Page images
PDF
EPUB

*

ments which he believes will prove beneficial compose it are already formed, though by no means to the department and to the cause which it all are developed in the sense that they have acquired

the form and connections characteristic of those at represents.

maturity. At the close of embryonic life the sensory For over three years, with the limited time

nerves rapidly extend, and the connection of the cen. at his command, he has conducted the depart- tral cells with limiting surfaces of the body being thus ment in a manner never satisfactory to himself, established, all experiences become those of education but nevertheless in a way that ha- called forth

(Growth of the Brain, page 336).

At birth, and for a long time after, many systems unexpected approval and appreciation.

contain cell elements which are more or less immature, The growth of the magazine and the increas

not forming a functional part of the tissues and yet ing interest in the child study department de- under some conditions capable of further development. mand more attention than he can at present * For the cells continually appearing in the despare from other duties,

veloping cortex no other source is known than the In banding over the responsibilities to an

nuclei or granules found there in its earliest stages.

These elements are metamorphosed neuroblasts which other, the editor has but one regret, and that

have shrunken to a volume less than that which they is that he has been unable to give the attention had at first, and which remain small until, in the subto the department that the importance of the sequent process of enlargement necessary for their full subject warranted. For the future he feels development, they expand into well-marked cells.

Elennents intermediate between these granules and the justified in predicting a still stronger magazine

fully developed cells are always found, even in maas well as a better child study department.

ture brains, and therefore it is inferred that the latter In conclusion he desires to express his ap- are derived from the former. The appearances there preciation to the writers who have so kindly lead also to the conclusions that many elements stop assisted in furnishing material for the depart

short of complete development, that the number of ele

ments which might possibly develop in any given case ment and to the many teachers whose words of

is far beyond the number that actually does so, and encouragement have made the work a pleasure.

that the characteristic appearance of the cortex in the We have just received a copy of the new

various localities depends in a measure on the expanmagazine entitled The Paidologist. It is the

sion of dissimilar layers of the primitive granules (Ib.,

pages 74, 238). organ of the British Child Study Association,

.There is reason to think that in passing down the to be published three times yearly at the un- zoological scale the proportion of undeveloped elements nual subscription 'of ls. 9d. post paid. If vol

would increase, and for this there is positive evidence

(16., page 240). ume 1, number one, of April, 1899, is a fair sample of what the magazine is to be, it will be

Through the fine researches of Hammarberg å worthy addition to child study literature.

we know the appearance of the idiot brain as

The idiot The first number contains seventy-five pages of compared with the normal brain. interesting material. Nearly one-half of the

brain remains in the embryonic or child stage contributions are from such well known Amer

as if it were a case of arrested development. ican writers as G. Stanley Hall, Earl Barnes,

The fortune of extra-organic adaptations inherFrederick Burk, and others. We extend a

ited by him are, for him, of little or no value. hearty welcome to the Paidologist.

He is in the lower stages of development, in which he is almost wholly dependent upon his

inherited organic adaptations. So also the Extra Organic Evolution and Education

early child life is quite determined in its reac

tions, as, for example, the sucking reflex, the PLASTICITY OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM THE NEC- prehensile power of the toes, the suspensory

ESSARY CONDITION OF SOCIAL HEREDITY. power of the arms, etc., by its inherited organic Y potentiality I mean educability. Of the

adaptations In the normal man, however, the nerve cells of the human cortex (let us

latent and potential cells may become develsay from 800 to 1,000 million), all are

oped, related, and interconnected in countless formed before birth. Donaldson writes:

ways, not as the result of organic inheritance, In its size and development the central system is

but as the result of incoming stimuli besieging precocious. Long before birth all the cells destined to the organism and in a way " causing" the new

B

cortical connections. It is not my purpose to pose them to be non-blastogenic, or not inherinvestigate the further meaning of “expe- ent in the nature of the parent. Yet it is not a rience” here; the greater plasticity, modifiabil- tabula rasa which is transmitted; it is rather a ity, and educability of the central nervous sys- seed full of the potentialities of life waiting the tem in man will be accepted by all.

