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16 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
conflict not only between the school and social progress, but also
between the school and religion. Some day the child is bound to
ask himself if the rewards obtained in school had not proved
themselves obstacles to eternal life, or if the punishments which
had humiliated him, when he could not defend himself, had not
made of him the man who hungered and thirsted after justice,
and whom Jesus defended from the summit of the mountain.
In social life, it is true, there do exist rewards and punishments
different from those which are contemplated in a spiritual light,
and the adult sets himself to force the child in a good time to accom-
modate itself to, and to restrain itself within the require-
ments of this world. The rewards and the punishments are de-
signed to accustom him to a ready submission.
But if we bestow a comprehensive glance on social morality
we see the yoke growing gradually less oppressive, that is, we see
the gradual return in triumph of rational nature, of life governed
by thought. The yoke of the slave gives place to that of the ser-
vant, and this in turn to the yoke of the workman.
All forms of slavery tend to disappear by degrees. The
history of human progress is a history compounded of conquests
and liberations, and we style that which does not come under
these headings as retrogression. Now we must ask ourselves if the
school has to be fixed in a permanent condition which society
would consider retrogressive.
Something very similar to the school corresponds in the great
government administrative departments and their employees.
They also write all day long for some great distant result, the
immediate advantage of which is not apparent. That means that
the State carries on its great undertakings through their agency,
and that the welfare of the people of the whole nation is dependent
on their work. For them> the immediate object is promotion,
as for the pupil it means promotion from class to class. The
man who loses sight of his lofty destiny is like a degraded child,
like a slave who has been deceived; the dignity of man is reduced
to the level of the dignity of a machine, which needs to be oiled