UIHistories Project: A History of the University of Illinois by Kalev Leetaru
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Repository: UIHistories Project: Board of Trustees Minutes - 1878 [PAGE 198]

Caption: Board of Trustees Minutes - 1878
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198 such claim. The object aimed at is avowedly moral rather than educational. It is to keep up the habit of manual labor that the system is enforced. A measurable success can be secured for the scheme when it is made a central point, and when all the force of the institution is held tributary to it—but it may well be questioned whether the result is worth the price that is paid for it. For my own part I am convinced that it is not—and I should feel that if the manual element in education were linked to this scheme, to stand or fall with it, its fortunes were already lost. W h a t is needed is a system that shall give manual training in an educational way, and that can justify its introduction into an educational course on educational grounds. There is no country in the world where such a system is needed as much as in our own, and at no previous time in our history has the demand been so imperative as it is to-day. Light comes at last from an unexpected quarter—Imperial Russia leads the way in the establishment of a system of hand training that admits of being taught by the same methods by which chemistry and geometry are taught—in classes and by system. Massachusetts, always the pioneer in the things that concern education, has already demonstrated the practicability of the system in American education. The practicability seems to me the only point involved—for the desirability of some system that shall reach this result, is beyond question. I believe that the duty and interest of the institutions founded to promote industrial education, alike demand that they shall enter at once upon this work, even though it may still be counted in tha experimental stage. The bearings of such training on American life are so numerous and so important, that we have no right to demand the pledges of assured success before making trial of it. Risks may well be pardoned here. But is the practical education to be provided entirely embraced within the limits of such branches as have been already named? Are there not other branches that can be styled practical by as good a right— that show themselves practical by as many tests and that, therefore, make a just demand for a place in a practical curriculum? W h a t shall be said of the study of languages—especially of our own? Is not the power to make clear, accurate, intelligible statements of wThat we know or what we think a practical power? Does not our education show itself glaringly defective when it leaves us without this ability? Men with knowledge and ideas, but without the pow7er of adequate expression, like lumber wTagons loaded with gold, never pass for what they are worth in the world. But this power to use language with precision and efficiency, and still more the ability to endue it with persuasive force, does not come to us in dreams. There is no royal road, no short cut to good English. It is one of the choice fruits of education. If obtained at all it must be bought with a price, the same price that is paid for solid attainments in any other departments of knowledge—patient and extended study. Can such study be left out of a practical curriculum? Again, is not the training that enables us to detect a flaw in a definition, or a fallacy in an argument, as directly practical as the