Judaism Eternal: Selected Essays from the Writings of Samson Raphael Hirsch - Vol. 1

By I. Grunfeld; Samson Raphael Hirsch | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XV
ON THE PLACE OF ETHICAL TRAINING IN SCHOOL EDUCATION1

MEN who have the welfare of mankind truly at heart, in whose ears the cry of misery which goes up from human souls cheated of their happiness on earth is not drowned by the songs of praise offered up to the brilliant intellectual achievements of modern times, are often haunted by the thought that the human genius must lower its head in mourning as long as the net result of our culture is not greater and more widely- diffused human happiness. Such men have often asked, particularly with reference to the school system, this breeding- ground of all human hopes for the future: judging by present trends, is all our work in the training of our youth capable of truly promoting the happiness of mankind in the future? Do our schools foster these elements on which man's happiness on earth truly depends? Or have schools rather not always emphasised too much the pursuit of "knowledge and skill", the development of the intellectual and constructive powers? Are they not increasingly forced by the constantly growing requirements in the fields of knowledge and skill to concentrate nearly all their activities on this sphere, and do they not thereby run the risk of losing sight of certain very important factors, of allowing them to wither away, or even of counteracting them by the energies which in their educational work they devote to the imparting of knowledge and skill? And yet, on these other factors might there not, in the last resort, depend the question whether our sons and daughters, though fully equipped with knowledge and skill, can or will yet obtain that measure of joie de vivre which the compassionate Father of humanity has

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1
This essay first appeared in a brochure prepared on the occasion of a "Speech Day" of the schools of the Synagogal Association, "Israelitische Religions- gesellschaft" at Frankfurt-an-Main (modern secondary schools for boys and girls). These schools were established in 1853 on the initiative of the author and on the basis of his scheme which combines religious and secular education intimately and systematically, and were conducted by him for a period of 24 years.

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