusive language of dualism)--begins to weave
itself into his artistic consciousness.

If there is any school in England in which fidelity to feeling has
evolved itself out of fidelity to fact, that school is in the village
of Utopia. Some ten or twelve years ago a decree went out from
Whitehall that Drawing was to be taught in all the elementary schools
in England. Egeria at once took the children into her confidence, and
said to them: "You have now got to learn to draw: you don't know how
to draw, and I don't know how to draw, but we must all set to work
and see what we can do." A few years later the school was visited by
the inspector to whose zeal as a prophet, and skill as an expositor
and teacher, the transformation in the teaching of drawing which is
gradually taking effect in all parts of the country, has been largely
due. Here is the report[18] that he wrote after his visit--

"In this school the teaching of Drawing reaches the highest
educational level I have hitherto met with in our elementary schools,
and the results are the genuine expression of the children's own
thoughts. Flat copies are not used, and the scholars evolve their
own technique, for the Head Teacher is not strong herself in this
respect. The development of thought carries with it the development
of skill, and this is clearly seen in the children's drawings, which
show good form and proportion, some knowledge of light and shade, a
delicate and refined perception of colour, and a wonderful power of
dealing with the difficulties of foreshortening. The central law is
self-effort,--confidence and self-reliance follow. The spontaneous
activities of the children are duly recognised, and the latter decide
what to draw, how to draw it, and the materials to be used. One
cannot remain long in the school without observing the absence of
that timidity, that haunting fear of making a mistake, which
paralyses the minds and bodies of so many of our children. Under the
influence of the Head Teacher the children become acute critics.
Her methods coincide so exactly with those which I have long been
advocating, that I give them in her own words--

"'I gave each child an ivy-leaf and said, "Now look well at it." We
talked about its peculiarities, looking at it all the time, and then
I told them to draw one, still looking back to the leaf from time to
time. Then I examined their drawings. A good many were, of course,
faulty. In those cases I did not say, "No, you are wrong; this is the
way," and go to the blackboard. I said, "In such and such a part is
yours the same as the leaf? What is different? How can you alter
it?" etc., etc. I make _them tell me_ their faults. There was no
blackboard demonstration.'

"From a careful examination of their work it is clear that the
children have not only been taught to draw, but that they love and
enjoy their drawing. Form and colour are not only seen, but
understood and felt. The children are impelled by an irresistible
desire to reach and express the truth, and are thus carried along
an ever-moving path of educative action."

I have already spoken of the love of visible beauty which is a
characteristic feature of the life of this school. It is in the
drawing lesson that this love of beauty has in the main evolved
itself. Other influences have no doubt been at work. Nature-study and
literature, for example, have, as taught in this school, done much to
foster the children's latent love of beauty; but had drawing never
been taught, the influence of those subjects would have been much
less effective than it has been. It is in the struggle to express
what he perceives that the Utopian child has gradually strengthened
and deepened his perceptive powers, till his sight has transformed
itself into insight, and form and colour have come to be interpreted
by him through the medium of the beauty which is behind them,--his
feeling of beauty having, little by little, been awakened and evolved
by his unceasing efforts to interpret the _vraie vérité_ of form and
colour, which, as he now begins to learn, are beauty's outward self.

(4) _The Musical Instinct_.

In the development of the artistic sense the path of imitation is
followed until it leads at last to heights which it cannot scale. The
development of the musical sense takes from the first a widely
different path. Nature has a beautiful music of her own, but the
child seldom attempts to imitate this. Music belongs to the soul even
more than to the outward world. So at least one feels disposed to
think. But perhaps it is more correct to say that in the presence
of music the provisional distinction between inward and outward,
between the soul and the surrounding world, becomes wholly effaced.
Expression is always the counterpart of perception; and we may rest
assured that the deep, subtle, and elusive feelings to which music
gives utterance have reality for their counterpart. The musician does
not often reproduce in his compositions the audible sounds of the
outward world,--the voices of animals, the songs of birds, the rustle
of leaves, the murmur of the sea, the sighing of the breeze, the
thunder of the storm. What he does reproduce is the music that awakes
in his soul when the emotions which these sounds kindle begin to
struggle for expression,--the music that is behind all the audible
sounds, and perhaps also behind all the inaudible vibrations of
Nature,--the music that is in his heart because it is also at the
heart of Nature,--_the rhythm of the Universe_, as one may perhaps
call it for lack of a fitter phrase. It is the sense of this rhythm
which inspires the great Composer when he builds up his masterpieces.
It is the sense of this rhythm which inspires the child when, in the
joy of his heart, he breaks spontaneously into dance and song. To
bring the rhythm of the Universe into the daily life of the child,
to give free play to his instinctive sense of its all-pervading
presence, is one of the highest functions of the teacher. And the
more carefully the sense of rhythm is cultivated, the more does it
tend to spiritualise itself, and the more profound and more vital is
the life which it struggles to interpret and evolve. There is no
instinct which is so deeply seated as the musical. It is possible for
a child, it is possible for a whole class of children, to sing out of
the depths of the soul; and when this happens we may be sure that a
fountain of spiritual joy has been unsealed, and that a great and
sacred mystery has been unveiled. There is a school in one of the
poorest slums of a large town, in which, some two or three years ago,
the children were taught to sing, and the teachers to teach singing,
by an inspired "master" who believes that to lift the sluices of
spiritual feeling is to quicken into ever-increasing activity its
hidden springs; and neither the teachers nor the children have yet
forgotten their lesson. The children are poor, pale, thin, unkempt,
ill-clad, unlovely; but I am told that when they sing their faces are
transfigured, and they all become beautiful.

Egeria is an accomplished musician, and though Utopia belongs to one
of the unmusical counties of England, she has found it easy to awaken
the musical instinct in the hearts of its children. A few years ago
she introduced the old English Folk Songs and Morris Dances into the
school. The children took to them at once as ducklings take to the
water; and within a year they were able to give an admirably
successful performance of some two dozen songs and dances in the
village hall. Some of these had been rehearsed only once; but the
children, thanks to their having been systematically trained to
educate themselves, are so versatile and resourceful that every item
on their programme was a complete success. The Folk Songs and Morris
Dances are still the delight of the children. They are ever adding to
their repertory of songs; and when they go into the playground for
recreation, they at once form into small groups for Morris Dancing,
the older children taking the little ones in hand, and initiating
them into the pleasures of rhythmical movement.

There is another way in which Egeria brings music into the lives of
the children. In her own words, she "sets many of their lessons to
music." For example, when they are doing needlework or drawing or any
other quiet lesson, she plays high-class music to them, which forms a
background to their efforts and their thoughts, and which gradually
weaves itself, on the one hand into the outward and visible work that
they are doing, and on the other hand into the mysterious tissue of
their inward life.

(5) _The Inquisitive Instinct_.

As the inquisitive instinct makes the child an intolerable nuisance
to his ignorant and indolent elders, it is but natural that in the
unenlightened school, as in the unenlightened home, it should be
forcibly exterminated. It is through the agency of the formula "Don't
speak till you are spoken to," that its destruction is usually
effected. But under Egeria's ægis conversation in school hours is,
as we have seen, freely encouraged, and the child's right to ask
questions fully recognised; and one may therefore conjecture that
this proscribed and outlawed instinct will find a safe asylum in her
school. Whatever lesson may be in progress, the Utopian children are
allowed, and even expected, to seek for illumination whenever they
find themselves in the dark, to pause inquiringly at every obstacle
to their understanding what they have seen or heard or read.

The encouragement which is given in Utopia to the child who seeks to
gratify his desire for knowledge, is positive as well as negative.
When the obstacles which education usually places in his path have
been removed, it is found that the whole atmosphere of the school is
favourable to the growth of his inquisitive instinct. At every turn
he is called upon to plan and contrive, and is thus made to realise
his own limitations, and to try to escape from them. Whatever he may
have in hand,--be it the preparation for acting a new scene, or the
interpretation of a new Folk Song or Morris Dance, or the invention
of a new school game, or the thinking out some new way of treating a
"subject,"--he is sure to find that knowledge is needed if he is
to achieve success; and his desire for knowledge is therefore
continually stimulated by the demands that his own initiative and
activity are ever making upon him.

But it is in the "Nature lesson" that the inquisitive instinct finds
in Utopia its freest scope and its fullest opportunity. To one who
had persuaded himself of the innate stupidity of the average English
child, a Nature lesson in Utopia would come as a revelation. He would
learn for the first time that, far from being innately stupid, the
average English child has it in him to reach a very high level of
keenness, acuteness, and intellectual activity. Whenever a lesson is
given on a natural object, _e.g._ a flower or a leaf, every child has
a specimen and a lens. The object is then closely and carefully
observed, in the hope of discovering features in it which might
escape the unobservant. Whenever such features are discovered the
children try to account for them. In these attempts they display much
ingenuity and intelligence, and are led on by Egeria in the direction
of the true explanation of each phenomenon, and the relation of this
to what they know of the object as a whole, and of its meaning and
function. The eagerness of the children to volunteer explanations of
the facts that they observe is only equalled by the intelligence with
which they grasp the general bearing of the problems that confront
them, and the resourcefulness and quickness of wit with which they
make repeated attempts to solve them.

And these are not the only qualities to which the Nature lesson gives
free play. It is interesting to note that as on the one hand the
inquisitive instinct is obviously near of kin to the communicative,
so on the other hand it is ever tending to link itself to the
artistic. The closeness of observation which is the basis of success
in Nature-study, and by means of which the inquisitive instinct is
fed and strengthened, is also the basis of success in drawing; and
in each case it leads beyond itself into a region in which it has to
be supplemented by, and even transfigured into, imagination, the
faculty by means of which we observe what is at once impalpable and
real.[19] And in that region the distinction between truth and beauty
is ever tending to efface itself. The master sculptor is always an
accomplished anatomist; and the genuine naturalist is a lover and
admirer, as well as a student, of Nature. It has been well said that
"to see things in their beauty is to see them in their truth"; and it
is perhaps equally, though more remotely, true that to see things in
their truth is to see them in their beauty. That being so, we need
not wonder that among the Utopian children the love of what is
beautiful in Nature has grown continuously with the growth of their
interest in Nature-study, and that the inquisitive instinct is ever
Reinforcing and being reinforced by the artistic.

(6) _The Constructive Instinct_.

Active, intelligent, resourceful, self-helpful, the Utopian child
takes to handwork of various kinds as readily and almost as
spontaneously as the birds in spring-time take to the work of
nest-building. It must indeed be admitted that the systematic
instruction in Gardening, Cookery, and Woodwork which warrants the
payment of special grants for these "subjects" is not given. But
informal gardening, informal cookery, and informal woodwork are
vital features of the school life. Nor are the children's essays in
handwork limited to these subjects. Whatever implement, instrument,
or other contrivance may be needed in order to illustrate or
otherwise help forward the general work of the school will be made by
the children, so far as their technical ability and the resources of
the school permit. For example, they will make fences, seats, frames,
and sheds for their gardens, and "properties" and dresses for their
dramatic performances. They will illustrate their games and lessons
by means of simple modelling and paper-cutting. The older girls will
dress dolls for the little ones to their own fancy, using their own
discretion as regards material, style of dress, and method of
dress-making. And so on.

But ready as the Utopian children are to use their hands, and clever
as they are at using them, it is not through manual activity only
that the development of their constructive instinct is carried on.
One of the characteristic features of the school is the largeness
of the scale on which the constructive powers of the children are
encouraged to energise, and the frequency and variety of the demands
that are made upon them. The Utopian child is expected to educate
himself, not merely in the sense of doing by and for himself whatever
task may be set him, but also in the sense of devising new tasks for
himself, in thinking out new ways of treating the different subjects
that appear on the school time-table, in taking thought for the whole
scheme of his education. As the years go by, Egeria makes more and
greater demands on the initiative and the intelligence of the
children, her aim being apparently to transform the school by slow
degrees into a self-governing community which, under her presidency,
shall order its own life and work out its own salvation. This means,
as I have lately pointed out, that at every turn the Utopian child is
being called upon to plan and contrive; and this, again, means that
his constructive instinct, with his inquisitive instinct as its other
self, is being continually exercised on the widest possible field
and under the most stimulating of all influences. The result of
this is that reciprocal action is ever going on in his mind between
the faculties that acquire knowledge and the faculties that apply
it,--action which makes for the rapid and healthy growth of both sets
of faculties, and which is therefore ever tending to strengthen the
child's capacity for thinking and to raise the plane of its activity.

What is the culture of the child's expansive instincts likely to do
for him?

I will weave into my answer to this question my knowledge of what has
been done and is being done in Utopia.

It is through the medium of his own exertions that the evolution of
the child's instincts is carried on by Egeria. It may be possible to
lay veneers of information on the surface of a child's mind, but
it is not possible to lay on veneers of growth; and growth, not
information, is the end at which Egeria has always aimed. If a child
is to grow, he must exercise his own limbs, his own organs, his own
faculties. No one else can do this for him; and unless he does it
himself, it will never be done. The school life in Utopia is
therefore one of constant activity. The habit of doing things, of
doing things for himself, of doing things by himself, is gradually
built up in each child. There is no forced inertness in Utopia,
no slackness, no boredom, no yawning. And the activity which is
characteristic of the school is always the child's own activity. The
child himself is behind everything that he does. The child himself
is expressing himself in his every action. Mechanical activity, the
doing of things, not merely at the bidding of another, but also under
his minutely detailed direction, is as foreign to the genius of
the school as is the passivity of the helpless victims of the
unenlightened teacher's "chalk and talk."

The first consequence, then, of the training of the expansive
instincts which is given in Utopia is the building up in each scholar
of what I may call the habit of rational activity. In many schools
the energies of the child are systematically dammed back, till at
last the springs of his activity, finding that no demand is made upon
them, cease to flow. In Utopia the sluices, though always regulated,
are permanently lifted, and the energies of the child are ever
moving, with a strong and steady current, in whatever channel they
may have chanced to enter. So strong, indeed, and so steady is the
current that it maintains its movement long after the child has left
school. The employers of labour in the neighbourhood of Utopia will
tell you that there are no slackers or loafers in the yearly output
of the school. Egeria recently received a visit from one of her
ex-pupils, a girl of fourteen who is at home keeping house for her
father, and who said to her in the course of their conversation: "I
do just love washing days; I get up before six and start. Then, when
all the washing is done, I scrub everything bright in the copper
while I have the hot soapsuds." Accustomed as he (or she) is from his
(or her) earliest days to sincere and fearless self-expression, the
Utopian child is entirely incapable of indulging in cant; and the
genuineness of the sentiment which dictated those words is therefore
above suspicion. To work vigorously, to do well whatever he (or she)
has to do, is a real pleasure to the Utopian child. Indeed his whole
being is a living response to the familiar precept: "Whatsoever thy
hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."

And what he does with his might is always well worth doing. His
constant effort to express himself has, as its necessary counterpart,
a constant effort to find out what is worth expressing, to get to the
truth of things, to see things as they are. The consequent growth
of his perceptive powers may be looked at from two points of view.
On the one hand his growing capacity for getting on terms with
things--for feeling his way among them, for "getting, the hang" of
them, for making himself at home with them, for learning their ins
and outs, for understanding their ways and works--will give him the
power of putting forth an appropriate _sense_ in response to the
demands of each new environment, and, through the medium of this
sense, of converting information into knowledge. For this reason new
"subjects" have no terror for Egeria and her pupils. Though she has
never thought in subjects, she is ready to extend her curriculum in
any direction in which she thinks that her children are likely to
find interest or profit. The versatility, the mental agility, of the
children is as remarkable as their activity. The current of their
energy is ready to adapt itself to every modifying influence, to
every change of geological formation, that it may encounter in its
course, and to shape its channel or channels accordingly.

On the other hand, as healthy vigorous growth is always upward (and
downward) as well as outward, the lateral extension of the child's
perceptive powers must needs be balanced in Utopia by the gradual
elevation of his standpoint, with a corresponding widening of his
outlook, and the proportionate deepening of his insight. When the
school life of the child is one of continuous self-expression,
opportunities for "putting his soul" into what he says and does will
often present themselves to him; and if only a few of these are made
use of, his outlook on life will widen, and his imaginative sympathy
with life will deepen, to an extent which to one who had never
visited Utopia might well seem incredible. I have spoken of the
Utopian child's love of the beautiful. This is one aspect of the
spiritual growth that he is always making. Other aspects of it are
his strong sympathy with life in all its forms, and a certain large
and free way of looking at things, which, as far as my experience of
school children goes, is all his own.

There is yet another aspect of his spiritual growth which is perhaps
the most vital and the most typical of all. When we say that the
child is growing both laterally and vertically (like a shapely tree),
we mean that he is growing as a whole, as a living soul. Now the
growth of the soul as such must needs take the form of outgrowth, of
escape from "self." Growth is, in its essence, an emancipative
process; and though it sometimes intensifies selfishness and widens
the sphere of its activity, that is invariably due to its being
one-sided and therefore inharmonious and unhealthy. When the child
or the man is growing as a living whole, with a happy, harmonious,
many-sided growth, his growth is of necessity outgrowth, and he must
needs be escaping from the thraldom of his lower and lesser self.
This conclusion is no mere inference from accepted or postulated
premises. What I have seen in Utopia has forced it upon me. The
unselfishness, the natural, easy, spontaneous self-forgetfulness, of
the Utopian child, is the central feature of his moral life,--so
marked and withal so unique a feature that its presence proves to
demonstration, first, that growth of the right sort is necessarily
emancipative, and, next, that the growth made in Utopia is growth
of the right sort. I have already commented on the singular charm
of manner which distinguishes the children of Utopia. Their
self-forgetfulness, their entire lack of self-consciousness, is
one source of this charm. The tactfulness which their life of
self-expression, and therefore of trained perception, tends to
engender, is another. But the moral aspect of Utopianism is one of
such surpassing interest, and also of such profound significance
from the point of view of my fundamental "truism," that I must limit
myself for the moment to this passing reference to it, and reserve
it for fuller treatment in the remaining chapters.

I could easily make a long list of Utopian virtues and graces, but I
must content myself with touching on one more typical product of
Egeria's philosophy of education,--the joy which the children wear in
their faces and bear in their hearts. The sense of well-being which
must needs accompany healthy and harmonious growth is realised by him
who experiences it as joy. The Utopian children are by many degrees
the happiest that I have met with in an elementary school, and I
must therefore conclude that all is well with them, that their
well-being--the true end of all education--has been, and is being,
achieved. If you look at any of them with more than a mere passing
glance, you will be sure to win from him the quick response of a
sunny smile,--a smile which is half gladness, half goodwill. And the
joy of their hearts goes with them when their schooldays are over and
they begin to work for their bread. Last year one of the boys, on
leaving school, found employment in a large field on the lower slopes
of the hills, where he had to collect flints and pile them in heaps,
his wage for this dull and tiresome work being no more than fivepence
a day. But he found the work neither dull nor tiresome; for as he
marched up and down the field, collecting and piling the flints with
cheery goodwill, he sang his Folk Songs with all the spontaneous
happiness of a soaring lark.

Activity, versatility, imaginative sympathy, a wide and free outlook,
self-forgetfulness, charm of manner, joy of heart,--these are
qualities which might be expected to unfold themselves under the
influence of the Utopian training, and which do, in point of fact,
flourish vigorously in the soil and atmosphere of Utopia. They are
the outcome of a type of education which differs radically from that
which has hitherto been accepted as orthodox,--differing from it with
the unfathomable difference between vital and mechanical obedience,
between life and machinery.


[16] The child is struggling to do this, and more than this.
The search for order resolves itself into the search for cause; and
the search for cause will resolve itself, in the last resort, into
the greatest of all adventures,--the search for that pure essence of
things on which all the deeper desires of the soul converge, which
imagination dreams of as absolute beauty, and reason as a beacon-lamp
of all-illuminating light, flashing forth alternately as absolute
reality and absolute truth.

[17] I shall perhaps be told that my extravagant idealism is
out of place in a book on elementary education. To this possible
reproach I can but answer, in Mrs. Browning's words, that--

  It takes the ideal to blow a hair's breadth off
  The dust of the actual.

My experience of Utopia has convinced me that in taking thought for
the education of the young it is impossible to be too idealistic, and
that the more "commonsensical" and "utilitarian" one's philosophy of
education, the shallower and falser it will prove to be.

[18] An informal report to me, not a formal report to the
Board of Education.

[19] Real, in the sense that the beauty of form and colour
is more real than either form or colour, and that a law of Nature is
more real than an isolated fact.



