Слике страница
PDF
ePub

"You see our objects in reading are different. You read to cultivate your mind, I read to kill time. You read to increase your store of knowledge. With me it is different, all I want to know is, what a story is, who is the hero and who is the heroine, thenhow it ends. I read every book that comes out."

In the first instance the gentleman had too few books, and in the last the young lady had too many. Librarians in our cities and towns tell us that comparatively few good books are called for, the people read mostly "trash." If we stop at a book store and ask for a strictly first-class work, we are told that the book will be secured if desired, but it is not kept in stock as few of that kind are ever called for. Our Sunday School libraries are ordinarily made up of books which give the attendants little or no trouble and owe their places on the shelves to the members of the committee having pronounced them "good books" written by well-meaning authors, on worthy themes, and published by reliable religious firms. Our public schools are without libraries, and those in the high schools and collegiate institutes are for reference only and in no way adequately meet the reading tastes and inclinations of the students. Even our college and university libraries are considered in most instances merely as adjuncts to the class-rooms, not as educational forces in themselves. The mastery of books seems to be a lost science. Only a few days ago a gentleman informed the writer that he was collecting a library. Inquiries were made regarding his plan, the books he had purchased, and those those listed. Imagine the surprise when it was discovered that his idea of a library was a collection of books which would fill so much space on the shelves constructed by his generous carpenter. He had purchased complete sets in respectable bindings direct from the publishers, not a volume of which he had read, or, so far as could be learned, intended to read. He is a collector of books, nothing more. The joys and

struggles of the intellectual life are unknown to him. One cannot buy a private library in a day, or in a year, it is the garnering of a life-time. Each book is carefully selected and more carefully read. It is prized because of its particular association and for its contribution to the intellectual makeup of its possessor. If one walks into a gentleman's study and glances over the book-shelves he immediately finds himself face to face with the real life of his host. He knows who that gentleman's great friends are, therefore he knows his life. To read and think over great books means to commune with the greater minds within, and to tone one's own life accordingly. What shall be said then of the smallness of those minds which devour literary "trash," or only the newspapers, or still worse only a local newspaper? The reason our people as a whole are not great readers is because comparatively few of them have access to and are interested in good books. This is not altogether their fault, for little has so far been done to stir up any general interest in good literature, and educated people apparently feel apparently feel no responsibility in the matter. Mr. Barr's criticism, instead of arousing indignation, should stimulate us to discover the truth regarding our condition.

As one takes his biographical dictionary from his library shelf, he feels confident that Mr. Barr must be mistaken regarding Canadian authors leaving their native land; but when he discovers that of the fifty Canadians mentioned the majority of those living are residents of either the United States or Great Britain, he admits that Mr. Barr knew his ground before he suggested that Canada might exert itself more fruitfully in behalf of its own literature.

In considering the fourth point, it will be found that the Canadian public school systems compare very favourably with the other school systems of the world, yet it would be unfortunate were they not subject to improvement. As the country increases in intelligence

and the laws of education become better understood these systems will gradually meet the practical needs of the boys and girls more completely, and will give them greater value for the time they spend at school.

The important work in educating a child begins in the home. Before a boy reaches the school age he should know the fundamental principles of moral law, he should be familiar with the striking characteristics of his national history and should be schooled in the elements of patriotism. This part of his education rests almost entirely with his mother. He learns from her lips the great truths of life, and something of the opportunities for service his future citizenship will offer. How shall he acquire these early impressions and lay this broad and necessary foundation if his mother does not know the principles governing child life? Each home should be its own Kindergarten. Something is wrong with our system when this special training is given to a select few, every girl should have all that is practical and worth knowing in it. We have been working heretofore on a mistaken premises. It is true our girls should learn literature, art and music; but most of their lives will call for a wide and accurate knowledge of nursing, child-training and home-making.

in the person of his teacher. The child is expanding daily, each rising sun brings its flood of new impressions, and each hour is potent with influences which will in the aggregate make his character. His teacher often realizes, in some vague way, the importance of his work, but usually, if he is a young man, his interest in the school is only passive, his ambition is set upon some goal in the distance, he is not a teacher by choice or profession, the school room to him is only a stepping-stone to something beyond. The salary is so small he cannot afford to make this his life-work, so puts in his time without enthusiasm, and leaves at the first opportunity. Even ladies find the demands upon them excessive and leave the school room without a suggestion of regret. So the child becomes a boy, and the boy a man. He went to school it is true, he learned a few things inside the school room and over his books at home, but his real education was acquired out on the streets and in the fields. There he learned the practical things of life.

