Ellen Key's ideas on the education of children, developed in her book, "The Century of the Child," are all an outcome of her views on the future woman. The future woman, indeed, is in a sense only a means to an end: the bringing forth of healthy, well-balanced children. No educational influences in kindergarten or elementary school, she insists, can take the place of home training. In particular she deplores the tendency in our schools to turn out types, when individuality-the power to think for one's self-is what is needed ...
Ellen Key's ideas on the education of children, developed in her book, "The Century of the Child," are all an outcome of her views on the future woman. The future woman, indeed, is in a sense only a means to an end: the bringing forth of healthy, well-balanced children. No educational influences in kindergarten or elementary school, she insists, can take the place of home training. In particular she deplores the tendency in our schools to turn out types, when individuality-the power to think for one's self-is what is needed for the progress of the race and of society. Acording to Ellen Key, right education consists not only in living for the child; one must live and feel with the child. The educator must be inspired by the child as the artist is inspired 'by his creation. The first chapter of "The Century of the Child" bears the significant title, "The Right of the Child to Choose Its Parents." This is the keynote to our author's entire educative system. The responsibility of the parent is emphasized throughout Ellen Key's works. Those who are not fully prepared to assume this great responsibility have no right to bring forth children, or at least to direct their education. The object of marriage, she asserts, is not merely to perpetuate, but to uplift and improve the race, and the object of education is "quietly and slowly to make nature help herself, and merely to further the work of nature by proper environment." She says, impressively: "Not until father and mother bend their heads to the dust before the greatness of the child, not before they perceive that the word child is only another expression for the idea of majesty, not before they feel that it is the future which in the form of a child sleeps in their arms that it is history which plays at their feet, will they understand that they have as little power or right to prescribe laws for this new creature as they have the right to regulate the course of the heavenly bodies. In her solution of the working woman's problem, Ellen Key again has in view chiefly the furtherance of good motherhood. The working woman's troubles are mostly due to economic causes, and the cure, in Ellen Key's judgment, must likewise be economic. An ideal system, our author asserts, would be for the state to provide for the woman during the time in which she is engaged in her most important social activity-the bringing up of good citizens. Thus Ellen Key never loses sight of social collectivity, while continually preaching the thorough development of individuality. In her desire to co-ordinate and harmonize the individual with the state she takes a position not very far removed from that of the Socialist. In religion Ellen Key maintains the principle that a vital faith depends on the spiritual nourishment which it affords to humanity. The question is not one of theology nor of the nature and will of God, but of whether a given faith has sufficient living strength to inspire mankind and help it in the progress of evolution. From this point of view the old religion is obviously falling into decay, for no one nowadays draws from his faith in God the strength which came to those men of a previous generation who were convinced that divinity could change even the laws of nature for them if only they prayed long and steadfastly.... - Current Opinion , Volume 43
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