Ferrer, Francisco (1913). The Origins and Ideals of the Modern School. Joseph McCabe, trans. pages 75-79, London Watts & Co.
AT the beginning of the second scholastic year I once more drew up a programme. Let us, I said, confirm our earlier programme; vindicated by results, approved in theory and practice, the principle which from. the first informed our work and governs the Modern School is now unshakable.
Science is the sole mistress of our life. Inspired with this thought, the Modern School proposes to give the children entrusted to it a mental vitality of their own, so that when they leave our control they will continue to be the mortal enemies of all kinds of prejudices and will form their own ideas, individually and seriously, on all subjects.
Further, as education does not consist merely in the training of the mind, but must include the emotions and the will, we shall take the utmost care in the training of the child that its intellectual impressions are converted into the sap of sentiment. When this attains a certain degree of intensity, it spreads through the whole being, colouring and refining the individual character. And as the conduct of the youth revolves entirely in the sphere of character, he must learn to adopt science as the sole mistress of his life.
To complete our principle we must state that we are enthusiastically in favour of mixed education, so that, having the same education, the woman may become the real companion of man, and work with him for the regeneration of society. This task has hitherto been confined to man ; it is time that the moral influence of woman was enlisted in it. Science will illumine and guide her rich vein of sentiment, and utilise her character for the welfare of the race. Knowing that the chief need in this country is a knowledge of natural science and hygiene, the Modern School intends to help to supply It. In this it has the support of Dr. de Buen and Dr. Vargas, who lecture, alternately, on their respective subjects.
On June 30, 1903, I published in the Bulletin the following declaration: ---
We have now passed two years in expounding our principles justifying them by our practice, and enjoying the esteem of all who have co-operated in our work we do not see in this any other triumph than that we are able to confirm confidently all that we have proclaimed. We have overcome the obstacles which were put in our way by interest and prejudice, and we intend to persevere in it, counting always on that progressive comradeship which dispels the darkness of ignorance with its strong light. We resume work next September, after the autumn vacation. We are delighted to be able to repeat what we said last year. The Modern School and its Bulletin renew their life, for they have filled, with some measure of satisfaction, a deeply-felt need. Without making promises or programmes, we will persevere to the limit of our powers.
In the same number of the Bulletin was published the following list of the pupils who had attended the school during the first two years:---
|MONTHS. ||GIRLS. |
1st Yr. 2nd Yr.
|Opening Day ||12 -- ||18 -- ||30 -- |
|September ||16 23 ||23 40 ||39 63 |
|October ||18 28 ||25 40 ||43 68 |
|November ||21 31 ||29 40 ||50 71 |
|December ||22 31 ||30 40 ||52 71 |
|January ||22 31 ||32 44 ||54 75 |
|February ||23 31 ||32 48 ||55 79 |
|March ||25 33 ||34 47 ||59 80 |
|April ||26 32 ||37 48 ||63 80 |
|May ||30 33 ||38 48 ||68 81 |
|June ||32 34 ||38 48 ||70 82 |
At the beginning of the third year I published with special pleasure the following article in the Bulletin on the progress of the School:---
On the eighth of the present month we opened the new scholastic year. A large number of pupils, their relatives, and members of the general public who were in sympathy with our work and lectures, filled the recently enlarged rooms, and, before the commencement of the function, inspected the collections which give the school the appearance of a museum of science. The function began with a short address from the director, who formally declared the opening of the third year of school life, and said that, as they now had more experience and were encouraged by success, they would carry out energetically the ideal of the Modern School.
Dr. de Buen congratulated us on the enlargement of the School, and supported its aims. Education should, he said, reflect nature, as knowledge can only consist in our perception of what actually exists. On the part of his children, who study at the School and live in the neighbourhood, he paid a tribute to the good-comradeship among the pupils, with whom they played and studied in a perfectly natural way. He said that even in orthodox education, or rather on the part of the professors engaged in it, there were, for all its archaic features, certain tendencies similar to those embodied in the Modern School. This might be gathered from his own presence, and that of Dr. Vargas and other professors. He announced that there was already a similar school at Guadalajara, or that one would shortly be opened there, built by means of a legacy left for the purpose by a humanitarian. He wished to contribute to the redemption of children and their liberation from ignorance and superstition ; and he expressed a hope and very strong wish that wealthy people would, at their death, restore their goods in this way to the social body, instead of leaving them to secure in imaginary happiness beyond the grave.
Dr. Martinez Vargas maintained, against all who thought otherwise, that the purely scientific and rational education given in the Modern School is the proper basis of instruction ; no better can be conceived for maintaining the relations of the children with their families and society, and it is the only way to form, morally and intellectually, the men of the future. He was glad to hear that the scholastic hygiene which had been practised in the Modern School during the previous two years, involving a periodical examination of the children, and expounded in the public lectures, had received the solemn sanction of the Hygienic Congress lately held at Brussels.
Going on to resume his lectures, and as a means of enforcing oral instruction by visual perception, he exhibited a series of lantern-slides illustrating various hygienic exercises, certain types of disease, unhealthy organs, etc., which the speaker explained in detail. An accident to the lantern interrupted the pictures ; but the professor continued his explanations, speaking of the mischievous effects of corsets, the danger of microbic infection by trailing dresses or by children playing with soil, insanitary houses and workshops, etc., and promised to continue his medical explanation during the coming year.
The audience expressed its pleasure at the close of the meeting, and the sight of the great joy of the pupils was some consolation amid the hardships of the present, and a good augury for the future.