Activity, versatility, imaginative sympathy, a large and free
outlook, self-forgetfulness, charm of manner, joy of heart,--are
there many schools in England in which the soil and atmosphere are
favourable to the vigorous growth of all these qualities? I doubt it.
In the secondary schools, of all grades and types, the education
given is so one-sided, thanks to the inexorable pressure of the
scholarship system, that the harmonious development of the child's
nature is not to be looked for. In the elementary schools, from which
the chilling shadow cast by thirty years of "payment by results" is
passing slowly--very slowly--away, the instinct of the teacher is to
distrust the child and do everything, or nearly everything, for him,
the result being that the whole _régime_ is still unfavourable to the
spontaneous outgrowth of the child's higher qualities. There are of
course schools, both secondary and elementary, in which one or more
of the Utopian qualities flourish with considerable vigour. There are
elementary schools, for example, in which the children, being allowed
by enterprising teachers to walk in new paths without leading
strings, have become unexpectedly active and versatile. And there are
others--mostly in the slum regions of great towns--in which the
devotion, the sympathetic kindness, and the gracious bearing of the
teachers have won from the children the response of unselfish
affection, attractive manners, and happy faces.[20] Yet even in these
exceptional cases it may be doubted if the development of the
particular quality or qualities for which the school is distinguished
reaches the high-water mark which is reached in each and all of the
seven qualities in Utopia. As for the elementary schools which remain
faithful, as so many still do, to the traditions of the old
régime,--if in these any of the seven qualities manage to resist the
adverse influences to which they are all exposed, they have at best
but a starved and stunted life.

I have spoken much and with unsparing frankness of the shortcomings
of our elementary schools. The time has come for me to say with
emphasis that however grave and however numerous may be the defects
of elementary education in England, they are defects which it shares
with all other branches of education, and which England shares with
all other Western lands. The plain truth is that education as such is
a failure in the West, a failure in the sense that the very qualities
which it ought to foster--the cardinal virtues, mental, moral, and
spiritual, which are present in embryo in every child, waiting to be
realised--are not merely neglected by it, in its insane ardour for
"results," but are also exposed, in most of its schools, to strongly
adverse influences. And the reason why education as such is a failure
in the West is that from its earliest days it has been a house
divided against itself, those who were and are responsible for
it having been under the influence of two mutually destructive
assumptions, which they have vainly tried to reconcile with one

The first of these assumptions is my initial "truism,"--that the
function of education is to foster growth. This is admitted,
implicitly if not directly, by all who think and speak about
education, and even, in their unguarded moments, by most of those
who teach. It is generally admitted, for example, that such mental
qualities as attention, memory, judgment, intelligence, reason,
such moral qualities as loyalty, courage, truthfulness, kindness,
unselfishness, such semi-moral qualities as cleanliness, orderliness,
carefulness, alertness, industry, punctuality, are capable of being
developed by education. It is further admitted that such special
qualities as literary or artistic taste, the mathematical or the
historical sense, an aptitude for business or finance, are ready
to evolve themselves, in response to the fostering influence of
practical experience directed by skilful teaching. It is admitted,
in other words, that there is much in human nature, apart from what
is purely or mainly physical, which is both capable and worthy of
cultivation, and which education ought therefore to try to cultivate.

So far, so good. These admissions, with the fundamental admission
which underlies them all, might form the basis of a sound philosophy
of education, if they were not liable to be stultified and even
nullified by the counter assumption that human nature is innately
evil and corrupt. For from the latter assumption has followed, both
logically and naturally, a theory of education which is not merely
unfavourable but fatal to growth. If human nature is innately evil,
if it has no inborn capacity for goodness or truth, what is there in
it that is worth training? So far as the "great matters" of life are
concerned, the child must be educated by being told in minute detail
what to do, and by being alternately bribed and bullied into doing
it. As he can neither think, nor believe, nor desire, nor do what
is right, he must be told what to think, what to believe, what to
desire, what to do; and as it is assumed that the tasks set him by
his teacher will not be intrinsically attractive, he must be induced
to perform them by the threat of external punishments and the promise
of external rewards. In other words, in the spheres of religion and
morals, so far as these can be walled off from the rest of human
life, he must be educated, not by being helped to grow, but by being
compelled to obey; and as the spheres of religion and morals cannot
possibly be walled off from the rest of human life, the idea of
educating the child through the medium of passive and mechanical
obedience will gradually extend its influence over all the other
departments and aspects of his home and school life, his innate
sinfulness finding its equivalent, in secular matters, in his innate
helplessness and stupidity, while in the place of the creeds, codes,
and catechisms by which his spiritual welfare is provided for, he
will be fed during the hours of secular instruction on rations of
information, formulated rules, and minute directions of various
kinds. Under this _régime_ of wire-pulling on the part of the teacher
and puppet-like dancing on the part of the child, the growth of
the child's faculties,--of the whole range of his faculties, for
they will all come under the blighting influence of the current
misconception of the bent of his nature and the consequent
under-estimate of his powers,--far from being fostered, will be
systematically thwarted and starved. This is the fate which might be
expected to befall the child if the doctrine of his innate sinfulness
were allowed to dominate his education; and this is the fate which
has befallen and is befalling him in all grades of society and in all
the countries of the West.

It is the doctrine of original sin, of the congenital depravity of
man's nature, which blocks the way to the reform of education,--blocks
the way to it by compelling education to become the destroying angel
instead of the foster-nurse of the child's expanding life. In
criticising the defects of our educational system, we have too long
mistaken symptoms for causes, and believed that we were removing the
latter when we were only palliating or at best excising the former.
To pinch off a withered bud, to lop off a withered limb, of the
diseased tree of education, to train in this or that direction a
branch which is as yet unaffected, is but lost labour so long as
the tree is being slowly poisoned at its roots by a fundamental
misconception of the character and capacity of the child. It is time
that we should reconsider our whole attitude towards human nature.
The widespread belief that sundry faculties, physical, mental, and
moral, admit of being cultivated and ought to be cultivated in the
schoolroom--a belief which is ever affirming itself against the
educational systems and practices that are ever giving it the
lie--may surely be construed into an admission that my primary truism
is at least a truth. If this is so, if the business of the teacher
is, as I contend, to help the child to grow, healthily, vigorously,
and symmetrically, on all the planes of his being, the inference is
irresistible that education will achieve nothing but failure until
its foundations have been entirely relaid. For faith in the inherent
soundness, in the natural goodness, of the seed or sapling, or
whatever else he may undertake to rear, is the first condition of
success on the part of the grower. And to ask education to bring to
sane and healthy maturity the plant which we call human nature, and
in the same breath to tell it that human nature is intrinsically
corrupt and evil, is to set it an obviously impracticable task. One
might as well supply a farmer with the seeds of wild grasses and
poisonous weeds, and ask him to grow a crop of wheat. Growth can and
does transform potential into actual good, but no process of growth
can transform what is innately evil into what is finally good. A
poisonous seed will ripen of inner necessity into a poisonous plant;
and the more carefully it is fed and tended, the larger and stronger
will the poisonous plant become.

The time has come, then, for us to throw to the winds the
time-honoured, but otherwise dishonoured and discredited, belief that
the child is conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity, and that
therefore his nature, if allowed to obey its own laws and follow its
own tendencies, will ripen into death, instead of into a larger
and richer life. I shall perhaps be told that if this belief is
abandoned, other religious beliefs will go with it. Let them go. They
have kept bad company, and if they cannot dissociate themselves from
it, they had better share its fate. What is real and vital in our
religious beliefs will gain incalculably by being disengaged from
what may once have had a life and a meaning of its own but is now
nothing better than a morbid growth. To tell a man that, apart from a
miracle, he is predestined to perdition, is the surest way to send
him there; and it is probable that the doctrine of his own innate
depravity is the deadliest instrument for achieving his ruin, that
Man, in his groping endeavours to explain to himself the dominant
facts of his existence, has ever devised.

Nor is the practical failure of the doctrine--its failure to achieve
any lasting result but the strangulation of Man's expanding life--the
only proof that it is inherently unsound. There is positive proof
that the counter doctrine, the doctrine of Man's potential goodness,
is inherently true. We have seen that the great arterial instincts
which manifest themselves in the undirected play of young children,
are making for three supreme ends,--the sympathetic instincts for the
goal of _Love_, the artistic instincts for the goal of _Beauty_, the
scientific instincts for the goal of _Truth_. We have seen, in other
words, that the push of Nature's forces in the inner life of the
young child is ever tending to take him out of himself in the
direction of a triune goal which I may surely be allowed to call
_Divine_. If we follow towards "infinity" the lines of love, of
beauty, and of truth, we shall begin at last to dream of an ideal
point--the meeting-point of all and the vanishing-point of each--for
which no name will suffice less pregnant with meaning or less
suggestive of reality than that of God. It is towards God, then, not
towards the Devil, that the ripening, expansive forces of Nature
which are at work in the child, are directing the process of his
growth. We are taught that Man is by nature a "child of wrath." The
more closely we study his ways and works when, as a young child, he
is left (more or less) to his own devices, the stronger does our
conviction become that he is by nature a "child of God." Those who
are in a position to speak tell us that the normal child is born
physically healthy. If the men of science would study the other sides
of his being as carefully as they have studied his physique, they
would, I feel sure, be able to tell us that he is also born mentally,
morally, and spiritually healthy, and that on these sides, as well as
on the physical side, his growth might be and ought to be a natural
movement towards perfection. For some of my readers such arguments as
these are perhaps too much in the air to be convincing. Well, then,
let us appeal to experience. Let us see what the systematic
cultivation of his natural faculties has done for the child in
Utopia. I have already pointed out that the unselfishness of the
children--the complete absence of self-seeking and self-assertion--is
one of the most noticeable features of the life of their school. Now
there is no place for moral teaching on the time-table of the
school: and I can say without hesitation that the direct inculcation
of morality is wholly foreign to Egeria's conception of education.
How, then, has the emancipation of the child from the first enemy of
Man's well-being--from all those narrowing, hardening, and
demoralising influences which we speak of collectively as egoistic or
selfish--been effected in Utopia? By no other means than that of
allowing the child's nature to unfold itself, on many sides of its
being and under thoroughly favourable conditions. The twofold desire
which we all experience,--to accept and rest in the ordinary
undeveloped self, and at the same time to exalt and magnify it,--is
the surest and most fruitful source of moral evil. Indeed, it may be
doubted if there is any source of moral evil, apart from those which
are purely sensual, which has not at least an underground connection
with this. If we are to "cap" this deadly fountain, and so prevent it
from desolating human life, we must realise, once and for all, that
the two desires which master us cannot be simultaneously gratified;
that we cannot both rest in the ordinary self and magnify it; that we
can magnify it only by _making it great_, by helping it to grow. When
we have realised this, we shall be ready to receive the further
lesson that in proportion as the self magnifies itself by the natural
process of growth, so does its desire to magnify itself gradually die
away,--die away with the dawning consciousness that in and through
the process of its growth it is outgrowing itself, forgetting itself,
escaping from itself, that the thing which so ardently desired to be
magnified is in fact ceasing to be. This vital truth,--which my
visits to Utopia have borne in upon me,--that healthy and harmonious
growth is in its very essence _out_growth or escape from self, has
depths of meaning which are waiting to be fathomed. For one thing, it
means, if it has any meaning, that what is central in human nature
is, not its inborn wickedness but its infinite capacity for good, not
its rebellious instincts and backsliding tendencies but its
many-sided effort to achieve perfection.

We must now make our choice between two alternatives. We must decide,
once and for all, whether the function of education is to foster
growth or to exact mechanical obedience. If we choose the latter
alternative, we shall enter a path which leads in the direction of
spiritual death. If we choose the former, we must cease to halt
between two opinions, and must henceforth base our system of
education, boldly and confidently, on the conviction that growth is
in its essence a movement towards perfection, and therefore that
self-realisation is the first and last duty of Man.

It is by answering possible objections to Utopianism that I shall
best be able to unfold Egeria's philosophy of education. I shall
perhaps be told that in my advocacy of that philosophy _I am
preaching dangerous doctrines; that the only alternative for
obedience is the lawlessness of unbridled licence; and that anarchy,
social, moral, and spiritual, is the ultimate goal of the path which
I am urging the teacher to enter._ Let me point out, in answer to
this protest, that it is mechanical obedience which I condemn, not
obedience as such. If I condemn mechanical obedience, I do so
because it is unworthy of the name of obedience, because the higher
faculties of Man's being, the faculties which are distinctively
human--reason, imagination, aspiration, spiritual intuition, and the
like--take no part in it, because it is the obedience of an
automaton, not of a living soul. What I wish to oppose to it is
_vital obedience_, obedience to the master laws of Man's being,
obedience to the laws which assert themselves as central and supreme,
obedience more particularly to those larger and obscurer laws which
obedience itself helps us to discover, obedience in fine to that
hierarchy of laws--(the superior law always claiming the fuller
measure and the higher kind of obedience)--which, if we are to use
the Divine Name, we must needs identify with the will of God.
Obedience, in this sense of the word, is a sustained and soul-deep
effort in which all the higher faculties of Man's being take part,
an effort which is in some sort a voyage of discovery, the doing of
the more obvious duty being always rewarded by the deepening of the
doer's insight and the widening of his outlook, and by the consequent
unveiling to him of the way in which he is to walk and the goal at
which he is to aim. That the path of soul-growth is the path of vital
obedience can scarcely be doubted. The effort to grow is always
successful just so far as it implies knowledge of the laws of the
nature that is unfolding itself, and readiness to obey those laws;
and so far as it is successful, it carries with it the outgrowth of
the very faculties by which knowledge--the higher knowledge which
makes further growth possible--is to be gained. Here, as
elsewhere, there is an unceasing interaction between perception and
expression, between knowledge of law and obedience to law, what is
given as obedience being received back as enlightenment, and what is
received as enlightenment being given back as larger, fuller, and
more significant obedience.

And, be it carefully observed, it is obedience to the laws of human
nature, not obedience to the idiosyncrasies of the individual nature,
which the process of soul-growth at once implies and makes possible.
Growth is, in its essence, a movement towards that perfect type which
is the real self of each individual in turn, and the approach to
which involves the gradual surrender of individuality, and the
gradual escape from the ordinary self. A man is to cling to and
affirm his individuality, not in order that he may rest in it and
make much of it, but in order that he may outgrow it and pass far
beyond it in that one way--the best way for him--which it, and it
alone, is able to mark out for him. In other words, he is to assert
his individual self in order that he may universalise himself in his
own way, and not in obedience to the ruling of custom and authority,
in order that he may escape from himself through the real outlet of
sincere self-expression, and not through the sham outlet of hypocrisy
and cant.

What I may call the Utopian scheme of education, far from making for
antinomianism and anarchy, is the sworn enemy of individualism and
therefore, _a fortiori_, of everything that savours of licence. It is
the conventional type of education, with its demands for mechanical
obedience to external authority, which leads through despotism to
social and political chaos. The whole _régime_ of mechanical
obedience is favourable, in the long run, to the development of
anarchy. Let us take the case of a church or an autocracy which
demands implicit obedience from its subjects, and is prepared to
exact such obedience by the application of physical force or its
moral equivalent. What will happen to it when its subjects begin to
ask it for its credentials? The fact that it has always demanded from
them literal rather than spiritual obedience, and that, in its
application of motive force, it has appealed to their baser desires
and baser fears, makes it impossible for it to justify itself to
their higher faculties, rational or emotional, and makes it necessary
for it to meet their incipient criticism with renewed threats of
punishment and renewed promises of reward. But the very fact that it
is being asked for its credentials means that the force on which it
has hitherto relied is weakening, that its power to punish and
reward, which has always been resolvable into the power to make
people believe that it can punish and reward, is being called in
question and is therefore crumbling away. And behind that power there
is nothing but chaos. For the _régime_ of mechanical obedience, by
arresting the spontaneous growth of Man's higher nature, and by
making its chief appeal to his baser desires and baser fears, becomes
of necessity the foster-mother of egoism; and when egoism, which
makes each man a law to himself and the potential enemy of his kind,
is unrestrained by authority, the door is thrown wide open to
anarchy, and through anarchy to chaos. This is what is happening in
the West, in our self-conscious and critical age. In every field of
human action, in religion, in politics, in social life, in art, in
letters, authority is being asked for its credentials; and as this
demand, besides being a disintegrating influence, is a sign that the
force on which authority relies is weakening, it is not to be
wondered at that there is a steady drift in many Western countries in
the direction of anarchy,--religious, political, social, artistic,
literary,--or that this _régime_ of incipient anarchy is taking the
form of an ignoble scramble for wealth, for power, for position, for
fame, for notoriety, for anything in fine which may serve to exalt a
man above his fellows, and so minister to the aggrandizement of his
lower self.

In this drift towards anarchy the school is playing its part. I do
not wish to suggest that the boys and girls of this or any other
Western country are beginning to ask their teachers for their
credentials, or are likely to rise in rebellion against them. The
preparation for anarchy that is going on in the school is not only
quite compatible with what is known as "strict discipline," but is
also, in part at least, the effect of it. What is happening is that
in an acutely critical age the _régime_ of mechanical obedience to
external authority which has been in force in the West for nearly
2000 years, and which is now taking its victims straight towards
anarchy, is being carefully rehearsed in our schools of all types and
grades. During the years when human nature is most pliable (owing to
its richness in sap), most easily trained, and most amenable to
influence, good or evil, the child's spontaneous effort to outgrow
himself and so escape from his lower self,--an end which is not to be
reached except by the path of free self-expression,--is persistently
thwarted till at last it dies away; blind and literal obedience to
external authority, for which the consent of his higher faculties
is not asked, and in the giving of which they are not allowed to
take part, is persistently exacted from him till at last his
higher faculties cease to energise, and his lower nature begins to
monopolise the rising sap of his life; in order to enforce the blind
obedience that is asked for, an appeal is made, by an elaborate
system of external rewards and external punishments, to his selfish
desires and ignoble fears; while the examination system, with
its inevitable accompaniments of prizes and class-lists, makes a
special appeal to his competitive instincts,--instincts which are
anti-social, and may even, in extreme cases, become anti-human in
their tendency. And when authority has thus been presented to him, in
a form which he has never been expected to welcome, and when, by the
same process, the growth of his higher self has been arrested, and
his anarchical instincts--his selfishness and self-assertion--have
been systematically cultivated, the critical spirit and temper will
be deliberately aroused in him, especially if he happens to attend
one of those secondary schools which are regarded as highly efficient
because their lists of University distinctions and other "successes"
are inordinately long; for the education given to him in such a
school by his scholarship-hunting teachers is of necessity so bookish
and so one-sided that his intellectual, dialectically critical
faculties are apt to become hypertrophied, while other faculties
which might have kept these in check are neglected and starved. The
product of such a system of education,--benumbed or paralysed on many
sides of his being by the repressive _régime_ to which he has so long
been subjected, but vigorously alive on the sides of egoism and
intellectual criticism,--will be an anarchist _in posse_ (unless,
indeed, his vitality has been depressed by his school-life below the
point at which reaction becomes possible);--an anarchist _in posse_,
even though, in his terror of anarchism in others, he should become a
pillar of the Established Church of his country, a J.P. of his town
or county, and an active member of the nearest Conservative

In Utopia, on the other hand, where selfishness is outgrown and
forgotten, and where the spirit of comradeship and brotherhood
pervades the school, there can be no preparation for anarchy, if only
for the reason that there is no authority--no despotic authority,
forcibly imposing its will on the school _ab extra_--to be
potentially dethroned. For all her scholars, Egeria is the very
symbol and embodiment of love, the centre whence all happy,
harmonious, life-giving, peace-diffusing influences radiate, and to
which, when they have vitalised the souls of the children and
transformed themselves into sentiments of loyalty and devotion, they
all return. I am not exaggerating a whit when I say that the Utopian
school is an ideal community, a community whose social system,
instead of being inspired by that spirit of "competitive selfishness"
which makes "each for himself, and the devil take the hindmost" its
motto, seems to have realised the Socialistic dream of "Each for all,
and all for each."

