Source of the Boys' Discontent

Source of the Boys' Discontent


Having read with interest the article in the issue of October 1st, entitled, “School and Tariff Questions,” I would like to commend through your columns the note by “ed.,” appended to the above-mentioned article. Our friend, “Nottawasaga Farmer,” holds the idea that the school system of to-day is demoralizing the youth as regards the pursuing of farm life, and infers that the system might be remodelled to the accomplishment of his highly-commendable purpose, viz., retaining country boys on the farm.

Let me say at the outset, that, although a school teacher, I am a farmer’s son, born, raised and living on a farm, and loving my home and its surroundings; accordingly, I have ample opportunity of verifying what I am about to say.

The country boy, educated in the high school, is not driven from the farm by a dislike to it, born of his associations at school. I imagine if the boy did not go to school he would branch off into some other line anyway- the store, the factory or the railroad- where his whole time and intellect would be devoted to the struggle for the “almighty dollar.” As to the inference that the public-school system tends from the farm, I ignore that. It is hard to imagine one so narrow-minded as to wish to deprive a child of that slight training, inculcating in it (the child) the appreciation of the beautiful and true.

If you would find the source of discontent exhibited by the boy who has had the privileges of a high school education, you must search nearer home than the school. I firmly believe the fathers themselves are more responsible for the drifting of their sons than the education they give them. Many farmers imagine that for his educational privileges the boy owes a debt of gratitude, which he must pay by the most assiduous application to the host of “chores” and “odd jobs” which are allotted to him after school hours. Moreover, he may be continually reminded that, as compared with his lesser privileged brother who works at home all the time, he is a somewhat unprofitable “piece of furniture.”

It is quite true the schoolboy may not add so many dollars to his father’s bank account at the present; nevertheless, when the parent has consented to make the sacrifice (if he has made any, which is often not the case), it displays a contemptible and unjust disposition to “hit a fellow continually when you have him down.” The schoolboy, with his ever-broadening mind, is sensible to the injustice which, coupled with the multitudinous chores aforesaid, exasperates him beyond the restraints of “duty,” beyond the ties of parental affection and esteem- which, though they may exist, are not apparent- and he seizes one of the many openings of the educated man, goes into the world on “his own hook,” and, as history verifies, he has often “shaped the whisper of the throne,” compelling the respect and esteem of the friends who condemned him as an ungrateful ne’er do well. (I do not contend the boy should be exempted to do a half a day’s work outside of school.)

The boy, feeling that he is a burden to his father, leaves home for a field in which he will be appreciated. Now, has the youth received justice at home, he might, and I believe would, have been weaned from the world by the love of his home and parents, and by the sense that his schooling was fitting him for to be of greater service to them; and have finally concluded to settle down on the farm again, and there he would have applied that energy and perseverance attained in his school days, and which won him success in the course to which he drifted.

Possibly you will condemn the case as overdrawn. It is a view of the “boy” problem, written by a “boy,” which has never to my knowledge been voiced through your columns, but it is, nevertheless, too true for the good of the future “farming generations.” I do not contend that it is always the case, for there are other very powerful influences which contribute to the “drifting” process- one of which has been effective in my own personal experience- but it is true in many, and I trust that you will give this article space in your widely-read and much appreciated columns, and I believe it will find an echo in the heart of many a fine young “student-farmer.” Perchance it may reach the eye of some parent, who does not “understand the boy,” and as he comments that “it may be true of some fathers,” he may, on consideration of the thought, be induced to ask of his own soul, “Is it I?”


[Note.- In commending our editorial note, appended to the article “School and Tariff Questions,” our correspondent pays us a doubtful compliment, inasmuch as he takes quite different ground from that contended for in our note. We think we read between the lines of “Le Maitre’s” letter a well-merited protest against the attitude of those who would begrudge their sons and daughters a reasonable education. Education we must have in this day and age, and the boy who fails to obtain it is permanently handicapped in the race of life. At the same time, it cannot be successfully gainsaid that the education of our public schools is too bookish, too far removed from the actualities of modern everyday existence, and tends to develop a prejudice against agriculture and manual labour in general. The remedy lies “not in withholding education from the masses,” but in reforming it and balancing it up, training the hand as well as the head, and infusing into the spirit of the school a downright respect for and appreciation of those occupations which involve physical labour. The call is not for less, but for better, broader and more rational education, conceived with a view to meeting the needs of those who adorn the professions and occupy the white-shirt jobs. Meantime, the only thing for the individual citizen to do is to give his sons and daughters the benefit of such educational facilities as are available. The reform of educational systems and methods is a problem that must be grappled with by the state.- Editor.]


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