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Five Traits of the Educated Man 有教养者的五大特点(By Nicholas Murray Butler)

(2011-03-18 18:12:11)
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巴特勒

分类: NiceEnglish

A question often asked is: what are the marks of an educated man? It is plain that one may gain no inconsiderable body of learning in some special field of knowledge without at the same time acquiring those habits and traits which are the marks of an educated gentleman. A reasonable amount of learning must of course accompany an education, but, after all, that amount need not be so very great in any one field. An education will make its mark and find its evidences in certain traits, characteristics, and capacities which have to acquired by patient endeavor, by following good examples, and by receiving wise discipline and sound instructions.

These traits or characteristics may be variously described and classified, but among them are five that should always stand out clearly enough to be seen by all men.

 

The first of these is correctness and precision in the use of the mother tongue. The quite shocking slovenliness and vulgarity of much of the spoken English, as well as not a little of the written English, which on hears and sees, proves beyond peradventure that years of attendance upon schools and college that are thought to be respectable have produced no impression. When one hears English well spoken, with pure diction, correct pronunciation, and an almost unconscious choice of the right word, he recognizes it at once. How much easier he finds it to imitate English of the other sort!

 

A second and indispensable trait of the educated man is refined and gentle manners, which are themselves the expression of fixed habits of thought and action.  “Manners make the man,” wrote William of Wykeham over his gates at Winchester and at Oxford. He pointed to a great truth. When manners are superficial, artificial, and forced, no matter what their form, they are had manners. When, however, they are the natural expression of fixed habits of thought and action, and when they reveal a refined and cultivated nature, they are good manners. There are certain things that gentlemen do not do, and they do not do them simply because they are bad manners. The gentleman instinctively knows the difference between those things that he may and should do and those things which he may not and should not do.

 

A third trait of the educated man is the power and habit of reflection. Human beings for the most part live wholly on the surface or far beyond the present moment and that part of the future which is quickly to follow it. They do not read those works of prose and poetry which have become classic because they reveal power and habit of reflection and induce that power and habit in others. When one reflects long enough to ask the question “how”, he is on the way to knowing something about science. When he reflects long enough to ask the question “why”, he may, if he persists, even become a philosopher.

 

A fourth trait of the educated man is the power of growth. He continues to grow and develop from birth to his dying day. His interests expand, his contacts multiply, his knowledge increases, and his reflection becomes deeper and wider. It would appear to be true that not many human beings, even those who have had a school and college education, continue to grow after they are twenty-four or twenty-five years of age. By that time it is usual to settle down to life on a level of more or less contented intellectual interest and activity. The whole present day movement for adult education is a systematic and definite attempt to keep human beings growing long after they have left school and college, and, therefore, to help educate them.

 

A fifth trait of the educated man is his possession of efficiency, or the power to do. The mere visionary dreamer, however charming or however wise, lacks something that an education requires. The power to do may be exercised in any one of a thousand ways, but when it clearly shows itself, that is evidence that the period of discipline, of study, and of companionship with parents and teachers has not been in vain.

 

Given these five characteristics, one has the outline of an educated man.

 

That outline may be filled in by scholarship, by literary power, by mechanical skills, by professional zeal and capacity, by business competence, or by social and political leadership. So long as the framework or outline is there, the content may be pretty much what you will, assuming, of course, that the fundamental elements of the great tradition which is civilization, and its outstanding records and achievements in human personality, in letters, in science, in the fine arts, and in human institutions, are all present.

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