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Thru the direct influence of the annual conferences for education in the South and the various campaigns, conducted under the auspices of the Southern Board, the very term "education” has come to mean something very different from the older, vague, indefinite conception. Education has come to mean training for life's work, the upbuilding of efficient citizenship of real men and real women, equipped physically, mentally, and morally to live happy, healthful, helpful lives in harmony with their environment.
In his annual address before the Conference for Education in the South last year, Mr. Robert C. Ogden, the president of the conference and board, whose name is called to all our minds whenever the Southern Board is mentioned and whose grand and noble life has so largely made this great work possible, stated that during the last seven years the public appropriations for education in the states under the influence of the Southern Education Board have increased $16,000,000 per annum. Indeed, I am very much inclined to believe that during the year now nearly elapsed since Mr. Ogden made this very conservative estimate, this figure has become much too small.
Yet this is only one expression of the results accomplished very largely thru this board. The several state-wide campaigns for educational revival, the organization and support of education commissions, and the school improvement work have, one and all, been potent forces in arousing and directing public sentiment for public schools.
And I believe that it is not entirely out of place to remark that this great campaign, this new understanding of the duties of the several states to educate and equip its citizens, this acceptance of education as the training for work, has done much toward the solution of our bi-racial problem; and our people, to a very great extent, have taken a different view on the question of educating the negro, for the education they are now getting is rapidly coming to be more carefully adapted to their needs, calculated more specifically to make them useful, cleanly, and industrious. This work has shown no short cut in this long and difficult problem but it seems to have indicated the practical application of a great fundamental principle, long overlooked.
Closely associated with these major activities are the Jeannes and the Slater funds specifically for the education of the negro. Then, there are many foundations and funds for civic, social, moral, and physical uplift, which are aiding thru every avenue but which are not so closely allied to the state departments of education.
I do not feel that I should conclude these remarks without calling to mind the great forerunner of these beneficent enterprises, the Peabody Foundation, now so nearly to the close of its active existence by name and organization. The South can never adequately express its debt of gratitude to the founder and to the administrators of this fund, which during the past half-century has done so much to give to our public schools teachers trained for their work and which is to have as its lasting monument a great Teacher's College as one of the priceless jewels of our Southland.
Those who compose this Department of Superintendence know and appreciate the great work of the General and Southern Education boards and, I am sure, every
member stands pledged to the uttermost to lend every co-operation to this noble cause of noble men for humanity—this great cause that has for its purpose nothing less than enriching a nation with material wealth and the far greater wealth of a citizenship with trained minds in whole bodies, directed by pure hearts.
ROUND TABLE OF SUPERINTENDENTS OF SMALLER CITIES
TOPIC: UNITY OF IDEALS AND PURPOSES IN TEACHERS
A. AS GAINED FROM PROFESSIONAL TRAINING
ALFRED C. THOMPSON, PRINCIPAL OF STATE NORMAL SCHOOL, BROCKPORT, N.Y. The commissioner of education of the state of New York in a recent address said:
Of course the main educational concern of New York is that her people shall be trained in common honesty. Where that is accomplished, much of the other training takes care of itself. If it is not assured, the other training is of little avail.
Substitute the word "nation” for “New York” in this noble sentiment and you have the keynote of all that I shall say. Unity of ideals and purposes can be promoted by professional training if elemental honesty is the precept and practice of those who direct and instruct, and if it is the mainspring of all thought and action.
The commonest defect in our social organism is that men, who would not rob a neighbor of the loaf of bread upon which he nourishes his babes, will unhesitatingly steal all of the grain in the world, from which the bread is made, even if it should mean the destruction of all of the babies in the world.
We may quibble about educational creeds and methods. With equally good intentions one may seek good results in one way and another in another way. We can never settle definitely the means by which teachers may secure the desired ends. David could not fight in Saul's armor. There can never be uniformity of method, but there may be and should be unity of purpose.
We are dealing with the souls of men. Ideals determine the destiny of souls. Honesty should be the essence of all ideals and purposes set up by professional training. Not the anaemic honesty that manifests itself in sentimental emotions and hysterical bursts of spectacular charity; or, in other words, the kind that men have who do good Sundays and “do” their neighbors all the rest of the week; but the kind that makes people good to live with and safe to do business with; the kind that gives men a broad perception and appreciation of the situation and interests of those remote from them in distance or social rank, whose lives their conduct influences for good or ill.
Professional training has much to do with creating ideals because intellectual content is vitally essential to the ideal since the ideal must contain the particular knowledge fitted to arouse thought and control action.
No longer than a generation ago it was the chief purpose of teachers to teach subjects rather than pupils. Even today in many schools it is safe to say that there is more teacher study by pupils than pupil study by teachers.
It is undoubtedly the first duty of professional training to start the teacher on the right track inspired with the purpose to know and teach children and to help each child attain his highest possibilities.
