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Title: The Century of the Child
Author: Key, Ellen
Language: English
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[Illustration: ELLEN KEY From a photograph]

The Century of the Child


Ellen Key

G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press


Published, February, 1909
Reprinted, December, 1909

The Knickerbocker Press, New York


The present translation is from the German version of Frances Maro,
which was revised by the author herself.


CHAPTER                                            PAGE


 III. EDUCATION                                     106

  IV. HOMELESSNESS                                  191

   V. SOUL MURDER IN THE SCHOOLS                    203

  VI. THE SCHOOL OF THE FUTURE                      233

 VII. RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION                         284


The Century of the Child



Filled with sad memories or eager hopes, people waited for the turn of
the century, and as the clock struck twelve, felt innumerable undefined
forebodings. They felt that the new century would certainly give them
only one thing, peace. They felt that those who are labouring to-day
would witness no new development in that process of change to which they
had consciously or unconsciously contributed their quota.

The events at the turn of the century caused the new century to be
represented as a small naked child, descending upon the earth, but
drawing himself back in terror at the sight of a world bristling with
weapons, a world in which for the opening century there was not an inch
of free ground to set one's foot upon. Many people thought over the
significance of this picture; they thought how in economic and in actual
warfare all the lower passions of man were still aroused; how despite
all the tremendous development of civilisation in the century just
passed, man had not yet succeeded in giving to the struggle for
existence nobler forms. Certainly to the question why this still is so,
very different answers were given. Some contented themselves with
declaring, after consideration, that things must remain just as they
are, since human nature remains the same; that hunger, the propagation
of the race, the desire for gold and power, will always control the
course of the world. Others again were convinced that if the teaching
which has tried in vain for nineteen hundred years to transform the
course of the world could one day become a living reality in the souls
of men, swords would be turned into pruning hooks.

My conviction is just the opposite. It is that nothing will be different
in the mass except in so far as human nature itself is transformed, and
that this transformation will take place, not when the whole of humanity
becomes Christian, but when the whole of humanity awakens to the
consciousness of the "holiness of generation." This consciousness will
make the central work of society the new race, its origin, its
management, and its education; about these all morals, all laws, all
social arrangements will be grouped. This will form the point of view
from which all other questions will be judged, all other regulations
made. Up to now we have only heard in academic speeches and in
pedagogical essays that the training of youth is the highest function of
a nation. In reality, in the family, in the school, and in the state,
quite other standards are put in the foreground.

The new view of the "holiness of generation" will not be held by mankind
until it has seriously abandoned the Christian point of view and taken
the view, born thousands of years ago, whose victory has been first
foreshadowed in the century just completed.

The thought of development not only throws light on the course of the
world that lies behind us, continued through millions of years, with its
final and highest point in man; it throws light, too, on the way we have
to travel over; it shows us that we physically and psychically are ever
in the process of becoming. While earlier days regarded man as a fixed
phenomenon, in his physical and psychical relations, with qualities that
might be perfected but could not be transformed, it is now known that he
can re-create himself. Instead of a fallen man, we see an incompleted
man, out of whom, by infinite modifications in an infinite space of
time, a new being can come into existence. Almost every day brings new
information about hitherto unsuspected possibilities; tells us of power
extended physically or psychically. We hear of a closer reciprocal
action between the external and internal world; of the mastery over
disease, of the prolongation of life and youth; of increased insight
into the laws of physical and psychical origins. People even speak of
giving incurable blind men a new kind of capacity of sight, of being
able to call back to life the dead; all this and much else which it must
be allowed still belongs simply to the region of hypothesis, to what
psychical and physical investigators reckon among possibilities. But
there are enough great results analysed already to show that the
transformations made by man before he became a human being are far from
being the last word of his genesis. He who declares to-day that human
nature always remains the same, that is, remains just as it did in
those petty thousands of years in which our race became conscious of
itself, shows in making this statement that he stands on the same level
of reflection as an ichthyosaurus of the Jura period, that apparently
had not even an intimation of man as a possibility of the future.

But he who knows that man has become what he now is under constant
transformations, recognises the possibility of so influencing his future
development that a higher type of man will be produced. The human will
is found to be a decisive factor in the production of the higher types
in the world of animal and plant life. With what concerns our own race,
the improvement of the type of man, the ennobling of the human race, the
accidental still prevails in both exalted and lower forms. But
civilisation should make man conscious of an end and responsible in all
these spheres where up to the present he has acted only by impulse,
without responsibility. In no respect has culture remained more backward
than in those things which are decisive for the formation of a new and
higher race of mankind.

It will take the thorough influence of the scientific view of humanity
to restore the full naïve conviction, belonging to the ancient world,
of the significance of the body. In the later period of antiquity, in
Socrates and Plato, the soul began to look down upon the body. The
Renaissance tried to reconcile the two but the effort was unfortunately
not serious enough. Boldness it did not lack, but its effort was not
successful in carrying out a task which Goethe himself said must be
approached both with boldness and with serious purpose. Only now that we
know how soul and body together build up or undermine one another,
people are beginning to demand again a second higher innocence in
relation to the holiness and the rights of the body.

A Danish writer has shown how the Mosaic Seventh Commandment sinks back
into nothing, as soon as one sees that marriage is only an accidental
social form for the living together of two people, while the ethically
decisive factor is the way they live together. In morality there is
taking place a general displacement from objective laws of direction and
compulsion to the subjective basis from which actions proceed. Ethics
become an ethic of character, a matter dealing with the constitution of
the temperament. We demand, we forgive, or we judge according to the
inner constitution of the individual; we do not readily call an action
immoral which only in an external point of view does not harmonise with
the law or is opposed to the law. In each particular case we decide
according to the inner circumstances of the individual. Applying this
point of view to marriage, we find in the first place that this form
offers no guarantee that the proper disposition towards the relation of
the two sexes is present. This can exist as well outside of as within
marriage. Many noble and earnest human beings prefer for their relation
the freer form as the more moral one. But as the result of this, the
significance of the Seventh Commandment is altered, that states
explicitly that every relationship of sex outside of marriage is
immoral. People have commenced already to experiment with unions outside
of marriage. People are looking for new forms for the common life
between man and woman. The whole problem is being made the subject of

In this respect humanity occupies a field of discovery. People are
seeing more and more what a complicated subject the whole relation of
sex is, how full it is of dangers to the happiness of man. New
observations are being constantly made both in regard to the
significance of this relation for individuals and for posterity. To
bring light gradually into this chaos is supremely important for
humanity, and literature should therefore have the greatest possible
freedom in this sphere,--just the opposite to the tendencies of the
present day that would limit this freedom. While I fully agree with what
has been said I should like to state that the greatest obstacle to the
free discussion of this theme is still the Christian way of looking at
the origin and nature of man. His only possible escape from the results
of the fall is made to consist in his belief in Christ; for with this
point of view, there came into Western Europe, by means of Christianity,
the opinion that everything concerning the continuation of the race was
impure; to be suppressed if possible, and if this could not be done,
that it must at least be veiled in silence and obscurity. For
Christianity, eternal life, not life in the world, is ever the
significant factor. The dualism of existence it tries in the first place
to remove by asceticism, not by attempting to ennoble the life of human
impulses. This standpoint still continues to be popular in our days, as
is shown in its victories through legislation directed against the nude
in art and in literature.

The Christian way of looking at the relation of the sexes as something
ignoble, alone capable of being made holy by indissoluble marriage, has
had great direct influence on man's development during a certain period
of time. It has caused progress in self-mastery, which has elevated the
life of the soul. Modesty, domesticity, sincerity, have been promoted by
it; these along with innumerable other influences have developed the
impulse to love. If these emotions disappeared from love, it would not
be human, but only animal.

But allowing that the individual love between every new pair of human
beings always requires seclusion and reserve; allowing too that personal
modesty always remains an achievement wrought by mankind,
differentiating man from the animal world, it is still true that this
kind of spirituality, which passes over in silence and shame all the
serious questions connected with this subject, or treats them as
occasions for ambiguities calling forth joking and blushes, must be
rooted out.

Each one from earliest childhood should on every question asked about
this subject receive honest answers, suitable for the especial stage of
his development. One should be in this way completely enlightened about
one's own nature as man or woman, and so acquire a deep feeling of
responsibility in relation to one's future duty as man or woman. One
should be trained in habits of earnest thought and earnest speaking on
this subject. In this way alone can there come into existence a higher
type of sex with a higher type of morality.

But at the time when Bjoernsen in _Thomas Rendelen_ brought up the
question of training youth to purity through intelligence of nature's
laws, I objected to his book on the ground that like the purity sermons
of Christianity his efforts were rather directed to the mastery of
natural impulses than towards their ennoblement. I showed that Bjoernsen
certainly brought up two new points of view, that of bodily health, and
that of the ennobling of sex. He did not, as Christianity does, stress
the spiritual and personal side of the question. These new points of
view of his were significant, because they united the just egoism of the
individual with the combining altruism produced by the feeling of
solidarity. The great purpose of Bjoernsen's book was to transform
inherited characteristics as they are related to man's attitude towards
morality. So he proposed to create a sound and happy new generation, in
which the sufferings of present day sexual discord should be brought to
an end. For this purpose he wished the collaboration of the schools.
They were to communicate the knowledge of human beings as members of
sex, and to instruct their scholars how, as human beings, they should
protect themselves and their posterity.

I objected at that time to this plan, showing that the school was not
the place to lay the foundation for such knowledge. It should be slowly
and carefully communicated by the mother herself; the school should only
give a theoretical basis. More defective still, I found the question of
chastity handled essentially and solely as a question of bodily purity,
as a negative not a positive ideal. I maintain that only erotic idealism
could awaken enthusiasm for chastity. The basis for such idealism must
be found in stories, history, and belles-lettres. Information derived
from physiology is, in this respect, very inadequate, unless the
imagination and the feeling are moved in the same direction. Neither
imagination nor feeling can be helped by natural science and bodily
exercises alone, and just as little by Christian religious instruction.

No, we must on the basis of natural science attain, in a newer and
nobler form, the whole antique love for bodily strength and beauty, the
whole antique reverence for the divine character of the continuation of
the race, combined with the whole modern consciousness of the soulful
happiness of ideal love. Only so can the demand for real chastity save
mankind from the torments which sexual divisions and degradations now
bring with them. It is profoundly significant that in the world of the
past, divinity was associated with woman on the ground of observations
concerning the continuation of the race; while in Christianity, woman
became divine as the Virgin Mother. Through heathen and Christian
thought, reunited and ennobled, the woman will receive a new reference
for herself as a sexual being. Antique and modern love, the love of the
senses and the love of soul, will, united and ennobled, induce human
beings, men and women alike, to adore again Eros the All-powerful.

To diminish the significance of love, to oppose it as a lowering
sensualism, does not mean the elevation of mankind; it means, on the
other hand, working for its debasement. For as lowering as sexual life
would be if it were continued in man accompanied by a feeling of shame
as a characteristic of animal life, it would be just the same if it were
regarded as a degrading duty, reluctantly carried out for the
preservation of the species.

Antiquity stood higher than the present day, for example when Lycurgus'
laws asserted that a people's strength lies in the breast of blooming
womanhood. Accordingly in Sparta, the physical development of the woman
was watched over as well as of the man, and the age of marriage was
determined with reference to a healthy offspring. Higher, too, stood
Judaism in relation to the conception of the seriousness of bearing
children. This conviction expressed itself in the strictest hygienic
legislation known to history. Jewish, like other Oriental legislation,
depended, in relation to sexual morality as in relation to diet, on
sharp-sighted observations of natural law and disease. The foundation to
a new ethic in these questions cannot be laid, until men begin with Old
Testament shrewdness and Old Testament seriousness to handle the life
questions which the idealism of Christianity has indeed spiritualised
but at the same time debased.

This new ethic will call no other common living of man and woman
immoral, except that which gives occasion to a weak offspring, and
produces bad conditions for the development of their offspring. The Ten
Commandments on this subject will not be prescribed by the founders of
religion, but by scientists.

Up to the present day, partly as a result of a perverted modesty in such
things, science has only been able to offer incomplete observations on
the physical and psychical conditions for the improvement of the human
type in its actual genesis.

Ontogeny is really a new science in our century, introduced by Von
Leeuwenhock, de Graaf, and others. It was founded in 1827, by von Baer.
The differences of opinion and the discovery of different theories are
very far from being ended. Purely scientific points of view are being
combined with social, physiological, or ethical ones. It is maintained
that by changing the diet of the mother the sex of the child can be
determined. Attempts have been made to show that about three fifths of
all men of genius were first-born children.

People are studying what influence the age of parents has on the child;
extreme youth of parents seems unfavourable for the offspring as well
as extreme age. The first child of a too youthful mother is often weak,
and besides ordinarily the joys of motherhood are not desired, because
she feels that physically and psychically a child is too great a burden
to her, who herself is only a child. The conditions of a strong,
well-nourished offspring require the postponement of the marriage age
for women. In northern countries it should be established, if not by law
at least by custom, at about twenty years. This is all the more
necessary because then the young woman can have behind her some years of
careless youthful joy, an undisturbed self-development, and will also
have reached the physical development necessary for motherhood. While
twenty years should be regarded as the earliest period of marriage it
should actually be often postponed some years still for the well-being
of the woman, the man, and the children, and married life as a whole, in
which most conflicts arise because women have decided about their fate
before their personality was definitely formed, before their heart was
able to find its choice. The love of the man chooses and the young girl
often confuses the happiness of being loved with the happiness of
loving, an experience which later on is gone through in a tragic way. To
the many questions which are related to heredity and natural selection,
belongs one which notices the significance of nature's purpose to cause
strong opposites to exert upon one another the strongest attraction.
This attraction often during married life changes into antipathy; it
almost results in impatience against the characteristics which
originally had so deep an attraction. Nature in this case seems to wish
to reach its end with the greatest lack of consideration for the
happiness of the individual. So often the contradictions of parents seem
really to be moulded in full in the child. Occasionally these
contradictions are expressed as a deep discord, but in both cases there
often arises an exceptional being. To attain correct results in this
case, belongs to the numerous still open possibilities.

Differences of opinion are most apparent in the theory of heredity,
where there is a struggle between Darwin's view, that even acquired
characteristics are inherited, and Galton's and Weissmann's conviction
that this is not the case. In connection with this stands, also, the
question of the marriage of consanguineous relations; some regard these
marriages as dangerous, _per se_, for the posterity; others only as
dangerous from the point of view that the same family trait is often
found in both parents, and so becomes strongly impressed on the
children. For example, congenital shortsightedness of both parents
develops into blindness of the children, their stupidity becomes idiocy,
their melancholy, insanity.

The Occident has gradually abolished the Oriental marriage law to which
Moses gave validity, while other Oriental legislators, for example,
Manes and Mohammed, are still followed to a great extent. In China, too,
similar prohibitions have a binding power. Here and there the feeling of
the significance of heredity has vaguely appeared in some Occidental
writers. Sir Thomas More, like Plato, required a physical examination
before entering into marriage. It was not until the nineteenth century
that the question of the rights of the child in this respect began to be
noticed. It was Robert Owen who in one way awakened the general right
feeling in favour of children, by investigations begun in 1815. They
showed that children under eight years old were forced to work by blows
from leather whips, to work from fifteen to sixteen hours a day, with
the result that a fourth or fifth of them ended as cripples. Another
Englishman, Malthus, published in 1798 an essay on the _Principle of
Population_, and directed the attention of society to the conditions
which had caused him to write his work. He pointed to the deficiency of
food supply produced by over-population and the obstacles it offered to
legitimate marriages. Again, these conditions, he showed, resulted
partly in great mortality among children, partly in the murder of
children. Malthus saw the significance of selection and the danger of
degeneration. With perfect calmness of conscience he met the storm he
had evoked. Personally a blameless and tender hearted man, Malthus, as
all other reformers of moral ideas, had to allow the shameless
accusations of corruption and immorality to pass over his head. Harriet
Martineau, who advocated Malthus's views, had the same experience. When
she wrote her novels on this subject she knew very well to what she was
exposing herself; but this remarkable woman, who died unmarried and
childless, was at an early period of her life filled with a feeling for
the holiness of the child. When nineteen years old, at the time of the
birth of a small sister, she fell on her knees and devoutly thanked God
that she had been allowed to be the witness of the great wonder of the
development of the human being from the beginning. The same feeling
caused her in her novels to expound the duty of voluntary limitation of
population. She was pained by the thought of the fate endured by
children, when they were so numerous that their parents were unable to
maintain and educate them. This part of the subject of the right of the
child called forth in all countries books for and against it. Everywhere
the question is discussed. I shall briefly handle the differences of
opinion about other sides of the right of the child.

In Francis Galton's celebrated work, _Hereditary Genius_, almost all has
been said that is required to-day from the point of view of the
improvement of the race. Galton, as early as the seventies, opposed
Darwin's view that acquired characteristics were inherited. In this
respect he had a fellow-champion in the German Weissmann, who on his
side was opposed, among others, by the English Darwinian Romanes.

Galton invented from a Greek word a name for the science of the
amelioration of the race, Eugenics. He showed that civilised man, so
far as care for the amelioration of the race is concerned, stands on a
much lower plane than savages, not to speak of Sparta which did not
allow the weak, the too young, and the too old to marry, and where
national pride in a pure race, a strong offspring, was so great that
individuals were sacrificed to the attainment of this end. Galton, like
Darwin, Spencer, A. R. Wallace, and others, has brought out the fact
that the law of natural selection, which in the rest of nature has
secured the survival of the fittest, is not applicable to human society,
where economic motives lead to unsuitable marriages, made possible by
wealth. Poverty hinders suitable marriages. Besides the development of
sympathy has come into the field as a factor which disturbs natural
selection. The sympathy of love, chooses according to motives that
certainly tend to the happiness of the individual, but this does not
mean that they guarantee the improvement of the race. And while other
writers hope for a voluntary abstinence from marriage in those cases,
where an inferior offspring is to be expected, Galton, on the other
hand, is in favour of very strict rules, to hinder inferior specimens of
humanity from transmitting their vices or diseases, their intellectual
or physical weaknesses. Just because Galton does not believe in the
inheritance of acquired characteristics, selection has the greatest
significance for him.

On the other side, he advocates using all means to encourage such
marriages, where the family on both sides gives promise of distinguished
offspring. For him, as later for Nietzsche, the purpose of married life
is the production of strong, able personalities.

Galton makes it plain that civilised man, by his sympathy with weak,
inefficient individuals, has helped to continue their existence. This
tendency on its own side has lessened the possibility of the efficient
individuals to continue the species. Wallace, too, and several others,
have on different occasions declared that men in relation to this
question must have harder hearts, if the human race is not to become
inferior. The moral, social, and sympathetic factors, they say, which in
humanity work against the law of the survival of the fittest, and have
made it possible for the lower type, to continue and to multiply in
excess, must give way to new points of view where certain moral and
social questions are concerned. So the natural law will be supported by
altruism, instead of as now being opposed by this sentiment.

Spencer's thoughts contain a great truth. They have been quoted in just
this connection. He says: We see the germ of many things that later on
are developed in a way no one now suspects. Profound transformations are
worked in society and its members, transformations which we could not
have hoped for as immediate results, but which we could have looked for
in confidence as final consequences. The effort to find natural laws
which cause racial progress or deterioration is one of these germinal
ideas. As to scientific investigation in this field, we can apply
another maxim of the same thinker, one often overlooked by science. "The
passion to discover truth must be accompanied by the passion to use it
for the welfare of mankind." But science must really reach universally
accepted conclusions before we can expect humanity to begin seriously
its self-purification; but it is certain to come then. When we read in
ethnographical and sociological works what restrictions in marriage are
imposed by savage people on themselves, and religiously obeyed on the
ground of superstitious prejudice, we have a right to hope that
civilised men will one day bow before scientific proofs. This hope is
not too optimistic.

Wallace pleads not for such absolute regulations as Galton, in order to
prevent the marriages of the less worthy and to encourage the marriages
of the superior types of humanity. He perceives that the problem is
tremendously complicated. One thing is, that the personal attraction of
love is extremely essential from the point of view of the improvement of
the race. If human beings could be bred like prize cattle, it is not
likely that a superior type of humanity would be produced. In the Middle
Ages, the human race deteriorated, Galton said, because the best fled to
the monasteries and the worst reproduced themselves. But if Galton's
strict requirements had to be carried out in every case before a
marriage could be allowed, not only would marriage lose its deepest
meaning, but the race also would lose its noblest inheritance.

But even with a strict limitation of Galton's principles and with a wise
limitation of his requirements, science has already shown the truth of
so many of the first, that the significance of the last, taken as a
whole, must be granted. We know that in the inherited tendencies of
children, often another form is taken from that which appears in their
parents. Of three hundred idiots, one hundred and forty-five had
alcoholic parents. Epilepsy, too, is often produced by the same cause.
It is known that apparently sound individuals are often attacked at the
same age by a disease to which their parents were subject. On the other
hand, there are fortunately proofs that individuals endowed with power
of will can resist certain dangerous inherited weaknesses. In the
discussion on this subject, it should also be justly brought out, that
it is possible for the unsound tendency of one parent to be neutralised
in the case of children, by the soundness of the other. But this result,
as well as the many other questions involved, as I have shown above, are
far from being established.

The question as to the inheritance of mental diseases has been
especially examined by Maudsley. In this case, too, nervous and psychic
diseases of the parents often change their character in the children. He
requires medical testimony before marriage, and asks that the appearance
of mental diseases after marriage shall form a legitimate ground for
divorce. And he hopes that a pure descent, in a new sense of the word,
will be as important for the marriages of the future, as for
aristocratic marriages in early times. One of Maudsley's statements is
so interesting that it should be mentioned here. Fathers, he says, who
have directed their whole energy towards attainment of wealth, have
degenerate children; for this sort of nerve strain undermines the system
as infallibly as alcohol or opium. If this statement be true, we would
add another point of view to the many already existent, that show how
hostile to life is our best social order, which aims at power and gain.
It proves how necessary is that transformation of existence which will
make work and production serve a new end. Each man should claim to live
wholly, broadly, and in a way worthy of humanity. He should be able to
leave behind him a posterity provided with all capacities for a similar
life. When this day dawns people will regard, as a terrible atavism,
that expression on the face of a child, which an artist of the present
day has preserved in a picture of a boy represented as a future

I will mention now from literary sources, some of Nietzsche's work on
this subject. Although this author did not base his ideas of the
"superman" directly on Darwin's theories, yet they are, as Brandes has
lately shown, the great consequences of Darwinism, that Darwin himself
did not see. In no contemporary was there a stronger conviction than in
Nietzsche that man as he now is, is only a bridge, only a transition
between the animal and the "superman." In connection with this,
Nietzsche looked upon the obligations of man for the amelioration of the
race as seriously as Galton, but he expressed his principles with the
power of poetic and prophetic expression, not with scientific proof.

Literature on this subject is increasing every day; different opinions
press one another hard. As long as this is the case, there is every
reason to observe the warning of the German sociologist Kurella, who
says that we must reckon with social as well as with anthropological
factors if we wish to prevent the degeneration of the human species. A
vital point in his position is, that it is a matter of indifference
whether the Darwinian theory of the transmission of acquired
characteristics, or its contrary is victorious. The former is the theory
of an unchangeable germ plasm transmitted by the parents to the
children; so that better types can only originate through a new
combination of the characteristics of father and mother, and also by
natural selection in the struggle for existence. We must be careful
before beginning to act in a social and political way on the basis of
anthropological motives. He finally lays down with perfect justice, that
the material to be gathered from the works of Spencer, Galton, Lombroso,
Ferri, Ribot, Latourneau, Havelock Ellis, J. B. Haycraft, Colajanni,
Sergi, Ritchie, and others, must be systematically worked over. The
sociologist must be zoölogist, anthropologist, and psychologist before
his plans for civilising man, and for elevating the human race could be
carried out.

As to intellectual characteristics it has been maintained that
exceptionally gifted men have mostly inherited their characteristics
from the mother. This fact has in our day, so very much increased the
interest taken in the mothers of famous men. This truth is supposed to
hold good for a son, but if the daughter is gifted, her talent is held
to come from the father. Another and certainly a better founded
phenomenon seems to be this: That when in a family characteristics find
their culmination in a world genius, this genius either remains
childless or his children are not only ordinary, but often
insignificant. It may be that nature has exhausted her power of
production in these great personalities, or as is often assumed, the
creative power of genius in an intellectual direction, diminishes the
creative power in the physical direction.

Along with the question of heredity stands that of the development of
races. In the beginning of the _Origin of Species_ Darwin showed how
essential pure descent is for the production of a noble race. This
theory is appealed to by a modern anti-Semitic writer, who represents
the Jew as a typical example of pure race, an idea which one of the most
conspicuous representatives of Judaism, Disraeli, has also expressed in
the following words: "Race is everything; there is no other truth, and
every race which carelessly allows mixed blood, perishes." Yet other
specialists consider some racial mixture as highly advantageous to the

Professor Westermark has offered a good reason for the significance
attached to beauty in the case of love, and therefore its importance for
the race. He has shown how man has conceived physical beauty to be the
full development of all of those characteristics which distinguish the
human organism from the animal, and which mark sex distinctions, and,
most of all, race distinctions. He thinks individuals with these
characteristics are best suited for their life work. Accordingly it is
the result of natural selection that exactly those individuals are found
most beautiful and are most desired, who first as human beings best
fulfil the general demands of the human organism, as sexual beings
fulfil those of their sex, and as members of the race are best suited to
the conditions which surround them. In the struggle for existence, those
are overcome, who are descended from human beings, whose instincts of
love are directed to individuals badly adapted to that struggle; while
those who are victorious are children happily so adapted. In this way,
taste has developed by which, what is best adapted to environment
appears as the highest beauty. This is equivalent to health, the power
to resist the attacks of the external world. While every considerable
deviation from the pure type in sex and race, has a lesser degree of
adaptability; that is of health, and also of beauty.

Another writer has used the foot as an example of this principle. The
small, high-arched foot with the fine ankle is always, he says,
regarded as the most beautiful. But such a foot is only combined with a
fine, strong, and elastic bony structure. Such a foot besides has, by
its great elasticity, a considerably higher power of bearing weight than
the flat foot. The high-vaulted foot, in walking and jumping, increases
the activity of the lungs and the heart. This again makes the walk
elastic, strong, and easy, agile and stately. These traits, for the same
reason as the beauty of the foot itself, are looked upon as a racial
sign. This physical power and ease influence the mind, and produce
self-confidence, and so increase the feeling of superiority and the joy
of living, marks of distinction in human beings.

Whether the illustration in this special case holds good or not, it
proves nothing against the truth of the theory on which it rests, and
which is gradually becoming prevalent; the view I mean, according to
which souls and bodies are mutually developed through adaptability to
their surroundings.

So it is necessary not only to investigate what conditions give the best
selection, but also what external ones strengthen or weaken the
characteristics found in natural selection. We must again see the
importance of bodily exercise. Painful experiences have taught us to
prevent the consequences of overstrain, over-exertion in competitive
imbecility, and mania for sport. Such results have specially shown
themselves to be harmful for women in respect to motherhood. Sport and
play, gymnastics and pedestrianism, life in nature and in the open air,
a regenerated system of dancing, after the model of the Swedish peasant
dances, will be most excellent bases for the physical and psychical
renewal of the new generation.

In plans concerning this renewal, people have pointed to the influence
of art; it has been shown how Burne-Jones created the new English type
of woman. It was formed by an adaption to the quiet, distinguished
style, by a process that went slowly on. This was the type regarded by
him as the model one. It is maintained that we only need to see a pair
of young English girls in front of one of his pictures, in order to
notice how not only the faces but the expressions show a resemblance.
The artist has impressed his trait on youth before it was conscious of
it. Before these forms they grew up, they have seen them in their
picture books, they have been dressed in clothes cut in the fashion of
the master's pictures. There is another reason. Mothers of the present
day are supposed to have passed on to their children the Burne-Jones
type in the same way in which the charm of the Greeks was influenced by
the beauty of their statuary. In antiquity it was believed, even in
other details, (for example, in attaining the much-longed-for blonde
hair) that this end could be secured by observing the proper directions.

As to the significance of external influences of this kind on mothers,
there is too little material still to build up conclusions. On this
point, learned men also disagree. I have only, therefore, incidentally
mentioned this factor among others. All should be established before we
can get a final and certain insight into the conditions of human birth.
In the absence of scientific knowledge I can only refer to the
literature and comprehensive investigations commenced in the preceding
century, that throw light on the riddle of man's coming into the world.
Many of these matters are still involved in obscurity. But man's spirit
is resting on the waters; gradually a new creation will be called forth
from them.

In connection with this, must be discussed the development of new ideas
of law in these spheres. Heathen society in its hardness, exposed weak
or crippled children. Christian society on the other hand, has gone so
far in its mildness, that it prolongs the life of the child who is
incurably ill, physically and psychically, even if he is misshapen and
so becomes an hourly torment to himself and his surroundings. Yet
respect for life is still not strong enough in a social order, which
keeps up among other things, the death penalty and war, that one can
without danger suggest the extinction of such a life. Only when death is
inflicted through compassion, will the humanity of the future show
itself in such a way, that the doctor under control and responsibility
can painlessly extinguish such suffering. On the other hand, this
Christian society still maintains the distinction between legitimate
children and the children of sin, a distinction which more than anything
else has helped to obstruct a real ethical conception of the duties of
parents. Every child has the same rights in respect to both father and
mother. Both parents have just the same obligation to every child. Until
this is recognised there will be no basis for the future morality of
the common life between man and woman. Some day society will look upon
the arrangements of the love relation as the private affair of
responsible individuals. Those who are lovers, those who are married
will regard themselves as completely free, and will also be so regarded.
Binding promises in respect of emotions, demands of exclusive possession
over personality, have already come to be regarded by fine feeling and
fully developed human beings as a relic of erotic sentiments on a lower
plane. These sentiments were the outcome of desire for mastery, vanity,
cruelty, and blind passion. People are beginning to see that perfect
fidelity is only to be obtained by perfect freedom; that complete
exchange of individuality can only take place in perfect freedom; that
complete excellence can only come into being in perfect freedom. Each
must cease to try to force and bend the emotions, opinions, habits, and
inclinations of the other towards him- or herself. Each must regard the
continuance of the feeling of the other as a happiness, not as a right.
Each must regard the possible cessation of this feeling as a pain, not
as an injustice. Only in this way can there arise between the two souls
such pure, full, freedom that both can move with absolute independence,
and complete unity.

Freedom is no danger to fidelity. The kind of fidelity required by the
church and by the law has certainly been a notable means of education.
But the method, as it is, is opposed to the end. For it has produced the
feeling of possession. This has led to loss of respect in the worship of
love. The requirements based on force have awakened hostility in soul
and sense; the fear of public opinion has produced all sorts of
dishonesty between man and wife, between them and the world. When the
bonds of compulsion fall away feeling will be strengthened. For when the
external supports of fidelity are wanting, the power required for it
will come from the inner life. Although human beings will be exposed
always to the possibility of serious mistakes about themselves and the
object of their love; although time can always change human beings and
their emotions; although, even in a marriage which has resulted from
mutual love, conditions can arise which make Nietzsche's ideal
legitimate, that it is better to break up the marriage than to be broken
up by it; yet on the whole freedom will encourage fidelity, which itself
will always have a support through the experience of its psychological
and ethical value.

It is not through a series of lightly entered into and lightly dissolved
connections that one is prepared for the happiness of great love.
Voluntary fidelity is a sign of nobility, because it assumes the will to
concentrate about the centre of life's meaning; because it signifies the
unity with our own proper innermost ego. This is as true of fidelity in
love as of all other kinds of fidelity. Only when love is the practical
religion of the work-day, and the devotion of the holiday, when it is
kept under the constant supervision of the soul, when it brings with it
a constant growth, (why should not the fine old word "sanctification" be
used) of personality, is love great. Then it comes into possession of a
higher right than some earlier union, because it then means really
fidelity and nothing else towards our own highest ego. But where it does
not have this character, it does not possess this right. It is then a
petty emotion even when it is made pardonable by great passion. The
children which issue from temporary unions are often as imperfect as
their origin. Great love is, as a young doctor once said, only that
which grips so deeply, that after its loss one no longer feels as a
whole, but as a half of a whole. Yet nature has protected itself against
annihilation by giving the possibility of love more than once. But what
nature's ideal is cannot be doubted. The race which would come into
existence, provided young men and women were given the possibility of
uniting when the first love took possession of them,--that love which is
the deepest,--this race would be sound and strong, different from what
our own race is now. But when young people love now they seldom have the
means for union, and when they have the means, then that which leads
them to the marriage union is not the deepest feeling they have ever
felt, but only an impulse, which, even if real, is still only a

Such a transformation of the conditions of society and of the individual
view of the true worth of life will enable young men and women, between
the ages of twenty and thirty, to found their own home and under simple
conditions, to secure their happiness. Here would be one of the most
essential foundations for the origin of a new race, which would have the
ancient feeling for the hearth as an altar, and would have the life of
love as the service of a divinity. Only through such a transformation
might it be expected that the deepest misery of society, prostitution,
could be restrained. Only after such a transformation could we with full
right require from our youth that self-mastery which is the best
pre-condition of the sound development of the new generation.

As things are at present, it is certain that just as there are really
immoral, unmarried mothers, so there are others deeply moral, who would
be mothers with a great pure love to the father of their child, but who
for various reasons should not be united with them in legal marriage.
And even if the contraction of marriage were simplified, such motherhood
on the part of single women, should continue to exist.

Bjoernsen, when he gave lectures in Norway on sexual morality,
maintained the view that the woman who wished for motherhood, but who
was not adapted in her opinion for marriage, should be fully entitled to
the first, without the last being regarded as necessary, on condition
that she was willing to fulfil to the child her maternal duties. This
idea certainly has a future. In Germany there was a well-known case in
which a fully mature woman, not a mere girl, saw shortly after her
marriage that the temperaments and conditions of both parties to the
marriage would make it an unhappiness for both. She separated,
therefore, brought her child into the world unmarried, educated it
publicly and with self-sacrifice. Now she has along with the peace which
comes from work and the happiness of motherhood, the possibility of
fulfilling her duty also as daughter, while married life would have
destroyed this for all parties. This is one of the many cases out of the
great collection of life, that shows how foolish is that requirement of
society to press human nature, in its manifold types, into one mould,
with a sphere of duty arranged in the same way for all.

But the sphere of duty, an ever-widening one, is the sphere which
embraces the right of the child. Yet its lines will be drawn in the
future bounded in quite a different way from now. It will then be looked
upon as the supreme right of the child that he shall not be born in a
discordant marriage. Above everything, therefore, marriage must be free.
This means that the two parties can freely separate after mutual
agreement. In entering into marriage and in dissolving it, only certain
duties towards the children are to be assumed. Such legal provisions
might well be superfluous even in this case; in others, they might be
important. But in none are they to become an obstacle to the development
of this relation to the children. On the other hand, the compulsory
marriage laws of to-day, as well in relation to divorce as to the
guardianship given the man, have become obstacles to the higher
development of the common life of man and woman.

The vigorous drawing together of the bonds of marriage will not protect
children from growing up in a destroyed home. This protection will be
secured by deeper earnestness in entering upon marriage, but above all
by a deeper sense of responsibility to the children themselves. This
will make it possible for the parents who see themselves deceived in
their married happiness to keep a peaceful resignation, a high
character, as they continue to live together, if they feel that this is
the best solution of the conflict, for the children who are already
born. But this resolution does not mean the continuance of real married
life, but parenthood alone. Only so can it be really useful to the
children that the marriage should not be dissolved. The parents, who are
profoundly and finally alienated must not bestow life on any new being.

Marriages lightly entered into are many; lightly entered into divorces
are few, at least where there are children. It is not the prescriptions
of the law, but those of blood which work as a restraining influence
here even at the present day. The decisive sentence is not spoken by
society but by the children. But these deep motives are just as decisive
in the case of a free union as in the case of a legal one; if the father
or the mother is only kept with the children by compulsion, the children
have not much to lose. The important thing for unwritten duties, duties
which largely can not be determined by law, is to awaken the conscience
of fathers and mothers in order to create a better morality. Perhaps for
this, new legislation is necessary for the present. Certainly antiquated
legal conceptions should be done away with; they have done good duty as
a past training for morality. Now they stand in the way of the higher
morality. The man or the woman who plays the rôle of seduction, spoiling
the life of a young woman or a young man, or disturbing the peace of a
happy marriage, this type of character, is being treated with
ever-increasing contempt. The more one learns to distinguish the
heartless play of masculine or feminine desire for conquest, the
selfish soulless claims of the senses, from those of love, the more does
the conception of morality become equivalent to the feeling of
responsibility towards the new generation.

The gratification of natural impulses, which act contrary to the real
profound intention of nature, is what destroys individuals and peoples.
But as has been said, these devastations cannot be successfully
restrained by the extermination of man's material nature.

