"The Teacher" by Jocob Abbott, 1844. From p. 64:
There are three kinds of human knowledge which stand strikingly distinct from all the rest. They lie at the foundation. They constitute the roots of the tree. In other words, they are the means, by which all other knowledge is acquired. I need not say, that I mean, Reading, Writing and Calculation.
Teachers do not perhaps always consider , how entirely and essentially distinct these three are from all the rest. They are arts; the acquisition of them is not to be considered as knowledge, so much as the means, by which knowledge may be obtained. A child, who is studying Geography, or History, or Natural Science, is learning facts, --gaining information; on the other hand, the one who is learning to write, or to read, or to calculate, may be adding little or nothing to his stock of knowledge. He is acquiring skill, which, at some future time, he may make the means of increasing his knowledge, to any extent.
This distinction ought to be kept constantly in view., and the teacher should feel that these three fundamental branches stand by themselves and stand first in importance. I don not mean to undervalue the others, but only to insist upon the superior value and importance of these. Teaching a pupil to read, before he enters up on the active business of life, is like given a new settler and axe, as he goes to seek his new home in the forest. Teaching him a lesson in history, is, on the other hand, only cutting down a tree or two for him.”
Do you agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?