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main facts are there, and the wide-eyed boy stands upon the threshold of the world's work and longs to take a part in it and be of it; and the real school will some day emerge from the confusion of the modern curriculum and will show a child how things are done-a lesson that the world has learned through bitter centuries.
And so we are trying not merely to teach a child to read, but to give him the uplift gained by an insight into the great literature of the world. Reading assumes a spiritual aspect, rather than a mechanical one, and we strive for intellectual appreciation and sympathy with what is best, rather than for glib rendering of hard extracts. The age for puzzle-problems is passing, and we teach how the business of the world is done and what business is done. Mere parsing is no longer considered good grammar teaching, but good speaking and correct sentence making is more valuable. It is better to make good sentences of our own than parse those of others. Content is greater than form. It is of more value to write a good thing in a fairly legible hand than it is to copy a good thing in perfect penmanship. We are studying natural forces and facts at first hand, are working out the problems of manual expression and of homekeeping, rather than reading about them in dull books. This is a school age of acts rather than facts.
In all this we are not necessarily adding to the burden of our curriculum, but we are leaving undone many of the needless things we once did, and are relating all the other things in such a way that each study supplements and supports the other. The curriculum then becomes one thing instead of many things. It is presented to a child in the way it comes to him in life, and school goes on outside the room as well as inside. In this larger sense the school interprets and explains life as it is going on all around us-the business life, the social life, the spiritual life, the life of the natural world as modified by man's need and enterprise. Then when a boy finds himself out of school he finds the world ready for him and himself ready for the world.
Nor need we expect to teach a child many things as compared with what he will afterwards learn. We can but give him a glimpse into literature, science, history, art, and the world's affairs. If he desires to learn more of any one department there are the colleges, universities, special schools, and the apprenticeship of the world itself. We are foolish to attempt to make experts in a dozen different things. In the lower schools it becomes a mental and moral question, and the child's attitude toward all things is more important than his aptitude in one thing. It will be a happy relief to the children when teachers cease to cram it in, and the old nursery measures of ordering the innocents to shut their eyes and swallow are abandoned.
The burden of school teaching today is not the enlarged and enriched curriculum, but it is the senseless grind of many different and unrelated facts which are taught as facts and not as forces. It is the restricted teacher bound to the text and the required course for the year and the examination questions. It is the long, dull page about nothing in particular. What wonder that some
schools are prisons when there is no view of life, and some teachers but jailers and task masters ? Real teaching puts the child in the center of the circle of the world's interest, and shows him the great machinery in motion all around him. He catches glimpses of every phase of life, chooses his lot, and prepares himself for his destiny.
George William Curtis, in Prue and I, said of his education: "My father sent me to a schoolteacher and I found him a rag; he sent me to another and I saw in him only a ferrule; he sent me to still another that I found to be a well of deep, cool water, and, looking in one day, I saw the stars."
ADMITTING THAT OUR SCHOOLS ARE DEFECTIVE, WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PRESENT CONDITIONS?
PAYSON SMITH, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, AUBURN, MAINE Whatever claims we may make for the institution of the public school we cannot quite justify the one that it is a divine institution.
Indeed it is a very human one, constructed by human hands and directed by human brains, and because this institution is so constructed and so directed it must suffer from defects-the defects that are inseparable from the human qualities of its originators and its directors. And the defects of this institution cannot always be those well-defined, clearly marked defects which are to be readily detached from the mass of excellences with which they are connected; indeed it is by no means easy to secure an agreement as to whether a defect in the schools is a defect-30 soon as you prove absolutely that it is one someone else makes entirely clear that it is a positive virtue.
Therefore it is no easy task to discuss the defects of the schools in a twentyfive minute paper-not easy, unless you remind me that any superintendent of schools who has not been told by his patrons of enough defects in their schoolsand all owing to him-to stock a paper many times that length, must be without sufficient experience to justify his attempting the task.
However, I do not understand that you will expect me to refer to the everyday defects in the schools. I take it for granted that we all know that children can't spell as well as they used to spell, that only about one in a hundred can add and subtract with the facility of our fathers when they were boys, and that the schools are weakened and vitiated by all the frills, fancies, and fol-de-rols which our hard-headed ancestors would have ridden out of school on the same rail with the teacher who had dared to introduce them. Passing over these commonplace defects then, may I address myself to certain general conditions. which appear to me to be worthy of our attention?
One of the most serious defects in our modern school lies in its failure to serve the individual. We have become accustomed to dealing with children in the aggregate instead of with the child as an individual being. In the recent years which have seen rapid urban growth we have had to deal with
rapidly increasing numbers. In disposing of numbers modern system came to our rescue, and we found that we could meet our new difficulties by creating classes or groups arranged according to age, or size, or supposed advancement in certain leading subjects.
Modern system helped us further by devising courses of study to be administered in sections, so much a year to each of the groups it had helped us to arrange, and it gave us still more aid when it provided certain methods to be employed each year for the administering of each year's quota to each year's class or group; and thus was created our modern grade-system of schools. The material, however, for whose benefit this system was to be conducted is by no means as uniform as the system itself. Drawn from all races, from all strata of society, from all conditions and customs of living, representing all sorts and varieties of natural and acquired tastes, talents, and capacities, the teacher is confronted not only with the task of molding out of the mass a citizenship of a worthy type, but, as well, that of fitting each individual for the place for whose work he is best adapted.
In certain phases of work our mass teaching has been a success. We have settled upon certain broad foundations which must be laid for all other education and we are accomplishing certain large results with much credit. How much is to be done now, however, in the way of making this school system of ours fit the child rather than the child fit the system is apparent to those who are in a position to note the annual falling by the wayside of the thousands of children who cannot be crushed into compliance with the terms offered by a cast-iron school system. This course of study we have designed to meet the needs of an indeterminate individual whom we call the "average child;" these methods of teaching we have devised to meet the supposed intelligence, intuition, reason, and judgment of this same "average child," and we have given the former by means of the latter to all children, regardless of the fact that our so-called average child is after all a composite child of the imagination and no real child of flesh and blood that was ever seen.
While this defect which we are considering is due in a measure to the extreme to which system has been carried, it is likewise due in part to a false notion which many of our people, including some teachers, hold regarding the office of education. The idea has obtained that the public school, as well as other educational institutions, exists for the chief and nearly the sole purpose of giving knowledge. The larger office of education is not to give knowledge; it is to develop power. Galileo well said, "You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself."
We have spent and we are still spending so much time and energy in teaching facts that we are neglecting that other more important duty, which is to help children to find themselves, to know and to use the power that in them lies. The value of a school system is not to be measured by the multitude of things a child must learn under it; rather is it measured by the question as to whether, from the multitude of its offerings, he can find the things
few or many, which will meet his needs. We are agreed that the subjects which we use as a medium for the educational process may be wisely or unwisely selected from the view-point of the mass. Is it not possible also from the view-point of the individual that this selection presents a question to be answered with equal care? That which will provide just the right mental stimulus for one child may not be at all the thing necessary for another. To direct any other than individual treatment is hardly less foolish than would be the act of a physician who should order for all his patients the same kind of medicine, regardless of the ailments he is curing, or the constitutions of his several patients.
We have been much concerned of late regarding the abnormal child. We have awakened to our duty to the child to whom Nature has apparently been unkind. We are appreciating the extent of our obligation to the deaf, the blind, the crippled, the mental defective, and the moral delinquent. This awakening has come none too early. But while we are considering all these cases who can say that he has ever had to do with any child so absolutely normal, so evenly developed, that he presented no peculiarity nor weakness? When we shall have builded institutions in every state and in every large city for those classes of children whom the public school cannot possibly serve, there will yet remain that vast majority of children who present ordinary peculiarities and deficiencies by no means to be overlooked because they happen to be so slight as to afford no justification for placing the children in special schools. In other words it will still be the duty of the public school to treat as individuals the children who attend it.
If our schools are to meet this demand then must our courses of study be framed so that in them will be found those things which will meet the needs of all children; our programs must be so arranged as to afford time and opportunity for the teacher to meet her pupils individually, and we must cease to hold in sacred regard a system which is so systematic that it will neither break nor bend.
If this school system of ours is maintained for the child shall we not adapt it to his needs? But if, on the other hand, we cling to the belief that the child is created to feed the system, then must we not expect the continuance of present results, the casting out of multitudes who cannot be made over to meet its requirements? The advance made in recent years in methods of class instruction has been notable. I believe it requires no seer to prophesy that in the years that are just ahead our greatest advance is to be in making the public school a more efficient instrument in bringing the individual into his own inheritance.
From the defect which I have just named to the next one in my list is a logical step. The principle which has been mentioned is as applicable to communities as it is to persons. In the matter of laying educational plans it is possible to err in the too close imitation of others, commendable in themselves but impossible of adaptation to the schools with which we have to do.
It is certainly both natural and desirable that leadership be acknowledged and that we be ready to follow those whose rarer knowledge and keener insight make clear the pathway before us. Yet every superintendent knows that the same method of teaching will not always meet the same degree of success in the corresponding rooms of the same building, to say nothing of the different schools of the same town or city. The principle holds even in the broadest way. A scheme which works in New England may not be practicable in the South, nor may the one which is practicable in New York be equally so in Chicago. What is true of communities is likewise true of various types of school. May I illustrate by calling your attention to the two types of school which we see, the one in the city and the other in the country? With the rapid centralization of population, with the creation of the new and fascinating problems of city schools, with the larger funds at the disposal of city directors, it has been natural that a preponderating attention should have been given to city schools. While this condition has prevailed, the country school has either been overlooked or it has been made to depend for its advancement upon such points as it could gather from the experiments tried in city schools. The result has been that improvements in the country schools have been attempted along lines similar to those successfully tried in city schools. But this effort to improve the rural school by imitation of a school created to serve a totally different type of community has been accompanied with small profit to the former. Much of the work done in rural schools has been actually subversive of the best interests of country children. They have been educated away from the farms, out of sympathy with the country and its life, until for selfpreservation's and happiness' sake they have fled to the city in order to find there the only places for which their education had prepared them.
The future development of the country school is to lie along new lines. It will make use of the material that lies close at hand; its curriculum will include those subjects of interest to the country child; its methods will conform to its means; it will promote those forms of manual training natural and indigenous to country life-and it will be worthier of respect for being itself rather than a weak imitation of a town school. The principle cited is applicable to the cases of different towns and cities. The school system of any town or city exists in a measure to serve the interests of the community which creates and supports it, and it may lose its chief value in the attempt to model too closely after other towns not similarly placed. Just as the individual teacher has methods which she uses with peculiar success and has characteristics which are reflected in her school, so will each school bear an individuality of its own. And in a larger way should all the schools of a town bear essential characteristics which will stamp them and hold them together as the individual system created for, by, and of the people for whose welfare it was constructed and is run.
It is often said that the school work is cramping and narrowing in its effects. If this is true of your school work or of mine is it not because we keep too