I shall perhaps be asked _what provision is made in Utopia for
enabling the children to go through the drudgery of school-life, to
master the "3 R's," to "get up" the various subjects which the Code
prescribes, and so forth_. To this question there is but one answer:
the best possible provision. "Qui veut la fin veut les moyens." In
the life of organised play which the children lead, attractive ends
are ever being set before them. If they are to achieve these ends,
they must take the appropriate means. What children in other schools
might regard as drudgery, the Utopian takes in his stride. Reading,
writing, and arithmetic are means to ends beyond themselves, ends
which are constantly presenting themselves to the Utopian. If he is
to gratify his communicative instinct, he must learn to read and
write. If he is to gratify his dramatic instinct, he must, _inter
alia_, read with intelligence books of reference which would be
considered too advanced for the ordinary school-child. If he is to
gratify his inquisitive and constructive instincts, he must learn
to count, measure, and calculate. For whatever means may have to
be taken, must be taken by him. Egeria, as he knows well, will
do nothing for him which he can reasonably be expected to do for
himself. There are subjects, such as drawing, dancing, and singing,
which are, or at any rate ought to be, intrinsically delightful,
as being natural channels of self-expression. There are other
subjects, such as history, geography, and English, which can be made
delightful by being treated dramatically. The word "drudgery" has no
meaning for the Utopian child. A group of children in the highest
class recently committed to memory the whole "Trial Scene" of the
_Merchant of Venice_--some 300 lines or so of blank verse--in order
that they might give themselves the pleasure of acting it. They
accomplished this feat in a little more than a month. In the ordinary
elementary school the child who has committed 150 lines to memory
in the course of a year has done all that is required of him. The
getting up of a subject is drudgery only when the child can see no
meaning in what he is doing, only when the getting up of the subject
is regarded as an end in itself. In Utopia no subject, apart from
those which I have spoken of as intrinsically delightful, is taught
for its own sake. Subjects are taught there either as the means to
desired ends, or because they afford opportunities for the training
of the expansive instincts, the gratification of which is a pure
pleasure to every healthy child.

But not only does the Utopian child, with his eyes always fixed on
desirable ends, find a pleasure in doing things which other children
are wont to regard as drudgery, but he has the further advantage of
being able to master with comparative facility what other children
find difficult as well as distasteful. From first to last, the
training given in Utopia makes, as we have seen, for the development
of faculty. In my last chapter I set forth in detail some of the ways
and means by which Egeria tries to cultivate the expansive instincts
of her pupils. Behind all these ways and means stands the master
method--or shall I say the master principle?--of self-expression.
Recognising, as she does, that each of the expansive instincts is a
definite expression of the soul's spontaneous effort to grow, and a
clear indication of a particular direction in which Nature wishes the
soul to grow,--and recognising, as she also does, that the business
of growing must be done by the growing organism and cannot be
delegated to any one else,--Egeria entrusts the work of
self-realisation to the child himself, and makes no attempt to
relieve him of an obligation which no one but himself can discharge.

Now self-realisation is a twofold process. In the absence of a fitter
and more adequate word, I have applied the term _perceptive_ to those
faculties by means of which we lay hold upon the world that surrounds
us, and draw it into ourselves and make it our own. And I have
contended that this group of faculties has, as its counterpart
and correlate, another group of faculties which I have called
_expressive_,--the faculties by means of which we go out of ourselves
into the world that surrounds us, and give ourselves to it and try to
identify ourselves with it,--and that the relation between these two
groups is so vital and so intimate that each in turn may be regarded
as the very life and soul of the other. In words which I have already
used, the perceptive faculties, at any rate in childhood, grow
through the interpretation which expression gives them, and in no
other way, and the expressive faculties grow by interpreting
perception, and in no other way. That these two groups of faculties
are, as it were, the reciprocating engines by means of which the
vital movement which we call self-realisation is effected, is the
conviction on which Egeria's whole scheme of education may be said to
be pivoted. In Utopia self-expression is the medium through which the
expansive instincts are encouraged to unfold themselves. And this
life of self-expression has as its necessary counterpart the
continuous development of the perceptive faculties along the whole
range of the child's nature.

Hence the all-round capacity of the Utopian child. The development of
his perceptive faculties which his life of self-expression tends to
produce, takes many forms. One of these, and one which in some sort
underlies and interpenetrates all the rest, is the outgrowth of what
I may call the _intuitional_ faculty,--a general capacity for getting
into touch with any new environment in which the child may find
himself, of subconsciously apprehending its laws and properties, of
feeling his way through its unexplored land. It is by means of this
capacity for putting forth a new _sense_ in response to the stimulus
of each new environment, that the Utopian child is able to master
with comparative ease the various subjects which he is expected to
learn. And not with ease only, but with effect. It is, as we have
seen, through the action of an appropriate sense, and in no other
way, that the information which is supplied to the scholar, when he
is learning this or that subject, is converted into _knowledge_, and
is so made available both for the further understanding of the given
subject and for the nutrition of the scholar's own inner life.

From every point of view, then, the Utopian scholar has a marked
advantage, in respect of the things with which education is supposed
to be mainly concerned--the mastery of subjects and the acquisition
of knowledge--over the product of the conventional type of school.
Whatever the Utopian may have to learn, is a pleasure to him either
for its own sake or as a means to some desirable end. Whatever he may
have to learn, he learns with comparative ease, because his
perceptive faculties have been systematically trained, and he is
therefore at home, in greater or lesser degree, in any new
environment. And whatever he may have to learn, he learns with
effect, because he is able to digest the information that he
receives, and convert it into knowledge, and so retain it in the form
in which it will best conduce both to his further progress in that
particular branch of study and to the general building up of his

In the ordinary result-hunting school the scholar fares very
differently from this. As a rule, he takes but little pleasure in his
work, for subjects which have their chief value as means to desirable
ends are presented to him as ends in themselves, and as such are
rightly regarded by him as meaningless and therefore as intolerably
dull; while subjects which are either intrinsically attractive, as
being natural channels of self-expression, or potentially attractive
as providing opportunities for self-expression, have no attraction
for him, as in neither case is self-expression on his part permitted.
Again, he finds great difficulty in mastering the subjects on his
time-table, or even in making the first step towards mastering them,
for, owing to his perceptive faculties as a whole having been
starved by the repressive _régime_ which denied them the outlet
of expression, he has not evolved the power of putting forth an
appropriate sense in response to the stimulus of a new environment,
and is therefore helpless in the presence of what is unfamiliar or
unexpected. One of his faculties, his memory, has indeed been
hypertrophied by being unduly exercised, and his capacity for
receiving information is in consequence unhealthily great; but
because he lacks, in this case or in that, the _sense_ which might
enable him to digest the information received and convert it into
knowledge, the food with which he has been crammed speedily passes
through him, undigested and unassimilated, and the hours which he has
spent in acquiring information will have done as little for his
progress in the given subject as for the general growth of his mind.

The difference between the two schemes of education--that which
exacts mechanical obedience, and that which seeks to foster
growth--may be looked at from another point of view. Under the
former, interference with what I may call the subconscious processes
of Nature is at its maximum. Under the latter, at its minimum. In
order to realise what this means let us suppose that such
interference were possible where fortunately it is and must ever be
impossible,--in the first and second years of the child's life.
Fortunately for the child, it is impossible for us to educate him,
in any formal sense of the word, until he has mastered his mother
tongue. Were it otherwise, his mother tongue would never be mastered.
Before he reaches the age of two the child accomplishes the
marvellous feat of acquiring an entirely new language. While he is
learning it Nature is his only teacher, and under her tuition he
masters the new language without the least strain and with complete
success. But let us suppose that it was possible for a teacher of the
conventional type to give minute directions to a child by some other
medium of expression than that of language. And let us suppose that
such a teacher made up her mind that she, and not Nature, was to
teach the child his mother tongue. One can readily imagine what would
happen. The teacher would probably have a theory that no child should
begin to talk till he was two or even two and a half years old; and
if so, the child would be kept in a state of enforced dumbness till
he reached that age. In any case, he would be strictly forbidden
to speak till his teacher gave him formal permission to do so.
Half-an-hour in the morning, and half-an-hour in the afternoon would
probably be set aside for the language lesson. For so many weeks or
months the child would be strictly limited to words of two or three
letters. For so many more weeks or months, to words of four or five
letters. Things which had names of more than the prescribed number
of letters would be kept away from the child; or, if that was
impossible, he would not be allowed to talk about them. For half a
year perhaps he would be limited to the use of nouns and verbs.
Prepositions might then be introduced into his vocabulary; and,
later, adjectives and adverbs. And so on; and so on. And the outcome
of all this elaborate training would be that the child would never
learn to talk his mother tongue.

It is by methods analogous in all respects to this that many of the
subjects on the time-table are taught in thousands of our schools.
The teacher seems to imagine that he knows, fully and precisely, how
each subject ought to be taught; and instead of standing aside, and
trying to learn how Nature wishes this or that subject to be taught
(if Nature can be said to take any interest in "subjects"), and then
trying to co-operate with her subconscious tendencies, he makes out
his elaborate scheme of instruction, sets before the child as the
goal of his efforts the production of certain formal results, and
drives him towards these with whip and bridle, satisfied that if he
succeeds in producing them, the subject will have been duly mastered.
And all the time he will not have given a thought to what is
happening to the child's inner life. Yet it is more than probable
that the teacher's disregard of, and therefore incessant interference
with, the subconscious processes of Nature has quite as disastrous
results in the teaching of composition, let us say, or drawing, as it
would certainly have in the hypothetical case of the teaching of the
child's mother tongue.

But in truth the Utopian conception of what constitutes efficiency
differs so radically from the current conception, that little is to
be gained by comparing them. If I am asked by those who value outward
and visible results for their own sake, whether the training given in
Utopia is "efficient," I can but answer: "Yes, but efficient in a
sense which you cannot even begin to understand,--efficient in the
sense of developing faculty and fostering life, whereas the price
paid for your boasted efficiency is the starvation of faculty and the
destruction of life."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_But how_," it will be asked, "_are the Utopian children, one and
all, induced to exert themselves? The standard of activity in the
school is, on your own showing, exceptionally high. Much is expected
of the children. Yet there are no rewards for them to hope for, and
no punishments for them to fear. How, then, are those who are by
nature less energetic or less persevering than the rest to be induced
to rise to the level of the teacher's expectation?_" By implication
this question has been answered again and again. But it deserves a
direct answer, and I will try to give it one.

To begin with, it is incorrect to say that there are no rewards or
punishments in Utopia. Outward rewards and outward punishments are
entirely unknown there; but there are inward rewards to be had for
the seeking, and there are inward punishments to be feared, though it
must be admitted that the fear of them seldom overshadows, even for
a passing moment, the sunlit life of the Utopian child. What induces
the Utopian child to work is, in brief, delight in his work. He is
allowed and even encouraged to energise along the lines which his
nature seems to have marked out for him, and in response to the
stress of forces which seem to be welling up from the depths of his
inner life. Exertion of this kind is in itself a delight. Nature has
taken care to make all the exercises by which growth is fostered, at
any rate in the days of childhood when growth is most rapid and
vigorous, intrinsically attractive. Had she done otherwise she would
have failed to make due provision for the growth of Man's being
during the years which precede the outgrowth of self-consciousness,
and the possibility of self-discipline, of the narrower and sterner

And not only are the exercises by which healthy and harmonious growth
is secured intrinsically attractive, but also the sense of well-being
which accompanies such growth is an unfailing source of happiness. In
Utopia the end for which the children are working is not an external
reward or prize to be conferred on them if they achieve certain
prescribed results, but rather the actual goal to which the path that
they have entered is taking them,--a goal which is ever lighting the
path with its foreglow, and which is therefore at once an infinitely
distant lodestar and an ever present delight. For the consummation of
any process of growth is always the perfection, the final well-being,
of the thing that grows; and therefore in each successive stage of
the process there is a truer prefigurement of the perfection which
is being gradually achieved, and a fuller sense of that well-being
which, at its highest level, is perfection's other self.

For the Utopian, then, to walk in the path of self-realisation is its
own reward; and to wander from that path is its own punishment. But
as the forces of Nature are all co-operating to keep the child in
the path of self-realisation, and as Egeria has allied herself with
those forces and is working with them in every possible way, the
rewards which the Utopian wins for himself are very many, while the
punishments which he inflicts on himself are very few. In other
words, the pressure on him to exert himself is so strong, his
opportunities for exerting himself (under Egeria's sympathetic rule)
are so many, and the pleasure of exerting himself is found to be so
great, that the temptation to be idle or rebellious can scarcely be
said to exist.

It is indeed in respect of the motives to exertion which they
respectively supply, that the superiority of the Utopian to the
conventional type of education is perhaps most pronounced. I have
said that Egeria allies herself with the expansive forces of Nature.
The teacher of the conventional type has to fight against those
forces. Let us assume that the two teachers are on a level in respect
of their capacity for influencing and stimulating their pupils,
and let us indicate that level by the algebraical symbol _x_. Then
the difference between the motive force which Egeria exerts, and
the motive force which her rival exerts, is the difference between
_x_ + _y_, and _x_ - _y_, _y_ being used to symbolise the aggregate
motive force of the expansive tendencies of the child's inner nature.
Such a difference is incalculable. The scheme of education which is
based on distrust of the child's nature and belief in its intrinsic
sinfulness and stupidity, necessarily arrays against itself the
hidden forces of that maligned and despised nature, and must needs
overcome their resistance before it can hope to achieve its proposed
end. While Egeria is helping Nature to provide suitable channels for
the various expansive tendencies that are at work in the child, and
to guide them all into the central channel of self-realisation, her
rival is engaged in digging a canal (to be filled, when finished,
with dead, stagnant water) which is so designed that not only will no
use be made by it of the life stream of the child's latent energies,
but also costly culverts and other works will have to be constructed
for it in order to divert and send to waste that troublesome

The waste of motive force which goes on under any scheme of education
through mechanical obedience, is indeed enormous. And what is most
lamentable is that the energies of the teacher are being largely
wasted in the effort to neutralise the latent energies of the child.
No wonder that, in order to produce his meagre and illusory,
"results," the teacher should have to resort to motive forces which,
by appealing to the lower side of the child's nature, will enable
him to bear down the resistance, and, in doing so, to impede the
outgrowth of the higher,--to the hope of external rewards and the
threat of external punishments. And no wonder that, owing to the
teacher having to work unceasingly against the grain of the
child's nature, of these two demoralising forces, the fear of
punishment--which, if not the more demoralising, is certainly the
more wasteful of energy--should bulk the more largely in the eyes
of the child.

In fine, then, whereas the conventional type of education is so
wasteful of motive force that it dissipates the greater part of the
teachers' and the scholars' energies in needless friction,--in
Utopia, on the other hand, there is such an economy of motive force
that the very joy which, under its scheme of education, always
accompanies the child's expenditure of energy, and which might be
regarded as merely a waste by-product, becomes in its turn a powerful
incentive to further exertion.

       *       *       *       *       *

"_But is there not too much joy in Utopia? Is not the sky too
cloudless? Is not the atmosphere too clear? Does the Utopian never
act from a sense of duty? Has he never to do anything that is
distasteful to him?_" This objection raises an interesting question.
Is the function of the sense of duty to enable us to do distasteful
things? And if so, are we to regard it as the highest of motives to
moral action? In the days when Kant's idea of the "moral imperative"
was in the ascendant, the belief got abroad that the essence of
virtue was to do what you hated doing. Looking back to my Oxford
days, I recall some doggerel lines, of German origin, in which this
belief finds apt expression. A disciple who is in trouble about his
soul says to his master:

  "Willing serve I my friends, but do it, alas! with affection,
  And so gnaws me my heart, that I'm not virtuous yet."

To this the master replies:

  "Help except this there is none: you must strive with
    might to contemn them,
  And with horror perform then what the law may enjoin."

If this conception of morality is correct, if it is true that the
atmosphere of the virtuous life should be one of horror and even of
hatred, then it must be admitted that the Utopian children are
receiving a seriously defective education. But the "if" is a large
one; and for my part I incline to the belief that love, as a motive
to action, is better than hatred, joy than horror, sunshine than

The day will indeed come when the Utopian--a child no longer--will
have to do things, either for his own sake or in order to discharge
obligations to others, which will be, or will seem to be, against the
grain even of his happy nature; and the sense of duty will then have
to come to his aid. But there is no reason why he, or his teachers,
should anticipate that day. To compel him, while still a child, to
work against the grain of his nature, when there was no real need for
this, would not be the best preparation for the trials that await
him. To compel him to spend the greater part of his school-life in
doing what was distasteful to him, would be the worst possible
preparation for them.

For, to begin with, the sense of duty is not the highest motive to
action. A far higher motive is love. If the sense of duty to God, for
example, had not devotion to God and love of God behind it, the
object of one's worship would be a malignant rather than a beneficent
deity, a devil rather than a God. Or let us take the case of a child
who is dangerously ill, and who needs to be carefully and even
devotedly nursed. By whom will he be the more effectively nursed,--by
his mother who loves him passionately, or by a hired nurse who cannot
be expected to love him but who has a strong sense of duty to her
employers? (I am assuming that as regards professional skill, and
the sense of duty to God, the two women are on a level.) Surely the
mother, sustained by love in the endurance of sleeplessness and
fatigue, and in the exercise of that unceasing vigilance which lets
no symptom escape it, will be the better nurse. Love, as a motive to
moral action, has the immense advantage over the sense of duty of
being able to rob the hour of trial of its gloom, by strengthening
the lover to make light of labour and difficulty till at last the
sense of effort is lost in the sense of joy. But if love is the
highest of all motives, is it not well that the child's life should
as far as possible, and for as long as possible, be kept under its
influence, to the exclusion of other motives. We have seen that the
Utopian child takes many things in his stride which other children
would regard as distasteful. If they are not distasteful to him, the
reason is that he does them, not from a sense of duty, but under the
inspiration of love,--love of life, love of Egeria, love of his
schoolmates, love of his school. And the longer he can remain on the
high plane of love, the better it will be for his after life.

And when the time comes for him to yield himself to the "saving arms"
of duty, he will have had the best of all preparations for that hour
of trial, for he will have been braced and strengthened for it by the
most moralising of all disciplines, that of growth. What is the sense
of duty? We too seldom ask ourselves this question. Is it not a
feeling of obligation, of being in debt, to some person, or persons,
or institution, or society, or even to some invisible Power;--to
a friend, for example, a relative, a dependent, an employer, a
"contracting party," a commanding officer,--or, again, to one's trade
or profession, to one's political party, to one's church, to one's
country,--or, in the last resort, to God? And is not this feeling
accompanied by the secret conviction that until the debt has been
liquidated, to the best of the debtor's ability, justice will not
have been done? The sense of duty is, I think, a derivative sense,
an offshoot from the more primitive sense of justice,--a sense so
primitive that it may almost be said to have made possible our social
life. If this is so, if the sense of duty is resolvable into the
sense of justice, then the training which is given in Utopia--a
training which makes for healthy and harmonious growth, and therefore
(as we have seen) for outgrowth or escape from self--is the best
preparation for a life of duty, that can possibly be given. For under
its influence the sense of justice, which is essentially a social
instinct, knowing no distinction between oneself and one's neighbour,
will be relieved of the hostile pressure of its arch-enemy, the
anti-social instinct of selfishness,[21] and will therefore make
rapid and vigorous growth. The sense of justice is, as might be
expected, strongly developed in the selfless atmosphere of Utopia,
where indeed it has helped, in no small degree, to evolve the
wonderful social life of the school; and, that being so, there is no
fear but what the Utopian will be sustained by the sense of duty when
the time comes for him to work against the grain of his nature. But
however strong may be his sense of duty, he will always have the
great advantage of being seldom called upon to do what he dislikes,
and therefore of being able to keep the fibre of his sense of duty
from being either unduly relaxed or unduly hardened by overwork; for
he has been accustomed from his earliest days to make light of, and
even find a pleasure in, what is usually accounted drudgery, and he
has been accustomed to work, in school and out of school, under the
inspiration of joy and love.

_But is the education given in Utopia useful?_ I wish I knew who was
asking this question, for I cannot hope to answer it to his
satisfaction until I know what is his standard of values. What end
does he set before the teachers of our elementary schools? If he
would tell me this, I might be able to say Yes or No to his question.

At present there seems to be no agreement among educationalists,
professional or amateur, as to what constitutes usefulness in
education. Those who belong to the "upper classes" are apt to assume
that the "lower orders" will have been adequately educated when they
have been taught reading, writing, arithmetic, needlework, and
"religion," subjected to a certain amount of repressive discipline,
and compelled to go to church or chapel. If, after having passed
through this mill, the children of the "lower orders" do not develop
into good men and women and useful citizens, it is not their
education which is to blame, but the inborn sinfulness of their
corrupt and fallen natures. Such an education is regarded by those
who advocate it as pre-eminently _useful_. There is no nonsense about
it, no cant of idealism, no taint of socialism. It keeps the "lower
orders" in their places, and forbids them to dream of rising above
"that state of life unto which it" has pleased "God to call them." As
it is a _reductio ad absurdum_ of the conventional type of education,
my objection to it is that it makes the best possible provision for
securing the end which the conventional type seems to have set
before itself,--in other words, for depressing the vitality of the
child, for starving his faculties, for arresting his growth. As
such, it has not even the merit of being sordidly useful; for
unless stupidity is a better thing than intelligence, slowness than
alertness, helplessness than initiative, lifelessness than vital
activity, the child who has passed through that dreary mill will be
far less effective, even as a day-labourer, than the child whose
school-life has been one of continuous and many-sided growth. It is
strange that the reactionary members of the "upper classes" should be
too short-sighted to discern this obvious truth. But perhaps they
have a secret conviction that by so educating the "lower orders" as
to make them slow and stupid, helpless and lifeless, they will be the
better able to keep them in a state of subservience to and dependence
on themselves.[22] If this is so, there is method in the madness of
the "upper classes"; and their conception of the course that
education ought to take has the merit of being entirely true to their
basely selfish conception of the end that education ought to serve.

