William Hawley Smith.

Walks abroad and talks about them online

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And it almost gave me the blues. Indeed, if I could
not look at it " in large," I think it would drive me frantic.
But I am learning to believe that even wrecks at sea are
provided for.

Did you ever think they were not provided for?

Do you think it is possible that there can be anything
in this world that is not provided for, when anythi7ig is
provided for?

These are things to think about.

Well, after I had looked as long as daylight lasted, I
went down to the Hyde Park Hotel, where the Normal
Club was to have its re-union and banquet. And down
there one would never have dreamed that the lake was in
a fury, and that men were dying by the score, within a
few blocks of where we sat, all in our good clothes, and
smiled at each other, and said wise things as we smiled.

There are so many things going on at once in this
world that it is often confusing to keep track of them all,
and to harmonize them, and account for them as all com-
ing from the same source!

But I am persuaded that all things do come from one
and the same source.

Did you think that some things in this world came
from other than one source?

Did you ever try to think of some things in this
world coming from other than one source?


What do you know of that comes so? Take a pencil
and write down the name of the thing tliat yon think
comes from other than one source in this world!

When you get the name written down, look at it a
long time, and think what source it does come frc^m, if
not from the one source of all things!

But at the banquet we had a most delightful time.
There was no doubt about the source from which it came
— it, and all that went with it. Question as we might
about the source of shipwrecks, the source of the joy and
happiness that were everywhere present at that banquet-
table was no mystery.

It is such a comfort to be sure of some things!

After the eating was over, the speaking of the occa-
sion came on, and of all that was said on that occasion,
there were two speeches, or talks, made then and there,
that I want to make a record of.

The first was made by a noted professor of a noted
university. I haven't his words in blqck and white before
me, but I think they are pretty well stamped upon my
memory, and I will try to report them, just as nearly as
possible as he spoke them. Substantially, he said:

" I am very glad to speak of university work, and of
the relation that should exist between the training in the
public schools, and the work which is subsequently to be
done in college.

"And I want to say that more and more the public
schools should keep college work in mind as they arrange
their courses of study and train their pupils.

"We in the college can only do our work well as you
in the public schools do your work well, and as that work
is do7ic zvith special reference to the college zvork ivhicJi we
hai'e to imdertake .

"And so I am glad to see that the report of the Com-


mittee of Ten, on common-school curricula, has great re-
gard for the college-work which is to follow the common-
school work; and I am specially thankful for the work
that a western college president has done in the line of
getting more college-trend work into the common-school
courses of study," etc.

As I have said, these are not the exact words of the
speech, but they will serve to convey, fairly, I think, the
idea that the speaker had in mind and gave utterance to.

Well, when this speech was ended, some one called
on Miss Dryer; and before I try to tell what she said, I
ought to say a word about the lady herself.

Emeline Dryer was born some years ago, so long ago
that I studied grammar under her a quarter of a century
previous to the date of this writing. I have heard it
stated, on good authority, that she was born with her eyes
open; but be that as it may, she has always had a way of
seeing what there was to be seen, ever since I knew her,
and that is a good while.

She taught in the Illinois State Normal School for a
number of years, but about twenty-five years ago she
gave up her position there, and went to Chicago, where
she entered upon a line ( I will not call it a "career;" the
lady is not a career sort of a woman) of special mission-
ary and charitable work. She has never said much about
it, for she is not much given to talk; but only God knows
what she has done.

So Miss Dryer, who came to the club meeting for
old times' sake, was asked to say something, and here is
about what she said (I again quote from memory):

" I am glad to see you all here, eating and drinking,
and enjoying yourselves. But it is not you that I am
anxious about as I stand here and talk to you.

"When I left the Normal School, I stepped down in-


to what was to mc aa under world, a place lull of people
and conditions that I had never had any, not the slightest,
conception of, till I got down into it and began to look-

"And I want to say to you, good folks, here to-night,
that it is not you whom I am concerned about, nor the
higher education of which you have been talking — those
things do not worry me in the least; but I am anxious
about the relations that exist between you and your likes,
and the thousands, and thousands, and thousands, and
thousands, and thousands, and thousands, and thousands
of children who, if they could see you sitting at this table
and could hear what you are saying, would have no con-
ception whatever of what it is all about; children by the
cityfull, who know nothing about, and care nothing about
a higher education, and who never can know or care about
it, owing to the limitations and peculiarities of their na-
tures; children who were never born to partake of a high-
er education, and for whom such education is a closed
book and must always remain so; and yet children who
will grow up into men and women who can annihilate you
and all the ranks of societies that talk about, and have to
do with, a higher education and what goes with it — it is
these children and the relation that the common schools hold
toivard them that I am anxious about.

"These children can be educated, but not on the line
of a higher education, as that term is now interpreted ! The
question is, what are the common schools doijtg to educate the^n
along the lines on ivhich it is possible for them to become edu-
cated? It is only along such lines that they can ever be
trained to become valuable members of society; and if
tlicy are not trained along these lines, they will becofne a
plague in the body politic that will one day bring ruin to this
noble land! And what I am anxious about, and want you


to be anxious about, so far as the public schools are con-
cerned is, not the higher education of a fezo who can go
to college, but an education for the great hordes of the chil-
dren who never can go to college, and to whom it would
do no good, even if they could go to college! Just think
tJiat over when you get home!''

That is about what she said, and then she sat down,
and a great hush, almost the silence of awe, fell on the
company as she took her seat.

I have said that these two speeches made a great im-
pression on me, and they did!

And I would to God that they might make an im-
pression upon you who read these lines, for they contain
the gist of the whole matter, so far as the public schools
are concerned, in this day and age.

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Democracry is the watchword of these years and
democracy means all the people! And the democracy of
democracies should be the public schools.

The fathers of these schools honestly hoped, expec-
ted, and tried to make them true democracies, but they
did not succeed in their undertaking. The schools they
established, while they are nominally y^r all the children
of all the people, as a matter of fact meet the needs of
only a small percetitage of these children.

The great bulk of the children of the common people, in
this country^ go to the common schools for only a very small
portion of their years of school age. The reason they do not
go longer is, that the schools are not suited to their needs!

Can we make schools such as are suited to their
needs, and will we do it? That is the question that the
people of this land have got to answer.

If we do not, or cannot answer this question, and
that in the near future, the idea of popular education —


an idea which has been the corner-stone of our national
faith and hope for nearly a century, — will soon come to
be regarded as a delusive dream, the vagary of a well-
meaning set of men, but not practical, as a matter of fact.

And when such belief takes hold of any considerable
number of the people of these states, look out!

Walking abroad, as I have been doing for years, with
an eye which I have tried to make single to the best in-
terests of all the children of all the people; and having
personally visited and inspected hundreds, not to say
thousands, of our common schools in nearly every state
in this Union, I find myself impressed, as I write these
last words of the record of my wanderings, with the great
idea that Miss Dryer so simpl}', yet forcibly, expressed in
her after-dinner talk, namely, that the public schools must
educate all the children of all the people.

They are not doing this now; and it is with the hope of
helping _;/t7« to realize this fact, and to stimulate jj/^i/^ to do
something to better the situation, and help on the cause
of making these schools what they ought to be, that I
have said what I have said in these pages, and herewith
send my words to you, greeting:

Truly the Master said: "Say not to yourselves there
are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest. But I
say unto you, lift up your eyes to the fields, for behold
they are already zvhite for the harvest." And if the grain
is not gathered it will spoil! Will you " make a hand " in
this Public School Harvest Field?





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Online LibraryWilliam Hawley SmithWalks abroad and talks about them → online text (page 16 of 16)