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The Reconstructed School

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A Preliminary Survey of the Task Before the School


When people come to think alike, they tend to act alike; unison in thinking begets unison in action. It is often said that the man and wife who have spent years together have grown to resemble each other; but the resemblance is probably in actions rather than in looks; the fact is that they have had common goals of thinking throughout the many years they have lived together and so have come to act in unison. The wise teacher often adjusts difficult situations in her school by inducing the pupils to think toward a common goal. In their zeal for a common enterprise the children forget their differences and attain unison in action as the result of their unison in thinking. The school superintendent knows full well that if he can bring teachers, pupils, and parents to think toward a common goal, he will soon have unity of action. When people catch step mentally, they do the same physically, and as they move forward along the paths of their common thinking, their ways converge until, in time, they find themselves walking side by side in amiable and agreeable converse.

In the larger world outside the school, community enterprises help to generate unity of thinking and consequent unity of action. The pastor finds it one of his larger tasks to establish a focus for the thinking of his people in order to induce concerted action. If the enterprise is one of charity, the neighbors soon find themselves vying with one another in zeal and good will. In the zest of a common purpose they see one another with new eyes and find delight in working with people whose society they once avoided. They can now do teamwork, because they are all thinking toward the same high and worthy goal; lines of demarcation are obliterated and spirits blend in a common purpose. Unity of action becomes inevitable as soon as thinking becomes unified.

Coöperation follows close upon the heels of community thinking. In the presence of a great calamity, rivalries, differences of creed and party, and long-established animosities disappear in the zeal for beneficent action. In the case of fire or flood people are at one in their actions because they are thinking toward the common goal of rescue. They act together only when they think together. Indeed, coöperation is an impossibility apart from unified thinking. Herein lies the efficacy of leadership. It is the province of the leader to induce unity of thinking, to animate with a common purpose, knowing that united action will certainly ensue. If he can cause the thinking of people to center upon a focal point, he establishes his claim to leadership.

What is true of individuals is true, also, of nations. Before they can act in concert, they must think in concert, and, to do this, they must acquire the ability to think toward common goals. If, to illustrate, all nations should come to think toward the goal of democracy, there would ensue a closer sympathy among them, and, in time, modifications of their forms of government would come about as a natural result of their unity of thinking....