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FRANK HERBERT PALMER, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
ONSTRUCTION by correspondence has passed
the experimental stage. It has become a worldwide movement and lays its claim upon the attention of the student of educational affairs. It can never be favorably compared with oral instruction where the latter is available. For the direct personal influence of a living teacher must
always remain the one greatest asset of a course of education. The familiar definition of a college as a log with Mark Hopkins on one end and a student on the other, expresses a truth that cannot be gainsaid; namely, that personality outflowing from a master mind is the mightiest force in the inspiration and instruction of other minds. When this force must exert itself through the medium of the printed page there cannot help being more or less loss from the resistance offered by the transmitting medium. Nevertheless there are thousands, yes millions, of people so situated that they cannot sit on a log with a great teacher. For many of these instruction by correspondence is the next best thing, -and a great boon. Increasing multitudes are finding this out, and taking up courses of study by correspondence, to their own edification and to the decided advantage of the state. For by means of such courses the general average of public intelligence is raised. The movement is distinctly in the line of good citizenship, and should have the sympathy and support of all who are intelligently interested in the progress of the race.
HISTORY OF THE MOVEMENT
Instruction by correspondence is an outgrowth of the university extension movement which originated in England in 1868. Societies were formed in that country for the encouragement of home study, and plans or outlines were prepared to guide the reading of those who became interested. In 1873 the idea crossed the water and a similar society was formed in Boston which added correspondence with its members as an integral part of its plan. Ten years later a “Correspondence University” was formed in New York State with headquarters at Ithaca, with a board of instructors from different colleges and universities. It offered at low cost helpful instruction by correspondence to such persons as could not leave their homes for attendance at established institutions of learning. Thę Chautauqua movement soon followed and became very popular throughout the country. The late Dr. William R. Harper, on assuming the presidency of Chicago University at its establishment in 1892, endorsed the method and made it a part of the work of the University as a Correspondence Division of the University Extension Department. From the first the movement has had the co-operation and support of the colleges and universities, many of the professors in which have been the instructors in the various courses offered by the correspondence schools. There are said to be now over two hundred such schools in the United States. One of the largest of these, the International Correspondence Schools of Scranton, Penn., claims to have enrolled in the twenty years of its existence 1,281,800 names. It has about five hundred instructors and furnishes instruction in 203 subjects.
The name suggests the distinctive difference between correspondence schools and ordinary institutions of learning. Residence and fixed hours of attendance upon recitation are not required, and the student may pursue his regular employment so long as he finds time to do the required amount of study. The mails afford the means of communication between teacher and pupil. Text-books are recommended, directions are given, outlines, examination papers and test questions are furnished, and the student is encouraged to consult the instructor in regard to difficulties encountered. He is thus carried along and trained under expert direction for more efficient service in his work or profession; and prepared, if such is is desire, for some other trade, or for advancement to a more responsible position.
From the catalogue of The Home Correspondence School of Springfield, Mass., * the strongest and largest school of this kind having headquarters in New England, we quote the following paragraph, showing in more detail the method of procedure:
“Suppose yourself to be one of five hundred pupils enrolled in arithmetic, we will say, in The Home Correspondence School. You know none of them, and most likely none of them know you. But a text-book-the best that we can find is sent to every pupil, and to everyone is likewise sent a bundle of paper and of blanks to be used as directed; but, chief in importance of all, there is sent a carefully prepared Syllabus of lesson-assignments. Each assigned lesson will cover so many pages or sections, so many explanations to be read in the book, so many rules to be learned and applied, and so many examples to be worked out, or problems solved. All needed additional explanations are given in the Syllabus, and difficult examples are solved so as to make clear to the pupil the meaning of an operation.
