Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
This article displays in one automatically-generated column. View the full page to see article in its original form.

A SCHOOL OF SYMPATHY.

This ha* «boen School W«ek. There has been the usual flow of school oratory—good, bad, and indifferent. We offer our contribution l , leaving our readers to assign it to which category they pleass. We want to refer to a new sort of school that exists mainly as yet in tho sphere of imagination. It is a School of Sympathy. It ha* been suggested to us by a chapter in a book of essays—' Old Lamps for New' —from tho pen of Mr E. Y. Lucas. In this chapter the author give© an interesting account of a school, the main business of which is to teach boys and girls sympathy. We are- not quite sura whether such a school actually exists, or whether |it is merely a fanciful creation; but Mr Lucas has given it an air of reality by deseribing it and the place where it may bo found. Here is the picture of it that he gives: The cabman drew up at a gate in an old wall, about a mile out of town. I noticed as I was waiting for him to give me change that the cathedral spire was visible down the road. I rang the bell, the gate automatically opened, and I found myself in a pleasant garden facing a square red ample Gcsrgian house, with the thick white windowframes that to my eyes always suggest warmth and welcome and stability. That is the school outside. It u*. however, the work inside that makes it unique. The head mistress explains that, as a matter of fact, they do not do much formal teaching—no more than is needed to get application into them. " The real aim of the school," as she puts it, '' is not as "much thought as thoughtfulness—lTu"manity, Citizenship." Hence tho children are made familiar with those objects, that will best develop these qualities. Thus, in the course of the term every child has a blind day, a deaf day, a dumb day, and a maimed day. During the blind day their eyes are bandaged absolutely, and it is a point of honor not to peep. The bandage is put on overnight; they wake blind, j That nveaua that thoy need assistance in everything, and other children are told off to help them and lead them about. ! We are not told how the distress or the dumbness is imagined. Lameness is easy enough with crutches, or an arm in bandages, as simulating a fracture or accident of some sort. Of course, all this is merely an extension of the kindergarten system. * * -:f * * * «

Many questions ask for answers. First of all: Is it «wise to make the end of teaching not theory but practice, not thought but thought fulness? Then, again : Can sympathy be taught? If so, how is it to be taught when pupils pass beyond the kindergarten age ? What would be its attitude toward* trouble for which the person ifi blameworthy? In other words. How is sympathy to deal with individual responsibility ? Furthermore : How is sympathy to deal not merely with the subjects of bad fortune, but also with those of good fortune? Is it not- more difficult to rejoice sympathetically in other people's pleasures and profits than in the folks who are denied them? For instance, the rich and well-to-do have few to sympathise with them. They excite envy and jealousy, and even contempt gr hatred. And yet there is perhaps no class of people who noed sympathy more than they. Whether tho riches be mental or material, tho superior possession of them seems to provoko tho worst passions of the "man in the street." True, the possessors have often themselves to blame for that. But it is almost universally true that the preafc and successful are often lonely, and have few real friends. Dean Swift knew what he was writing about whon he said : At highest worth dull malice reaches, As slugs pollute the fairest peaches Envy defames, as harpies vile Devour the fruit they first defile. How is sympathy to be developed towards such .is these ? Is it to be developed on the principle of the woman who said to a dull boy who was unmoved by the beauties of Nature about him : " You enjoy yourself, or I'll box your ears !" Each child might be given a lucky day—a day full of good things denied to the other."!, and yet the others would liave to pretend that they were glad. Jealousy and envy—or whatever one may call that spirit which rejoices if it can somehow cheapen the character of tho successful—aro surely worse things than cruelty. And if only one could exorcise l hesc from human nature we would be in a fair way towards the millennium. But the question insists on putting itself: Can sympathy be taucrht at all? Th<re are (hose who will answer it in the negative They say that it is a gift rather than an acquisition. That, is time—as far as it goes; but it docs not- go far enough. The mind is a gift, but it requires to be cultivated, «vnd it needs a suitable environment for its development. It will not develop of itFelf, or, rather, it wiL! develop wrongly if let alone. Tho real question is: Would Mr Lucas's f-ugcested school methods foster sympathy? Would they not J*» in clanger of evolving prigs? Would they not imperil the truthfulness of the children? Would they not tend to mrke them actors—innocent hypocrites—lather than real participators in tho great diiima- of Life? A critic of these methods suggests that tho boys and girls might come to watch physical suffering with a view to imitate it. That is a horrible idea. A hardly ices horrible idea would be lest rxiicule should be fostered. Children if. say, 14 years and upwards would ho sure to pierce' through the make-believe derri-

vat ions. And they would hardly br restrained from lautjhin;* at the hnppings pxirl gTopings of the vicariously lame and blind. It would he very much better if sympathy irt to be taught that the pupili should be taken to a pl?c* whore they I could see tho real thin? —to a benevolent institution, for example, or to pit orphanace, or to a hospital. Arid so we are led to say that, whether or not sympathy can be taught, there is nothing so much needed. The other day at St- Hilda's closing ceremonies Dean Fitchett was souiawliat fierce in his denunciation of what he called the "Intellectuals." Wo presume that he means by tho '' In telicctuals" those superior people who cnltrata only the mental side of their nature and withdraw from all contact with, the masses. Tennyson was probably tempted that way, but he escaped. He sketches with fine hand in the 'Palace of Art' the genesis and the doom of the ''lntellectuals." Tho Soul surrounds itself with all i that is fair and great in things and thought in AH and life. I tak* poeseesion of man's mind and deed. I care not what tho sect* may brawl. I ait as God, holding no form of creed, But contemplating all. And that does vary well for a. while. But like nil sin it breeds its <?wn Nemesis. Selfishness is (solitude, and no aoul oan long dwell alone without corrupting and comirwr to hate even Lite iteelf. And eo in the end this one fell, Like Herod when ihe shout wae in his ean»,

