Page images

important elements in the educational problem of our times, and the city schools will have to learn to adjust their activities so as to include these utterly essential phases of the child's development within their programs.

The first of these is that very essential phase of education which was provided in the old country education, not by the school but by the work of the farm and the household. The parts have exactly shifted here as between the country school and the modern city school. The country school devoted itself to the intellectual elements in experience; the city school must devote itself more and more to laying that fundamental basis of life and character which the country school so implicitly and unconsciously assumed. Such things are being attempted in ever-increasing fashion, by our manual-training and household-economics departments, and by the modern movements in the direction of industrial and vocational education. But to date, no one has said, in sufficiently clear way, that this is one of the fundamental tasks of the city school in relation to education. And few seem to recognize the real part that physical activity, play, industry, and the growing sense of actual control have in true education. We are just beginning to become aware of the meaning of this for a genuine democracy in education. Of course, the school cannot do it all; indeed, the school cannot do all of anything. Our parks and playgrounds are doing some of these necessary things; and many forces are at work. But the school should see to it that it is being done; the school must wake up to the fact that if this underlying work is not done, then no real education can result; and the school must come to see that it can, not only not do constructive educational work by forcing materials upon the child in advance of the child's power to react to those materials in some constructively active way; but in attempting to do this it destroys the very fundamentals of the child's personality: his own growing integrity, his wholeness, that only too slowly comes to him.

In the second place, the school of the city must learn how to help the child to organize himself and his world. The life of the city is becoming too much for the child. There is too wide a variety of stimulation forced upon him by his modern artificial environment. The result is that he gets experiences, but fails to get the right sort of an organized and controlled world. He is too much the creature of sensations and feelings, too little the master of his world. Our schools help this disintegrating tendency by their willingness to devote themselves to facts, more or less isolated experiences, and by their failing to see that they have a responsibility in the direction of the organization of the child's world, as well as in the direction of giving that world to the child in the form of facts. The "grind" of the schools is based on this lack of comprehension of the need of constructive organization within the child's growing world. This “grind” continues all through the school years, until, perhaps, the college student comes to a time of revolt, and a demand for activities that have meaning. Incidentally, it is a very curious fact that this condition causes a very marked separation between what an eastern college president calls "student activities” and “studious activities." Here is a dualism of activity and interest that we wonder at, and are stupefied by, but do not know how to meet. Between “student activities” and “studious activities” there runs a very tenuous thread of diplomatic negotiation; but where is the vitalizing and constructive interpretation that can put a unified meaning into the student's whole career ?

Education is, in the long run, made up of the ever-increasing development of meanings; and meanings are the most natural things in the world; but they are not abstractions; they are social values; they are organizing foci within the heterogeneous elements of experience; they are centers of light within the phantasmagoria of half-lights, shadows, dim colors, and darknesses that make up the growing world of the child. There can be no real education without these organizing forces within experience, just as there can be no education without the chances for fundamental physical activities and demands for neuro-muscular development.

There is today no institution that stands for these organic meanings, expressly. The school thinks that it does. But it is mistaken. The school occasionally floods the life of the exceptional child with the illumination of a new meaning; but for the most part, this is no more intentionally done, or scientifically foreseen, than when a like event happened in the old district school. It never will be done intentionally and scientifically until the school gets back into the life of the world; until instruction gets back into the life of the child; until the world's activities flow through the school as the curriculum of the school, and the school feels itself an integral part of the whole social process of education, not an institution apart from the lives of men, in “cloistered leisure," teaching abstracted and intellectualized materials to children who are not real children but mere intellects which must be attached to some "motive” before they will work.

The school of the city must think its way through the maze of traditions that have come with it out of the country: it has a work of its own to do, a work which it never can do until it awakes to the actual conditions of our own times, and the actual problems of education as these appear in the modern city. Reconstruction is going on in all other lines: it has begun in the schools. It must go on, even though that should involve great labor and thoroughgoing criticism. As Professor Sumner said: “The folkways need constant rejuvenation and refreshment if they are to be well fitted to present cases and it is far better that they be revolutionized than that they be subjected to traditional changelessness." “Our education is good just so far as it produces well-developed critical faculty. .. .. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens.” An education that crams the mind can never produce this critical faculty. Our city schools are face to face with the problem; the country school with its traditional cramming of the intellect is still with us, in large measure: can our educational leaders develop a new school fitted to modern city conditions—a school in which the development of “critical faculty” is the aim and the actual production of that critical power the test of success? How else shall our public schools continue to be what we have so long thought them to be, "the hope of our country," the guarantors of the genuine democracy that is to be?