a wakening of external stimuli. Shut off the Thus there is possibly the speedy acquisition stimuli, as in the case of the blind or deaf at of the knowledge of the past by means of tra- birth, and the corresponding brain area will dition, language written and oral, and other notifunction, or, rather, will not function in such means. The latent cells become functional, and a way that psychical life for that sense organ new associational paths are formed which be- will arise. Examination of Laura Bridgman's come, or may become, by the law of habit, just brain showed a deficiency of development in as fixed and, ontogenetically considered, as re- the respective brain areas corresponding to the flex, instinctive, and organic as the most definite deficient organs of sense. Shut off all external inherited reflex action. The absence of this stimuli and the result is "Da bin ich nicht," as accumulated environment, if I may so call it, the boy cited by Struempell asserted. may be seen in the cases of "wild boys”-boys It seems, therefore, that in addition to the who have been brought up in a wild state, as, cells and fibers connected by inheritance, as in for instance, in wolves' dens, etc. Here they instincts, there is a mass of latent or potential have been deprived of all but their organic in- nerve cells and fibers which await connection, heritance. The result is that the she-wolf and which are the physical basis or correlate guards the whelps and the boy with equal care; of the acquired (mental) characteristics. These the boy runs on all fours as fast as the others, “acquired” connections are made between can not speak, but growls and snarls like a nerve cells and fibers not only in the case of young wolf, flies at children, tries to bite them; the association of ideas, but also in the case of sucks up milk and water, never laughs or individual perceptions. From histological resmiles, eats only raw meat, on which he puts searches we have definite ground for believing his hands as a dog puts his fore feet, etc. that in each perception a multitude of cells Many mental and physical characteristics of

function. Even for the sensation of a single the parents are transmitted to their children, red point of light at least two rods and cones such as the color of the eyes and hair, the shape must be excited in the retina, and by the time and size of the finger nails, likeness of features,

these excitations reach the visual area of the bearing, gait, handwriting, a mild and equable cortex the number of cells engaged is mulor passionate and irritable temperament. All tiplied many fold. The intricacy and comsuch are blastogenic, or inherent in the parents. plexity of the cell connections in the perception Man and the lower animals would be huge mon- of an object or landscape must be truly bewil. strosities if all, or the majority, or even a small dering. With such a view, the vast majority part of the acquired characteristicsof our

of our perceptions, if not all, are acquired perancestors were inherited. These “acquired char- ceptions. The intra-cellular associations are acters" on the mental side would be those re

only for life, dissolving at the death of the insulting from the connections or associations dividual, and not appearing in descendants. formed among the potential and latent nerve

The potential elements of the perception, the cells and fibers after they have developed.

cells functioning for the different colors, tones, (Some instincts and organic reactions, of course,

etc., are blastogenic, their connections and come later in life, as in the frog the lung-res

associations constitute the individual “experipiration supervenes on the gill-respirations.)

ence” of the organism, its acquired mental All these acquired characteristics or later asso

characteristics. Such a view is certainly Weisciations we may suppose erased at death and

mannic in tendency. not transmitted by inheritance. We may sup

Some such a theory as the above appears to

be necessary to explain the wonderful advance •C. J. Cornish, " Animals at Work and Play," Macmillan's." 1896,

of modern civilization. It is certainly not explained by any one or all of the three processes nected in myriad ways. With such provisions mentioned above, namely, those of organic, in- in its nervous system the human being can adapt tra-organic, and germinal selection. The or- itself quickly and easily to new and varied genism alone is considered in the main. If the environments. organism were forced to evolve within itself The child thrown among animals and reared by the slow processes of organic, intra-organic, by them is little, if any, better than the animals. and germinal selection all the adaptations nec- If reared by savages (or by the poor!) he remains essary for such a civilization as we have to-day, on the dead level of this parentage. He has the it is obvious that it would take millions of potentialities, but not the proper environment. years, and would finally produce a world- Our mute, inglorious Miltons and village Hampcolossus or impossible gigantic monstrosity. dens lie in many a country churchyard. The

p. 320.

The facts of extra-organic evolution, as pre- child of to-day is heir of all the ages. He need sented in the preceding pages, throw a strong not spend all his life in the hopeless task of dislight upon the principles and processes of edu- covering all the principles of the steam engine. cation. Some points may be here mentioned. With teachers and an inherited environment he

There are, as has been mentioned, some 800,- can learn them in a few months. Where the 000,000 to 1,000,000,000 nerve cells present in human race required ages he takes only a few the human brain four months before birth. months. The child inherits all the extra-organic These are the capital and “talents" of the in- organs slowly and painfully acquired in the dividual. More nerve cells he never acquires. past. He is a master of a large number of them Allowing twenty-five fibres for each cell there

in a few years.