Our public school systems should lend themselves toward evolution in the direction of the practical. Why educate boys and girls away from the business of life? Some one must do the common, ordinary and necessary things-nothing is common or ordinary if done in the right spirit and with complete knowledge-why not all know how to do them and do them better? To be educated means more than passing through the grades of a public school, the forms of a high school, and the years of a university. It means a balanced and disciplined mind, developed senses and a facility in acquiring and utilizing knowledge. The public schools necessarily lay the foundations and give the impetus to future effort. They could render the children larger service by devoting more time to nature studies, and by taking the young scholars out into the fields, among the rocks, into the stone quarries, into public buildings, art galleries, and museums, and explain the objects of interest to them. Each school might

When the boy goes to school he is often at a disadvantage, no matter how beautiful his home may be, the school usually has the appearance of a workshop, the rooms are out of proportion, there is nothing to suggest the beautiful, if any pictures at all are upon the walls they are of a poor sort. The school building is usually a pile of masonry put up with little attempt at architectural beauty or design. Most school yards are devoid of ornamentation. All might have a few flowers, shrubs and trees. The yard might be enclosed with a hedge, and in most cases a small garden could easily be attached which would teach the children the nature of flowers and vegetables and interest them in their cultivation. The boy meets another difficulty

66

have a museum of its own containing articles of commerce, collections of birds and insects, specimens of rocks, Indian relics, grasses, weeds and flowers. Most of these could be collected by the scholars from year to year. The children should not be encouraged, much less forced to attempt so many subjects. The expert poultryman may find it a good plan to cram" his fowls when he is fattening them for a special market; but information can not be given to young boys and girls in the same way expediently. The vast majority leave school before they are fourteen years of age, not because they are forced through circumstances to do so, nor because they are indifferent to education; but because there is no evident relationship between their school studies and the duties of this work-a-day world. This is the key to reform. Then the high schools should be twice as numerous and twice as full. They should build a practical structure upon the practical foundation. Manual training, agriculture, and domestic science, should have liberal treatment in every high school curriculum. Our ideas on education, like our books, need revision. Our theory that a boy should spend seven or eight years in the public school, four or five years in the high school, and four or more years at the university looks excellent on paper; but it is not just to the boy who leaves in either the first or second stage. It may be more just to the young man who has the money and inclination to spend four, five or more years after he leaves the university acquiring a professional education, and then is willing to wait for five or ten years longer before he can earn a living for himself.

Credit must be given to Mr. Barr for his courage in bringing these matters to the attention of the Canadian people. Public men are usually dubious about undertaking or even suggesting reform. He is correct in suggesting that many of our educated men lack independence of thought. Their opinions are based on precedent, precedent on

conservatism, conservatism on tradition, and tradition on antiquity. He suggests that Canada does not recognize talent with any degree of appreciation. Ask the hundreds of ten-talent Canadians living abroad if this is true. He suggests again, that ordinary Canadians do not appreciate Canada. This cannot be ascertained exactly; but we venture to assert that nine out of ten of the young fellows who cross into Uncle Sam's dominions, like Peter of old, deny thrice, and with an oath that they ever knew Canada. They speak of the land of their birth not oftener than once in ten years, and their children are "red-hot" Americans. He is correct also in stating that we might buy more books of a better quality. We admit that newspapers in general, and local newspapers in particular are not the best possible food for the future Burns and Scott, who are growing up in our midst. A comprehensive travelling library system may meet the difficulty and take away this reproach. Mr. Barr is right when he claims that in order to have a Canadian literature we . must have Canadian writers, we must keep them at home, we must encourage them by buying and reading their works; if we do this we shall need money to buy, and the inclination to read, a condition which depends upon the practical efficiency of our educational systems.

