The Conquest of Happiness, 1930, by Bertrand Russell (full text)
Bertrand Russell's American Essays, v.1 (full text)
The Aurobiography of Bertrand Russell (full text, excluding correspondences)
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Bertrand Russell Quotes 366
of amber snuff-box justly vain, And the nice conduct of a clouded cane.His education had been ornamental in the narrowest sense, and in our age few of us are rich enough to be content with his accomplishments. The ideal of an 'omamental' education in the old sense is aristocratic: it presupposes a class with plenty of money and no need to work. Fine gentlemen and fine ladies are charming to contemplate in history; their memoirs and their country houses give us a certain kind of pleasure which we no longer provide for our posterity. But their excellences, even when real, were by no means, supreme, and they were an incredibly expensive product; Hogarth's Gin Lane gives a vivid idea of the price that was paid for them. No one nowadays would advocate an ornamental education in this narrow sense.
'I know well of what feeling this is the expression; it originates in that proud notion of personal independence which is neither reasonable nor Christian, but essentially barbarian. It visited Europe with all the curses of the age of chivalry, and is threatening us now with those of Jacobinism . . . At an age when it is almost impossible to find a true manly sense of the degradation of guilt or faults, where is the wisdom of encouraging a fantastic sense of the degradation of personal correction? What can be more false, or more adverse to the simplicity, sobriety and humbleness of mind, which are the best ornament of youth, and the best promise of a noble manhood.'The pupils of his disciples, not unnaturally, believe in flogging natives of India when they are deficient in 'humbleness of mind'.
'It is almost awful to look at the overwhelming beauty around me, and then think of moral evil; it seems as if heaven and hell, instead of being separated by a great gulf from one another, were absolutely on each other's confines, and indeed not far from every one of us. Might the sense of moral evil be as strong in me as my delight in external beauty, for in a deep sense of moral evil, more perhaps than in anything else, abides a saving knowledge of God! It is not so much to admire moral good; that we may do, and yet not be ourselves conformed to it; but if we really do abhor that which is evil, nor the persons in whom evil resides, but the evil which dwelleth in them, and much more manifestly and certainly to our own knowledge, in our own hearts - this is to have the feeling of God and of Christ, and to have our Spirit in sympathy with the Spirit of God. Alas! how easy to see this and say it - how hard to do it and to feel it! Who is sufficient for these things? No one, but he who feels and really laments his own insufficiency. God bless you, my dearest wife, and our beloved children, now and evermore, through Christ Jesus.'It is pathetic to see this naturally kindly gentleman lashing himself into a mood of sadism, in which he can flog little boys without compunction, and all under the impression that he is conforming to the religion of Love. It is pathetic when we consider the deluded individual; but it is tragic when we think of the generations of cruelty that he put into the worldt by creating an atmosphere of abhorrence of 'moral evil', which, it will be remembered, includes habitual idleness in children. I shudder when I think of the wars, the tortures, the oppressions, of which upright men have been guilty, under the impression that they were righteously castigating 'moral evil'. Mercifully, educators no longer regard little children as limbs of Satan. There is still too much of this view in dealings with adults, particularly in the punishment of crime; but in the nursery and the school it has almost disappeared. '
He will watch from dawn to gloom The lake-reflected sun illume The yellow-bees in the ivy bloom Nor heed nor see what things they be.These habits are praiseworthy in a poet, but not - shall we say - in a postman. We cannot therefore frame our education with a view to giving every one the temperament of a poet. But some characteristics are universally desirable, and it is these alone that I shall consider at this stage. I make no distinction whatever between male and female excellence. A certain amount of occupational training is desirable for a woman who is to have the care of babies, but that only involves the same sort of difference as there is between a farmer and a miller. It is in no degree fundamental, and does not demand consideration at our present level.
The special significance of this form of fear, particularly in early childhood, has escaped the notice of the older school of child-psychologists ; it has lately been established by Groos and by us. "Fear of the unaccustomed seems to be more a part of primitive nature than fear of a known danger" (Groos, p. 284). If the child meets with anything that does not fit in with the familiar course of his perception, three things are possible. Either the impression is so alien that it is simply rejected as a foreign body, and consciousness takes no notice of it. Or the interruption of the usual course of perception is pronounced enough to attract attention but not so violent as to effect disturbance ; it is rather surprise, desire for knowledge, the beginning of all thought, judgment, inquiry. or, lastly, the new suddenly breaks in upon the old with violent intensity, throws familiar ideas into unexpected confusion without a possibility of an immediate practical adjustment ; then follows a shock with a strong affective-tone of displeasure, the fear of the mysterious (uncanny). Groos now has pointed out with keen insight that this fear of the uncanny is also distinctly founded on instinctive fear ; it corresponds to a biological necessity which works from one generation to the next.
