D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

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all the elements necessary to its life. The educational element the
state can not intrust to any organism beyond its control. Sovereignty
must control the education which is the life and soul of the state.

The discussion on Sir John Lubbock's bill in the British Parlia-
ment, of recent date, was in relation to the studies to be introduced
into the curriculum, rather than the question of state interference. An
extract from " Nature," an English print; will set this matter in its
proper light :

" It is unnecessary," says the writer, *' for us to go again into the
merits of the question which has been so often and so thoroughly dis-
cussed in these pages, especially as the ^ Times ' has put it quite as for-
cibly as there is occasion of doing at present. It certainly seems sad,
nationally, indeed, that a few more millions of those who will have the
destinies of this country in their hands are likely to be launched into
active life, with all their education to acquire, ere legislation steps in
to give us the advantages which nearly every other civilized nation
gives to its children. Every day we hear of the ignorance of the
working-classes, every other month 'congresses' are held to devise
means to remedy the consequences of this ignorance : ignorance of the
laws of health ; ignorance of household economy ; ignorance of the
implements and objects of labor ; ignorance of the laws of labor and
production ; ignorance of the nature of the commonest objects with
which they come into contact every day ; ignorance of almost every-
thing which it would be useful and naturally beneficial for them to
know ; an ignorance, alas ! more or less shared by the ' curled dar-
lings ' of the nation. Yet every day's paper shows how keen is the
industrial competition with other nations, and how in one department
after another we are being outstripped by the results of better — i. e.,
more scientific — knowledge ; the poor pittance of 'elementary knowl-
edge ' asked for in Sir John Lubbock's bill is refused by a minister*
whose own education leaves much to be desired. This state of things
can not long continue, and, with such advocates for the children as
the * Times ' and Mr. Forster, we may hope that next time Sir John
Lubbock brings forward his bill it will meet with a happier fate." —
(" Popular Science Monthly," vol. xiii, pp. 562, 563.)

The truth expressed in the above quotation, that England, holding
one of the most advanced positions of the human race, is yet being
outstripped in one industry and another, in one department after
another, " by the results of better — i. e., more scientific — knowledge,"
can not fail, in the reflecting mind, to suggest another truth : that
civil society is a constantly developing organism, the range of whose
future specialties must remain unknown. Yet through all, in the line
of its direction, it is evident that some power must control. This
* Lord Gcortrc Hamilton.


power must be the sovereign will. The Cloister and the Castle, the
Church and the State, at different stages have severally presented their
peculiar claims to wield the scepter of education. And the supreme
control is now, in England and in America, fast passing from the
Church to the state. Is the growth in this direction sound and nor-
mal ? The integral elements certainly have more freedom, the intel-
lectual powers more activity, and the forces and laws of nature are
made more thoroughly subservient to the wants of the whole. We
can not, therefore, say that in this direction the movement is abnormal,
or that a result of a disastrous character will arise. The state organ-
ism indeed seems, so far, the most efficient. And England, believing
in its healthy growth, even in elementary knowledge, now makes a
strong appeal, not to the Church but to the state (not in its unorgan-
ized elements, but in its sovereign capacity) for the education of all
her people. Is the appeiil unwise? Can the results be anything but
beneficial ?

It is safe to believe that as human society advances it develops
step by step relations of a wider, better, and different character ; trans-
ferring responsibilities once peculiar to the lower to the next higher
relation. The child of the family in turn becomes the man of the
tribe, and the member oi the tribe becomes the citizen of the state or
nation. In this forwai-d movement the family may have had absolute
control during the age of childhood. In the next stage parental gov-
ernment is modified, or terminr.ted, and yields to the dominant claims
of the tribe. In the still wider national relation, the tribal govern-
ment, embracing whatever there may be of culture in war and peace,
at once yields to the supreme denxands of the state or nation.

The child passes in any organized society through all the grades in
the related social state. In the same order also government passes on,
until it rests in the control of sovereignty, the state. And the right
of the state to tho custody and control of the citizen is as complete as
the right of the parent to the control of the infant child. These are
only the natural laws belonging to the several relations in the growth
of society in all artificial conditions, under all governments. State
control, therefore, comes into rightful exercise of authority over the
education of every human being entitled to the privileges and pi'otec-
tion of government. The particular age at which state authority may
rightfully interfere in this relation is a matter of state policy and
sovereign discretion.

All arguments, therefore, of the writer against either the right or
tho policy of the state, in exercising control over the education of the
subject, rest upon a theory quite erroneous, upon the superior right
of the parent over the control of the entire education of the coming
citizen of the higher organization.