Canadians have reached that stage in their national history when it is necessary to do much hard thinking along many lines. Our fathers have been occupied in hewing down the forests, building roads and constructing the civil fabric upon which rests the safety, permanency and liberty of our people. Ours is a rger work and a greater task. The problems of race and religion; industry and commerce; transportation and communication; immigration and education--all these and more are awaiting solution. Canada needs less politics and more economics, less selfishness and more patriotism, less conservatism and more originality.

GURRENT EVENTS ABROAD by W. Sanford Evans

THE

HE rebellion in Ashanti, in the hinterland of the Gold Coast, is evidently serious. Accurate news does not quickly reach the outer world, and so the exact facts are not known. It would seem, however, that the natives are besieging Sir Frederick Hodgson, the Governor, in Kumassi. It is reported also that the natives in Guman, a territory to the north-west of Ashanti, are in revolt, and that still other tribes are showing restlessness. The reason given for the uprising is the attempt of the British to secure possession of what is known as the "Golden Stool." This is a huge gold nugget which was acquired by the kings of Kumassi at the beginning of the century, and made the royal seat, and which has ever since been regarded by the natives as a sort of fetish which would ensure supremacy to its possessors. It has thus been a continual incentive to revolt. When King Prempeh was dispossessed by the British, the Golden Stool was carried off and secreted. Its hiding-place is said to have been revealed to Sir Frederick Hodgson, who sent a party to seize it, apparently without success. Whether or not he was needlessly going contrary to native susceptibilities cannot be determined without further information; but it is probable that an uprising was threatened and he felt called upon to take some action. Two points should be noted. Guman is partly within the French sphere of influence, and the possibility of intrigues is suggested. The other point of interest is that the troops employed by the British are native troops drawn from the native Constabulary and from the West African Frontier Force. They are said to be fine soldiers.

44

On May 14, Mr. Chamberlain introduced into the Imperial House of Commons "The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act," and the bill was read a first time. This bill was first drafted at the famous Sydney Convention in 1891, and it has been redrafted at subsequent conventions. It was twice submitted to a referendum and in its present form was sanctioned by a large majority in the Colonies applying for federation. It is the second bill of the kind to come before the Imperial Parliament, the first being the British North America Act. This fact suggests a comparison, which on other grounds also must be most interesting to Canadians. The Australians have not altogether approved of our constitution. They have drawn, perhaps, more largely from the constitutions of the United States and Switzerland than from ours, and have added some original provisions. Only a few features

[graphic]

MARKET
QUOTATIONS

INDVA

TANG (IN OPEN
50 cent
and

[ocr errors]

THE SKELETON AT THE FEAST.

-Chicago News.

[subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

both Houses have considered such an amendment it is to be submitted to the people and a majority vote decides. It then goes to the Governor-General for his sanction. This is an important departure from the Canadian Constitution, under which an amendment must go to the British Parliament. The House of Representatives is to be composed of members elected from the different States in proportion to population, but no State is to have less than five. Senators are to be elected on exactly the same franchise, although not in proportion to population. A representative is elected for three years and a senator for six. In powers the two Houses are to be equal. A deadlock is guarded against by the provision that in case of a difference the measure may be introduced again within three months, and if the difference continues, both Houses may be dissolved. If the new Houses still differ they shall hold a joint session and settle the question by a majority vote. The British Cabinet system is to be preserved.

[graphic]

As read a first time in the House of Commons, the bill was exactly as it had been voted upon by the people of Australia. The British Government had wanted it changed in some respects, but the delegates who were sent with it to England said they had no power to change it, and the Colonial premiers, when appealed to by Mr. Chamberlain, claimed that they also were without the power. The people had decided, not only upon the substance, but also upon the letter of it, and only by a referendum could an amendment be agreed upon. But the British Government would not accept it as it stood, and so the plan was adopted of introducing it in its original form, amending it before making it law, and taking the risk that it would be approved when submitted to a new referendum in Australia. Objection centred about Clause 74. This clause prohibited any appeal from the High Court of Australia to the Queen-in

[graphic]
« ПретходнаНастави »