It is a favourable symptom when a poet opposes the mastery of material
nature, apart from the feeling of responsibility. But it is harmful when
this sensuousness is made, as Tolstoi does, equivalent to the conception
of love. Love must not be debased to simple sensuousness, nor must it be
etherealised to a simple spiritual quality, if the human race is to be
freed from the debasing mastery of impulse. This happens, as I have
often shown before, and in an earlier part of this work as well, by the
elevation of sensuousness to love. I mean by this that the spiritual
unity of beings, the indulgence of tenderness, the sympathy of souls,
the community of work, and the happiness of comradeship, will be as
really decisive factors in the lofty emotions of love, and in the charm
of love, as the attraction of the senses. This wealth in the elements of
mutual dependence is what keeps fidelity in love both inwardly and
outwardly. This soft current of the soul's depths keeps the sensuous
charm fresh; while mere relation, both legal marriage and free union,
very soon exhausts happiness and leaves behind ennui, if love has
contained only sensuous attraction, and not that mutual feeling of
dependence, which involves the union of the soul and the sense, and
which unites the spirit and the sympathies.

The duty and responsibility towards the children will be all the more
strict as society learns to regard it as one of its principal duties to
hinder all thoughtless and undeserved suffering.

The morality of the future will not be found in sacrificing to the
holiness of the family so-called illegitimate children, who are often by
nature richly endowed, but who by the prevailing legal system receive
such treatment, that they often become what they are called, and so are
filled with vengeance against society and the perverse conceptions of
law whose victims they are. Child murder, phosphorous poisonings,
"angel-making"--all these are connected with these perverse legal ideas.
But all of these results are still less pernicious than those which
society draws upon itself through those "disgraced" children, who go to
ruin not physically but psychically. In them, there are not only
frequently good powers lost, but socially destructive powers developed.
When the whole of Europe shuddered over the murder of the Empress
Elizabeth, one fact above every other seemed to me terrible. The
murderer confessed, "I know nothing of my parents."

The time will come in which the child will be looked upon as holy, even
when the parents themselves have approached the mystery of life with
profane feelings; a time in which all motherhood will be looked upon as
holy, if it is caused by a deep emotion of love, and if it has called
forth deep feelings of duty.

Then the child, who has received its life from sound, loving human
beings and has been afterwards brought up wisely and lovingly, will be
called legitimate, even if its parents have been united in complete
freedom. Then will the child, who has been born in a loveless marriage,
and has been burdened by the fault of its parents with bodily or mental
disease, be regarded as illegitimate, even if its parents have been
united in marriage by the Pope at St. Peter's. The shadow of contempt
will not fall on the unmarried tender mother of a radiantly healthy
child, but on the legitimate or illegitimate mother of a being made
degenerate by the misdeeds of its forefathers.

In a much discussed drama called _The Lion's Whelp_, there occurs the
following dialogue between an older and younger man:

     THE OLDER MAN: The next century will be the century of the child,
     just as this century has been the woman's century. When the child
     gets his rights, morality will be perfected. Then every man will
     know that he is bound to the life which he has produced with other
     bonds, than those imposed by society and the laws. You understand
     that a man cannot be released from his duty as father even if he
     travels around the world; a kingdom can be given and taken away,
     but not fatherhood.

     THE YOUTH: I know this.

     THE OLDER MAN: But in this all righteousness is still not
     fulfilled--in man's carefully preserving the life which he has
     called into existence. No man can early enough think over the other
     question, whether and when he has the right to call life into

This dialogue has supplied me with a title for this book. It is the
point of departure of my assertion, that the first right of the child
is to select its own parents.

What here must be first considered is the thought constantly being
brought out by Darwinian writers, that the natural sciences, in which
must now be numbered psychology, should be the basis of juristic science
as well as of pedagogy. Man must come to learn the laws of natural
selection and act in the spirit of these laws. Man must arrange the
punishments of society in the service of development; they must be
protective measures for natural selection. In the first place this must
be secured by hindering the criminal type from perpetuating itself. The
characteristics of this type can only be determined by specialists. But
the criminal must be prevented from handing on his characteristics to
his posterity.

So the human race will be gradually freed from atavisms which reproduce
lower and preceding stages of development. This is the first condition
of that evolution by which mankind will be able to let the ape and tiger
die. Then comes the requirement that those with inherited physical or
psychical diseases shall not transmit them to an offspring.

As to this type of heredity opinions are still very much divided. Great
authorities are in conflict with one another on the question of
tuberculosis. Some contend that it is hereditary, others declare that it
is only transmitted by infection. Accordingly when a child is born of a
tuberculous mother, and is taken away from her, there is no danger for
the child. Views are also divided on the subject of cancer. Regarding
other diseases, however, there is complete certainty. Legislation has
already interfered in the case of epilepsy, although the law in practice
is not always applied. But in the case of syphilis, alcoholism, and many
kinds of nervous complaints, diseases which afflict children most
certainly, in various ways, legislation has yet done nothing.

There is an old axiom that we are obliged to thank our parents for life.
Our parents, I know from my own experience, can themselves have been the
heirs of bodily and mental health, resulting from the fact that maternal
and paternal ancestors all made early, right, and happy marriages. But
generally, parents must on their part, ask the children's pardon for the
children's existence.

It makes no difference, whether we talk with people sunken in necessity
or crime, or with those suffering from nervous and other diseases, or
finally with people who are spiritually maimed. In most cases we are
convinced that the main cause of their condition as indicated by them,
goes back to their birth, or to the time of their childish
consciousness. Sometimes their parents have been too young or too old,
their fathers or mothers invalids. Sometimes they are the offspring of
intemperance. Again their mother may have been overburdened by the
torment of work, or by a large family of children; or they may have
received their life in marriages concluded without love, or after the
cessation of love. They have been unwelcome, or born under feelings of
revulsion, bearing in their blood the germ of discord or disgust of
life. Numerous abnormal tendencies, among them misanthropy in women, can
be traced back to these causes. Finally they have been brought up in a
home where they have suffered from the burden of bad examples, or
conflicting influences.

So strong has the conviction of the meaning of heredity become that
young men, who have themselves borne a burden, imposed by generations of
one character or another, have begun to see that it is their duty
rather to abstain from marriage than to transmit their unfortunate
inheritence to a new generation. I knew a woman in whose family on her
father's and mother's side, mental disease was inherited. Therefore,
though healthy herself, she refused to marry the man she loved. I know
of another who broke her engagement, because she was convinced that the
man whom she loved was a drinker, and she did not want to give her
children such a father. It is especially on this point that women sin in
marrying from ignorance, because they do not know that epilepsy and
other diseases, especially alcoholism, are often caused because the
child has had a drunkard for a father. A young woman could have no more
certain test for the continuance of her feelings for a man, than whether
she feels exalted joy or tormenting distress, at the thought of seeing
his characteristics transmitted to their child.

Men sin against the coming race not only by excessive drinking, but in
other respects where the results are still more destructive.

Besides the conscience of men must begin to awaken. This will express
itself partly in the requirement to abstain from marriage when they know
that they have to transmit a bad inheritance, partly in other spheres
of morality as in the following examples:

A young man, himself a physician, thought he was healthy when he
married. He discovered his mistake and found himself confronting the
choice of wronging his wife or separating from her. As they were deeply
in love, the only possible way was separation. He chose death which he
inflicted on himself in such a way that his wife thought it was caused
by accident.

Another man acted in the same way after he had been married several
years and had three children; he found out that he was his wife's

But these incidents as the one before mentioned, where women are
concerned, are notoriously only isolated examples. It will require the
development of several generations before it will be the woman's
instinct, an irresistibly mastering instinct, to allow no physically or
psychically degenerated or perverted man to become the father of her
children. The instinct of the man is far stronger in this direction, but
it is dulled too by an antiquated legal conception, according to which
the woman must subject herself as a duty to requirements against which
her whole being revolts. In this respect a woman has only one duty, an
unmistakable one, against which every transgression is a sin, namely
that the new being to which she gives life, must be born in love and
purity, in health and beauty, in full mutual harmony, in a complete
common will, in a complete common happiness. Until women see this as a
duty, the earth will continue to be peopled by beings, who in a moment
of their existence have been robbed of the best pre-conditions of their
life's happiness and their life's efficiency. Occasionally they show
plainly at an early age the sign of degeneration or of discord.
Occasionally they seem for a long time to be healthy and powerful
specimens of humanity, until in some critical moment they go to pieces
through an insufficient supply of physical and psychical vitality caused
by their very origin.

As to marriages between healthy and active individuals, legislation can
do nothing. Ethics alone can exert an influence for betterment. Children
must be taught from their earliest years about their existence and their
future duties as men and women. So mothers and fathers together can
impress on the conscience of the children not any abstract conception
of purity, but the concrete commandment of chastity in letters of fire.
So they will keep their health, their attractiveness, their
guilelessness, for the being they are to love; for the children who from
this love will receive their life.

The impulse to preserve the species, it is true, makes human beings low,
small, or laughable; as poets like Maupassant, Tolstoi, and others have
depicted from quite different points of view; but it only does so when
the impulse appears without relation to the end given it in nature, or
when this end is attained without consideration for the production of an
offspring qualified to live. The kind of love which disturbs life is
that which diminishes the value of an individual as a creator of life.
This type of love really degrades human beings, is immoral from the
standpoint of the modern view, which wills life to be, but above all,
wills the progress of life to ever higher forms.

Young people must therefore learn to reverence their future duties.
These they altogether miss, if they squander their spiritual and bodily
obligations, in unions formed and dissolved thoughtlessly, without any
intention of fidelity, without the worth of responsibility. But they
must also know that it is a still greater transgression of their duty if
the life of a child is called forth with cold hearts and cold temper,
whether this happens in a marriage based on worldly motives or one
maintained on moral grounds in which the previously existing discord is
transmitted to a new being.

Mothers made apathetic and unresponsive, by the consciousness of
numerous breaches of faith, towards their youthful dreams, their ideal
convictions, are often precisely those, who in their children, struggle
against the pure instincts of love, its chaste and strong feelings, its
higher aims. They often teach that love as a rule ends after marriage,
that marriages can be made without love. This is a process of thought
resembling the conclusion that a vessel can quite well go into the sea
with some defect, since it is possible in any event that it will be
damaged. They speak of the impurity of the senses, of the advantages of
a marriage based on friendship and reason, of the calming power of duty.
All of these are chilly processes of reason by which souls, filled with
the warmth of life, are killed. Daughters must be helped by their
mothers, wisely and delicately, in order to be protected from hasty
acts, in order to distinguish with open eyes, when their feelings
themselves are uncertain. It must be branded upon their souls and their
nerves that they will be fallen beings if they give themselves from
other reasons than from reciprocated love. Under these convictions
alone, will there be a great transformation of present ethical
standards. Men think that they can do with marriage what they will; that
they can enter upon it with any kind of motive; they think that they
must marry from feelings of duty, to fulfil some given engagement, or to
atone for some fault; that they have the right to enter upon a marriage
without love because they long for home life. While these things are
regarded as legitimate, men stand on the same ethical level as the
person who commits murder because he has first stolen, or has stolen
because he was hungry. The great crime against the holiness of
generation is believing that one can treat arbitrarily, the most
sensitive sphere of life, the sphere where innumerable secret influences
order the destiny of a new generation.

While children continue to be born in the cold atmosphere of duty, or in
the stormy atmosphere of discord, while people continue to regard such
marriages as moral, while people can transmit to their children all
kinds of intellectual mutilation and bodily unsoundness, and their
parents continue to be called honorable, so long will the world be
without the slightest conception of that morality which will mould the
new mankind.

This morality has still more exalted precepts. To-day it seldom happens
that a young girl enters marriage in ignorance, but in my generation I
know cases where the ignorance of the bride resulted in insanity. In
another case this ignorance led to thoughts of suicide; in a third, the
child was regarded with coldness by its mother; in the fourth, the child
had abnormal psychic qualities. Still it is not sufficient for the ideal
beauty of marriage and the harmony of the child that the woman knows in
general what is before her. A young man said once to me that most
marriages are spoilt at the very beginning, because the man brings with
him the point of view and the habits of those degraded women, from whom
he has received his initiation into love; frequently he annihilates
forever the tenderest element in his relation to his wife. He damages
the most beautiful factor in their mutual feelings. Man must learn to
have reverence and patience, and I know men who have shown these
characteristics really because they saw that their wives gave, as is not
unfrequently the case, their souls and their hearts before their senses
were awakened. Only the constant close association taught them to desire
a completed marriage. A child should receive life only through this
common impulse. Many children are born, as it is, in legalised
prostitution, in legalised rape. Yet there is wanting in the consciences
of many women and men, the slightest shadow of religious reverence, of
æsthetic feeling before the greatest mystery of existence. And yet we
continue in the name of morality to veil for youth the nakedness of
nature and we neglect to inspire their feeling of devotion towards their
own being as the shrine in which the mystery of life must some day be

In this mystery there are still hidden fields only penetrated by the
intuition. Here and there a profound poet has surmised the innumerable
affinities or repulsions which under changing spiritual and material
dispositions with altering opinions, condition the life of love in
modern human beings, the mystic influences which sometimes forever,
sometimes partially, can change the deepest feeling. All these mystic
influences, the tender woof of all these fine threads, will then be a
part of the living fabric of the child. These secret processes explain
the great differences between children of the same parents,--children
who externally are born and brought up in quite similar conditions.

In all these promptings of instinct, in all these categorical
imperatives of the nerves and the blood, human beings must be at the
same time obedient listeners and strict masters. On this depends the
future happiness of love, and with it a happier future race.

The people of to-day live under inherited morals and newly acquired
transgressions of morality. Both must be conquered before soul and sense
in love can become inseparable, or in other words, before this unity is
recognised as the only possible moral basis of the relation between man
and woman.

Talented men, as well as one-sided advocates of women's rights, think
that the development will take quite a different course, after the low
impulse which is at the basis of love has been laid bare and
scientifically analysed. They say that the superior person will satisfy
the impulse shamelessly and animally, without any emotional decoration;
or he will isolate himself from its influence and devote to more noble
purposes that vital power, that emotional capacity, which is now
consumed by love.

Nothing impossible is to be found in this point of view. I have shown
more than once that woman by her maternal functions, uses up so much
physical and psychical energy, that in the sphere of intellectual
production she must remain of less significance. What I at an earlier
period assumed intuitively, has been substantiated since then by a
specialist. A Finnish doctor has shown how the vital power of lower
organisms, is concentrated in sexual production. But the higher man
goes, so much more power is made free. This power which is not consumed
in the production of new generations, can serve intellectual production.
Each of the two different productive expressions of human vital action
must to a certain extent limit the development of the power of the
other, and restrict its capacity of work. The same writer contends that
this is the natural cause of the more limited fertility of civilised
man, and will be, according to the pessimists named above, the decisive
factor in the prophesied downfall of love.

According to my conception of the word, it is love on the contrary,
which will win the victory by the relative weakening of impulse, and by
scientific analysis of the same. Men will no longer mistake impulse for
love. Of course this impulse is always present in love, but in the same
way in which the sculpture of the cave man is present in the work of
Michael Angelo. Man will then, with all the powers of his being, be able
to love, when love, according to the happy expression of Thoreau, is not
a glow, but a light. Then he will see for the first time, what wealth
life can have through love, when love becomes a happiness worthy of man
because it becomes an æsthetic creation, a religious worship; when the
completed unity of those who love is expressed in a new being,--a being
that will some day be really grateful for the life it has received.
Where the amelioration of the human race is concerned, the
transformation of customs and feelings is always the essential thing.
Influence of legislation in comparison with it is ever slight. But as
has been said before, legislation has its role to play. Especially
where there are diseases which can certainly be transmitted, society
must interfere to restrict marriage. In Germany and America a good
proposal has been made, for the period of transition in this direction.
It is suggested that the law shall require as an obligatory condition
for marriage, a certificate of a medical witness with complete data as
to the health of both parties. Those who contract marriage will continue
to have their freedom of choice but at least they would not enter
ignorantly upon marriage as they do now, and expose themselves and their
children to disastrous consequences. It appears to me to be at least as
important for society to have a medical certificate as to capacity for
marriage, as it is for military service. In the one case, we deal with
giving life, in the other with taking it away. And although the latter
has certainly been, up till now, regarded as a more serious occasion
than the former, still an awakening social conscience should demand
progress in this direction. It is conceivable that from this beginning
new customs will develop; further legislation may be dispensed with;
human beings will agree to sacrifice the most dangerous of all
liberties, giving life to a defective offspring, while prohibition of
marriage now would not hinder parenthood. For the great mass might
continue, outside of marriage, to rob children of the possibilities of
health and happiness, by burdening them with inherited diseases or bad

Nietzsche, who knew little of love because he knew nothing of woman, and
who therefore on this subject says little worthy of attention, has still
spoken more profoundly on the subject of parenthood than any
contemporary writer. He saw what impurity, what poverty are concealed
under the name of marriage. He saw how meretricious, how ignorant
education is. In his writings are to be found prophetical and poetical
words describing the end aimed at in parenthood, and showing what true
parenthood should be.

     I will that thy victory and thy emancipation shall yearn for a
     child. Living memorials shalt thou build for thy victory, and for
     thy emancipation.

     Thou must build upward to a height beyond thyself. But first I
     would have thee thyself built with a square foundation, body and

     See that through thee the race progresses, not continues only.

     Let a true marriage help thee to this end.

     A more exalted being must thou create, a being gifted with
     initiative like a wheel that turns itself. A creative principle
     shouldst thou create.

     Marriage: I call marriage the will shared by two, to create the
     one,--the one that is in itself more than its creators. Reverence
     for one another, I call marriage; such reverence as is meet for
     those whose wills are united in this one act of will.



There are few factors in the life of the present in which the dualism
between theory and practice is greater and more unconscious than in
questions concerning woman. The protagonists of the feminist movement
are in many cases sturdily Christian. They protest with vigour against
the idea that they could have any share in the sort of emancipation of
personality that includes freedom for all the powers and activities of
the personality. Individualism, and the assertion of self are for them
degrading words with a sinful significance. That the emancipation of
women is practically the greatest egoistic movement of the nineteenth
century, and the most intense affirmation of the right of the self that
history has yet seen, they have no suspicion. Freedom for the powers and
the personality of woman have never appeared to them except as an ideal
struggle for justice, as a noble victory to be won. In its deepest
meaning this is as true of every other effort at self-affirmation, the
end of which is the recognition of the right of human personality to the
full development of capacities in a sphere of freedom, where
responsibility belongs to the self alone. But just as every other such
affirmation of the individual self, of a class, of a race, easily falls
into an unjustifiable egoism, so with the emancipation of woman.

This great, deep, serious movement for woman's emancipation has in the
course of time received a new name, the "Woman Question." The change in
terminology signifies a change in the attitude of thought. From a real
emancipation movement, that is, a movement to free the restricted powers
of woman and her restricted personality, the movement has become a
question, a social institution with officers, a church system with
dogmas. Certainly we still hear in books and speeches that the woman
question is being discussed and urged, in its relation to the happiness
and development of the whole of humanity. But in reality the woman
question, since it became a fact, a cause with an end of its own, since
its champions have lost more and more their appreciation of its
connection with other great questions of the day, is tending to
increase the civil rights and the fields of woman's labour. In both
cases people really have the women of the upper classes in view. This
has been the end, and it is thoroughly justified and justifiable. But,
in striving for this end, those who are aiming at it have come more and
more into opposition to the first and highest of all rights, the rights
of the individual woman to think her own thoughts, to go her own ways,
even when these thoughts and these ways follow other courses than those
of the advocates of woman's rights. While this group is, on one hand,
very far from conceding to the individual woman the freedom which
belongs to her, it is, on the other hand, blind to the results of the
self-assertion of the whole female sex. In taking up work more and more
external in character, they are blind to the profound and revolutionary
effects of this movement, on the conditions of labour in the present
day, on the existence of man and the family, on society as a whole.

Doing away with an unjust paragraph in a law which concerns woman,
turning a hundred women into a field of work where only ten were
occupied before, giving one woman work where formerly not one was
employed,--these are the mile-stones in the line of progress of the
woman's rights movement. It is a line pursued without consideration of
feminine capacities, nature, and environment.

The exclamation of a woman's rights champion when another woman had
become a butcher, "Go thou and do likewise," and an American young lady
working as an executioner, are, in this connection, characteristic

The emancipation of woman has practically ceased to be the freedom which
enlarges soul and heart. It is conducted quite officially, like a
business, and dogmatically, too, without feeling for the pulsating
manifoldness of life, and has become an egoistic self-concentrated
campaign. On this account I, and many others of my generation, with many
more of the younger generation, stand outside of the movement, although
we actively wished, and still wish, for the freedom of woman. The
champions of woman's rights, like the champions of other movements for
rights, illustrate the truth of the old Swedish saying, that "what we
are pursuing is really only a runaway horse attached to our waggon." How
blindly the fanatics of woman's rights have rushed by the other needs of
the time can be best measured by considering their attitude towards the
greatest question of the day--I mean the social question.

The old advocates of woman's rights maintain that the adult woman must
have the same right as the adult man to "protect" herself, and they ask
why the woman is hindered from working because she is married, or
because she has children. Protective legislation drives woman from the
factories and workshops; and this legislation is very far, they tell us,
from meriting the support of women. Women, on the contrary, they say,
should demand the same protective legislation for women as for men. They
ask for technical instruction and an extended field of work for women.

This whole argument is quite logical from the point of view that
limitation of woman's labour is opposed to one of the foremost
principles of our time,--the self-determination of the individual. This
implies the right of the adult woman, as well as the adult man, to
choose her own work. Privileges on the ground of sex only hinder the
woman from being put on an equality with man before the law.

But all these arguments are based on the sophistical notion which
perverts the whole feminist movement. The idea is to free woman from the
limitations of nature. It involves, too, the other sophistical notion
with which capitalistic society meets every demand of protective
legislation for men, women, or children. Such legislation is said to be
an interference with the individual's right of choice.

Every human being who is socially alive is aware that this right to
control one's life is the emptiest phrase to describe reality in a
society built up on a capitalistic basis. It is doubly empty where woman
is concerned. I have never heard a woman desire that woman should fulfil
military duties as an equivalent for having civil rights like man. But
this would be the consequence of the argument that woman should have no
privileges on the ground of her sex. The greatest privilege that can be
thought of in modern society is to be spared the discomforts and loss of
time that come from military training, to be exempt from the dangers and
the terrors of war. That women are not absolutely incapable of service
in warfare, women have shown on many occasions, especially in the Boer
War. So when the advocates of women's rights hesitate before this
extreme consequence of their principle, and introduce the functions of
motherhood as a cogent ground for the privilege of being freed from
military service in time of war (even if women at some time should
receive the same civil rights now enjoyed by man), they are in the
highest degree illogical. Other women with more logic declare that on
another battle-field, a still more destructive one, that of the factory
system, the same maternal functions require certain privileges for
woman, and these same functions must result in subjecting her to certain
limitations of her individual right to control her life. That is, she
cannot pass beyond the limits drawn by nature, without interfering with
the rights of another, the potential child.

It lies in the individual sphere of woman's choice as of man's choice
not to choose marriage, or to desire it without parenthood; and for
exemption from the latter, real altruistic as well as real egoistic
reasons can be urged. It lies in the individual choice of the woman, as
well as of the man, to isolate herself from what may be regarded as an
obstacle to her individual development, or to her freedom of movement.
She can do without love or motherhood, if the one or both of these are
regarded from this point of view. Woman has the full right to allow
herself to be turned into a third sex, the sex of the working bees, or
the sexless ant, provided she finds in this her highest happiness.

A good while ago I was ingenuous enough to maintain that motherhood was
the central factor of existence for most women. In the discussion of
this question I considered several facts: woman's work imposed by
necessity, woman's ambition stimulated by the freedom of her power,
woman's intellectual life modified by many other influences of
contemporary thought,--all these have forced the maternal instinct into
the background for the time being. Here was a danger which, it seemed,
was not too late to expose. There are women in whom the feeling of love
is really and absolutely stunted; there are others who do not find in
modern man the soulful and profound harmony in love that they quite
rightly demand; there are others, more numerous, who wish for love but
do not wish for motherhood. They absolutely fear it. The famous German
authoress Gabrielle Reuter has spoken of this fear, this alarm of
motherhood continually vigilant, active, placing woman in an attitude of
self-defence,--a fear which to-day has taken possession of so many
strenuous and creative women. The alarm, the aversion, becomes so
strong, so dominant in them that one might almost believe it a dark
perverse instinct, which, like all unnatural instincts, has been
conceived and born through cruel necessities, and through these
necessities has become overmastering. It is as if a secret voice in the
depths of their nature was telling these women that, by paying their
tribute to their sex, they would lose that power, brilliancy, and
sharpness of intellect by which they have elevated themselves above
their sex; and perhaps certain kinds of women are right in having this

I am convinced, just as the German writer is, that every actual
phenomenon of disease and of health alike is a necessary result from
given causes; and I am more convinced than the advocates of women's
rights ever were, that it is in the sphere of human freedom to choose
one's own type of development, happiness, or ruin. I am not inclined to
say anything further to the women who do not desire motherhood.

It would be very disastrous if these women, who have never been moved by
tenderness when they felt a soft childish hand in their own, who have
never longed to surrender themselves entirely to another being, were to
become mothers. Their children would be more unfortunate than they

Many women like these are to be found to-day, and if things remain as
they are, they are bound to increase in numbers. In some of them,
however, the maternal instinct is not dead, but only dormant. Modern
women with their capacity for psychic analysis, with their physical and
psychical refinement, are often repelled by the crudeness, the
ignorance, or the importunities of man's nature. The whole factor of
love in the being of these women is shrivelled up as a bud that has
never blossomed, and in enthusiasm for a duty, or for a woman friend,
they find an expression for that sacrifice whose real aim they deny or
overlook, a something which ends often by avenging itself in a tragic

I am simply insisting that every woman, who has not yet ceased to desire
motherhood, has duties as a girl, and still more as a woman, to the
unborn generation from which she cannot free herself without absolute
selfishness. This selfishness is often disguised under a great impulse,
an impulse which, like that of the preservation of the species, masters
existence. I mean the impulse of self-protection. But it is just this
that should make the "obligatory" egoism of the modern working woman
appear so terrible to those who are busied with the emancipation of

To talk of the freedom of woman, of her individual right to control her
actions, when she works like a beast of burden to reach a minimum of
existence, to keep from dying of starvation, to talk of the freedom of
women where conditions are such that the free choice of work, for man as
well as for woman, is an empty phrase--to put it mildly, it is
senseless. I will throw some light on the results of freedom by the
following illustration:

When women in England worked in white lead factories, seventy-seven
women were examined in one factory. It appeared in the time covered by
the investigation that there were among this number ninety miscarriages,
twenty-seven cases of still-born children; beside, forty young children
died of convulsions produced by the poisoning of their mothers. The
effects of this occupation were most harmful in the case of women from
eighteen to twenty-three years of age. Lameness, blindness, and other
infirmities resulted from this kind of work.

An English doctor has shown from exact investigations conducted during
a number of years, that the enormous mortality among young children in
factory districts arises chiefly because the child is deprived of a
mother's care a few weeks after birth. A child needs its mother's milk
at least six months, and the mother's milk cannot be substituted by
artificial means, least of all when the substitutes are used with
carelessness. In certain textile factory districts, in Nottingham, for
example, where lace is produced, and where people have complained of the
law limiting women's work, out of each thousand children, two hundred
die annually. Mortality in factory districts is four to five times
greater than in country districts; and yet the death of children is,
relatively speaking, a lesser evil. More unfortunate still is it that
those who survive always suffer partial weakness from the lack of a
mother's care at a tender age.

In Silesia, where children and quite young girls are employed in the
glass industry, the work has so distorted their bodily structure that
when they bear children, their sufferings are intense. Such unique
material do they offer for the study of obstetrics, that doctors make
pilgrimages to Silesia to learn from their cases.

Before women have reached maturity, when they can, according to the
advocates of women's rights, protect themselves, they are ruined
physically. If it is said that the facts mentioned above belong to the
question of the protection of children, not to that of the protection of
women, the answer lies close at hand. The physical and moral interest of
children and of women are so mutually related, that they cannot be
separated. Crippled women have children who are stunted at the time of
their birth. The burden of toil they take up with weakened power of
resistance and they transmit this weakness to their offspring. Cause and
effect are so intimately associated here, that they cannot be accurately
apportioned between the work of women and the work of children.

Even the advocates of women's rights must, allow that the limit of their
claims to right is to be found where the right of another begins. They
cannot suppose that the individual right of the woman to control her
life should go so far that a woman could take a piece of a neighbour's
property to lay out a garden, or use for an industrial scheme a part of
the water power belonging to some one else.

Can they not see that woman's individual freedom is limited by the
rights of another, by the rights of the potential child? The potential
child has its own proper rights, its own vital power. This property, the
woman has not the right to encroach upon in advance.

A woman, who from one motive or another, great or small, permanently
keeps outside of the marriage relation, has complete right to ruin
herself by work, provided she does not, as a result of so doing, become
a burden to others through incapacity.

But the woman who looks forward to motherhood as a possibility for
herself, or the woman who is expecting to become a mother, should not,
through an unlimited amount of voluntary work or of work forced upon her
contrary to her will, sacrifice the capacities for life and work of an
unborn generation, in such a way that she will bring into the world
weak, invalid, or physically incapable children, who will later on be

It does not occur to the dogmatic advocates of women's rights that their
talk about the individual freedom of the woman to control her career,
their contention that no limitation need restrict woman's power of
deciding her own vocation, because they are married or are mothers,
mean the most crying injury, not only to children, but to women
themselves. For the demand of equality, where nature has made
inequality, brings about the injury of the weaker factor. Equality is
not justice. Often it is just the opposite, the most absolute injustice.

The strongest reasoning will not convince those advocates of women's
rights who discuss woman's labour from the old-fashioned level of
individualism, unaffected by the social feeling of solidarity, which is
the solution offered by our age. But fortunately protective legislation
does not depend on the women who advocate the rights of women. The
workingmen's movement, aided by women and men of all classes who are
active in it, will carry through this legislation. The movement for the
normal working day is steadily gaining ground.

Experience has shown that, because of the greater intensity of the work
done, just as much can be accomplished in a shorter as in a longer time.
The first concern has been the work of children and of younger adults.
The effect of factory life on the health of women themselves, as well as
on their children, has excited general attention. In England first,
then in other European countries, it has become recognised as necessary
that a normal period of work should be laid down for women as well. The
programme was and continues to be threefold:--a maximum working time for
women's work; limitation, or, better still, the cessation of night work
on the part of women; the prevention, too, of the work of women in mines
and in certain other industries dangerous to health; finally the
protection of women who are about to become mothers. In most European
countries there is now a maximum working time fixed at eight to eleven
hours. Night work, work in mines, and extra work, is either forbidden or
considerably limited, and a rest period of three to eight weeks is
established for women at childbirth.

From all points of view, an eight-hour working day should be the highest
limit for woman's work. There are more reasons for it in her case than
for man's work. The eight-hour day means not only for the woman as for
the man the possibility of enjoying her life in permanent health; it
secures time for improving recreation. For the married woman it is an
indispensable requirement. Without it her home cannot be kept in order
and comfort, her children cannot be physically cared for; without it
she is not able to co-operate in their education. The normal working day
is, therefore, more necessary for the woman than for the man, because on
her, rather than on him, comes the burden of household work. The dangers
of night work, as of work in mines, are from the standpoint of health
and morality so plain, that no further reason need be urged to defend
protective legislation in this case.

But not only the theoretical principles of women's rights are urged
against this legislation. Socialists as well as the advocates of women's
rights are responsible for different objections of a more solid
character. It is urged that legislation will increase the number of
unemployed women who, in order to live, will be forced into
prostitution, but it is forgotten that the same result comes from low
wages in many occupations, and that these low wages are caused by an
over-supply of working women. It is said, also, that if protective
legislation hinders or prevents women from working, they will not be
able to care for their children and the children will be employed in the
factory in their stead. The way out of the last difficulty is absolutely
plain: the complete prohibition of all work by children under fifteen
years of age.

It is urged also that if women are hindered by legislation from
fulfilling the demands of their occupation, the result will be, not that
they are protected in their occupation, but that the occupation is
protected against them. The remedy in this case is certainly difficult,
but not impossible to find. Let only the tenth part of the energy now
used in agitation for the free right of women to labour be employed in
preparing women for such labour as they are suited to undertake. But
even when this cannot be done protective legislation carries with it its
own corrective. It is always urged that the occupation will be destroyed
by protective legislation. Then new methods and new machines will be
invented to replace cheap labour power. Those who are protected often
themselves complain that they suffer economically under protective
legislation, but a long experience will show them how, through the
reciprocal effects of all factors in production, the temporary failures
will be balanced. A potent remedy for this effect of protective
legislation may be looked for in the assertion, found in the programmes
of all labour parties, of the right of the unemployed to have work, and
a fixed minimum wage. These demands along with that for a normal working
day, in which is included rest at night and rest on Sunday, and other
measures for the protection of workingmen against accident and old age,
are the chief methods by which the labour question, both for men and
women, will be solved. Until these aims are realised Ruskin's judgment
on modern industrialism which kills the real humanity in man holds good
both for men and for women. We make, he says, everything except real
men; we bleach cotton; we harden and improve steel; we refine sugar; we
make porcelain and print books; but to refine a single living soul, to
reform it, to improve it never enters into our reckoning of profit.

The women of the working classes must continue to endure the suffering,
to bear the dangers, to subject themselves to the forces which
solidarity in this great struggle implies. Only under these conditions
can men as well as women elevate themselves, partly by their own
combination, partly by the extension of the principle, more and more
coming to be recognised, that society, through its legislation, can
determine the conditions under which its members work. So will be
produced conditions of life and of work worthy of mankind,--a
healthier, stronger, and more beautiful race. In this ever continuing
progress every part is related to every other part.

Unorganised, ordinary and therefore badly paid work, done by woman,
diminishes the wages of man and his opportunity of work. Work in a
factory unfits the woman for the conduct of the household, for her
duties as a mother. In the turmoil, heat, and rush of the factory her
nerves are destroyed and with them her finer emotions. The woman loses
not only the right hand, but also the right heart for family life. Badly
conditioned women make marriage more difficult for the man; through
celibacy, his mortality is increased. Low wages, or times of lack of
employment, cause bad dwellings, bad clothes, and bad nourishment. The
tortured or ill-conditioned woman is not able to prepare anything good
with the small amount of money which the man may earn. From all of this
come intemperance and disease. Through these causes, combined with those
already noted, the population of factory districts degenerates, in
republican Switzerland, not less than in absolutistic Russia.

It is true that such limitations of work in many cases are felt, as
well by the single woman as by the family. The restriction of child
labour may bring immediate discomfort. But all this is a passing evil.
It can be corrected, as soon as it is clearly seen in what direction the
advance along all the line is being made. This kind of progress moves in
zigzag fashion. What decides whether temporary limitation of freedom
makes for progress or not is whether one finds, in turning from the
individual, or small groups, to the great whole, that the last is
gaining, that in the future, freedom and happiness for all will be
increased by this temporary limitation of freedom.

In other relations of life it is a just law that he who goes into a game
must abide by its rules. But this rule cannot be applied to that very
cruel game which we call life. We do not go into it of our own will.
Children have the right not to be obliged to suffer for the mistakes and
errors of their parents. How this suffering can be best avoided in case
of an inharmonious marriage must be decided by the different
individuals, as a question belonging to them alone. As I have already
shown, change of custom in relation to the time, age, and motives for
marriage is the surest protection for the children, a protection that
will gradually be extended. Under a serious conviction of woman's duty
as a member of her sex, it will be regarded as a crime for a young wife
voluntarily to ill-treat her person, either by excessive study, or
excessive attention to sports, by tight-lacing, or consumption of
sweets, by smoking or the use of stimulants, by sitting up at night,
excessive work, or by all the thousand other ways by which these
attractive simpletons sin against nature, until nature finally loses all
patience with them.

It must be demanded of the laws of society that they hinder involuntary
crimes of unprotected women against their feminine nature.

This is the great work of woman's emancipation; everything else compared
with it is non-essential. Through their failure to see this the present
representatives of women's rights are working against progress, though
they themselves apply the word reactionary to all who assert that the
only way by which the woman question as a whole can be solved is through
the social revolution. In this revolution protective legislation is an
important factor.