I have alluded to this pseudo-utilitarian theory, not because it is
intrinsically worthy of serious attention, but because there is
undoubtedly a strong and influential current of opinion which sets in
its direction. There are other advocates of a "useful" education who
seem to regard the elementary school, not as a training ground for
good men and women, but as a kind of technical institute in which the
children are to be trained for the various callings by which, when
they grow up, they will have to earn their daily bread. This theory
need not be seriously considered, for its inherent absurdity has
caused it to be tacitly abandoned by all whose opinion carries
weight; and the more reasonable theory that the education given in
the elementary school should be as far as possible adapted to the
environment of the school--that it should be given a rural bias, for
example, or a marine bias, or even an urban bias--has begun to take
its place. That it should ever have found advocates is interesting as
showing how easy it is for unenlightened public opinion to
misinterpret the word "useful."[23]

There is a third class of critics, composed for the most part of
members of Local Education Committees, who seem to think that ability
to pass a "leaving" examination is the only valid proof of the
usefulness of elementary education. If these influential critics, who
are showing in various ways that they care more for machinery than
for life, could have their will, they would probably revert to the
"good old days" of cut-and-dried syllabuses, formal examinations of
individual scholars, percentages of passes, and the like. As I have
already taken pains to explain what the _régime_ of the "good old
days" really meant, I need not waste my time in exposing the
fallacies which underlie this conception of "usefulness."

Here, then, are three distinct standards of usefulness in elementary
education. According to the first, education is useful in proportion
as it tends, by repressing the activities and atrophying the
faculties of the scholars, to keep the "lower orders" in their
places, and in so doing to provide the "upper classes" with a
sufficiency of labourers and servants. According to the second, it is
useful in proportion as it is able to prepare the scholars for their
various callings in after life.[24] According to the third, in
proportion as it enables the scholars to pass with credit certain
"leaving" and other examinations of a formal type.

I will now assume that the end of education is to produce, or at any
rate contribute to the production of, good men and women; and that
the education given in elementary schools is useful in exact
proportion as it serves this end. I am not using the word "good" in
its Sunday School sense. Nor does the word suggest to my mind that
blend of stupidity, patience, and submissiveness which sometimes
passes for "goodness" when the "upper classes" are taking thought for
the welfare of the "lower orders." The good man, as I understand the
phrase, is a good son, a good brother, a good husband, a good father,
a good citizen, a good townsman, a good workman, a good servant, a
good master. In fine, he is a good specimen of his kind, well
grown and well developed, efficient on all the planes of his
being,--physical, mental, moral, spiritual. This conception of what
constitutes useful education differs radically from those which I
have just been considering; but I believe that when it has been
adequately expounded, and submitted to the judgment of those whose
opinion is worth having, it will not be seriously gainsaid.

If education is useful in proportion as it tends to produce good men
and women, the education given in Utopia is useful to the highest
degree. For a child cannot become a good man (or woman) except by
_growing_ good; and if he is to grow good, his nature must be allowed
to develop itself freely and harmoniously (for just so far as it is
normal and healthy it is necessarily making for its own perfection),
and the one end and aim of the teacher must be to stimulate and
direct this process of spontaneous growth. This, as we have seen, is
the one end and aim of Egeria; and it is therefore clear that she
is taking effective steps--the most effective that can possibly
be taken--to produce good men and women. We have but to name the
qualities which are characteristic, as we have already seen, of her
pupils and ex-pupils,--activity, versatility, imaginative sympathy,
a large and free outlook, self-forgetfulness, charm of manner, joy
of heart,--in order to convince ourselves that those who have passed
through the Utopian school are on the high road which leads to
"goodness." So obvious is all this, that in defining the word
"useful" I may be said to have decided the question in favour of
Utopia; and what is now in dispute is not whether Utopianism is
"useful," in any sense of the word, but whether my sense of the word
is the right one.

I cannot go much further into this question without exceeding the
limits of the theme which I am handling in this chapter. For in
considering the after life of the Utopian child, I am entering a
region in which the idea of _education_ begins to merge itself in the
larger idea of _salvation_; and though education, as begun in Utopia,
is in its essence a life-long process, I must pay some heed to the
limits which tradition and custom have imposed on the meaning of the

But before I close this chapter I must be allowed to give one
illustration in support of my contention that the education given in
Utopia is useful. Of the many complaints that are brought against the
output of our elementary schools, one of the most serious is that the
boys and girls who have recently left school are voracious readers of
a vicious and demoralising literature which seems to be provided for
their special benefit. The reason why they take so readily to this
garbage is that they have lost their appetite for wholesome food.
They are not interested in healthy literature, in Nature-study, in
music, in art, in handicraft,--in any pursuit which might take them
out of themselves into a larger and freer life; and so they fall
victims to the allurements of a literature which appeals to their
baser, more sensual, and more selfish instincts,--the very instincts
which growth (in the true sense of the word) spontaneously relegates
to a subordinate position and places under effective control. It is
the inertness, the apathy, the low vitality of the average child of
fourteen, which is the cause of his undoing. His taste for false and
meretricious excitement--a taste which may lead him far along the
downward path--is the outcome of his very instinct to live, an
instinct which, though repressed by the influences that have choked
its natural channels, cannot resign itself to extinction, and at
last, in its despairing effort to energise, forces for itself the
artificial outlet of an imaginative interest in vice and crime.

The "young person" who, on leaving school, becomes a voracious
devourer of unwholesome literature, cannot be said to have received
a "useful" education. That vice and crime--whether practised or
imagined--are in the first instance artificial outlets, outlets which
the soul would not use if its expansive instincts were duly fostered,
is proved by the absence of "naughtiness" in the Utopian school,
and the absence of any taste for morbid excitement amongst Utopian
ex-scholars. The unwholesome literature which gives so much concern
to those who are interested in the welfare of the young, is unknown
in Utopia. And in this, as in other matter, the "goodness" of the
children and "young persons" is due, not to any lack of life and
spirit, but to the very abundance of their vitality. Apart from the
fact that vigorous growth, whether in plant or animal or human soul,
is in itself a sure prophylactic against the various evils to which
growing life is exposed, the Utopians are guarded against the danger
of demoralising books and demoralising amusements by their many-sided
interest in life. Their instinct to live, finding natural and
adequate outlets in many directions, has no need to force for itself
the artificial outlet of morbid excitement,--an outlet for imprisoned
energies, which has too often proved an opening to a life of vice and
crime. There is a Shakespeare in every cottage in Utopia; but the
advocates of a repressive and restrictive education for the "lower
orders" need not be alarmed at this, for the Utopians, who have found
the secret of true happiness, are freer than most villagers from
social discontent. Nor are Egeria's ex-pupils less efficient as
labourers or domestic servants because they are interested in good
literature, in Nature-study, in acting, or because they can still
dance the Morris Dances and sing the Folk Songs which they learned in


[20] I am thinking more particularly of some of the Roman
Catholic schools in the Irish quarter of Liverpool, where the
singularly kind and gracious bearing of the teaching "sisters"
towards their poor, ill-fed, and ill-clad pupils is an educative
influence of incalculable value.

[21] The sense of justice, which would give to each his due,
and therefore not more than his due to oneself, seems to hold the
balance between selfishness and love, being as it were, equidistant
from the greed and self-indulgence of the former and the lavishness
and self-devotion of the latter. If this is so, and if the sense of
duty is, as I have suggested, an offshoot from the sense of justice,
one can understand why, on the one hand, the sense of duty should be
needed to hold the self-seeking instincts in check, and why, on the
other hand, it should be an altogether lower and weaker motive than
love, by which indeed, _in its own interest_, it should always be
ready to be superseded.

[22] I was once present when the Utopian children were going
through a programme of Folk Songs and Morris Dances in the village
hall. A lady who was looking on remarked to me: "This is all very
fine; but if this sort of thing goes on, where are we going to find
our servants?" The selfishness of this remark is obvious. What is
less obvious, but more significant, is its purblindness. In point of
fact the Utopian girls make excellent domestic servants, and are well
content to "go into service."

[23] Some two or three years ago it was seriously proposed
that _marine navigation_ should be taught in all the elementary
schools of a certain maritime county!

[24] The parent who wrote to a schoolmaster, "Please do not
teach my boy any more poetry, as he is going to be a grocer," must
have been under the influence of this conception of usefulness.



In Utopia the transition from _education_ to _salvation_, both in
theory and practice, is obvious and direct. The difference between
education and salvation is, indeed, purely nominal: in their essence
the two processes are one. As the education given in Utopia is, in
the main, self-education, there is no reason why it should not be
continued indefinitely after the child has left school; and as its
function is to foster the growth of the child's many-sided nature
(with its vast potentialities), there is every reason why it should
be continued as long as he lives. In other words, the path of
salvation is the path of self-realisation, the most important part of
which is traversed in childhood; and to attain to salvation (which is
in a sense unattainable) is to remain faithful to that path till it
passes beyond our thought.

Outside Utopia there is a widely different conception of the meaning
and purpose of education, and a correspondingly different conception
of the nature of salvation and the means by which it is to be
achieved. The idea of salvation, with the complementary idea of
perdition, may be regarded as the crown and completion of that scheme
of external rewards and punishments which plays so prominent a
part in Western education. Salvation, which is the highest of all
external rewards, just as perdition is the severest of all external
punishments, is not a path to be followed, but a state of happiness
to be won and enjoyed. It follows that the relation between education
and salvation is, in the main, one of analogy, rather than of
identity (as in Utopia), or even of vital connection. Or shall we say
that education is not so much the first act in the drama of salvation
as the first rehearsal of the play?

There are, of course, two conceptions of salvation in the West, just
as there are two worlds to be lived in,--the Supernatural world and
the world of Nature.

In what are called religious circles, to be saved is to have gained
admission to Heaven, and, in doing so, to have escaped the torment
and misery of Hell. There was a time when Hell was taken very
seriously; but the idea of never-ending torment and misery is found,
when steadily faced, to be so intolerable that popular thought, even
in religious circles, is now turning away from it; and so loosely do
men sit, in these "degenerate days," to the old doctrine of eternal
punishment, that "to die" and "to go to heaven" are becoming
interchangeable terms. But if all men are to be admitted to Heaven
(or to its ante-room, Purgatory) at the end of this, their one
earth-life, it is clear that there can be no causal connection
between conduct and salvation. For though there may be degrees of
happiness in Heaven to reward the varying degrees of virtue on
earth, all these are dwarfed to nothing by the unimaginable abyss
of difference which yawns between Heaven and Hell; and the
practical upshot of the current eschatology is that all men--the
self-sacrificing equally with the self-indulgent, the kind and
compassionate equally with the hard-hearted, the spiritually-minded
equally with the worldly, the aspiring equally with the
indifferent--are to reap the same reward. If a man is a notoriously
evil liver, those who have suffered at his hands or been violently
scandalised by his conduct may perhaps find a sombre pleasure in
consigning him to Hell, which, indeed, might otherwise have to put
up its shutters. But though the doors of Heaven may be closed against
a few exceptional scoundrels, they are nowadays thrown open to all
the rest of Mankind; and the maxim, "Live anyhow, and you will be
saved somehow," seems to sum up with tolerable accuracy the popular
attitude towards the twofold problem of duty and destiny.

I do not for a moment suggest that this happy-go-lucky eschatology is
formally countenanced by the Churches and Sects. They would doubtless
repudiate it with indignation; but the fact remains that their
own teaching is largely responsible for it. For not only is the
idea of _natural_ retribution wholly foreign to the genius of
supernaturalism, but also, in the two great schools of Western
theology, there is, and always has been, a strong tendency to
undervalue conduct (in the broad, human sense of the word), and to
make the means of salvation mechanical rather than vital. At any rate
the sacramental teaching of the Catholic Church, and the Calvinistic
doctrine of salvation through faith in the finished work of Christ,
readily lend themselves to such an interpretation.

So ineffective is the current eschatology, in its bearing on
conduct, that the latent energy of Man's nature--his latent desire to
have a central purpose in life--is compelling him to work out for
himself another and a more mundane conception of salvation, to set
before himself as the end of life the winning of certain temporal
prizes, and to keep this end steadily in view from day to day and
from year to year. Such a conception of salvation has always had a
strong attraction for him, though in his more orthodox days he found
it desirable to subordinate it to, or if possible harmonise it with,
the conception which his religion dictated to him; and of late its
attractiveness has been increased by the fact that he is beginning to
throw his eschatology (even in its present emasculated form) to the

So far, I have had in my mind those quarters of Western thought in
which the belief in the reality of the soul and the kindred belief
in immortality still survive. But in point of fact both beliefs
are dying before our eyes,--dying as a dumb protest against the
inadequacy of the popular philosophy, against the intrinsic
incredibility of its premises, against its fundamental misconception
of the meaning of life and the nature and conditions of salvation,
above all against the way in which the beliefs themselves have been
persistently misinterpreted and travestied. And where the beliefs are
dying, the latent externalism and materialism of Western thought and
Western life are able to assert themselves without let or hindrance.
"To be saved," as the phrase is now widely understood, means to get
on in life, to succeed in business or in a profession, to make money,
to rise in the social scale (if necessary, on the shoulders of
others), to force one's way to the front (if necessary, by trampling
down others), to be talked about in the daily papers, to make a
"splash" in some circle or coterie,--in these and in other ways to
achieve some measure of what is called "success."

And in proportion as this mundane conception of salvation tends to
establish itself, so does the drift towards social and political
anarchy, which is now beginning to alarm all the lovers of order and
"progress," tend to widen its range and accelerate its movement. For
though the current idea of achieving salvation through "success" is a
comfortable doctrine for the successful few, it is the reverse of
comfortable for the unsuccessful many, among whom the idea is gaining
ground that as salvation is the reward, not of virtue, but of a
judicious blend of cleverness, unscrupulousness, selfishness, and
greed, there is no reason, in the moral order of things, why it
should not be wrested from those who are enjoying it, either by
organised social warfare or by open violence and crime. And even if
an anarchical outbreak should result in perdition all round instead
of salvation all round, it would at least be some consolation to the
"lost" to feel that they had dragged the "saved" down into their own
bottomless pit. This would not be a lofty sentiment; yet I do not
see who is in a position to condemn it,--not the supporter of the
existing social order, which legalises a general scramble, first for
the "prizes" of life and then for the bare means of subsistence, and
is well content that in that scramble the weak, the ignorant, and
the unfortunate should go to the wall,--not the exponent of the
conventional theology, which has taught men to dream of a Heaven in
which the happiness of the "elect" will be unruffled by the knowledge
that an eternity of misery is the doom of perhaps a majority of their

In the West, then, there are two conceptions of salvation,--a
selfish, worldly conception which is daily becoming more effective,
and a selfish other-worldly conception which is daily becoming more
ineffective, and is therefore less and less able to compete with or
control its rival. Out of the attempts that are made to realise
both these conceptions and to keep them on friendly terms with one
another, there is emerging a state of chaos--political, social,
moral, spiritual,--a weltering chaos of new and old ideals, new and
old theories of life, new and old standards of values, new and old
centres of authority, new and old ambitions and dreams. And in this
chaos there are only two principles of order, the first (which is
also the ultimate cause of all our disorder) being the pathetic fact
that nearly all the actors in the bewildering drama are still seeking
for happiness outside themselves, the second being the fundamental
goodness of man's heart.

I will now go back to Utopia. There a new conception of salvation is
implicit in the new theory of education which has revolutionised the
life of the school. Humble as is the sphere and small as is the scale
of Egeria's labours, her work is, I firmly believe, of world-wide
importance and lasting value, for she has provided an experimental
basis for the idea that salvation is to be achieved by growth, and
growth alone.

I will now try to interpret that idea.

The education of the child in school begins when he is four or five
years old, and lasts till he is thirteen or fourteen. But he enters
the path of salvation the day he is born. He comes into the world a
weak, helpless baby; but, like every other seedling, he has in him
all the potencies of perfection,--the perfection of his kind.
To realise those potencies, so far as they can be realised within
the limits of one earth-life, is to achieve salvation. Are those
potencies worth realising? To this question I can but answer: "Such
as they are, they are our all." We might ask the same question with
regard to an acorn or a grain of wheat; and in each case the answer
would be the same. There are, indeed, plants and animals which are
noxious _from our point of view_. But that is not the view which they
take of themselves. Each of them regards his own potencies in the
light of a sacred trust, and strives with untiring energy to realise
them. If the potencies of our nature are not worth realising we had
better give up the business of living. If they are, we had better
fall into line with other living things.

An unceasing pressure is being put upon us to do so. The perfect
manhood which is present in embryo in the new-born infant, just as
the oak-tree is present in embryo in the acorn, will struggle
unceasingly to evolve itself. With the dawn of self-consciousness, we
shall gradually acquire the power of either co-operating with, or
thwarting, the spontaneous energies that are welling up in us and
making for our growth. In this respect we stand, in some sort, apart
from the rest of living things. But the power to co-operate with
our own spontaneous energies is to the full as natural as are the
energies themselves. To fathom the mystery of self-consciousness is
beyond my power and beside my present purpose; but we may perhaps
regard our power of interfering, for good or ill, with the
spontaneous energies of our nature, as the outcome of a successful
effort which our nature has made both to widen the sphere of its own
life and to accelerate the process of its own growth. But just
because we possess that power, it is essential that we, above all
other living things, should believe in ourselves, should believe in
the intrinsic value of our natural potencies, with a whole-hearted
faith. For if we do not, we shall hinder instead of helping the
forces that are at work in us, and we shall retard instead of
accelerating the process of our growth.

We have seen that education in the West has hitherto been a failure
because, owing to the ascendency of the doctrine of original sin, it
has been based on distrust of human nature; and we have seen that in
Utopia, where Egeria's faith in human nature is so profound that she
has allowed the children to go far towards educating themselves, the
results achieved have gone beyond my wildest dream of what was
practicable, at any rate within the limits of the school life of
village children. What is true of education is true _a fortiori_ of
salvation. If it is impossible to construct a satisfactory scheme of
education on the basis of distrust of human nature, it is even more
impossible (if there are degrees in impossibility) to construct on
the same basis a satisfactory scheme of salvation. I have already
contended that if education is to be reformed, the doctrine of
original sin must go; and I now contend that if our philosophy of
life is to be reformed, we must abandon, not that doctrine only, but
the whole dualistic philosophy which centres in the opposition of
Nature to the Supernatural. For trust in human nature--the
microcosm--is impossible, so long as Nature--the macrocosm--is liable
to be disparaged and discredited (in our minds) by the visionary
splendours of the Supernatural world; and to devise a harmonious
scheme of life is impossible so long as an inharmonious conception
of the Universe dominates our thought,--a conception so inharmonious
that it divides the Universe, the All of Being, into two hostile
camps, and in doing so introduces the "war of the worlds" into each
individual life.

When a fruit-grower plants a fruit-tree, he does three things for it.
By choosing an appropriate soil and aspect, he brings adequate
supplies of _nourishment_ within reach of it. By manuring it at the
right season, he both adds to its store of nourishment and gives
it the _stimulus_ which will help it to absorb and assimilate the
nourishment that is immediately available for its use. And, by
pruning and training it judiciously, he gives it the _guidance_ which
will enable it to develop itself to the best advantage from the
fruit-bearing point of view (fruit-bearing being the end which he
sets it). He does these three things for it, but he does no more than
these. He realises that in all these operations he is only taking
advantage of the innate powers and tendencies of the tree, and
enabling these to deploy themselves under as favourable conditions
as possible; and he is therefore well content to leave the rest to
the tree itself, feeling sure that its own spontaneous effort to
achieve perfection will do all that is needed. His trust in the
ability and willingness of the tree to work out its salvation is

These are the lines on which the farmer and the fruit-grower conduct
their business,--lines, the neglect of which would involve them in
early disaster and in ultimate ruin. And these are the lines on which
human nature ought to be trained, in school and out of school, from
the day of birth to the day of death. But they are lines on which it
will never be trained so long as the doctrine of the depravity of
Nature in general and human nature in particular controls our
philosophy of life.