Mr. Herbert asks the pertinent question, " Could education be sup-
plied without official assistance?" This question he answers in the



affirmative. His answer might be correct if confined to some kinds of
education. But he does not seem to consider that the education con-
ducted, without official or state assistance, permission or direction, may
be entirely opposed to the best interasts of the state, and, indeed, sub-
versive to its organization, and thus fall short of the kind of education
required for the very existence of the state. Had he asked the more vital
question, " Could education, such as is required for the existence of the
state, be certainly supplied without state direction or official assist-
ance?" the writer would hardly have answered that "the kind of edu-
cation required could well be supplied without state direction and
state authority." And it would seem that the real question for Eng-
land and Amei'ica to answer is. Will voluntary, individual, or associ-
ated parental authority at all times sustain the education required by
the state ? And still further. Will the education furnished by volun-
tary effort be equal to the demands of the successive generations as
they come and go ? To provide this, some authority must interpose
some organized system of supervision, as active and continuous as the
life of the government, and as extensive as the demands of the gen-
erations passing through the required course.

State education, then, is not only not a hindrance, but a necessity,
state aid, however, in education is of wide application. It may not
be necessary for the state to pay for education out of the state treas-
ury, and still it may necessary to regulate by law some system of uni-
form public instruction. It may be necessary for the state to allow
local taxation for the education which, without law, they might de-
mand in vain. It may be necessary for states to allow, by statute
law, a graded system of education, culminating in a university course.
If the child is required to be educated in some particular way, he cer-
tainly should have the legal right to demand the time to acquire it,
and the course of study legally defined. If he is allowed a time to
acquire the state education, he should I)e allowed the necessary instruc-
tion during the time. These are correlative relations.

On no individual or associated plan, of a voluntary character, can
education be supplied to the entire people, such as the state can rely
upon for its own existence. It would take generations to give it
even a partial existence in the most favored communities in the most
advanced governments. At no one period could the voluntary plan
apply the requisite culture to the entire masses passing the age of
school culture. And to this conclusion the honorable gentleman seems
himself to have come when criticising the present English attempt to
introduce a national system. He says : " No truly great thing grows
like a mushroom. An intelligent value for education can only spread
slow, like civilization itself. In our hurry to act, we have not seen
how much life and movement is sacrificed to make place for an official
system. Those who administer such systems wish to get the flower
ready made without any process of growth."


The voluntary plan has been tried by England ever since the
island came under one rule. And this mode of application was not
only not interfered with, hut actually encouraged by the, state. Im-
munity from certain punishments was granted to the man who could
road. Even this low species of education was rewarded by the state
with the title of " clerk, though neither initiated in holy orders nor trim-
med with the clerical tonsure." — (Blackstone's " Commentaries," vol. iv,
p. 366.) And, after this long reign of voluntary effort, encouraged for
centuries by the state, and supplemented by the cooperative principle,
the nation is now driven to assume the duty, as it has ever had the
right, to control the educational system demanded not only by the
parentage but by the whole people. Private efforts, individual and
associated labors, all personal benefactions, and various national foun-
dations, have severally exerted the voluntary and in part the coercive
methods of education, and, under the most effective operation of them
all combined, the national illiteracy has not been diminished, but is
rather increasing with the growth in population. How, then, can this
system, or, properly, no system, be relied on ? With it, can England
apply to practical demands the education which the slow growth of
the ages has made ready for her hand? It is less a question how-
to create, than how to apply the knowledge now ready for the hun-
gering masses.

Mr. Herbert objects seriously to state education, because " forced
payments taken from other classes place the workman under an obli-
gation ; that, in consequence, the upper and middle classes interfere
in the education of his children ; that under a practical system there
is no place for his personal views."

Now, it is hard to see how a tax for the education of the chil-
dren of the w-orkman should be more likely to create a feeling of
obligation toward the tax-payer than would necessarily exist in any
other case of taxation for the support of government, standing on
the same legal foundation as a tax for education. Why should the
feeling of obligation oppress the royal famihj, to know that royalt)/
is upheld by a forced levy upon the property of the lords and
landholders of the realm ? It is certainly not such a feeling of de-
pendence as the royal family wishes to discard. Royalty can cer-
tainly endure the strain quite as long as the tax-payers desire to
continue the relation. But the feeling of obligation does not, in fact,
exist between the workmen of England and the class taxed for educa-
tion, while in this country, from the nature of our political society,
it is not only unknown, but an impossible thing.