According to my method of thinking, and that of many others, not woman
but the mother is the most precious possession of the nation, so
precious that society advances its own highest well-being when it
protects the functions of the mother. These functions are not limited to
birth nor to the nourishment of the child; but they go on during the
whole time of its training. I believe that in the new society where all
women and men alike will be compelled to work (not children, not
invalids, and not the aged) people will regard the maternal function as
so important for the whole social order, that every mother under fixed
conditions, subject to certain control, during a certain period, and for
a certain number of children, will obtain from society an allowance for
education. She will receive this during the time in which her children
require all her care, while she herself is freed from work outside the
home. Naturally this does not exclude the case of mothers who from one
or another reason cannot devote themselves to the care and training of
their children; they can by their own productive work secure a
substitute. But for the majority of women, the proposal made above would
undoubtedly be the real solution of many problems which now seem
insoluble. I do not believe that social development will maintain the
old ideal of the father as the one who takes care of the family. I
hope, rather, that the new conception of having every individual look
after himself will gain more ground. The father will then be, in the
real sense of the word, the educator, when the care for the maintenance
of the family does not press him down to the ground. A woman will then,
as mother of the family, not be in dependence on the man,--a position
she feels as humiliating, if as a girl she earned her own living. People
are bound to return to this new form of matriarchy, when they begin to
consider care of the new generation, as the great business the mother
takes over for society. During its progress society must guarantee her
existence. In many cases, the answer of the married woman who works
outside the home would be as follows: That her happiness would consist
in quietly looking after her children, and in being able to keep house,
but that she must have an income that would make her independent of her
husband. A Swedish evening paper, the special organ of the feminist
movement, two years ago started an investigation on the productive work
of married women. The answers, contrary to the expectations of the
paper, were nearly unanimous in showing what dangers for children, and
what interference with household comfort, were caused by the woman
working outside the home. An impartial investigation of the causes of
the increasing brutality of the young would show certainly that the
rapid increase in crime in several countries among the young is caused
partly by their prematurely taking up productive work, and partly by
early lack of home life, the result of the mother working outside the

If the world is agreed that children must still continue to be born and
that a home furnishes generally the best means for training them during
the first years of their life, the present consequences of woman's work
done outside the home must cause pessimism; such work must be stopped.
After we have thought over the matter, it is plain that nothing is now
more needed than such plans of social order, such programmes of
education, as will give the mother back to her children and to her home.

Everything that philanthropy now does to heal the injurious and
disintegrating effects of the capitalistic industrial system is on the
whole wasted power. Children's crèches, kindergartens, providing meals
for children, hospitals, vacation homes, cannot with all their noble
efforts replace a hundredth part of the life energy, taken directly or
indirectly from the new generation by women working outside the home.

There are some people who expect the problem of domestic life to be
solved by collective institutions which will take care of the children,
and give them meals. Just as brewing, baking, slaughtering, making
candles and clothes, have more and more ceased to be done in the home,
much of the work which now absorbs the greatest part of household
activity, cooking, washing, mending and cleaning clothes, will, I firmly
believe, finally be done by collective effort, by the help of
electricity and machines. But I hope the tendency of man towards
individualisation will overcome the tendency towards impersonal, uniform
application of power _en masse_, in everything by which the innermost
relations of life and private habits are deeply affected. A strong
family life will, I hope, be regarded as the basis for true happiness
and for the development of personality. When women are free from the
barbarous relics of present methods of housekeeping,--the market basket,
the kitchen utensils, the scrubbing brush gone from every house,
electricity everywhere spreading warmth and life,--they will still be
forced to do a certain amount of work. This cannot be avoided even by
the help of the most perfect apparatus and by co-operative methods,
provided the house is not to be replaced by the barrack. And since the
custom of keeping servants will soon cease because, probably, there will
be no servants to keep, all women will be forced to do housework, or
find the remedy already discovered in America where bureaus supply
domestic help for a fixed time for a fixed price. In London, too, there
is at present a guild for general houseworkers who are trained for
occupation and work under regularly established conditions. In the
country, not only wives but daughters will be needed for agricultural
labour, when there are no more hired labourers to be had. This will be a
natural corrective against that pressure towards outside fields of
labour, that has taken the daughters in multitudes away from home, and
has crowded and overflowed the cities with them.

Finally if we weigh the economic loss occasioned by the fact that women
after five or ten years' preparation have to give up work or study as a
result of marriage, it is easy to see that the modern work of women has
had results which must soon lead to earnest thought, in balancing up the
accounts for or against the system. From the point of view of the woman
herself, from the children's point of view, from the man's point of
view, and finally, from the productive point of view, it has become
pretty plain that society must either change the conditions of woman's
labour or see a progressive disintegration in home life. Society must
either transform the conditions of life and work, or it will witness the
degeneration of the sexes.

All philanthropy--no age has seen more of it than our own--is only a
savoury fumigation burning at the mouth of a sewer. This incense
offering makes the air more endurable for passers-by, but it does not
hinder the infection in the sewer from spreading.

Selfishness, the instinct of self-preservation, will perhaps end by
forcing the leaders of society to direct their actions from the social
point of view. Then the woman question will become a question of
humanity; then will its champions perhaps come to see that there can be
no enduring good for the woman, if she works under conditions injurious
to men and to children. It will be seen that the old axiom can be justly
applied to the demands made in the name of woman's individuality;
supreme right becomes supreme injustice. Justice is not to be reached
by having the woman work under conditions which ruin both her and the
whole generation physically. In other respects she must be able to use
her free choice, and be educated enough to make good use of it. Justice
consists in protecting innumerable women, who are not able as yet to
protect themselves, against the abuses of which capital is guilty in
employing their labour power.

It is an instructive feature in the history of class conflict, and of
the movement for women's progress, that as women began by driving men
out of certain fields of labour, so now unmarried women try to force
married women from the labour market. In America, where everything goes
at full speed, an association has been founded among unmarried women
with this intention. These and similar phenomena belong to the system of
free competition, the creation of the "leading thought of our time, the
right of the individual to determine his own vocation." Perhaps when the
war of women against women becomes the rule, the women's rights women
will see that the problem of woman's work is more complicated than they
imagine. They have continued to look at it till now only from the point
of view of a woman's right to take care of herself. Perhaps they will
then understand that individualism, apart from the feeling of
solidarity, leads to social conflict, class against class, sex against
sex, unmarried against married, young against old. So it will be seen
that only in the transformation of the whole of society can woman attain
her full rights without impairing, through her advance, the rights of

The sooner the women's rights party understands this, the better.
Instead of fighting protective legislation, they should advocate it;
instead of regarding unions and strikes with disfavour, they should help
labouring women to organise unions, and support strikes where strikes
are justified.

Our century, which has opened up to women new fields of labour, has made
life very hard for her by forcing her in the competitive struggle. As
wives, as married or unmarried mothers, as divorced women, as widows,
women often not only have the burden of their own support to bear, but
they have frequently the rôle of guardian of a family, working for an
invalid or intemperate husband; for children, or sisters, or aged
parents. These women, whether they belong to those who labour with the
brain or with the hand, are worn out, partly by earning their own
living, partly by household tasks. While the man goes from home to his
work, refreshed by rest, the woman often goes already tired out, and she
comes back to the house perhaps to work at night. It is as clear as day
that by so doing she loses her bodily health and mental equanimity, both
needed by her children. It is astonishing how many working women despite
all this have enough energy for intellectual effort in reading and
thinking. They soon see, women like these, that an occupation is not
emancipation. The best that can be said is that it is only a means to
emancipation. Those who work with their hands are not the worst off in
this respect. Bookkeepers, telephone and telegraph operators,
post-office employees, shop girls, waiters in public establishments, and
servants in private houses, who must often serve the public standing,
and who are often deprived of rest at night and on Sunday, are
practically labour's worst slaves. Who can wonder if the possible income
obtained by an immoral life is reckoned by the employer, when he secures
for his establishment, at low wages, the services of attractive young
girls? Small wonder it is that such employees, worried to death in
shops, telephone bureaus, post and telegraph offices, should often be
driven to hysteria, insanity, and suicide.

The advocates of women's rights are not blind to all these
incongruities. They ask equal salaries for men and women, and claim,
often with justice, and often without, that women's work is too
inadequately compensated. But they do not see that they have contributed
to the evil by constantly urging women to work in all possible
occupations, and that a low rate of wages and an overcrowding of all
fields of labour is the result. It is far more necessary to pay
attention to these things than to open up new fields of labour to women,
if their vital energy is not to be dried up, if they are not to lose
their youthful freshness and attractiveness prematurely, and their
possibilities for development and happiness as human beings, wives, and

A loss of freedom accomplished gradually, this is, on the whole, the sad
result of the so-called emancipation of women in our century, if the
subject is looked at broadly, apart from the few thousand women of the
upper classes in good paying positions. For several decades, I have felt
strongly against the importance given by the advocates of women's rights
to the work of women outside of the home, for the reasons I have given
above. I have applied to such work the objection formulated by Feuerbach
in these words: "Mediocrity always weighs correctly, only its weight is

Wherever we look, in Europe or America, we find new and injurious
results from the new conditions, from the free activity of women's work
through the development of industry on a large scale, through the
transformation of home work, and the growing conviction on the part of
women that "celibacy is the aristocracy of the future," to quote the
words of a distinguished supporter of woman's rights.

Yet it would be foolish to wish a change in these unhappy results
through a reaction that would again rob the woman of her essential
freedom in relation to her choice of work, and the control of her life.

The line of progress is tending towards a new society, where all will be
compelled to work and all will find work; where all will work moderately
under healthy conditions for an adequate wage. Then neither the
unmarried nor the married woman will lose her strength by exhausting
work done to earn a living, or impair the powers she needs for
motherhood. If she becomes a mother, in most cases she will really
rejoice at the possibility offered to her by society of working for
society, as a mother and an educator.

We are yet very far from such a society, but every social regulation
should, as we have said, be tested as to whether it brings us nearer
this ideal or leads us farther away from it. The question should be
asked whether the direction of thought is encouraged or restricted, that
will in the end transform everything, the conviction I mean that
economic production is here in the world for the sake of men, not, as
now, men for the sake of production; that work is to be done for the
sake of freedom, not, as now, freedom created for the sake of work.

When I tried in my book called _The Misuse of the Power of Woman_ to
urge women to test the consequences of this process, my thesis was as
follows: In our programme of civilisation, we must start out with the
conviction that motherhood is something essential to the nature of woman
and the way in which she carries out this profession is of value for
society. On this basis we must alter the conditions which more and more
are robbing woman of the happiness of motherhood and are robbing
children of the care of a mother. Or, we must begin with the assumption
that motherhood is not essential: then everything must continue to go
on as it is going on now, and work directed towards external spheres
with its satisfaction in the joy of creation, of ambition, of gain, of
enjoyment, of independence, will be more and more the end towards which
women will arrange their plan of life. For this end they will modify
their fundamental habits and remould their feelings. The naïve belief
that every woman, who has the liberty to do so, is following her own
nature, shows a complete ignorance of psychology and history. Some ideal
considered worth striving for, the prevailing view of a period, will
obtain supremacy over nature. This is shown best in the stunted feeling
of motherhood peculiar to the eighteenth century, by the plain results
of mediæval asceticism. By a new ideal innumerable women are now driven
from a life directed inwards to a life directed outwards.

I am in favour of real freedom for woman; that is, I wish her to follow
her own nature, whether she be an exceptional or an ordinary woman. But
the opinion held by the feminine advocates of woman's emancipation, in
regard to the nature and the aims of the everyday woman, does violence
to the real nature of most women. It is one of the most remarkable
manifestations of the times that, while women preach about the rights of
woman and her will to work and to act unrestrained by family ties, men
like Ibsen, for example, in _When We Dead People Awake_, show that the
real Fall of Man in life is transgression of the law of love, meaning
that man through this transgression not only diminishes his personality,
but lessens his creative capacity.

It would appear as though men were approaching the conception of love
once held by women, while women were beginning to regard love as a petty
episode in life compared with what are really its true concerns, an
episode which gives life the colour of a sensual, sentimental,
psychological, or sportsmanlike adventure, an episode which she treats
as a game which she can get into, and just as easily get out of. From
this new position in which extremes meet, suffering, previously
undreamed of, must arise. Such results coming to the emancipated woman
will I hope reveal to her the eternal laws of her own being, laws from
which she cannot be freed without destroying herself.

I would not put the slightest hindrance, however, in the way of a single
isolated woman pursuing her own path freely, if it leads her even to
the most unusual forms of labour and attempts to make a living. But for
the sake of women themselves, for the sake of children, for the sake of
society, I wish men as well as women to think earnestly over the present
position of things. They will see that in the near future, one of two
things must be chosen. Either there must be such a transformation of the
way in which modern society thinks and works that the majority of women
will be restored to motherhood, or the disintegration of the home and
the substitution of general institutions will inevitably result. There
is no alternative.

Undoubtedly it required the whole egoistic self-assertion of woman, all
her efforts towards individuality, her temporary separation from home
and from family, her independent efforts to make a living to convince
man and society of the following truths: that woman is not solely a
sexual being, not solely dependent on man, the home and the family, no
matter in what form these may exist. Only in this way could woman fulfil
her destiny as wife and mother with really free choice. Only in this way
could she secure the right of being regarded as man's intellectual equal
in the field of the home and the family, the recognition that in her
way she was just as complete a being as he.

But it is clear that this fragment of feminine egoism must have a
further consequence. With the rights of sex the feeling of solidarity
must be awakened. The woman must see that her emancipated and developed
human personality will lead to this solidarity by the realisation of her
especial vocation as woman. Women in parliament and in journalism, their
representation in the local and general government, in peace congress
and in workingmen's meetings, science and literature, all this will
produce small results until women realise that the transformation of
society begins with the unborn child, with the conditions for its coming
into existence, its physical and psychical training. It must be the
general conviction that the new instincts, the new feelings, the new
thoughts, the new ideas, which mothers and fathers pass on into the
flesh and blood of their children, will transform existence. When, after
many successive generations, the new spiritual kingdom of this world has
arisen, there will come into being these greater ideas through which
life may be renewed.

Until that time secular misdeeds, political injustice, economic
struggles,--all these socially destructive abuses will go on from
generation to generation. Mankind remains the same though its acts may
take different shapes. Thinkers will always find new ideas, scholars new
methods and systems, artists new æsthetic creations, but on the whole
everything must remain the same. Only when woman heeds the message which
life proclaims to her, that, through her, salvation must come--will the
face of the earth be renewed. Oratorical talk of the high task of
mothers and of the great profession of education are empty phrases,
until we see that the possibility of humanity and civilisation winning
some day the victory over savagery depends on the physiological and
psychological transformation of man's nature. This transformation
requires an entirely new conception of the vocation of mother, a
tremendous effort of will, continuous inspiration. Those who believe
they can fulfil their duties as mothers and at the same time can
accomplish other valuable work have never made the experiment of
education. The long continued habit of alternately caressing and
striking one's children is not education. It needs tremendous power to
do one's duty to a single child. This by no means signifies giving up to
the child every hour of one's time, but it does mean that our soul is
to be filled by the child, just as the man of science is possessed by
his investigations and the artist by his work. The child should be in
one's thoughts when one is sitting at home or walking along the road,
when one is lying down or when one is standing up. This devotion, much
more than the hours immediately given to one's children, is the
absorbing thing; the occupation which makes an earnest mother always go
to any external activity with divided soul and dissipated energy.
Therefore the mother, if she gives her children the share they need, can
devote to social activities only her occasional attention. And for the
same reason she should be entirely free from working to earn her living
during the most critical years of the children's training.

Neither in the upper nor in the lower classes, have I ever heard of any
mother forced to do work of this kind or one engaged in artistic
productions through the stimulus of her talents, who was able to satisfy
her children in the period when they were growing up.

Adele Gerhard and Helen Simon under the title of _Motherhood and
Intellectual Work_ published a very interesting investigation in which I
found my own observations substantiated. The book showed that a mother
who wished to train her children and at the same time engage in an
occupation, or take part in some public activity, could give to neither
her whole personality. The result is a mediocre education for the
children and for herself; mediocre work done with a divided soul. This
is allowed to be true by all of those really conscientious mothers who
have maintained a high aim in their work and in the bringing up of their
children. They are dilettantes in both directions; what they do is half
done owing to the effort to unite two separate fields of work.

From the point of view of women's rights, it is said, in reply to these
opinions of mine, that motherhood can be made infinitely easier by a
natural method of life, that work can be very well combined with it. It
is said that children soon grow out of needing the protection of their
mother, that the mothers can then devote themselves entirely to their
work. They contend besides that motherhood is no unconditional
obligation; that people are fully justified in making different
individual arrangements; one woman wishes to become a mother, another
not. The one gets married with the hope of becoming a mother; the other
with the resolution of avoiding maternity. The third does not marry at
all. Attempts to generalise on this matter in which individual freedom
has every right to be recognised, they consider reactionary. Full
freedom for the woman, married or unmarried, to choose her work and to
continue it; full freedom to choose motherhood or to do without it, this
they say is the way to free woman, this is the line of progress. Here
woman is subject to that economic law which has made it necessary for
her to work for her own living. Just as woman's household work has been
superseded by factory work, so too, they say, will the maternal
obligations of woman be fulfilled collectively, and the difficulties on
which the so-called reactionary members of the women's rights movement
base their arguments, will in the future only arise in exceptional
cases. As regards these arguments, I have already shown that I recognise
fully the right of the feminine individual to go her own way, to choose
her own fortune or misfortune. I have always spoken of women
collectively and of society collectively.

From this general, not from the individual standpoint, I am trying to
convince women that vengeance is being exacted on the individual, on the
race, when woman gradually destroys the deepest vital source of her
physical and psychical being, the power of motherhood.

But present-day woman is not adapted to motherhood; she will only be
fitted for it when she has trained herself for motherhood and man is
trained for fatherhood. Then man and woman can begin together to bring
up the new generation out of which some day society will be formed. In
it, the completed man--the Superman--will be bathed in that sunshine
whose distant rays but colour the horizon of to-day.



Goethe showed long ago in his _Werther_ a clear understanding of the
significance of individualistic and psychological training, an
appreciation which will mark the century of the child. In this work he
shows how the future power of will lies hidden in the characteristics of
the child, and how along with every fault of the child an uncorrupted
germ capable of producing good is enclosed. "Always," he says, "I repeat
the golden words of the teacher of mankind, 'if ye do not become as one
of these,' and now, good friend, those who are our equals, whom we
should look upon as our models, we treat as subjects; they should have
no will of their own; do we have none? Where is our prerogative? Does it
consist in the fact that we are older and more experienced? Good God of
Heaven! Thou seest old and young children, nothing else. And in whom
Thou hast more joy, Thy Son announced ages ago. But people believe in
Him and do not hear Him--that, too, is an old trouble, and they model
their children after themselves." The same criticism might be applied to
our present educators, who constantly have on their tongues such words
as evolution, individuality, and natural tendencies, but do not heed the
new commandments in which they say they believe. They continue to
educate as if they believed still in the natural depravity of man, in
original sin, which may be bridled, tamed, suppressed, but not changed.
The new belief is really equivalent to Goethe's thoughts given above,
_i.e._, that almost every fault is but a hard shell enclosing the germ
of virtue. Even men of modern times still follow in education the old
rule of medicine, that evil must be driven out by evil, instead of the
new method, the system of allowing nature quietly and slowly to help
itself, taking care only that the surrounding conditions help the work
of nature. This is education.

Neither harsh nor tender parents suspect the truth expressed by Carlyle
when he said that the marks of a noble and original temperament are
wild, strong emotions, that must be controlled by a discipline as hard
as steel. People either strive to root out passions altogether, or they
abstain from teaching the child to get them under control.

To suppress the real personality of the child, and to supplant it with
another personality continues to be a pedagogical crime common to those
who announce loudly that education should only develop the real
individual nature of the child.

They are still not convinced that egoism on the part of the child is
justified. Just as little are they convinced of the possibility that
evil can be changed into good.

Education must be based on the certainty that faults cannot be atoned
for, or blotted out, but must always have their consequences. At the
same time, there is the other certainty, that through progressive
evolution, by slow adaptation to the conditions of environment they may
be transformed. Only when this stage is reached will education begin to
be a science and art. We will then give up all belief in the miraculous
effects of sudden interference; we shall act in the psychological sphere
in accordance with the principle of the indestructibility of matter. We
shall never believe that a characteristic of the soul can be destroyed.
There are but two possibilities. Either it can be brought into
subjection or it can be raised up to a higher plane.

Madame de Staël's words show much insight when she says that only the
people who can play with children are able to educate them. For success
in training children the first condition is to become as a child
oneself, but this means no assumed childishness, no condescending
baby-talk that the child immediately sees through and deeply abhors.
What it does mean is to be as entirely and simply taken up with the
child as the child himself is absorbed by his life. It means to treat
the child as really one's equal, that is, to show him the same
consideration, the same kind confidence one shows to an adult. It means
not to influence the child to be what we ourselves desire him to become
but to be influenced by the impression of what the child himself is; not
to treat the child with deception, or by the exercise of force, but with
the seriousness and sincerity proper to his own character.

Somewhere Rousseau says that all education has failed in that nature
does not fashion parents as educators nor children for the sake of
education. What would happen if we finally succeeded in following the
directions of nature, and recognised that the great secret of education
lies hidden in the maxim, "do not educate"?

Not leaving the child in peace is the greatest evil of present-day
methods of training children. Education is determined to create a
beautiful world externally and internally in which the child can grow.
To let him move about freely in this world until he comes into contact
with the permanent boundaries of another's right will be the end of the
education of the future. Only then will adults really obtain a deep
insight into the souls of children, now an almost inaccessible kingdom.
For it is a natural instinct of self-preservation which causes the child
to bar the educator from his innermost nature. There is the person who
asks rude questions; for example, what is the child thinking about? a
question which almost invariably is answered with a black or a white
lie. The child must protect himself from an educator who would master
his thoughts and inclinations, or rudely handle them, who without
consideration betrays or makes ridiculous his most sacred feelings, who
exposes faults or praises characteristics before strangers, or even uses
an open-hearted, confidential confession as an occasion for reproof at
another time.

The statement that no human being learns to understand another, or at
least to be patient with another, is true above all of the intimate
relation of child and parent in which, understanding, the deepest
characteristic of love, is almost always absent.

Parents do not see that during the whole life the need of peace is never
greater than in the years of childhood, an inner peace under all
external unrest. The child has to enter into relations with his own
infinite world, to conquer it, to make it the object of his dreams. But
what does he experience? Obstacles, interference, corrections, the whole
livelong day. The child is always required to leave something alone, or
to do something different, to find something different, or want
something different from what he does, or finds, or wants. He is always
shunted off in another direction from that towards which his own
character is leading him. All of this is caused by our tenderness,
vigilance, and zeal, in directing, advising, and helping the small
specimen of humanity to become a complete example in a model series.

I have heard a three-year-old child characterised as "trying" because he
wanted to go into the woods, whereas the nursemaid wished to drag him
into the city. Another child of six years was disciplined because she
had been naughty to a playmate and had called her a little pig,--a
natural appellation for one who was always dirty. These are typical
examples of how the sound instincts of the child are dulled. It was a
spontaneous utterance of the childish heart when a small boy, after an
account of the heaven of good children, asked his mother whether she did
not believe that, after he had been good a whole week in heaven, he
might be allowed to go to hell on Saturday evening to play with the bad
little boys there.

The child felt in its innermost consciousness that he had a right to be
naughty, a fundamental right which is accorded to adults; and not only
to be naughty, but to be naughty in peace, to be left to the dangers and
joys of naughtiness.

To call forth from this "unvirtue" the complimentary virtue is to
overcome evil with good. Otherwise we overcome natural strength by weak
means and obtain artificial virtues which will not stand the tests which
life imposes.

It seems simple enough when we say that we must overcome evil with good,
but practically no process is more involved, or more tedious, than to
find actual means to accomplish this end. It is much easier to say what
one shall not do than what one must do to change self-will into strength
of character, slyness into prudence, the desire to please into
amiability, restlessness into personal initiative. It can only be
brought about by recognising that evil, in so far as it is not atavistic
or perverse, is as natural and indispensable as the good, and that it
becomes a permanent evil only through its one-sided supremacy.

The educator wants the child to be finished at once, and perfect. He
forces upon the child an unnatural degree of self-mastery, a devotion to
duty, a sense of honour, habits that adults get out of with astonishing
rapidity. Where the faults of children are concerned, at home and in
school, we strain at gnats, while children daily are obliged to swallow
the camels of grown people.

The art of natural education consists in ignoring the faults of children
nine times out of ten, in avoiding immediate interference, which is
usually a mistake, and devoting one's whole vigilance to the control of
the environment in which the child is growing up, to watching the
education which is allowed to go on by itself. But educators who, day in
and day out, are consciously transforming the environment and
themselves are still a rare product. Most people live on the capital and
interest of an education, which perhaps once made them model children,
but has deprived them of the desire for educating themselves. Only by
keeping oneself in constant process of growth, under the constant
influence of the best things in one's own age, does one become a
companion half-way good enough for one's children.

To bring up a child means carrying one's soul in one's hand, setting
one's feet on a narrow path; it means never placing ourselves in danger
of meeting the cold look on the part of the child that tells us without
words that he finds us insufficient and unreliable. It means the humble
realisation of the truth that the ways of injuring the child are
infinite, while the ways of being useful to him are few. How seldom does
the educator remember that the child, even at four or five years of age,
is making experiments with adults, seeing through them, with marvellous
shrewdness making his own valuations and reacting sensitively to each
impression. The slightest mistrust, the smallest unkindness, the least
act of injustice or contemptuous ridicule, leave wounds that last for
life in the finely strung soul of the child. While on the other side
unexpected friendliness, kind advances, just indignation, make quite as
deep an impression on those senses which people term as soft as wax but
treat as if they were made of cowhide.

Relatively most excellent was the old education which consisted solely
in keeping oneself whole, pure, and honourable. For it did not at least
depreciate personality, although it did not form it. It would be well if
but a hundredth part of the pains now taken by parents were given to
interference with the life of the child and the rest of the ninety and
nine employed in leading, without interference, in acting as an
unforeseen, an invisible providence through which the child obtains
experience, from which he may draw his own conclusions. The present
practice is to impress one's own discoveries, opinions, and principles
on the child by constantly directing his actions. The last thing to be
realised by the educator is that he really has before him an entirely
new soul, a real self whose first and chief right is to think over the
things with which he comes in contact. By a new soul he understands only
a new generation of an old humanity to be treated with a fresh dose of
the old remedy. We teach the new souls not to steal, not to lie, to
save their clothes, to learn their lessons, to economise their money, to
obey commands, not to contradict older people, say their prayers, to
fight occasionally in order to be strong. But who teaches the new souls
to choose for themselves the path they must tread? Who thinks that the
desire for this path of their own can be so profound that a hard or even
mild pressure towards uniformity can make the whole of childhood a

The child comes into life with the inheritance of the preceding members
of the race; and this inheritance is modified by adaptation to the
environment. But the child shows also individual variations from the
type of the species, and if his own character is not to disappear during
the process of adaptation, all self-determined development of energy
must be aided in every way and only indirectly influenced by the
teacher, who should understand how to combine and emphasise the results
of this development.

Interference on the part of the educator, whether by force or
persuasion, weakens this development if it does not destroy it

The habits of the household, and the child's habits in it must be
absolutely fixed if they are to be of any value. Amiel truly says that
habits are principles which have become instincts, and have passed over
into flesh and blood. To change habits, he continues, means to attack
life in its very essence, for life is only a web of habits.

Why does everything remain essentially the same from generation to
generation? Why do highly civilised Christian people continue to plunder
one another and call it exchange, to murder one another _en masse_, and
call it nationalism, to oppress one another and call it statesmanship?

Because in every new generation the impulses supposed to have been
rooted out by discipline in the child, break forth again, when the
struggle for existence--of the individual in society, of the society in
the life of the state--begins. These passions are not transformed by the
prevalent education of the day, but only repressed. Practically this is
the reason why not a single savage passion has been overcome in
humanity. Perhaps man-eating may be mentioned as an exception. But what
is told of European ship companies or Siberian prisoners shows that even
this impulse, under conditions favourable to it, may be revived,
although in the majority of people a deep physical antipathy to
man-eating is innate. Conscious incest, despite similar deviations, must
also be physically contrary to the majority, and in a number of women,
modesty--the unity between body and soul in relation to love--is an
incontestable provision of nature. So too a minority would find it
physically impossible to murder or steal. With this list I have
exhausted everything which mankind, since its conscious history began,
has really so intimately acquired that the achievement is passed on in
its flesh and blood. Only this kind of conquest can really stand up
against temptation in every form.

A deep physiological truth is hidden in the use of language when one
speaks of unchained passions; the passions, under the prevailing system
of education, are really only beasts of prey imprisoned in cages.

While fine words are spoken about individual development, children are
treated as if their personality had no purpose of its own, as if they
were made only for the pleasure, pride, and comfort of their parents;
and as these aims are best advanced when children become like every one
else, people usually begin by attempting to make them respectable and
useful members of society.

But the only correct starting point, so far as a child's education in
becoming a social human being is concerned, is to treat him as such,
while strengthening his natural disposition to become an individual
human being.

The new educator will, by regularly ordered experience, teach the child
by degrees his place in the great orderly system of existence; teach him
his responsibility towards his environment. But in other respects, none
of the individual characteristics of the child expressive of his life
will be suppressed, so long as they do not injure the child himself, or
others. The right balance must be kept between Spencer's definition of
life as an adaptation to surrounding conditions, and Nietzsche's
definition of it as the will to secure power.

In adaptation, imitation certainly plays a great rôle, but individual
exercise of power is just as important. Through adaptation life attains
a fixed form; through exercise of power, new factors.

Thoughtful people, as I have already stated, talk a good deal about
personality. But they are, nevertheless, filled with doubts when their
children are not just like all other children; when they cannot show in
their offspring all the ready-made virtues required by society. And so
they drill their children, repressing in childhood the natural instincts
which will have freedom when they are grown. People still hardly realise
how new human beings are formed; therefore the old types constantly
repeat themselves in the same circle,--the fine young men, the sweet
girls, the respectable officials, and so on. And new types with higher
ideals,--travellers on unknown paths, thinkers of yet unthought
thoughts, people capable of the crime of inaugurating new ways,--such
types rarely come into existence among those who are well brought up.

Nature herself, it is true, repeats the main types constantly. But she
also constantly makes small deviations. In this way different species,
even of the human race, have come into existence. But man himself does
not yet see the significance of this natural law in his own higher
development. He wants the feelings, thoughts, and judgments already
stamped with approval to be reproduced by each new generation. So we get
no new individuals, but only more or less prudent, stupid, amiable, or
bad-tempered examples of the genus man. The still living instincts of
the ape, double, in the case of man, the effect of heredity.
Conservatism is for the present stronger in mankind than the effort to
produce new types. But this last characteristic is the most valuable.
The educator should do anything but advise the child to do what
everybody does. He should rather rejoice when he sees in the child
tendencies to deviation. Using other people's opinion as a standard
results in subordinating one's self to their will. So we become a part
of the great mass, led by the Superman through the strength of his will,
a will which could not have mastered strong personalities. It has been
justly remarked that individual peoples, like the English, have attained
the greatest political and social freedom, because the personal feeling
of independence is far in excess of freedom in a legal form. Accordingly
legal freedom has been constantly growing.

For the progress of the whole of the species, as well as of society, it
is essential that education shall awake the feeling of independence; it
should invigorate and favour the disposition to deviate from the type in
those cases where the rights of others are not affected, or where
deviation is not simply the result of the desire to draw attention to
oneself. The child should be given the chance to declare
conscientiously his independence of a customary usage, of an ordinary
feeling, for this is the foundation of the education of an individual,
as well as the basis of a collective conscience, which is the only kind
of conscience men now have. What does having an individual conscience
mean? It means submitting voluntarily to an external law, attested and
found good by my own conscience. It means unconditionally heeding the
unwritten law, which I lay upon myself, and following this inner law
even when I must stand alone against the whole world.

It is a frequent phenomenon, we can almost call it a regular one, that
it is original natures, particularly talented beings, who are badly
treated at home and in school. No one considers the sources of conduct
in a child who shows fear or makes a noise, or who is absorbed in
himself, or who has an impetuous nature. Mothers and teachers show in
this their pitiable incapacity for the most elementary part in the art
of education, that is, to be able to see with their own eyes, not with
pedagogical doctrines in their head.

I naturally expect in the supporters of society, with their conventional
morality, no appreciation of the significance of the child's putting
into exercise his own powers. Just as little is this to be expected of
those Christian believers who think that human nature must be brought to
repentance and humility, and that the sinful body, the unclean beast,
must be tamed with the rod,--a theory which the Bible is brought to

I am only addressing people who can think new thoughts and consequently
should cease using old methods of education. This class may reply that
the new ideas in education cannot be carried out. But the obstacle is
simply that their new thoughts have not made them into new men; the old
man in them has neither repose, nor time, nor patience, to form his own
soul, and that of the child, according to the new thoughts.

Those who have "tried Spencer and failed," because Spencer's method
demands intelligence and patience, contend that the child must be taught
to obey, that truth lies in the old rule, "As the twig is bent the tree
is inclined."

_Bent_ is the appropriate word, bent according to the old ideal which
extinguishes personality, teaches humility and obedience. But the new
ideal is that man, to stand straight and upright, must not be bent at
all, only supported, and so prevented from being deformed by weakness.

One often finds, in the modern system of training, the crude desire for
mastery still alive and breaking out when the child is obstinate. "You
won't!" say father and mother; "I will teach you whether you have a
will. I will soon drive self-will out of you." But nothing can be driven
out of the child; on the other hand, much can be scourged into it which
should be kept far away.

Only during the first few years of life is a kind of drill necessary, as
a pre-condition to a higher training. The child is then in such a high
degree controlled by sensation, that a slight physical pain or pleasure
is often the only language he fully understands. Consequently for some
children discipline is an indispensable means of enforcing the practice
of certain habits. For other children, the stricter methods are entirely
unnecessary even at this early age, and as soon as the child can
remember a blow, he is too old to receive one.

The child must certainly learn obedience, and, besides, this obedience
must be absolute. If such obedience has become habitual from the
tenderest age, a look, a word, an intonation is enough to keep the child
straight. The dissatisfaction of those who are bringing him up can only
be made effective when it falls as a shadow in the usual sunny
atmosphere of home. And if people refrain from laying the foundations of
obedience while the child is small, and his naughtiness is entertaining,
Spencer's method undoubtedly will be found unsuitable after the child is
older and his caprice disagreeable.

With a very small child, one should not argue, but act consistently and
immediately. The effort of training should be directed at an early
period to arrange the experiences in a consistent whole of impressions
according to Rousseau and Spencer's recommendation. So certain habits
will become impressed in the flesh and blood of the child.

Constant crying on the part of small children must be corrected when it
has become clear that the crying is not caused by illness or some other
discomfort,--discomforts against which crying is the child's only
weapon. Crying is now ordinarily corrected by blows. But this does not
master the will of the child, and only produces in his soul the idea
that older people strike small children, when small children cry. This
is not an ethical idea. But when the crying child is immediately
isolated, and it is explained to him at the same time that whoever
annoys others must not be with them; if this isolation is the absolute
result, and cannot be avoided, in the child's mind a basis is laid for
the experience that one must be alone when one makes oneself unpleasant
or disagreeable. In both cases the child is silenced by interfering with
his comfort; but one type of discomfort is the exercise of force on his
will; the other produces slowly the self-mastery of the will, and
accomplishes this by a good motive. One method encourages a base
emotion, fear. The other corrects the will in a way that combines it
with one of the most important experiences of life. The one punishment
keeps the child on the level of the animal. The other impresses upon him
the great principle of human social life, that when our pleasure causes
displeasure to others, other people hinder us from following our
pleasures; or withdraw themselves from the exercise of our self-will.

It is necessary that small children should accustom themselves to good
behaviour at table, etc. If every time an act of naughtiness is
repeated, the child is immediately taken away, he will soon learn that
whoever is disagreeable to others must remain alone. Thus a right
application is made of a right principle. Small children, too, must
learn not to touch what belongs to other people. If every time anything
is touched without permission, children lose their freedom of action one
way or another, they soon learn that a condition of their free action is
not to injure others.

It is quite true, as a young mother remarked, that empty Japanese rooms
are ideal places in which to bring up children. Our modern crowded rooms
are, so far as children are concerned, to be condemned. During the year
in which the real education of the child is proceeding by touching,
tasting, biting, feeling, and so on, every moment he is hearing the cry,
"Let it alone." For the temperament of the child as well as for the
development of his powers, the best thing is a large, light nursery,
adorned with handsome lithographs, wood-cuts, and so on, provided with
some simple furniture, where he may enjoy the fullest freedom of
movement. But if the child is there with his parents and is disobedient,
a momentary reprimand is the best means to teach him to reverence the
greater world in which the will of others prevails, the world in which
the child certainly can make a place for himself but must also learn
that every place occupied by him has its limits.

If it is a case of a danger, which it is desirable that the child should
really dread, we must allow the thing itself to have an alarming
influence. When a mother strikes a child because he touches the light,
the result is that he does this again when the mother is away. But let
him burn himself with the light, then he is certain to leave it alone.
In riper years when a boy misuses a knife, a toy, or something similar,
the loss of the object for the time being must be the punishment. Most
boys would prefer corporal punishment to the loss of their favourite
possession. But only the loss of it will be a real education through
experience of one of the inevitable rules of life, an experience which
cannot be too strongly impressed.

