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years will be the lower limit in most of our states within the next decade. Children from fourteen to sixteen, just entering the adolescent period, are in the most susceptible stage to educational influence of any period in their lives. If they are not educated in the schools they are likely to fritter away their time, get into occupations that have no future outlook, or develop habits of idleness that a lifetime cannot cure. The idea of continuation schools and night schools is rapidly growing, and yet we have everywhere great cause to be distressed at the lack of efficiency and sufficiency of such institutions. We are rapidly coming to see that education of an exclusively literary type is adapted to comparatively few children. The industrial or vocational side makes a more immediate appeal to many and can readily be made educational to a remarkably high degree. To this idea and to the industrial and economic necessities of the case are due the rapid development of agricultural schools, trade schools, and the like, to which reference has already been made. There is a growing conviction on the part of our people that education must be brought nearer to common, everyday life. The idea is rapidly developing that our education has been of too bookish a character, that it has far too much ignored the natural, spontaneous interests of the child in his contact with his environment, and that it has too greatly neglected proper attention to the social efficiency of the child after he leaves the school.
I cannot omit even in this brief sketch allusion to one of the most marked characteristics of our time: namely, state interest in the health of the people. Health campaigns are in progress everywhere. In some cases the stimulus comes from the state board of health, sometimes from the state department of education, or from still other sources, but there is a rapidly growing tendency to require medical inspection in our schools, to require ample playgrounds for school children, to prohibit the common drinking-cup, and so on thru a long list of details. State efforts to stamp out tuberculosis, the hook-worm, typhoid fever, and many other ills that afflict humanity are so common as to impress even the casual observer. State legislatures and state departments of instruction are coming to insist upon the proper construction of buildings, including especially the proper lighting and ventilation. The state interests itself in the site of schoolhouses and is ready to condemn unsanitary buildings and unsanitary sites.
The concentration of authority and responsibility in the state departments of education is a marked tendency that has not escaped the attention of educational writers. There is a growing desire for a unified system of education. Courses of study, the licensing of teachers, the construction of buildings, the distribution of state aid, the supervision of the training of teachers, the inspection of all kinds of public education are rapidly passing into the hands of the chief school officer
of the state. Rapidly, but not rapidly enough, needed assistants are being added to the superintendent's department. His function is one that can be satisfactorily executed only by an educational expert of wide experience, reliable judgment, and statesmanlike breadth of view. He should be surrounded by a staff of educational experts.
Dr. Henry Pritchett, head of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, is undoubtedly right when he says in the Atlantic Monthly for December, 1908, thatthe absence in nearly all states of the Union of any form of supervision over higher education is a singular feature of our educational history. The absence of any rational supervision or even of any provision for fair criticism or review of our higher institutions of learning is in part due to the attitude of the colleges themselves. College professors have been not a little inclined to look down on those who supervise state schools. The worst feature of the attitude referred to by the head of the Carnegie Foundation is the insistence everywhere of our state universities that they shall be treated as independent organizations having no relationship with the educational system except in the matter of financial support. They insist upon fixing their own entrance qualifications regardless of the state system of schools and of keeping inspectors in the field for the purpose of shaping secondary education to meet the assumed needs of the university. In some states they have entirely prevented state inspection and supervision of high schools. In a few cases where they were hard pressed or foresaw they might be, they have secured thru the legislature an anomalous compromise with the state in the nature of a board whose function is to determine courses of study for the high schools of the state and direct the inspection of schools. Such a board is a snare and a delusion and is brought about by the efforts of the university to hold its own in the state against the tendency to increase the authority and responsibility of the state department. Such a board tends to produce a fixed order of things as unchangeable as the laws of the Medes and the Persians and little adapted to meet the changing needs and conceptions of the communities that support high schools. This is a tendency that should be emphatically checked in every state in the Union, for it is the sort of thing that will inevitably be resorted to, if possible, by state universities in their efforts to preserve their autonomy in relation to the educational affairs of the state. One board of this type determined the course of study and then saw to it that the legislature enacted that course of study into law. The board then went about its business and gave itself no further serious trouble. In another state the board is, so far as this part of its function is concerned, of no effect so far as I can discover. Tho I have been repeatedly -assured that the schools enjoy the utmost freedom in the making-up of their courses, I finally discovered by sheer accident, as it were, after hours of talk on the subject, that the university would accept only what
pleased it in the last analysis and unhesitatingly rejected anything that it regarded as unsatisfactory. Such a board as some of our states are at this time contemplating would be at best little more than a debating society for the edification of the members. To meet modern conditions and modern needs the adjustment of courses of study and other educational affairs of state interest should be left in the hands of a capable state supervisor of education of. the highest type of professional ability, who can in a rational but not arbitrary manner stimulate here and hold in check there and thus preserve that fluidity that is essential at this time to educational evolution and for the prevention of the necessity of educational revolution.
