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Interest Fundamental In Education

Some educators have feared that in finding our occupations interesting,
we shall lose all power of effort and self-direction; that the will, not
being called sufficiently into requisition, must suffer from non-use;
that we shall come to do the interesting and agreeable things well
enough, but fail before the disagreeable.

INTEREST NOT ANTAGONISTIC TO EFFORT.--The best development of the will
does not come through our being forced to do acts in which there is
absolutely no interest. Work done under compulsion never secures the
full self in its performance. It is done mechanically and usually under
such a spirit of rebellion on the part of the doer, that the advantage
of such training may well be doubted. Nor are we safe in assuming that
tasks done without interest as the motive are always performed under the
direction of the will. It is far more likely that they are done under
some external compulsion, and that the will has, after all, but very
little to do with it. A boy may get an uninteresting lesson at school
without much pressure from his will, providing he is sufficiently afraid
of the master. In order that the will may receive training through
compelling the performance of certain acts, it must have a reasonably
free field, with external pressure removed. The compelling force must
come from within, and not from without.

On the other hand, there is not the least danger that we shall ever find
a place in life where all the disagreeable is removed, and all phases of
our work made smooth and interesting. The necessity will always be
rising to call upon effort to take up the fight and hold us to duty
where interest has failed. And it is just here that there must be no
failure, else we shall be mere creatures of circumstance, drifting with
every eddy in the tide of our life, and never able to breast the
current. Interest is not to supplant the necessity for stern and
strenuous endeavor but rather to call forth the largest measure of
endeavor of which the self is capable. It is to put at work a larger
amount of power than can be secured in any other way; in place of
supplanting the will, it is to give it its point of departure and render
its service all the more effective.

INTEREST AND CHARACTER.--Finally, we are not to forget that bad
interests have the same propulsive power as good ones, and will lead to
acts just as surely. And these acts will just as readily be formed into
habits. It is worth noticing that back of the act lies an interest; in
the act lies the seed of a habit; ahead of the act lies behavior, which
grows into conduct, this into character, and character into destiny. Bad
interests should be shunned and discouraged. But even that is not
enough. Good interests must be installed in the place of the bad ones
from which we wish to escape, for it is through substitution rather
than suppression that we are able to break from the bad and adhere to
the good.

Our interests are an evolution. Out of the simple interests of the child
grow the more complex interests of the man. Lacking the opportunity to
develop the interests of childhood, the man will come somewhat short of
the full interests of manhood. The great thing, then, in educating a
child is to discover the fundamental interests which come to him from
the race and, using these as a starting point, direct them into
constantly broadening and more serviceable ones. Out of the early
interest in play is to come the later interest in work; out of the early
interest in collecting treasure boxes full of worthless trinkets and old
scraps comes the later interest in earning and retaining ownership of
property; out of the interest in chums and playmates come the larger
social interests; out of interest in nature comes the interest of the
naturalist. And so one by one we may examine the interests which bear
the largest fruit in our adult life, and we find that they all have
their roots in some early interest of childhood, which was encouraged
and given a chance to grow.

Next: Order Of Development Of Our Interests

Previous: Selection Among Our Interests

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