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The Formation of Character

ment, life and education

THE FORMATION OF CHARACTER If childhood is for education, as we all agree, so also, though we may not agree, is youth. The period of adolescence should be used for develop ment, not for that anticipation of the tasks and pleasures of adult life which means a waste of powers and atrophy of undiscovered ability. The physical transition from boy to man, from girl to woman, must be accompanied by corresponding and harmonious mental and moral changes, if a normal maturity is to be reached; and to ensure this normal development our chief social instru ment is education—more education and better education: education for economic efficiency, for profitable enjoyment of leisure, for the responsibil ities of marriage and family life. Indispensable to it are more opportunities and better opportuni ties for wholesome recreation. Youth demands a positive program of guidance and normal develop ment, to meet its own needs, and incidentally to prepare for later life.

There is another side, also. Abnormal tenden cies manifest themselves in growing boys and girls, and it is exceedingly important that these should receive attention, to the end that they may be corrected or repressed or diverted, as the case 6 77 may require. From this point of view the period

of adolescence is the critical time in life. As the supreme consideration in infancy is the establish ment of a sound and vigorous physique, though I would not dispute with those who hold that there may be a place, even in the first year of life, for some germs of mental and moral training; and as in childhood, while, to be sure, the physical prob lems are still important and the moral habits are being formed, the main concern is to educate the mind; so in youth we may fairly say, without de preciating the health problems and the mental problems, that the central interest is in the develop ment of character, that, in fact, it is for their im mediate or ultimate influence on character—on personality—that we are then interested in health and recreation and training in efficiency.