The doctrine of natural depravity, or original sin, is the outcome of
Man's attempt to explain to himself the glaring fact of his own
imperfection. The doctrine grew up in an age when men were ignorant
of the fundamental laws of Nature, and among a people who, though
otherwise richly gifted, had no turn for sustained thought. So long
as men were ignorant of Nature's master law of evolution, it was but
natural that they should account for their own imperfection by
looking back to a Golden Age,--a state of innocence and bliss from
which they had somehow fallen, and to which they could not, by any
effort or process of their corrupted nature, hope to return. While
this idea--half myth and half doctrine--was growing up in the mind
of Israel, the counter idea of the evolution or growth of the soul,
of its ascent from "weak beginnings" towards a state of spiritual
perfection, was growing up among the thinkers of India, and the
derivative doctrine of salvation through the natural process of
soul-growth was being gradually elaborated. But though the philosophy
of India produced some impression on the conscious thought, and a
far deeper impression on the subconscious thought, of the West, its
master idea of spiritual evolution--_through a long sequence of
lives_--was wholly foreign to the genius of Christendom, which had
borrowed its _ideas_ from the commonplace philosophy of Israel; and
it was not till the nineteenth century of our era that the idea of
evolution began to make its way, from the quarter of physical
science, into Western thought.

The doctrine of original sin must once have had a meaning and a
purpose. For one thing, it must have been generated by a sudden rise
in Man's moral standard; and as such it must have had a salutary
influence on his conduct and inward life. But it is now outstaying
its welcome. The Biblical story of the Fall, in virtue of which it
was once authoritatively taught, is ceasing to be regarded as serious
history; and the doctrine must therefore either justify itself to
critical thought or resign itself to rejection as inadequate and
unsound. But there is only one line of defence which its supporters
can take. As the doctrine was the outcome of Man's premature attempt
to explain the fact of his own imperfection, if it is to survive in
the world of ideas it must be able to show, first and foremost, that
the fact in question cannot be accounted for on other grounds. Will
it be able to do this, at a time when the idea of evolution is
beginning to impregnate our mental atmosphere, and in doing so is
making us realise that we are near of kin to all other living things,
and that our lives, like theirs, are dominated by the master-law of

That there is much moral evil in the world is undeniable. Are we
therefore to predicate original depravity of man's heart and soul?
But there is also much physical evil in the world,--pain, weakness,
disease, decay, and death. Are we therefore to predicate original
depravity of man's body? And this physical evil, this liability to
disease, is not confined to man, but also affects all other living
things. Are we therefore to predicate original depravity of a
new-born lamb, of a new-laid egg, of an acorn, of a grain of wheat?

Let us consider certain typical forms of moral evil, and see if we
can account for them, without having recourse to the hypothesis of
original sin. The vicious propensities which manifest themselves in
children and "young persons" may be divided into two main classes,
_apparent_ and _actual_.[25] Of the former class the chief cause is,
in a word, _immaturity_. Of the latter, _environment_.

Analogies drawn from plant life may help us to understand how these
causes operate.

_Immaturity._ If an Englishman who had never before tasted an apple
were to eat one in July, he would probably come to the conclusion
that it was a hard, sour, indigestible fruit, "conceived in sin and
shapen in iniquity," and fit only to be consigned to perdition (on a
dustheap, or elsewhere). But if the same man were to wait till
October and then eat an apple from the same tree, he would form a
wholly different conception of its value. He would find that the
sourness had ripened into wholesome and refreshing acidity; the
hardness into that firmness of fibre which, besides being pleasant to
the palate, makes the apple "keep" better than any other fruit; the
indigestibility into certain valuable dietetic qualities; and so on.
It is the same with the growing child. _Most of his vices are virtues
in the making_. During the first year or so of his life he is a
monster of selfishness; and selfishness is the most comprehensive and
far-reaching of all vicious tendencies. Does this mean that he has
been conceived in sin? Not in the least. It means that he is making a
whole-hearted effort to guard and unfold the potencies of life--in
the first instance, of physical life--which have been entrusted to
him. It means that he has entered the path of self-realisation, and
that if he will be as faithful to that path during the rest of his
life as he has been during those early months of uncompromising
selfishness, he will be able at last to scale the loftiest heights of
self-forgetfulness and self-sacrifice.

_Environment._ The influences which environment exerts seem to fall
under three heads--

(1) General influences of a more or less permanent character, such as
home, neighbourhood, social grade, etc.

(2) General influences of a more or less variable character, such as
education, employment, friendship, etc.

 (3) Particular influences, such as companionship (good or bad),
literature (wholesome or pernicious), places of amusement (elevating
or debasing), special opportunities for self-sacrifice or
self-indulgence, etc.

Corresponding to these in plant-life we have--

  (1) Soil, situation, and climate:
  (2) Cultivation and weather:
  (3) The various insects and micro-organisms which are ready to
  assail or protect growing life.

(1) If two acorns from the same tree were sown, the one in a deep
clay soil and a favourable situation, the other in a light sandy soil
and an unfavourable situation, the former would in time develop into
a large and shapely, the latter into a puny and misshapen oak-tree.
It would be the same, _mutatis mutandis_, with two human beings who
were exposed from their earliest days to widely different permanent

(2) If wheat of a certain strain were sown on the same day in two
adjoining fields, one of which was well farmed and the other badly
farmed, the resulting crops would differ widely in yield and value.
It would be the same with two human beings, one of whom (to take a
pertinent example) attended a school of Utopian tendencies, and the
other a school of a more conventional type. Of all moralising (or
demoralising) influences education is by far the most important,
owing to the fact that it can do more, and is in a position to do
more, than any other influence either to foster or to hinder growth.

The influence of weather on plant-life is, of course, enormous. In
one year the fruit-crop in a given neighbourhood is a failure: in
another year it gluts the market. One explanation of this fact,
which has its exact analogies in human life, will be given in the
next paragraph.

(3) All forms of life are exposed to the attacks of enemies of
various kinds. Whether they shall beat off those attacks or succumb
to them depends in large measure on the nature of the growth that
they are making; and this again depends, largely if not wholly, on
the nature of the general influences to which they have been exposed.
For many years I lived in a district in which hops were grown on a
large scale; and I naturally took an interest in the staple industry
of my adopted county. I noticed that whenever (during the summer
months) there came a spell of cold winds from the north-east--winds
which tend to arrest plant-growth--the hop-bines were at once
assailed by blight and other pests, and the safety of the growing
crop was imperilled. And I noticed further that when the wind got
round to the south-west, and warm showers began to stimulate the
growth of the flagging plants, the pests that had assailed them
disappeared as if by magic, and the anxieties of the growers were
relieved. As it is with plants, so it is with human beings. They too
have their enemies,--temptations of various kinds and other evil
influences that "war against the soul." And they too will be able to
beat off their assailants just so far as their own growth is vigorous
and healthy; and will succumb to their attacks, to their own serious
detriment, just so far as their own growth is feeble and sickly.

The bearing of this fact on the problem of the origin of moral evil
is obvious. That the evils which assail the organism, be it a plant
or a human being, are not inherent in its nature, is proved by the
fact that when the growth of the organism is normal and unimpeded,
the assailants are always beaten off. As it is the growth of the
organism--the development of its own nature--which enables it to
resist the evils that threaten it, we must assume that its nature is
good. Indeed the evils that threaten it are called evils for no other
reason than that they imperil its well-being; and it follows that in
calling them evils we imply that the organism is intrinsically good.

When we have eliminated from human nature the vicious tendencies
which are due either to immaturity or to the numberless influences
that come under the general head of environment, we shall find that a
very small percentage remain to be accounted for. We need not have
recourse to the doctrine of original sin in order to account for
these. So far I have said nothing about heredity, partly because its
influence on the moral development of the individual is, I think,
very small compared with that of environment, and partly because it
is impossible to consider the extent and character of its influence,
without going deeply into certain large and complicated problems. For
example, it would be impossible for me to say much about the current,
though gradually waning, belief in the force of heredity, without
saying something about its Far Eastern equivalent, the belief in
re-incarnation,--in other words, without asking whether a man
inherits from his parents and other ancestors, or from his former
selves. That different persona are born with widely different moral
tendencies and propensities, is as certain as that some strains of
wheat are hardier and more productive than others. And it is
possible, and even probable, that there are exceptional cases of
moral evil which point to congenital depravity, and cannot otherwise
be accounted for. But in these admissions I am making no concession
to the believer in original sin; for he regards human nature as such
as congenitally depraved, and therefore can take no cognisance of
exceptional cases of congenital depravity, cases which by breaking
the rule that the new-born child is morally and spiritually healthy,
may be said to prove it.

In fine, then, all moral evil can be accounted for on grounds which
are quite compatible with the assumption that the normal child is
healthy, on all the planes of his being, at the moment of his birth.
That he carries with him into the world the capacity for being
affected by adverse influences of various kinds, is undeniable; but
so does every other living thing; and if congenital depravity is to
be predicated of him for that reason, it must also be predicated of
every new-born animal and plant.

But the final proof that Man is by nature a child of God, is one
which has already been hinted at, and will presently be further
developed,--namely, that growth--the healthy, vigorous growth of the
whole human being, the harmonious development of his whole nature--is
in its essence a movement towards moral and spiritual perfection. And
the final proof that the doctrine of Man's congenital depravity is
false is the practical one that the doctrine is ever tending to
fulfil its own gloomy predictions, and to justify its own low
estimate of human nature,--in other words, that by making education
repressive and devitalising, by introducing externalism, with its
endless train of attendant evils, into Man's daily life, and by
making him disbelieve in and even despair of himself, it has done
more perhaps than all other influences added together to deprave his
heart and to wreck his life.

To one who has convinced himself that human nature is fundamentally
good, in the sense that the new-born child is as a rule sound and
healthy on all the planes of his being, it must be clear that the
path of soul-growth or self-realisation is the only way of salvation.
What salvation means, what the path of self-realisation will do for
him who enters it, is a theme to which I could not hope to do justice
within the limits of this work. I will therefore content myself
with indicating certain typical aspects of the process which I
have called self-realisation, and saying something about each of
these. Four aspects suggest themselves to me as worthy of special
consideration,--the _mental_, the _moral_, the _social_, and the

_The Mental Aspect of Self-realisation._

There are two features of the process of self-realisation, on the
importance of which I cannot insist too often or too strongly. The
first is that the growth which the life of self-realisation fosters
is, in its essence, harmonious and many-sided. The second is that
the life of self-realisation is, from first to last, a life of
self-expression, and that self-expression and perception are the face
and obverse of the same mental effort.

If the life of self-realisation did not provide for the growth of the
self in its totality, the self as a living whole, it would not be
worthy of its name. One-sided growth, inharmonious growth, growth in
which some faculties are hypertrophied and others atrophied, is not
self-realisation. When trees are planted close together, as in the
beech-forests of the Continent, they climb to great heights in their
struggle for air and light, but they make no lateral growth. When
trees are pollarded, they make abundant lateral growth, but they
cease to climb upward. When trees are exposed to the prevailing winds
of an open sea-coast, they are blown over away from the sea, and make
all their growth, such as it is, on the landward side. When trees
are on the border of a thick plantation, they make all their growth
towards the open air, and are bare and leafless on the opposite side.
In each of these cases the growth made is inharmonious and one-sided:
the balance between the two intersecting planes of growth, or between
the two opposite sides, has been lost. But when a tree is planted in
the open, and when all the other conditions of growth are favourable,
it grows harmoniously in all directions,--upward, outward, and all
around. In other words, it is growing as a whole, growing, as it
ought to grow, through every fibre of its being, and yet maintaining
a perfect symmetry of form and the harmony of true proportion among
its various parts.

This is the kind of growth which the soul makes in the life of
self-realisation; and if it falls appreciably short of this standard,
if it develops itself on this side or that, to the neglect of all
other sides, then we must say of it that, though it is realising this
or that faculty or group of faculties, it is not realising itself. I
have spoken of the six great expansive instincts which indicate the
main lines of the child's natural growth, and I have shown that in
Utopia the cultivation of all those instincts is duly provided for.
In the life of self-realisation the soul would continue to grow on
the lines which those instincts had marked out for it. I do not mean
that when the child goes out into the work-a-day world, he must give
to all six instincts the systematic training which they received, or
ought to have received, in school. The exigencies of the daily round
of life are such as to make that impossible, in all but the most
exceptional cases. But that is all the more reason why the expansive
instincts should be carefully and skilfully trained in school. For
where they are so trained, an impetus is given to each of them which
will keep it alive and active long after the direct influence of
the school has ceased, and will enable it to absorb and assimilate
whatever nutriment may come in its way. If the Utopian training
cannot be followed up, in its entirety, in the child's after-life, it
can at least initiate a movement which need never be arrested,--a
movement in the direction of the triune goal of Man's being, the goal
towards which his expansive instincts are ever tending to take him,
the goal of Love, Beauty, and Truth.

The life of many-sided growth is also a life of self-expression. This
means that the self-expression, like the growth which it fosters, is
many-sided; and this again means that the perceptive faculties, which
unfold themselves through the medium of self-expression, are not so
much separate faculties as a general capacity for getting on terms
with one's environment and gaining an insight into its laws and
properties. In a school which lays itself out to teach one or two
subjects thoroughly, to the neglect of others, a sense, or special
perceptive faculty, will gradually be evolved by the study of each
subject, provided, of course, that the path of self-expression is
followed,--a literary sense, a historical sense, a mathematical
sense, and so on. But while these special senses are being developed,
the remaining perceptive faculties are being starved, and no attempt
is being made to cultivate that general capacity of which I have just
spoken. The consequent loss to the child, both in his school-life and
in his after-life, is very great. For not only is his mental growth
one-sided and inharmonious, but even in the subjects in which he
specialises he will lose appreciably, owing to his special perceptive
faculties not having as their background any general capacity for
seeing things as they are.

I will try to explain what I mean. In what is known as "Society"
there is a valuable quality called "tact," in virtue of which the
man or woman who is endowed with it always says and does "the right
thing." This quality is compounded partly of sympathetic insight
into the feelings, actual and possible, of others, and partly of
a keen and subtle sense for all the _nuances_ of social propriety.
Like every other perceptive faculty, it is the outcome of
self-expression,--of years of self-expression on the plane of social
intercourse. That general perceptive faculty, or perceptive capacity,
which is the outcome of years of self-expression on many sides of
one's being, has so much in common with the _tact_ of the man of
society, that the epithet _tactful_ may perhaps be applied to it. The
larger, like the lesser, faculty is compounded, partly of sympathetic
insight into latent possibilities, and partly of a delicate sense for
_nuances_ of all kinds. But even this formula does less than justice
to its complex nature. Generated as it is by a life of many-sided
self-expression, it reflects its origin in its internal constitution.
Many elements of thought and feeling have woven themselves into it;
and it is ready to take a colour from each new environment or even
from each new situation. It can become emotional, for example, when
the matter in hand appeals, in any sort or degree, to the emotions;
and there are occasions when its latent sense of humour becomes an
invaluable antidote to that over-seriousness which so often leads men
astray. Above all, it is in its essence, imaginative, for it is ever
learning to picture things to itself as they are or as they might be;
and the higher the level and the wider the sphere of its activity,
the more boldly imaginative it becomes. A faculty so subtle and so
sympathetic must needs play a vitally important _rôle_, not only when
its possessor is studying "subjects" or handling concrete problems,
but also, and more especially, when he is dealing with the "affairs
of life"; and we can understand that when it is wholly or largely
lacking, each of the special faculties which specialising is supposed
to foster will suffer from not being tempered and yet vitalised by
its all-penetrating influence.

That we may the better understand this, and the better understand
what the path of self-realisation does for the mental development
of him who walks in it, let us ask ourselves what type of mind the
conventional type of education is likely to produce. And let us study
the conventional type of education on what is supposed to be its
highest level. Let us consider the education given to the sons of
the "upper classes." And let us take this highest level at its own
highest level. Let us take the case of those who go through that
tri-partite course of education which begins in a high-class
"Preparatory School," is continued in one of the "Great Public
Schools," and is completed at Oxford or Cambridge. A boy enters
a Preparatory School at the age of eight or nine, and is there
prepared, in general for entrance into one of the Great Public
Schools, and in particular for one of the competitive examinations on
the results of which the entrance scholarships of the Great Public
Schools are awarded. He enters one of the Great Public Schools at
the age of thirteen or fourteen, and is there prepared, in general
for admission to Oxford or Cambridge, and in particular for the
scholarship examinations of the various Oxford and Cambridge
Colleges. He enters Oxford or Cambridge at the age of eighteen
or nineteen, and is there prepared, directly for his degree
examination--"Pass" or "Honours" as the case may be--and indirectly
for the public examination which admits to the Indian and Colonial,
and the higher grades of the Home, Civil Service. This course of
education lasts about fourteen years, and costs from £1,500 to

What will it do for the boy who goes through it? The education given
in the Preparatory School is completely dominated by the scholarship
and entrance examinations at the Great Public Schools. The lines on
which those examinations are conducted are the lines on which the
Preparatory Schoolmaster must educate his pupils. He has no choice in
the matter. The title "Preparatory" seals his doom. His business is,
not to give his pupils the education that is best suited to their
capacities and their years, but to prepare them for admission to a
more advanced school. The more scholarships he can win at Eton,
Harrow, Winchester, Rugby, and the rest, the higher will be the
repute of his school; and as the competition between school and
school is fierce and unintermittent, he cannot afford to throw away a
single chance. In other words, he cannot afford to make a single
serious experiment. The education given in the Great Public Schools
is similarly dominated by the scholarship and entrance examinations
held by the Oxford and Cambridge Colleges. The lines on which those
examinations are conducted are in the main the lines on which the
boys must be educated. It is possible that the Great Public Schools
are freer to go their own ways than are the Preparatory Schools; but
if they are, they make but little use of their freedom.

So far as the rank and file of the boys are concerned, it may be
doubted if the word "educative" is applicable, in any sense or
degree, to the daily round of their work. Of the six great expansive
instincts which are struggling to evolve themselves in every healthy
child, not one can be said to find a congenial soil or a stimulating
atmosphere in the ordinary classroom either of the Preparatory or of
the Public School. Four of the six--the _dramatic_, the _artistic_,
the _musical_, and the _constructive_--are entirely or almost
entirely neglected. Music and Handwork[27] are "extras" (a fatally
significant word); the teaching of Drawing is, as a rule, quite
perfunctory; and Acting is not a recognised part of the school
curriculum. The truth is that marks are not given for these
"subjects"--for in the eyes of the schoolmaster they are all
"subjects"--in any entrance or scholarship examination, and that
therefore it does not _pay_ to teach them. There remain two
instincts,--the _communicative_ and the _inquisitive_. The study of
the "Humanities"--History and Literature, ancient and modern--ought
to train the former; and the study of Science ought to train the
latter. But in the case of the average boy, the study of the
Humanities resolves itself, in the main, into a prolonged and
unsuccessful tussle with the difficulties of the Greek and Latin
languages, the mastering of which is regarded as an end in itself
instead of as the gateway to the wonder-worlds of ancient life and
thought; and the study of Science is, as a rule, a pure farce.[28]
Not one, then, of the expansive instincts of the average boy receives
any training during the nine or ten years of his school life; and as,
in his struggle for the "Pass" degree of his University, he will
follow the lines on which he has been accustomed to work in both his
schools, he will go out into the world at the age of twenty-two or
twenty-three, the victim of a course of education which has lasted
for fourteen years and cost thousands of pounds, and which has done
nothing whatever to foster his mental or spiritual growth. It is true
that in all the Public Schools a certain amount of informal education
is done through the medium of Musical Societies, Natural History
Societies, Debating Societies, School Magazines, and the like; that
the discipline of a Public School, with its system of School and
House prefects, has considerable educational value; that the playing
fields do something towards the formation of character; that the
boys, by exchanging experiences and discussing things freely among
themselves, help to educate one another; and that during the four
months of each year which the schoolboy spends away from school, he
is, or may be, exposed to educative influences of various kinds.[29]
But the broad fact remains that the _studies_ of the youthful
graduate, whether in school classroom or college lecture-room, have
been wholly unformative and therefore wholly uneducative.