Professional training must make it clear that knowledge is good, but that wisdom is better; that a learned man may be a fool and a knave, but a wise man never; that it is a much greater thing for one to be good because he wants to, rather than because he must; that the will cannot be forced, but that it can be led; that the teacher's province is less to instruct than to guide; that it is not a teacher's business to lay down precepts, but to teach pupils to discover them; that the quality of effort one makes is worth vastly more than what he gets as the result of the effort; that ability to think and to direct one's efforts economically will do vastly more toward giving one a position in life than a knowledge and control of any specialized symbols of learning; and finally, that the teacher's responsibility is to arouse a life-long interest in the things in which the pupil ought to be interested, in order that, when the training of the school is over, the education of life may continue such training as long as life lasts.
One of the purposes of a teacher should be to cultivate the spirit of thrift in himself and in his pupils. I do not mean thrift as it is popularly understood and practiced. Under the name of thrift great masters of finance and corporations have adopted questionable methods and have devised subtle means and dishonest ways of misleading, in order to compel those who must buy the commodity they control to buy at unfair and excessive prices, that they may wring from the helpless purchaser inordinate gains for themselves. This spirit has permeated our commercial life and in some measure all classes of our people.
I mean honest thrift which offers an honest article and demands a fair price. Is it not a very proper part of professional training to set a fair estimate on its own product ? It is not very long ago that the notion obtained that the only necessary qualification for a teacher was the missionary spirit and the schools were regarded as eleemosynary institutions in consequence.
The missionary spirit is most commendable, but the time has come when school work is not missionary work. There is nothing more vital to a nation's welfare, and its very existence, than education. It is not only a nation's chief defence, but its cheap defence. The most economical insurance a nation can carry is education, and the nation must not be relieved of supporting education by shifting the burden onto the shoulders of missionaries.
In my opinion, the low financial estimate put upon education by our nation is responsible in large measure for the small number of men engaged in this work. Not only is the pecuniary compensation forbidding, but a person's social standing and influence are too often based, not on the character of his work, but on the amount of pay that he gets for it.
Certain it is that pedagogicus masculinus is fast disappearing in our country, and unless conditions change it is very likely that he will at no distant day become as extinct as the great auk. It is most unfortunate that the inducements to enter the teaching profession are not sufficient to lead able young men to make the sacrifice in time and preparation which the work demands, for the teaching profession will never receive the recognition which is its due until more men enter the ranks.
I do not want this interpreted as belittling in any way the splendid work women are doing, but teaching must be a man's as well as a woman's job. Children can be best fitted to take their places in the social organism only thru the instruction of both men and
I believe that all of us will accept this without argument. There are many more reasons why men do not voluntarily go into teaching. I believe it will be germane to this discussion to introduce two or three of the most prominent
Tenure of office is very uncertain. From statistics covering quite a wide field, it appears that the tenure of office of men in the teaching profession is less than three years, and in almost all places teachers must be subjected to the humiliation of annual election, when all of their shortcomings are raked over by school officers and aired in the community. This nomadic existence with its attendant worries is not likely to induce contentment and a frame of mind suited to the best intellectual effort.
When young men about to choose a life's work see school men and school women, thru no fault of their own, going down and out, for causes too numerous to mention, the prospect is not alluring.
School work has not yet attained the dignity of a business. The business sense is pretty strong in most men. They like to engage in callings whose management is dignified, where authority and responsibility are commensurate, where there are large opportunities and large outlooks.
Again, statistics show that less than 3 per cent of men teachers receive what is generally regarded as a “living" salary for a family. I firmly believe that the altruistic spirit controls most teachers and that very few are governed by mercenary motives, but the biological end of existence, which is to perpetuate one's kind, impels a man to choose a life's work which is likely to afford the means of supporting a family.
It is my firm conviction that all of us engaged in the work of education should do all in our power to improve the condition of the teacher financially and otherwise. A reasonable spirit of honest thrift will not lessen the teacher's quality of effort. It will not prevent him from trying to improve his skill in teaching and to make his field of learning more extensive and accurate. It will not en his desire to perfect himself in fine manners. He will seek just as earnestly to raise the standard of his character. He will be even more likely to strive to make himself the desired professional teacher.
We may be sure that nobody will put a higher estimate on our work than we do ourselves. I believe that to try to better our financial remuneration and general condition by every honest means in our power is compatible with the highest purposes and noblest ideals.
Unity of ideals and purposes may do much to strengthen a public sentiment in favor of those methods which are best for our country's welfare. But how bring about unity ? Unity is not made. Like Topsy, it grows. In trees there is unity; in telegraph poles, uniformity. The first is one of the highest expressions of a divine power. The last is man's work.
Undoubtedly, if there is to be unity it must be in that subtle something we call character in both its subjective and social phase. What we are, pertains to the real, true self. What we do, has its influence on those about us.
A young child acts under the inspiration of suggestion, and when he is older, under the inspiration of ideals. As the chameleon's color changes with the color of the objects about it, so is the child's character acted upon by what we teachers are and by what we do.
This faculty of being easily influenced surrenders children to the mercy of their elders; therefore we, the elders, the teachers, must have the single purpose of surrounding children with the influences that will lead them to aspire to the things that are honest. In all of our ideals and purposes, it seems to me that this should be the ultimate, the supreme aim.