Labor, in all departments, physical and intellectual, workhig as a
unit, produces a reservoir of wealth. This reservoir of wealth is
leisure, a fund common to all, in wliich all are interested to the extent
of their wants, natural or artificial. In the production of this com-
mon capital, the laborer, in the first form of production, is an essen-



tial ingredient. Without him the reservoir would contain nothing.
And every worker of the series required to swell this reservoir of
wealtli has an interest in the end to be attained, and in every con-
tribution to that end. The workmen embrace nearly every member
of the national family. The interdependence is comjjlete ; and the
obligation felt is not the kind to be avoided, but ought to be agreeable,
mutual, and brotherly. However, a little inquiry will satisfy any one
that the laborer feels that the world owes him quite as much as he
owes the world. This argument, drawn from dependence and obli-
gation, has no application in the family or in the nation. Analogies
in nature are everywhere at hand. If any part of its articulated order
fails, the whole is affected :

•■ In Nature's chain, whatever link you strike,
Tenth or ten-thousandth, breaks the chain alike.''

So with the related order of society rising from native savagery to its
highest artificial conditions.

A tax for education, considered from another point of view, might
be properly regarded as a police regulation ; and governmental action,
state or national, rigorously and systematically applying it to the re-
duction of ignorance, that worst foe to a free people, viewed as a
vital step toward securing the public safety.

Uniformity. — But uniformity is objected to, by Mr. Herbert, as
an evil in the English system ; and, if so, it would be the same in any
other country. Such a system, he believes, is not sufficiently elastic,
and does not yield readily enough to improved methods of instruction.
Teachers and pupils and trustees go alike into the groove of established
routine, and there remain, to the injury of the mental growth of all,
and thus become a positive hindrance to progress. " Changes," he says,
if ever made by great exertions, " would be only spasmodic ; they
would not be the natural outcome of the system, and therefore could
not last."

It can be replied to this objection, that uniformity is but the pre-
cursor of variety, and without intelligent uniformity there can be no
sure foundation for progress. We, indeed, expect the greatest variety
from the most perfect uniformity and regularity in the systems we
are investigating. Were there no laws of uniform operation in nature,
we should have no foundation for science, physical or psychological ;
and the most perfect uniformity is yet so prolific in variety that the
fields of human investigation are infinite.

But we have only space for one practical illustration of this prin-
ciple of uniformity. AVe have, in America, a system of schools, either
permitted by license from the State, or required by State enactments,
which is quite as uniform a system as exists in England, and perhaps
far more so. And the uniformity of the American system of graded
free schools, for the forty years of their operation, has not as yet


presented any of the special or general evils so much feared by the
honorable gentleman, and which to him seem so threatening in the
schools of England. In several of our American cities the system has
matured, during a period of some thirty-odd years, from the kinder-
garten to the university. These schools have produced whatever
results the organism of the graded system is calculated to accomplish.
The pupils have passed from the lowest grade, in regular order, in
large classes, under similar programmes, in a uniform course, super-
vised by boards of trustees, and taught by instructors rising in literary
attainments from grade to grade through the entire series. When the
higher grades are reached, the pupils take more and more optional
studies, and less and less required. And, as the curriculum widens
toward the end of the course, the linguistic and scientific studies yield
more and more to the inclination of the parent or the pupil, until the
post-graduates of the high-school, as well as of the university, sever-
ally fall into chosen specialties, as their tastes and preparation may
dictate. The result is all that could be desired. So independent and
so varied are the subjects of this unifonu, organized system of required
and optional studies, and so thorough is the knowledge imparted in
the selected fields embraced in its curriculum, that from one city its
fame has passed from the Western to the Eastern Hemisphere, and in
several important lines of skilled industries and art culture received
the award of superiority at the late Paris Exposition over the schools
of the civilized world !

At the expense of a little brevity, let me here make a short quo-
tation from a report of Superintendent Peaslee, of the Cincinnati
schools, under date of 1880. He says : " I desire to call the attention
of the board to the statement of the National Educational Association
at Washington, in February last, by Hon. J. D. Philbrick, U. S.
Commissioner to the Paris Exposition, and former Superintendent of
the Public Schools of Boston. In speaking of the different school
exhibits at Paris, Mr. Philbrick said, ' No other exhibits of scholars'
work equal to that of Cincinnati was ever made in the known world.'
It will be remembered that 3Ir. Philbrick was also United States
Commissioner of Education at Vienna, in 1872, and that he was con-
nected with the educational exhibit of the Centennial Exhibition at
Philadelphia. 'In this connection,' he says, 'it gives me great pleas-
ure to report that I have received, through the United States Com-
missioner, General R. C. McCormick, a gold-medal diploma and a
silver-medal diploma, awarded to the public schools of Cincinnati,
by the international jury at the Universal Exposition of 1878 held at
Paris. I have had the gratification, also, of receiving from the Royal
Industrial Museum at Turin a diploma of membership, as a token of
their appreciation of the work of our school exhibit at Paris. As
stated in a previous report, Cincinnati enjoys the most complete system
of public-school education of any city in the world ; for the pupils