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Heredity in Relation to Eugenics. By CHARLES BENEDICT DAVENPORT. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1911. Pp. xi+298.

+ $2.00.

Since it was clearly the author's purpose to write a book which should be socially serviceable, if not wholly satisfactory to the scientist, it is fitting that the reviewer deal with it as a contribution to the literature of race improvement, not as a monograph on heredity.

The heart of the volume is a chapter on "The Inheritance of Family Traits” in which almost one hundred characteristics of men are considered as inheritances. Both physical and mental, and both normal and abnormal, traits are represented. Eye color, hair color, skin color, musical ability, memory, temperament, general mental ability, epilepsy, insanity, criminality, night-blindness, color-blindness, deaf-mutism, cretinism, gout, polydactylism appear in the list.

The materials of the chapter have been obtained chiefly from the records of family traits which are on file at the Eugenics Record Office, Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. In most instances, reports concerning the appearance or degree of development of a trait in several hundred individuals and from a score to a hundred or more families have been used as a basis for the discussion of the heritability of characteristics, for conclusions, and for recommendations concerning marriage.

The author's intent in presenting this mass of material, much of which strikes the reviewer as of uncertain value, is clearly indicated by the opening paragraph of the chapter:

Before any advice can be given to young persons about the marriage that would secure them the healthiest, strongest children, it will be necessary to know not only the peculiarities of their germ plasms but also the way in which various characters are inherited. The work of the student of eugenics is, consequently, to discover the methods of inheritance of each characteristic or trait. After we get precise knowledge of the methods of inheritance of the commoner important traits we shall be in a position to advise, at least, in respect to these traits. It would seem a self-evident proposition, but it is one too little regarded, that knowledge should precede teaching. In this chapter an attempt will be made to consider many of the traits that are known


to run in families and to set forth, so far as known, the laws of their inheritance. We shall begin with some of the general characteristics of man that have been best studied and then pass to a consideration of some human diseases [p. 26].

The accounts of the various human traits are of extremely different value, because of the number and nature of the records which were available. Whereas, in the case of eye color, the facts are convincing, the statements concerning memory are of relatively little value. It is, further, evident that many of the characteristics discussed are extremely complex. Among these might be mentioned artistic composition, literary composition, calculating ability, memory, temperament, general mental ability.

The discussion of each of the scores of traits leads up to a "eugenic conclusion" or recommendation concerning fit marriages. In certain instances, these recommendations are very definite; in others, the author states that our knowledge is insufficient to justify any recommendation. Concerning Huntington's chorea (St. Vitus' dance) we are told that “the eugenic lesson is that persons with this dire disease should not have children. But the members of normal branches derived from the affected strain are immune from the disease" (p. 102). Of rheumatism, it is stated that "the exact laws of inheritance in these cases are not clear and eugenic instruction cannot be drawn from them" (p. 105). Turning to defects of the eye, we find under pigmentary degeneration of the retina (retinitis pigmentosa) the following unequivocal statements: "The eugenic instruction is clear. An affected man or woman should not marry even into stock without taint of retinitis. Above all, in retinitis stock, cousins, especially if affected, should by no means marry” (p. 118). And the eugenic conclusion concerning colorblindness is "that while color-blind males will have no color-blind sons, and, typically, no color-blind offspring of either sex, yet their daughters, married to men of normal stock, will have color-blind sons” (p. 120).

To consider the data of Dr. Davenport's chapter on “The Inheritance of Family Traits” apart from his purpose in presenting the materials at this particular time and in the setting which this book gives them, would be extremely unfair to the author as well as to the eugenic movement. For, although it is evident that the family records which are available at Cold Spring Harbor contain invaluable information concerning certain human traits, it is equally clear that they offer meager and inconclusive evidence concerning many of the characters which are discussed in this volume. A specialist in the study of heredity

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »