Essay # 1
The word, ‘Education’ is derived from a Latin word meaning “to draw out”. Whether this definition is correct or not, the aim of true education is certainly, not so much to load the memory with knowledge, as to “draw out” or develop the faculties of the mind. An educated man is not so much a man of learning, as a man whose intelligence has been awakened, and whose powers of observation, reasoning, and thought have been trained. The object of education is practical it is to teach us how to make the best use of our faculties.
For this purpose, every child should begin with general education. He must learn to observe accurately, to think truthfully, to speak correctly, and to write clearly. The most important part of early education is the acquiring of truth in seeing, truth in thinking, and truth in expressing one’s thoughts. All the courses of study a child goes through at school are meant as mental training, just as gymnastics and physical drills are meant to develop and strengthen the bodily muscles. Besides this, a certain amount of general elementary knowledge must be imparted, the most useful being some history, geography, and literature, and a little mathematics. For a child should know something of the wonderful world he lives in and something of what men have done in the past.
But education should be practical; and when elements of general knowledge have been acquired and the mental faculties to some extent trained, the child should be fitted for the practical work he will have to do in life. That is, his schooling should lead to “Vocational Education.” In agricultural districts, practical farming should be taught, with some knowledge of botany, chemistry, and physics. In towns, practical training should be given in various crafts, such as carpentry, drawing and designing, work in metals, the management of machinery, office work, etc. In this way, a boy on leaving school will be prepared to take up some practical work.
Along with all this must go moral education-perhaps the most important of all. Religion is, perhaps, best taught at home; but the great moral principles common to all religions should be given a prominent place in school teaching, for right conduct is the most important part of life. People sometimes talk of having “finished their education when they leave school or college. But real education should never finish. All through life we should be learning, not only from books but from experience, — from life itself.
Essay # 2
Carlyle regards men without education as mutilated beings, and with great force insists that to deprive men and women of the blessings of education is as bad as it would be to deprive them of eyes or hands. An uneducated man may indeed well be compared to a blind man. The blind man has a very imperfect idea of the world in which he lives, as compared with those who have the use of their eyes, and the uneducated labour under a similar inferiority of mental vision. While the uneducated man has his mind confined to the narrow circle of such unintelligent labour as he is capable of performing, the educated man can look far back into the past and forward into the future. His mind is full of great events that happened long ago, about which history gives him information, and from his knowledge of the past, he is able to form conjectures about the social and political condition to which the world is progressing. The uneducated man sees in the heavenly bodies that illumine the sky by night, nothing but innumerable specks of light, some more and some less bright.
Anyone who has learnt astronomy divides them into fixed stars and planets, and forms in his mind a conception of the planets of the solar system rolling round the sun, and of countless other greater suns than ours, each of which may have its own planetary system, occupying the more distant realms of boundless space. With help of the telescope he can map out the seas and mountains of the moon and of the nearer planets, and the spectroscope tells him the elements of which the stars are composed. The botanist finds the plants at his feet and the trees above his head full of interest. The entomologist, zoologist and geologist enrich the stores of their minds by the study of insects, animals and fossils. Indeed, there is not one of the long lists of modern sciences that do not open the eyes of the mind to wonders undreamt of by the uneducated man.
Those who have no taste for science can enrich their minds with the literary wealth of ancient and modern times, and learn the thoughts of the greatest intellects of the world on all manner of subjects. If it is a pleasure to converse with the ordinary men we meet in everyday life, how much greater is the privilege of reading in books the noblest thoughts of such great writers as Plato, Milton and Shakespeare! These writers of worldwide fame, who are not of an age but for all time, are the delight of all students of literature and stand apart on the highest pinnacle of glory. But below the very highest literary rank there is in very language a large number of excellent writers, whose works are specially adapted to various readers of every age and of every temperament, so that, whatever our intellectual tastes may be, we are sure to find satisfaction for them in the wide and varied field of literature.
Thus, it is that education, besides being of practical assistance to us in the struggle of life, enlarges and ennobles the mind and enables us to live as beings endowed with human intellects ought to live.