But the essential conditions of freedom cannot be established through education; only the love of it, the understanding of it, and the power and will to use it for service can be gained from the most liberalizing of curricula. The possibility and the extension of freedom are the work of direct social and political reform. It is futile, meanwhile, to insist that liberal studies shall be all that schools shall offer. It is simple error to insist that a traditional range of studies—the classics, science, mathematics, even history, or English—provide the only possible culture for freedom. Schools must meet the need of the world as frankly and directly as they can, without squeamish prejudice against practical or vocational studies. Shopwork may afford more liberal culture to a given boy than Greek—and the problem of educational values is always thus specific. The only profitable distinction between liberal studies and vocational studies is one which looks out and forward to the life the individual is to lead. A man’s calling, if it be of much difficulty, demands vocational training; his life in the family, the community, the state, and the church demands an education which may justly be called liberal; the worthy use of his leisure demands an education which may properly be called cultural. But what is vocational for the artist will be cultural for others; and a given subject may serve many uses in every normal life. A complete education will prepare for life in all its relationships, either by direct study of the problems they present, or by the study of subjects valuable in one of them or in all.

This conception of the ends to be attained is clear enough; it is the means that fail. And the failure of means is due less to public apathy than to inherent difficulty in finding them. New schools, new courses, new subjects must be created. A new interpretation of old subjects and a new method of teaching them must be worked out. Much of our traditional teaching, especially in high schools, academies, and colleges, goes quite astray; it is fruitless because its uses are not clear or because they are not made clear; and the “intellectual discipline” which is supposed to result from it either does not occur or is not carried over into the conduct of mature life. Mental and moral habits and ideals, such attitudes, tendencies, and principles of conduct as “thoroughness,” “order,” “concentration,” “self-reliance,” may be taught by precept and example in the work of any subject; in every case they must be generalized and held consciously in mind, practiced and renewed in vision if they are ever to permeate life. In this general training of the mind and will, the unconscious effect of one subject is little better than that of another of similar complexity and scope. Science is as good as Latin, and mechanical drawing may be better than either. Much depends on the ethical enthusiasm, the insight, the sympathy, and the leadership of the teacher; much on the methods of teaching and class management he employs. More depends on the traditions and the administrative, disciplinary, and social policies of the school. This is to say that these precious moral results of education are chiefly matters of personal contagion, direct inspiration, and experience in the common effort of work and play. They are achieved as much in the home or on the playground as in the school. It is the specific habits of attention, the special methods of observing, comparing, classifying, and reacting on facts, the particular forms of skill, the definite information, the peculiar outlook, the actual incentives which a given subject may possess that make it serviceable in education. In these things subjects differ and lend themselves to different use. In these things history differs from dressmaking, science from agriculture. And in these things the same subject will differ as it is taught for different purposes, to pupils of different ages and different capacities and motives. Literature cannot yield the same fruit in a night school that it yields in a college. Under a conception of education which demands preparation for all the essential activities of life, in schools designed to meet the needs of every age and class, subjects must be evaluated and organized anew.

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