One Robinson Crusoe inheritwould be about 25,000,000,000 fibres in the hu- ing such an environment is equal to a thousand man cortex, additional machinery in the func- Robinson Crusoes each on his little island. It tioning of the nerve cells. But at birth the may be we are all born free and equal, although majority of these nerve cells are undeveloped, the reverse of the statement seems nearer the granular in appearance. As such they appear kingdom of truth; certain it is, however, the to be without any function in the economy of children of the poor do not inherit the same the cortex. Some never develop.. Close up environment and consequently possibilities as any sense-avenue from birth onward and the the children of the rich. And until they do, it area in the cortex, the arrival platform of all may perhaps be wise to restrain the vaunt and excitations from that sense organ will show jubilation over a perfect form of government nerve cells granular in shape and undeveloped. and a perfect system of education. With stimulation from a sense organ the cells It is in this way we inherit social judgments. grow, acquire nutrition, and develop nerve We win but few of them for ourselves. The fibers. Without fibers they resemble tele- vast majority of them are matters of social hegraph stations without telegraph wires. Thus redity. These social judgments are of all kinds. associations are formed between the nerve cells Some are idols of the theater and some are of -the physical basis for association of ideas, the market place. Thus it is also that we infeelings, and actions, in short, the physical herit ideas-you remember the man of straw basis for education.

with which honest John Locke so valiantly conThis large number of nerve cells which await tends. stimulation from without and association is the Institutions are also inherited in this way. necessary basis of all progress in education and Individuals may pass away but “corporations civilization. The bee has, comparatively speak- never die." As extra-organic inheritances we ing, few nerve cells, but the majority of its rapidly acquire the institutions of government, cells are developed and associated at birth as education, religion, art, commerce, and social seen in instincts. What it does, it does well, life. The vast importance of such an inheritance but it can only do a few things. The child is little appreciated, I fear, by the average citihas million-fold possibilities, becanse it pos- Many an heir sells his lordly heritage for sesses millions of nerve cells which may be con- a mess of pottage.

zen.

1899]

THREE SHAPERS OF CHILDHOOD'S GENIUS-SOCIETY, OPPORTUNITY, TRAVEL

439

un

Then again each individual inherits the psycho- been ascribed to its immorality and contempt logical climate of his family, group, school, sect, for the dictates of a high culture religion. The nation, and race. Each family has its distinct deep immorality and low-grade religion or reset of ideas, fears, loves, and hates. So with ligions of the later Rome may rather be reeach school, sect, nation, and race. Each nation garded as a sign and manifestation of the inner has its initiation rites at the age of puberty and degradation of character of the heterogeneous adolescence when the young man becomes a socius horde which still bore the name of Rome. As and heir of the tribal ideas, rights, and duties. masters of the then known world, as tribute A German inheriting the French environment be- receivers from all lands, they were free from comes to a large extent, if not wholly, a French- the struggle for existence. With increasing man with a Frenchman's love of the gay, frolic- luxury came parasitism, and degeneration of some, and aesthetic: Witness the Hausmanns all the powers, including moral and religious and Zurlindens.

notions. “There is unfortunately no way of So also we inherit the language (thought con- deciding whether the Latin

pations are tents) and literature of our nation. Thus it is successful because they are Catholic, or Caththat a child of to-day is far superior to the olic because they are weak in character; in gray barbarian, Destroy the environment and other words, whether it was their race which our descendants return to savagery. The Alar- prevented their going over to Reform in the ics of the past brought a sturdier manhood sixteenth century, or whether it is their rewith them, but they nearly extinguished civili. ligion which makes their race seem feeble." zation for centuries.

(The Nation, November 3, 1898.) Morality and religion are institutions or judg- Lastly, it may be noted that as the environments which undoubtedly, to judge from his- ment becomes more complex, co-ordinated, and torical research, are transmitted by social hered- highly evolved, so those who are born to be the ity. Read, for instance, an excellent treatise heirs of such an environment must needs live on the origin of conscience by Paul Rée (Ensteh- up to it. Those who can not meet the demands ung des Gewissens).

of the environment are the unfortunates of soThese extra-organic adaptations, this social ciety. In this way the highest abilities are heredity of institutions, morality, religions, lan- brought out and educated. Our inherited language, etc., are all subject to the laws of or- guage, institutions, society, etc., are not only ganic evolution, struggle for existence, advanta- our handmaids and ministers, but also the most geous variations, heredity, survival of the fittest, invaluable of instructors ånd educators. etc. The useless, as the weakest, goes to the

ARTHUR ALLIN, wall. Adaptability, advantageousness, or util

University of Colorado. ity, considered from the standpoint of the race, Boulder, Col. is, everywhere, the final test of the fittest. For example, religion. Religion, like everything Three Shapers of Childhood's Genius-else, if disadvantageous, causes the rejection and

