That it is greatly to the advantage of man for his brain to be highly developed is more than a mere truism. This development enables him to add to his knowledge through the medium of words -and even from the printed page. Other people can help him by their advice. He can thus guide his conduct by ideas and principles that come to him unverified by his own senses. In short, he can profit by the experience of others. All education is based upon this fact.
From then- earliest years children refrain from doing what they learn to be harmful, and do that which they learn’ is pleasurable. Without such refraining and such acting, they could not preserve their lives. They hear of someone who got in front of a streetcar, was run over, and killed or badly injured. They avoid the danger of streetcars. They hear of someone who died from eating toadstools; and in consequence, they avoid the poisonous mushroom. Someone says that thorn apples and the fruit of mandrakes are good to eat; and the child goes into the woods to find these wild fruits.
In the more complex situations of later life, — situations that involve proper social conduct, —History enables people to profit from the experience of nations and of individuals.
We constantly hear young people making over the experiences of others into guidelines for themselves.
“Jennie did thus and so; and see what happened in her case.”
“William tried to do some impossible thing, and had his trouble for his pains.”
“It was thus that John made a fool of himself.”
“Everyone is talking about Henry and how splendid he is; in such and such a situation he acted in this commendable way.”
And from all these experiences of others, judgments are made and principles of conduct are formed that guide the youth into wiser behavior and enable him to shun folly and misfortune.
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History is largely the study of behavior. From its pages, the student can learn how men down the ages have conducted themselves in the complex and trying situations that have arisen. The test of time has passed a jester sentence upon their actions than can be passed upon the transient conduct of the student’s associates; and the field of action is vastly enlarged. From history, the teachable youth cannot help gathering wisdom to guide his own conduct in similar situations that arise as history repeats itself in various lines of behavior. For instance, it is hard to imagine a historical-minded man who would bolt and run in battle. He knows too well the consequences of such action. And, besides, nobler ideas have been set before him — ideas that consciously or unconsciously must rule his conduct. Treachery would be as impossible as uncontrolled cowardice. It is of no consequence whether he recalls specific instances of either from his history. The facts may have been forgotten so far as conscious memory is concerned. Nevertheless, they remain, subconsciously, if not consciously, the’ basis for everyday judgments and decisions as to personal conduct.