Full text: Problems in eugenics

168Section IIa. F. C. S. Schiller. 
spiritualized by including in the notion of fitness, all exercise of human 
faculty, even of brains. It ought not to be impossible to convince the 
British boy that he ought to aim at all-ro-und “ fitness,” and that this 
includes skill in the use of brain as well as muscle, and the moral capacity 
of adjusting his action to the moral order of society and of improving 
that order; or otherwise, that there are common forms of “unfitness" 
which are intellectual and moral, and not merely physical. If the scope 
of the athletic spirit can be thus extended, it may not only arouse an 
intrinsic interest in intellectual education which is at present undeveloped, 
but may also mitigate the excessive stimulation of the competitive instincts 
by the Scholarship System. 
That at present the Scholarship System is unhealthily competitive seems 
probable enough. It is not, as we saw, that it appeals solely, or even mainly, 
to the love of gain : there is enough honour mixed with the gain to make all 
desire to win scholarships as a manifest proof of ability, and enough gain 
mixed with the honour to silence the objection that scholarship-hunting, 
according to the recognized rules, is an unprofitable sport. As a rule the 
whole affair is conducted in a fine sportsmanlike spirit, both by the teachers 
and by the taught. The “ best ” scholarships are not necessarily the most 
profitable, but those which are traditionally regarded as the “ blue-ribbon ” 
competitions, for which all the best candidates are entered, and which 
consequently remain the best for this same reason. Nor are the intellectual 
racehorses, whom their teachers thus delight to train for the greater glory 
of the institutions with which thev are connected and their own, overstrained 
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or damaged; the system, though it frankly neglects the average mind, gets 
a great deal of work out of the superior intelligences and produces as a rule 
a well-trained efficient mind which can direct itself on anything. Never­ 
theless it produces a mental attitude which is not wholly salutary, precisely 
because it make such a strong appeal to the sporting spirit. It engenders a 
tendency to regard all knowledge as instrumental merely to a competitive 
game, and a willingness to tolerate and get up without reflection or criticism 
any sort of nonsense, provided only that it can be manifestly shown to pay 
for the purposes of some examination. It is evident that this temper 
is, both in itself anything but conducive to the accumulation of knowledge, 
and also that it is insufficiently resistent to the pedantry of examiners. For 
it measures the value of all subjects simply by its mark-getting efficacy in 
what is regarded as an essentialy useless pursuit, to which social convention 
has artificially added a commercial value. Probably intellectual education 
would yield better results, both as mental and as moral training, if the 
intrinsic usefulness (in the widest sense) of all knowledge might be hinted 
at, and if, from the premiss that the subjects of a “ liberal education ” 
are intrinsically “ useless,” the inference were not drawn that the more 
useless a study was made the better it was educationally.

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