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Training The Will

The will is to be trained as we train the other powers of the
mind--through the exercise of its normal function. The function of the
will is to direct or control in the actual affairs of life. Many
well-meaning persons speak of training the will as if we could separate
it from the interests and purposes of our daily living, and in some way
put it through its paces merely for the sake of adding to its general
strength. This view is all wrong. There is, as we have seen, no such
thing as general power of will. Will is always required in specific
acts and emergencies, and it is precisely upon such matters that it must
be exercised if it is to be cultivated.

developing the will is a deep moral interest in whatever we set out to
do, and a high purpose to do it up to the limit of our powers. Without
this, any artificial exercises, no matter how carefully they are devised
or how heroically they are carried out, cannot but fail to fit us for
the real tests of life; with it, artificial exercises are superfluous.
It matters not so much what our vocation as how it is performed. The
most commonplace human experience is rich in opportunities for the
highest form of expression possible to the will--that of directing us
into right lines of action, and of holding us to our best in the
accomplishment of some dominant purpose.

There is no one set form of exercise which alone will serve to train the
will. The student pushing steadily toward his goal in spite of poverty
and grinding labor; the teacher who, though unappreciated and poorly
paid, yet performs every duty with conscientious thoroughness; the man
who stands firm in the face of temptation; the person whom heredity or
circumstance has handicapped, but who, nevertheless, courageously fights
his battle; the countless men and women everywhere whose names are not
known to fame, but who stand in the hard places, bearing the heat and
the toil with brave, unflinching hearts--these are the ones who are
developing a moral fiber and strength of will which will stand in the
day of stress. Better a thousand times such training as this in the
thick of life's real conflicts than any volitional calisthenics or
priggish self-denials entered into solely for the training of the will!

SCHOOL WORK AND WILL TRAINING.--The work of the school offers as good an
opportunity for training powers of will as of memory or reasoning. On
the side of inhibition there is always the necessity for self-restraint
and control so that the rights of others may not be infringed upon.
Temptations to unfairness or insincerity in lessons and examinations are
always to be met. The social relations of the school necessitate the
development of personal poise and independence.

On the positive side the opportunities for the exercise of will power
are always at hand in the school. Every lesson gives the pupil a chance
to measure his strength and determination against the resistance of the
task. High standards are to be built up, ideals maintained, habits
rendered secure.

The great problem for the teacher in this connection is so to organize
both control and instruction that the largest possible opportunity is
given to pupils for the exercise of their own powers of will in all
school relations.

Next: Freedom Of The Will Or The Extent Of Its Control

Previous: Volitional Types

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