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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

his 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.