I'm reading Teaching Without Failure, the book compiled by the Marietta Johnson Museum in Fairhope, comprising Youth in a World of Men and Thirty Years with an Idea, the two books Mrs. Johnson wrote. Some of what is in this is exactly what we have been discussing on this blog so I thought I'd share it.
One of our commenters said he had no idea what the word perfection means as it relates to human behavior or experience -- he said in the "Comments" section on his blog, not this one -- and didn't seem to think anyone had ever considered perfection a goal. Mrs. Johnson writes, "If education is to become a conscious agent of building a better world, it must emphasize the all-round life of the learner. Of course, one should read and spell accurately and use numbers correctly. It is important one should have one's facts at command. But education has been too engrossed in marshaling facts, of drilling the young and emphasizing skill and information. If education devoted itself utterly to providing the right conditions of growth, the aim would be immediate, that every child should live as perfect a life as it is possible for him to live now.
..."'When I was a child I spake as a child, I thought as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.' We are still acting on the child plane. We have not yet come into man's estate. In our emotional-spiritual lives, we are still individualistic, personal, selfish. We must become universal, impersonal, unselfish. Education must be a positive force of saving regenerative power, given to every child the best opportunity for the fullest development, the most complete realization.
"Every problem which now confronts civilization will be solved eventually only by education. All the problems of labor are, no doubt, due to lack of development. Henry George pointed out years ago that all social problems are due to ignorance, indifference, or contempt of human rights." [Happy Labor Day, readers! -- Mary Lois] "A fully developed individual earnestly seeks to understand the rights of others, and is keenly interested to see that fundamental justice prevails. The waves of crime which so often sweep over us are proof of the wrong conditions of growth. All bitterness in religious controversy indicates arrested development. All race prejudice is also due to undevelopment; our international problems will be solved when man comes into the full stature of manhood."
I need not remind you that this was written in the 1920's, before Hitler had come to full power (Mrs. Johnson was fond of saying that Julius Caesar and Napoleon were cases of arrested development). The social problems she faced were daunting, but she felt we would be close to having them solved by now, because the answers were so obvious to her and so many of her education colleagues. I am always brought up short by something I read in this book, and I recommend it to anyone interested in finding the Fairhope that once was or a fair hope for the future of society. The book is sold at the Marietta Johnson Museum, if you happen to be in Fairhope (it's open between 2-4 P.M., in the old Bell Building on what is now the campus of Faulkner Community College, but I would think it would be closed today). If you want to order it online, just click here.
And take it easy today. It's Labor Day.