The Education of Character
Psalm 144:11-15
Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaks vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:…

: —

1. Let me speak, first, to parents and to teachers. What ideals have we as parents for our children; and what ideals have we as to the kind of education which will best secure these ideals? I think it is true that we as a nation have an unreasoning distrust of ideals. We know ourselves strictly practical, and we condemn ideals as visionary and futile. But is it visionary, is it useless to try to form some notion of the best and truest and completest life possible for our children, and the best means of attaining it? What would we wish their lives to be? How may they best be trained for such lives? Knowledge, we say, is power; and too often it seems to be that the acquisition of knowledge is the goal of education. Our ideas of education are shaped by the periodical visit of the examiner or the inspector. The temptation is to aim at immediate results and plant the kind of crop which will spring up quickly and be easily harvested, rather than at such patient development and training of powers as will produce solid and permanent results, though we may have to wait for the harvest. But there is a greater power than knowledge — it is character. What tells in the long run is character. True education will be such a training as will draw out, develop, strengthen the faculties which each child possesses to fit it for its duty in life. It will aim at awakening intelligence and stimulating the growth of character. It will take account of the mysterious complexity of our nature — body, mind, soul, spirit — with their mysterious correlation and interaction, so that a due balance may be preserved; the flesh help soul, and the soul help flesh. It will remember, too, that each human being is a distinct personality, and true education is the individual's development according to the truth of his own personality, or for the action which lies within range of his capacity. Such education of the character must be religious education — that is to say, it must be carried on in a religious atmosphere by teachers who regard it as a religious work and connect their teaching by their own examples. Religious education is not merely or mainly instruction in religious subjects, in Bible or Catechism for a certain time in the day, but education carried on in a religious spirit. "If I were to have to choose," said Bishop Creighton, "between two systems of education, in one of which purely secular teaching was to be given by a religious man, and in the other religious teaching by a secular man, I should have no hesitation in saying which system I would choose in the interest of religion as well as education. I would rather have the religious-minded leader though the subject he taught were secular, because I know that the devotion of his heart would penetrate whatever he did, and perchance the fire that was in him might fall on others with whom he came in contact, and kindle a corresponding flame in their hearts." Our ideal, then, will be an education which will develop the individual personality of each separate child for the action which lies within the range of its capacity, which will aim, above all, at the development of worthy character, and which will find its sanction and obligation for conduct in the relation of the child to its Father in heaven, who has taken it into covenant with Him.

2. I want to say a word, next, to those who, though not yet in a position of responsibility towards others, have left school and are emancipated from the discipline of education imposed upon them from outside. You are responsible for self-education. To each of us is entrusted the building up of our own character; to fulfil that duty we must not only guard against moral faults, we must improve every talent we possess, we must widen our interests, we must sharpen our faculties careful effort. And why? For your own sake. Many a life has been wrecked for want of taking a chart and setting a course and steering steadily along it with steady purpose instead of passing hither and thither, the sport of every wind and circumstance, until it was driven upon some sandbank, where it stuck fast hopelessly or was dashed to pieces against the rocks, which if they had known they might have avoided.

3. I just want to say one word to those who are still under the discipline of school life. Boys and girls, use your opportunities. It matters quite as much how you learn as what you learn; perhaps more. By the way in which you do your lessons you are surely acquiring, mentally and morally, habits of attention, concentration, thoughtfulness, industry, trustworthiness principally, or habits of carelessness, desultoriness, slackness, indolence, indifference. There are plenty of lessons which will not be of any direct use to you in after life; there are none which will not have served some useful purpose in developing intelligence and building up character.

(Prof. Kirkpatrick.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:

WEB: Rescue me, and deliver me out of the hands of foreigners, whose mouths speak deceit, whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

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