But let us consider the education given in our Public Schools and
Universities, at what is presumably the highest of all its levels.
Let us see what is done for the boys who have sufficient ability to
win Scholarships and read for Honours at Oxford and Cambridge. It is
to the supposed interests of these brighter boys that the vital
interests of their duller schoolfellows are perforce sacrificed. Are
the results worth the sacrifice? The brighter boys fall into two main
groups,--those who have a turn for the "Humanities," and those who
have a turn for Mathematics and Science. Where the "Humanities" are
effectively taught,--where, for example, the scholar is allowed to
pass through the portals of Latin and Greek grammar and composition
into the wonder-world that lies beyond them,--the _communicative_
instinct receives a valuable training. It is, unfortunately, quite
possible for a boy, or even for a man, to be what is called a "good
scholar," and yet to take no interest whatever in the history or
literature of Greece and Rome; and the examination system undoubtedly
tends to foster this bastard type of humanism. But when, as a result
of his school and University training, a scholar has passed the
linguistic portals and found pleasure in the worlds beyond, we may
say of him that his education has fostered the growth of one of his
expansive instincts,--perhaps the most important of all, but still
only one. When Science is effectively taught, the growth of the
_inquisitive_ instinct is similarly fostered; but the inquisitive
instinct, though of great value, when trained in conjunction with
other instincts, has but little value as a "formative" when trained
by itself. From this point of view it compares unfavourably with the
communicative instinct, being as much less formative than the latter,
as the mysteries of the material world are less significant and less
able to inspire and vitalise their interpreter than the mysteries of
human life; and a purely (or mainly) scientific training is therefore
worth far less as an instrument of education than a purely (or
mainly) humanistic training.

But why should the boys at our Great Public Schools and the young
men at our Universities have to choose between a scientific and a
humanistic training? Why should these ancient and famous institutions
be content to train one only of the six expansive instincts instead
of at least _two_? Here, as elsewhere, the scholarship system blocks
the way. Some scholarships are given for Classics, others for
History, others for Mathematics, others for Natural Science. Not
a single scholarship is given, at either University, for general
capacity, as measured by the results of a many-sided examination.
Why should this be? The answer is that under any system of formal
examination many-sidedness in education necessarily means
_smattering_; and that against smattering the Universities have, very
properly, set their faces. But, after all, there is no necessary
connection between many-sidedness and smattering. In Utopia, where
the concentric rings of growth are formed by the gradual evolution of
an inner life, whatever feeds that inner life is a contribution,
however humble, to the growth of the whole tree; and many-sidedness,
far from being a defect, is one of the first conditions of success
in education. But in the Great Public Schools, where veneers of
information are being assiduously laid on the surface of the boy's
mind with a view to his passing some impending examination, the
greater the number and variety of such veneers, the more certain they
all are to split and waste and perish. Indeed the real reason why
specialising has to be resorted to in the case of the brighter boys,
is that in no other way can provision be made for the fatal process
of veneering being dispensed with, and for faculty being evolved by
growth from within.

But a heavy price has to be paid for the growth of these specialised
faculties. If Science is to be seriously studied the student must
give the whole of his time to it. This means that he must give up the
idea of educating himself. It is only by turning his back on history,
on literature, on philosophy, on music, on art, that he can hope to
meet the exacting and ever-growing demands which Science makes on
those who desire to be initiated into its mysteries. To say that when
he has "taken his degree" he is only half-educated, is greatly to
over-estimate the formative influence of his highly specialised
training. A sense has undoubtedly been developed in him, an instinct
has been awakened, one or two of his mental faculties have been
vigorously cultivated; but his training has been the reverse of
humanising; and as his studies and his consequent attitude towards
Nature have been essentially _analytical_, he may, in the absence of
those correctives which his compulsory specialising has withheld from
him, have learned to regard the dead side of things as the real
side,--a conception which, if it mastered him, would materialise his
whole outlook on life.

The case of the "humanist" is different. The subjects which he
studies appeal to many sides of his being; and if he could respond
to their appeal, they might do much for his mental and spiritual
development. That he should be able to respond to their appeal is of
vital importance. When he has become a decent "scholar," a chance
is given to him, which if he neglects he will probably lose for
ever,--the chance of making good, in part at least, the deficiencies
of his early education. Had he lived in Utopia, his life of
many-sided self-expression would have given a general training to his
perceptive faculties, in which the twin faculties of imagination and
sympathy would have had their share. But neither in his Preparatory
School nor in the lower classes of his Public School has any serious
attempt been made during school hours to ripen either of those mighty
faculties, whereas much has been done in both schools to retard their
growth. He is doomed, then, to begin his study of the history and
literature of the Ancient World with a considerable knowledge of
the Latin and Greek languages, but (in too many cases) with an
unimaginative mind and an unsympathetic heart. There is, however,
much in that history and that literature,--not to speak of
the history and the literature of his own and other modern
countries,--which, if it could but have its way, would appeal
strongly to his imagination and his sympathy, dormant and undeveloped
as these faculties are,--appeal to them so strongly as to awaken them
at last from their slumber and quicken them into active life. But
alas! the shadow of an impending examination is always falling on his
humanistic studies, nullifying the appeal that they make to him, and
compelling him to look at them from a sordidly utilitarian point of
view. For to give marks for the response that he might make to their
appeal, or even to set questions which would afford free scope for
the play of his imagination or the flow of his sympathy, is beyond
the power of any examiner. There are two things, and two only, which
"pay" on the examination day,--the possession of information and the
power to make use of it; and the humanist who would win prizes at his
school or gain high honours at his University, must therefore regard
the memorable doings and the imperishable sayings of his fellow-men,
not as things to be imagined and felt, admired and loved, wondered at
and pondered over, but as things to be pigeon-holed in his memory, to
be taken out and arranged under headings, to be dissected and
commented on and criticised.[30]

Of the part that memory plays in the education of our humanist, I
need not speak. An undue burden is probably laid upon it; but that is
a matter of minor importance. What is of supreme importance is that
in cultivating his critical faculty with an almost intensive culture,
while they starve, or at any rate leave untended, his more vital and
more emancipative faculties of imagination and sympathy, our Great
Public Schools and Universities are doing him a serious and lasting
injury. Let us take the case of a young man of energy and ability who
has just left Oxford or Cambridge, having won high honours in one of
the humanistic "schools." Let us assume that, like so many of his
kind, he has a keenly critical mind, but is deficient in imagination
and sympathy; and let us then try to forecast his future. That the
faith of his childhood, undermined by his criticism, has already
fallen to pieces or will shortly do so, is more than probable. That
he will be too unimaginative to attempt to construct a new faith out
of the ruins of the old, is practically certain. His lack of faith,
in the broader sense of the word, will incapacitate him for high
seriousness (which he will regard as "bad form"), and _a fortiori_
for enthusiasm (which he will shun like the plague), and will
therefore predispose him to frivolity. Being fully persuaded, owing
to his lack of imaginative sympathy, that his own outlook on life is
alone compatible with mental sanity, and yet being too clear-sighted
to accept that outlook as satisfactory, he will mingle with his
frivolity a strain of bitterness and discontent,--the bitterness of
self-corroding scepticism, and the discontent which grows apace
through its very effort to ignore its own existence. In a word, his
attitude towards life will be one of _cynicism_,--that blend of
hardness and bitterness with frivolity which exactly inverts the
ideal of the modern poet, when he dreams of an age in the far-off

  Which without hardness will be sage,
  And gay without frivolity.[31]

And the bitterness of his cynicism will be made bitterer still by
the fact that, owing to his being (in all probability) unmusical,
inartistic, and unable to amuse himself with any form of handwork, he
will have no taste or hobby to distract him from himself. For a time,
indeed, the "genial sense of youth" will keep his sinister tendencies
in check; and in the middle period of life, his struggle to achieve
"success"--for of course he will be an externalist to the core--will
tend to keep them in the background. But in his later years, when he
will have either failed to achieve "success" or discovered--too
late--that it was not worth achieving, his cynicism will assert
itself without let or hindrance, and, with his growing incapacity for
frivolity, will become harder and bitterer, till at last the dark
shadow of incurable pessimism will fall on him and involve his
declining years in ever deepening gloom. I do not say that many of
our University humanists will conform to this type; but I do say that
the type is easily recognisable and is becoming increasingly

Even the intellectual development of our humanist, who is nothing if
not intellectual, will be adversely affected by the one-sidedness of
his education. Well-informed and acutely critical he will probably
be; but he will lack the saving grace of that "tactful" faculty which
years of many-sided self-expression can alone evolve,--a faculty
which (as we have seen) is subtly adaptive when it deals with small
matters, boldly imaginative when it deals with great matters, and
delicately sympathetic along the whole range of its activity.
This sinuous and penetrative sense is to the more logically
critical faculty what equity is to law; and in its absence the
intellectuality of our young "intellectual" will be as incomplete as
would be the legal system of a country which knew nothing of equity
and tried to bring all legal problems under the direct control of
positive law. For it will be his business, as he goes through life,
to deal in and with words and phrases; and as words and phrases are
ever tending to change their force, and even their meaning, under our
hands, and as his use and treatment of them will be logical and
"legal" rather than tactful and "equitable," he will again and again
misinterpret and misuse them, and will so do badly the very thing
which he is expected to do well. The man who, though endowed with an
acute and vigorous intellect, can neither think imaginatively nor
reason tactfully, has grave intellectual defects; and the blinder he
is to the existence of these defects the more pronounced will they

The pity of it is that when these unimaginative "intellectuals" go
out into the world, they will fill posts in which they will have
unrivalled opportunities for establishing and disseminating their
unwholesome influence. A section of them will go into the teaching
profession, the higher grades of which are almost entirely recruited
from Oxford and Cambridge. Another section will go into the legal
profession, and through it will enter Parliament in considerable
numbers, where, being trained advocates, they will exercise an
influence out of all proportion to their numerical strength. And a
third section will man the higher grades of the Home, Colonial, and
Indian Civil Services. Teachers, legislators, administrators,--if
there are any walks in life in which cynicism and a capacity for
merely destructive criticism are out of place, and in which
imagination and sympathy are imperatively demanded, they are these
three; and it is nothing short of a national calamity that these
great and commanding professions should be manned, in part at least,
by men whose mission in life is to paralyse rather than to vitalise,
to fetter rather than to set free.

The further pity of it is that the training of these "intellectuals"
might easily have taken an entirely different course. Much of the
specialising which goes on in our Great Public Schools and
Universities, and which is so destructive of mental and spiritual
vitality, is wholly unnecessary. The course of education which the
sons of the "upper classes" go through has this in common with
elementary education, that in neither case need "utilitarian"
considerations weigh with the teachers. The parents of a large
proportion of our Public School boys can afford to give their sons a
_liberal_ education (in the truest and fullest sense of the word) up
to the age of twenty-two or twenty-three; and in the case of these
boys, at any rate, the excessive specialisation which makes their
education so illiberal is done, not in response to the demands
of professions (such as the medical or the engineering) which
necessitate early specialising, but solely in response to the demands
of an examination system which we adopted before we had begun to ask
ourselves what education meant, and which, partly from the force of
habit and partly because it is in keeping with our general attitude
towards life, we still bow down before with a devotion as ardent and
as irrational as that which inspired the cry of "Great is Diana of
the Ephesians."[32]

At its best, then, the education given by the Great Public Schools
and Universities fosters the growth of one of the expansive
instincts,--the _communicative_, a mighty instinct which opens up to
imagination and sympathy the whole wide world of human life; but
because it leaves all the other expansive instincts untended, it
gives that one instinct an inadequate and unsymmetrical training, a
training which checks the growth of the very faculties--imagination
and sympathy--of which the instinct is largely compounded and for the
sake of which it may almost be said to exist. At its second best,
this costly education fosters the growth of the _inquisitive_
instinct,--a grandly expansive instinct when trained in conjunction
with the others, but one which is constrictive rather than expansive
when trained by itself and for its own sake. At its ordinary level,
it trains no instinct whatever, and is therefore unworthy of the name
of education. Why should this be so? Why should a course of education
which lasts so long and costs so much do so little for its victims,
and do that little so badly or, at any rate, so inadequately? Because
from first to last it has looked outward instead of inward; because
it has laboured unceasingly to produce "results," and has never given
a thought to growth.[33]

 Let us now go to the other end of the social scale. What the path of
self-realisation might do for the children of the "upper classes" if
they were allowed to follow it, we may roughly calculate, partly by
measuring what the alternative scheme of education has failed to do
for them, partly by reminding ourselves of what the path has done for
the village children of Utopia. The children of the "upper classes"
have such an advantage over the children of Utopia in the matter of
environment,--to say nothing of inherited capacity,--that one would
expect the path to do much more for their mental development than
it has done for the mental development of the Utopians, especially
as they could afford to remain much longer in the first and most
important of its stages, the stage of self-education (in the more
limited sense of the word). The gain to the whole nation if the
mental development of the highest social stratum could be raised as
much above its normal level as the mental development of youthful
Utopia has been raised above the normal level of an English rural
village, would be incalculably great. But greater still--incalculably
greater--would be the gain to the nation if the rank and file of its
children could be led into the path of self-realisation, and therein
rise to the high level of brightness, intelligence, and
resourcefulness which has been reached in Utopia.

Nor is this dream so wildly impracticable as some might imagine. So
far as the natural capacity of the average child is concerned, there
is no bar to its realisation. Egeria has taught me that the mental
capacity of the average child, even in a rustic village belonging to
a county which is proverbial for the slow wits of its rustics, is
very great. It is sometimes said that of the children who have been
trained in our elementary schools, not one in twenty is fit to profit
by the education given in a secondary school: and if by this is
meant that in nineteen cases out of twenty the elementary scholar,
_educated as he has probably been_, is unlikely to profit by the
education given in a secondary school, _conducted as those schools
usually are_, I am not prepared to say offhand that the statement
is untrue. But if it means that the average mental capacity of the
children of our "lower orders" is hopelessly inferior to that of
the children of our middle and upper classes, I can say without
hesitation that it is a slander and a lie. Whether there is any
difference, in respect of innate mental capacity, between level
and level of our social scale, may be doubted; but the Utopian
experiment has proved to demonstration that in the lowest level of
all the innate mental capacity is so great that we cannot well expect
to find any considerable advance on it even in the highest level of

But where, it will be asked, are we to find Egerias to man our
elementary schools? For the moment this problem does not admit of a
practical solution. But that need not discourage us. I admit that in
far too many of our schools the teachers, through no fault of their
own, are what I may call machine-made, and that they are engaged in
turning out machine-made scholars, some of whom in the fullness of
time will develop into machine-made teachers. But there is a way of
escape from this vicious circle,--the path of self-realisation.
That path has transformed the children of a rustic village in a
slow-witted county into Utopians. Why should it not transform some
at least among the boys and girls who are thinking of entering the
teaching profession into Egerias, or at any rate into teachers
of Egeria's type? Even as it is, replicas of Egeria,--not exact
replicas, for she is too original to be easily replicated,
but teachers who, like her, preach and practise the gospel of
self-education,--are beginning to spring up in various parts of the
country; and each of their schools, besides being a centre of light,
may well become a nursery for teachers who will follow in the
footsteps of those who have trained them, and will in their turn do
pioneer work in other schools. The thin end of the wedge is even now
being driven into the close-grained mass of tradition and routine;
and each successive blow that is struck by a teacher of intelligence
and initiative will widen the incipient cleft.

The dream, then, of leading the children of England--the children of
the "masses" as well as of the "classes"--into the path of
self-realisation, is not so widely impracticable as to convict the
dreamer of insanity. And if we could realise the dream, if we could
go but a little way towards realising it, how immense would be the
gain to our country! If the average level of mental development in
England were as high as it is in Utopia, to what height would not the
men and women of exceptional ability be able to rise? The mountain
peaks that spring from an upland plateau soar higher towards the sky
than the peaks, of the same apparent height, that spring from a
low-lying plain. And "the great mountains lift the lowlands on to
their sides."

But this is not the only reason why the gospel of self-realisation
should be preached in all parts of the land. There is another reason
which is becoming more and more urgent. If the Utopian scheme of
education were widely adopted, an antidote would be found to a grave
and growing evil which is beginning to imperil the mental health of
every civilised community, and of this more than any other. The more
civilised (in the Western sense of the word) a country becomes, the
less educative does life--the rough-and-tumble life of the work-a-day
world--tend to become. In a thoroughly "civilised" country, where the
material conditions of life are highly organised, and where industry
is highly specialised, so much is done for the individual by those
who organise his life and labour, that it ceases to be necessary for
him, except within narrow limits, to shift for himself. In a less
civilised community men have to use their wits as well as their hands
at every turn; and resourcefulness and versatility are therefore in
constant demand. The industrial life of a Russian peasant, who is of
necessity a Jack-of-many-trades, is incomparably more educative than
that of the Lancashire cotton operative, most of whose thinking and
much of whose operating may be said to be done for him by the
complicated machinery which he controls; who does, indeed, learn to
do one thing surpassingly well, but in doing that one thing becomes,
as he progresses, more and more automatic, so that the highest praise
we can give him is to say that he does his work with the sureness and
accuracy of a machine. It follows that the more civilised a country
becomes, the more important is the part that the elementary school
plays in the life of the nation,--and that not merely because the
ability to read, write, and cipher is, in the conditions which modern
civilisation imposes, almost as much a "necessary of life" as the
ability to walk or talk, but also and more especially because it
devolves upon the school to do for the citizen in his childhood what
life will not do for him in his manhood, or will do for him but in
scant measure, to stimulate his vital powers into healthful activity,
to foster the growth of his soul. And the more the people in a
civilised country are withdrawn from the soil and herded into mines
and mills and offices, the more imperative is it that the school
should quicken rather than deaden the child's innate faculties,
should bring sunshine rather than frost into his adolescent life. In
such a country as ours the responsibilities of the teacher are only
equalled by his opportunities; for the child is in his hands during
the most impressionable years of life; and those years will have been
wasted, and worse than wasted, unless they have fitted the child to
face the world with resourcefulness, intelligence, and vital energy,
ready to wrest from his environment, by enlarging and otherwise
transforming it, those educative influences which are still to be had
for the seeking, but are no longer automatically supplied.

_The Moral Aspect of Self-Realisation._

If Man, if each man in turn, is born _good_, the process of growth,
or self-realisation, which is presumably taking him towards the
perfection of which his nature admits, must needs make him
continuously _better_. In other words, growth, provided that it is
healthy, harmonious, and many-sided, provided that it is growth of
the whole being, is in itself and of inner necessity the most
moralising of all processes. Nay, it is the only moralising process,
for in no other way can what is naturally good be transformed into
what is ideally best.

This argument, apart from its being open to the possible objection
that it plays on the meaning of the word "good," is perhaps too
conclusive to be really convincing. I will therefore try to make my
way to its conclusion by another line of thought.

The desire to grow, to advance towards maturity, to realise his true
self--the self that is his in embryo from the very beginning--is
strong in every living thing, and is therefore strong in every child
of man. But the desire, which necessarily takes its share in the
general process of growth, must needs pass through many stages on its
way to its own highest form. In infancy, it is a desire for physical
life, for the preservation and expansion of the physical self; and in
this stage it is, as I have already pointed out, uncompromisingly
selfish. The new-born baby is the incarnation of selfishness; and it
is quite right that he should be so. It is his way of trying to
realise himself. As the child grows older, the desire to grow becomes
a desire for self-aggrandisement,--a desire to shine in various ways,
to surpass others, to be admired, to be praised; and though in this
stage it may give rise to much vanity and selfishness, still, so long
as it has vigorous growth behind it and is in its essence a desire
for further growth, it is in the main a healthy tendency, and to call
it sinful or vicious would be a misuse of words.

But when, in the course of time, the average, ordinary, surface
self--the self with which we are all only too familiar--has been
fully evolved and firmly established, the day may come when, owing to
various adverse conditions, the growth of the soul will be arrested,
and the ordinary self will come to be regarded as the true self, as
the self which the man may henceforth accept and rest in, as the
self in virtue of which he is what he is. Should the desire for
self-aggrandisement survive that day, the door would be thrown open
to selfishness of a malignant type and to general demoralisation. And
this is what would assuredly come to pass. In the first place, the
desire for self-aggrandisement, which always has the push of Nature's
expansive forces behind it, would certainly survive that ill-omened
day. Indeed, it were well that it should do so; for "while there is
life, there is hope," and when the soul is ceasing to grow, it is
through the desire for self-aggrandisement that Nature makes her last
effort to keep it alive, by compelling it to energise on one or two
at least of the many sides of its being. In the second place, the
desire would gradually cease to be resolvable into the desire for
continued growth, and would gradually transform itself into the
desire to glorify and make much of the ordinary self, to minister to
its selfish demands, to give it possessions, riches, honour, power,
social rank, and whatever else might serve to feed its self-esteem,
and make it think well of itself because it was well thought of by
"the world." And in the third place, in its effort to glorify and
make much of the ordinary self, the desire would, without a moment's
compunction, see other persons pushed to the wall, trampled under
foot, slighted and humiliated, robbed of what they valued most,
outraged and wounded in their tenderest feelings. It is my firm
conviction that at the present day three-fourths of the moral evil in
the world, or at any rate in the Western world, are the direct or
indirect outcome of egoism,--egoism which, as a rule, is mean, petty,
and small-minded, but is often cruel and ruthless, and can on
occasion become heroic and even titanic in its capacity for evil and
in the havoc that it works,--egoism which in ninety-nine cases out of
a hundred is generated by the desire for self-aggrandisement having
outlived its better self, the desire to grow.

