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close to the lines of convention and tradition, because we follow too slavishly what others have planned, and allow to ourselves too little of that freedom of action which is the saving grace of any employment?
A current criticism of the modern school is that it crowds too much work upon the child, that it requires more work of him than is consistent with mastery and thoroness, and because I believe this criticism is in a certain way well grounded I am naming it as the third defect in the schools.
Now it must be borne in mind that in any comparison regarding efficiency the schools are at a great disadvantage as related to other professions or industries. The physician's patient improves and gets well, or grows worse and dies; the lawyer's case is passed on by judge and jury and a decision is reached. They know whether they have failed or succeeded. The manufacturer, whether of shoes, watches, furniture, or what not, can go at once to his finished product and can make an immediate decision regarding the efficiency of his workmen. Point by point he can compare it with past product and determine at once whether there has been progress and improvement. Not so of the schools, however. The efficiency of our present-day school system, for example, is not to be finally judged until its product has not only taken its place in the world but until it has been in that place long enough to have accomplished something. The custom, so general, of judging the schools by comparing the work of children with the alleged work of their parents at a corresponding age is as unfair to the schools as it is to the children themselves. In the experimentation which is inseparable from progress in education and which must, it is true, be based in part on theory, it is impossible that some mistakes should not be made; but to infer that such experimentation, because it involves change, is productive of harm is to deny the advantages of study, investigation, and the pursuit of truth. Therefore as much of this complaint as issues from dissatisfaction with new subjects coming into the course of study. is not worthy of serious consideration. There is no need for an apologist for the introduction into the schools of any subject which a study of the needs of children, the changing conditions of life, or the ends of education clearly make necessary. However, when a study or a portion of a study remains in the school after its lack of value is apparent, then there is a need for apology. The overcrowding in the schools is due to three things: (1) to our notion. that every child must take all parts of all the work offered, regardless of personal and individual need. To this I have already referred. (2) It is due to a certain Chinese characteristic of our people which insists that whatever the past generations had, educationally speaking, must go into the training of the present one. There's many a farmer who improves his farming methods. every year who would apparently have us believe he would like his boy to be educated by exactly the same methods used on him twenty-five years ago.
We cling to those things which heredity and tradition have made dear. And because tradition says study arithmetic nine years from notation and numeration thru partial payments and cube root and mensuration, then
arithmetic so administered it must be. Conservative public opinion, itself the severest critic of overcrowding, is in part responsible for the condition it deplores. And the third cause of overcrowding lies in the domination of the lower schools by the classical colleges. The "college trust," if I may apply a term so commercial to an institution so literary, attempts to determine the limits of education, not only for itself, but for all the schools leading to it. So much mathematics and of just this kind; so much English and of just these authors; so much history and in portions of just so many hours. By meeting these requirements and these only, admission to the college precincts may be gained. In the great majority of towns and cities the only practical way of meeting the requirements is adopted, and the course of study is framed for the whole number of students to meet the needs of the few for whom the colleges have prescribed.
In the state of Maine there are two hundred and fifty high schools, and the courses of study in these schools follow chiefly the requirements laid down. by the classical college. In that state the leading industries are manufacturing and farming, and unless you consider commercial courses in some way related to the former and physics and chemistry to the latter, then in all those two hundred and fifty schools there is no subject referring directly to the interests I have mentioned.
If the elementary and secondary schools are to serve the people better, then must the colleges make a more careful study of the demands which are being made in other directions on the lower schools and adapt their own requirements to meet them.
There is a class of defects in education, usually set down by the unthinking as defects in the public schools, the responsibility for which must, in my opinion, be placed at other doors. There is a current notion that the whole work of education must be attended to by the schools. It has been overlooked that two other great and important institutions have their duty to perform for the young as well as has the school. The tendency to force upon the school the duties, privileges, and prerogatives of the home, for example, is dangerous to the school, to the home, and to the child. Among all the institutions of the world none is to be compared in its possibilities to the home.
The church holding on high the standard of the cross and pointing out the higher life has indeed been a powerful factor in human progress; governments climbing century after century to higher ideals have secured for mankind larger freedom and broader rights; educational institutions seeking the pathway of truth have blazed the way to enlightenment and to wisdom; fraternal organizations have linked human hearts in brotherly affection and they have cemented the social bonds of the world. But permit me to say that not one of these alone nor all of them together has ever taken the place or ever can take the place of the home. In it the sacred obligations of religion find their truest expression. By means of its association, government teaches its first lesson of obedience, and the rights of others receive their first recognition.
There self-sacrifice and affection find their finest opportunity. In it education begins, to the perpetuity of it education must tend, and without it education would not be worth while.
Some of the greatest moral lessons life has to teach must be taught in the home. Loyalty, honor, courtesy, self-reliance, self-control, respect for law, and obedience to authority, these are some of the things that cannot be taught by the school alone; and when I hear the criticism that our schools are defective because they do not teach these things, then I am inclined to answer that others than the schools must answer in part for the defect. I have small sympathy with the claim that our schools are defective on the moral side. If it be true that education as a whole does less for children than it ought, then I believe the school must not be made to shoulder more than its share of the responsibility. Pink teas and Browning clubs are responsible for more child neglect than are the teachers and the public schools. Again, we hear that modern education does too little for the child's religious training. If this is so, shall the public school bear the entire blame, or is it possible that the church has a duty to perform? I am ready to agree that the public school may properly give more attention than it now does to Bible literature and Bible history that both are of too great value as literature and as history to be left out of the courses in these subjects. But this does not by any means indicate religious training. Teaching these things bears about the same relation to the strengthening of a strong religious faith as teaching technical morals bears to making a boy good. The training of the child into the faith of his fathers can be done by the home and church alone, and such training will follow when these two appreciate their obligation and their opportunity. Whatever our faith we must admire that loyalty and devotion which the Catholic church pays to childhood. She watches her children and she claims them for her own. Let all the churches write into their creeds a belief in childhood and its right to a spiritual training, and there will be no failure of modern education on the religious side.
