Character and the Conduct of Life: Practical Psychology for Everyman

By William McDougall | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
Modifications of Original Disposition

I HAVE mentioned above that the native tendencies are strengthened by use. It is probably true also that through long disuse they decline in strength.

The strengthening of tendencies through exercise is a fact the recognition of which is of the first importance for parents and all who have to do with children, as well as for self-discipline. The failure to understand and the neglect of the principles implied are responsible for much unhappiness and many distortions of development.

The traditional English system proceeds on the hardening principle. Throw the boy into the water and he will soon get over his fear and learn to swim; that is the time‐ honoured principle of the preparatory and public schools. A little bullying will do him good, and a little fighting will make a man of him. Yes, in many cases the system works out pretty well and turns out the public-school type; manly, and able to hold its own, to "get on" with others of its own type; but a little coarse-grained and, when it has to live as an equal among men of different antecedents, intolerant, ill-mannered and unadaptable, apt to make itself disliked. Hence, in the English uni

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