If arrested growth is the chief source of malignant egoism, there is
an obvious remedy for the deadly malady. The egoist must re-enter the
path of self-realisation. His great enemy is his lower self;[34] and
the surest way to conquer this enemy is to outgrow it, to leave it
far behind. When the path of self-realisation has been re-entered,
when the soul has resumed the interrupted process of its growth, the
desire for self-aggrandisement will spontaneously transform itself,
first into the desire for further growth, and then into the desire
for outgrowth or escape from self, and will cease to minister to the
selfish demands of the lower self; and as the lower self is all the
while being gradually left behind by the growing soul, and is
therefore ceasing to assert itself, and ceasing to clamour, like a
spoilt child, for this thing and for that,--it will not be long
before the antidote to the poison of egoism will have taken due
effect, and the health of the soul will have been restored.

But let me say again--for I can scarcely say it too often--that the
growth which emancipates from self is many-sided growth, the growth,
not of any one faculty, or group of faculties, but of the soul as
such. Were it not so, the life of self-realisation might easily
become a life of glorified and therefore intensified selfishness. It
is quite possible, as we know from experience, for a high degree of
"culture" to co-exist with a high degree of egoism. It is possible,
for example, for the æsthetic instincts, when not kept aglow by the
sympathetic, or hardened with an alloy of the scientific, to evolve
a peculiar form of selfishness which leads at last to looseness
of life and general demoralisation. And it is possible for the
scientific instincts, when developed at the expense of the æsthetic
and the sympathetic, to evolve a hard, unemotional type of character
which is self-centred and selfish owing to its positiveness and lack
of imagination. But these are instances of inharmonious growth. When
growth is harmonious and many-sided, it leads of necessity to
out-growth, to escape from self. For the expansive instincts are so
many ways of escape from self which Nature opens up to the soul;--the
sympathetic instincts, a way of escape into the boundless æther of
love; the æsthetic instincts, a way of escape into the wonder-world
of beauty; the scientific instincts, a way of escape into the world
of mysteries which is lighted by the "high white star of truth." It
is only when one of the expansive instincts is allowed to aggrandise
itself at the expense of the others, that the consequent outgrowth of
selfishness in what I may call the internal economy of one's nature
begins to reflect itself in a general selfishness of character. An
instinct may readily become egoistic in its effort to affirm or
over-affirm itself, to grasp at its share or more than its share of
the child's rising life: and if it does, it may gradually suck down
into the vortex of its egoism the whole character of the child as he
ripens into the man. But growth, as such, is anti-egoistic just
because it is growth, because it is a movement towards a larger,
fuller, and freer life: and it is restricted, even more than
one-sided growth,--it is the apathy, the helplessness, the deadness
of soul that overtakes, first the child and then the man, when his
expansive instincts are systematically starved and thwarted,--which
is the chief cause of his incarceration in his petty self.

If three-fourths of the moral evil in the world are due to
malignant egoism, the source of the remaining fourth is, in a word,
_sensuality_. By sensuality I mean the undue or perverted development
of the desires and passions of the animal self,--the desire for
food and drink, the sexual desires, the desire for physical or
semi-physical excitement, the animal passion of anger, and the rest.
As an enemy of the soul, sensuality is less dangerous, because more
open and less insidious, than egoism. The egoist, who mistakes his
ordinary for his real self, may well lead a life of systematic
selfishness without in the least realising that he is living amiss.
But the animal self is never mistaken for the real self; and the
sensualist always has an uneasy feeling in the back of his mind that,
in indulging his animal desires and passions to excess, he is doing
wrong. This feeling may, indeed, die out when he "grows hard" in his
"viciousness"; but in the earlier stages of the sensual life it is
sure to "give pause"; and there are, I think, few persons who do not
feel that the sensual desires and passions are so remote from the
headquarters of human life, that in yielding to them beyond due
measure they are acting unworthily of their higher selves. At any
rate we may regard the temptations to sensual indulgence that lie in
our path as evil influences which are assailing us from without
rather than from within; and we may therefore liken them to the
blight, rust, mites, mildew, and other pests that assail hops,
fruit, wheat, and other growing plants.

And, like the pests that assail growing plants, the sensual pests
that war against the soul must be beaten off by vigorous and
continuous growth. No other prophylactic is so sure or so effective
as this. When I was asked whether the Utopian education was useful
or not, I adduced, as an instance of its usefulness, its power of
protecting the young from the allurements of a pernicious literature,
to which the victims of the conventional type of education, with
their lowered vitality and their lack of interest in life, too
readily succumb. This is a typical example of the way in which the
rising sap of life strengthens the soul to resist the temptations to
undue sensual indulgence by which it is always liable to be assailed.
The victim of a repressive, growth-arresting type of education,
having few if any interests in life, not infrequently takes to the
meretricious excitements of sensuality in order to relieve the
intolerable monotony of his days. But the training which makes for
many-sided growth, by filling the life of the "adolescent" with many
and various interests, removes temptations of this particular type
from his path. And it does more for him than this. It generates in
him a state of health and well-being, in which the very vigour and
elasticity of his spiritual fibre automatically shields him from
temptation by refusing to allow the germs of moral disease to effect
a lodgment in his soul. It would be well if our moralists could
realise that the chief causes of weakness in the presence of sensual
temptation are, on the one hand, boredom and _ennui_, and on the other
hand flabbiness and degeneracy of spiritual fibre, and that the
remedy for both these defects is to give the young the type of
education which will foster rather than hinder growth.

We are now in a position to estimate the respective values, as
moralising influences, of the path of self-realisation and the path
that leads to "results." Whatever tends to arrest growth tends also
and in an equal degree to demoralise Man's life; for, on the one
hand, by transforming the healthy desire for continued growth into
the unhealthy desire for mere self-aggrandisement, it generates
malignant egoism, with its endless train of attendant evils; and, on
the other hand, by depressing the vitality of the soul and so
weakening its powers of resistance, it exposes it to the attacks of
those powers and desires which we speak of in the aggregate as
sensuality. If this is so, the inference is irresistible that the
externalism of "civilised" life, with the repressive and devitalising
system of education which it necessitates, is responsible for the
greater part of the immorality--I am using the word in its widest
sense--of the present age. Contrariwise, whatever tends to foster
growth tends also, and in an equal degree, to moralise Man's
life; for, on the one hand, by transforming the desire for
self-aggrandisement into the desire, first for continued growth
and then for out-growth, it gives the soul strength to eliminate
the poison of egoism from its system; and, on the other hand, by
vitalising the soul and so strengthening its powers of resistance, it
enables it to beat off the attacks of those enemies of its well-being
which serve under the banner of sensuality. If this is so, the
inference is irresistible that self-realisation is the only effective
remedy for the immorality of the present age.

The comparison between the two schemes of life may be carried a stage
further. If egoism and sensuality are the two primary vices, the
secondary vices will be the various ways and means by which egoism
and sensuality try to compass their respective ends. Let us select
for consideration one group of these vices,--the important group
which fall under the general head of _untruthfulness_. Insincerity,
disingenuousness, shiftiness, trickery, duplicity, chicanery,
evasion, intrigue, _suppressio veri_, _suggestio falsi_, fraud,
mendacity, treachery, hypocrisy, cant,--their name is Legion. That
externalism, whether in school or out of school, is the foster-mother
of the whole brood, is almost too obvious to need demonstration.
In school the child lives in an atmosphere of unreality and
make-believe. The demand for mechanical obedience which is always
pressing upon him is a demand that he shall be untrue to himself.
Sincerity of expression, which is the fountain-head of all
truthfulness, is not merely slighted by his teacher, but is
systematically proscribed. He is always (under compulsion) pretending
to be what he is not,--to know what he does not know, to see what he
does not see, to think what he does not think, to believe what he
does not believe. And he lives, from hour to hour, under the dark
shadow of severity and distrust,--severity which is too often
answered by servility, and distrust which is too often answered by
deceit. When he goes out into the world, he finds that though there
are many sins for which there is forgiveness, there is one for which
there is no forgiveness,--the sin of being found out; and he orders
his life accordingly. He finds that he must give account of himself
to public opinion, which necessarily judges according to the
appearance of things, and is only too ready to be hoodwinked and
gulled. He finds that to "succeed" is to achieve certain outward and
visible results,--results which are out of relation to the _vraie
vérité_ of things, which are in no way symbolical of merit, and for
the winning of which any means may be resorted to provided that
scandals are avoided and the letter of the law is obeyed. He finds
that the system of advertising which plays so large a part in modern
life, and without which it is so hard to "succeed," is in the main a
system of organised mendacity. Finally, and above all, he finds that
the examination system, with its implicit demands for trickery and
shiftiness, and its almost open invitation to cram and cheat, is not
confined to the school but has its equivalent in "the world," and is
in fact the basis of civilisation as well as of education in the

This is the provision that externalism makes for the practical
inculcation of truthfulness,--a virtue which its religion and
its ethics profess to honour above all others. The life of
self-realisation, on the other hand, is a life of genuine
self-expression; and a life of genuine self-expression is obviously
a life of fearless sincerity. In such a life there is no place for
untruthfulness or any member of its impish brood. The one concern of
the child, as of the man, is to be loyal to intrinsic reality, to be
true to his true self. His standard is always inward, not outward.
He knows that he is what he is, not what he is reputed to be.
_Quantum unusquisque est in oculis Tuis, tantum est et non amplius._

Here, then, as elsewhere, we see that the difference between the
morality of externalism and the morality of self-realisation is a
difference, not of degree but of direct antagonism,--the difference
between a poison and its antidote, between the cause of a malady and
the cure.

While the path of self-realisation is emancipating us from egoism and
sensuality, in what general direction is it leading us? Is its
ethical ideal positive or merely negative? And if it is positive,
what is its character, and how is it to be realised? The answer to
this question will be given in the remaining sections.

_The Social Aspect of Self-realisation._

He must either be richly endowed with "the good things of life" or be
of an exceptionally optimistic disposition, who can view the existing
social order with complete satisfaction. Even among those who are
richly endowed with "the good things of life" there must be many who
realise that the "Have-nots" have some cause for complaint. And even
among those who are of an exceptionally optimistic disposition there
must be some who realise that the grounds of their optimism are
personal to themselves, and that they cannot expect many others to
share their satisfaction with things as they are.

The phrase "the good things of life" is significant, and explains
much. It means that an outward standard of reality has fully
established itself in the community, that money and the possessions
of various kinds which money can buy are regarded as the good things
of life,--things which are intrinsically good, and therefore
legitimate ends of Man's ambition and endeavour, things to pursue
which is to fulfil one's destiny and to win which is to achieve
salvation. It means, in other words, that the life of the community
is a scramble for material possessions and outward and visible
"results"--a scramble which on its lowest level becomes a struggle
for bare existence, and on the next level a struggle for the
"necessaries of life"--and that this legalised scramble is the basis
of the whole social order. In such a scramble the great prizes are
necessarily few, and the number of complete failures is always
considerable; for the wealthier a country, the higher is its standard
of comfort, so that the _proportion_ of failures--the percentage of
men who are submerged and outcast, who are in want and misery--is at
least as great in the wealthiest as in the poorest community, while
the extremes of wealth and poverty are as a rule greatest where the
pursuit of riches is carried on with the keenest vigour and the most
complete success.

There are many persons, rich as well as poor, who, viewing the
legalised scramble from an entirely impersonal standpoint, are filled
with disgust and dismay, and who dream of making an end of it, by
substituting what they call _collectivism_ for the individualism
which they regard as the source of all our troubles. These persons
are known as _Socialists_. Their ruling idea is that the "State"
should become the sole owner of property, and that this radical
change should be effected by a series of legislative measures. With
their social ideal, regarded as an ideal, one has of course the
deepest sympathy. Their motto is, I believe, "Each for all, and all
for each"; and if this ideal could be realised, the social millennium
would indeed have begun. But in trying to compass their ends by
legislation, _before the standard of reality has been changed_, they
are making a disastrous mistake. For, to go no further, our schools
are hotbeds of individualism, the spirit of "competitive selfishness"
being actively and systematically fostered in all of them, with a few
exceptions; and so long as this is so, so long as our highly
individualised society is recruited, year by year, by a large
contingent of individualists of all ranks, drawn from schools of
all grades, for so long will the Socialistic ideal remain an
impracticable dream. An impracticable and a mischievous dream; for
in the attempt to realise it, the community will almost inevitably
be brought to the verge of civil war. When the seeds of socialistic
legislation, or even of socialistic agitation, are sown in a soil
which is highly charged with the poison of individualism, the
resulting crop will be class hatred and social strife.

No, we must change our standard of reality before we can hope to
reform society. Where the outward standard prevails, where material
possessions are regarded as "the good things of life," the basis of
society must needs be competitive rather than communal, for there
will never be enough of those "good things" to satisfy the desires of
_all_ the members of any community. And even if the socialistic
dream of state-ownership could be universally realised, the
change--so long as the outward standard of reality prevailed--would
not necessarily be for the better, and might well be for the worse.
Competition for "the good things of life" would probably go on as
fiercely as ever; but it would be a scramble among nations rather
than individuals, and it might conceivably take the form of open
warfare waged on a titanic scale.[35] Even now there are indications
that such a struggle, or series of struggles, if not actually
approaching, is at any rate not beyond the bounds of possibility. And
on the way to the realisation of the collectivist ideal, we should
probably have in each community a similar struggle for wealth and
power among political parties,--a struggle which would generate many
social evils, of which civil war might not be the most malignant.

But if we are to change our standard of reality we must change it,
first and foremost, in the school. The way to do this is quite
simple. We need not give lessons on altruism. We need not teach or
preach a new philosophy of life. All that we need do is to foster the
growth of the child's soul. When the growth of the soul is healthy
and harmonious, the cultivation of all the expansive instincts having
been fully provided for, the _communal_ instinct will evolve itself
in its own season; and when the communal instinct has been fully
evolved, the social order will begin to reform itself. This is what
has happened in Utopia. There, where competition is unknown, where
prizes are undreamed of, where the growth of the child's natural
faculties, and the consequent well-being of his soul, is "its own
exceeding great reward," the communal instinct has grown with the
growth of the child's whole nature, and has generated an ideal social

At the end of the last section I asked myself what was the ethical
ideal of the life of self-realisation,--the positive ideal as
distinguished from the more negative ideal of emancipating from
egoism and sensuality. I will now try to answer this question.
Emancipation from egoism and sensuality is effected by the outgrowth
of a larger and truer self. This larger and truer self, as it unfolds
itself, directs our eyes towards the ideal self--the goal of the
whole process of growth--which is to the ordinary self what the
full-grown tree, embodying in itself the perfection of oakhood, is to
the sapling oak, or what the ripe peach, embodying in itself the
perfection of peachhood, is to the green unripened fruit. The ideal
self is, in brief, perfect Manhood. What perfect Manhood may be, we
need not pause to inquire. Whatever it may be, it is the true self of
each of us. It follows that the nearer each of us gets to it, the
nearer he is to the true self of each of his fellow-men; that the
more closely he is able to identify himself with it, the more closely
he is able to identify himself with each of his fellow-men; that in
realising it, he is realising, he is entering into, he is becoming
one with, the real life of each of his fellow-men. And not of each
of his fellow-men only. He is also entering into the life of the
whole community of men--(for it is the presence of the ideal self in
each of us which makes communal life possible)--and, through this, of
each of the lesser communities to which he may happen to belong. In
other words, he is losing himself in the lives of others, and is
finding his well-being, and therefore his happiness, in doing so.
But self-loss, with joy in the loss of self, is, in a word, love.

The path of self-realisation is, then, in its higher stages, a life
of love. He who walks in that path must needs lead a life of love.
He will love and serve his fellow-men, both as individuals and as
members of this or that community, not because he is consciously
trying to live up to a high ideal, but because he has reached a stage
in his development beyond which he cannot develop himself except by
leading a life of love, because the path of self-realisation has led
him into the sunshine of love, and if he will not henceforth walk in
that sunshine he will cease to follow his path. He has indeed long
walked in the foreglow of the sunshine of love. The dawn of the orb
of love is heralded by a gradual twilight, which lights the path of
self-realisation, even in its earlier stages. In Utopia the joy on
the faces of the children is the joy of goodwill not less than of
well-being. Or rather it is the joy of goodwill because it is the joy
of well-being, because well-being would not be well-being if it did
not ceaselessly generate goodwill.

That love is "the fulfilling of the law," and therefore the keystone
of every sound system of ethics, is a truth on which I need scarcely
insist. The final proof that the ethics of self-realisation are
sound to the core lies in the fact that the path of self-realisation,
besides emancipating from egoism and sensuality, leads all who walk
in it, first into the foreglow and then into the sunshine of love.
But it is with the social rather than the ethical aspect of
self-realisation that I am now concerned. And the social aspect of
the fact which has just been stated is obviously of vital importance.
Love, which is commensurate with life, has innumerable phases. One of
these is what I have called the communal instinct,--the sense of
belonging to a community, of being a vital part of it, of sharing
in its life, of being what one is (in part at least) because one
shares in its life. If Socialism is to realise its noble dream, this
instinct, strongly developed and directed towards the well-being of
the whole social order, must become part of the normal equipment of
every citizen. And if this is to come to pass, self-realisation must
be made the basis of education in all our schools. What it has done
for the children of Utopia, in the way of developing their communal
instinct and making their school an ideal community, it is capable of
doing for every school in England,--I might almost say for every
school on the face of the earth.

There are faddists who advocate the teaching of _patriotism_ in our
elementary schools. There are Local Education Committees which insist
on _citizenship_ being taught in the schools under their control. By
teaching patriotism, and citizenship is meant treating them as
"subjects," finding places for them on the "time-table," and giving
formal lessons on them. Where this is done, the time of the
teachers and the children is wasted. The teaching of patriotism
and citizenship, if it is to produce any effect, must be entirely
informal and indirect. Let the child be so educated that he will
develop himself freely on all the sides of his being, and his
communal instinct will, as I have said, evolve itself in its own
season. Until it has evolved itself, patriotism and citizenship will
be mere names to him, and what he is taught about them will make no
impression on him. When it has evolved itself, he will be a patriot
and a good citizen in _posse_, and will be ready on occasion to prove
his patriotism and his good citizenship by his deeds, or, better
still, by his life.[36]

While the communal instinct is evolving itself, first in the school
and then in the community at large, the standard of reality will, by
a parallel or perhaps identical process, be transforming itself in
all the grades of society. The inward will be taking the place of the
outward standard; and men will be learning to form a different
conception of "the good things of life" from that which now dominates
our social life. The Socialist will then have his opportunity.
That any member of the community should be in physical want or
irremediable misery, will begin to be felt, partly as a personal
grief, partly as a reflection on himself, by each member of the
community in turn; and steps will begin to be taken--what steps I
cannot pretend to forecast--to make physical want and irremediable
misery impossible. Meanwhile, with the gradual substitution of the
inward for the outward standard of reality, the mad scramble for
wealth and possessions and distinctions will gradually cease, the
conception of what constitutes "comfort" and of what are the real
"necessaries of life" will be correspondingly changed, and men will
begin to realise that of the genuine "good things of life"--the good
things which the children of Utopia carry with them into the world,
and which make them exceedingly rich in spite of their apparent
poverty--there are enough and more than enough "to go round."

_The Religious Aspect of Self-realisation._

The oak-tree is present in embryo in the acorn. What is it that is
present in embryo in the new-born child? To achieve salvation is to
realise one's true self. But what is one's true self? The "perfection
of manhood" is an obvious answer to this question; but it explains so
little that we cannot accept it as final. We may, however, accept it
as a resting-place in our search for the final answer.

It is on the religious aspect of self-realisation that I now propose
to dwell. The function of Religion is to bring a central aim into
man's life, to direct his eyes towards the true end of his being
and to help him to reach it. The true end of Man's being is the
perfection of his nature; and the way to this end is the process
which we call growth. When I speak of Man's nature I am thinking of
his universal nature, of the nature which is common to all men, the
nature of Man as Man. Each of us has his own particular nature, his
individuality, as it is sometimes called. The nature of Man as Man is
no mere common measure of these particular natures, but is rather
what I may call their organised totality, the many-sided nature which
includes, explains, and even justifies them all.

