Thoughts On Education -- By: Charles B. Haddock
BSac 2:5 (Feb 1845) p. 1
Thoughts On Education
D. D., Prof, of Rhetoric and Mental Philosophy, Dartmouth College.
Nothing is more promising, In theory, than Education; and nothing less certain, in practice. No science has been more deeply studied; and, in none have fewer important principles been permanently settled. Every age regrets the system, under which it was itself trained, and brings up a new generation to sigh, with similar regrets, for the errors of its predecessors. If we listen to the uniform complaints of the thoughtful, of all times, we shall be inclined to adopt the opinion of Dr. Johnson, that “Education was as well understood by the ancients as it ever can be,” and to add, that it was not understood, at all, by them.
Considered as an object of enterprise it is beautiful, sublime even, “worth ambition.” It is to unfold the power of thought— thought, which propagates itself forever. It is to discipline the will, the central principle of character, of all finite power, great or good. It is to nurse and mature the social and moral sensibilities of a spiritual and immortal being. Can anything be so interesting to think of, so noble to attempt? Upon the material substance of the earth it seems to be our destiny to leave very little impression. A fire, or a wave of sand passes over them, and our proudest works disappear. Time wears them all away. We search, in vain, for memorials of men beyond a few generations
BSac 2:5 (Feb 1845) p. 2
before us. The coral insect builds up a structure, whose base is the unchanging bed of the sea, and on whose summit men congregate, and contend, and triumph, and pass away, and leave no trace of themselves behind. Why is it, but to intimate to us, that the true impress of our power is to be made upon mind rather than matter? The little worm, embalmed and coffined in the imperishable rock, has all of immortality, which the earth knows. For the earth’s noblest creature, its lord, must there not be a loftier destiny, a more enduring memorial? May not man enshrine himself in a nobler mausoleum? Can he not engrave his name upon a work of costlier material and more lasting?
In this view it is not strange, that education has attracted so much attention; that philosophy earnestly investigates the theory of it; that ingenuity patiently devises new methods; and that private charity and public munificence so foster the institutions, which experience has approved, or enterprise proposed for the instruction and discipline of the human mind. For what besides has so much been done? In what other respect, among civilized nations, are men so cared for, and provided for? The powers of the State, and the nearer and more direct influences of domestic life, have n...
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