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Education: How Old The New   By: (1865-1942)

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[Transcriber's note]

This is derived from a copy on the Internet Archive:

Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers enclosed in curly braces, e.g. {99}. They have been located where page breaks occurred in the original book.

Obvious spelling errors have been corrected but "inventive" and inconsistent spelling is left unchanged. Unusual use of quotation marks is also unchanged.

Extended quotations and citations are indented.

Footnotes have been renumbered to avoid ambiguity, and relocated to the end of the enclosing paragraph.

[End Transcriber's note]




JAMES J. WALSH, M.D., Ph.D., Litt. D.

Dean and Professor of the History of Medicine and of Nervous Diseases at Fordham University School of Medicine; Professor of Physiological Psychology at the Cathedral College, New York.







Published October 20th, 1910

Second Impression March 20th, 1911



Xavier Alumni Sodality

Most of the thoughts contained in this volume were originally expressed at our breakfasts. It seems only fitting, then, that on presentation to a larger audience they should be dedicated to you.

J. J. W. Our Lady's Day. August 15, 1910



The reason for publishing this volume of lectures and addresses is the persuasion that present day educators are viewing the history of education with short sighted vision. An impression prevails that only the last few generations have done work of serious significance in education. The history of old time education is neglected, or is treated as of at most antiquarian interest and there is a failure to understand its true value. The connecting link between the lectures and addresses is the effort to express in terms of the present what educators were doing in the past. Once upon a time, when I proclaimed the happiness of the English workmen of the Middle Ages, the very positive objection was raised, "How could they be happy since their wages were only a few cents a day?" For response it was only necessary to point out that for his eight cents, the minimum wage by act of Parliament, the workman could buy a pair of handmade shoes, that being the maximum price established by law, and other necessaries at similar prices. If old time education is studied with this same care to translate its meaning into modern values, then the very oldest education of which we have any record takes on significance even for our time.


While it is generally supposed that there are many new features in modern education, it requires but slight familiarity with educational history to know that there is very little that is novel. Such supposedly new phases as nature study and technical training and science, physical as well as ethical, are all old stories, though they have had negative phases during which it would be hard to to trace them. The more we know about the history of education the greater is our respect for educators at all times. Nearly always they had a perfectly clear idea of what they were trying to do, they faced the problems of education in quite the same spirit that we do and often solved them very well. Indeed the results of many periods of old time education are much better than our own, even when judged by our standards.

Unfortunately there exists a very common persuasion that evolution plays a large role in education and that we, "the heirs of all the ages in the foremost files of time," are necessarily in the forefront of educational advance. There has been much progress in education in the last century, but it would, indeed, be a hopeless world if there had not been progress out of the depths in which education was plunged in the eighteenth century. There were a number of reformers in education at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century... Continue reading book >>

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