Heavy demands are made on the several educational agencies for professional training which are endeavoring to meet the exacting requirements that are set for teachers. It is most fitting that there should be among these agencies a unity of ideals and purposes, for certainly the requirements asked would tax genius and divinity.
I have made an attempt to collate from different sources some of these requirements for a successful teacher. A teacher to measure up to the demands must have the learning of a college president, the consecration of a clergyman, the executive talents of a financier, the humility of a deacon, and the craftiness of a politician. He must be an angel for temper, a demon for discipline, a chameleon for adaptation, a diplomat for tact, an optimist for hope, and a hero for courage. He should have the wisdom of a serpent, and the gentleness of a dove, the grace of God, the patience of Job, and the perseverance of the devil.
Let such teachers bring to our schools the cultures that make for a noble citizenship, but let the people bring to their support the utilities that make for a material success, without which citizenship is a mockery and democracy a farce.
B. AS GAINED FROM SCHOOL SUPERVISION E. C. WARRINER, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, SAGINAW, MICH. A short time ago, the head of the department of modern languages in one of our normal schools offered the following criticism on the course of study in their training school. “What do you think my boy, now in the second grade, is getting ?” he said. “I asked him the other day what he was studying in school and he replied, 'Twice a week we have manual training and three times a week we have primitive arboreal man. Now what do you think of that? Even if we have risen thru the cave-dwelling and the tree-dwelling and the man-eating stages, I'd like my child to get thru those epochs just as soon as possible and get to living in the world today. I'd like my boy to have some instruction in penmanship, which he doesn't receive, and I'd like him to read about the twentieth century A.D., not the twentieth century B.C.” I confess that I sympathize freely with my friend, but I believe the dawn of a better day is visible. We are nearly thru the woods. I use this incident to introduce this query. How far should unity in a school organization extend? Should a teacher be required to teach what does not appeal to him? In thinking over my friend's criticism, I asked myself, what should I do should I find myself in a teacher's position and required to teach first- and second-grade children about primitive arboreal man? Should the course of study be fixed or fluent, compulsory or optional ?
My answer to this query is, the course of study should for the most part be a fixed quantity, while the methods of teaching should be optional. Supervision should say what is to be taught—the individual teacher should determine how this subject matter is to be taught. Election of studies in the high school has gone too far in the past fifteen years, with disastrous results to the mental caliber of our high-school product. By analogous reasoning, the elementary course of study has been poisoned with freedom of choice on the teacher's part, which has brought forth indefiniteness of knowledge, superficiality of knowledge, and lack of knowledge in pupils who have finished our elementary schools. The supervising officers of a school system should not specify each day's work or each week's work but they may well mark out the studies by monthly or two-monthly periods. Latitude must be given the teacher's judgment as to what tomorrow's lesson in arithmetic shall be, but the course of study should say what topics are to be taught this month. This should not be left to the teacher's judgment. Perhaps the course of study may name twenty stories for a three-month period from which the teacher may choose twelve to tell in the second grade, or the course of study may enumerate ten poems from which the teacher may select two. Perhaps a half-dozen third readers may be listed from which the teacher may
choose-I say “perhaps” because I am not sure but that even in these matters there should be a unity which can be secured best by prescription. It is undoubtedly true in story-telling and poem-teaching, less so in reading, that a teacher will teach well only what appeals to him as meaningful and forceful. If teachers are consulted, however, in the group, as to their choice of literature, an agreement can be reached which will be satisfactory to four-fifths of them and thus a unity be given even to these subjects. In arithmetic, geography, history, spelling, grammar, penmanship, I see no reason for giving teachers any choice as to what is to be taught. Supervisors may very wisely consult the experience of the classroom teacher as to what is best fitted to the child's age, but doubtful points should be judged by the supervisor, and always the final decision should rest with him. To hand over without reservation to a group of teachers the absolute and final decision as to course of study or textbooks is a dangerous policy for the welfare of the schools. The teaching group has the best of meaning, but they lack two things, possessed by the supervisor, which are essential to a determination of any important cause in any walk of life, namely, responsibility and breadth of view. Unless supervisors are charged first and foremost with the duty of saying what is to be taught and unless the supervisors are men and women of broad training, wide experience, and keen observation which shall make their judgment of value, there can be no excuse for employing them at large salaries. Two factors should decide what is to be taught in school, the child's capacity and the needs of the times. The study of primitive arboreal man may satisfy the first requirement as being adapted to the child's stage of development, but it is so out of harmony with the second criterion, the demands of the age in which we live, that it should be condemned if it is to be considered an essential part of a curriculum. On the other hand, arithmetic and geography contain in themselves the subject-matter adapted to the age and capacity of children of different grades. There can be no choice as to what the fourth-grade child should learn in arithmetic-he should learn the multiplication tables and long division. Why should any option be given in the fourth year's course of study of arithmetic? Geography may offer wider scope for difference of opinion as to what the fourth year's