We hear parents who have begun with Spencer and then have taken to
corporal punishment declare that when children are too small to repair
the clothing which they have torn there must be some other kind of
punishment. But at that age they should not be punished at all for such
things. They should have such simple and strong clothes that they can
play freely in them. Later on, when they can be really careful, the
natural punishment would be to have the child remain at home if he is
careless, has spotted his clothes, or torn them. He must be shown that
he must help to put his clothes in good condition again, or that he will
be compelled to buy what he has destroyed carelessly with money earned
by himself. If the child is not careful, he must stay at home, when
ordinarily allowed to go out, or eat alone if he is too late for meals.
It may be said that there are simple means by which all the important
habits of social life may become a second nature. But it is not possible
in all cases to apply Spencer's method. The natural consequences
occasionally endanger the health of the child, or sometimes are too slow
in their action. If it seems necessary to interfere directly, such
action must be consistent, quick, and immutable. How is it that the
child learns very soon that fire burns? Because fire does so always. But
the mother who at one time strikes, at another threatens, at another
bribes the child, first forbids and then immediately after permits some
action; who does not carry out her threat, does not compel obedience,
but constantly gabbles and scolds; who sometimes acts in one way and
just as often in another, has not learned the effective educational
methods of the fire.

The old-fashioned strict training that in its crude way gave to the
character a fixed type rested on its consistent qualities. It was
consistently strict, not as at present a lax hesitation between all
kinds of pedagogical methods and psychological opinions, in which the
child is thrown about here and there like a ball, in the hands of grown
people; at one time pushed forward, then laughed at, then pushed aside,
only to be brought back again, kissed till it is disgusted, first
ordered about, and then coaxed. A grown man would become insane if
joking Titans treated him for a single day as a child is treated for a
year. A child should not be ordered about, but should be just as
courteously addressed as a grown person in order that he may learn
courtesy. A child should never be pushed into notice, never compelled to
endure caresses, never overwhelmed with kisses, which ordinarily torment
him and are often the cause of sexual hyperæsthesia. The child's
demonstrations of affection should be reciprocated when they are
sincere, but one's own demonstrations should be reserved for special
occasions. This is one of the many excellent maxims of training that are
disregarded. Nor should the child be forced to express regret in begging
pardon and the like. This is excellent training for hypocrisy. A small
child once had been rude to his elder brother and was placed upon a
chair to repent his fault. When the mother after a time asked if he was
sorry, he answered, "Yes," with emphasis, but as the mother saw a
mutinous sparkle in his eyes she felt impelled to ask, "Sorry for what?"
and the youngster broke out, "Sorry that I did not call him a liar
besides." The mother was wise enough on this occasion, and ever after,
to give up insisting on repentance.

Spontaneous penitence is full of significance; it is a deeply felt
desire for pardon. But an artificial emotion is always and everywhere
worthless. Are you not sorry? Does it make no difference to you that
your mother is ill, your brother dead, your father away from home? Such
expressions are often used as an appeal to the emotions of children. But
children have a right to have feelings, or not have them, and to have
them as undisturbed as grown people. The same holds good of their
sympathies and antipathies. The sensitive feelings of children are
constantly injured by lack of consideration on the part of grown people,
their easily stimulated aversions are constantly being brought out. But
the sufferings of children through the crudeness of their elders belong
to an unwritten chapter of child psychology. Just as there are few
better methods of training than to ask children, when they have behaved
unjustly to others, to consider whether it would be pleasant for them to
be treated in that way, so there is no better corrective for the trainer
of children than the habit of asking oneself, in question small and
great,--Would I consent to be treated as I have just treated my child?
If it were only remembered that the child generally suffers double as
much as the adult, parents would perhaps learn physical and psychical
tenderness without which a child's life is a constant torment.

As to presents, the same principle holds good as with emotions and marks
of tenderness. Only by example can generous instincts be provoked. Above
all the child should not be allowed to have things which he immediately
gives away. Gifts to a child should always imply a personal requital for
work or sacrifice. In order to secure for children the pleasure of
giving and the opportunity of obtaining small pleasures and enjoyments,
as well as of replacing property of their own or of others which they
may have destroyed, they should at an early age be accustomed to perform
seriously certain household duties for which they receive some small
remuneration. But small occasional services, whether volunteered or
asked for by others, should never be rewarded. Only readiness to serve,
without payment, develops the joy of generosity. When the child wants to
give away something, people should not make a pretence of receiving it.
This produces the false conception in his mind that the pleasure of
being generous can be had for nothing. At every step the child should be
allowed to meet the real experiences of life; the thorns should never be
plucked from his roses. This is what is least understood in present-day
training. Thus we see reasonable methods constantly failing. People find
themselves forced to "afflictive" methods which stand in no relation
with the realities of life. I mean, above all, what are still called
means of education, instead of means of torture,--blows.

Many people of to-day defend blows, maintaining that they are milder
means of punishment than the natural consequences of an act; that blows
have the strongest effect on the memory, which effect becomes permanent
through association of ideas.

But what kinds of association? Is it not with physical pain and shame?
Gradually, step by step, this method of training and discipline has
been superseded in all its forms. The movement to abolish torture,
imprisonment, and corporal punishment failed for a long time owing to
the conviction that they were indispensable as methods of discipline.
But the child, people answer, is still an animal, he must be brought up
as an animal. Those who talk in this way know nothing of children nor of
animals. Even animals can be trained without striking them, but they can
only be trained by men who have become men themselves.

Others come forward with the doctrine that terror and pain have been the
best means of educating mankind, so the child must pursue the same road
as humanity. This is an utter absurdity. We should also, on this theory,
teach our children, as a natural introduction to religion, to practise
fetish worship. If the child is to reproduce all the lower development
stages of the race, he would be practically depressed beneath the level
which he has reached physiologically and psychologically through the
common inheritance of the race. If we have abandoned torture and painful
punishments for adults, while they are retained for children, it is
because we have not yet seen that their soul life so far as a greater
and more subtle capacity for suffering is concerned has made the same
progress as that of adult mankind. The numerous cases of child suicide
in the last decade were often the result of fear of corporal punishment;
or have taken place after its administration. Both soul and body are
equally affected by this practice. Where this is not the result, blows
have even more dangerous consequences. They tend to dull still further
the feeling of shame, to increase the brutality or cowardice of the
person punished. I once heard a child pointed out in a school as being
so unruly that it was generally agreed he would be benefited by a
flogging. Then it was discovered that his father's flogging at home had
made him what he was. If statistics were prepared of ruined sons, those
who had been flogged would certainly be more numerous than those who had
been pampered.

Society has gradually given up employing retributive punishments because
people have seen that they neither awaken the feeling of guilt, nor act
as a deterrent, but on the contrary retribution applied by equal to
equal brutalises the ideas of right, hardens the temper, and stimulates
the victim to exercise the same violence towards others that has been
endured by himself. But other rules are applied to the psychological
processes of the child. When a child strikes his small sister the mother
strikes him and believes that he will see and understand the difference
between the blows he gets and those he gives; that he will see that the
one is a just punishment and the other vicious conduct. But the child is
a sharp logician and feels that the action is just the same, although
the mother gives it a different name.

Corporal punishment was long ago admirably described by Comenius, who
compared an educator using this method with a musician striking a badly
tuned instrument with his fist, instead of using his ears and his hands
to put it into tune.

These brutal attacks work on the active sensitive feelings, lacerating
and confusing them. They have no educative power on all the innumerable
fine processes in the life of the child's soul, on their obscurely
related combinations.

In order to give real training, the first thing after the second or
third year is to abandon the very thought of a blow among the
possibilities of education. It is best if parents, as soon as the child
is born, agree never to strike him, for if they once begin with this
convenient and easy method, they continue to use corporal discipline
even contrary to their first intention, because they have failed while
using such punishment to develop the child's intelligence.

If people do not see this it is no more use to speak to them of
education than it would be to talk to a cannibal about the world's

But as these savages in educational matters are often civilised human
beings in other respects, I should like to request them to think over
the development of marriage from the time when man wooed with a club and
when woman was regarded as the soulless property of man, only to be kept
in order by blows, a view which continued to be held until modern times.
Through a thousand daily secret influences, our feelings and ideas have
been so transformed that these crude conceptions have disappeared, to
the great advantage of society and the individual. But it may be hard to
awaken a pedagogical savage to the conviction that, in quite the same
way, a thousand new secret and mighty influences will change our crude
methods of education, when parents once come to see that parenthood must
go through the same transformation as marriage, before it attains to a
noble and complete development.

Only when men realise that whipping a child belongs to the same low
stage of civilisation as beating a woman, or a servant, or as the
corporal punishment of soldiers and criminals, will the first real
preparation begin of the material from which perhaps later an educator
may be formed.

Corporal punishment was natural in rough times. The body is tangible;
what affects it has an immediate and perceptible result. The heat of
passion is cooled by the blows it administers; in a certain stage of
development blows are the natural expression of moral indignation, the
direct method by which the moral will impresses itself on beings of
lower capacities. But it has since been discovered that the soul may be
impressed by spiritual means, and that blows are just as demoralising
for the one who gives them as for the one who receives them.

The educator, too, is apt to forget that the child in many cases has as
few moral conceptions as the animal or the savage. To punish for
this--is only a cruelty, and to punish by brutal methods is a piece of
stupidity. It works against the possibility of elevating the child
beyond the level of the beast or the savage. The educator to whose mind
flogging never presents itself, even as an occasional resource, will
naturally direct his whole thought to finding psychological methods of
education. Administering corporal punishment demoralises and stupefies
the educator, for it increases his thoughtlessness, not his patience,
his brutality, not his intelligence.

A small boy friend of mine when four years old received his first
punishment of this kind; happily it was his only one. As his nurse
reminded him in the evening to say his prayers he broke out, '"Yes,
to-night I really have something to tell God," and prayed with deep
earnestness, "Dear God, tear mamma's arms out so that she cannot beat me
any more."

Nothing would more effectively further the development of education than
for all flogging pedagogues to meet this fate. They would then learn to
educate with the head instead of with the hand. And as to public
educators, the teachers, their position could be no better raised than
by legally forbidding a blow to be administered in any school under
penalty of final loss of position.

That people who are in other respects intelligent and sensitive continue
to defend flogging, is due to the fact that most educators have only a
very elementary conception of their work. They should constantly keep
before them the feelings and impressions of their own childhood in
dealing with children. The most frequent as well as the most dangerous
of the numerous mistakes made in handling children is that people do not
remember how they felt themselves at a similar age, that they do not
regard and comprehend the feelings of the child from their own past
point of view. The adult laughs or smiles in remembering the punishments
and other things which caused him in his childhood anxious days or
nights, which produced the silent torture of the child's heart, infinite
despondency, burning indignation, lonely fears, outraged sense of
justice, the terrible creations of his imagination, his absurd shame,
his unsatisfied thirst for joy, freedom, and tenderness. Lacking these
beneficent memories, adults constantly repeat the crime of destroying
the childhood of the new generation,--the only time in life in which the
guardian of education can really be a kindly providence. So strongly do
I feel that the unnecessary sufferings of children are unnatural as well
as ignoble that I experience physical disgust in touching the hand of a
human being that I know has struck a child; and I cannot close my eyes
after I have heard a child in the street threatened with corporal

Blows call forth the virtues of slaves, not those of freemen. As early
as Walther von der Vogelweide, it was known that the honourable man
respects a word more than a blow. The exercise of physical force
delivers the weak and unprotected into the hands of the strong. A child
never believes in his heart, though he may be brought to acknowledge
verbally, that the blows were due to love, that they were administered
because they were necessary. The child is too keen not to know that such
a "must" does not exist, and that love can express itself in a better

Lack of self-discipline, of intelligence, of patience, of personal
effort--these are the corner-stones on which corporal punishment rests.
I do not now refer to the system of flogging employed by miserable
people year in and year out at home, or, particularly in schools, that
of beating children outrageously, or to the limits of brutality. I do
not mean even the less brutal blows administered by undisciplined
teachers and parents, who avenge themselves in excesses of passion or
fatigue or disgust,--blows which are simply the active expression of a
tension of nerves, a detestable evidence of the want of self-discipline
and self-culture. Still less do I refer to the cruelties committed by
monsters, sexual perverts, whose brutal tendencies are stimulated by
their disciplinary power and who use it to force their victims to
silence, as certain criminal trials have shown.

I am only speaking of conscientious, amiable parents and teachers who,
with pain to themselves, fulfil what they regard as their duty to the
child. These are accustomed to adduce the good effects of corporal
discipline as a proof that it cannot be dispensed with. The child by
being whipped is, they say, not only made good but freed from his evil
character, and shows by his whole being that this quick and summary
method of punishment has done more than talks, and patience, and the
slowly working penalties of experience. Examples are adduced to prove
that only this kind of punishment breaks down obstinacy, cures the habit
of lying and the like. Those who adopt this system do not perceive that
they have only succeeded, through this momentarily effective means, in
repressing the external expression of an evil will. They have not
succeeded in transforming the will itself. It requires constant
vigilance, daily self-discipline, to create an ever higher capacity for
the discovery of intelligent methods. The fault that is repressed is
certain to appear on every occasion when the child dares to show it. The
educator who finds in corporal punishment a short way to get rid of
trouble, leads the child a long way round, if we have the only real
development in view, namely that which gradually strengthens the child's
capacity for self-control.

I have never heard a child over three years old threatened with corporal
punishment without noticing that this wonderfully moral method had an
equally bad influence on parents and children. The same can be said of
milder kinds of folly, coaxing children by external rewards. I have seen
some children coaxed to take baths and others compelled by threats. But
in neither case was their courage, or self-control, or strength of will
increased. Only when one is able to make the bath itself attractive is
that energy of will developed that gains a victory over the feeling of
fear or discomfort and produces a real ethical impression, viz., that
virtue is its own reward. Wherever a child is deterred from a bad habit
or fault by corporal punishment, a real ethical result is not reached.
The child has only learnt to fear an unpleasant consequence, which lacks
real connection with the thing itself, a consequence it well knows could
have been absent. Such fear is as far removed as heaven from the
conviction that the good is better than the bad. The child soon becomes
convinced that the disagreeable accompaniment is no necessary result of
the action, that by greater cleverness the punishment might have been
avoided. Thus the physical punishment increases deception not morality.
In the history of humanity the effect of the teaching about hell and
fear of hell illustrates the sort of morality produced in children's
souls by corporal punishment, that inferno of childhood. Only with the
greatest trouble, slowly and unconsciously, is the conviction of the
superiority of the good established. The good comes to be seen as more
productive of happiness to the individual himself and his environment.
So the child learns to love the good. By teaching the child that
punishment is a consequence drawn upon oneself he learns to avoid the
cause of punishment.

Despite all the new talk of individuality the greatest mistake in
training children is still that of treating the "child" as an abstract
conception, as an inorganic or personal material to be formed and
transformed by the hands of those who are educating him. He is beaten,
and it is thought that the whole effect of the blow stops at the moment
when the child is prevented from being bad. He has, it is thought, a
powerful reminder against future bad behaviour. People do not suspect
that this violent interference in the physical and psychical life of the
child may have lifelong effects. As far back as forty years ago, a
writer showed that corporal punishment had the most powerful somatic
stimulative effects. The flagellation of the Middle Ages is known to
have had such results; and if I could publish what I have heard from
adults as to the effect of corporal punishment on them, or what I have
observed in children, this alone would be decisive in doing away with
such punishment in its crudest form. It very deeply influences the
personal modesty of the child. This should be preserved above everything
as the main factor in the development of the feeling of purity. The
father who punishes his daughter in this way deserves to see her some
day a "fallen woman." He injures her instinctive feeling of the sanctity
of her body, an instinct which even in the case of a small child can be
passionately profound. Only when every infringement of sanctity
(forcible caressing is as bad as a blow) evokes an energetic,
instinctive repulsion, is the nature of the child proud and pure.
Children who strike back when they are punished have the most promising
characters of all.

Numerous are the cases in which bodily punishment can occasion
irremediable damage, not suspected by the person who administers it,
though he may triumphantly declare how the punishment in the specific
case has helped. Most adults feel free to tell how a whipping has
injured them in one way or another, but when they take up the training
of their own children they depend on the effect of such chastisement.

What burning bitterness and desire for vengeance, what canine fawning
flattery, does not corporal punishment call forth. It makes the lazy
lazier, the obstinate more obstinate, the hard, harder. It strengthens
those two emotions, the root of almost all evil in the world, hatred and
fear. And as long as blows are made synonymous with education, both of
these emotions will keep their mastery over men.

One of the most frequent occasions for recourse to this punishment is
obstinacy, but what is called obstinacy is only fear or incapacity. The
child repeats a false answer, is threatened with blows, and again
repeats it just because he is afraid not to say the right thing. He is
struck and then answers rightly. This is a triumph of education;
refractoriness is overcome. But what has happened? Increased fear has
led to a strong effort of thought, to a momentary increase of
self-control. The next day the child will very likely repeat the fault.
Where there is real obstinacy on the part of children, I know of cases
when corporal punishment has filled them with the lust to kill, either
themselves or the person who strikes them. On the other hand I know of
others, where a mother has brought an obstinate child to repentance and
self-mastery by holding him quietly and calmly on her knees.

How many untrue confessions have been forced by fear of blows; how much
daring passion for action, spirit of adventure, play of fancy, and
stimulus to discovery has been repressed by this same fear. Even where
blows do not cause lying, they always hinder absolute
straightforwardness and the downright personal courage to show oneself
as one is. As long as the word "blow" is used at all in a home, no
perfect honour will be found in children. So long as the home and the
school use this method of education, brutality will be developed in the
child himself at the cost of humanity. The child uses on animals, on his
young brothers and sisters, on his comrades, the methods applied to
himself. He puts in practice the same argument, that "badness" must be
cured with blows. Only children accustomed to be treated mildly, learn
to see that influence can be gained without using force. To see this is
one of man's privileges, sacrificed by man through descending to the
methods of the brute. Only by the child seeing his teacher always and
everywhere abstaining from the use of actual force, will he come himself
to despise force on all those occasions which do not involve the defence
of a weaker person against physical superiority. The foundation of the
desire for war is to be sought for less in the war games than in the
teachers' rod.

To defend corporal discipline, children's own statements are brought in
evidence, they are reported as saying they knew they deserved such
discipline in order to be made good. There is no lower example of
hypocrisy in human nature than this. It is true the child may be sincere
in other cases in saying that he feels that through punishment he has
atoned for a fault which was weighing upon his conscience. But this is
really the foundation of a false system of ethics, the kind which still
continues to be preached as Christian, namely; that a fault may be
atoned for by sufferings which are not directly connected with the
fault. The basis of the new morality is just the opposite as I have
already shown. It teaches that no fault can be atoned for, that no one
can escape the results of his actions in any way.

Untruthfulness belongs to the faults which the teacher thinks he must
most frequently punish with blows. But there is no case in which this
method is more dangerous.

When the much-needed guide-book for parents is published, the well-known
story of George Washington and the hatchet must appear in it,
accompanied by the remark which a clever ten-year-old child added to the
anecdote: "It is no trouble telling the truth when one has such a kind

I formerly divided untruthfulness into unwilling, shameless, and
imaginative lies. A short time ago I ran across a much better division
of lying; first "cold" lies, that is, fully conscious untruthfulness
which must be punished, and "hot" lies; the expression of an excited
temperament or of a vigorous fancy. I agree with the author of this
distinction that the last should not be punished but corrected, though
not with a pedantic rule of thumb measure, based on how much it exceeds
or falls short of truth. It is to be cured by ridicule, a dangerous
method of education in general, but useful when one observes that this
type of untruthfulness threatens to develop into real untrustworthiness.
In dealing with these faults we are very strict towards children, so
strict that no lawyer, no politician, no journalist, no poet, could
exercise his profession if the same standard were applied to them as to

The white lie is, as a French scientist has shown, partly caused by pure
morbidness, partly through some defect in the conception. It is due to
an empty space, a dead point in memory, or in consciousness, that
produces a defective idea or gives one no idea at all of what has
happened. In the affairs of everyday life the adults are often mistaken
as to their intentions or acts. They may have forgotten about their
actions, and it requires a strong effort of memory to call them back
into their minds; or they suggest to themselves that they have done, or
not done, something. In all of these cases, if they were forced to give
a distinct answer, they would lie. In every case of this kind, where a
child is concerned, the lie is assumed to be a conscious one, and when
on being submitted to a strict cross-examination, he hesitates, becomes
confused, and blushes, it is looked upon as a proof that he knows he has
been telling an untruth, although as a rule there has been no instance
of untruthfulness, except the finally extorted confession from the child
that he has lied. Yet in all these complicated psychological problems,
corporal punishment is treated as a solution.

The child who never hears lying at home, who does not see exaggerated
weight placed on small, merely external things, who is not made cowardly
by fear, who hears conscious lies always spoken of with contempt, will
get out of the habit of untruthfulness simply by psychological means.
First he will find that untruthfulness causes astonishment, and a
repetition of it, scorn and lack of confidence. But these methods should
not be applied to untruthfulness caused by distress or by richness of
imagination; or to such cases as originate from the obscure mental ideas
noted above, ideas whose connection with one another the child cannot
make clear to himself. The cold untruth on the other hand, must be
punished; first by going over it with the child, then letting him
experience its effect in lack of confidence, which will only be restored
when the child shows decided improvement in this regard. It is of the
greatest importance to show children full and unlimited confidence, even
though one quietly maintains an attitude of alert watchfulness; for
continuous and undeserved mistrust is just as demoralising as blind and
easy confidence.

No one who has been beaten for lying learns by it to love truth. The
accuracy of this principle is illustrated by adults who despise corporal
punishment in their childhood yet continue to tell untruths by word and
deed. Fear may keep the child from technical untruth, but fear also
produces untrustworthiness. Those who have been beaten in childhood for
lying have often suffered a serious injury immeasurably greater than the
direct lie. The truest men I ever knew lie voluntarily and
involuntarily; while others who might never be caught in a lie are
thoroughly false.

This corruption of personality begins frequently at the tenderest age
under the influence of early training. Children are given untrue
motives, half-true information; are threatened, admonished. The child's
will, thought, and feeling are oppressed; against this treatment
dishonesty is the readiest method of defence. In this way educators who
make truth their highest aim, make children untruthful. I watched a
child who was severely punished for denying something he had
unconsciously done, and noted how under the influence of this senseless
punishment he developed extreme dissimulation.

Truthfulness requires above everything unbroken determination; and many
nervous little liars need nourishing food and life in the open air, not
blows. A great artist, one of the few who live wholly according to the
modern principles of life, said to me on one occasion: "My son does not
know what a lie is, nor what a blow is. His step-brother, on the other
hand, lied when he came into our house; but lying did not work in the
atmosphere of calm and freedom. After a year the habit disappeared by
itself, only because it always met with deep astonishment."

This makes me, in passing, note one of the other many mistakes of
education, viz., the infinite trouble taken in trying to do away with a
fault which disappears by itself. People take infinite pains to teach
small children to speak distinctly who, if left to themselves, would
learn it by themselves, provided they were always spoken to distinctly.
This same principle holds good of numerous other things, in children's
attitude and behaviour, that can be left simply to a good example and to
time. One's influence should be used in impressing upon the child habits
for which a foundation must be laid at the very beginning of his life.

There is another still more unfortunate mistake, the mistake of
correcting and judging by an external effect produced by the act, by the
scandal it occasions in the environment. Children are struck for using
oaths and improper words the meaning of which they do not understand; or
if they do understand, the result of strictness is only that they go on
keeping silence in matters in which sincerity towards those who are
bringing them up is of the highest importance. The very thing the child
is allowed to do uncorrected at home, is not seldom corrected if it
happens away from home. So the child gets a false idea that it is not
the thing that deserves punishment, but its publicity. When a mother is
ashamed of the bad behaviour of her son she is apt to strike
him--instead of striking her own breast! When an adventurous feat fails
he is beaten, but he is praised when successful. These practices produce
demoralisation. Once in a wood I saw two parents laughing while the ice
held on which their son was sliding; when it broke suddenly they
threatened to whip him. It required strong self-control in order not to
say to this pair that it was not the son who deserved punishment but

On occasions like these, parents avenge their own fright on their
children. I saw a child become a coward because an anxious mother struck
him every time he fell down, while the natural result inflicted on the
child would have been more than sufficient to increase his carefulness.
When misfortune is caused by disobedience, natural alarm is, as a rule,
enough to prevent a repetition of it. If it is not sufficient blows have
no restraining effect; they only embitter. The boy finds that adults
have forgotten their own period of childhood; he withdraws himself
secretly from this abuse of power, provided strict treatment does not
succeed in totally depressing the level of the child's will and
obstructing his energies.

This is certainly a danger, but the most serious effect of corporal
punishment is that it has established an unethical morality as its
result. Until the human being has learnt to see that effort, striving,
development of power, are their own reward, life remains an unbeautiful
affair. The debasing effects of vanity and ambition, the small and great
cruelties produced by injustice, are all due to the idea that failure or
success sets the value to deeds and actions.

A complete revolution in this crude theory of value must come about
before the earth can become the scene of a happy but considerate
development of power on the part of free and fine human beings. Every
contest decided by examinations and prizes is ultimately an immoral
method of training. It awakens only evil passions, envy and the
impression of injustice on the one side, arrogance on the other. After I
had during the course of twenty years fought these school examinations,
I read with thorough agreement a short time ago, Ruskin's views on the
subject. He believed that all competition was a false basis of stimulus,
and every distribution of prizes a false means. He thought that the
real sign of talent in a boy, auspicious for his future career, was his
desire to work for work's sake. He declared that the real aim of
instruction should be to show him his own proper and special gifts, to
strengthen them in him, not to spur him on to an empty competition with
those who were plainly his superiors in capacity.

Moreover it ought not to be forgotten that success and failure involve
of themselves their own punishment and their own reward, the one bitter,
the other sweet enough to secure in a natural way increased strength,
care, prudence, and endurance. It is completely unnecessary for the
educator to use, besides these, some special punishments or special
rewards, and so pervert the conceptions of the child that failure seems
to him to be a wrong, success on the other hand as the right.

No matter where one turns one's gaze, it is notorious that the
externally encouraging or awe-inspiring means of education, are an
obstacle to what are the chief human characteristics, courage in oneself
and goodness to others.

A people whose education is carried on by gentle means only (I mean the
people of Japan), have shown that manliness is not in danger where
children are not hardened by corporal punishment. These gentle means are
just as effective in calling forth self-mastery and consideration. These
virtues are so imprinted on children, at the tenderest age, that one
learns first in Japan what attraction considerate kindliness bestows
upon life. In a country where blows are never seen, the first rule of
social intercourse is not to cause discomfort to others. It is told that
when a foreigner in Japan took up a stone to throw it at a dog, the dog
did not run. No one had ever thrown a stone at him. Tenderness towards
animals is the complement in that country of tenderness in human
relationship, a tenderness whose result is observed, among other
effects, in a relatively small number of crimes against life and

War, hunting for pleasure, corporal discipline, are nothing more than
different expressions of the tiger nature still alive in man. When the
rod is thrown away, and when, as some one has said, children are no
longer boxed on their ears but are given magnifying glasses and
photographic cameras to increase their capacity for life and for loving
it, instead of learning to destroy it, real education in humanity will

For the benefit of those who are not convinced that corporal punishment
can be dispensed with in a manly education, by so remote and so distant
an example as Japan, I should like to mention a fact closer to us. Our
Germanic forefathers did not have this method of education. It was
introduced with Christianity. Corporal discipline was turned into a
religious duty, and as late as the seventeenth century there were
intelligent men who flogged their children once a week as a part of
spiritual guardianship. I once asked our great poet, Victor Rydberg, and
he said that he had found no proof that corporal punishment was usual
among the Germans in heathen times. I asked him whether he did not
believe that the fact of its absence had encouraged the energetic
individualism and manliness in the Northern peoples. He thought so, and
agreed with me. Finally, I might note from our own time, that there are
many families and schools, our girls' schools for example, and also
boys' schools in some countries, where corporal punishment is never
used. I know a family with twelve children whose activity and capacity
are not damaged by bringing them under the rule of duty alone. Corporal
punishment is never used in this home; a determined but mild mother has
taught the children to obey voluntarily, and has known how to train
their wills to self-control.

By "voluntary obedience," I do not mean that the child is bound to ask
endless questions for reasons, and to dispute them before he obeys. A
good teacher never gives a command without there being some good reason,
but whether the child is convinced or not, he must always obey, and if
he asks "why" the answer is very simple; every one, adults as well as
children, must obey the right and must submit to what cannot be avoided.
The great necessity in life must be imprinted in childhood. This can be
done without harsh means by training the child, even previous to his
birth, by cultivating one's self-control, and after his birth by never
giving in to a child's caprices.

The rule is, in a few cases, to work in opposition to the action of the
child, but in other cases work constructively; I mean provide the child
with material to construct his own personality and then let him do this
work of construction. This is, in brief, the art of education. The worst
of all educational methods are threats. The only effective admonitions
are short and infrequent ones. The greatest skill in the educator is to
be silent for the moment and then so reprove the fault, indirectly, that
the child is brought to correct himself or make himself the object of
blame. This can be done by the instructor telling something that causes
the child to compare his own conduct with the hateful or admirable types
of behaviour about which he hears information. Or the educator may give
an opinion which the child must take to himself although it is not
applied directly to him.

On many occasions a forceful display of indignation on the part of the
elder person is an excellent punishment, if the indignation is reserved
for the right moment. I know children to whom nothing was more frightful
than their father's scorn; this was dreaded. Children who are deluged
with directions and religious devotions, who receive an ounce of
morality in every cup of joy, are most certain to be those who will
revolt against all this. Nearly every thinking person feels that the
deepest educational influences in his life have been indirect; some good
advice not given to him directly; a noble deed told without any direct
reference. But when people come themselves to train others they forget
all their own personal experience.

The strongest constructive factor in the education of a human being is
the settled, quiet order of home, its peace, and its duty.
Openheartedness, industry, straightforwardness at home develop goodness,
desire to work, and simplicity in the child. Examples of artistic work
and books in the home, its customary life on ordinary days and holidays,
its occupations and its pleasures, should give to the emotions and
imagination of the child, periods of movement and repose, a sure contour
and a rich colour. The pure, warm, clear atmosphere in which father,
mother, and children live together in freedom and confidence; where none
are kept isolated from the interests of the others; but each possesses
full freedom for his own personal interest; where none trenches on the
rights of others; where all are willing to help one another when
necessary,--in this atmosphere egoism, as well as altruism, can attain
their richest development, and individuality find its just freedom. As
the evolution of man's soul advances to undreamed-of possibilities of
refinement, of capacity, of profundity; as the spiritual life of the
generation becomes more manifold in its combinations and in its
distinctions; the more time one has for observing the wonderful and deep
secrets of existence, behind the visible, tangible, world of sense, the
more will each new generation of children show a more refined and a more
consistent mental life. It is impossible to attain this result under the
torture of the crude methods in our present home and school training. We
need new homes, new schools, new marriages, new social relations, for
those new souls who are to feel, love, and suffer, in ways infinitely
numerous that we now can not even name. Thus they will come to
understand life; they will have aspirations and hopes; they will
believe; they will pray. The conceptions of religion, love, and art, all
these must be revolutionised so radically, that one now can only surmise
what new forms will be created in future generations. This
transformation can be helped by the training of the present, by casting
aside the withered foliage which now covers the budding possibilities of

The house must once more become a home for the souls of children, not
for their bodies alone. For such homes to be formed, that in their turn
will mould children, the children must be given back to the home.
Instead of the study preparation at home for the school taking up, as
it now does, the best part of a child's life, the school must get the
smaller part, the home the larger part. The home will have the
responsibility of so using the free time as well on ordinary days as on
holidays, that the children will really become a part of the home both
in their work and in their pleasures. The children will be taken from
the school, the street, the factory, and restored to the home. The
mother will be given back from work outside, or from social life to the
children. Thus natural training in the spirit of Rousseau and Spencer
will be realised; a training for life, by life at home.

Such was the training of Old Scandanavia; the direct share of the child
in the work of the adult, in real labours and dangers, gave to the life
of our Scandanavian forefathers (with whom the boy began to be a man at
twelve years of age), unity, character, and strength. Things specially
made for children, the anxious watching over all their undertakings,
support given to all their steps, courses of work and pleasure specially
prepared for children,--these are the fundamental defects of our present
day education. An eighteen-year-old girl said to me a short time ago,
that she and other girls of the same age were so tired of the system of
vigilance, protection, amusement, and pampering at school and at home,
that they were determined to bring up their own children in hunger,
corporal discipline, and drudgery.

One can understand this unfortunate reaction against an artificial
environment; the environment in which children and young people of the
present grow up; an existence that evokes a passionate desire for the
realities of life, for individual action at one's own risk and
responsibility, instead of being, as is now the case, at home and in the
school, the object of another's care.

What is required, above all, for the children of the present day, is to
be assigned again real home occupations, tasks they must do
conscientiously, habits of work arranged for week days and holidays
without oversight, in every case where the child can help himself.
Instead of the modern school child having a mother and servants about
him to get him ready for school and to help him to remember things, he
should have time every day before school to arrange his room and brush
his clothes, and there should be no effort to make him remember what is
connected with the school. The home and the school should combine
together systematically to let the child suffer for the results of his
own negligence.

Just the reverse of this system rules to-day. Mothers learn their
children's lessons, invent plays for them, read their story books to
them, arrange their rooms after them, pick up what they have let fall,
put in order the things they have left in confusion, and in this and in
other ways, by protective pampering and attention, their desire for
work, their endurance, the gifts of invention and imagination, qualities
proper to the child, become weak and passive. The home now is only a
preparation for school. In it, young people growing up, are accustomed
to receive services, without performing any on their part. They are
trained to be always receptive instead of giving something in return.
Then people are surprised at a youthful generation, selfish and
unrestrained, pressing forward shamelessly on all occasions before their
elders, crudely unresponsive in respect of those attentions, which in
earlier generations were a beautiful custom among the young.

To restore this custom, all the means usually adopted now to protect the
child from physical and psychical dangers and inconveniences, will have
to be removed. Throw the thermometer out of the window and begin with a
sensible course of toughening; teach the child to know and to bear
natural pain. Corporal punishment must be done away with not because it
is painful but because it is profoundly immoral and hopelessly
unsuitable. Repress the egoistic demands of the child when he interferes
with the work or rest of others; never let him either by caresses or by
nagging usurp the rights of grown people; take care that the servants do
not work against what the parents are trying to insist on in this and in
other matters.

We must begin in doing for the child in certain ways a thousand times
more and in others a hundred thousand times less. A beginning must be
made in the tenderest age to establish the child's feeling for nature.
Let him live year in and year out in the same country home; this is one
of the most significant and profound factors in training. It can be held
to even where it is now neglected. The same thing holds good of making a
choice library, commencing with the first years of life; so that the
child will have, at different periods of his life, suitable books for
each age; not as is now often the case, get quite spoilt by the constant
change of summer excursions, by worthless children's books, and costly
toys. They should never have any but the simplest books; the so-called
classical ones. They should be amply provided with means of preparing
their own playthings. The worst feature of our system are the playthings
which imitate the luxury of grown people. By such objects the covetous
impulse of the child for acquisition is increased, his own capacity for
discovery and imagination limited, or rather, it would be limited if
children with the sound instinct of preservation, did not happily smash
the perfect playthings, which give them no creative opportunity, and
themselves make new playthings from fir cones, acorns, thorns, and
fragments of pottery, and all other sorts of rubbish which can be
transformed into objects of great price by the power of the imagination.

To play with children in the right way is also a great art. It should
never be done if children do not themselves know what they are going to
do; it should always be a special treat for them as well as their
elders. But the adults must always on such occasions, leave behind every
kind of educational idea and go completely into the child's world of
thought and imagination. No attempt should be made to teach them at
these times anything else but the old satisfactory games. The
experiences derived from these games about the nature of the children,
who are stimulated in one direction or another by the game, must be kept
for later use.

Games in this way increase confidence between children and adults. They
learn to know their elders better. But to allow children to turn all the
rooms into places to play in, and to demand constantly that their elders
shall interest themselves in them, is one of the most dangerous species
of pampering common to the present day. The children become accustomed
to selfishness and mental dependence. Besides this constant educational
effort brings with it the dulling of the child's personality. If
children were free in their own world, the nursery, but out of it had to
submit to the strict limits imposed by the habits, wills, work, and
repose of parents, their requirements and their wishes, they would
develop into a stronger and more considerate race than the youth of the
present day. It is not so much talking about being considerate, but the
necessity of considering others, of really helping oneself and others,
that has an educational value. In earlier days, children were quiet as
mice in the presence of elder persons. Instead of, as they do now,
breaking into a guest's conversation, they learned to listen. If the
conversation of adults is varied, this can be called one of the best
educational methods for children. The ordinary life of children, under
the old system, was lived in the nursery where they received their most
important training from an old faithful servant and from one another.
From their parents they received corporal punishment, sometimes a
caress. In comparison with this system, the present way of parents and
children living together would be absolute progress, if parents could
but abstain from explaining, advising, improving, influencing every
thought and every expression. But all spiritual, mental, and bodily
protective rules make the child now indirectly selfish, because
everything centres about him and therefore he is kept in a constant
state of irritation. The six-year-old can disturb the conversation of
the adult, but the twelve-year-old is sent to bed about eight o'clock,
even when he, with wide open eyes, longs for a conversation that might
be to him an inspiring stimulus for life.