From religion to politics may be a far cry, but I cannot close this paper without a brief reference to those unfortunate defects in our schools which are caused by professional politics. The person who seeks to promote his power by the multiplication of wires he can pull, by the amount of patronage he can dispense, by the sums of money he can expend, by the opportunity to play to the great galleries for applause, has unhappily not hesitated to make use of the opportunity offered by the public-school system for doing these things. The political boss who has invaded and perverted every other branch of public service has not been deterred from invading even that branch which has in charge the training of the youth. The forms in which this insidious foe to good schools does his work hardly need description. He breaks down the efficiency of the schools in the contracts which build the schoolhouses, in the purchases which supply and equip them, in the unseating of competent teachers, in the promotion of undeserving ones, and in the silencing for party
reasons of the persons whose voices should be influential for better things. The evil lifts itself as well against the high official who gives years of eminent service as against the obscure teacher who goes down before pull and favoritism.
I have not lost sight of the fact that there is a sense in which it is proper to consider what we may call the political interests of the schools. Under our present representative form of government our schools are presumably to be conducted in conformity to the wishes of the people. There are proper means to be used to discover what these wishes are, and as well to direct in the formation of a public opinion that shall desire improved conditions. But of the deplorable state of affairs which allows ward bosses and time-serving politicians to dictate educational policies and to interfere with the schools it is impossible to speak in terms of too severe condemnation. It is a happy thought, however, that if the politician is the natural enemy of the school, so is the school the natural enemy of the politician and the things for which he stands, and it is the public school which will finally drive him out of his nefarious business.
Of all the defects in the schools perhaps none is more glaring than its failure to inculcate in children the liking and the power for work. We have so long held before youth the idea that the achievement of education means escape from toil that now we are even trying to make the process itself a laborless one. We are constantly trying to devise methods by the use of which children shall be merely the passive agents, accepting, without reciprocating effort even, what the teacher and the book can get into their heads. Where education once meant labor, exertion, and self-sacrifice it now means often merely getting into a wagon, being comfortably tucked in, being hauled to school, being placed tenderly in an adjustable seat, being given a free textbook, free paper, and a free pencil, and being interested and entertained into knowing something thru such educational vaudeville as the teacher may be able to carry on. The process begins in the kindergarten and continues until graduation from the high school, so that the modern child counts that day lost which sees not some new game, amusement, or device, or athletic event, or dance, or fraternity gathering, to keep alive his interest in his school and his education.
Do you remember away back in your own school days the tough old problem-how you struggled with it in school; how you took it home with you and sat down after supper to study into it; how you took it to bed with you and slept over it and how you got up and went at it again in the morning— and then do you recall the glad flush of happiness you had when you gained the victory? And aren't you grateful today to the teacher who allowed you to have the joy of that triumph? It appears to me that in the softness of our modern pedagogy there is the danger that we shall prop and shield and coddle our children until they lose the power to go alone. The education that is worth while does not imply freedom from labor: it means ability and power
for labor, and a purpose to labor as well. It does not mean dependence: it signifies independence; and that educational process is faulty that does not leave the child at each succeeding stage abler to work for himself, more his own master, more independent both of the teacher and of the class.
For this defect we must all share the responsibility. Parents cannot bear to see their children undergo the same trials and hardships thru which they themselves passed. They are forgetful that thru the ordeals of self-sacrifice, effort, and overcoming are developed the hardy virtues of the race. Teachers on the other hand like to have a part in the educational process. We do not like to efface ourselves. We want to feel that we personally have something to do about it. And so we interfere with our development lessons, with our tricks and devices, and with our explanations, until there is danger that our pupils lose the power to initiate, the ability to attack and to conquer for themselves the problems and the difficulties which they encounter.
If our schools shall succeed in producing generations of independent responsible men and women able to think for themselves, act for themselves, support themselves, then must we be careful lest we take from them in youth the influences which shall work to these ends.
HAS THE PRODUCT OF OUR SCHOOLS REASONABLE FITNESS IN SCHOLARSHIP AND PERSONAL QUALITIES FOR CITIZENSHIP?
SAMUEL HAMILTON, SUPERINTENDENT OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY SCHOOLS, BRADDOCK, PA.
The purpose of a system of education varies with the age and the ideals of a nation. Sparta through training sought courage; Athens, beauty; Rome, power; monasticism, piety; the Renaissance, classical culture. But the immediate purpose of our state systems of education is manhood, the ultimate purpose, citizenship. This citizenship calls for personal intelligence and personal integrity. And the question assigned to this paper for discussion is simple and direct: Are the schools to a reasonable degree meeting these two demands of modern citizenship?
The pessimist who bemoans the decay of civic virtue will answer this question in the negative. And his answer in the main is correct.
In reaching this conclusion, he is materially, tho unintentionally, aided by the public press. It speaks little of the nation's broad fields of civic life, rich with golden grain, while it discusses at great length the intermixture of tares growing here and there. It devotes small paragraphs to the intelligence, culture, and character of our people; while it gives whole pages to their vice, ignorance, selfishness, and greed. It admits that we have excellent schools, great colleges, magnificent libraries, beautiful churches, splendid asylums, and fine hospitals; while it advertises with great headlines the gold bricks, the political machines, the corrupting lobbies, and the oppressive