Our Training Schools For Citizenship -- By: Richard Cameron Wylie
BSac 61:243 (July 1904) p. 466
Our Training Schools For Citizenship
The number of children of school age in the United States is more than twenty-two millions. The number enrolled in our public schools is nearly sixteen millions. In a few years these boys and girls will be the men and women of our country, bearing the responsibilities of citizenship. It is important that they receive the training necessary to fit them for these responsibilities. Our public-school system is the chief agency employed by the state for this purpose. We should be deeply concerned about the efficiency of this system. Patriotism requires that every thing possible be done to increase, and that nothing be done to impair, its efficiency.
That the school curriculum, in so far as secular studies are concerned, is well adapted to the end in view, is not seriously questioned. That the teachers are generally well equipped for their work is readily conceded. That mental training of a high order is given in most of these schools is shown by the results. If there is weakness anywhere, it is in the training of the moral nature.
There is in progress a triangular discussion as to the place the Bible and its system of morals and religion should have in the school-room. The three positions occupied by the parties to the controversy are the Secular, the: Roman Catholic, and the Historic American.
Dr. W. T. Harris, Commissioner of Education, advocates the secular view in the following words:—
BSac 61:243 (July 1904) p. 467
“The principle of religious instruction is authority; that of secular instruction is demonstration and verification. It is obvious that these two principles should not be brought into the same school, but separated as widely as possible. The analytical understanding is necessarily hostile and skeptical in its attitude toward religious truth… . When we come to teaching a live religion in the schools, we see that it must take a denominational form, and, moreover, it must take on the form of authority and address itself to the religious sense and not to the mere intellect… . We must conclude, therefore, that the prerogative of religious instruction is in the church, and that it must remain in the church, and that in the nature of things it cannot be farmed out to the secular school without degenerating into mere deism without a living Providence, or else changing the school into a parochial school and destroying the efficiency of secular instruction.”
Mr. Herbert W. Horwill, in the Atlantic Monthly for September, 1903, advocates the same theory as follows: —
“Owing to the religious implications in the Bible, it is impossible to teach it even as literature ...
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