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bound to say that there is no immediate likelihood of agreement with President Baker, the distinguished head of the University of Colorado, in the position taken by him at the recent meeting of the National Association of State Universities when he said:
The thing to do with the liberal arts college is to abolish it, frankly and quickly, in its present form. If there was ever an absurdity in the history of civilization, it is the present status and use of the college of liberal arts in this country. And you gave the whole system away when you inaugurated the double degree scheme.
Neither is there large and enthusiastic agreement with President Baker as he further declares:
It is time for us to say frankly that preparatory education should end at about twenty years of age and there begin our university work; and then we should have none of these discussions.
Another subject of difference among the leaders of higher education in this country is that which has to do with the character of college curricula. To what extent the vocational and scientific studies may properly be regarded as disciplinary and cultural, and how far the pure mathematics, linguistics, and the humanities may be regarded as practical are questions to which the most earnest and thoughtful of our educational leaders have been unable to find a common answer.
Having in this somewhat desultory fashion set forth the points of agreement and disagreement in the scheme of higher education in the United States and having been driven to the conclusion that there is no present educational status in our colleges and universities that can properly be called such, I believe I have fully met the obligation placed upon me by this subject. May I not, however, in conclusion venture to prophesy that a larger
I ground of common agreement will soon be found ? The National Education Association has appointed a committee of five to deal with the whole subject of the reorganization of American education, and at the recent annual meeting of the National Association of State Universities in Washington there was appointed a standing committee on “Reorganization of Education,” consisting of Presidents Bryan of Indiana University, Schurman of Cornell University, Hill of the University of Missouri, Strong of the University of Kansas, and McVey of the University of North Dakota. It is not too much to hope that these two committees in co-operation, representing unitedly the great cause of public education in our country, will reach conclusions which will give to higher education in the United States a real status commanding the respect of the world. Personally, I dare to hope that these committees will conclude that the four-years' college course should be retained between the high school and the university, thereby prolonging the infantile period and guaranteeing a later increased social efficiency.
THE STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL LIFE AS APPLIED TO
HENRY SUZZALLO, PROFESSOR OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION, TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK, N.Y.
(Stenographic Report] We are in the habit of calling some types of work professional, implying that others are not. At the same time our phraseology carries the implication that one is more respectable than the other. Of course if there are inevitable stratifications in jobs as there are in men it is necessary to recognize the fact and act accordingly. The purpose of this discussion is to raise and answer the following questions: What are the valid distinctions between professional and non-professional employment? What constitutes the practice of a profession ? More particularly what does or will make teaching a truly professional service?
There are the four traditional professions-law, theology, medicine, and teaching. There are, too, some occupations that verge on the professional circle, or are recent recruits. Such are engineering, journalism, nursing, settlement work, and the like. On the other hand, we do not ordinarily include unskilled labor, the mechanic, and the business man among our professional servants. At once we feel the tendency to give greater praise or blame to professional men and women, as tho their work is more difficult or more important.
The reason for this suggested superiority or importance of professional service lies in the fact that there is greater power for general human weal or woe united with professional service than with business or unskilled and even skilled labor. A man who plants a field well gets a larger crop. The man who does it ill spoils a field of clods and some grain. But a good lawyer earns not only his daily bread, but at the same time protects something precious—as property, life, liberty, or happiness. The bad lawyer, the unprofessional one, quibbling over technicalities and bullyragging witnesses, juries, and judges, earns his daily bread to be sure, but he has violated the spirit of ancient laws, destroyed reverence for courts and justice, and walked rough-shod over the sanctities and rights of men. He has earned his bread, but he has incidentally destroyed institutions.
In a rough way society tries to protect itself against the abuse of these large powers which are incident to the earnings of a livelihood in professional service. It demands more general culture preliminary to the study and practice of a profession. This merely means it requires that the professional practitioner, because of his peculiar powers and temptations, must be given a fundamental knowledge of those values, ideals, traditions, which are fundamental to our social life. Hence the boy may go to a trade or a business at the close of the elementary school, but the youth may not start his work as a teacher, lawyer, doctor, or nurse before he has passed thru the high school. The secondary school means a broader and more
intensive view of life in general than the elementary school. The professional work is not merely more scientific and complex than non-professional service—it has intimate connections with the fundamental values of life. It ramifies into the greater movements of our civilization. Hence the need for a wider, more intensive general education, which will foster a knowledge of, and a reverence for, human rights and institutions.
If the practice of professional life must rest upon a foundation of broad general culture, what then are the special internal qualities which mark it off from other forms of service? We would suggest four characteristics of professional life:
First, It is a ministry to crises.
It is with particular reference to showing how public school teaching realizes and fails to meet these standards that we are entered upon this discussion. Our purpose is never merely to find fault, but to get at the frank truth of the matter and to suggest helpful lines of advance.
A man who spends his life in the ever-repeating and monotonous business of working the lever of a machine in a shoe factory has little opportunity to meet new problems. It is not normal for him to be facing and solving new situations, mental crises that require resource and thought. The very nature of his situation makes it impossible for him to become what every professional workman is a master of crises.
