[continued from yesterday]
The science of education is still young. What is known as "method" in education has made its best development in comparatively recent years. And one of the chief characteristics of this new science is that the best teachers should be appointed to the youngest children.
It used to be thought that any one who knew figures and letters could teach the same to a class of babies. But now it has been discovered that the teacher must not only know all about letters and figures, but also all about babies. He must be skilled in the psychology of the child mind. The young intellect may be made or marred forever, according as its first operations are well or ill directed.
The boy is the father of the man. The results of child training reach out into youth, manhood, old age, and life eternal. Hence the greatest importance is to be attached to the education of children.
Thus it is that educationists are realizing ever more and more the rich content of the principle, "Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it."
If this is true of education in general, it is eminently true of Catholic education in particular. The future of the Catholic Church in any country depends on the Catholic education of the children.
"Give me the children of England and I will make England Catholic."That was one of the favorite sentiments of the late Cardinal Manning.
And as so much concerning Catholic education pertains to family life, all Catholic parents ought to know the leading principles.
In the field of politics the education of the people plays a very important role. And in scarcely any country of the world does the Church have its full desire in the matter. It nevertheless continues to work for its ideal, a completely Catholic education for every Catholic child.
Education, in the best sense of the word, is the formation of habits. The formation of good habits is good education. The formation of bad habits is bad education. Education is not merely the acquisition of knowledge. The necessity of examination, especially competitive examinations, is largely responsible for the impression which identifies erudition and education. Mere erudition, however, is only a small part of education.
It pertains to the faculty of memory. Now, the memory must be trained, but not only the memory. All the powers of the child must be brought out to the highest perfection possible. Its intellect must be trained to perceive the truth. Its senses, internal and external, must be trained to perceive what is beautiful. And, above all, its will must be trained to do what is good. Moreover, since the soul, while in this life, depends on the body for its due operation, the body also must be so trained as to keep in a healthy condition.
"A sound mind in a sound body" is an axiom as old as the hills. A training in the fundamental laws of hygiene, therefore, is ministrant to the training of the child's intellectual, esthetical, and moral faculties.
Further, since man is destined to an eternal life and must attain that eternal life through a life of the spirit in this world, all his natural powers must be made ministrant to this spiritual life. His bodily health, his habits of memory, feeling, taste, intellect, and will must be so trained and directed as to bring forth the best possible fruits in the spiritual life.
The supernatural is that which is built on the natural, not that which is built up in mid-air above — separated from the natural. The two merge, one into the other, in such a way that the natural becomes supernaturalIzed, the psychic becomes spiritualized. In modern parlance the training of the natural faculties, without regard to their supernatural destiny, is called secular education. It is an education adapted merely to the affairs of this world.
On the other hand, the training of the natural faculties with a view to their supernatural destiny, is called religious education. It is an education adapted to the life of the spirit both here and hereafter...
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.