I mentioned before that a thoughtful reader sent me a copy of the most fascinating book – Sanders New Series – The New School Reader: Fourth Book from 1855. The subtitle says “Embracing a Comprehensive System of Instruction in the Principles of Elocution.”
Here is a great piece by Daniel Webster from that book. Imagine if everyone today actually thought like this instead of with the entitlement mentality that has taken over our country, especially in the area of education. Oh, and by the way, this is a fourth grade book. Imagine how many middle school and high school students today could not discuss this.
How to Make a Scholar
by Daniel Webster
1. Costly apparatus and splendid cabinets have no magical power to make scholars. In all circumstances, as a man is, under God, the master of his own fortune, so is he the maker of his own mind. The Creator has so constituted the human intellect, that it can only grow by its own action; and, by its own action and free will, it will certainly and necessarily grow.
2. Every man must, therefore, educate himself. His book and his teacher are but helps; the work is his. A man is not educated until he has the ability to summon, in an emergency, all his mental powers in vigorous exercise to effect his proposed object. It is not the man who has seen most, or read most, who can do this; such a one is in danger of being borne down, like a beast of burden, by an overloaded mass of other men’s thoughts.
3. Nor is it the man who can boast of native vigor and capacity. The greatest of all warriors in the siege of Troy, had not the pre-eminence, because nature had given him strength, and he carried the largest bow, but because self-discipline had taught him how to bend it.
My favorite line? “His book and his teacher are but helps; the work is his.” Call me hopelessly old-fashioned, out of touch with reality, whatever… The responsibility of education rests with the child (and, ultimately, the parents), not the teacher, the textbooks, the school board or the community. Until people can grasp this truth, I have no real expectations that the field of education and the level of educated people in this country will really change.