There !s a growing number who thinlk that our schools r.re organised, too much on the side of the intellectual. - We are in danger of being more concerned about tihought than thoughtfulness, or about science more than about sympathy, eg about mental equipment rather than ths development of those qualities that make altruistic characters. Mr Lucas's actual or imaginary school may seem to many tut real and impossible, but it can hardly 758 doubted that it point* to the right ideal. ******* What is that ideal? It is the culture of the humanitarian side of our nattuß, \\ e « i»t discount the intellectual powers —far from it—lrat we must not be oblivious of the all-important fact that everything depends on the moral character that is to use those powers. The knowledge of electricity and of mechanics may or may not be good. It is all conditional on th 4 person who acquires the knowledge. In the possession of a General Booth or a Wilherforce it will be a blessin." to the race, but in the possession of a Nero, & Napoleon, a Cain, cr a Kaiser it may drive nations to the' lowest hell. And sfi the emphasis must he laid on character. The knowledge acquired in thq school if of value only as it develops those quali* ties of courage, honesty, justice, truthful* m»ss, and unselfishness that are at onca the decoration and dynamic of Life. Information about the dust of stars and th« spawn of frogs, or about the subject an 4 predicate of a .sentence, or about the mys» teiies of x plus y and of the multiplication table and the binomial theorem, and suchlike, are nut ends in themselves. They are only the means whereby the better tffl secure the development of those ethical principles on which all progress depends. Ifc is not to the '• Intellectuals"' that the race owes the progress it has achieved. Mr Kidd, in his givat work «n 'Social Evolution.' shows this conclusively. The vass development in the direction of individual economic, political, and social enfranchise nient is not in any tm<» tense an intellectual movement. Intellect is certainly a factor, and jm important one, bub it is noft tho main orye.

The intellect is employed in develop inq; ground which has been won for 4 by other forces. lsut it would appeal that it has by itself no power to o*» cupy this ground; it has not even powo* to continue to hold it after it has beefi won when these forces have spent anc exhausted themselves. All the great movements in the socialj economic, and political .spheres have not come- from the " Intellectuals,'' but fror* the action of the moral and altruistic forces of the universe. ****** * All this should put us on our gnari against making a fetish of mental equip ment. Mental equipment has its plac« no doubt, but without the dynamics whici only the moral sentiments can supply it will be a grave peril rather than « gracious jwDsseesion. And arriong thesj moral sentiments sympathy holds perhart the highest place. Sympathy is thepowet to go out of oneself -, to feci not merelf for, but with another. To feel for anothej is pity, and pity is a lesser virtue. Pity is easily excited. It is an emotion that lies on the : nee. and does not care tC take much trouble. One can give pitjj and still not identify oneself with tilt sulferer. It can -he given at a distant* and from a high altitude. But sympathy cannot. It implies the identification of oneself with another. It is the going out • of oneself and seeing things from their standpoint. It involves imagination ; great as is the power of imagination, syr/te pathy is greater. One can call up a pi* ture of poverty and need by means 06 imagination, but sympathy goes out 14 deal practically with the picture. Imagie nation supplies the raw material; syrfto pathy takes tho material and impresses its own beneficence upon it. Sympathy is thus one of the master forces of exist* ence. No student who does not bring thi» force into his work can ever win success. Xo taarher of youth will ever attain t» th« front rank who is without sympathy, who cannot put himself in the child'* place and see things from the standpoint of his pupils. And any teacher who can—• whatever eke lie may lack—will almost certainly be successful. Thus wrote tlir< wonderful man George Fox: I have prayed to ba baptised into fc sense of all conditions, that I might I* able to know the needs and feel tlif sorrows of all. It is a gor.d prayer for everybody. Th{ leadeifihip of the home and the school and the world is in the hands of the eyw pathetic. We need no higher illustratio* of it than the Christmas celebrations into which wo ar<> moving. What is the story of tho Incarnation but the story of the victory of sympathy—*ho victory of ft Man who was able to go out of Himseli and see the human beings who gathered around Him from their point of view. .And bo, stripped of its outer covering, thS school of Mr Lucas, in its effort to create and cultivate sympathy, gets at the heart of tilings. And if our own schools are to get hold of the dynamic that turns intellect into the right road, and preserves it from becoming a curse to the our educational authorities will do well tC k«ep Mr Lucas's ideal constantly beiow them.

This article text was automatically generated and may include errors. View the full page to see article in its original form.
Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141219.2.7

Bibliographic details

A SCHOOL OF SYMPATHY., Issue 15680, 19 December 1914

Word Count
2,160

A SCHOOL OF SYMPATHY. Issue 15680, 19 December 1914

  1. New formats

    Papers Past now contains more than just newspapers. Use these links to navigate to other kinds of materials.

  2. Hierarchy

    These links will always show you how deep you are in the collection. Click them to get a broader view of the items you're currently viewing.

  3. Search

    Enter names, places, or other keywords that you're curious about here. We'll look for them in the fulltext of millions of articles.

  4. Search

    Browsed to an interesting page? Click here to search within the item you're currently viewing, or start a new search.

  5. Search facets

    Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.

  6. View selection

    Switch between images of the original document and text transcriptions and outlines you can cut and paste.

  7. Tools

    Print, save, zoom in and more.

  8. Explore

    If you'd rather just browse through documents, click here to find titles and issues from particular dates and geographic regions.

  9. Need more help?

    The "Help" link will show you different tips for each page on the site, so click here often as you explore the site.

Working