“Then there are given to the pupil some questions to answer, some work to do, some problem to solve, or some principle to recite, and all this is to be sent back to his teacher as a Report upon this lesson, by which his correspondence teacher can see how well the lesson has been learned, and what help the pupil needs. With this Report the pupil also sends back all wellconsidered questions he wishes to ask, and applies for any aid which he thinks he needs. The correspondence teacher promptly examines this Report, corrects its 'errors, makes suggestions, and answers all questions asked. . . . Each lessonassignment is intended to be about a week's work of an hour or two a day, and it is hoped and expected that one such lesson will be completed each week, and a report of it be sent back to The School. A year's study will thus be about forty weekly lessons. The pupil may advance as much faster than a lesson a week as he is able.” On successful completion of a course of study a diploma or certificate of attainment is awarded.
* We take pleasure in commending this catalogue to the attention of our readers. It is rich in suggestion, and well worth owning and reading. It will be sent free on application to the school, 368 Main Street, Springfield, Mass.
Schools of this character are usually incorporated under the laws of some state, and are managed by a responsible board of directors including presidents and professors of leading literary institutions. The school above referred to has the following main departments: Academic and Preparatory; Agricultural; Commercial; Normal; Civil Service.
The Academic and Preparatory Department includes everything required for entrance to college and many additional courses of college grade. The courses in English are given by Prof. Genung of Amherst; Latin, by Prof. Harkness of Brown; Greek, by Prof. Chase of Harvard; German, by Prof. McLouth of New York University, etc. Courses in Psychology are given by Dr. Dawson of the Hartford Theological Seminary, and courses in the New Testament by Dr. Hatch of the General Theological Seminary of New York City. The Agricultural Department offers a complete course in Agriculture, also special courses in Soils, Fertilizers, Farm Crops and Animal Husbandry under Prof. Brooks and Prof. Gribben of the Massachusetts Agricultural College; a course in Veterinary Science under Dr. Paige of the same institution; courses in Horticulture, Floriculture, Landscape Gardening and Forestry under Prof. Craig and Prof. Batchelor of Cornell University; a course in Poultry Culture under Prof. Graham of Hampton Institute, formerly Professor of Poultry Culture at the Connecticut Agriculture College; and a course in Agricultural Bacteriology under Dr. Henry W. Conn of Wesleyan University.
The principal of the Commercial Department is J. Frank Drake, a graduate of Dartmouth College and of the Tuck School of Administration and Finance. The courses cover Bookkeeping, Shorthand, Typewriting, Penmanship, Elementary Law and other commercial branches.
The principal of the Normal Department is Dr. Alfred H. Campbell, formerly principal of the New Hampshire State Normal School. In addition to a Normal and an Advanced Normal Course there are special courses in Primary Methods, School Music, Elementary and Advanced Pedagogy, Science and Art of Teaching, and a Kindergarten Course.
The Civil Service Department offers special courses to prepare for examinations for positions in the government service, such as Post Office, Railway Mail, Custom House, Departmental Clerkships, etc. The principal of this department is Mr. W. Stanwood Field of the Boston Public Schools. The Civil Service text-books published by The Home Correspondence School have been adopted during the past year as regular text-books for class use by nearly six hundred business colleges, Y. M. C. A.'s, and public evening schools.
The cost of a course in a correspondence school differs, of course, according to circumstances, but it is always low as compared with the expense of a course in an ordinary resident school away from the pupil's own home. In the Springfield school the fee for a full course of forty lessons, including books, lesson outlines, stationery and personal instruction is $20. This is payable in advance, but special arrangements are sometimes made to receive it in monthly payments. A certificate of membership, entitling the holder to be registered as a student, and to share in all the privileges of the school, including free text-books and all stationery, is issued upon enrollment. This certificate continues in force for two years, and allows the student that length of time in which to complete a year, a half year or any less amount of scheduled work. This period may be extended for an additional year on account of sickness or other good cause on payment of a fee of $1.
SUMMARY OF ADVANTAGES
First, Correspondence schools meet the needs of multitudes of people who cannot give up their jobs, and who have not the money to go to resident schools and colleges.
Second, They enable ambitious young people to get a good preparation for colleges or scientific schools; and they furnish the opportunity to become more skilled in their work, and therefore to be in line for promotion and better pay, to ordinary clerks, citizens and workmen in various lines of employment.
Third, The courses of study are adapted to the time the student has at his disposal. The student may enroll at any time, and the school is in session throughout the year.