- 更新于：2020-04-29 11:17:23
That is just what irritates the capitalist reformers of our public school system. Since the children of the poor are going to be factory hands, what is the use of their having learned to be free men? They might as well have learned Greek and Latin, for all the use it is going to be to them!
And that is why you must exercise your choice. The merits are not quite all on one side of the question. There are disadvantages in the democratic[Pg 86] plan of education. These disadvantages have nowhere been made more clear than by H. G. Wells in his fantastic scientific parable, “The First Men in the Moon.” You will remember that his explorers visited the Moon in a queer sort of air-craft, and found there a people with institutions quite unlike our own. They too, however, had classes, and they had solved the problem of the education of these classes in a forthright manner which is utterly unlike our timid human compromises. One of the visitors from Earth thus describes the Lunar System:
“In the Moon ... every citizen knows his place. He is born to that place, and the elaborate discipline of training and education and surgery he undergoes fits him at last so completely to it that he has neither ideas nor organs for any purpose beyond it. ‘Why should he?’ Phi-oo would ask. If, for example, a Selenite is destined to be a mathematician, his teachers and trainers set out at once to that end. They check the incipient disposition to other pursuits, they encourage his mathematical bias with a perfect physiological skill. His brain grows, or at least the mathematical faculties of his brain grow, and the rest of him only so much as is necessary to sustain this essential part of him. At last, save for rest[Pg 87] and food, his one delight lies in the exercise and display of his faculty, his one interest in its application, his sole society with other specialists in his own line. His brain grows continually larger, at least so far as the portions engaging in mathematics are concerned; they bulge ever larger and seem to suck all life and vigour from the rest of his frame; his limbs shrivel, his heart and digestive organs diminish, his insect face is hidden under its bulging contours. His voice becomes a mere stridulation for the stating of formulae; he seems dead to all but properly enunciated problems.... And so he attains his end....
“The bulk of these insects, however, ... are, I gather, of the operative [working] class. ‘Machine hands,’ indeed, some of these are in actual nature—it is no figure of speech; the single tentacle of the mooncalf-herdsman is profoundly modified for clawing, lifting, guiding, the rest of them no more than necessary subordinate appendages to these important parts ... others again have flat feet for treadles, with ankylosed joints; and others—who I have been told are glass-blowers—seem mere lung-bellows. But every one of these common Selenites I have seen at work is exquisitely adapted to the social need it meets....
[Pg 88]“The making of these various sorts of operatives must be a very curious and interesting process.... Quite recently I came upon a number of young Selenites confined in jars from which only the fore limbs protruded, who were being compressed to become machine minders of a special sort. The extended ‘hand’ in this highly developed system of technical education is stimulated by irritants and nourished by injections, while the rest of the body is starved. Phi-oo, unless I misunderstood him, explained that in the earlier stages these queer little creatures are apt to display signs of suffering in their various cramped situations, but they easily become indurated to their lot; and he took me on to where a number of flexible-limbed messengers were being drawn out and broken in. It is quite unreasonable, I know, but such glimpses of the educational methods of these beings affect me disagreeably. I hope, however, that may pass off, and I may be able to see more of this aspect of their wonderful social order. That wretched looking hand-tentacle sticking out of its jar seemed to have a sort of limp appeal for lost possibilities; it haunts me still, although, of course, it is really in the end a far more humane proceeding than our earthly[Pg 89] method of leaving children to grow into human beings and then making machines of them.”
The Lunar system has indeed much to be said for it; and the capitalist plan of wage-slave education has at least the merit of being a definite step in that direction.