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terings of "little Latin and less Greek" and establish modern courses in Hausa and Arabic, for these are the living languages of millions of our brethern in modern Africa. Courses in Negro history and the culture of West African peoples, at least, should be given in every college that claims to be an institution of learning for Negroes. Surely an institution of learning for Negroes should not fail to be also an institution of Negro learning.
The New Negro, Sept. 1919.
The Nep Knowledge for the New Negro. Quite a good deal of unnecessary dispute has been going on these days among the guardians of the inner temple as to just which form of worship is necessary at the shrine of the Goddess Knowledge. In plain English, the pundits seem to be at odds in regard to the kind of education which the Negro should have. Of course, it has long been known that the educational experts of white America were at odds with ours on the same subject; now, however, ours seem to be at odds among themselves.
The essence of the present conflict is not the easy distinction between "lower” and “higher” education, which really has no meaning in terms of educational principles, but it is rather "the knowledge of things” versus “the knowledge of words.” The same conflict has been waged in England from the days of Huxley's youth to the later nineties when the London Board Schools were recognized and set the present standard of efficiency for the rest of England. The present form of the question is, “Shall education consist of Latin and Greek, literature and metaphysics, or of modern science, modern languages and modern thought?” The real essence of the question is whether we shall train our children to grapple effectively with the problem of life that lies before them, or to look longingly back upon the past standards of life and thought and consider themselves a special class because of this.
If education be, as we assert, a training for life, it must of course have its roots in the past. But so has the art of the blacksmith, the tailor, the carpenter, the bookbinder or the priest. What the classicists really seek is the domination of the form, method and aim of that training by the form, methods and aims of an earlier age.
CLASSICS, CLERICS AND CLASS CULTURE. Perhaps an explanation of that earlier training may serve to give the real innerness of the classicists' position so that ordinary people may understand it better than the classicists themselves seem to do. In the Middle Ages, the schools of Western Europe and the subject matter of the education given in them were based upon the Latin “disciplines." Western Europe haú no literature, no learning, no science of its own. It was the church-particularly the monasteries—to which men had to go to get such training as was obtainable in a barbarous age. This training was, of course, given in the tongue of the church which was Latin, the clerical language. The contact of medieval Europeans with the dark-skinned Arabs added Greek and the knowledge of Greek literature and philosophy to the earlier medieval discipline. Imbedded in this was the substance of science nurtured by the Arabs and added to by them.
The ruling classes kept their children within the treadmill of these two literatures and languages and it came to be thought that this was the indispensable training for a gentleman. But:
"Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.”
We are in a different age, an age in which the nation, not the church, gives training to all children, and not merely to the children of aristocrats who will grow up to do nothing. The children of the people must become the doers of all that is done in the world of tomorrow, and they must be trained for this doing. Today in England, not Oxford, the home of lost ideals, but such institutions as the University of London, are the sources of that training which gives England its physicians, surgeons, inventors, business men and artists.
CLASSICISTS IGNORANT OF LATIN AND GREEK.
But the noise of the classicists may be rudely stopped by merely pointing out the hollowness of their watch words. These persons would have us believe that Latin and Greek are, in their eyes, the backbone of any education that is worth while. Very well then, let us take them at their word. I make the broad assertion
that not one in one thousand of them can read a page of Greek or Latin that may be set before them. I offer to put under their noses a page of Athenaeus or Horace (to say nothing of more important classical authors) and if they should be able to read and translate it at sight I shall be genuinely surprised. Let the common reader who is a man of today make the test with this little bit of Latin verse:
"Exegi momentum acre perennius Regalique situ pyramidum altius."
Let him ask some classicist to translate off-hand this common school boy's tag from a most popular author and note whether they can place the author or translate the lines. Here is another :
Per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum,
To speak in plain United States, when it comes to the showdown it will be found that those of us who argue in favor of the modern discipline (in so far as we have any knowledge of classical literature) know more about them than those whose sole defence they are.
It is said by the classicists that a knowledge of Latin and Greek is necessary to an adequate comprehension of the English language. But so is the knowledge of Sanscrit, Arabic, French and Italian. And when it comes to facility and clearness of expression, it will be found that Huxley's prose is superior to that of Matthew Arnold, and Brisbane's superior to that of any professor of the Latin language in Harvard or Yale. So much for the ghost fighters. Requiescant in pace!
THE KNOWLEDGE WE NEED. Now, what is the knowledge which the New Negro needs most? He needs above all else a knowledge of the wider world and of the long past. But that is history, modern and ancient : History as written by Herodotus and John Bach McMaster; sociology not as conceived by Giddings, but as presented by Spencer and Ward, and anthroplology as worked out by Boas and Thomas. The Negro needs also the knowledge of the best thought; but that is literature as conceived, not as a collection of flowers from the tree of life, but as its garnered fruit. And, finally, the Negro needs a knowledge of his own kind, concerning which we shall have something to say later, And the purposes of this knowledge? They are, to know our place in the human processus, to strengthen our minds by contact with the best and most useful thought-products evolved during the long rise of man from anthropoid to scientist; to inspire our souls and to lift our race industrially, commercially, intellectually to the level of the best that there is in the world about us. . For never until the Negro's knowledge of nitrates and engineering, of chemistry and agriculture, of history, science and business is on a level, at least, with that of the whites, will the Negro be able to measure arms successfully with them.
A FEW BOOKS,
The Negro in History and Civilization
(From Superman to Man, by J. A. Rogers.) This volume by Mr. Rogers is the greatest little book on the Negro that we remember to have read. It makes no great parade of being "scientific,” as so many of our young writers do who seem to think that science consists solely in logical analysis. If science consists fundamentally of facts, of information and of principles derived from those facts, then the volume before us is one of the most scientific that has been produced by a Negro writer. It sweeps the circle of all the social sciences. History, sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics and politics-even theology-are laid under contribution and yield a store of information which is worked up into a presentation so plain and clear that the simplest can read and understand it, and yet so fortified by proofs from the greatest standard authorities of the past and present that there is no joint in its armor in which the keenest spear of a white scientist may enter.
Unlike an older type of scholar (now almost extinct) the author does not go to vapid verbal philosophers or devotional dreamers for the facts of history and ethnology. He goes to historians and ethnologists for them and to anthropologists for his anthropology. The result is information which stands the searching tests of any inquirer who chooses to doubt and investigate before accepting what is set before him.
From this book the unlearned reader of the African race can gather proof that his race has not always been a subject or inferior race. He has the authority of Professor Reisner, of Harvard; of Felix Dubois, Volney, Herodotus, Finot, Sergi, the modern Egyptologists and the scholars of the white world who assembled at the Universal Races Congress in London in 1911,