THE relation of the library to education as it is now organised in our schools is, as you are well aware, difficult of definition either in present practice or in the ideal state of things to which we all more or less actively aspire. To my mind, by far its most important function is the one which is further from being realised at present and the one which is perhaps the least immediate and attainable in our schemes for the future. That function is to create in the home of the child an environment of intellectual interest and awakeness and a background not out of focus with the schoolroom. I think it would be interesting to ask our teacher friends to tell us to what extent they are able, from the responsiveness and acquisitiveness of the child, to gauge the intellectual interest or the want of intellectual concern in the home from which the child has come. I believe that the answer to such a question would conform with what I am sure you, as non‐teachers, would be disposed to anticipate. It would confirm, that is to say, your conviction and mine, that no heavier deadweight can be hung about the teacher's neck than this, that he should feel that he or she is working in an atmosphere alien to the child's mind and outlook. It is fortunately true that the freshness and curiosity and inquisitiveness of the child's mind largely counteract this deadening drawback; but nevertheless it must remain, and manifest itself in many ways. It will shew itself in the general attitude of mind to the work of school and make all the difference between doing the day's work with sympathy and even enthusiasm, rather than reluctantly and, as it were, with averted face. It will shew itself particularly in a want of response to incidental allusions or illustrations outside the immediate range of the lesson in progress: there will be nothing for the teacher to lay hold of in the mind of the child that the classroom has not already supplied.
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