Certainly some simple habits so far as conduct and order, nourishment
and sleep, air and water, clothing and bodily movement, are concerned,
can be made the foundations for the child's conceptions of morality. He
cannot be made to learn soon enough that bodily health and beauty must
be regarded as high ethical characteristics, and that what is injurious
to health and beauty must be regarded as a hateful act. In this sphere,
children must be kept entirely independent of custom by allowing the
exception to every rule to have its valid place. The present anxious
solicitude that children should eat when the clock strikes, that they
get certain food at fixed meals, that they be clothed according to the
degree of temperature, that they go to bed when the clock strikes, that
they be protected from every drop of unboiled water and every extra
piece of candy, this makes them nervous, irritable slaves of habit. A
reasonable toughening process against the inequalities, discomforts, and
chances of life, constitutes one of the most important bases of joy of
living and of strength of temper. In this case too, the behaviour of the
person who gives the training, is the best means of teaching children to
smile at small _contretemps_, things which would throw a cloud over the
sun, if one got into the habit of treating them as if they were of
great importance. If the child sees the parent doing readily an
unpleasant duty, which he honestly recognises as unpleasant; if he sees
a parent endure trouble or an unexpected difficulty easily, he will be
in honour bound to do the like. Just as children without many words
learn to practice good deeds when they see good deeds practised about
them; learn to enjoy the beauty of nature and art when they see that
adults enjoy them, so by living more beautifully, more nobly, more
moderately, we speak best to children. They are just as receptive to
impressions of this kind as they are careless of those made by force.

Since this is my _alpha_ and _omega_ in the art of education, I repeat
now what I said at the beginning of this book and half way through it.
Try to leave the child in peace; interfere directly as seldom as
possible; keep away all crude and impure impressions; but give all your
care and energy to see that personality, life itself, reality in its
simplicity and in its nakedness, shall all be means of training the

Make demands on the powers of children and on their capacity for
self-control, proportionate to the special stage of their development,
neither greater nor lesser demands than on adults. But respect the joys
of the child, his tastes, work, and time, just as you would those of an
adult. Education will thus become an infinitely simple and infinitely
harder art, than the education of the present day, with its
artificialised existence, its double entry morality, one morality for
the child, and one for the adult, often strict for the child and lax for
the adult and _vice versa_. By treating the child every moment as one
does an adult human being we free education from that brutal
arbitrariness, from those over-indulgent protective rules, which have
transformed him. Whether parents act as if children existed for their
benefit alone, or whether the parents give up their whole lives to their
children, the result is alike deplorable. As a rule both classes know
equally little of the feelings and needs of their children. The one
class are happy when the children are like themselves, and their highest
ambition is to produce in their children a successful copy of their own
thoughts, opinions, and ideals. Really it ought to pain them very much
to see themselves so exactly copied. What life expected from them and
required from them was just the opposite--a richer combination, a better
creation, a new type, not a reproduction of that which is already
exhausted. The other class strive to model their children not according
to themselves but according to their ideal of goodness. They show their
love by their willingness to extinguish their own personalities for
their children's sake. This they do by letting the children feel that
everything which concerns them stands in the foreground. This should be
so, but only indirectly.

The concerns of the whole scheme of life, the ordering of the home, its
habits, intercourse, purposes, care for the needs of children, and their
sound development, must stand in the foreground. But at present, in most
cases, children of tender years, as well as those who are older, are
sacrificed to the chaotic condition of the home. They learn self-will
without possessing real freedom; they live under a discipline which is
spasmodic in its application.

When one daughter after another leaves home in order to make herself
independent they are often driven to do it by want of freedom, or by the
lack of character in family life. In both directions the girl sees
herself forced to become something different, to hold different
opinions, to think different thoughts, to act contrary to the dictates
of her own being. A mother happy in the friendship of her own daughter,
said not long ago that she desired to erect an asylum for tormented
daughters. Such an asylum would be as necessary as a protection against
pampering parents as against those who are overbearing. Both alike,
torture their children though in different ways, by not understanding
the child's right to have his own point of view, his own ideal of
happiness, his own proper tastes and occupation. They do not see that
children exist as little for their parent's sake as parents do for their
children's sake. Family life would have an intelligent character if each
one lived fully and entirely his own life and allowed the others to do
the same. None should tyrannise over, nor should suffer tyranny from,
the other. Parents who give their home this character can justly demand
that children shall accommodate themselves to the habits of the
household as long as they live in it. Children on their part can ask
that their own life of thought and feeling shall be left in peace at
home, or that they be treated with the same consideration that would be
given to a stranger. When the parents do not meet these conditions they
themselves are the greater sufferers. It is very easy to keep one's son
from expressing his raw views, very easy to tear a daughter away from
her book and to bring her to a tea-party by giving her unnecessary
occupations; very easy by a scornful word to repress some powerful
emotion. A thousand similar things occur every day in good families
through the whole world. But whenever we hear of young people speaking
of their intellectual homelessness and sadness, we begin to understand
why father and mother remain behind in homes from which the daughters
have hastened to depart; why children take their cares, joys, and
thoughts to strangers; why, in a word, the old and the young generation
are as mutually dependent as the roots and flowers of plants, so often
separate with mutual repulsion.

This is as true of highly cultivated fathers and mothers as of simple
bourgeois or peasant parents. Perhaps, indeed, it may be truer of the
first class; the latter torment their children in a naïve way, while the
former are infinitely wise and methodical in their stupidity. Rarely is
a mother of the upper class one of those artists of home life who
through the blitheness, the goodness, and joyousness of her character,
makes the rhythm of everyday life a dance, and holidays into festivals.
Such artists are often simple women who have passed no examinations,
founded no clubs, and written no books. The highly cultivated mothers
and the socially useful mothers on the other hand are not seldom those
who call forth criticism from their sons. It seems almost an invariable
rule that mothers should make mistakes when they wish to act for the
welfare of their sons. "How infinitely valuable," say their children,
"would I have found a mother who could have kept quiet, who would have
been patient with me, who would have given me rest, keeping the outer
world at a distance from me, with kindly soothing hands. Oh, would that
I had had a mother on whose breast I could have laid my head, to be
quiet and dream."

A distinguished woman writer is surprised that all of her
well-thought-out plans for her children fail--those children in whom she
saw the material for her passion for governing, the clay that she
desired to mould.

The writer just cited says very justly that maternal unselfishness alone
can perform the task of protecting a young being with wisdom and
kindliness, by allowing him to grow according to his own laws. The
unselfish mother, she says, will joyfully give the best of her life
energy, powers of soul and spirit to a growing being and then open all
doors to him, leaving him in the broad world to follow his own paths,
and ask for nothing, neither thanks, nor praise, nor remembrance. But to
most mothers may be applied the bitter exclamation of a son in the book
just mentioned, "even a mother must know how she tortures another; if
she has not this capacity by nature, why in the world should I recognise
her as my mother at all."

Certain mothers spend the whole day in keeping their children's nervous
system in a state of irritation. They make work hard and play joyless,
whenever they take a part in it. At the present time, too, the school
gets control of the child, the home loses all the means by which
formerly it moulded the child's soul life and ennobled family life. The
school, not father and mother, teaches children to play, the school
gives them manual training, the school teaches them to sing, to look at
pictures, to read aloud, to wander about out of doors; schools, clubs,
sport and other pleasures accustom youth in the cities more and more to
outside life, and a daily recreation that kills the true feeling for
holiday. Young people, often, have no other impression of home than that
it is a place where they meet society which bores them.

Parents surrender their children to schools in those years in which
they should influence their minds. When the school gives them back they
do not know how to make a fresh start with the children, for they
themselves have ceased to be young.

But getting old is no necessity; it is only a bad habit. It is very
interesting to observe a face that is getting old. What time makes out
of a face shows better than anything else what the man has made out of
time. Most men in the early period of middle age are neither
intellectually fat nor lean, they are hardened or dried up. Naturally
young people look upon them with unsympathetic eyes, for they feel that
there is such a thing as eternal youth, which a soul can win as a prize
for its whole work of inner development. But they look in vain for this
second eternal youth in their elders, filled with worldly nothingnesses
and things of temporary importance.

With a sigh they exclude the "old people" from their future plans and
they go out in the world in order to choose their spiritual parents.

This is tragic but just, for if there is a field on which man must sow a
hundred-fold in order to harvest tenfold it is the souls of children.

When I began at five years of age to make a rag doll, that by its weight
and size really gave the illusion of reality and bestowed much joy on
its young mother, I began to think about the education of my future
children. Then as now my educational ideal was that the children should
be happy, that they should not fear. Fear is the misfortune of
childhood, and the sufferings of the child come from the half-realised
opposition between his unlimited possibilities of happiness and the way
in which these possibilities are actually handled. It may be said that
life, at every stage, is cruel in its treatment of our possibilities of
happiness. But the difference between the sufferings of the adult from
existence, and the sufferings of the child caused by adults, is
tremendous. The child is unwilling to resign himself to the sufferings
imposed upon him by adults and the more impatient the child is against
unnecessary suffering, the better; for so much the more certainly will
he some day be driven to find means to transform for himself and for
others the hard necessities of life.

A poet, Rydberg, in our country who had the deepest intuition into
child's nature, and therefore had the deepest reverence for it, wrote as
follows: "Where we behold children we suspect there are princes, but as
to the kings, where are they?" Not only life's tragic elements diminish
and dam up its vital energies. Equally destructive is a parent's want of
reverence for the sources of life which meet them in a new being.
Fathers and mothers must bow their heads in the dust before the exalted
nature of the child. Until they see that the word "child" is only
another expression for the conception of majesty; until they feel that
it is the future which in the form of a child sleeps in their arms, and
history which plays at their feet, they will not understand that they
have as little power or right to prescribe laws for this new being as
they possess the power or might to lay down paths for the stars.

The mother should feel the same reverence for the unknown worlds in the
wide-open eyes of her child, that she has for the worlds which like
white blossoms are sprinkled over the blue orb of heaven; the father
should see in his child the king's son whom he must serve humbly with
his own best powers, and then the child will come to his own; not to the
right of asking others to become the plaything of his caprices but to
the right of living his full strong personal child's life along with a
father and a mother who themselves live a personal life, a life from
whose sources and powers the child can take the elements he needs for
his own individual growth. Parents should never expect their own highest
ideals to become the ideals of their child. The free-thinking sons of
pious parents and the Christian children of freethinkers have become
almost proverbial.

But parents can live nobly and in entire accordance to their own ideals
which is the same thing as making children idealists. This can often
lead to a quite different system of thought from that pursued by the

As to ideals, the elders should here as elsewhere, offer with timidity
their advice and their experience. Yes they should try to let the young
people search for it as if they were seeking fruit hidden under the
shadow of leaves. If their counsel is rejected, they must show neither
surprise nor lack of self-control.

The query of a humourist, why he should do anything for posterity since
posterity had done nothing for him, set me to thinking in my early youth
in the most serious way. I felt that posterity had done much for its
forefathers. It had given them an infinite horizon for the future beyond
the bounds of their daily effort. We must in the child see the new fate
of the human race; we must carefully treat the fine threads in the
child's soul because these are the threads that one day will form the
woof of world events. We must realise that every pebble by which one
breaks into the glassy depths of the child's soul will extend its
influence through centuries and centuries in ever widening circles.
Through our fathers, without our will and without choice, we are given a
destiny which controls the deepest foundation of our own being. Through
our posterity, which we ourselves create, we can in a certain measure,
as free beings, determine the future destiny of the human race.

By a realisation of all this in an entirely new way, by seeing the whole
process in the light of the religion of development, the twentieth
century will be the century of the child. This will come about in two
ways. Adults will first come to an understanding of the child's
character and then the simplicity of the child's character will be kept
by adults. So the old social order will be able to renew itself.

Psychological pedagogy has an exalted ancestry. I will not go back to
those artists in education called Socrates and Jesus, but I commence
with the modern world. In the hours of its sunrise, in which we, who
look back, think we see a futile Renaissance, then as now the spring
flowers came up amid the decaying foliage. At this period there came a
demand for the remodelling of education through the great figure of
modern times, Montaigne, that skeptic who had so deep a reverence for
realities. In his _Essays_, in his _Letters to the Countess of Gurson_,
are found all of the elements for the education of the future. About the
great German and Swiss specialists in pedagogy and psychology, Comenius,
Basedow, Pestalozzi, Salzmann, Froebel, Herbart, I do not need to speak.
I will only mention that the greatest men of Germany, Lessing, Herder,
Goethe, Kant and others, took the side of natural training. In regard to
England it is well known that John Locke in his _Thoughts on Education_,
was a worthy predecessor of Herbert Spencer, whose book on education in
its intellectual, moral, and physical relations, was the most noteworthy
book on education in the last century.

It has been noted that Spencer in educational theory is indebted to
Rousseau; and that in many cases, he has only said what the great German
authorities, whom he certainly did not know, said before him. But this
does not diminish Spencer's merit in the least. Absolutely new thoughts
are very rare. Truths which were once new must be constantly renewed by
being pronounced again from the depth of the ardent personal conviction
of a new human being.

That rational thoughts on the subject of pedagogy as on other subjects,
are constantly expressed and re-expressed, shows among other things that
reasonable, or practically untried education has certain principles
which are as axiomatic as those of mathematics. Every reasonable
thinking man must as certainly discover anew these pedagogical
principles, as he must discover anew the relation between the angles of
a triangle. Spencer's book it is true has not laid again the foundation
of education. It can rather be called the crown of the edifice founded
by Montaigne, Locke, Rousseau, and the great German specialists in
pedagogy. What is an absolutely novel factor in our times is the study
of the psychology of the child, and the system of education that has
developed from it.

In England, through the scientist Darwin, this new study of the
psychology of the child was inaugurated. In Germany, Preyer contributed
to its extension. He has done so partly by a comprehensive study of
children's language, partly by collecting recollections of childhood on
the part of the adult. Finally he experimented directly on the child,
investigating his physical and psychical fatigue and endurance,
acuteness of sensation, power, speed, and exactness in carrying out
physical and mental tasks. He has studied his capacity of attention in
emotions and in ideas at different periods of life. He has studied the
speech of children, association of ideas in children, etc. During the
study of the psychology of the child, scholars began to substitute for
this term the expression "genetic psychology." For it was found that the
bio-genetic principle was valid for the development both of the psychic
and the physical life. This principle means that the history of the
species is repeated in the history of the individual; a truth
substantiated in other spheres; in philology for example. The psychology
of the child is of the same significance for general psychology as
embryology is for anatomy. On the other hand, the description of savage
peoples, of peoples in a natural condition, such as we find in Spencer's
_Descriptive Sociology_ or Weitz's _Anthropology_ is extremely
instructive for a right conception of the psychology of the child.

It is in this kind of psychological investigation that the greatest
progress has been made in this century. In the great publication,
_Zeitschrift für psychologie_, etc., there began in 1894 a special
department for the psychology of children and the psychology of
education. In 1898, there were as many as one hundred and six essays
devoted to this subject, and they are constantly increasing.

In the chief civilised countries this investigation has many
distinguished pioneers, such as Prof. Wundt, Prof. T. H. Ribot, and
others. In Germany this subject has its most important organ in the
journal mentioned above. It numbers among its collaborators some of the
most distinguished German physiologists and psychologists. As related to
the same subject must be mentioned Wundt's _Philosophischen Studien_,
and partly the _Vierteljahrschrift für Wissenschaftlichie Philosophie_.
In France, there was founded in 1894, the _Année Psychologique_, edited
by Binet and Beaunis, and also the _Bibliotheque de Pedagogie et de
Psychologie_, edited by Binet. In England there are the journals, _Mind_
and _Brain_.

Special laboratories for experimental psychology with psychological
apparatus and methods of research are found in many places. In Germany
the first to be founded was that of Wundt in the year 1878 at Leipzig.
France has a laboratory for experimental psychology at Paris, in the
Sorbonne, whose director is Binet; Italy, one in Rome. In America
experimental psychology is zealously pursued. As early as 1894, there
were in that country twenty-seven laboratories for experimental
psychology and four journals. There should also be mentioned the
societies for child psychology. Recently one has been founded in
Germany; others before this time have been at work in England and

A whole series of investigations carried out in Kraepelin's laboratory
in Heidelberg are of the greatest value for determining what the brain
can do in the way of work and impressions.

An English specialist has maintained that the future, thanks to the
modern school system, will be able to get along without originally
creative men, because the receptive activities of modern man will absorb
the co-operative powers of the brain to the disadvantage of the
productive powers. And even if this were not a universally valid
statement but only expressed a physiological certainty, people will some
day perhaps cease filing down man's brain by that sandpapering process
called a school curriculum.

A champion of the transformation of pedagogy into a psycho-physiological
science is to be found in Sweden in the person of Prof. Hjalmar Oehrwal
who has discussed in his essays native and foreign discoveries in the
field of psychology. One of his conclusions is that the so-called
technical exercises, gymnastics, manual training, sloyd, and the like,
are not, as they are erroneously called, a relaxation from mental
overstrain by change in work, but simply a new form of brain fatigue.
All work, he finds, done under conditions of fatigue is uneconomic
whether one regards the quantity produced or its value as an exercise.
Rest should be nothing more than rest,--freedom to do only what one
wants to, or to do nothing at all. As to fear, he proves, following
Binet's investigation in this subject, how corporal discipline, threats,
and ridicule lead to cowardice; how all of these methods are to be
rejected because they are depressing and tend to a diminution of energy.
He shows, moreover, how fear can be overcome progressively, by
strengthening the nervous system and in that way strengthening the
character. This result comes about partly when all unnecessary
terrorising is avoided, partly when children are accustomed to bear
calmly and quietly the inevitable unpleasantnesses of danger.

Prof. Axel Key's investigations on school children have won
international recognition. In Sweden they have supplied the most
significant material up to the present time for determining the
influence of studies on physical development and the results of
intellectual overstrain.

It is to be hoped that when through empirical investigation we begin to
get acquainted with the real nature of children, the school and the home
will be freed from absurd notions about the character and needs of the
child, those absurd notions which now cause painful cases of physical
and psychical maltreatment, still called by conscientious and thinking
human beings in schools and in homes, education.



From time to time the present age is criticised, as if its corruption
contrasted with the moral strictness of earlier periods. Such charges
are as crude and as groundless as is most of the same kind of criticism
that is common to every generation of man's history. They have been
repeated ever since man began to strive consciously for other ends than
the momentary gratification of his undisciplined impulses.

One need only to consult the men of the present generation and the still
living representatives of the past generation, to be assured that bad
conduct at school is not characteristic of our time. Let any one read
the account of life at universities in earlier periods when the younger
students were of the same age as schoolboys in high schools and it will
soon be plain that the cause of the evil is not modern literature nor
modern belief.

The really direct causes of this difficulty must be looked for in human
emotions. This side of the question I do not intend to discuss here. It
can only be solved by an expert in psychology and physiology; by one
who, along with this capacity, is a pedagogical genius. There might not
be sufficient material for such a task, even if an individual could be
found able to put together the original elements in the systems of
Socrates, Rousseau, Spencer, and give them life. Under no other
condition could a real contribution be made adequate to meet the
requirements of the present day in the field of education. My intention
is only to make some remarks on the secondary cause of the evil, for not
sufficient attention has been devoted to this side of the problem. The
cause I have in view is the increasing homelessness of all branches of
society. Living with one's parents as children do who go to school in
the city is not the same as living at home. Family life in the working
classes is unsettled by the mother working out of the house. In the
upper classes the same result is produced by the constantly increasing
pressure of social pleasures and obligations.

Formerly it was only the husband and father whom outside interests took
from the home. Now the home is deserted by the wife and mother also,
not alone for social gatherings but for clubs for self-improvement,
meetings, lectures, committees; one evening after another, just at the
time which she should be devoting herself to her children who have been
occupied in the morning at school.

The ever-growing social life, the incessant extension of club and
out-of-door life, result in the mother sending her children as early as
possible to school, even when there is nothing but the conditions above
mentioned to prevent her from giving the children their first
instruction herself. As a rule the present generation of mothers who
have had school training could do this quite well, in the case of
children who do not need the social stimulus of the school. Indeed
before the school time begins, and in the hours out of school, children
are as a rule taken by a maid servant to walk or to skate and so on.
Children of the upper classes in most cases receive just as much,
perhaps more, of their education from the nursery maid or from the
school than from the mother. The father need not be mentioned at all,
for as a rule he is an only occasional and unessential factor in the
education of the child.

Many will say by way of objection, that at no time has so much been
done for the education of children as at present; that parents were
never so watchful over the physical and psychical needs of the children;
that at no time has the intercourse between children and parents been so
free; at no time have schools been so actively at work.

This is true but much of this tends to increase the homelessness of
which I am speaking. The more the schools develop the more they are
burdened with all the instruction for children, the more hours of the
day they require for their demands. The school is expected to give
instruction even in such simple matters as making children acquainted
with their national literature, and handwork, which mothers could do
perfectly well, certainly as well as our grandmothers. The greater the
attention given at school to such essentially good things as gymnastics,
handwork, and games, the more children are withdrawn from home. And even
when at home, they are hindered by lessons and written exercises from
being with their father and mother, on those exceptional occasions when
the parents are at home. If we take into consideration the way in which
the modern school system uses up the children's time, and present
social and club life take up the time of parents, we come to the
conclusion I began with, that domestic life is more and more on the

The reforms that must be demanded from the schools in order to restore
the children to the home cannot be discussed now, since it is my
intention to deal here only with those matters which must be reformed by
the family itself, if reforms at school are to really benefit the young.

Reforms of this kind have been made in schools but mothers complain that
children have too little work at home or too few hours at school; that
they, the mothers, absolutely do not know how they can keep the children
occupied in so much free time.

What may justly be considered the great progress in the family life of
the present day, the confidential intercourse between parents and
children, has not taken an entirely right direction. The result has been
that children have been permitted to behave like grown people, sharing
the habits and pleasures of their parents, or that the parents have
ceased to live their own life. In neither of these two ways can a deep
and sound relation between children and parents be produced.

We see on the one side a minority of conscientious mothers and fathers,
who in a real sense live only for the children. They mould their whole
life for the life of the children; and the children get the idea that
they are the central point of existence. On the other side, we see
children who take part in all the life and over-refinements of the home.
They demand like adults the amusements and elegancies of life; they even
give balls and suppers at home or in hotels for their school companions.
In these social functions, the vanity and stupidity of adults are
conscientiously imitated.

Then we require from these boys and girls, when they reach a time of
life in which the passions awake, a self-control, a capacity of
self-denial, a stoicism towards temptations to which they have never
been trained, and which they have never seen their parents exercise.

Most homes of the upper classes have not the means to keep up the life
that is lived in them. By the money of creditors, or by an exorbitant
profit made at the cost of working people, or by careless consumption of
the very necessary savings to be laid by for hard times, or against the
death of the family provider, a luxurious style of living is maintained.
But even when in rare cases there is real ability to live in this way,
parents would not do it, if the best interests of the children were
taken into account.

Elders may speak of industry as much as they like; if the father's and
mother's work for children has no reality about it, the parents would do
best to be silent. The same must be said of warnings and arbitrary
prohibitions to children concerning the satisfaction of their desire for
enjoyment, if the parents themselves do not influence the children by
their own example.

On the other hand there are just as disturbing consequences when
industrious parents conceal their self-denial from their children, when
they deprive themselves in the effort to spare their children the
knowledge that their parents are not in a position to clothe them as
well as their companions or to give them the same pleasures. Least of
all is home life successful in helping children through the difficulties
of their earlier years, when discipline has killed confidence between
them and their parents, when they become insincere from want of courage
and careless from want of freedom; when parents present themselves to
the children as exceptional beings, asking for blind reverence and
absolute subjection. From such homes in old days fine men and women
could proceed, but now extremely seldom. Young people recognise in our
days no such requirements; confidential intercourse with parents has
robbed them of this nimbus of infallibility.

Homes which send out men and women with the strongest morality, with the
freshest stimulus to work, are those where children and parents are
companions in labour, where they stand on the same level, where, like a
good elder sister or an elder brother, parents regard the younger
members of the household as their equals; where parents by being
children with the children, being youthful with young people, help those
who are growing up, without the exercise of force, to develop into human
beings, always treating them as human beings. In a home like this
nothing is especially arranged for children; they are regarded not as
belonging to one kind of being while parents represent another, but
parents gain the respect of their children by being true and natural;
they live and conduct themselves in such a way that the children gain an
insight into their work, their efforts, and as far as possible into
their joys and pains, their mistakes and failures. Such parents without
artificial condescension or previous consideration gain the sympathy of
children and unconsciously educate them in a free exchange of thought
and opinions. Here children do not receive everything as a gift;
according to the measure of their power they must share in the work of
the home; they learn to take account of their parents, of servants, and
one another. They have duties and rights that are just as firmly fixed
as those of their parents; and they are respected themselves just as
they are taught to respect others. They come into daily contact with
realities, they can do useful tasks, not simply pretend that they are
doing them; they can arrange their own amusements, their own small money
accounts, their own punishments even, by their parents never hindering
them from suffering the natural consequences of their own acts.

In such a home a command is never given unless accompanied at the same
time with a reason for it, just as soon as a reason can be understood.
So the feeling of responsibility is impressed upon the children from the
tenderest age. The children are as seldom as possible told not to do
things, but such commands when given are absolute because they always
rest on good reasons, not on a whim. Mother and father are watchful, but
they do not act as spies on their children. Partial freedom teaches
children to make use of complete freedom. A system of negative commands
and oversight produces insincerity and weakness. An old illiterate
housekeeper who earned a living by taking school children to board was
one of the best educators I have ever seen. Her method was loving young
people and believing in them--a confidence that they as a rule sought to
deserve. Moreover a good home is always cheerful, its affection real,
not sentimental. No time is wasted in it in preaching about petty
details or prosing. Mother and sisters do not look shocked when the
small boy tells a funny story or uses strong language. A joke is not
regarded as evidence of moral corruption, nor keen views as an
indication of depravity. Liveliness, want of prudishness, which can be
combined, so far as the feminine part of the household is concerned,
with purity of mind and simple nobility, are characteristics for which
there can be no substitutes. In such a household concord prevails, the
young and old work, read, and talk together, together take common
diversions; sometimes the young people, sometimes their elders, take the
lead. The house is open for the friends of the children; they are free
to enjoy themselves as completely as possible but in all naturalness
without allowing their amusements to change the habits of the home.

It is told of the childhood of a great Finnish poet, Runeberg, that his
mother when she invited the young guests of her son to dance as long as
they could, added, "When you are thirsty, the water cooler is there, and
by it hangs the cup"; and more delightful dances, the old lady who told
the story never remembered to have seen. This old-fashioned distinction,
the courage to show oneself as one is, is absent from modern homes, and
lack of courage has resulted in lack of happiness.

The simple hospitable homely pleasures that have now been superseded by
children's parties, lesson drudgery, and by parents living outside of
the home must come back again if what is bad now is not to become worse.
Evil is not to be expelled by evil; it is to be overcome by good. If the
home is not to be again sunny, quiet, simple, and lively, mothers may go
out as much as they like to discuss education and morality in the
evening. There will be no real change. Mothers must seriously perceive
that no social activity has greater significance than education, and
that in this nothing can replace their own appropriate influence in a
home. They must make up their minds to real reform, such reforms as
those introduced by a lady in Stockholm; burdened though she was with
social engagements and public obligations, she refused to accept any
invitation except on one day of the week, in order to spend her evenings
quietly with her children. How long will the majority of mothers
sacrifice children to the eternal ennui and vacuity of our modern social
and club life?

There is no intention here to recommend that social life and public
activities shall be deprived of the influence of experienced and
thinking mothers. But I only wish to point to the cases of overstrain
now caused by the stress of excessive sociability and outside activity.
This kind of over-exertion, more especially, injures the home through
the mother. In our day as in all other periods, be our opinions in other
respects what they may, pagan, Christian, Jewish, or free thinking, a
good home is only created by those parents who have a religious
reverence for the holiness of the home.



Any one who would attempt the task of felling a virgin forest with a
penknife would probably feel the same paralysis of despair that the
reformer feels when confronted with existing school systems. The latter
finds an impassable thicket of folly, prejudice, and mistakes, where
each point is open to attack, but where each attack fails because of the
inadequate means at the reformer's command.

The modern school has succeeded in doing something which, according to
the law of physics, is impossible: the annihilation of once existent
matter. The desire for knowledge, the capacity for acting by oneself,
the gift of observation, all qualities children bring with them to
school, have, as a rule, at the close of the school period disappeared.
They have not been transformed into actual knowledge or interests. This
is the result of children spending almost the whole of their life from
the sixth to the eighteenth year at the school desk, hour by hour,
month by month, term by term; taking doses of knowledge, first in
teaspoonfuls, then in dessert-spoonfuls, and finally in tablespoonfuls,
absorbing mixtures which the teacher often has compounded from fourth-
or fifth-hand recipes.

After the school, there often comes a further period of study in which
the only distinction in method is, that the mixture is administered by
the ladleful.

When young people have escaped from this régime, their mental appetite
and mental digestion are so destroyed that they for ever lack capacity
for taking real nourishment. Some, indeed, save themselves from all
these unrealities by getting in contact with realities; they throw their
books in the corner and devote themselves to some sphere of practical
life. In both cases the student years are practically squandered. Those
who go further acquire knowledge ordinarily at the cost of their
personality, at the price of such qualities as assimilation, reflection,
observation, and imagination. If any one succeeds in escaping these
results, it happens generally with a loss of thoroughness in knowledge.
A lower grade of intelligence, a lower capacity for work, or a lower
degree of assimilation, than that bestowed upon the scholar by nature,
is ordinarily the result of ten or twelve school years. There is much
common-sense in the French humourist's remark. "You say that you have
never gone to school and yet you are such an idiot."

The cases in which school studies are not injurious, but partially
useful, are those where no regular school period has been passed
through. In place of this there was a long period of rest, or times of
private instruction, or absolutely no instruction at all, simply study
by oneself. Nearly every eminent woman in the last fifty years has had
such self-instruction, or was an irregularly instructed girl. Knowledge
so acquired, therefore, has many serious gaps, but it has much more
freshness and breadth. One can study with far greater scope and apply
what one studies.

Yet it is still true to-day that, however vehemently families complain
about schools, they do not see that their demands in general education
must change, before a reasonable school system, a school system in all
respects different from the prevailing one, can come into existence. The
private schools, few in number, that differ to a certain extent from the
ordinary system are swallows that are very far from making a summer.
Rather they have met the fate of birds who have come too early on the

As long as schools represent an idea, stand for an abstract conception,
like the family and the state, so long will they, just as the family and
the state, oppress the individuals who belong to them. The school no
more than the family and the state represents a higher idea or something
greater than just the number of individuals out of which it is formed.
It, like the family and the state, has no other duty, right, or purpose
than to give to each separate individual as much development and
happiness as possible. To recognise these principles is to introduce
reason into the school question. The school should be nothing but the
mental dining-room in which parents and teachers prepare intellectual
bills-of-fare suitable for every child. The school must have the right
to determine what it can place on its bill-of-fare, but the parents have
the right to choose, from the mental nourishment supplied by it, the
food adapted to their children. The phantom of general culture must be
driven from school curricula and parents' brains; the training of the
individual must be a reality substituted in its place; otherwise reform
plans will be drawn up in vain.

But just as certain simple chemical elements are contained in all
nourishment, there are certain simple elements of knowledge that make up
the foundation of all higher forms of learning. Reading and writing
one's own language, the elements of numbers, geography, natural science,
and history, must be required by the schools, as the obligatory basis
for advanced independent study.

The elementary school beginning with the age of nine to ten years, I
regard as the real general school. The system of instruction must assume
that the children have breadth, repose, comprehensiveness, and capacity
for individual action. All these qualities are destroyed by the present
"hare and hound" system and by its endless abstractions. Such are the
results of course readings, multiplicity of subjects, and formalism, all
defects that have passed from the boys' schools into the girls' schools,
from the elementary schools into the people's schools. They too are
burdened by all these faults, which, though deplored by most people, can
only be cured by radical reform.

The instruction must be arranged in groups, certain subjects placed
among the earlier stages of study while others are put aside for a
later period. And in this connection it is not sufficient to consider
the psychological development of the child. Certain subjects must be
assigned to certain times of the year.

The courses in these schools must come to an end at about the age of
fifteen or sixteen. From them our young people can pass either into
practical life, or go on to schools of continuation and application. It
would be desirable to adopt the plan recommended by Grundtvig, that one
or more vacation years should follow, before studies are taken up again.
Girls, especially, would then come back to their studies with
strengthened bodily powers and an increased desire for knowledge. It is
now a common experience that the desire to learn, even in the case of
talented young people, becomes quiescent, if they go on continuously
with their studies, as they often do, from the sixth to the twentieth
year and longer.

To mark out the courses of such a school would offer tremendous
difficulties. But these difficulties will not be found insuperable,
after people have agreed that the souls of children require more
consideration than a school programme.

Among objections coming from parents, may be heard the following: That
while the state refuses to take initiative in school reform, no one
would dare to embark on a road which makes the future of their children
so uncertain. In the meantime children must be allowed to learn what all
others learn. When the state has taken the first step, the parents would
be willing they say to follow with remarkable eagerness.

What, I ask, has been always the right way to carry out reforms? There
must be first an active revolt against existing evils. This particular
revolt is yet not sufficiently supported, especially on the part of
parents. The children themselves have begun to feel the need of protest,
and, if not earlier, I hope that when the present generation of school
children become fathers, mothers, and teachers, a reform will come

No one can expect a system to be changed, until those who disapprove of
it show that they are in earnest, show that they are taking upon
themselves the sacrifices necessary to protect themselves from the
unhappy results of the system. Families complain of the excessive
aggregation of subjects, and yet they constantly burden the school with
new subjects, even when these subjects are things the family can
undertake itself. While families complain of overstrain, but make no use
of the elective system in schools, where it has been introduced, while
parents are willing to risk nothing to realise their principles, we
cannot wonder that the state does not embark on reforms of any kind.

There is an old pedagogical maxim, "Man learns for life not for school."
While, for a great part of their time, the sexes are separated from one
another, boys studying by themselves and the girls by themselves, the
training for their future life is a bad one--a life in which the common
work and co-operation between man and woman is, according to nature's
ordinance, the normal thing. So long as the general school is a school
for a special class, and not for everybody, it is no general school in
the high sense of the word, and besides no school in which people learn
for life.

I have therefore always warmly held that the school should be no boys',
no girls' school, no elementary and no people's school, but should be a
real general or public school as in America, where both sexes, the
children of all grades of society, will learn that mutual confidence,
respect, understanding, by which their efficient co-operation in the
family and state may be made possible. The common school, so arranged,
is perhaps the most important means to solve definitely the problem of
morality, the woman question, the marriage question, the labour
question, in less one-sided and more human ways. From this point of view
the establishment of the common school is much more than a pedagogical
question; it is the vital question of our social order.

Men and women, upper and lower classes, are walking on different sides
of a wall. They can stretch their hands over it; the important thing to
be done is to break the wall down. The school, as described above, is
the first breach in this wall.

A school like this would be like leaven. The many never reform the few;
it is the few who gradually introduce reforms for the many. Because the
few have strong enough dissatisfaction with present defects, courage
great enough to show their disgust, a belief in the new truths real
enough, they are ready to prepare the ground for the future.

Such a school must be guided by the same principle which has humanised
morality and law in other spheres. It must consider individual
peculiarities. Personal freedom will thus have as few hindrances as
possible to obstruct it. The rights of others must not be approached
too close. The limits, where the rights of others can be affected, must
be maintained, even enlarged.

This humanising process will be introduced into the schools, when
scholars are no longer regarded as classes, but each individual for
himself. The schools will then commence to fulfil one of the many
conditions necessary to give young people real nourishment and so
develop them and make them happy.

Such a school life will make its first aim to discover in early years
uncommon talent, to direct such talent to special studies.

Secondly, for those who lack definite talent, a plan of study will be
arranged, in which their individuality too can be developed, and their
intellectual tension increased. This condition is, if possible, more
important than the first, for unusual talents are accompanied by greater
power of self-conservation. Ordinary or lesser talented people, _i.e._,
the larger majority, are rather confused by a plurality of studies and
are much easier impaired, as personalities, by the uniformity of the
prevailing system.

The rights of unusually gifted people, and those of other classes too,
can be considered when, as mentioned above, the school curriculum is so
arranged, that certain subjects are studied during part of the school
year, another class of subjects during another part. Moreover, certain
subjects are to be studied at different times, not finished once for

The instruction must be so arranged that real independent study, under
the direction of the teacher, will be the ordinary method. The
presentation of the subject by the teacher will be the exception, a
treat for holidays, not for every day.

The instruction too must take the scholar to the real thing, as far as
possible, not direct him to report about the thing. Such a school must
break up absolutely the whole system of lecturing, arranged in
concentric circles. In certain cases, it must return to the methods of
the old-fashioned school, which concentrated its attention on humanistic
study. But dead languages should not be the subjects around which its
studies should centre.

Early specialisation must be allowed, where there are distinct
individual tendencies for such work;

Concentration on certain subjects at certain points of time;

Independent work during the whole period of school;

Contact with reality in the whole school curriculum;--these must be the
four corner-stones of the new school.

