Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Public Pedagogue
by [?]

MAKING WISE MEN BY MACHINERY.

If I might presume to tender a few words of advice to so high and mighty a personage as the president of the University of Texas, I should recommend that he carefully study the Solomonic proverb: “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” In other words, never pull your trigger until sure you’re loaded; for while a fizzle causes the unskillful to laugh, it cannot but “make the judicious grieve.” Every man capable of tracing effects to their efficient causes, who chanced to hear or read President George T. Winston’s address before the Association of Superintendents and Principals of Public Schools, must have sighed in bitterness of soul, “Poor Old Texas!” These gentlemen, assembled for the ostensible purpose of enhancing their proficiency by the interchange of ideas, had a right to expect valuable instruction from the lips of a man who occupies the post of honor in the chief educational institute of the State; but were regaled with a cataclysm of misinformation, precipitated from an amorphous mind, which seemed to be a compromise between Milton’s unimaginable chaos and that “land of darkness, as darkness itself, and where the light was as darkness.” That such an address could proceed from the president of a State University is most remarkable; that it should be received as an oracle by the men at whose feet sit the youth of Texas is simply astounding. I read the address in no unfriendly or hypercritic spirit, for none rejoice more than I in whatsoever contributes, even a little, to the luster of the Lone Star. Every laurel won by Texas in the forum or the field is worn by all her citizens; her every failure in the arena of the world is shame to all her sons. President Winston evidently appreciated the importance of the occasion but was unable to rise to it. Instead of an address at once philosophic and practical, conveying to his auditors a clear concept of duty and the best method of discharging it, he indulged in a rambling country lyceum discourse, wherein worthless conclusions were drawn by main strength and awkwardness from false premises, interlarded with glaring misstatements and seasoned with Anglomaniacal slop. It is not pleasant to think of hundreds of bright young minds being molded by a man who is a living vindication of Sheridan, long accused of libeling nature in his character of Mrs. Malaprop. “What,” says Pope, “must be the priest when the monkey is a god?” And what, the taxpayers of Texas well may ask, must be the day-drudges of an educational system wherein a Winston occupies the post of honor? Where Texas found the party whom she has made president of her boasted university, I cannot imagine, but he talks like an Anglicized Yankee–one of those fellows who try to conceal the cerulean hue of their equators by wearing the British flag for a belly-band. It is but mournful consolation to reflect that the chiefs of pretentious educational institutes elsewhere have proven by their parroting that they have as little conception of the social contract and true position of the pedagogue in “the scheme of things,” as has our own ‘varsity president. Texas’ educational system is probably up to the average, and President Winston as wise as many other pompous “gerund-grinders” who look into leather spectacles and see nothing, yet imagine that, like the adventurer in the Arabian tale, they are gazing upon all the wealth of the world; but that is no reason why we should continue to waste the public revenue on Lagado professors who would extract sunbeams from cucumbers and calcine ice into gunpowder. While nothing short of a perusal of the complete text of the oration in question can give an adequate ides of how much folly a ‘varsity president can pump through his face in a given period, its salient features can be summed up in a brief paragraph: