The purpose of training is to get character and skill. It has to do with what a man is, and what he can do. Not skill alone, for character gives direction and control to skill, and decides whether it shall be well used or not. And not character alone, immensely important as that is; for without skill to do some one thing well a man is sorely handicapped.
Training should aim at a strong healthful body, a clear well-stored brain, a deft hand, a gentle spirit, and a pure heart.
The body should be trained for its own sake, and for its influence higher up. It should be properly fed and cared for, and taught to obey the laws of the body, that so health may come, and stay. It should be developed symmetrically, and trained to hard work. A healthful, supple body is the foundation of strong character and of skill. That is where life starts. This is beginning lowest, but not beginning low. At the lowest it is high. The body has immense influence upon mind and character, occupation and career.
The mind should be trained to think clearly, and to acquire knowledge readily. The thinking is more than the knowing. To be able to think clearly, and express one's thoughts simply and concisely, is as rare as it is invaluable. The will must be trained to be both servant and master; a good servant, quick and unfailing in its obedience; and so a good master, able to draw out obedience to itself by every power of body and mind and spirit.
The greatest task of training is here. The will is the citadel, the stronghold. Happy the child taught early to obey fully and promptly and intelligently. So only comes self-restraint, and, higher up, self-control. The highest attainment of training and of life is self-control. It is this that puts us above the animal creation, and nearest to God. The less self-control the nearer we are to the beasts; the more, the nearer to God. Training aims to teach true standards of action; and then higher and harder, to make the life stand plumb up to the standards.
And self-reliance is no small part of the training task. All men may be divided into three groups by the sort of shoes they wear. Some wear their fathers' shoes, some are shod by their fellows, and some wear shoes of their own making. The fathers' shoes are always too big. It's impossible to get a good footing in such shoes. They make weak feet, and poor walking. The shoes provided by the town are usually down at the heels and out at the toes. They prevent a strong, manly stride.
The only decent shoe for a man to wear is the one of his own making. But a good many men, especially in a new country like ours, have had to pick up their shoemaking the best they could without help, and as a result their shoes squeak a good bit, and remind one constantly of their maker. A man should be trained to make his own shoes, and then in his busy life of service, forget he's made them. A thoughtful, modest, but sturdy self-reliance is an essential of strong character.
The hand should be trained to obey the will of the mind, the whole body in turn obeying the call of the hand. No matter what the life calling may be, the hand should be trained to work, and to work skilfully. There would be less useless theory if there were more practical doing of things with the hand. The Hebrews have taught the world much, but nothing of much more practical worth than that every man should be trained to work, and to be an expert in doing some one thing. A deft, skilled hand increases pleasure and usefulness, and immensely increases independence.
And the training isn't complete without including gentleness of spirit; a spirit thoughtful enough to think of the other man's side of the story, and strong enough to be sympathetic and soft-touched and soft-spoken. And the highest notch is cut in the stick only as purity of heart swings clearly and strongly into view as the greatest attainment of life; and then is earnestly coveted; and then steadily reached up after; and, bit by bit, with the Master's gracious help is both obtained and attained; gotten from Him as a gift, and worked out in one's life as an accomplishment.