What perfection may mean when we predicate the term of our common
nature, we cannot even imagine. The potentialities of our nature seem
to be infinite, and our knowledge of them is limited and shallow.
When we compare an untutored savage or a brutal, ignorant European
with a Christ or a Buddha, or again with a Shakespeare or a Goethe,
we realise how vast is the range--the lineal even more than the
lateral range--of Man's nature, and we find it easy to believe that
in any ordinary man there are whole tracts, whole aspects of human
nature, in which his consciousness has not yet been awakened, and
which therefore seem to be nonexistent in him, though in reality they
are only dormant or inert. These, however, are matters with which we
need not at present concern ourselves. Let the potentialities of our
common nature be what they may. Our business is to realise them as,
little by little, they present themselves to us for realisation. Let
the end of the process of growth be what it may. Our business is to

In the effort to grow we are not left without guidance. The stimulus
to grow, the forces and the tendencies that make for growth, all come
from within ourselves. Yet it is only to a limited extent that they
come under our direct control. So, too, the goal of growth, the
ideal perfection of our nature, is our own; and yet on the way to it
we must needs outgrow ourselves. What part do we play in this mighty
drama? The mystery of selfhood is unfathomable. The word _self_
changes its meaning the moment we begin to think about it. So does
the word _nature_. The range of meaning is in each case unlimited.
Yet there are limits beyond which we cannot use either word without
some risk of being misunderstood. When we are meditating on our
origin and our destiny, some other word seems to be needed to enable
us to complete the span of our thoughts.

Is not that word _God_? The source of our life, the ideal end of our
being,--how shall we think about these if we may not speak of them as
_divine_? And in using the word "divine," do we not set ourselves
free to stretch the respective meanings of the words "self" and
"nature" beyond what would otherwise have been the breaking point of
each? The true self is worthier of the name of "self" than the
apparent self. The true nature is worthier of the name of "nature"
than the lower nature. But the true self is the Divine Self; and the
highest nature is the Nature of God. If this is so, we serve God best
and obey God best by trying to perfect our nature in response to a
stimulus, a pressure, and a guidance which is at once natural and

In other words, we serve God best by following the path of
self-realisation. And the better we serve God, the more truly and
fully do we learn to know him. If to know him, and to live up to our
knowledge of him, is to be truly religious, then the life of
self-realisation is, in the truest and deepest sense of the word, a
_religious_ life. Or rather it is the only religious life, for in no
other way can knowledge of God be won.

Let me try to make good this statement. Knowledge of God is the
outcome, not of definite dogmatic instruction in theology, but of
spiritual growth. Knowledge, whatever may be its object, is always
the outcome of growth. Even knowledge of _number_ is the outcome, not
of definite dogmatic instruction in the arithmetical rules and
tables, but of the growth of the arithmetical sense. It is the same
with literature, the same with history, the same with chemistry, the
same with "business," the same with navigation, the same with the
driving of vehicles in crowded streets, the same with every art,
craft, sport, game, and pursuit. In evolving a special sense, the
soul is growing in one particular direction, a direction which is
marked out for it by the environment in which it finds it needful or
desirable to energise. The soul has, as we have seen, a general power
of adapting itself to its environment, of permeating it, of feeling
its way through it, of getting to understand it, of dealing with it
at last with skill and success. As is the particular environment, so
is the subtle, tactful, adaptive, directly perceptive, subconsciously
cognitive faculty,--the "sense," as I have called it--by means of
which the soul acquires the particular knowledge that it needs. The
more highly specialised (whether by subdivision or by abstraction)
the environment, the more highly specialised the sense. The larger
and more comprehensive the environment, the larger and more "massive"
the sense. The acquired aptitude which enables an omnibus driver to
steer his bulky vehicle through the traffic of London is a highly
specialised sense. At the other end of the scale we have the
"massive" spiritual faculties which deal with whole aspects of life
or Nature, such as the sense of beauty or of moral worth.

But there is a sense which is larger and more "massive" even than
these. When the environment is all-embracing, when it covers the
whole circle of which the soul is or can be the centre, the growth
made in response to it is the growth of the soul as such, and the
knowledge which rewards that growth is the knowledge of supreme
reality, or, in the language of religion, the knowledge of God. The
highest of all senses is the religious sense, the sense which gives
us knowledge of God. But the religious sense is not, as we are apt
to imagine, one of many senses. No one individual sense, however
"massive" or subtle it might be, could enable its possessor to get
on terms, so to speak, with the totality of things, with the
all-vitalising Life, with the all-embracing Whole. _The religious
sense is the well-being of the soul._ For the soul as such grows in
and through the growth of its various senses,--its own growth being
reinforced by the growth of each of these when Nature's balance is
kept, and retarded by the growth of one or more of them when Nature's
balance is lost,--and in proportion as its own vital, central growth
is vigorous and healthy, its power of apprehending reality unfolds
itself little by little. That power is of its inmost essence. When
reality, in the full sense of the word, is its object, it sees with
the whole of its being; it is itself, when it is at the centre of
its universe, its own supreme perceptive faculty, its own religious

If this is so, if the soul in its totality, the soul acting through
its whole "apperceptive mass," is its own religious sense, it is
abundantly clear that the path of self-realisation is the only path
which leads to knowledge of God, and through knowledge of God to
salvation. For self-realisation is the only scheme of life which
provides for the growth of the soul in its totality, for the
harmonious, many-sided development of the soul as such. I have often
dwelt on this point. If we have never before realised its importance
we must surely do so now. A one-sided training, even when its
one-sidedness takes the form of specialising in theology, is a
non-religious, and may well become an irreligious training, for it
does not lead to, and may well lead away from, knowledge of God.

And if we have never before realised how great are the opportunities
and responsibilities of the teacher, we must surely do so now. For a
certain number of years--the number varies with the social standing
of the child, and the financial resources of his parents--the teacher
can afford to disregard utilitarian considerations and think only of
what is best for the child. What use will he make of those years?
Will he lead the child into the path of self-realisation, and so give
a lifelong impetus to the growth of his soul? Or will he, in his
thirst for "results," lead him into the path of mechanical obedience,
or, at best, of one-sided development, and so blight his budding
faculties and arrest the growth of his soul? On the practical answer
that he gives to this question will depend the fate of the child.
For to the child the difference between the two paths will be the
difference between fulfilling and missing his destiny, between
knowledge and ignorance of God.

If any of my readers have imagined that I am an advocate of what is
called "secular education," they will, I hope, now realise that they
have misread this book. Far from wishing to secularise education, I
hold that it cannot be too religious. And, far from wishing to limit
its religious activities to the first forty minutes of the morning
sessions, I hold that it should be actively religious through every
minute of every school session, that whatever it does it should do to
the glory of God.

But how does knowledge of God show itself? Knowledge, so far as it is
real, always shows itself in right bearing, and (if action is called
for) in right action. Knowledge of arithmetic and of other more or
less abstract subjects, shows itself in the successful working of the
corresponding problems, theoretical or practical as the case may be.
Knowledge of the laws of physical nature shows itself in practical
mastery of the forces and resources of physical nature. Knowledge of
history and geography, in a right attitude towards the problems and
sub-problems of these complex and comprehensive subjects, an attitude
which may on occasion translate itself into right action. And so on.
Knowledge of God, being a state or attitude of the soul as such, must
show itself in the right bearing and the right action of the soul as
such, in other words, of Man as Man,--not as mathematician, not as
financier, not as sculptor, not as cricketer, but simply as Man. Now
Man as Man has to bear himself aright towards the world in which he
finds himself, and in particular towards the world which touches him
most closely and envelops him most completely,--the world of human
life. Therefore knowledge of God will show itself, principally and
chiefly, though by no means wholly, in dealing aright with one's
fellow-men, in being rightly disposed towards them, and in doing the
right things to them. I have found it convenient to disconnect the
moral from the religious aspect of self-realisation. We can now see
that in the last resort the two aspects are one.

From every point of view, then, and above all from that of Religion,
the path of self-realisation is seen to be the path of salvation.
For it is the only scheme of life which enables him who follows it
to attain to knowledge of God; and knowledge of God has, as its
necessary counterpart, a right attitude, in general towards the world
which surrounds him, and in particular towards his fellow-men.

But is it possible, within the limits of one earth-life, to follow
the path of self-realisation to its appointed goal? And if not, will
the path be continued beyond that abrupt turn in it which we call
death? The respective attitudes of the two great schools of popular
thought towards the problem of the grave, are in brief as follows.
The Materialists (or Naturalists, as they miscall themselves) believe
that death is the end of life. The Supernaturalists believe that one
earth-life (or even a few years or months) of mechanical obedience to
supernatural direction will be rewarded by an eternity of happiness
in "Heaven." But those who walk in the path of self-realisation, and
whose unswerving loyalty to Nature is rewarded by some measure of
insight into her deeper laws, know that the goal of the path is
infinitely far away, and in their heart of hearts they laugh both the
current eschatologies to scorn. And the higher they ascend, as they
follow the path, the more vividly do they realise how unimaginably
high above them is the summit of the mountain which the path is
ascending in spiral coils.

The Utopian experiment, humble as it is, can, I think, throw some
light on these mighty problems. The relations between the type and
the various sub-types, between the type and the individual, between
the sub-type and the individual--whether in plant or beast or
man--are matters which could not be handled within the limits of this
book, and which I have therefore as far as possible ignored. Nor have
I attempted to deal with the difficult problems that are presented by
the existence of races, such as the Negro, which seem to be far below
the normal level of human development. There is, however, in the vast
region of thought which these and kindred problems open out to us,
one by-way which I must be allowed to follow for a while.

The wild _bullace_ is, I believe, the ancestor of many of our yellow
_plums_. In other words, bullacehood can develop into plumhood, and
even into the perfection of plumhood. Similarly human nature can
develop into something so high above the normal level of human nature
that it might almost seem to belong to another _genus_. But there is
a difference between the two cases. The bullace ideal is in the
individual bullace tree. So, in a sense, is the plum ideal. But the
latter cannot be realised, or even approached, by the individual
bullace tree. It cannot be realised, or even approached, by the
bullace species except through a long course of culture and breeding.
Is it the same with Man? Let us take English rusticity as a
particular type of human nature,--the equivalent of bullacehood for
the purpose of argument. This is a distinct type, and may be said
to have its own ideal.[37] Emerging from this, and gradually
transforming it, is the ideal of human nature, the ideal for Man as
Man. As the bullace ideal is to the plum ideal, so is the ideal of
English rusticity to the ideal of human nature. But whereas the plum
ideal cannot be realised in any appreciable degree by the individual
bullace, the human ideal can be realised in a quite appreciable
degree by the individual English rustic. There have always been and
will always be isolated cases to prove that this is so,--cases of men
of quite humble origin who have attained to high degrees of mental
and spiritual development. These have hitherto been regarded as
exceptional cases. But Egeria has convinced me that under favourable
conditions the _average_ child can become the rare exception, and
attain to what is usually regarded as a remarkably high degree of
mental and spiritual development. Innocent joy, self-forgetfulness,
communal devotion, heartfelt goodwill, gracious manners--to speak of
spiritual development only--are characteristics of _every_ Utopian
child. What are we to infer from this? The bullace ideal is
realisable (under favourable conditions) by each individual bullace
tree,--but the plum ideal is not. The English rustic ideal is
realisable by each individual rustic child. _But so is the human
ideal in Utopia._

But what of the children who do not belong to Utopia? What would have
happened to the Utopian children if there had been no Egeria to lead
them into the path of self-realisation? They would have lived and
died ordinary English rustics,--healthy bullaces, but in no respect
or degree plums. Egeria has convinced me that the average child,
besides being born mentally and spiritually healthy, has immense
capacity on every side of his being. The plum ideal is the true
nature of the plum, but is not the true nature of the bullace. But
Egeria has convinced me that the human ideal--the divine self--is the
true nature of each of us, even of the average rustic child; and she
has also convinced me that each of us can go a long way towards
realising that ideal. Had there been no Egeria in Utopia, the
Utopians would have lived and died undeveloped, having arrived at a
maturity of a kind, the maturity of the bullace as distinguished from
that of the plum, but having failed to realise in any appreciable
degree what the Utopian experiment has proved to be their true
nature. What then? Is this the end of the average man? Will Nature
admit final defeat? The curve of a man's life, as it sweeps round
from birth to death, passes through the point of apparent maturity;
but the real nature of the man has never ripened, and when he
descends into the grave he is still the embryo of his true self.
Will the true self never be realised? Never, if death is indeed the
end of life. But in that case the man will have failed to fulfil the
central purpose of Nature, and, alone among her children, will have
escaped from the control of her all-pervading law of growth.

It is in their desire to keep Man in line with the rest of Nature's
children that so many thinkers and scientists in the West forbid him
to look beyond the horizon of the grave. But in truth it is only by
being allowed to look beyond that horizon that Man can be kept in
line with the rest of Nature's children; for if death means
extinction to him, as it means (or seems to mean) to the beetle or
the fly, he will have lived to no purpose, having failed to realise
in any appreciable degree what every other living thing realises
within its appointed limits,--the central tendencies of his being.
That a living thing, an average specimen of its kind, should within
the limits of a normal life fail completely to realise those
potentialities which are distinctive of its real nature,--fail so
completely that the very existence of those potentialities might, but
for an occasional and quite exceptional revelation, have remained
unsuspected,--is entirely at variance with what we know of the ways
and works of Nature. Yet failure to realise his true manhood is,
outside the confines of Utopia, the apparent lot of nine men out of
ten. An entire range of qualities, spiritual and mental, which
blossom freely in the stimulating atmosphere of Utopia, and which
must therefore exist in embryo in every normal child, fail to
germinate (or at best only just begin to germinate) within the
lifetime of the average non-Utopian.[38] The inference to be drawn
from these significant facts is that the apparent limits of Man's
life are not the real limits; that the one earth-life of which each
of us is conscious, far from being the whole of one's life, is but a
tiny fragment of it,--one term of its ascending "series," one day in
its cycle of years. In other words, the spiritual fertility of the
average Utopian child, taken in conjunction with the spiritual
sterility of the average non-Utopian child (and man), points to the
conclusion which the thinkers of the Far East reached thousands of
years ago,--that for the full development of human nature a plurality
of lives is needed, which will do for the individual soul what
generations of scientific breeding and culture will do for the
bullace that is to be transformed into a plum.

This is one lesson which Utopia has taught me. There is another which
had also been anticipated by the thinkers of the Far East. If under
exceptionally favourable conditions certain spiritual and mental
qualities are able to blossom freely in the space of a few years,
which under normal conditions would remain undeveloped during a
lifetime of seventy or eighty years, may we not infer that there is a
directer path to spiritual maturity than that which is ordinarily
followed? May we not infer that there are ways of living, ways into
which parents and teachers can lead the young, which, if faithfully
followed, will allow the potencies of Man's higher nature to evolve
themselves with what we, with our limited experience, must regard as
abnormal celerity, and which will therefore shorten appreciably Man's
journey to his goal?[39] And if there is a directer path to spiritual
maturity than that which is ordinarily followed, is not the name for
it _Self-realisation_?

I will not pursue these speculations further. But, speaking for
myself, I will say that the vista which the idea of self-realisation
opens up to me goes far beyond the limits of any one earth-life or
sequence of earth-lives, and far, immeasurably far, beyond the limits
of the sham eternity of the conventional Heaven and Hell.

But even if there is the fullest provision in Nature (whether by a
spiral ascent through a long chain of lives, or by some directer
path) for the final development in each individual man of the
potencies of perfect manhood, for the final realisation of the divine
or true self,--what then? What does it all mean? Why are we to follow
the path of self-realisation? What is the purpose of the cycle of
existence? There is an answer to this obstinate question,--an answer
which explains nothing, and yet is final, in that it leaves nothing
to be explained. The expansive energies and desires, to yield to
which is our wisdom and our happiness, are ever transforming
themselves, as we yield to them, into the might and the ardour of
Love. And for love there is no final resting-place but the sea of
Divine Love from which it came. "_Amor ex Deo natus est, nec potest
nisi in Deo requiescere._"


[25] There is of course an intermediate class of vicious
tendencies, which may be described as apparent rather than actual,
and which are caused partly by immaturity, partly by environment.
Many of the "naughtinesses" of school children belong to this class.

[26] The _physical_ aspect is, of course, of incalculable
importance. My only reason for ignoring it is that I am not competent
to deal with it. The _æsthetic_ aspect is also of incalculable
importance; but I know so little about music or art, that I must
limit my treatment of this aspect to pointing out that until the
musical and artistic instincts of the masses are systematically
trained in our elementary schools, through the medium of free
self-expression on the part of the children, we shall have neither a
national music nor a national art.

[27] Workshops, for the use of the engineering classes, are,
I believe, attached to the "Modern Side" of some of our Great Public
Schools; but I doubt if there is one among the Great Public Schools,
or even among the Preparatory Schools which lead up to them, in which
"hand-work" is part of the _normal_ curriculum.

[28] I know a youth who recently attended Science lectures
for two years at one of the most famous of our Great Public Schools,
and at the end of that time had not the faintest idea what branch of
Science he had been studying. Science is, I believe, seriously taught
in the Great Public Schools to those who wish to take it seriously;
but, if taught at all, it is certainly not taught seriously to the
rank and file of the boys who belong to the "Classical side" of their
respective schools.

[29] See also footnote 2 to page 270.

[30] When I was an undergraduate at Oxford, there was one at
least of my friends who took a genuine delight in the literary
masterpieces of Greece and Rome,--the delight, not of a fastidious
scholar but of a born lover of good literature. He got a "Third" in
Classical "Mods," and was "gulfed" in "Greats." "Serve him right,"
his "dons" must have said, for I am afraid he cut their lectures.
[Greek: hôs apoloito kai allos hotis toiauta ge rhezoi.]

[31] _Stanzas on the Grande Chartreuse_, by Matthew Arnold.

[32] When I apply the epithet "irrational" to the outcry at
Ephesus, I am thinking of the mob, not of the silversmiths. The
latter knew what they were about.

[33] Having said so much in disparagement of the mental
training given in the great Public Schools and the older
Universities, let me now try to make my peace with my old school and
my University by expressing my conviction that those who are studying
the "Humanities," whether at school or college, _and finding pleasure
in their studies_, are receiving the best education that is at
present procurable in England. An old Oxonian may perhaps be allowed
to make public profession of his faith in the special efficacy of
that course of study which is known familiarly as "Greats," the
examination in which is, of all examinations, the most difficult to
cram for and the most profitable to read for.

It is scarcely necessary for me to add that in the older
Universities, as in the great Public Schools, many valuable educative
influences are at work outside the lecture-room. For one thing, the
undergraduates, who come from all parts of the world, are always
educating one another. For another thing, the "atmosphere" of Oxford
and Cambridge does much for the mental and spiritual development of
those who are able to respond to its stimulus. Even the _genius loci_
is educative, in its own quiet, subtle way. But it would be an
impertinence on my part to labour this point. It is because Oxford
and Cambridge educate their _alumni_ in a thousand ways, the worth of
which no formal examination can test or measure, that they stand
apart from all other Universities.

[34] I mean by the "lower self," not the animal base of
one's existence, but the ordinary self _claiming to be the true
self_, and so rising in rebellion against its lawful lord.

[35] In other words, it might conceivably take the form of
_clan_ warfare, highly organised and waged on a world-wide field; and
we learn from the history of the Highlands of Scotland and of Old
Japan that of all forms of warfare the most cruel and relentless,
with the exception of that which is waged in the name of religion, is
the warfare between clan and clan.

[36] There is such a thing as communal egoism, when a man
regards the community or society to which he belongs as a kind of
"possession," to be paraded and bragged about, just as in personal
love there is such a thing as egoism _à deux_. But the communal
instinct which is generated by self-realisation readily purges itself
of every egoistic taint.

[37] I mean by the "ideal" the true nature of the given
species and the true self of each individual specimen.

[38] When I compare the average Utopian with the average
non-Utopian, I am of course thinking of the "masses," not of the
"classes." If the comparison is to have any value, the conditions in
the two cases must be fairly equal. Mentally, the "classes" are, on
the whole, more highly developed (thanks to their more favourable
environment) than the "masses." Spiritually and morally, they are
perhaps on a par with them.

[39] This was the idea which inspired the Founder of
Buddhism, and led him to formulate a scheme of life, in virtue
of which he takes rank (as it seems to me) as the greatest
educationalist, as well as the greatest moralist, that the world
has ever known.


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