No such limiting situation exists in teaching. The teacher is master of the school, unless he makes of it a machine which masters him. Every child is in degree different from every other, and so is every class, and every day with the same class. Always there is some new ignorance, doubt, hope, or discouragement to cope with. Here the resource and the tact of the teacher are called for fully. He must know and identify the situation, organize his resources, so as to bring it to bear definitely upon the novel problem before him. As a lawyer is called in to redeem a client from a situation which jeopard
a izes property, liberty, life, or happiness, as a doctor protects life and health, as a minister faces down the danger of spiritual sin, so the teacher protects the divine potentialities of childhood, conquers the deathlike touch of error and discouragement, fosters intellectual courage and the passion for goodness. The teacher is in short a minister to the intellectual and moral and spiritual crises of childhood.
At least it should be so, if teaching is rightly practiced. If our teaching becomes a monotonous drill and grind, that the child feels to be of little moment to him, then teaching is not a professional service. Schools cannot become “locksteps" and "machines” and at the same time render professional service.
The crucial nature of all teaching of the young is frequently missed because we are dealing with children and not with adults. The difficulties of children are in most cases solved for the adult, and hence the adult misses their significance. Because childhood's troubles are solved situations to the adult it does not follow that they are not important to the child. Children's troubles are very real to them. Thru their solution comes growth in thought and action. To deny a child's curiosity as it pokes around in the world may be to commit him to slow intellectual starvation. To hush up his play and his garrulousness is to cripple his ultimate power to act, express, and control himself.
It is also true that a child's troubles come close together, as they do not in an adult's world. He is a baby ushered into a great confusing universe. Nothing is old to him; everything is new. The very commonness of new problems in his life hides their crucial nature from us, who look for a new problem to appear only now and then. Only as we approach childhood with the traits of full sympathy and versatile imagination can we serve little children, ministering to their difficulties so that their potentialities have a fair chance to reach a full stature.
As teachers we are set aside to perform a specialized duty. We should not have schools if homes could do the work as well. Teachers must have more power about their business than ordinary laymen. Otherwise we are not expert in our workmanship. The authority with which we speak should be based not upon more years of service, tho that ought to go far, but upon superior scholarship, a fuller command of mental processes, and an excelling personality for stimulating thought and checking action. In a world full of intelligent people, we shall have to stir ourselves to keep ahead in a work which has so much to do with life in general, a field in which all men play some part. To be expert necessitates (1) a superior command over the wisdom of life and (2) a superior power in bringing it to bear upon human subjects. Each of these elements in teaching efficiency has a double mode of operation. Our worldly wisdom may be simply an intellectual possession or it may be firmly organized in the web and woof of our personalities. As our truths and values are possessed in one or the other of these ways, it has to be brought to bear upon childhood in one of two general ways: thru conscious and technical methods of instruction and thru the subtle and more or less unselfconscious reactions of the teacher's personality. Expertness in teaching, therefore, consists in four typical superiorities: (a) in a scholarly command of subject matter; (6) in a better organization of character; (c) in a larger and more versatile command of conscious modes of transmitting facts and ideals; and (d) in a more potent and winsome, forceful, and sympathetic manner of personal contact with other human beings.
We must work always with regard to the social effects of our teaching. We are not teaching just arithmetic, reading, writing, and the rest; we
are making men, the pillars of social institutions. The final significance of all our teaching is social. Our danger as teachers is not that we shall become unprofessional, but that we shall remain non-professional. Like the minister, we have entered on our mission with the vow of poverty on our lips. A salary system inadequate in its provisions restricts our temptation to get rich. The fee system of the doctor and the lawyer is a temptation we do not have. We are not likely to neglect the plain social duty that we behold to be ours; we are simply likely not to behold it at all. Our monastic vision, along with that of ministers, may make us scorn the world a bit, when it is in that same world our product must be tested. To be social and not bookish, practical and not pedantic, is our professional salvation. We cannot with safety ever let teaching be solely a means of livelihood. The spirit of social service must dominate us, and we must trust that the world will somehow let us live in decency, for teaching is not primarily a business, a way of gaining worldly goods, however necessary these may be; it is primarily a profession of faith in large ideals and the willingness to enlarge their operation in the world.
A more vital danger than the temptation to look upon teaching as mere means of livelihood, is the danger that we may shut ourselves out from the world we are alleged to serve. Pedagogical aloofness and academic cocksureness are only modern forms of monastic isolation that check the fullness of our social servantship. School teachers need social contact and social information; they need to derive their inspiration and their standards of efficiency not so much from their own vocational ancestors as from the struggles and aspirations of the very real world that throngs around the school. Only thru such intimacies with real life can teaching become a true and real social servantship.
And last I would call your attention to the liberal way in which education should be conducted. As a creative work, teaching builds with precious human stuff. In building institutions and civilizations with men a new principle enters that does not play a part in erecting buildings of stone, mortar, and other things. Children are our equals, they are like us in sensibility, they are blood of our blood. We should not, indeed, we cannot, successfully educate our fellow-humans unless the co-operation is considerate and complete. We have the right to manage and manipulate our children only under the guidance of well-established ethical principles. We may use children but we must not “use them up”; we may use them but we may not “abuse" them.
Teaching is not a matter of might, but of right. It should not be a veiled coercion, the influence of which disappears when we are gone. Children for the most part should be led and not driven. The martinet makes only two species of human beings with his overuse of authority and power; a servile man with no will of his own who will become a henchman to the first ward boss he meets, or an obstinate reactionary who will disregard all