Education: A First Book

By Edward L. Thorndike | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE AIMS OF EDUCATION (concluded)

§ 6. Happiness

It is a paradox in educational theory that although everybody admits that the happiness of the world is an important ultimate aim, attempts to make schools minister at all directly to the happiness of scholars are often decried as undignified, 'soft pedagogy,' trifling with the serious work of education. To give them habits that will make them happy when they are forty, is allowable, even desirable, but to make them happy while they are in school is treated as a sentimental weakness.

Prejudices against happiness.

But certainly if the direct present happiness of children does not conflict with the ultimate ends of education, it is wholly desirable, and even if it does conflict somewhat, it has a right to be put in the balance against future goods and chosen if it outweighs them. It would be the acme of wicked folly if we denied little children happiness for no purpose. And it would be a brutal consequence of adult control of education if we failed to give children their kind of happiness merely because, as adults, we did not ourselves value it as highly as their happiness when old. Yet, just this folly

-19-

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