But the time is far distant still, when government schools will begin to
build on this basis. What follows is meant, therefore, to apply, not to
the great revolutions of school systems indicated above, but deals with
improvements to take place at present.

Learning lessons should be assigned to school hours as in France.
Children should have an entirely free day in the week; study at home
should be confined to the reading of literary works, tales of travel,
and the like, which teachers can recommend in combination with the
studies pursued at school.

Tasks done at home are inconvenient; they do not increase the
independence of the scholar; they are prepared as a rule with
excessively free and often unwise help from the parents. At school such
work would be done as a rule without help; besides, it is individual and
quickly finished.

In the school, time can be taken for study selected at the scholar's
free choice. It can be arranged for in the following way. Take a class
of about twelve scholars; in larger classes no reasonable or personal
method of instruction is possible. There may be three scholars with
distinct tastes, one for history, one for languages, one for
mathematics. There may be two without any distinct talent for
mathematics or languages. The other seven may have ordinary capacities.
The first three must, during the whole term, apply themselves specially
in certain hours, set aside for independent study, each in his chosen
subject. The first will read some historical work on the periods taken
up in the history class; the second will devote this time to
mathematics; the third will read the books in foreign languages,
mentioned in the language course. The other seven with ordinary gifts
can devote this time to ordinary reading and handwork. In this way all
will get some portion of history, mathematics, and languages, but those
who are specially interested will have the opportunity of going deeper
into the subject. If one of the three gifted scholars shows a great
inclination for and a ready comprehension of all three subjects, he
should study by himself at home, provided the more thorough study of one
subject does not impair work on the other. The two who have special
difficulty in mathematics or languages could either substitute one
subject wholly for the other, or in those periods remain away from
school, or, finally, the hours used by gifted scholars for individual
study beyond the requirements of the common course could be devoted by
these to work, under the teacher's supervision, in the course common to
the whole class.

To carry out this plan, there is need of such concentration of subjects
as I have mentioned; there should be never more than one or at most two
main subjects--history, geography, natural science--studied at once.
Moreover no more than one language should be studied at the same time;
practice in those already learnt is to be acquired by literary readings,
written résumés, and conversation.

Another kind of concentration is necessary. Not every subject should be
split up into subdivisions but history should be made to include
literary history, church history, etc. In geography at the early stage,
a part of natural science should be included, and the history of art
combined with both. Another not less important method implied in
concentration is in all general courses to direct one's attention to the
main questions, and to sacrifice the mass of details. Detailed work
should not have been incorporated, as indispensable for general culture
(from generation to generation), during the constant growth of the
contents of knowledge.

In regard to instruction, methods now popular should be forced out of
the field. The two obligatory features, the careful hearing of lessons
by the teacher, and the equally careful preparation of the next lesson,
must be changed for other methods according to the age of the scholar,
the special character of the subject, and of the scholar himself; or
according to the particular stage of the subject. At one time the
teacher should give an attractive, comprehensive account of a period, a
character, a land, a natural phenomenon. Another time it will be enough
to give a simple, introductory reference to the reading of one or more
works on the subject, best of all an original authority. Sometimes he
should require an oral account of what he has said, or what has been
read; sometimes this should be done in writing. When the lesson is
filled with many facts the scholar should write them down in the hour;
another time he should summarise them from memory. An assigned amount
too can be gone through along with the teacher's explanation; on another
occasion, the assignment need not be gone over at all, but the scholars
could show their capacity to understand it and comprehend it without
assistance. Occasionally the task might be done in a short time from one
day to another, sometimes it might take a longer period.

But this work would, as has been said, take place ordinarily in the
school. Purely literary readings and books of a similar type must be
assigned for work at home, to be done during a considerable length of
time. For we all know that the reading which has made a deep impression
on us was only what was read freely; reading for which we ourselves
could set the time, place, and inclination. And since, in this case, the
important thing is the impression, not the knowledge, freedom is more
important than in other subjects. Individual initiative can be furthered
by having the teacher, as is done in France, explain in passing all
words and subjects in a poem difficult to understand. The teacher too
should now and then, by reading poetry aloud, stimulate the desire of
the scholar to learn more of the same poet. A poem has the greatest
effect when it is presented unexpectedly. When a history lesson is ended
there should be read aloud a passage from an historical poem. Scholars
do not forget either the poem, or the episode handled in it, even if
they forget everything else. But test questions, used in the period of
literature-study, go in at one ear and out at the other.

A teacher who wishes to use this concentrated system in detail, that
rests on the intelligent co-operation of the scholar, will naturally
find that the method is to be derived from the personality of the
teacher himself. I think the teacher of history should not take up the
prehistoric period, but should give the scholar some good popular work
on it and let him go to a museum; he should then require a written
essay, to be illustrated by the scholar with drawings of characteristic
types of archæological specimens. In the same way, he could give a
comparative view of the same period among other people. Then, if there
were a scholar especially anxious to learn, he could put in his hands a
work about the primitive condition of man. Every teacher, man or woman,
can easily think out, for the subjects they teach, analogous methods.
The teacher of geography who is talking about Siberia can give some good
general description of it to all the scholars for their private study.
Those particularly interested would be recommended to read a narrative
of travels in Siberia, Dostojewsky's _Out of the Dead House_, and so
on. If the teacher of history were taking up Napoleon, he could read in
the French hour a work like Vigny's _Servitude et Grandeur Militaire_.
For the Dutch War of Independence, Motley's history, Goethe's _Egmont_,
and Schiller's _Don Carlos_ could be read. A whole book could be written
on plans like these, with indications how the different fields of
knowledge could supplement one another, how history, geography,
literature, and art could be intertwined just as on the other side
geography and natural science. Similarly it would show how different
teachers could be of use to one another in communicating to their
scholars a fuller knowledge.

I should like to propose an hypothesis for discussion and examination
that I have formulated, after a wide experience in story-telling, both
as a listener and as a narrator. If I might put together in a statement,
without intending to prove it, the result of my experience in the
subject named, I should say that the mental food which is most
attractive for the child, also gives the most nourishment. This is the
fact that the physiology of our day has proved in the case of the
organic existence of the child. Pedagogy is beginning, consciously or
unconsciously, to apply it to the mental sphere, yet without daring to
hold that nature is so simple, that need and inclination can be so
nearly related. Naturally, it cannot be maintained that what is most
attractive for children's stories should constitute their whole
training, as physiology maintains that what tastes most agreeable to the
child, for example sugar, should form his sole nourishment.

What every story-teller finds as specially attractive to children, is
the epic smoothness, the clear comprehensiveness of the tale, its
consistent objectivity. Every narrative which will win the attention of
the child, whether it be from Scandinavian, classical, or biblical
history, must have these characteristics of the tale. There are hardly
any story-tellers who so completely absorb children as old nurses. They
never forget any picturesque trait in the tale, they always give the
same broad, full narrative. They tell their stories without explanations
and without applications, with the real direct feeling of the child for
grasping the subject. Everything which disturbs the smooth flow of the
narrative, above all, when the narrator puts himself outside of it by
indulging in a joke, strikes the child as a profound incongruity.
Children are always more or less artistic in their nature, in the sense
that they desire to receive an impression in its purity, not as a means
to something else. They wish through the story to go through a real
experience; at the same time they will say "No," if they are asked
whether they would prefer to hear a real history to a story. This
apparent contradiction can be explained in this way: the tale presents
reality, as reality is conceived of by the naïve fancy of early ages,
and is in just the form in which the imagination of the child can
receive it.

In telling stories, we find, besides, that what attracts children is the
narrative of actions; in this roundabout way they get hold of emotions
and sentiments. The development of the child--this is a truth which has
to be worked out before it can really be taken in--answers in miniature
to the development of mankind as a whole. And it follows from this that
children combine idealism and realism, as epic national poetry does.
Great, good, heroic, supernatural traits affect them most; but only in a
concrete shape sensibly perceived, with the richness of the power which
comes from life, without any adaptation to our present conceptions.

We can test this by telling a real folk-lore tale, and Anderson's
version of it. With a few exceptions children are unanimous in calling
the first type the most beautiful.

Besides what is attractive for lively children, with sound appetites, is
quantity, but in no way multiplicity.

First of all they ask whether the story is long after they have begun to
hope that it is beautiful. They are glad to hear the same story
innumerable times; they have an unconscious need for thorough
assimilation, just as soon as what is given to them harmonises with
their stage of development. This is true of all subjects. I know
children who detest the "choice stories" from the Bible, with which
their morning prayers are commenced, but who read the New Testament as a
story-book. In this respect, all small children are like great ones, the
artists. The imagination of children requires full, entire, deep
impressions, as material for their energies that are incessantly
creating and reconstructing. And if their sound feeling has not been
disturbed by a dualism foreign to them it brings them with remarkably
sure instinct to choose the sound, pure, and beautiful, and to reject
the unsound, hateful, and crude. Finally, we find in story-telling that
children much prefer continuity of impressions though they are said to
express preference for change. We never hear children say, "Now tell a
funny story, the one before was too gloomy." But if we commence telling
gloomy stories they want one after another of the same type. If we had
begun telling amusing stories, they never tire of laughing. The
changeableness of children in playing, reading, and working is not so
general a characteristic of childish nature as is believed. It is true
only of children whose readings and games are not adapted to their
nature and inclinations. Changeableness is, in a certain way, nature's
self-defence against what is unconsciously injurious.

As to comic narratives, it is found in story-telling that the child has
the most keen sense for the humour of a situation. On the other hand
they have hardly a trace of feeling for the humour that rests on deep
intellectual contrasts, least of all for humour of the ironical type. If
a narrative out of their own world is really to make impression on them,
it must be like a tale, full of life, with action and surprises, broad
and naïve in its style, without any noticeable aim. All the children's
books which children through their life recollect and by which they are
impressed, are those that at least in one way or another fulfil these
conditions. The rest give other impressions, but even so they become no
more harmless than arsenic wall-paper covered by fresh undyed layers. As
to the humour of children, it can be easily tested. We can tell them the
most comic psychological children's stories; ninety-nine out of a
hundred they will declare to be terribly stupid, while a simple history
presenting a funny situation doubles them up with laughter.

Children do not feel drawn to abstract things; this is an old truth,
whose correctness is established best by story-telling. All virtues and
qualities, no matter how well concealed they may be, are very quickly
pronounced stupid by children. For fables, children have seldom any
taste, least of all for essays. The introduction of a fox or a bear into
the story or in a real adventure makes the story-teller the dearest
friend of children. But the most lively and childish essay on the bear
or the fox leaves them cold, unless it is made real by some personal
experience in the country or by a visit to a zoölogical garden. This
truth is so recognised and proved from so many points of view, that I
will simply say here that experience in story-telling gives additional
evidence of it. Children show, in listening to stories, a finely
developed sensitiveness to all attempts to descend to, or to adopt, the
standpoint of the child, to everything that is artificial in the
narrative. In intercourse with children, especially with those who
represent progressive methods, can be seen how the reaction against the
old lesson and hidebound methods has produced an artificial naïveté, a
richness of illustrations, and a liveliness that children soon feel as
something specially prepared for them, something not quite real. This
way of partially giving to children their own imaginative power puts
them to sleep, even when it succeeds at first in giving them a good
entertainment in their lessons. For the illustrations and comparisons,
as well as the consequences which another has thought out for them,
obstruct the initiative of the child; besides they are all soon
forgotten. It is the same with playthings; those they make themselves
give inexhaustible pleasure, while those that are ready made only confer
joy once or twice. They are shown and then broken in pieces in order to
extract the clockwork, for this is the only possible way for the child
to do something with it himself. Instruction is beginning to resemble
children's playthings and children's books; it is too complete, too
richly illustrated. It hinders individual free voyages of discovery of
the imagination. Even good illustrations are often injurious; but we do
not intend to speak at length on this subject. As a matter of fact
children often feel themselves deceived by illustrations.

The reserve in a story is also a property that attracts the child. Its
pictures are indicated with a few definite but repeated details. The
imagination is allowed to fill the picture with colours. The uniformity,
the rhythm, and the symmetry, all qualities belonging to the folk-lore
tale, are for the child extremely absorbing. They enjoy such repetitions
as "the first, second, and third year" and so on, quite like the refrain
in rhyme and poetry.

But all these observations lead to a final result. The present
reading-book system is neither the most attractive for children, nor
does it best supply them with what they want. Instead of epic smoothness
and unity, reading-books bring a confused mixture of all kinds, nursery
rhymes, religious teaching, poetry, natural history, and history.
Occasionally there comes a tale or a real poem, standing apart
distinctly from its neighbours, in tone and in comprehensiveness.
Instead of clear impressions, children get through the reading-book a
disturbing jumble; instead of objectivity, they get instructive
children's stories; instead of poetry, edifying versification; instead
of action, reflection; instead of much of one thing, a little of
everything; instead of continuity of impressions, constant change;
instead of concrete impressions of life, essays; instead of naïve tales,
things written down to their level.

I ask what is the result of this reading-book system on the development
of the child from six to sixteen years old?

What, in general, is the result on the development of character when one
flits from impression to impression, nipping in flight at different
things, letting one picture after another slip away, making no halt

As to the effect on adults, immediate answers can be given. These
answers are so unfavourable that they do not need to be repeated. But,
should a principle which applies to the adult be less suitable for the
child? It really applies much more to the child. Adults generally have
some work, some occupation, some one centre around which they can
arrange manifold events, change may often be advantageous for them; but
the whole school day of the child is change; the way the child absorbs
knowledge is by the teaspoonful. Is not this condition enough to urge us
to work with all our might against the system of diffusion wherever it
is unnecessary?

In reading-books diffusion is not necessary; in foreign languages, as in
his own tongue, the interest of the child is much more stimulated by a
book than by a reader; his vocabulary is increased. But even if this
were not the case, what the child gains through reading-books, in quick
readiness in the mother tongue or in foreign languages, does not
compensate for the loss their use signifies in development in the way
already mentioned.

The schools deal improperly with the mental powers of youth, through
their lack of specialising, of concentration, in their depreciation of
initiative, in their being out of touch with reality.

High schools and colleges are absolutely destructive to personality.
Here, where only oral examinations should take place from time to time,
where all studies should tend to be individual, the hunger of the
scholar for reality is hardly satisfied in any direction. Nothing is
done to help his longing to see for himself, to read, to judge, to get
impressions at first-hand, not from second-hand reports.

Certainly here, too, the direction of the teacher is necessary. He can
economise superfluous work by clarifying generalisations; he can
criticise a one-sided account in order to complete the picture fully
himself. Often the teacher must excite interest by a vigorous account
from his own point of view; by a fine psychological study, he can
illustrate a complex historical picture. He will help the scholar to
find laws, governing the phenomena which he has come to know by his own
experiments, or he can suggest comparisons which lead to such
experiments. Here, also, oral and written exercise must have great

But the end of all instruction in college, as in the school, should not
consist in examinations and diplomas; these must be obliterated from the
face of the earth. The aim should be that the scholars themselves, at
first hand, should acquire their knowledge, should get their
impressions, should form their opinions, should work their way through
to intellectual tastes, not as they now do, taking no trouble
themselves, but being supposed to acquire these gifts through
interesting lectures given by the teacher on five different subjects,
heard every morning while the students are dozing, and soon forgotten.
Facts slip away from every one's memory, quickest from the memory of
those who have learned according to the dose and teaspoonful system. But
education happily is not simply the knowledge of facts, it is, as an
admirable paradox has put it, what is left over after we have forgotten
all we have learnt.

The richer one is in such permanent acquisitions, the greater the profit
of study. The more subjective pictures we have; the more numerous our
vibrating emotions and associations of ideas are; the more we are filled
with suggestively active impressions;--so much the more development we
have, won by study for our personality. The fact that our students
acquire so little, even if they have passed through every school with
excellent marks, is a serious injustice they feel during their whole
life. The beautifully systematised, ticketed, checkerboard knowledge
given by examinations soon disappears. The person who has kept his
desire for knowledge and his capacity for work by his free choice and by
his independent labor can easily fill out the gaps left by this method
of study in the knowledge he has acquired.

Only the person who by knowledge has obtained a view of the great
connected system of existence, the connection between nature and man's
life, between the present and the past, between peoples and ideas,
cannot lose his education. Only the person who, through the mental
nourishment he has received, sees more clearly, feels more ardently, has
absorbed completely the wealth of life, has been really educated. This
education can be gained in the most irregular way, perhaps around the
hearth or in the field, on the seashore or in the wood; it can be
acquired from old tattered books or from nature itself. It can be
terribly incomplete, very one-sided, but how real, personal, and rich it
appears to those who for the period of fifteen years in school have
ground out the wheat on strange fields, like oxen with muzzled mouths!
Our age cries for personality; but it will ask in vain, until we let our
children live and learn as personalities, until we allow them to have
their own will, think their own thoughts, work out their own knowledge,
form their own judgments; or, to put the matter briefly, until we cease
to suppress the raw material of personality in schools, vainly hoping
later on in life to revive it again.



I should like to set down here briefly my dreams of a future school, in
which the personality may receive a free and complete self-development.
I purposely say "dreams," because I do not want any one to believe that
I am pretending in the following outline to give a reformed programme
for the present time.

My first dream is that the kindergarten and the primary school will be
everywhere replaced by instruction at home.

Undoubtedly a great influence has proceeded from that whole movement
which has resulted, among other things, in the Pestalozzi-Froebel
kindergartens, and in institutions modelled after them. Better teachers
have been produced by it; but what I regard as a great misfortune, is
the increasing inclination to look upon the crèche, the kindergarten,
and the school as the ideal scheme of education. Every discussion
dealing with the possibilities of women working in public life exalts
the advantage of freeing the mother from the care of children,
emancipating children from the improper care of their mothers, and
giving women possibilities of work outside of the home. Mrs. Perkins
Stetson proposes as a compromise, that every mother, pedagogically
qualified, shall take care of a group of children along with her own.
But what her own children will receive under such conditions is
sufficiently shown in the case of those poor children who grow up in
educational institutions presided over by their parents; and also by the
experience of the poor parents who are not able under these conditions
to look after their own children.

The crèche and the kindergarten were and continue to be a blessing
undoubtedly for those innumerable mothers who work outside of their
homes and are badly prepared for their duties. Some type of kindergarten
will perhaps be necessary under particular circumstances as a partial
substitute for the home, as, for example, when a child has no companions
to play with, or when the mother herself is disinclined or not able to
educate the child. This incapacity is ordinarily the result of an
extremely nervous temperament, caused by weak will or depression.

Mary Wollstonecraft's remarks, made more than a hundred years ago, still
call for our approval. "If children are not physically murdered by their
ignorant mothers, they are ruined psychically by the inability of the
mother to bring them up. Mothers, in those first six years that
determine the whole development of the child's character, turn them over
to the hands of servants, whose authority is often undermined by the way
in which they are treated. Then children are passed on to school to
control the bad behaviour which the vigilance of the mother could have
prevented, and which she controls with means that become the basis for
all kinds of vices." But because such cases are still frequent and
because there will always be mothers incapable of bringing their
children up, it would be a premature assumption to believe that the
majority of women cannot be trained to become parents, if the
development of the woman has this end in view. One of the tasks of the
future is the creation of a generation of trained mothers, who among
other things will emancipate children from the kindergarten system.
Children are handled in crowds from two and three years up, they are
made to appear before the public in crowds, made to work on the one
plan, made to do the same petty, idiotic, and useless tasks. In this
way, we believe at the present time that we are forming men, while
actually we are only training units. Any one who remembers how, as a
child, he played on the beach or in the wood, in a big nursery or in an
old-fashioned attic, or has seen other children playing in these
surroundings, will know how such unrestrained play deepens the soul,
increases the capacity for invention, and stimulates the imagination a
hundredfold more than children's games and occupations devised by the
arrangement, and promoted by the interference, of elder persons. Adults
are accustomed to amuse children in crowds, a custom which comes from
intellectual vulgarity, instead of leaving them alone to amuse
themselves. Besides this system encourages children to produce what they
do not need, and leads them to imagine that they are working by so
doing. Children should be taught to despise all the numerous unnecessary
things which put life on a false level and make it artificial. They
should be taught to try to simplify it, to aim for its supreme values;
this should be the end of education. The kindergarten system is, on the
contrary, one of the most effective means to produce the weak dilletante
and the self-satisfied average man.

If there is any further need for the kindergarten in the near or distant
future, let it be a place where children may have the same freedom as
cats or dogs, to play by themselves, and for themselves, to think out
something of their own, where they can be provided with means to carry
out their own plans, where they have companions to play with them. A
sensible woman may be near at hand to look on or to supervise, but only
to interfere when the children are likely to hurt themselves. Let her
draw something for them occasionally, tell them a story, or teach them
an amusing game, but otherwise let her be apparently quite passive and
yet untiringly active in the observation of the traits of character and
of disposition which play of this free type reveals. In like manner the
mother should observe the play of children, their treatment of their
companions at play, their inclinations, and collect as much material as
she can but interfere as little directly as possible. The mother finally
by this constant, many-sided, strenuous, yet passive kind of observation
gets a knowledge of the child that is partially exact. One being never
learns to know another being entirely, not even when that being has
received its life from the other, not even when that life is daily
renewed by the other being, in order to reach the full happiness of
spiritual motherhood. It has been well said that as people regard the
birth of a child as the sign of physical maturity, the education of a
child is regarded as a sign of psychical maturity. But through lack in
psychological insight, most parents remain their whole life immature.
They can have the best principles, the most zealous fidelity to duty,
combined with absolute blindness to the nature of children, the real
causes of their actions, and the different combinations of different

Take some examples of the worst blunders of this type; the small child
is often called vain who studies, full of interest, his own identity in
the glass; the child who, from fear or confusion at a hard or
incomprehensible question, does not answer or obey is called stubborn;
the child that cannot explain his actions in those small things which
adults every day entirely forget is looked upon as lying; and even
before the child has a conception of the right of property, when he
pilfers, he is called thievish. The child who says that he knows that
he is naughty, and wants to be naughty, is called obdurate and
impertinent, while this statement is really a self-confession and shows
a character to which one may appeal with the best results. The child,
sunk in thought, who forgets the small things of daily life, people call
thoughtless. Even when a child is really selfish and is really lying or
lazy, these characteristics are treated as if they were something
individual, while actually they are caused often by some serious fault
which must be dealt with. These characteristics can proceed from a good
quality which may be destroyed, if the fault is not treated suitably.

But even parents who now observe their children with more psychological
insight than was used in earlier times are not able to study them, if
their children go to school and kindergarten at an early age. This want
of insight produces mistakes which often cause deep antagonisms between
children and their parents, the sort of thing which now embitters so
many households. Only fathers and mothers who reverence the
individuality of their children, and combine with this feeling a careful
observation of them through their whole life, are able to avoid this
typical fault of our own time. People expect to gather grapes from
thistles, instead of being satisfied with haws. Parents must see that
they cannot create where there is no material to be created. But they
must be capable of developing the characteristics which they discover in
the nature of their children. This work they must undertake with
optimism and resignation, for it represents the teaching of real
psychological study. This will stop those efforts, painful alike for
children and parents, that are applied in directions which offer no
reward to effort.

But the study of the psychology of the child, begun at its birth,
continued in its play, its work, its rest, means a daily comparative
study, and requires the undivided attention of one person. It can only
be done by a person who has charge of but a few children; in a crowd it
is impossible. It is all the more impossible because children in a crowd
resemble one another more or less; and this makes observation more

The kindergarten is only a factory. Children learn in it to model,
instead of making mud pies according to their own taste. This process is
typical of what these small atoms of humanity go through themselves.
From the first floor of the factory the objects that have been turned
out there are sent to the next floor above, the school; and from this
they then go out put up in packages.

The aim of school training is to carry out, with all its might,
production by quantities that expresses the demands of our time in all
spheres. The invention of individual school methods may reduce the
influence of "canned education."

As long as there are large cities, poor children in them must be able to
obtain the possibilities of country children. Their playthings must be
made out of the world which surrounds them. The obligations of their own
home must supply them with work. This is altogether different from the
play work of the kindergarten that has no connection with the
seriousness of reality. A wise mother or teacher will adopt from the
kindergarten system just so much as will enable her to teach children to
observe nature and their surroundings; will take from it what enables
her to make them combine their activity with some useful end; their
amusement with some kind of knowledge.

The Froebel dictum, "Let us live for the children," must be changed into
a more significant phrase, "Let us allow the children to live." This,
among other things, means "let them be emancipated from the burden of
learning by heart," from the forms of system, from the pressure of the
crowd, in those years while the quiet, secret work of the soul is as
vital for them as the growing of the seed in the earth. The kindergarten
system is opposed to this; it is forcing up the seed to life on a plate,
where it looks very pretty, but only for the time being.

The school with its _esprit de corps_ opens the way public lack of
conscience. Modern society manages thus to reproduce the crimes of every
past period; manages too, to reproduce them through men who are
conscientious in their own private life. For those without consciences,
who lead criminal movements, would never be able to put the masses of
people in motion, unless they were just masses and nothing more; unless
they were made to follow collective laws of honour, collective patriotic
feelings, collective conceptions of duty. The child learns to be
obedient to his school, to be loyal to his comrades, just as later on in
life he learns these qualities as they are presented in his university,
his student society, and his profession. All of this he learns sooner
than to reverence his conscience, his feeling of right, his individual
impulse. He learns to wink at, pardon, and disguise the sins committed
by his own circle of companions, his own club, and his own country.

This is the way the world produces its "Dreyfus Affairs," its Transvaal
Wars. If the aim is to create men and not masses, we should follow the
educational programme of the great statesman Stein--"to develop all
those impulses on which the value and strength of mankind depend." This
is only possible when the child is taught, at the earliest age, the
freedom and danger of his own choice, the right and responsibility of
his own will, the conditions and duties of being put to the test
himself. All of these elements of character are unconsciously opposed by
the kindergarten; the home alone can develop them. The highest result of
education is to bring the individual into contact with his own
conscience. This does not mean that the individual cannot experience by
degrees the happiness and the necessity of being a factor in the service
of the whole, first in his home, then among his companions and in his
country, and finally in the world. The difference is this: in the first
case the man is a living cell, co-operating and building up living
forms; in the other he is a piece of cut stone used in artificial

Both for the development of individuality, as well as for the
cultivation of the emotions, the home is to be preferred to the
kindergarten and to the school. In the limited small circle of the home
the emotional element can be deepened and tenderness can be developed,
by the acts called for in the realities of domestic life. The
kindergarten first, and then the school, free children from their
natural individual obligations and put in their place demands that can
only be fulfilled _en masse_. The child enters into a number of
superficial relations. This situation tends to make his emotions
superficial; here is the great danger of beginning school life at a
tender age. On the other hand a one-sided home life brings with it the
danger of concentrating the emotions to an excess. Education at home in
the years when the emotions become harmonious and receive their decisive
training is just as important for the child as is later on a pleasant
sociable life with others of the same age, after the twelfth year is
passed. All intellectual cultivation done according to the most
excellent method, all social feelings, are worthless unless they have as
their basis an individual development of the emotions. Somewhere in our
body we must have a heart, to act as a real balance against our head.
Only the man who has learnt to love a few, deep enough to die for them,
is able to live profitably for the many.

I should like to see not only the kindergarten but the preparatory
school transferred to the home. There things can be considered that are
never taken into account in a general school. The child need not have
the nourishment he does not want, and which he does not need, at the
time he now generally receives it. In the home school, one child can put
off reading to a later age, another can be taught reading early. The
desire for action in one child can be satisfied; the book-hunger of the
other encouraged. Bodily development, the desire to make a real
acquaintance with external nature can be considered in home work, play,
and out-of-door activities. Then we can begin to teach when the child
himself asks for teaching; that is, when he wishes to hear or do
something in which knowledge alone can assist him. The child can twice
as easily learn at ten years, under these conditions, what he now learns
at eight; at eight what he now learns at six, if he comes to his study
with developed powers of observation and an eager desire for action.
Schools can never attain a full insight into the peculiar character of
personality, into the ways in which knowledge must be placed before
different individuals, into the right time for taking a subject or
giving it up. The home school must be considered the ideal method where
the child studies with a small group of well-selected companions.
Individuality can be considered, plans of study and courses can be
neglected. Through such neglect only, is a real living instruction
possible. The advantages the modern school has over the home are hardly
worth discussing. The order of the school, its method, system, and
discipline, so much praised by its advocates as advantages, are, from my
point of view, nothing but disadvantages. Habits of fulfilling duties,
or work, orderly and punctual activity, that belong to a sound
education, can be attained in the home school through far less
artificial means. Of course it is urged as another advantage of the
school that the school child becomes a member of a small community where
he learns social duties. But the home is the natural community where the
child, in full seriousness, learns the real social duties of readiness
to help, and readiness to act, while the present-day school artificially
replaces that domestic social education, of which the child is now
robbed by studies at school and preparation at home. The real value of
school life among companions can be had from the home school without its
ordinary dangers. These dangers are not only evil influences, but, more
than anything else, that collective process of reaching a standard of
stupidity, due to the pressure of public opinion that comes from
association in masses. The fear of common opinion, of being laughed at,
is created in the receptive years of childhood, so open to such
influences. The slightest deviation in dress, or taste, is criticised
unsparingly. If an investigation were conducted on the sufferings of
children through the tyranny of their fellows, a tyranny which sometimes
takes harsher, sometimes milder forms, it would upset the prejudice that
the usefulness of the school in this respect cannot be replaced.

Besides there is the levelling pressure of a uniform discipline, which
stunts personality from above, while life with school companions
restricts it on all sides. Every criticism on this formal pedantry is
met with the answer, "In a school it is absolutely impossible to permit
children to do what can be done in the household; only fancy if all
children in the school were to sharpen their lead pencils or erase
words in their exercises." There is no need to insist further on this
point. Hundreds of petty rules must exist, we are told, for the sake of
discipline. And even if the rules could be reduced to a fourth of their
present cubic contents, even the best schools would still feel the
pressure of uniformity. The more this pressure is resisted by
individuals, so much the better.

Education in the first years must aim to strengthen individuality. The
whole of biographical literature supplies an almost uniform proof of the
importance of not commencing too early the levelling social education of
the school. Early attendance at school is one of the reasons why we so
frequently meet, as Dumas says, so many clever children, and so many
stupid adults.

Almost all great men and women, who have thought and created for
themselves, have received either no education in school at all, or have
gone to school at a rather later period, with longer or shorter
interruptions, or have been trained in different schools. In most cases
it was an accident, some living point of view, a book read in secret, a
personal choice of subject that gave these exceptional beings their
training. In this respect Goethe's education was ideal, considered apart
from some pedantry due to his father's influence. At his mother's
work-table he learnt to know the Bible; French he learnt from a
theatrical company; English from a language master, in company with his
father; Italian, because he heard his sister being taught the language;
mathematics from a friend in the household, a study which Goethe applied
immediately, first in cardboard diagrams, later in architectural
drawings. His essays he prepared in the form of a correspondence in
different languages between different relatives, scattered in various
parts of the world. Geography he eagerly studied in books of travel in
order to be able to give his narrative local colour. He knocked about
with his father, learnt to observe different kinds of handwork, and also
to try himself small experiments of his own skill.

But some one may say, all men are not geniuses, and accordingly the
majority without distinct talent need the school. Is it possible that
the connection between originality and irregular attendance at school is
merely accidental? How often does the school sin in its watering down of
originality! As for unoriginal people, the argument urged here is an
application of the biblical axiom, that from him who has nothing even
the little will be taken away. I mean the individual who has no distinct
personality will be forced in the school to give up the little that he
can call his own. The old-fashioned school where a few subjects were
learnt by heart, where the teachers were often badly prepared, where the
students could go to sleep or pretend to learn, where the courses were
simple and attention concentrated on Latin, seems barbarous to us. But
it had less danger for the personality than the present-day school with
its thorough preparation, its interest in readings, its perfected
methods, its capital instructors who take every little stone out of the
student's road, and prepare as much delightful intellectual nourishment
as possible, sometimes even in a cooked-up form. This "good school" with
its over-insistence on versatility is responsible for the nervousness of
our day. Its general intellectual apathy has caused the negativeness of
our times.

The quietest, most obedient child is thought the best pupil, that is,
the most impersonal individual is the model. So we see how the school
confuses its conception of values. The more the soul and body are
passive, are willing to be controlled and receptive, so much the better
are the results from the school standpoint. Mischievous children,
obstinate characters, one-sided and original natures, are always martyrs
at school because of their desire for action, their spirit of
opposition, their so-called "stupidity." Only the easy-going, amiable,
commonly endowed natures can keep some of their own individual
tendencies, slip through the school, and at the same time get good
certificates of industry, moral character, order, and progress. In the
first-class modern school, the mobile structure of personality is forced
into shape--or rather it is knocked about by wind and waves, like a
pebble on the seashore. It is struck by one wave after another, day by
day, term by term; on they come--forty-five minutes for religious
instruction, the same period for history, then French, then sloyd, then
natural history; the next day new subjects in new, small doses. In the
afternoon, there is preparation at home, and writing exercises,
previously arranged and marked out, then corrected with care, and the
prepared readings made the basis of questioning by the most approved
methods, the mother having at home first gone over them with the child.
These powerful billows stupefy the brain, and take the edge off the
souls of both teacher and scholar. Even the most active teachers move
along fettered by requirements and prejudices, unconditional necessities
and methodical principles. Only occasionally is a soul saved from this
fate by total skepticism. Some exalt this pettifogging professionalism
to a plan of salvation, others are untiringly busy in changing details,
in discussing minor improvements. Every real thoroughgoing reform
affecting the principle, not the methods alone, goes to pieces, because
it conflicts with the system supported by the state. It fails, through
the obedient acceptance of the system on the part of parents, through
the incapacity of teachers to look at the whole results of the system,
through their disinclination to all radical methods of improvement.

The school, like the home and society, in general should aim to fight
more vigorously and more successfully the influences belittling life,
and should further its development towards ever higher forms. This end
is opposed by the modern schools. It is a gross mistake to hold up their
excellent material and their number as proofs of popular culture. How
the people are educated in the schools, how the material is used, what
subjects are pursued in them are the momentous questions.

Goethe's saying that "fortune is the development of our capacities" is
as applicable to children as to adults. What these capacities are can be
determined soon in the case of the talented child; his future can be
secured by obtaining for him the possibility of such a development. But
there are common capacities, proper to every normal human being, and
from their development, fortune too can be the outcome. Among such
capacities is memory, which modern man has nearly destroyed. "We throw
ashes," says Max Muller, "every day on the glowing coals of memory while
men of past ages could retain in their minds the treasures of our
present literature." To these capacities belong, among others, power of
thought, not in the sense of philosophic thinking, but in the simpler
use of the word, gifts of observation, ability to draw conclusions and
to exercise judgment. Of the common universal human faculties the
emotions suffer most at the hand of the modern school.

One of the fundamentally wrong pedagogical assumptions, is that
mathematics and grammar develop the understanding. This is only true
after a higher stage is reached in these courses. But there is no one
who seriously maintains that, so far as nature or man is concerned, he
has used directly or indirectly, in a single observation, conclusion, or
exercise of judgment, the theses, hypotheses, statements, problems, the
rules and exceptions, of mathematics and grammar, with which his
childish brain was burdened. I have heard from mathematicians and
philologians the same heresy that I am proclaiming, that mathematics and
grammar, when they are not pursued as sciences, must be reduced to a
minimum. Provided a person has mathematical talent, the study of
mathematics is naturally agreeable, through the development of a
capacity in a certain direction. If one has the gift for languages, the
same is true of linguistic study. But without such special talent, these
subjects have no educational value, because the powers of observation,
drawing conclusions, exercising judgment, are just as undeveloped as
they were before the mathematical problem was solved or the grammatical
rules learned.

Life--the life of nature and of man--this alone is the preparation for
life. What the world of nature and the world of man offers in the way
of living forms, objects of beauty, types of work, processes of
development, can, by natural history, geography, history, art, and
literature, give real value to memory; can teach the understanding to
observe, to judge and distinguish; can train the feeling to become
intense, and through its intensity combine the varying material in that
unity which alone is education. In brief, real things are what the home
and school should offer children in broad, rich, and warm streams. But
the streams should not be taken off in canals and dammed up by methods,
systems, divisions of courses, and examinations.

I never read a pedagogical discussion without the fine words
"self-activity, individual development, freedom of choice," suggesting
to me the music which accompanies the sacrificial feasts of cannibals.
The moment these words are used, limitations and reservations are
introduced by their advocates. Their proposed application is ludicrously
insignificant, in contrast with the great principle in the name of which
they urge these changes. And so the pupil continues to be sacrificed to
educational ideals, pedagogical systems, and examination requirements,
that they refuse to abandon. The everlasting sin of the school against
children is to be always talking about the child.

The sloyd system (manual dexterity, handwork, artistic production) has
certain good results on children. Accordingly the sloyd must be
introduced into the school, and all must be made to share the advantages
of this training; but there are children for whom the sloyd is as
inappropriate and as useless a requirement as learning Latin. The child
who wants to devote himself to his books should be no more forced to
take up the sloyd, than the child who is happy with his planing table
should be dragged to literature.

