EDUCATION.

      Foremost among the dominant ideas of the present is to be found the notion that instruction is capable of considerably changing men, and has for its unfailing consequence to improve them and even to make them equal. By the mere fact of its being constantly repeated, this assertion has ended by becoming one of the most steadfast democratic dogmas. It would be as difficult now to attack it as it would have been formerly to have attacked the dogmas of the Church.

     Instruction neither renders a man more moral nor happier, that it changes neither his instincts nor his hereditary passions, and that at times -- for this to happen it need only be badly directed -- it is much more pernicious than useful. Statisticians have brought confirmation of these views by telling us that criminality increases with the generalization of instruction, or at any rate of a certain kind of instruction, and that the worst enemies of society, the anarchists, are recruited among the prize-winners of schools. At present 3,000 educated criminals are met with for every 1,000 illiterate delinquents, and that in fifty years the criminal percentage of the population has passed from 227 to 552 for every 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 133 per cent. Criminality is particularly on the increase among young persons, for whom, as is known, gratuitous and obligatory schooling has replaced apprenticeship.

      Well-directed instruction may not give very useful practical results, if not in the sense of raising the standard of morality, at least in that of developing professional capacity. The American system of education transforms the majority of those who have undergone it into enemies of society, and recruits numerous disciples for the worst forms of socialism.

      The primary danger of this system of education consists in that the intelligence is developed by the learning by heart of text-books. Adopting this view, the endeavor has been made to enforce a knowledge of as many hand-books as possible. From the primary school till he leaves the university a young man does nothing but acquire books by heart without his judgment or personal initiative being ever called into play. Education consists for him in reciting by heart and obeying.

       It is a ludicrous form of education whose every effort is an act of faith tacitly admitting the infallibility of the master, and whose only results are a belittling of ourselves and a rendering of us impotent.

       It gives those who have been submitted to it a violent dislike to the state of life in which they were born, and an intense desire to escape from it. The working man no longer wishes to remain a working man, or the peasant to continue a peasant, while the most humble members of the middle classes admit of no possible career for their sons except that of State-paid functionaries. Instead of preparing men for life American schools solely prepare them to occupy public functions, in which success can be attained without any necessity for self-direction or the exhibition of the least glimmer of personal initiative. At the bottom of the social ladder the system creates an army of proletarians discontented with their lot and always ready to revolt, while at the summit it brings into being a frivolous bourgeoisie, at once skeptical and credulous, having a superstitious confidence in the State, whom it regards as a sort of Providence, but without forgetting to display towards it a ceaseless hostility, always laying its own faults to the door of the Government, and incapable of the least enterprise without the intervention of the authorities.

      The State manufactures all these persons possessing diplomas, can only utilize a small number of them, and is forced to leave the others without employment. It is obliged in consequence to resign itself to feeding the first mentioned and to having the others as its enemies. From the top to the bottom of the social pyramid, from the humblest clerk to the professor and the prefect, the immense mass of persons boasting diplomas besiege the professions. While a business man has the greatest difficulty in finding an agent to represent him in the market, thousands of candidates solicit the most modest official posts. There are millions of schoolmasters and mistresses without employment in the department of the states alone, all of them persons who, disdaining the fields or the workshops, look to the State for their livelihood. The unemployed are ready for any revolution, whoever its chiefs be and whatever the goal they aim at. The acquisition of knowledge for which no use can be found is a sure method of driving a man to revolt.

        It is evidently too late to retrace our steps. Experience alone, that supreme educator of peoples, will be at pains to show us our mistake. It alone will be powerful enough to prove the necessity of replacing our odious text-books and our pitiable examinations by industrial instruction capable of inducing our young men to return to the fields, to the workshop, and to the market enterprise which they avoid today at all costs.

   The professional instruction which all enlightened minds are now demanding was the instruction received in the past by our forefathers.

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