VOL. XIX. — 41


of both sexes have not only open to them the advantages of the
district, intermediate, and high schools, but possess the privilege of
attending, free of charge, the University of Cincinnati. The course
of instruction in their long-extended curriculum is of a very high
character. From school to school the student passes, till he goes out
into the world from the university with the broad teaching which will
make him hold his own proudly in the stirring times in which we

In what this school is, as an organic element, preparing in American
cities, we see in miniature the still wider organization growing up in
the several States, preparatory to the completed national organization
of the ideal American System of Graded Free Schools, The
cities, in the American State school system, under State law, by means
of local levies, limited to the property of the city or district, with
scarcely an exception, have built up this class of schools. The common
school, with its corps of teachers, is followed by the high-school,
with higher instructors and added supervision, and this again by the
university, either for the city or the State, with a still higher order
of instruction and supervision ; and the organism is complete, each
element in the series working apart but in harmony Avith the

But finally we come to the religious question, which the ingenious
objector to state schools has arrayed in its full force. Both in Eng-
land and in America this question continues, to some extent, to be a
disturbing element in the school problem. Mr. Herbert is not entirely
free from the mist which this element creates in all sectarian atmos-
pheres. He gives expression to bis convictions in the following ex-
plicit language :

" I can not escape a few words on the much-vexed religious ques-
tion. Under our present system the Nonconformists are putting a
grievous strain upon their own principles. Whoever fairly faces the
question must admit that the same set of arguments which condemns
a national religion also condemns a national system of education. It is
hard to pi'onounce sentence on the one and absolve the other. Does a
national Church compel some to support a system to which they are
opposed ? So does a national system of education. Does the one
exalt the principle of majorities over the individual conscience ? So
does the other. Does a national Church imply a distrust of the peo-
ple, of their willingness to make sacrifices, of their capacity to manage
their own aifairs ? So does a national system of education. Does the
one chill and repress the higher meanings and purposes of formalism ?
So does the other."

The contrast between a national Church and a national system of
education is quite clear to all persons, although there are several points
of resemblance in their application. The two curricula are different
in all those peculiar specialties in which each has its appropriate


sphere. One relates to temporal and the other to spiritual matters ;
and hence one embraces the great truth that the citizen should " ren-
der unto Casar the things that are Caesar's" ; the other, that he should
render " unto God the things that are God's." The organisms that
administer these curricula must necessarily differ. The comprehen-
sive specialty of the Church is faith in a revealed religion. This, ac-
cording to each sectarian creed, must be taught by the Church. The
distinguishing specialty of the state is laic, and obedience to this ar-
biter is the foundation on which the " life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness " are guaranteed to the citizen, and must be taught by secu-
lar schools, either permitted directly or aided by the state. These
organisms have each a special work. And while the state could teach
religion as well as the Church could make and enforce laws regulating
all state matters and the duty of the citizen, in doing this, each must
necessarily abandon its own specialty ; so that, while these organisms
exist separate, as in America, each must pursue its own specialty. In
no other way can the proper support of the several arbiters be main-

The argument, therefore, of Mr. Herbert, above quoted, against a
national system of education for the reasons stated or implied, is un-
sound, and of no possible application. He has presented no argument
against a national system of education that would not apply as well in
in any other case of enforced taxation. Substitute a national system
of imposts, a tariff, instead of a national system of education, and ask
his questions, and the same answers must be given. Thus : " Does a
national Church compel some to support a system to which they are
opposed ? So does a national system of imposts. Does the one exalt
the principle of majorities over the individual conscience ? So does
the other. Does a national Church imply a distrust of the people, of
their willingness to make sacrifices, of their capacity to manage their
own affairs ? So does a national system of imposts." Now, it is evi-
dent that the results here arrived at prove nothing more than this :
that an enforced tax, however imposed, must necessarily result as
stated ; some will be opposed, majorities will be exalted, and even
^ome slight foundation afforded for the startling implication of dis-
trust in the voluntary action of the people, as a whole, in the matter

But we can not conclude that this religious argument in any way
militates against the argument in favor of national education. The
argument in favor of a national tariff, though oppressive to some, is
Illy such oppression as minorities must endure in any species of legis-
lation, whether for the promotion of virtue or the suppression of vice.
But there is still a more complete answer to this religious argument,
as used by Mr. Herbert. Over matters of conscience the higher law
has dominion ; but only over intentional acts has human legislation
anv rightful control. The control of men's actions lies wif/iin, but


the control of men's consciences without^ and beyond, the scope of
human legislation ; so that state education is a legitimate subject of

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 80 of 110)