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Here's What Lodge Said


By Henry Cabot Lodge, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, 1917

The first and dominant object of all education is to teach the child, the boy or girl, to use his or her mind; that is, in other words, to teach them so to control their minds that they can apply them to any subject of study and especially to a subject which it is a duty and not a pleasure to master and understand. When this power to use and control the mind is once thoroughly attained the boy or girl can then learn anything which his or her mind is capable of receiving and acquiring. Very few minds can master every branch of learning. The man who can learn languages may be wholly unable to go beyond the rudiments of mathematics. Some minds again are much more powerful than others, just as some bodies are more muscular than others, and are able to go further in any direction than the average intelligence. We all have our mental limitations. But it is none the less profoundly true that those who have been taught to use and control their minds can apply them to any subject and go as far as their individual limitations permit. So far all, I believe, who have reflected upon the subject will agree. I think we may also agree that as any form of exercise will develop some muscles and some forms will develop all, so any kind of study, properly pursued, whether it is arithmetic or Sanscrit roots, will develop the muscles of the mind and give it the power of continuous application by a mere exercise of the will. It is equally true, however, that the use of dumb bells, on the one hand, and walking, on the other, will not develop the same set of muscles, although both contribute generally to health and strength. In attaining to the command of the mind, to the power of controlling its application by will, the same rule hold good, but there is a wide choice of method, because while any study can be used to develop strength and vigor, some will narrow and others will broaden; some will cease to have any value beyond the simple production of strength, while others equally efficient in this direction will lead to results which bring lifelong uses and pleasures.


So says Lodge, and goes on to defend Greek and Latin. Classics is precisely the better sort of mental exercise Lodge had in mind.

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