All talk about "harmonious training" must be given the place where it
belongs--in the pedagogical culinary science. Certainly harmonious
development is the finest result of man's training, but it is only to be
attained by his own choice. It implies a harmony between the real
capacities of the individual, not a harmony worked up from a pedagogical
formula. The results from the school kneading trough with its mince-meat
processes are something quite different.

Isolated reforms in the modern school have no significance; they will
continue to have none, until we prepare for the great revolution, which
will smash to pieces the whole present system and will leave not one
stone of it upon another. Undoubtedly a "Deluge" of pedagogy must come,
in which the ark need only contain Montaigne, Rousseau, Spencer, and the
modern literature of the psychology of the child. When the ark comes to
dry land man need not build schools but only plant vineyards where
teachers will be employed to bring the ripe grapes to the children, who
now get only a taste of the juice of culture in a thin watery mixture.

The school has only one great end, to make itself unnecessary, to allow
life and fortune, which is another way of saying self-activity, to take
the place of system and method.

From the kindergarten period on the child is now, as has been said, a
material moulded, sometimes by hostile, sometimes by friendly hands. The
mildest, the apparently freest methods produce uniformity by insisting
on the same work, the same impression, the same regulations, day by day,
year by year. Besides in the school, classes are never arranged
according to the child's temperament and tendency, but according to his
age and knowledge. So he is condemned in deadly tediousness to waste an
infinite amount of time while he is waiting for others.

The very earliest period of instruction should use the power the child
has for observation and work. These capacities should be made the means
of his education, the standard for using his own observation. If the
power of observation is vigorous, no general rules are to be drawn, but
only particular ones. One child must read, play, or do handwork in a
different degree to another. One can at an early age, the other only at
a later period, take advantage of the education to be obtained from
going to museums or from travel (the best of all travel is tramping).
The indispensable elements will be reduced to their lowest measure; for
what any one man needs to be able to do, in order to find himself at
home in life, is not considerable. The minimum is to read well, to spell
properly, to write with both hands, to copy simple objects, so that one
learns picture writing just as alphabet writing. This skill is quite
different from artistic gifts. Besides there must be instruction in
looking at things geometrically, the four simple rules of arithmetic and
decimal fractions, as much geography as will help one to use a map and a
time-table, as much knowledge of nature as will give one a fundamental
conception of the simplest requirements of hygiene; and finally, the
English language, in order to put one in touch with the increasing
intercourse in the great world. Through these requirements the child
will be endowed with what he needs, in order to find himself at home in
the world of books and of life. Let there be added to these the ability
to darn a stocking, sew on a button, and thread a needle.

Only the indispensable should be the obligatory foundation of further
culture, which is only the trimming on a simple garment. The trimming
receives its entire value because the individual has prepared it
himself; it must not be made by a machine according to a model prepared
in a factory.

What is mentioned here supplies the same basis for all, but children
should be able to throw themselves into the pastoral life of the Old
Testament, into the life of the Greek and Scandinavian gods and heroes,
into the life of popular legends and national history; but this should
be done only through the books which they get for their amusement. At
the present time all of these things are made pure subjects of study!

Assume, then, that this foundation is laid. The school of the future,
which will be a school for all, will advance general education, but the
plan it follows will be adapted to every individual. In the school of my
dreams there will be no report books, no rewards, no examinations; at
graduation time examinations will be arranged for but they will be oral.
In them detailed knowledge will not be considered; education as a whole
will determine the decision of the examiners, who will personally
accompany the children in the open air in order to become quietly
acquainted with what they know of mankind, of past and present history.

And the education which will make the training aim at this end will be
diametrically opposed to that given by the teacher of the present day.
The teacher will be required to make his own observations, he will guide
the scholar in the choice of books, and show him how to work. But he
will not give first his own observation, judgment, and knowledge in the
form of lectures, preparations, and experiments. Occasionally he will
without giving notice ask for an oral or written account of work, and so
ascertain how thoroughly the scholar has gone into the subject. At
another time, when he knows that the scholar is prepared for it, he
will give a general treatment, a comprehensive review of the subject, a
stimulating and stirring impression, as a reward for independent work.
Finally, when the scholar wishes it, he will examine him formally, but
his real work will be to teach the scholar to make his own observations,
to solve his own problems, to find his own aids to study in books,
dictionaries, maps, etc., to fight his way through his own difficulties
to victory and so reach the only moral reward for his trouble with
broadened insight and increased strength.

The scholar who sits down and listens to, or looks at, the demonstration
or experiment of the teacher does not learn to observe, nor does he
whose exercise book is corrected with painful accuracy learn to write;
nor does the one who pedantically carries out the system of models in
the sloyd system learn to make articles fit for every-day use. The
student must make his investigations himself, he must find the mistakes
himself when their presence is indicated to him, he must himself think
out the objects brought before him. Above all, the separate errors must
not be corrected except when they are so constant and serious that they
waste time. But the scholar himself must try to find out the correct and
complete method of work and of expression. This is what training, what
education is.

Text-books will be attractive and virile, the "Reader" will disappear,
the complete books in the original (the text may be revised if it is
filled with confusing details) will be placed in the hands of children.
The school library will be the largest, most beautiful, and important
room; lending books in the schools will be an essential part of the

The future school of my dreams will be surrounded by large gardens,
where, as in already-existing schools in some places, the feeling for
beauty will be directly encouraged. The individual scholars will arrange
the flowers in the school and at home. They will take them home in order
to adorn the window garden, and every schoolroom in winter will have a
garden of this kind. This will be the natural method of making the
simplest of all esthetic enjoyments a universal need. But taste must not
be developed by instruction in the art of arranging flowers; this is to
be attained only by pointing out those that have been arranged in the
most beautiful way. In this as in all other things, self-help is

Natural dexterity will be attained by book-binding, turning, and other
kinds of handwork, also by gardening and play. Such training has far
greater educational value than the systematic types. The purposelessness
and the uniformity of these are the terror of youth. Gymnastics should
only be used on days when the weather makes bodily exercise in the open
air impossible; they can certainly be made more living by being
connected with physiology and hygiene, just as mathematics can be made
real by being combined with handwork and drawing. But nothing can equal
the value of movement in the open air.

Besides its garden, the future school will have its hall. Outside it
will have a playground for dancing and really free play--I mean the kind
of play where children, after they have learnt the game, are left to
themselves. Games constantly accompanied by a teacher make play a

The development of beauty will become the aim of physical instruction as
it once was with the Greeks, not simply physical strength.

Through different kinds of hand and garden work, the child will be
spared from a number of requirements in mathematics and physics, because
he will in many things make discoveries himself. In the methods of
school drudgery the child learns that a seed grows by warmth and
moisture. In real training, the child himself sows the seed and sees
what happens to it; this system is followed I believe in many schools,
but only as proofs of a given abstract statement. The mistake of the
modern school is really just here; it illustrates its course of
instruction by, as it were, over-charging the child's attention, instead
of giving him time and opportunity to originate for himself.

In the future school-building, there will be no class-rooms at all, but
different halls with ample material provided for different subjects,
and, by the side of them, rooms for work where each scholar will have a
place assigned to him for private study. Common examinations will only
take place when several scholars are ready and willing, anxious to be
examined on the same subject; and each student can ask for the
examination independent of the rest.

In every room, on the outside of the building, architecture and
decoration will form a beautiful whole; and the artistic objects,
detached from the building, for the adornment of the school will be
partly originals, partly casts and copies of famous originals.

The sense for art will not be awakened by direct artistic instruction,
either in the school or when visiting museums. Classes can perhaps get
such knowledge when taken around museums; but love for art can only be
gained when the scholar is surrounded by art; when he can absorb it in
peace and freedom. Let this quiet progress be anticipated by
instruction--I don't mean the admiring criticism of the teacher himself,
which he in passing expresses without explanation or questioning--and
the inevitable result is troubling the water of a living well.
Interference here, as in all other cases, destroys the individual
pleasure of discovery. Constantly being taken about really impairs the
capacity for seeing for oneself. In art, in literature, and in religion,
all instruction is a mistake until the young mind has chosen some part
of it as an object to be known. Knowledge destroys, feeling creates,
life. But the roots of feeling are easily injured.

As to visits to museums under the direction of a teacher, they are only
of use when the scholar has previously made, on his own account, his own
discoveries. To these he should be stimulated by the teacher. When
occupied in the study of Greek history, he will be asked for a
description of Greek sculpture that is to be found in such and such a
museum. When lectures are given on the Dutch War of Independence, Dutch
pictures will be described. Only after the scholar has used his own
eyes, and formed his own judgments, will a synthesis of his experiences
under external guidance be of use. The same holds good of
natural-history, historical, and ethnographical museums. Taking children
around in herds produces very slight results unless they have been put
in the way of noticing things by themselves.

Among the books of the school, the best literature in the original and
in good accessible translations should be found. Works should be at hand
capable of giving aid to those who have artistic interests. There is no
greater fault in modern education than the care spent in selecting books
for different ages. This is essentially an individual matter, and can
only be decided by the choice of the child himself. A general crusade
against all children's books, and freedom for the young to read great
literature, is essential to the sound development of the modern child.
What is too old for him may be set aside according to the taste of the
child himself. Suppose at the age of ten years, the child is absorbed in
_Faust_ (I know such cases); the child then gets at this age an
impression for life that does not prevent him receiving from the same
poem another impression at twenty years, or again another at thirty or
forty years. The so-called dangers in standard literature are, for the
child, almost nil. Incidents that excite adults, his calm feelings pass
over entirely. And even if children reach the emotional period of youth,
only rarely does the plain downright expression of a great mind about
natural things stain the imagination, falsify reality, and spoil taste.
It is the modern romance, women's novels, just as much as French novels,
that do this.

Children cannot in these days, even if parents are unreasonable enough
to wish it, be kept in ignorance. Crude or stolen impurity gets a
greater power over a mind that has not absorbed respect for the absolute
seriousness of natural processes. This reverence is sure to come from
education, and through the impressions of standard literature and
first-class art.

Veiling this subject is apt to lead astray and to vulgarise. To those
who can be harmed in this way the Bible is as suggestive as any of the
crudities of modern literature. In the temperament which quietly accepts
natural things as a matter of course, is laid the foundation of real
purity, and only through real purity can life, like art and literature,
become great and sound.

In the works of great minds, one meets an infinite world in which the
erotic element is only one factor. This gives them great repose.
Moreover imagination must have nourishment outside of itself; otherwise
it will live upon its own product. Its nourishment should be what is
most readable. The child's mind should be first fed on legends and then
on great literature. This should be all the more insisted on because
great literature often remains unread, when modern literature in its
varied types begins later on to be absorbing.

To be able to use one's eyes in the worlds of nature, man, and art, to
be able to read good things--these are the two great ends to which home
and school education should direct their course. If the child has these
capacities, he can learn almost everything else himself. I may remark in
passing, that a sound development of the imagination has not only an
æsthetic but an ethical significance. It is really the foundation for
active sympathy all round. Numerous cruelties are committed now by
people who have not sufficient imagination to see how their acts affect

In my dreamed-of school, founded along these lines, there is perfect
freedom in selecting subjects. The school offers the subjects, but it
forces no one to take them. English, German, French, natural science,
mathematics, history, and geography are taught. The mother tongue is
practiced fluently in speaking, reading, and writing. But in this case
grammar is superfluous both for general education and for using a
language; it belongs to scientific study, not to general culture.
Grammar should be applied in the case of foreign languages, only so far
as it is absolutely necessary to appreciate the literature. This is the
sole aim general culture has in view. Those who wish to speak the
languages fluently, and write them correctly, must attain facility by
continual study. Those who have mastered the literature very easily
learn the rest. Those who are familiar with the literature of a foreign
language, write it, even with the mistakes they make, better than the
person who has put together a perfectly correct composition according to
grammatical rules. After the child, in his language study, has made
enough progress to understand a fairly easy book, he ought to work
through one book after another, with the help of a dictionary and
explain in his own language extempore what he reads. In this way is laid
the foundation of a knowledge of literature, not the ready-made opinions
of the histories of literature. Both in their own and in foreign
literatures, the young must be lead to reality, not, as now, to its
copy; to the sea, not to the water pipe. While the teacher is directing
the study of language, he should try at the same time to help the
scholar to a definite choice of books, and his choice should if possible
be brought into relation with other subjects. So he will recommend
literature connected with historical, scientific, or geographical study.
Afterwards he will give a general analysis, and will read a passage
aloud, or will encourage the scholar to read some favorite poem. But all
poetry mongering--such as hacking a poem to pieces by divisions into
strophies and sections--is to be forbidden.

Since childhood is the best time for securing the familiar use of
languages, after parents and teachers agree which scholars shall take up
languages, children so selected will study English and French, each for
two years successively, then let them have two years of German, or
reverse this arrangement. In this way a language will always be studied
with other subjects, never three languages together. It is really only
possible to take in a language, as a possession to be kept through the
future, and never lost, by giving to it alone two years of really
thorough study.

Scholars who want to continue their drawing or learn any kind of
handwork, can combine it with the study of the main subjects. Chorus
singing should be practised every day for the whole year, indoors and in
the open air. It should be treated as a means of expressing the
feelings, not as an introduction for developing musical capacities,
though for that matter singing can give a lead to the discovery of
musical talent.

As to the four principal subjects, history, geography, natural science,
and mathematics, they should not be studied at the same time. The
shallow multiplicity of the present system is a burden to all; it works
like the "water torture" on talented individuals. It wears out their
desire to learn, their initiative, their individuality, their joy of
living. Those under this torture never get a breathing spell, are never
able to do thorough work, and so become superficial.

In my ideal school, mathematics will be learnt in winter, as it is
suitable for the cold and clear winter air. In spring and in autumn,
nature, out of doors, in nature itself, will be studied, not each
department of nature as a special subject. An insight into geology,
botany, and the animal world will be attained in their close natural
union. The scholar will learn separate objects through the actual
observation of life. In the text-book of life they will gain in its
broad outlines a combined sketch of what they have acquired through
intellectual processes. On rainy days they will construct for themselves
in writing and in drawing a general sketch of what they have seen.
General culture does not mean knowing the number of stamens or the
number of articulations of a hundred flowers or skeletons. What educates
and acts on the feelings and imagination, on thought and character, too,
for that matter, is observing and combining natural phenomena; the
ability to follow the laws of life and development in the natural world
about us. The last member in the scheme of development is man. So the
study of man from the standpoint of physiology and hygiene, should come
last; consideration for the psychology of the child, urges too, that
the foundation for the knowledge of organic nature, physics, and
chemistry, should complete the educational structure.

As in natural sciences we are beginning to give up false methods, and
make the student return to the same subject, with a broader point of
view, in the same way the child should at certain periods devote his
attention to history and geography, and then leave them entirely alone.
The endless circle, the drudgery, the repetitions, all looking to
examinations as the end, will with the examinations be abolished. It is
a matter of experience that the small details of all subjects slip from
the memory two months after examinations. Most educated men have no
recollection of the detailed knowledge they acquired in school, while
the general impressions of that period still influence soul, heart,
character, and will. This experience will be used, not as is done now,
simply recognised as a common one.

In my school the scholar interested in history will apply himself to it
in the winter months; will read works about it, while others are
devoting themselves to mathematics or geography. In spring these two
classes of students can share in the excursions without active
participation in the studies, while those who are inclined to natural
science will draw, make collections, and use the microscope. One group
can by studying geography bring themselves into contact with the life of
nature and the life of man. So they will be led next year to study
history in winter and to take part in science study during the spring
and autumn. All these different combinations are to be thought out by
parents, teachers, and scholars; they can only be indicated here. The
final principle is that only two subjects can be studied at the same
time. After the scholar has acquired from these all the education he can
absorb at this stage, these subjects will be dismissed and taken up
again by those who wish to specialise in one direction or the other.
Instead of the separation of subjects that divides interest and strength
in our present schools, in the new ones the chief aim will be
concentration. In history, the space devoted to work will be limited to
the amount demanded by present-day culture. History will then be the
only subject suitable for general intellectual training,--the history of
man's development. It will bring out the great principles of ethnography
and sociology, of political economy, the lives of great men, the history
of the church, art, and literature. In scientific study and in teaching
mathematics, the men prominent in science and in discovery will find a
place. Geography brings up points of view related to almost every study,
and experience already acquired gives good reason for making this
subject the centre of all instruction.

What are the results of the present-day school? Exhausted brain power,
weak nerves, limited originality, paralysed initiative, dulled power of
observing surrounding facts, idealism blunted under the feverish zeal of
getting a position in the class--a wild chase in which parents and
children regard the loss of a year as a great misfortune. After the
examinations have been passed and the year gone by, the best students
realise the need of beginning their studies in a living way at almost
every point. The majority of students are unable to read even a paper
with any real profit, and those who are given a book in a foreign
language to which they have devoted innumerable hours, very seldom
understand it completely, unless the language instruction of the school
has been supplemented at home. The incapacity to observe for one's self,
to get at the bottom of what is observed and reflect upon it, is
constantly more remarkable, as a result of the preparation system at
school, even when this is aided by the mothers hearing lessons at home.
The late Professor Key said that it was his experience, as teacher in a
medical institution, that scholars in school were incapable of seeing,
thinking, or working. I have heard the same observation made in
Stockholm lately in a government office, that the young men were
incapable of taking up practical duties in which they should have shown
the knowledge they were supposed to have after the fine examination they
had passed. The system then does not serve even secondary ends; to all
the higher aims of human existence it is directly opposed.

In the course of a hundred years or so, experience of this sort will
cause the downfall of the system. Then, perhaps, these dreamed-of
schools will arise. In them, the youth will learn first of all to
observe and to love life, and their own powers will be consciously
cultivated as the highest values in life. By mixing children of all
classes together, the upper class, provided it still exists, will get
that "colouring of earnest character which it now lacks," as Almquist
said long ago; the lower classes will get the polish, that general
cultivation they now lack. Through these schools, where common training
is given to all, the natural circulation between all classes will be
furthered. The aristocrat's son and the workingman's son will change
places, if nature has made the first adapted for the position of the
second, and _vice versa_. Through these schools the country child will
always be able to grow up in the country, and need not be sent for
educational purposes into the city, provided there are still great
cities. Finally boys and girls will enjoy in them all the advantages of
co-education, without the particular capacities of each being forced
into the uniformity of a common examination system.

After the children all over the country have been educated to about
fifteen years of age, in such real common schools, some working more
with the brain, others with their hands, the application schools will
begin--schools for classical studies, for exact, for social or æsthetic
sciences; for handicrafts and handwork; for different professions and
state positions; schools with different principles and methods, schools
which can produce manifold differing forms of training and
individuality. Education then, instead of being as now, the creator of
servile souls, the devotees of formalism, or of characters who hate all
forms in a spirit of revolt, will bring fresh personal powers to
intellectual and material culture alike, to the sciences and the
inventive faculties, to artistic talent and to the whole art of life. It
will awaken and encourage capacity to find out new scientific methods,
to think youthful thoughts, to make clever discoveries. Educated human
beings will apply to the whole sphere of culture their experience in
their own experiments, their own activity, their own efforts; for all of
which the school and the home will have already laid the foundation.

In the school, the painful restlessness of the present "to get
somewhere" will disappear entirely. In the calm, profound atmosphere of
my school, the young generation will be trained to believe that the most
important thing for man is not to do something, but to be something. It
may be harsh to say that common natures are reckoned by what they do,
noble natures by what they are; yet it is a deep truth, forgotten in
this century of activity, in this age of woman. But it is bound to be
remembered in the century of contemplation, in the century of the child.

These principles will be applied, too, perhaps, in the field of
practical work. Machines and electricity accomplish work that can give
no creative enjoyment; handwork will be again a portion of man's
happiness; we shall live through a second Renaissance, the renewal of
the personal joy which the man of earlier times experienced when the
artistic moulding, when the rich, coloured tapestry, the beautiful piece
of carving came from his own hand. The present school system leads to
the fabrication of unnecessary articles by the dozen. It does not lead
to a true love and appreciation of professional work, that love and
appreciation from which, in the great period of art, artistic production
organically arose.

The present system, in all fields of study, limits the natural capacity
of the child in the concentration, the combination, and development of
its powers. When it produces its best results, it turns children at the
close of their school years into pocket encyclopedias, representing
humanity's progress and knowledge. Only when such results as these cease
to be called a harmonious development, will it be conceded that the
school can and should have no other meaning than to give the child a
preparation for continuing, through his whole life, the work of training
and education. Only then will the school become a place where
individuals get learning to last a lifetime, not as now, even when the
best face is put upon it--where they are impoverished for life. Through
the victory of these convictions alone will each individual get his
rights at school; both the person who does not want to study, as well as
the one who does. Consideration will be given to the individual who has
to have books as means of training and to the other case where the
activity of the eye and hand is required as a means to the same end. It
will be a place for the person with practical talent and for the
theorist, for the realist as well as for the idealist. Both classes can
freely do what they can do best; the members of each class will often
feel tempted to test their powers by doing what the other class is able
to do. One-sidedness will be corrected naturally, not, as it is now,
mercilessly flattened out through the steam-roller methods of the
"harmonious ideal of training."

To supply workers in these future schools, new normal schools must be
provided. Patented pedagogy will give place to a type of teaching which
considers the individual. Only the person who naturally or by training
can play with children, live with children, learn from children, is fond
of children, will be placed in the school to develop there for himself
his individual methods. Positions will be given only after a year's
trial. When this period is passed the teachers will not be tested by the
examiner alone, one who has followed the instruction given by them
during the year, but the children themselves will also be heard from on
this question. Of course, no absolute value can be assigned to the
judgment of children, but nevertheless it has a really great importance.
The instinct of the child chooses with astonishing accuracy what is
first-class. But what, in the case of the child, has this character?
This question has been answered by Goethe, "The greatest fortune of the
earth's children is personality alone."

At the present time objectivity in instruction is exalted, but every
great educator has achieved success by being entirely subjective. The
teacher should be a lover of truth. Therefore he should never force a
resisting object to serve his own views. As a result of this attitude,
the more subjective he is, the better. The fuller and richer he
communicates to the children the essence and power of his own view of
life and his own character, so much the more will he forward their real
development, provided, however, that he does not force upon them his
opinions with the claim of infallibility. In this as in all other
matters, the young should be allowed to exercise free choice.

The teachers of both sexes in my school will have short hours of work, a
long time to rest, and a large salary; that is, they will have the
possibility of a continuous development. The limit of their service will
be twenty years. After this period, they will become members of a school
jury composed of parents and teachers, or they will assist in final
examinations, as censors. These will be conducted as indicated above, in
such a way that each censor shall pass a summer either at home or
abroad, in company with young people, not more than five in number. By
living with them the censor will be able to measure their capacity for
absorbing an education; he can direct them in the choice of a
profession. By a "Socratic" communication of practical wisdom, he will
supply a substitute for the Confirmation Instruction which will no
longer be given. The psychological value of this instruction is not to
be actually found in what one learns from it, but in the direction of
the mind to the serious questions and pursuits of life, in the awakening
of ethical self-development, which is the factor of supreme importance
in passing from childhood to youth. In this way the young will be
initiated into the art of life. I mean by this the art of making one's
own personality, one's own existence, an object of artistic interest and
pursuit. The initiation will be conducted by a wise man, or by a woman
who has kept her youthfulness, so that she understands the joys and
pains of the young, their play and their seriousness, their dreams and
aspirations, their faults and their dangers--leaders who can give
indirect suggestions how young people should play their own melodies in
the orchestra of life.

My school will not come into existence while governments make their
greatest sacrifices for militarism. Only when this tendency is overcome,
a point in development will be reached, where one can see that the
dearest school programme is also the cheapest. People will realise that
strong manly brains and heart have the greatest social value. I have
already said that this is no reform plan for the present that I am
outlining here, only a dream for the future. But in our wonderful
existence dreams are becoming at last actual realities.[1]

[Footnote 1: Since I wrote the above, there have been founded in
England, France, also in Norway, reformed schools, working more or less
in the direction I have outlined.]



At the present moment the most demoralising factor in education is
Christian religious instruction. What I mean by this is principally
catechism, Scripture history, theology, and church history. Even earnest
Christians have said, regarding the ordinary instruction in these
subjects, that nothing shows better how deeply religion is rooted in
man's nature than the fact that "religious education" is not able to
destroy religion.

But beside this, I believe that even a more living, a more actual
instruction in Christianity injures the child. Children should bring
themselves by themselves to live in the patriarchal world of the Old
Testament; indeed, in the world of the New Testament as well. This can
be done best in the form of children's Bibles. These works will be
treasured by children; they will find in them infinite material for
nourishing the imagination and the emotions. But this can only be done
by allowing children to read the Bible undisturbed, without the need of
pedagogical or dogmatic explanation. At home this book, like other
children's books, should be only talked about and explained when the
child requests it. It should never be treated as a school book or appear
on the school desk. If the child gets impressions in this way from the
Bible, freed from all other authority, apart from the subjective one of
the impressions themselves, the myths of the Bible will no more
contradict the rest of his instruction, than the Scandinavian story of
creation or the Greek legends of the gods.

But the most dangerous of all educational mistakes in influencing
humanity, is due to the fact, that children are now taught the Old
Testament account of the world as absolute truth, although it wholly
contradicts their physical and historical instruction. Besides children
learn to regard the morality of the New Testament as absolutely binding,
while its commands are everywhere seen to be transgressed by the child,
the moment he takes his first step into life. Our whole industrial and
capitalistic society rests on a contradiction of the Christian command
to love one's neighbour as one's self. The capitalistic axiom is that
every man is nearest neighbour to himself.

The eyes of children are here and in similar cases, clear-sighted in
their simplicity. At a tender age they are able to observe whether their
surroundings are in living accord with Christian teaching. From a
four-year-old child, with whom I was talking about Jesus' commandment to
love one another, I received the reply, "If Jesus really said so, Papa
is no Christian." Before long the child gets into conflict with his
instructors and with the commands of Christianity. A small child in a
Swedish city took the word of Jesus about charity to heart. Not only his
playthings, but his clothes he gave to the poor; his parents cured, by
corporal punishment, this practical type of Christianity. A teacher who
was impressing on a small girl in a Finnish city the commandment to love
one's enemies, received as an answer that this was impossible, for no
one in Finland could love Bobrikoff.

I know the sophism used in both cases to overcome the invulnerable logic
of the child; but I also know how these sophisms make hypocrisy so
natural among Christians, that it is now unconscious. It would take a
new Kirkegaard to shake up our consciences. Everywhere Rousseau's words
hold true, "The child gets high principles to direct him, but he is
forced by his surroundings to act according to petty principles, every
time he wishes to put the high ones into practice." He goes on to say
people have innumerable "ifs" and "buts," by which the child has to
learn that great principles are only words, that the reality of life is
something quite different.

The dangerous thing is not that the ideal of Christianity is high; it
comes from the fact that every ideal in its essence is unattainable. The
nearer we get to it the more lofty it is. This is the characteristic of
every ideal. But the demoralising feature in Christianity as an ideal
is, that it is presented as absolute, while man as a social being is
obliged to transgress it every day. Besides he is taught in his
religious instruction, that as a fallen being he cannot in any case
attain the ideal, although the only possibility of his living
righteously in temporal things, and happily in the world to come,
depends on his capacity for realising it.

In this net of unsolvable contradictions, generation after generation
has seen its ideal of belief obscured. Gradually each new generation has
learned not to take its new ideal seriously. As to the cowardly or
braggart concessions to the idiocies of fashion, and the follies by
which people are ruined in order to live according to their position,
among other psychological grounds for man's lack of steadiness must be
placed, as its ultimate cause, the following: The child, along with
religion, has breathed in the conviction that opinions are one thing,
actions another. This experience goes through the whole of life, even in
the case of those who have lost the conviction that the Christian
religion is absolute. The free-thinker is married, has his children
baptised, and allows them to be confirmed, without considering whether
he is forced to it by his own wish, or the wish of doing like other
people. The republican sings the royal hymn, sends loyal salutations by
telegraph, accepts decorations,--but I must break off, otherwise I
should have to enumerate all the small acts of insincerity to one's
self, of which the daily life of most people consists, and which are
defended under the name of non-essentials; I could never get to the end.
This is not the way the Christian martyrs thought who might have freed
themselves from death by casting a few grains of incense on the
emperor's altar. Two grains of incense,--what an unimportant matter,
thinks the modern man, and with quiet conscience he daily sacrifices to
many gods in whom he does not believe.

How illogical Protestantism is too, and yet for so long it possessed a
spiritually educative power, while its dualism was unsuspected, while
one with full sincerity gave to holiday and work day its due share. But
now that a new Protestantism is come to life within the fold of
Protestantism, this method of speaking in two voices is deeply

Piece by piece has been torn down that system of teaching which the
Catholic church built up, so wonderfully adapted to the psychological
needs of the majority of people. It formed its fundamental creeds, just
as they still remain, on the deepest experiences of mankind. But
Protestantism is ever looking back from the results of its own

In home, in the school, in the high school, during military service, in
office work, everywhere passive dependence is insisted on under the name
of discipline, discretion, faithfulness to duty. And like all the fine
words, by which the living souls of men are turned into the slaves of
discipline, these terms exalt _esprit de corps_, and pass over really
serious faults. Discipline means subordinating one's self to every crude
force. Only when all Protestants really become actual Protestants, and
refuse to receive the greatest good of life, their religion, through
authority, will they begin even in social and political questions to
attain an independent opinion of their own. As teachers and leaders,
they will secure for school children, and for students, for officers and
for officials, the freedom in word and deed that is the right of the
citizen and the man. Men and women, who in their private life are
strictly honourable, have learnt, in general questions, to put their
thoughts, their acts, under the command of a leader, and above all they
have learnt to do this in the name of religious belief.

The courage to construct one's own opinion in everything that makes the
essential worth of life, but chiefly in one's religious belief, the
power to express it, the will of making some sacrifice for it, all these
give man a new share of civilisation and culture. As long as education
and social life do not consciously forward this kind of courage, power,
and will, the world will remain as it is, a parade ground of stupidity,
crudeness, force, and selfishness, no matter whether radicals or
conservatives, the democratic or aristocratic elements, have the upper

The most demoralising of all principles of belief was the discouraging
teaching that human nature was fallen and incapable of reaching holiness
by its own effort--the teaching that one could only come through grace
and forgiveness of sins into a proper relation with temporal and eternal
things. For those below the ordinary level, this position of grace
produced spiritual stagnation, not to speak of the business people, who
daily allowed the blood of Jesus to wipe out their day's debit in the
score of morality. Only those who were naturally superior increased in
holiness on being convinced that they were children of God in Christ.
Mankind, on the whole, showed the deep demoralisation of a double
morality. This dualism commenced as soon as the first Christians ceased
to expect the return of Jesus,--an expectation which brought their life
into real unity with his teaching. But this double morality has for
nineteen hundred years retained man's soul and the social order in
practical heathenism. Although some pure and great spirits really
received aid from Christianity in their longings for infinity, and
although in the Middle Ages many strong hearts tried seriously to
realise its teaching, yet the majority of mankind lived and lives still
in wavering irresolution. This is the result of having no place to
anchor to while the citizens of antiquity had an ethic, which could be
translated into reality and could turn them into sincere, steadfast

Since nineteen hundred years have proved that there is no possibility,
in a humanly constructed society, of living according to the teaching of
Jesus, as a practical, infallible rule of holiness, man can escape this
immoral duplicity only in one way: the way already travelled over by
many separate individuals, who with Prometheus cry out, "Hast thou not,
thyself, completed all, O holy glowing heart!" In other words, these
individuals have become convinced that Christianity is the product of
humanity. Just as little as any other product of humanity does it
exhaust absolute and eternal truth.

When men cease to teach their children belief in an eternal providence,
without whose will no sparrow falls from the roof, they will be able,
instead of this, to imprint on the minds of children the new religious
conception of the divinity of a world, proceeding according to law. The
new morality will be built on this new religious idea. It will be filled
with reverence for the absolute conjunction of cause and effect--a
connection which no grace can remove. Man's actions will really be
directed by this certainty. He will not rock himself to sleep in any
sort of hope, based on providence or a reconciliation, able to defer
surely fixed effects. This new morality, strengthened by the realities
of life, admits of logical consequences. No single command of this
teaching needs to remain an empty phrase. In its system, too, there will
be a place to apply all the eternal profound words uttered by Jesus or
by other great human souls. These words will ever furnish further
material for application, which is the same as saying material for
self-application. Yet the application will be worked out in complete
freedom. Each word will be used as furnishing the material just suited
to that style which men wish to apply to the architecture of their
personality. Yet neither the words nor the examples of one or the other
teacher will be taught as absolutely binding.

The soul of the child will not be stained by tears of repentance for
sins nor by the fear of hell. It will not be stained by a realism
without ideas and without ideals, by the contemptuous mistrust, which
the mouldering effects of fine words leave behind, like cold damp
spots. The weak, as well as the strong, will progress in the happy and
responsible belief in their own personality, as their only source of
help. The pulse of their purpose will be strong and warm with red blood.
They will not be forced to humility; they will not accept even equality
with all others, or with any other one. On the contrary they will be
strengthened in their right, to give their own individual stamp to their
joys, their sufferings, and their works. They will be warned to do their
best because it is their own; to seek their highest good, by drawing
their own boundaries at the place where the rights of others begin.

While the home and the school make compromises between two opposed views
of life, people obtain from neither of them any real good for the
education of children. I have already shown how in one and the same
school religious instruction and a certain amount of knowledge and love
for nature as well as history can be communicated. In one and the same
school the course of natural development and history can be taught in
connection with instruction in religious history. In this instruction
Judaism and Christianity will receive the first place. So the reverence
and love children were wont to acquire for the personality and morality
of Jesus, previously obtained in the Bible, can be increased. Guided by
sincere and serious purposes one can select either plan. But, during
religious instruction, to make Moses and Christ the absolute teachers of
truth, and in the hours devoted to natural history, to expound
Darwinism, cause more than anything else that want of logic, that moral
laxity and flaccidity that can effect nothing and want nothing.
Everything I have learnt, since these words were written, has
strengthened a hundred fold my previous convictions that the most
essential thing is not, what kind of view of life we have--this may be
important enough too--but that we have enough capacity of faith to
appropriate for ourselves some view of life, enough force to bring it to
reality in life. But nothing works more depressingly on the ethical
energy of growing generations than the dualistic view of life, received
at the present time at school. The school too must exercise its choice;
there must be no compromise between two schemes of education and two
views of life, if the strength of will and the power of faith in young
people is not to be broken. The question of a compromise is in this
case not a question of application; it is a most important question of
principle in education.

Since I set down these words, many points of view have been brought out
in this connection. One which made a sensation when it was published, in
1890, was Professor Dodel's book, _Moses or Darwin?_ The author showed
how deeply Darwinism was implanted in science and in civilisation; how
popular education was restricted, because it was kept remote from the
scientific views of the present day and forced into the circle of
ecclesiastical ideas. Religious instruction is simply a crime against
the psychological law of development. For children are taught by a
theological system to think about abstract conceptions, while they are
in no condition to do it. The worst is, he said, that in high schools
the theory of development is now taught as scientific truth, while in
the common schools, built and maintained by the same government, the
myth of the Mosaic story of creation continues to be taught, in the
sharpest contrast with what science and living nature teach the child.
This is an immoral and dishonest state of affairs that must be brought
to an end.

It is my deepest conviction that man, without religion in the emotional
element of his nature, can pursue no ideal ends, cannot see beyond his
own personal interest, cannot realise great purposes, cannot be ready to
sacrifice himself. Religious enthusiasm broadens our soul, binds us to
the acts we hold as ideals. But because Christianity weighs upon the
soul and can no longer be the connecting link of all factors in our
conduct, earnest men are abandoning it more and more, influenced by
purely religious reasons. Such men should not have their children
brought up as Christians, under the excuse that the child requires
Christianity. Here, as in other cases, in which adults are not agreed
about what the child needs, we should try to get, not from adults but
from children themselves, some information about their real needs. In
this way we can learn that the child himself begins at a very early
period to be concerned with the eternal riddles of mankind, to be
troubled with the questions of whence and whither. At the same time one
discovers that the sincere and honest childish nature is opposed to the
Christian explanation of the world, until the child's sincerity is
dulled and he either takes without question what is taught, or in his
own soul denies what his lips must repeat, or finally allows his heart
to be possessed by the only nourishment offered to his religious needs.

