in reality and are certainly not valuable as constructive characteristics as the best way to combat the bad is to build the good.
Your presence in this assembly, which you have honored until now with your personal prestige and with the representation that came before you, is the undeniable testimony that the sentiment of solidarity exists between the teachers of the Republic, of which they feel the conviction and the necessity to join in a single organic force, combining all the dispersed forces of education to fix the problems of our educational system, of which there are many, and to give to the teacher of the school, from one end of the nation to the other, the economic, intellectual and social dignity that they deserve.
Our union doctrine differs diametrically, in the first term, from that of the dogmatic pedagogues for whom the problem of common education is first and foremost a didactic-scholastic question; and also from those men in the government that consider the subject as statesmen. The pedagogues and the statesmen fail in the realm of experience; firstly by looking at things from the cloister of the Pedagogy with a unilateral exclusivity; secondly by reducing the direction of primary instruction to a mere political institution, even though it is for us the most important social ministry in the Republic because it is the ministry of national civilization.
We have simplified the problem of education, giving it sociological significance and a practical feeling when synthesizing it into the problem of the teacher of school. To perfect teaching without first perfecting that which provides for it is a grave error of the perspective of those who view all these subjects from the cabinet of study or from behind the libraries. We must view this great element of freedom and happiness of the villages called public school from the summit of social science if we wish to free the spirit of the generations that arrive from the iron shackles of dogma and routine. What is it that that we can hope to accomplish without improving public instruction? That is, if we improve the teachers economic and educational conditions, we will have excellent schools because we will have excellent educators. And if we have such elements in teaching, why must we go looking in the strange elements in the union, the people in charge of the fundamental interests of education? This has been thus far the political face of the question; as far its scientific face, we have kept believing that the educational problem was a problem of programs, when it is actuallysays Ernesto Nelsona problem of souls. To improve the society is to improve the individual, there can be no other formula more concrete than the object of education. The rest pertains to the metaphysical world, pure reason or abstract empiricism.
What should concern us most about the education of the individual? The same individual, that is to say, the agent that receives it, or the set of ideas and doctrines that constitutes the plans and programs of that individuals education? In comparing our old educational system with that of the United States, Ernesto Nelson describes to us the secret of the success of the Yankee civilization. It follows a phenomenon made of more than formulasfor the North American, the world of ideas does not hold more importance than the real world, which is the opposite of what we are taught, we who usually sacrifice the personality, that is to say, our feelings and actions, for the sake of the conventional forms and lies, conditioned by the dogma of the motherland, the state, by morality or by religion. And for the people of the North, poetry is called action and patriotism a civil initiative, while for us, poetry is still the cult of words, and patriotism is confused with rhetorical language. I quote Dr. Toulouse:
We teach everything in our schools and colleges, less two things: to think and to workwhich is like saying that we ignore personality. We have to invert the theological formulas of our wise educational theoreticians to say to the pedagogues that their formulas and doctrines are empty of sentiment and, truly, when the art of education is reduced to a discussion of methods, or to the task of the mere classification of information [