- Oct 2017
4. The best mode of government for youth in large collections, is certainly a desideratum not yet attained with us. It may well be questioned whether fear, after a certain age, is the motive to which we should have ordinary recourse. The human character is susceptible of other incitements to correct conduct, more worthy of employ, and of better effect. Pride of character, laudable ambition, & moral dispositions are innate correctives of the indiscretions of that lively age; and when strengthened by habitual appeal & exercise, have a happier effect on future character, than the degrading motive of fear; hardening them to disgrace, to corporal punishments, and servile humiliations, cannot be the best process for producing erect character. The affectionate deportment between father & son offers, in truth, the best example for that of tutor & pupil;
In executing their duties to organize and govern the University of Virginia, the Commissioners created 5 provisions for the education of the youth. Of interest is #4, in which the Commissioners discuss in length how best to govern the students. Wisely, they deduce that "fear" does not create men of "erect character." Instead, they believed the act of appealing to one's "pride of character" and "moral dispositions" when governing young men would better produce the desired effect. The Commission further supports their position by saying that ideally the tutor/pupil relationship should emulate the father/son relationship as the best means to motivate and govern the student body. "Fear" and "corporal punishment" are merely degrading methods of governing and should be avoided in all situations. I believe in the US education system fear is used to much for motivation and I think it is completely unproductive!
Education, in like manner engrafts a new man on the native stock, & improves what in his nature was vicious & perverse, into qualities of virtue and social worth; and it cannot be but that each generation succeeding to the knowledge acquired by all those who preceded it, adding to it their own acquisitions & discoveries, and handing the mass down for successive & constant accumulation, must advance the knowledge & well-being of mankind
In this paragraph, the commissioners are having an intellectual conversation of the virtues of formal education. I found this quotation particularly intriguing because it explains how education improves mankind and ideally improves each individual’s natural born qualities. The idea that education can improve “virtue and social worth” is unique and seems like one of the cornerstones of the engagement series. The line “constant accumulation, must advance the knowledge & well-being of mankind” shows how we learn and improve from one generation to another as humans. This relates to other parts of the article when it states that the hope of education is that we can use the knowledge of our forefathers and expand on it. It is good to know that this idea of knowledge is engrained in the roots of the University of Virginia and is still valued today!