BY J. M.
"THAT is the story of what the Modem School was, is, and ought to be." When Ferrer wrote this, in the summer of 1908, he was full of plans for the continuation of his work in various ways. He was fostering such free schools as the Government still permitted. He was promoting his "popular university and multiplying works of science and sociology for the million. His influence was growing, and he saw with glad eyes the light breaking on the ignorant masses of his fellows. In the summer of 1909 he came to England to study the system of moral instruction which, under the inspiration of the Moral Instruction League, is used in thousands of English schools. A friend in London begged him never to return to Spain, as his life was sought. He, knew it, but nothing would divert him from his ideal. And three months later he was shot, among the graves of criminals, in the trenches of Montjuich.
Form your own opinion of him from his words. He conceals nothing. He was a rebel against religious traditions and social inequalities; he wished children to become as resentful of poverty and superstition as he. There is no law of Spain, or of any other country, that forbids such enterprise as his. He might be shot in Russia, of course ; for the law has been suspended there for more than a decade. In Spain men had to lie in order to take his life.
With the particular value of his scheme of education I am not concerned. He was well acquainted with paedagogical literature, and there were few elementary schools in Spain to equal his. Writers who have spoken slightingly of his school, apart from its social dogmas, know little or nothing about it. Ferrer was in close and constant association with two of the ablest professors in the university of Barcelona, one of whom sent his children to the school, and with distinguished scholars in other lands. There was more stimulating work done in the Modern School than, probably, in any other elementary school in Spain, if not elsewhere. All that can be questioned is the teaching of an explicit social creed to the children, Ferrer would have rejoined that there was not a school in Europe that does not teach an explicit social creed. But, however we may differ from his creed, we cannot fail to recognize the elevated and unselfish idealism of the man, and deplore the brutality and illegality with which his genial life was prematurely brought to a close.
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