Society, Opportunity, Travel downfall of its possessors. Religion, like the ENIUS is, in many respects, the most reSabbath, was made for man, not man for re

markable product of human evolution, ligion. The Baal and Ast:rte worship of the

and nowhere is it so abundantly and so Phoenicians, with its licentiousness, brutal im- wonderfully manifest as in the years of childmolation of infants, and religious prostitution hood. It has its source in the deepest springs was most certainly an important factor in the of human life and is kept pure and strong by degradation of morals and character and in the the cosmic truth, goodness and beauty, aided consequent downfall of the Phoenician people. by the best, the truest, and the most beautiful The generalization is, however, too often rashly that there is in man and in men. made that a nation sinks below a high culture That genius is so frequently synchronous level because of the growing corruption of its with childhood alone is rather the fault of man religion. Thus the downfall of Rome has often than that of Nature, the imperfections of human

G

SOCIETY

society destroying where the great Mother fain the standard of their merit," but not yet learned would build.

how to remove from the genius the reproach of In this brief essay an attempt will be made having been “born by accident," or how to be to discuss the nature and import of three great sure he will turn out hero or philosopher rather shapers of genius: society, opportunity, travel. than lunatic or criminal. In an age when so There are other factors, but these are of prime many efforts are put forth to establish an arissignificance.

tocracy of intellect, we are in great danger of

forgetting that brain can be as debased as La Bruyère said of genius: “These men

blood, and of burdening the child with another

Mere intellect can run sterhave neither ancestors nor descendents; they man-made fetter. themselves form their entire posterity.” The

ile no less than blood. For the production of childlessness of men of genius, we are told, is

true genius, moral, temperate, honest, lovable, only less remarkable than the fact that they religious ancestors are more needful than an have so often been able to claim but a physical immediate parentage of college graduates. A ancestry and have left behind them so rarely mother who believes in her child is better than children of their minds, not of their bodies

one who talks Greek; a father who will not alone. But exact genealogical studies are

get drunk, than one who has a doctor's degree. slowly but surely revealing to us the truth

The best home-environment is done too good about these matters, and the history of the line

for even the worst child, and a divorce annuls of Titian in art and of Darwin in science dem

the good influence of a host of learned fore-fa

thers onstrates the great possibilities which good an

Dress-suits and pink-teas, loyalty to the cestry and right environment can perpetuate principles of the visiting-card and the clubthrough the centuries. As we come to know

room are poor substitutes for sexual hygiene, more about the birth of genius, we shall talk

are pretty mean preparations for parenthood. less about its extinction. When society recog

The ethics of but too many households are the nizes to the full its share in the production of touchstone that turns the child-genius into the genius, it will not so complacently view the child-criminal, for the object-lesson of mother process of its elimination. To the genius, no

and father is never altogether lost upon their less than to the ordinary child (but why ordi- offspring. Mother, father, love, friendship, nary, since all childhood is really genial?) soci

when we consider what, in the past, genius has ety owes a life with less of toil, hardship, and achieved without one, or even all of these, the misery than generally falls to his lot. True is glory of genius born to these as its rightful it that

dower dazzles our conception! It was Goethe “The stars shoot

who said: “If children grew up according to An equal influence on th' open cottage,

early indications, we should have nothing but Where the poor shepherd's child is rudely nurs'a,

geniuses," and if races had followed untramAs on the cradle where the prince is rock'd With care and whisper.”

meled and unimpeded the pathways blazed for But Nature's good and equal service is es

them through the prolongation of human intopped by the inadequate response of human fancy, Greece, at the moment of her greatest devices and institutions.

glory would be exceeded by every human civilAgain, each child is all the race.

ization of to-lay. We ought surely not to be may say, with some measure of certainty:

more surprised at the failure of children to be“Thou, little Child, art Beast and God,

come geniuses than at the failure of races to Past and Futurity;

become civilized. Man, woman, child, that is, Thou tread’st the paths our fathers trod, as Canton has sung, the succession of God's The paths our sons must see.”

creations, and the third creation, “the best, the Here, once more, Nature is placed at a disad- loveliest, the most divine” of all, bas a right to vantage by the weaknesses of human society. the influence of the inestimable plus that acWe have learned "to judge of men by their crues to the union of the best man and the best deeds,” and not to “make the accident of birth woman in the world. The togetherness of the

For we

« PreviousContinue »