My own recollections of childhood caused me to make observations of the
religious ideas of children at an early period. I have now before me
comprehensive accounts of this investigation, going back twenty-five
years. I recollect my own fierce hate against God, when I, at the age of
six years, heard of the death of Jesus being caused by God's demand for
an atonement, and at ten years I recall my denial of God's providence,
when a young workman died far away from his wife and his five children,
to whom his existence was so necessary. My brooding about the existence
of God took on this occasion the form of a challenge. I wrote in the
sand, "God is dead." In doing so I thought, If there is a God, he will
kill me now with a thunderbolt. But since the sun continued to shine,
the question was answered for the time being; but it soon turned up
again. I had no other religious instruction than reading the Bible on
Sunday, preaching on Sunday, and reading from the catechism, which, by
the way, was never explained. Yet the New Testament belonged to my play
books; I learnt in it to love Jesus as profoundly as other great
personalities of whom I read. But during the confirmation period, I
received explanations of the Bible; in them every point, every name in
the Gospel was explained, every sentence made the basis of
hair-splitting distinctions, to show the fulfilment of prophecies and
the edifying hidden meaning of every word, that formerly seemed so
simple. The dogma of the Trinity for example was shown to be contained
in the second verse of Genesis. This was a terribly sad discovery for
me, that the living book of my childish heart and my childish
imagination could be so stone dead. That religious indifference is a
frequent result of religious instruction, that spiritual maladies come
from the desire to convert the souls of children, numerous proofs can be
given. I have heard children of six years speak with holy horror of
their four-year-old brother who dug with a spade on Sunday. On the other
hand I have heard a six-year-old child who was dragged in one day to
three church services ask after reflection whether it was not more
tolerable to go to hell immediately.

The Judaic Christian conception of a creative and sustaining providence,
which gives the fullest perfection to all things, is so absolutely
opposed to all that experience and evolution teaches us about existence,
that one cannot even conceive of the possibility of holding both ideas
theoretically at the same time. Much less can one practically unite them
by the paste of compromise. The child with sharp-sighted simplicity does
not allow himself to be deceived. If we do not wish to speak the truth
then let us not speak to children about life at all--life in its unity
and diversity, its manifold creative acts, its process of continuous
creation, its eternal divine subjection to law.

But this means that it is impossible to save the Christian God for
children, after the child begins to think about this God, in whom he is
taught blind confidence. Nor can the child be prepared in this way for
the new conception of God with its religious, its uniting and elevating
power, I mean for the conception of a God whose revealed book is the
starry heavens, and whose prophetic sight is in the unfathomable sea,
and in the deeps of man's heart, the God who is in life and is life.
Nothing shows better how imperfect is the real belief of modern
thinkers, than the fact that they always teach their children a system
which they do not wish to live by spiritually themselves, but which
they hold as indispensable for the moral and social future of the child.

When we pass from the conception of providence to the conception of sin,
we find in children the same natural logic. A small girl, an only child,
asked: "How could God allow his only child to be killed? You could not
have done it to me!" And a small boy said, "It is a very good thing for
us that the Jews crucified Christ, so that nothing happened to us."
These are both poles of an emotional and a practical way of looking at
the Atonement. Within them all similar circumferences are drawn. To a
more comic and naïve sphere of ideas belongs the proposal of a small
girl to call the Virgin Mary God's wife. Also there is the story of a
boy who spoke in school of Our Lord and the two other Lords, meaning the

From the classes in Bible history and catechism, there are innumerable
examples of children reading the words incorrectly, and misunderstanding
the ideas they stand for. A boy, warned to keep the lamps burning,
answered contentedly, "We have petroleum gratis." Another, asked whether
he would like to be born again, said, "No, I might be turned into a
girl." These are typical examples. There is an anecdote of a child,
who, on being consoled with the statement that God was in the dark near
her, asked her mother to put God out and light the lamp. Another child,
seeing the pictures of the Christian martyrs in the arena, cried out
sympathetically, "Look at that poor tiger; he hasn't got a Christian."
These are a few out of a mass of examples, typical of the explanation
given by children to the religious ideas they receive, notions forcing
them into a world of ideas which they either accept in a material sense,
or by which they are absolutely nonplussed.

The childish circle of ideas is revealed by anecdotes of this kind, or
by the comment of a small girl who asked when she heard that she had
been born about eleven o'clock at night, "How could I have remained out
so late?" These examples show that such conceptions as original sin, the
fall of man, regeneration and salvation, are first necessarily
meaningless words, and afterwards terribly difficult words. In my whole
life fear of hell never absorbed my attention for five minutes, but I
know children and grown people who are martyrs to this terror. I know
children too who, when belief in hell was presented to them in school as
absolutely necessary, bewailed that their mother had said she did not
believe in hell, and therefore thought she must be very wicked.

We are certainly a long way off from those times when, to use the
picturesque expression of an historian of civilisation, "The fear of the
devil constantly darkened the life of men, as the shadow of the sails of
a windmill darkens the windows of the miller"; far from the times, too,
when divine persons constantly revealed themselves to the believer, and
when miracles belonged just as really to the daily habits of thought as
to-day they are disregarded even by the believer. But so long as belief
in the devil, providence and miracles is upheld in religious
instruction, it will be impossible for the sunshine of the civilised
view, which is the scientific as opposed to the superstitious view, to
penetrate the darkness where the bacilli of cruelty and insanity are

The ideas children form of heaven are generally fine examples of
childish realism. A child thought his brother could not be in heaven,
because he would have to climb a ladder, and so would be disobedient,
for he had been forbidden to climb one. A girl asked, when she heard
that her grandmother was in heaven, whether God was sitting there and
holding her from falling out. These are a few of the many proofs of the
child's sense of reality, that leads to mistaken answers here, as in so
many other instances. If it is said by way of protest that the childish
imagination needs myths and symbolism, the answer is an easy one. We
cannot and should not rob the child of the play of imagination, but play
should not be taken in earnest. It is not to be wondered at that
children construct for themselves realistic ideas about spiritual
things. This practice is no more to be opposed, than any of the other
expressions of the life of the child's soul. But when these false ideas
are presented as the highest truth of life, they must disturb the sacred
simplicity of the child.

I know children in whom the origin of unbelief is to be traced to the
words of Jesus, that everything asked for by the believing heart will be
received. A small child, locked up in a dark room, prayed that God might
show people how badly he was being treated, by causing a lamp of
precious stones to be lit in the dark. Another asked to have a sick
mother saved; another prayed by the side of a dead companion that she
might rise again. For all these three, the experience of having their
most believing, most fervent prayer unanswered, was the great turning
point in their spiritual life. I can authenticate from my own experience
and the experiences of others the ethical revolt which the cases of
injustice in the Old Testament--for example God's preference of Jacob
over Esau--occasion in a healthy child. The explanations offered in this
case and in others like it fill the child with silent contempt. When the
child ends in finding that adults themselves do not believe the religion
they teach, the childish instinct for belief and for reverence, that
capacity which is the real ground for all religious feeling, is injured
for life.

I will say nothing of the heroes and heroines of the pious literature
written for children, with their stories of conversion and holiness.
Parents are able to protect their children from them. I speak here only
of that way of looking at the world, which is forced on children with or
against the will of their parents. This degrades their conceptions of
God, of Jesus, of nature. These conceptions, the child if left to
himself can develop simply or powerfully. It is this way of looking at
the world that causes unnecessary suffering and dangerous prejudices.
The inclination of the child to deep religious feeling, sound faith,
and ardent zeal for holiness will be strengthened by an ability to draw
the standards of life as freely from the Bible as from the world's
literature. The same result will be produced by books on other
religions, like Buddhism, from the great religious personalities who
illustrate the struggle for an ideal, and from such children's books as
show like efforts in a healthy form. No child has the slightest need of
the catechism or theology for his religion or for his training; no other
church history is needed than that connected with the general history of
the world. In this last study the chief stress should be laid in
teaching on the errors, in order to impress on the young the conviction,
that all new truths are called by their contemporaries "errors." In
other words these "errors" are the best negative material man has for
discovering the truth.

Working over and explaining the contradictions met with by the child in
such religious instruction, as I am outlining here, belongs to the
preparation for a true life, in which people have to put up with
innumerable contradictions. But this personal work injures neither the
piety nor the soundness of the child's soul. Such injuries come rather
from irritating pietism or vain hypocrisy, from spiritual fanaticism,
from deceits of the reason, barrenness of soul, or perverted feeling of
right, all of which are the notorious results of Christian training and
Christian instruction, given according to the usual methods of the
present day. For the present as well as for the future, a child will be
able to solve more easily these spiritual problems if his fine feeling
for right and his quick logic have not been dulled by the dogmatic
answers to those eternal problems, that place him in as much difficulty
as the thinker.

Kant exposed long ago the most serious injuries of the kind of religious
instruction which still prevails. He showed that by making the church's
teaching the basis of morality, improper motives were assigned to
action. A thing must be avoided, not because God has forbidden it, but
because it is in and for itself wrong. Man must aim at good, not because
heaven or hell awaits the good or the bad, but because good has a higher
value than evil. To this point of view of Kant there must be added the
truth, that a position is ethically weakening, when man is presented as
incapable of doing good by his own power. So he is told in this as in
all other cases, he must be humble and trust in God's help. Confidence
in our strength and the feeling of our own responsibility have a strong
moral influence. The belief that man is sin-laden, without chance of
change, has led him to remain where he is.

If the future generation is to grow up with upright souls, the first
condition of such growth is to obliterate from the existence of children
and young people, by a mighty scratch of the pen, the catechism, Bible
history, theology and church history.

We must bow down before the infinities and mysteries of our earthly
existence and of the world beyond. We must distinguish between and
select real ethical values; we must be convinced of the solidarity of
mankind, of man's individual duty, to construct for the benefit of the
whole race a rich and strong personality. We must look to great models.
We must reverence the divine and the regular in the course of the world,
in the processes of development of man's mind. These are the new lines
of meditation, the new religious feelings of reverence and love, that
will make the children of the new century strong, sound, and beautiful.

These changes will destroy that idea of God that combines "God help us"
with our victories, that has increased the national lust for conquest,
the passion for mastery, the instinct of gain. It will be felt that
mixing up God in the standards of human passions is blasphemous. People
will see, that patriotism, nourished on egoism and ambition, is the most
godless thing because the most inhuman of all the life-perverting sins
with which man outrages the holiness of life.

Intellects which can now pass over the contradiction between
Christianity and war, which can even derive strength and consolation
from them, have been depraved by the ideas forced upon mankind through
thousands of years. Nothing more can be expected from men of such
brains, than that they should die in the wilderness, without ever
obtaining a sight of the promised land.

But the brains of children can be protected from the most unholy of all
mental misconceptions, from the superstition that the patriotism, and
the nationalism, which injures the rights of others, have something in
common with ideas about God.

Let children be taught that national characteristics, the use of force,
the right of independent action, is as essential for a people as for an
individual, that it is worth every sacrifice. Let them be taught that,
on their appreciation of the nature of their country, of its life in
the past and in the present, depends their own development. Let them be
taught to dream beautiful inspiring dreams of the future of their
country, of their own work, as the necessary foundation of this future.

They should be taught at an early age to understand the deep gulf
between patriotic feeling and the egoism which is called patriotism.
This is the patriotism in whose name small countries are oppressed by
great countries, in whose name nineteenth-century Europe has armed
itself under the stimulus of revenge, in whose name the close of the
century witnessed the extension of violence in north and south, in west
and east.

Militarism and clericalism, both principles presenting authority as
opposed to individual standards of right, are ever closely combined; but
they are not what they are called. They are not patriotism and religion.
These two words involve a sense of common citizenship, of freedom, of
justice, exalted above the narrow sphere of the individual, of the
interests of class, of the interests of one's own country. Such are the
principles which unite different groups within a land in great interests
common to all, just as they unite different peoples in great vital
questions common to all. But militarism and clericalism oppress freedom
by the principles of authority, oppress the idea of individual
development, by that of discipline, oppress the feeling of common weal
by the desire for glory and war, oppress the feeling for right by the
feeling for military honour. In Germany under the badge of Christianity
and militarism, the civil rights of the citizen, his claims for social
freedom, have been seriously menaced. Hypnotised by these principles
many members of the Russian, French, and English nations, respectable as
they are individually, have gloated over the deeds of unrighteousness
committed by their respective governments.

All this will go on; people will continue to be burdened to the ground
by ever increasing military preparations. The rights of the small
nations will be constantly encroached upon by the larger ones, even
after the present world powers, like those that have preceded them, have
broken down under the burden of their own expansion. It will continue to
be so, until mothers implant in the souls of their children the feeling
for humanity before the feeling for their country; until they strive to
expand the sympathies of their children to embrace all living things,
plants, animals, and men; until they teach them to see, that sympathy
involves not only suffering with others but rejoicing with others, and
that the individual increases his own emotional capacity, when he learns
to feel with other individuals and with other peoples. It will go on, as
it is now, until mothers implant in the souls of their children the
certainty, that the patriotism which, in the name of national interests,
treads under foot the rights of other people, is to be condemned. The
moment children undertake to act as adults, we shall see a harmony
between ideas so taught and facts. When the conception of nationalism in
the child's mind is freed from injustice and arrogance; when the idea of
God is freed from its debased union with a selfish patriotism, then the
idea of the soldier will be ennobled. It will no longer be identified
with blind obedience and limited class courage. The word will come to
mean a man and a fellow-citizen with the same civilised interests, the
same conception of law, the same need of freedom, the same feeling for
honour, as all other fellow-citizens. The soldier will be a defender of
his fatherland, whose character will have no other warlike traits, than
those called forth for the protection of sacred human and civil rights.

Self-defense, personal or national, will be imprinted on the child as
the first of duties, not as it is represented in the commands of
Christianity. Or to speak more accurately the child has this instinctive
feeling; all that need be done is not to confuse this instinct. The
child understands quite well, that evil men, when not resisted, become
lords over the property of others. He knows that the low and the
unrighteous get the victory, and that right-thinking and high-minded
people are sacrificed by unrighteous and low-thinking people. The
impulse to resistance is the first germ of the social feeling for
righteousness, and by this feeling will the unreflecting judgment of the
child be led also in the study of history. The child never doubts that
William Tell was right, even when, in his instruction in religion, he
has been definitely taught obedience to the powers that be, that come
from God. Every straight childish soul applauds Andreas Hofer, despite
his uncompromising conflict with lawful authority. With his natural
directness the child cuts off all sophisms; at least all children do who
are not irrevocably stupefied by Christian principles.

To conclude what I have said against religious instruction, I will add a
statement of a ten-year-old child, made after three years struggling
with the catechism and biblical history: "I do not believe any of this,
but I hope, when men are some day wise enough, each person may have his
own belief, just as each one has his own face."

This small philosopher in these words hit unconsciously upon the most
serious spiritual injury done by religious instruction. It forces on
man's mind a special view of the world, like a conventional mask on a
man's face. But freedom and the rights of the soul's life can only be
secured by its own reflections. The soul itself must work out that
assurance of belief in which man can live and die. For generations the
great spiritual dangers of mankind have been caused by looking backwards
to find the ideal and the truth, by regarding both as once for all
given, as absolutely limited.

As soon as a child becomes conscious of himself he should feel that he
is a discoverer with infinities before him. The king's son, in the realm
of life, will no longer do menial service as a prodigal son in a foreign
land. With the whole power of his will, he can repeat those old words,
"I will arise and go to my father."

When Jaquino di Fiori in the Middle Ages preached of the Kingdom of the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, till his hair became as silvery
grey as the leaves of the olive tree, he compared these three realms
with the nettle, the rose, and the lily, the light of the stars, the
sunlight, and the sun.

In all the ends of the world this preaching is being heard now. But that
dream of a Third Kingdom, pure as the lily, warm as the sun, can only be
realised in the temper of the child who looks for life and happiness,
who brushes away joyously and frankly the clouds of man's fall and man's

Without becoming as little children, men cannot enter into the Third
Kingdom, the Kingdom of the Holy Ghost, the Kingdom of the human



Leaving aside questions of heredity and kindred topics, and considering
only the conditions under which the child is born, developed, and
reared, it is terrible to contemplate the misfortunes which happen to
children through lack of insight on the part of their mothers. Doctors
are never tired of telling what malformations tight-lacing causes. How
many children in the first year of their life become blind through
neglect. We only mention here some of the troubles which crude ignorance
or lack of conscience on the part of the mothers inflict on themselves
or on their children. There must be noticed too the uncertainty and the
want of system in the care of children that come from such ignorance. A
thorough improvement in all these things is not to be expected until
women have secured universal suffrage, and until they, at the same age
in which men serve their years of military service, are legally obliged
to pass through a period of training lasting just as long, devoting
themselves to the care of children, hygiene, and sick nursing. No other
exceptions must be made, except those which exempt a man from military
service. Such duties done for one's country would come for many women
just at the time in which their interest in the subject is awakened by
marrying or the thought of marrying. This training would give a
profounder meaning to their thoughts on this subject. But even women who
never become mothers themselves would in this way learn certain general
principles of psychology, hygiene, and care of the sick, that they might
make use of afterwards in every station of life. Further, I look for
increasing limitations of the right of parents over children. Such
limitations I mean as those which have forbidden the exposure of
children, have imposed penalties for child murder, for cruelty towards
children, and the laws which have enforced obligatory attendance at
school. In England there are organisations which investigate the
treatment of children at home and which prevent cruelties against them.
Mothers who forget their duties can be reported and punished with
imprisonment; neglectful fathers can be made to support their children,
etc.; and where parents show themselves hopelessly incompetent children
can be taken from them by law. In the different states of Germany there
are also laws which allow children to be taken from parents who, through
misuse of that relationship, injure the child's spiritual or bodily
welfare. Children receive this so-called compulsory training in cases,
too, where it is necessary to preserve them from moral destruction. The
compulsory training may be carried out either in a suitable family or in
institutions; it continues up to the eighteenth year. A notable
provision is that which places the supervision over such children, in
the hands of women.

An increased extension of the right of society in this direction is one
of its most important provisions for self-protection, and is just as
legitimate a limitation of individual freedom, as the laws to prevent
the extension of contagious diseases. Unfortunately such regulations are
often made ineffective by red tape. The parents or guardians of the
neglected child must be admonished; the unruly child must be warned, and
if this is not sufficient, the law provides that it must be disciplined.
All of these provisos are absolutely senseless in such cases. By such
warnings bad parents are not instructed in the art of training their
children, nor is an incorrigible child to be led by admonitions to
change its character, if he is left in the surroundings which have
caused his degeneration. By corporal punishment administered in the
presence of witnesses, a child already accustomed to cuffs and blows is
made more hardened and shameless. A person with only a superficial
knowledge of the subject, enough to understand the causes which produce
such parents and such children, soon realises that he is concerned in
each detail with the infinite horizon of the social question. It is
clear for example that low wages, combined with the work of women and
children, are the main factors in poor dwellings, insufficient food, and
bad clothing. The fact that the wife works out of the house causes the
neglect of the children and the home. The lodging-house system is the
result of the lack of dwellings; want of comfort at home causes the
husband to frequent saloons and public houses. All these factors, taken
together, cause immorality and intemperance; these last again produce
those physical and mental diseases to which children are often heirs at
their birth.

Leaving out of discussion the notion that by God's help the
battlefields are covered with torn, maimed beings, with whose destroyed
brains innumerable thoughts and feelings are extinguished which could
have enriched humanity, I know no more abnormal idea than the custom of
people speaking of a guardian angel when a chance has kept two children
from an accident. Where is this guardian angel in the innumerable other
cases of misfortune: when children remain alone because their mother
must go to work and they fall out of the window or into the fire? When
they lose their eyesight in dark cellars? When they are pressed to death
because in miserable lodgings they have to share a bed with their
parents? When the parents are drunk and the children lose their lives?
Where is this guardian angel when parents murder their children, from
religious fanaticism or disgust of life: when the children themselves,
tired of life or through fear of parental cruelty, take their own lives?
Where are these protective angels on the occasions when they are most
wanted?--in the narrow streets of great cities, in the great industrial
centres where lack of sunlight, of pure air, and of all the other
primary conditions for the development of soul and body, undermines the
bodily strength and efficiency of children before their birth?

To see the hand of Providence in an accidental case of preservation,
while the same Providence is released from all share in natural
occurrences, from all part in the terrible phenomena of society, that
fill every second of the earth's existence with terror, is a relic of
superstition to be overcome if man is to be filled with a sense of
obligation to conditions he must master and mould. Modern man is ever
becoming more and more his own Providence; he has already protected
himself against fire by fire engines and fire insurance; against the sea
by life-saving stations; against smallpox and cholera, diphtheria and
tuberculosis, he has found other means of defence. The blind belief that
death is dependent on God's will man is losing by the witness of
statistics which declare that duration of life increases with improved
sanitary condition; which show that when disease or summer heat mows
down the children of the poor in dark tenements the rich man can
preserve his own children in his healthy, light dwelling.

Every man who has his heart in the right spot does not wait for an
angel, but rushes to save a child from danger. But the superstitious
belief of the majority of people in God's Providence perhaps will cause
the same man to regard with complete apathy conditions by which millions
and millions of children are yearly sacrificed. Doctors know that the
destruction caused by bacteria is insignificant, as compared with
pauperism as a cause of disease. Mothers who have over-exerted
themselves, drunken fathers, bad dwellings, like those where the poor
dry out newly built houses for the rich, induced by the low rate of
rents, insufficient nourishment, inherited diseases, especially
syphilis, too early work,--all this shows its result in the emaciated,
shrivelled, ulcerated bodies of children who occasionally are cured of
their momentary disease in hospitals, but cannot be freed from the
results of the conditions of life under which they were born and brought
up. The efforts of doctors will be in vain while they, like the other
factors in society, do not devote their whole energy to avoiding
diseases, instead of healing them. What they can now do in the way of
prevention is but a palliative in comparison with the incurable evil
which flourishes in abundance. The situation will remain as it is so
long as hygiene does not receive the same attention in society as the
soul. This solicitude may take the form of religious edification, or
intellectual enlightenment, but it remains nothing but a cut flower,
stuck in a dust heap.

It is possible, with sufficient certainty, to show from criminal
statistics that degenerate children are the creation of society itself.
By allowing them to be forced into "the path of virtue," by punishment,
society behaves like a tyrant, who has put out a man's eyes and then
beats him because he cannot by himself find his road.

The categorical imperative for the social consciousness at the present
moment, is an effective legislation for the protection of children and

Wherever industry is developed, the woman is taken away from the home,
the child from play and school. In the period of guilds, women and
children worked in the house, and in the workshop of the husband. But
since the factory system has constantly restricted the household work of
woman, industrial occupations on the scale of modern capitalism can
satisfy its needs for cheaper work by woman's work. This like children's
work has forced down in many places the pay of adult workmen. The pay
with which a married man can care for his family by his work is now
divided among several members of the family. As long as special work
required great personal bodily strength or developed manual dexterity,
it fell as a rule to the men, not to women or children. But the natural
protection of women and children disappeared with the introduction of
machinery. In many cases working a machine required neither strength nor
dexterity. In other cases, like cotton spinning or mining, delicate
fingers were more valued because they were more adaptable, tender bodies
more desirable because they were smaller.

In England the work of women and children first reached its highest
point. The poorhouses sent crowds of children to the wool weaving
industry in Lancashire, children who worked in shifts at the same
machine and slept in the same dirty beds. The population in the
industrial districts pined away, as the result; diseases unknown before
came into existence; ignorance and roughness increased. Women and
children from four to five years old worked fourteen to eighteen hours.
The report of the investigations made on this subject caused Elizabeth
Barrett to write her poem, "The Cry of the Children" that made the
employers of children so indignant, but which helped to produce the Ten
Hour bill. This bill laid down that women, children, and young persons
should not work more than ten hours a day in textile factories. This law
was succeeded by others of the same type. Similar conditions in other
lands have produced similar legislation. In Saxony, Belgium, Alsace, and
the Rhine Provinces the results of the system seemed to be just as
frightful as in England. On the Rhine, as early as the year 1838, a
Prussian army officer noticed that the number of those able to bear arms
had diminished as a result of the degenerating influence of woman and
child labour. But notwithstanding the introduction of this legislation
generally, the labour of women and children continues. It takes the most
destructive forms in those occupations which lie outside of the sphere
of legislation. There are places in which child labour is as shocking as
it was in England in 1848. In Russia, in the Bastmat weaving industry,
children of three or four years have been found at work; and masses of
children under ten working as much as eighteen hours a day. In Germany
the toy industry can show as cruel figures in connection with children's
work, all the more cruel because in order to provide enjoyment for happy
children the living energy of others is forced out of existence.
Industrial work at home is done by children four to five years old,
while the age limit for child labour in factories, both in Germany and
in Switzerland, is fourteen years. The government of Denmark has
proposed the same limit of age. In Italy most of the crippled young
children were brought up in the sulphur districts of Sicily, crowded
together in low galleries, burdened with heavy sacks at an age at which
their tender limbs under such conditions must inevitably and incurably
be contorted. As early as twelve and thirteen years old many of them are
incapable of work. In the magnesium mines of Spain, quantities of
children six to eight years old are kept at work; through the poisonous
odours they fall victims to severe diseases. Other children carrying
heavy pitchers on their head are employed to water dry places. The child
is a cheaper means of transportation than the ass.

Despite protective legislation the average of height and weight in the
Lancashire children is and continues to be lower than anywhere else. Of
the two thousand children investigated in this district only one hundred
and fifty-one were really sound and strong; one hundred and ninety-eight
were seriously crippled; the rest more or less under the standard of
good health. All work in the cotton industry done from six o'clock in
the morning till five in the evening changes, so this doctor says, the
hopeful ten-year-old child into the thin pallid thirteen-year-old boy.
This degeneration of the population in industrial districts is becoming
a serious danger for England's future.

After people are convinced that all civilised nations are exposed to
this same danger, industrial and street work of children will be
everywhere forbidden. This will be a victory for the principle of child
protection, which, in this as in other like spheres, was opposed at
first on both economic and industrial grounds. Among these was the
uncontested right of fathers to decide on the work of their children.

It is not alone the question of child labour that reveals the low
standpoint taken by the civil authorities of Europe, but it is proved
also by the introduction of corporal punishment. Corporal punishment is
as humiliating for him who gives it as for him who receives it; it is
ineffective besides. Neither shame nor physical pain have any other
effect than a hardening one, when the blow is delivered in cold blood
long after the act occasioning it has been done. Most of the victims
are so accustomed to blows already that the physical effect is little or
nothing, but they awaken feelings of detestation against a society which
so avenges its own faults. If the soul of the child is sensitive,
corporal punishment can produce deep spiritual torment, as was the case
with Lars Kruse, the hero of Skagen, who some years ago met his death by
drowning. Everybody knows his story from the fine account of him by the
Danish poet, Drachmann. Lars, in his childhood, had taken a plank, a
piece of driftwood, and sold it. For this he was condemned to be
punished. Till late in life, what he had suffered was ever present with
him. He was not ashamed of his action but of his punishment--a
punishment which embittered the whole life of a really great character.

The blows administered by society are inflicted on children whose
poverty and neglected education are in most cases responsible for their
faults. The victims, often emaciated by hunger, and trembling with shame
or terror, can experience no spiritual emotion fit to be the basis of
moral shame.

If the statistics of the life-history of those who are so disciplined
were revealed, we should find that the majority come from, and return
to, a home where the mother, as a result of working out of the home, is
hindered from caring for her children. They have suffered from the
custom of sleeping together, the result of overcrowded dwellings, with
its demoralising influence. It may be the child has commenced to make
his living on the street as messenger, cigar picker, or newspaper boy,
or has been engaged in such like occupations, and so in his immediate
neighbourhood has seen the luxurious living of the upper classes, which
he strives to imitate. Hardly a week passes that the street youngster
does not read about the embezzlements, fraudulent acts in the
capitalistic classes, frequently committed by grey-headed men, whose
childish impressions go back to the good old time, on whom the lax
education of the present could not have any influence. No day passes in
which he does not see how the representatives of the upper classes, old
and young alike, satisfy their desires for pleasure. But from the child
of the tenement and the street, people expect Spartan virtue or try to
thrash it into him. It is hard to say which is greater here, stupidity
or savagery.

While the upper classes show that they are crude, immoderate, lazy,
devoted to enjoying themselves; while the majority are aiming at
getting and spending money; while so many are able to eat without
working, and so few can find work who look for it; while careless luxury
lives side by side with careless necessity, the upper class has not the
shadow of right to expect an improved lower class. The society of the
present day creates and maintains a social system whose effects are
notorious in the economic crimes of the upper and lower class alike. It
is not surprising that great cities are full of tramps and street
urchins, like a spoilt cheese full of maggots.

A destroyed home life, an idiotic school system, premature work in the
factory, stupefying life in the streets, these are what the great city
gives to the children of the under classes. It is more astonishing that
the better instincts of human nature generally are victorious in the
lower class, than the fact that this result is occasionally reversed.

There is another argument against child labour, to be found in its
immediate effect on industry itself.

Working men trained in the schools are everywhere notoriously most
efficient; even in Russia, where popular education is still so
defective, this experience has been noted. The working man able to read
and to write receives without exception on that account a higher pay
than the illiterate ones who can be only used for the coarsest kind of
work. The present development of German industry, as compared with
English, is to be ascribed among other things to the superior
educational training of the German people. The intensive and intelligent
work of the American working man has apparently the same cause. But when
children made sleepy by work in the factory enter evening schools, or
when children are taken too early from school, they lose under
continuous hard work the desire and possibility of adapting themselves
to a higher education; they become organic machines which feed the
inorganic ones. This must cause the value of their work to decline.
These organic machines are passive, they do not try to improve their
condition of life, as do the higher workmen. Besides living machines
cannot increase the product of labour. Intelligent working men who watch
over their own rights and increase them are also those who learn easiest
new methods of work, discover new inventions which are of advantage to
their line of work, and so increase the value of their product. It is
only by the growth of this class of workmen, that any country to-day
can stand the pressure of foreign competition. But the chief condition
of this growth is that the bodily and mental powers of the child shall
be used for his own development in school games and play; at the same
time his capacity for work must be trained by occupation at home and in
the technical school, not by work in a factory.

Some years ago, a poem created a furore over the whole civilised world,
from Canada to the islands of Polynesia. The author of this poem, Edwin
Markham, was inspired by Millet's simple and wonderful picture, _The Man
with the Hoe_. An agricultural labourer with bowed back stands there,
one hand folded on the other, supported on the handle of the hoe. Millet
in him has eternalised the expression so often observed in old workmen,
especially in those who are worn out by day labour. The man's face is
empty, says nothing, every human aspect has disappeared; we only see in
his face the look of the patient beast of burden. For while moderate
work ennobles the animal in man, immoderate work kills humanity in the

Millet's picture was to the poet, who was once himself a slave to bodily
labor, a revelation, the eternal artistic type of the generation of man
bowed down from childhood under the yoke of labour. In one strophe after
another of that finely conceived poem he pictures this being that does
not sorrow, and never hopes, his destroyed soul for which Plato and the
Pleiades, the sunrise and the rose, all the treasures of mind and
nature, are nothing. The poet asks sovereigns, masters, and governors
how they will restore to this thing a soul, how they will give it music
and dreams. What, he asks, will become of the people who have made this
being what it is now; when after a thousand years' silence God's
terrible question is answered,--What has become of his soul.

Many such employers of labour go to church, they hear explanations of
texts like these, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto ... even the least of
these, ... ye did it unto me. All that ye wish others should do to you,
that do to them." It does not occur to them to think how Jesus, the most
inconsiderate of men, at the right place, would have characterised their
demands to have small children employed in glass works at ten years of
age. It never occurs to them to ask whether they would like to see their
own children in these factories or others like them.

This complete dualism between life and teaching in our present-day
society will continue to exist until people realise that the opinions
about life which are expressed by the lips, but are denied by deeds,
should no longer be proclaimed as an absolute explanation of life and
rule of life. The permanent element in Christianity can only be realised
through the conviction that mankind is master of Christianity just as it
is over all its other creations. The ardent idea of the Galilean
carpenter, fraternity among men, will give man no rest until man has
wiped out the last trace of injustice in his social relations. But the
thought will not be realised by those ideals regarded by Jesus as
absolute. This is the point of view which has crippled man's conscience
and it applies equally to the realisation of this and all other ideals.
An ideal impossible to carry out under the ordinary assumptions of human
life, yet to which men have given the authority of a divine revelation,
and which they conceive of as absolute, this is the main cause for the
demoralisation which has gone on for nineteen hundred years. The history
of humanity has really revealed to men how this absolute ideal of theirs
has been betrayed. The cause of this demoralisation must cease before
existence can be remodelled seriously by those who are convinced that
ideals can really be binding.

People will then not do as they do now, misuse the name of the Father,
whom Jesus has taught men to proclaim with their lips, will not murder
one another _en masse_ on the battlefield, to solve political and
economic questions of supremacy. A society which calls itself Christian
will no longer tolerate capital punishment, prostitution, stock exchange
gambling, and child slavery. Men will not then as they do now, learn on
their mother's breast to love their neighbours as themselves, and then
tread in the footsteps of their fathers, trampling one another down in
the struggle for bread.

Our reverence for God will then be found in our capacity to humanise
existence by humanising the human race.

The youth of our day have not always successfully passed out of the
Christian circles of ideals into another circle. The successful method
would be to face immediately new purposes and aims that are really
believed, and for which men wish to live. But many of our young
generation know of no new purposes and aims in which they can believe.
Hence comes that spiritual apathy which has mastered a great part of
the young generation. Without undervaluing the influences of
environment, I still believe that young people who have lost their
ideals without getting new ones in their place are to be pitied. The
young who are not making ideals out of their own souls will have no
other time than this to find ideals. A generation of young men of this
type laughed at Socrates. They would have nailed Jesus of Nazareth to
the Cross, with a shrug of the shoulders; they would have become,
undoubtedly, in 1789, _emigrés_ with the Bourbons.

When the youth of any period remains without ideals, we pass through a
_fin de siècle_ period no matter what the exact date may be. But when
the young generation is inspired with the feeling of having great acts
to do, a new century begins. It is always the fortunate right of young
people to stimulate individualism before everything else. This is done
every time a young person full of sound egoism develops his own
personality completely and powerfully, throws himself keenly into the
struggle for his own fortune. Any one who takes his individual
development seriously will find that it is hard to become an
independent, noble, and exalted personality by treading underfoot other
individuals. He will moreover see that it makes more demands on his
personal powers to try to create new values by new means, to devote his
youthful energy to new tasks, than to look back to ideas that are
already exhausted. There is another truth the young man will soon find
to be valid. If an individual throws himself into the struggle of life
without consideration for any one else, he is all the more likely to get
hurt in the struggle. The more developed, too, an individual is, the
more assailable points there are about him to be wounded. Great pain, as
well as great happiness, is for great men a part of the fulness of life.
Failures of a personality are often better proofs that it is above the
average than its victories. But failures, even if they frequently leave
our innermost personality shattered, can be borne, when we have learnt
that there is a bandage to heal our own wounds, the bandage, I mean,
that we lay on the wounds of others.

No real man needs to wait until life has taught him, to sympathise with
others. The inspiring age of youth may experience this, as well as the
strong individual feeling of power. In this sense, many remain ever
young, always able to pass through inspired moments, such moments when
a great action, a great truth, a great and beautiful thing, or great
good fortune, absorbs our whole existence; moments when our eyes fill
with tears, when our arms stretch out to embrace the world and the
thoughts which it contains. Such moments include the most intensive
emotion of our own personality; at the same time they bring the fullest
absorption in the common feeling of existence as a whole. A great life
means giving continuity of action to such inspired moments.

There are young people who can look back on no such moments, who
arrogantly look down on the problems of their times from the height of
their "superman" theories or from their superior learning; who measure
them by the iron law of historical development. At all times there have
been such people. There is no question in which it is more fatal for
young people to isolate themselves, than that which deals with social
conflicts. This age requires the young above all others to test this
question from all points of view, to investigate all other ideas in
connection with it. Every reform plan must be investigated in connection
with its influence on the problems of individualism and socialism. From
youth we have a right to expect something for the future. This hope
implies that youth, in approaching it, in thinking and acting for the
many whose lot it is the immediate task of the future to improve, adopt
as their own the words of Walt Whitman, "I do not ask whether my wounded
brother suffers; I will myself be this wounded brother."


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By Gerald Stanley Lee

"I must express with your connivance the joy I have had, the enthusiasm
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laid aside. The title does not hint at any more than a fraction of the
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in general. It is full of humor, rich in style, and eccentric in form
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conceive that the date of the publication of this book may well be the
date of the moral and intellectual renaissance for which we have long
been scanning the horizon."--WM. SLOANE KENNEDY in _Boston Transcript_.

New York--G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS--London

_A Book for Parents and Teachers_

Up Through Childhood

A Study of Some Principles of Education in
Relation to Faith and Conduct


George Allen Hubbell, Ph.D. (Columbia)

Vice-President of Berea College

With Introduction by

Dr. Frank M. McMurray

Teachers College, N. Y.

_12mo. $1.25 net. By mail, $1.40_

The book is divided into four parts: Part I., dealing with the School of
Life, in which are discussed (1) life as opportunity, (2) that aim of
education which will make it possible to use this opportunity aright,
and (3) the institutions of education which, as environment, contribute
to the unfolding and instruction of the child. Part II. deals with the
teacher in relation to his work as a quickener, and then passes to the
teacher's preparation, his relation to the Bible, and last and best his
relation to the child. Part III. deals with the young being in all
stages of his growth from birth to adult life, first taking up the broad
question of man's place in nature, and dealing with that as fundamental
to all further interpretation. The other topics concern themselves with
man's reaction on environment, with the development of the mental powers
and the placing of these in due relation to each other, with the
training of the child's faith, with the specific consideration of the
boy's and girl's experiences to adult life, and with the rounded life.

New York--G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS--London

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