As to punishments, we have many times come in contact with children who disturbed the others without paying attention to our corrections. Such children were at once examined by the physician. When the case proved to be that of a normal child, we placed one of the little tables in a corner of the room, and in this way isolated the child ; having him sit in a comfortable little arm-chair, so placed that he might see his companions at work, and giving him those games and toys to which he was most attracted. This isolation almost always succeeded in calming the child ; from his position he could see the entire assembly of his companions, and the way in which they carried on their work was an object lesson much more efficacious than any words of the teacher could possibly have been. Little by little, he would come to see the advantages of being one of the company working so busily before his eyes, and he would really wish to go back and do as the others did. We have in this way led back again to discipline all the children who at first seemed to rebel against it. The isolated child was always made the object of special care, almost as if he were ill. I myself, when I entered the room, went first of all directly to him, as if he were a very little child. Then I turned my attention to the others, interesting myself in their work, asking questions about it as if they had been little men. I do not know what happened in the soul of these children whom we found it necessary to discipline, but certainly the conversion was always very complete and lasting. They showed great pride in learning how to work and how to conduct themselves and always showed a very tender affection for the teacher and for me. (note: The Montessori Method, Heinemann, 1912, p.103.)
They are nearly all tall, straight children. All are straight, indeed, if not tall, but the average is a big, well-made child with clean skin, bright eyes, and silky hair. He or she is a little above the average of the best type of well-to-do child of the upper middle class. So much for his or her physique. Mentally he is alert, sociable, eager for life and new experience. He can read and spell perfectly, or almost perfectly. He writes well and expresses himself easily. He speaks good English and also French. He can not only help himself, but he or she has for years helped younger children : and he can count and measure and design and has had some preparation for science. His first years were spent in an atmosphere of love and calm and fun, and his last two years were full of interesting experiences and experiment. He knows about a garden, and has planted and watered, and taken care of plants as well as animals. The seven-year-old can dance, too, and sing and play many games. Such are the children who will soon present themselves in thousands at the junior schools' doors. What is to be done with them? I want to point out, first of all, that the elementary school teachers' work will be changed by this sudden uprush of clean and strong young life from below. Either the nursery school will be a paltry thing, that is to say a new failure, or else it will soon influence not only elementary schools but also the secondary. It will provide a new kind of children to be educated, and this must react sooner or later, not only on all the schools, but on all our social life, on the kind of government and laws framed for the people, and on the relation of our nation to other nations.】
The nursery child has a fairly good physique. Not only do his neighbours in the slum fall far short of him: his "betters" in good districts, the middle-class children, of a very good type, fall short of him. It is clear that something more than parental love and "parerltal responsibility" are wanted. Rules of thumb have all broken down. "parental love" without knowledge has broken down. Child nurture has not broken down. It is very highly skilled work. 【https://russell-j.com/beginner/OE13-050.HTM】
A nursery school of 100 Children can be run to-day at an annual cost of ￡12 per head, and of this sum the parents in the poorest quarters can pay one-third. A nursery school staffed by students will cost more, but the greater part of the increased cost would be paid as fees and maintenance of future teachers. An open-air nursery and training centre, numbering in all about 100 children and 30 students, costs, as nearly as makes no difference, ￡2,200 per annum.One more quotation :
One great result of the nursery school will be that the children can get faster through the curriculum of to-day. When they are half or two-thirds through the present elementary school life they will be ready to go on to more advanced work. ... In short, the nursery school, if it is a real place of nurture, and not merely a place where babies are "minded" till they are five, will affect our whole educational system very powerfully and very rapidly. It will quickly raise the possible level of culture and attainment in all schools, beginning with the junior schools. It will prove that this welter of disease and misery in which we live, and which makes the doctor's service loom bigger than the teacher's, can be swept away. It will make the heavy walls, the terrible gates, the hard playground, the sunless and huge class-room look monstrous, as they are. It will give teachers a chance.The nursery school occupies an intermediate position between early training of character and subsequent giving of instruction. It carries on both at once, and each by the help of the other, with instruction gradually taking a larger share as the child grows older. It was in institutions having a similar function that Madame Montessori perfected her methods. In certain large tenement houses in Rome a large room was set apart for the children between three and seven, and Madame Montessori was put in charge of these "Children's Houses". (note: See Montessori, The Montessori Method (Heinemann, I9I2), pp 42ff.) As in Deptford, the children came from the very poorest section of the population; as in Deptford, the results showed that early care can overcome the physical and mental disadvantages of a bad home.
I had rather be a dog and bay the moon Than such a Roman.Children who take part in performing Julius Caesar or The Merchant of Venice, or any other suitable play, will not only know their own parts, but most of the other parts as well, The play will be in their thoughts for a long time, and all by way of enjoyment. After all, good literature is intended to give pleasure, and if children cannot be got to derive pleasure from it they are hardly likely to derive benefit either. For these reasons I should confine the teaching of literature, in early years, to the learning of parts for acting. The rest should consist of voluntary reading of well-written stories, obtainable in the school library. People nowadays write silly, sentimental stuff for children, which insults them by not taking them seriously. Contrast the intense seriousness of Robinson Crusoe. Sentimentality, in dealing with children and elsewhere, is a failure of dramatic sympathy. No child thinks it charming to be childish ; he wants, as soon as possible, to learn to behave like a grown-up person. Therefore a book for children ought never to display a patronizing pleasure in childish ways. The artificial silliness of many modern children's books is disgusting. It must either annoy a child, or puzzle and confuse his impulse towards mental grow. For this reason, the best books for children are those that happen to suit them, though written for grown-up people. The only exceptions are books written for children, but delightful also to grown-up people, such as those of Lear and Lewis Carroll.