BEFORE reaching the age of reason, the child's needs are purely animal;

it requires to be fed, clothed and provided with the general

necessities of life. Every child has a natural right that its young

life be fostered and protected; the giver must preserve his gift,

otherwise his gift is vain. To neglect this duty is a sin, not

precisely against the fourth, but rather against the fifth, commandment

which treats of kill
ng and kindred acts.

When the mind begins to open and the reasoning faculties to develop,

the duty of educating the child becomes incumbent on the parent. As its

physical, so its intellectual, being must be trained and nourished. And

by education is here meant the training of the young mind, the bringing

out of its mental powers and the acquisition of useful knowledge,

without reference to anything moral or religious. This latter feature--

the most important of all deserves especial attention.

Concerning the culture of the mind, it is a fact, recognized by all,

that in this era of popular rights and liberties, no man can expect to

make anything but a meagre success of life, if he does that much,

without at least a modicum of knowledge and intellectual training. This

is an age in which brains are at a high premium; and although brains

are by no means the monopoly of the cultured class, they must be

considered as non-existent if they are not brought out by education.

Knowledge is what counts nowadays. Even in the most common walks of

life advancement is impossible without it. This is one reason why

parents, who have at heart the future success and well-being of their

children, should strive to give them as good an education as their

means allow.

Their happiness here is also concerned. If he be ignorant and untaught,

a man will be frowned at, laughed at, and be made in many ways, in

contact with his fellow-men, to feel the overwhelming inferiority of

his position. He will be made unhappy, unless he chooses to keep out of

the way of those who know something and associate with those who know

nothing--in which case he is very liable to feel lonesome.

He is moreover deprived of the positive comforts and happiness that

education affords. Neither books nor public questions will interest

him; his leisure moments will be a time of idleness and unbearable

tedium; a whole world--the world of the mind--will be closed to him,

with its joys, pleasures and comforts which are many.

Add to this the fact that the Maker never intended that the noble

faculty of the intelligence should remain an inert element in the life

of His creature, that this precious talent should remain buried in the

flesh of animal nature. Intelligence alone distinguishes us from the

brute; we are under obligation to perfect our humanity. And since

education is a means of doing this, we owe it to our nature that we

educate ourselves and have educated those who are under our care.

How long should the child be kept at school? The law provides that

every child attend school until it reaches the age of fourteen. This

law appears to be reasonable and just, and we think that in ordinary

circumstances it has the power to bind in conscience. The parent

therefore who neglects to keep children at school we account guilty of

sin, and of grievous sin, if the neglect be notable.

Outside this provision of the law, we think children should be kept at

school as long as it is possible and prudent to do so. This depends, of

course, on the means and resources of the parents. They are under no

obligation to give to their children an education above what their

means allow. Then, the aptitudes, physical and mental, of the child are

a factor to be considered. Poor health or inherited weakness may forbid

a too close application to studies, while it may be a pure waste of

time and money to keep at school a child that will not profit by the

advantage offered. It is better to put such a child at work as soon as

possible. As says the philosopher of Archey Road: "You may lead a young

man to the university, but you cannot make him learn."

Outside these contingencies, we think every child has a right to a

common school education, such as is given in our system under the high

school, whether it be fourteen years of age or over. Reading and

writing, grammar and arithmetic, history and geography, these are the

fundamental and essential elements of a common school education; and in

our time and country, a modicum of information on these subjects is

necessary for the future well-being, success and happiness of our

children. And since parents are bound to care for the future of their

children, we consider them likewise bound to give them such an

education as will insure these blessings.