OPENING OF THE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL

 

April 13, 1891

Cleveland, Ohio

 

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

The opening of the University School is likely to be regarded hereafter as one of the notable steps in the educational progress of Cleveland. A careful and sagacious study of its plan and scope will discover in it much that is very interesting and very valuable, and some things that are indeed unique. Many of us can recall the time when the school was concerned about a very limited part of the wide range of faculties, powers and gifts which go to make up a wholesome, complete and well developed body, mind and character. Sixty years ago a boy’s training at school had as its chief aims two things: the cramming of the memory with facts, figures, dates, names - in short with words, and that without much regard for the ideas which they were supposed to impart. As to character building it was amply explained that “order was Heaven’s first law,” and to maintain it a hickory gad and a ferrule in the hands of a stalwart school master, with angry features and a fear-inspiring voice, were the appliances relied upon by the learned authorities of that period. Since then there has been a gradual enlargement of the aims of education, and we have reached juster notions of the wide distinction there is, for all the purposes of practical life, between the learned man and the well educated man. I have often had occasion to recall and repeat an apt and suggestive illustration of this distinction by President McGuffey. Said he, “Dr. Samuel Parr was the first classical scholar of his day. He mastered many languages. He wrote learned books by the score. But he was dogmatic, of bad manners and bad temper, and totally lacking in common sense. He was a very learned man but not an educated man. On the other hand the great Indian Chief Tecumseh could neither read nor write any language. But he was trained from infancy in every art and craft that would fit him for his place in life as a leader of the wild men of the forest. He was a hunter, a warrior, and an orator in the councils of the red men. Not a man of learning but a well educated man,” said President McGuffey. A man fitted by his training for the life he was destined to live.

 

What answer does the University School give to the question suggested by this illustration? It takes the boy at nine years of age and cares for, guides, trains and teaches him during the school hours of the next eight precious years of his life. How does it prepare him for the testing exigencies that await every citizen in our multiform American society? Who can make a complete catalogue of all the powers and traits which are essential to the full stature of American manhood? Our boys should be trained so as to be able to think, to work, to make a living-to be good husbands, good fathers, good neighbors, good soldiers, good rulers-in a word to be in the fullest sense good citizens and good Christians?

 

To reach such a good manhood the boy must have his body, his eyes, his hand trained and built up with a solicitude, patience and skill not found nor thought of even in the old time school. The University school begins by thoroughly inspecting, weighing, measuring, and finding out the physical condition of the boy-it discovers his bodily defects and then intelligently provides the sports, the games, the gymnastic exercises, the work out of doors and in the shop best adapted to give him what he specially needs.

 

Dr. Daniel Clark, discussing brain work, says in a paper printed in the Journal of Insanity: Education and instruction are different. The former means development of body and mind, while the latter means simply a mere knowledge of facts. A child may be full of facts and its education not begun. The neglect to consider this important physical law is leading to the generation of many nervous evils which now afflict the civilized races. At no time in the history of the world has education been more diffused among the common people and at no period have nervousness, excitability, brain exhaustion and insanity been so prevalent. It is well to consider if there exists any connection, and if so, how much, between national nervousness and forced education, between juvenile brain tension and adult brain debility. It may be we are discounting the future by forcing mental growth in the young before the natural capacity. Dr. Clark is altogether wise in the warning. The body and its amazing and priceless functions, in the formative years between nine and seventeen are worthy of consideration and anxious thought.

 

Prof. John Fiske reminds us that “the body is but the vehicle of the soul,” and says “in a very deep sense all human science is but the increment of the power of the eye, and all human art is the increment of the power of the  hand. Vision and manipulation - these in their countless indirect and transfigured forms, are the two co-operating factors in all intellectual progress.” The University School begins education at the beginning. It does not despise, nor abuse, nor neglect the body. It regards the body as the home-the sacred hearthstone of the intellect and of the immortal spirit. If this school had no other merit but this, I would applaud it with both my hands and with all my heart.

 

Leaving to those more competent than myself to deal with the purely intellectual training of the school, I wish merely to allude to some of its other claims to our considerate attention. Punctuality, habits of industry, veracity-no laziness, no negligence, no hate, no fear-but good manners, friendliness, love,-this character, these traits lead always to the only success which really and finally succeeds-to happiness in this world and in the next, this school earnestly seeks by wise means to promote all of these good ends. Will it avail? Will it carry all of its sons to the wished for goal? Not at all. They will not will not all be angels. The millennium is not yet in sight, but the vessel that floats heedlessly with wind and tide is less certain to reach the desired haven than the ship that heads with steady keel in the right direction under a pilot firm and wise and good.          

 

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