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Art. VI.-THE TRUE METHOD OF EDUCATION.
HE two problems with which we are to deal are,
first, the kind of knowledge to be pursued for the purpose of education ; and secondly, what constitutes real education.
The knowledge pursued by the Schoolmen was useless for any practical purpose. Nice subtleties of discussion, fine distinctions, plays upon words, quibbles, etc., formed the bulk of their literature. Their sole object was to sharpen the intellect with useless or spurious knowledge. Their metaphysics were cobwebs, fine to look at, but unsubstantial and barren of any good results. Cleverness and ingenuity, not solidity and originality, were the natural outcome of such a system of training.
Far different was the method adopted by Bacon, the father of Inductive Philosophy. To ameliorate the condition of mankind, to minister to their pleasures and comforts, to alleviate their sufferings—these were the practical objects of pursuit. The object of science is the invention of arts and mechanical contrivances which may be turned to good account. Utility is the test of the value of knowledge.
Facts and phenomena are to be observed and experimented upon and accepted or rejected according to their fitness or otherwise to subserve some useful end. But, for the perfection of knowledge, the inductive and utilitarian method of Bacon ought to be supplemented by the Scottish and German deductive and transcendental methods. The highest abstract thought of modern times was attained in Germany in the great
philosophical movement from 1780 to 1830, from Kant to Hegil ; and the chief philosophical concern of the next half-century was to understand, appreciate and apply the German thought of that period. It developed itself in the following form :-(1) The process of generalisation of principles from scattered particulars. (2) Viewing things in their interaction upon and deviation from each other and as arising out of each other by operation of inherent organic laws. (3) The notion of evolution or devolpment which had been applied in nearly all departments of thought by the Germans before it was successfully extended to natural history by Darwin. (4) The creation of or renovation of the particular positive sciences of language, mythology,
mythology, criticism, aesthetics, theology, history and metaphysics. Renan in France and Carlyle in England have been interpreters of German thought to their respective countrymen. Carlyle's philosophy is a poetical phenomenalism of Kant, but rendered more sceptical and negative by elements in common with the later pantheistic speculation of Fichte, and approaching in Carlyle's more speculative moods to the dogmatic pantheism of Goethe and Schiller. The keynote of the system consists in looking upon the world of phenomena--the realities of positive science-as only the shadow and symbol the external vesture or garment of being, in itself inconceivable in terms of sense or experience.
Now, knowledge, either in the Baconion practical form or the Carlylian transcendental form, has grown to such an inexhaustible and vast volume or magnitude that the full lifetime of a man is not sufficient to enable him to obtain a thorough mastery over even a particular branch. Added to this, it has to be borne in mind that in this age of keen competition and formidable rivalry and the
consequent hard struggle for existence when every hour must sweat her sixty minutes to death, we cannot afford to be crammed with useless or spurious knowledge while there is so much really worth knowing, if we are not to be handicapped in the race of life,
According to Herbert Spencer, knowledge has a two-fold value-its value as discipline or mental training, and its value as positive acquisition. Our mental faculties are to be sharpened and a stock of knowledge is to be acquired which will stand us in good stead both in our dealings with the world and the particular chosen subject for which we have a peculiar aptitude. In order that these two objects may be accomplished thoroughly during the short career of general education, care should be taken that the subject of study chosen for the sake of the one should be subservient to the other also. After being grounded in general principles, the attention of the student should be confined to the study of his favourite subject. Anything not having a bearing upon the latter and which he has afterwards to forget or unlearn should be carefully eschewed in the former course of preliminary training.
Next, to proceed to the consideration of the second branch of the subject under enquiry-what constitutes real education.
The primary end of all real education is the perfect development of humanity or acquisition of wisdom. The most knowing or learned man is not necessarily the most learned or wise. The province of knowledge is to furnish our mind with materials of information, that of wisdom is to utilise or turn them to account. may be compared with the materials of a building, and the other with the architect using them for its
construction. The poet finely explains the difference between the two thus :
Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one,
The application of meditation both to study and observation is the best means of obtaining wisdom. Whether in the province of intellect or that of morals, its influence for good is vast.
The marvellous productions of art and science are the combined results of knowledge and thought. What the digesting process is to food, reflection is to knowledge. As the one invigorates the body, the other endues the intellect with understanding and wisdom. Education does not mean simply the culture of the mind. It embraces the improvement of our physical, intellectual and moral or spiritual faculties in due proportions. Meditation has a large share in in enlightening our mind and soul. It unlocks the treasures of psychological and moral truths. It is the best safeguard against immorality and vice. It leads to the formation of good character which is the principal object of study.
The existing system of University education has a two-fold defect. It does not make adequate provision for moral training, and it tends to foster a spirit of cramming or mental subserviency. The Government of India some time ago issued circular orders on the subject of the moral training of students, laying down certain rules about the selection of ethical text-books,
discipline and inter-school regulations of transfer of students from one institution to another. These regulations do not appear to have produced the desired effect ; they have produced only one effect, viz., the rigid realisation of fees and fines on occasions of transfer. It should be borne in mind that both as regards physical and moral training much depends upon the students themselves. As they cannot become good athletes without undergoing systematic physical exercises so their morals cannot be expected to be improved without their leading moral lives. Study of the rules of gymnasium and of morality is, no doubt, good in its way in furnishing our young men with knowledge of these subjects ; but their morals can no more be improved by the mere study of ethical text-books than a nation can be rendered virtuous by Act of Paliament.
The same observation applies to the matter of originality. It is more a personal than a transferred gift. It flies on its own wings and stands on its own legs. Genius is self-made. There are two kinds of intellect-Talent and Genius. The former is a reasoning, and discursive faculty which proceeds from particulars to generals and from generals to particulars step by step, by intermediate trains of reasoning furnishing data for the conclusions arrived at. The latter is a discerning, spontaneous, intuitive faculty which perceives at a glance the conclusions from the very beginning without the slow and plodding processes of reasoning. Thus, great mathematical minds like those of Newton or Euler disarmed the conclusions of Euclid from the beginning without intermediate trains of reasoning. In this way very importat truths have been discovered by the glances of genius, though such intuitive divinations remain as hypotheses until verified by logical demonstration