CHILDREN, EDUCATION AND HOME-MAKING
It may seem like a redundancy to put into print principles of rearing, training and education which my children have seen in practice in our home from their earliest infancy, but there can be no harm in outlining for the benefit of their children’s children the main features of my system. All of you will readily recall my invariable faith in the qualities of obedience, firmness, persistence, punctuality, courtesy, self-respect, truthfulness, self-reliance, close observation and clean-thinking. These are the qualities I have tried all my life to develop in my own nature. They are the virtues which I regard as superlative in human character. Perhaps it may not fully “square” with the modern notion of education, but I cannot have much respect for any system of school or college training which fails to develop these qualities. A great French philosopher asserts that the chief object of education for most children should be to foster will power. Schooling should put a variety of fundamental principles at the command of the child. It should give hum a stock of important facts for use in life. But beyond these things in value is the development of the faculties to see the rights and the engendering of the will power which is essential to right conduct. Of course, I believe in thorough education, in wide familiarity with books and art; but I cannot highly respect any system of education which fails to give young people a tremendous love of truth, great consideration for the rights and opinions of others, simplicity and nobility of heart and that sovereign strength of will which makes for grand manhood and exalted character. The progress of the world rests far more on the homely common-sense of men in general than on the highly-wrought education of the schools. I believe in the systems of education which strive to develop and exalt the native intelligence of boys and girls. Nothing exceeds in importance the capacity for surveying a state of facts, reasoning out the results of alternative action, and arriving at a clear cut decision with force of will adequate to carry out the plan to the final detail. This demands no great store of information. A man may have little knowledge of science and be capable of just this kind of close observation, clear reasoning and decisive action. A man of many college degrees may be destitute of such powers. I should not hesitate to say that the former had incomparably the better education of the two.
All you children as you look back over your youth will see that your
mother and I followed some very definite line of policy in rearing you.
It is possible to condense that system into a short maxim. It is this:
“THE BEST RAISED ARE MOSTLY SELF-RAISED.”
Over-raising has a dwarfing tendency on developed minds.