C. IN THE NATION
ELMER ELLSWORTH BROWN, UNITED STATES COMMISSIONER OF EDUCA
TION, WASHINGTON, D.C. Our educational advance in the nation consists in the advance of the idea of national responsibility in educational affairs. The conception of such responsibility has been hammered into us by the friendly criticism of foreign nations. Foreign criticism charges us with educating only a portion of our population, leaving great numbers of our citizens either without schooling, or with schooling for so brief a period and under so unfavorable conditions as to count for little. Foreign criticism charges again that we do not fulfill in the higher grades of our schools the large promise of our lower grades. Doctor Muthesius of Berlin, for example, has reported as follows regarding American instruction in drawing:
The results of the instruction .... in the lower grades exceed all expectations. In the advanced grades, however, they do not wholly accord with this auspicious beginning. While the work of the children of eight or nine years is so admirable the pupils of fifteen or sixteen often offer .correspondingly little that is satisfactory. We should expect from the pupils of the highest grades that in drawing from nature they would have the ability to see form clearly and to apprehend an object accurately. But instruction has failed to develop a disposition to see clearly; the plant drawings of the sixteen-yearold pupils frequently present the same schematic picture as those of the lower grades. Manifestly, this is due to the fact that instruction wholly neglects exercises in accuracy.
Foreign criticism yet again calls attention to the lamentable uncertainty as regards the significance of our academic and professional degrees. The English Journal of Education for September 1, 1910, contained the following declaration:
There is a real evil in connection with the use of American diplomas in England, be it by American or by English citizens. And these facts seem to be beyond dispute. (1) In the United States honorary degrees are conferred in such numbers that they have no real meaning' or value. (2) No distinctive mark separates in usage the honorary from the earned degree. (3) The degree by examination is sometimes conferred under conditions that are simply farcical. (4) Many of the institutions from which degrees proceed are far below the rank of even the smallest European universities, and possess no reputation that can be injured by laxity in bestowing their distinctions. We speak only in defense of our own people. It is the genuine graduates of genuine American universities that have the greatest interest in effecting a reform.
Even in our neighbor republic of Cuba, a government commission, reporting recently to the Secretary of Instruction on the recognition of foreign degrees by the Cuban National University, referred to the fact that many American institutions gave degrees with relative facility, which are not regarded as sufficient even in the state in which the institution is situated, as the authorities require an official examination before the holder is entitled to exercise his profession. It is evident that the reference is mainly to our professional degrees. The commission recommended a restricted recognition of such degrees as given in this country.
The chief significance of this foreign criticism is that it calls attention to defects in our system of education from which our own people are the chief sufferers. The sting of adverse comment from abroad may awaken us to a sense of obligations at home to which long custom had hitherto blinded us. But such foreign criticism has a further significance: It shows that we are dealing with a national, and not merely a local, question. Both our place among the nations and our duty to our own citizens are involved-a nation-wide imperfection or misfortune calls for a nation-wide remedy. But let us not use the word national hastily nor carelessly. In speaking of education in and for the nation, I am speaking as a firm believer in the educational rights and responsibilities of the several states. Our national education is the sum total of education in the states, with something cohesive added thereto. That something added is an increasing measure of helpful activity from the side of institutions, both public and private, which are either Federal or distinctly national in character.
National results are not to be accomplished by Federal action merely. They are to be accomplished by Federal agencies in co-operation with mutually co-operating states, with a good deal of non-governmental nationality thrown in. This is a situation that calls for patience, since our national improvements are not to be forced by a stroke of the pen at one single governmental center. But can we not see the overwhelming advantages of such a situation ? I believe it offers the finest promise of a rich and varied and spontaneous educational development that is enjoyed by any people. If everything seems to hinder, with insurmountable obstacles, it is equally true that everything helps. An improvement in any corner of the land is a contribution to national improvement. Now, with such a nationality of many in one, what progress have we
, been making in this twentieth century toward the correction of such
inadequacies as those already mentioned? What progress have we been making toward better things than the preceding centuries have found attainable? While my answer to this question will have in it the bitter herb of frankness regarding the things we have not yet attained, it will none the less be in full accord with that hopefulness which is the dominant spirit of this meeting.
The mere bigness of our achievements is a familiar story. We know that we have a billion dollars invested in our public-school “plant." We know that for education of all kinds, from the most elementary to the most advanced, we are now spending over half a billion dollars a year. We know that our high schools now enroll over one million students annually, which is more than one per cent of our whole population, while our various institutions of higher education have more than a fourth as many in attendance.
We are so familiar with this talk of bigness that we have begun to tire a little of mere magnitudes. Right here we may find one of the evidences of genuine progress. We are inquiring with a little more earnestness than ever before what these magnitudes shall mean. Numerical statements are sifted and analyzed a little more closely; and the inquiry is made more insistently: What quality is represented in these quantities ? Some of the ways in which this attitude has of late been manifested are seen in the movement for the improvement of our educational statistics; in the inquiries concerning laggards in the school grades; in the efforts to provide for more individual instruction, with varying rates of promotion; and in the provision that is making in many directions for the training of exceptional children. The meeting of this department last year at Indianapolis signalized the change that is here referred to, partly in its emphasis upon individual differences among pupils, and partly in the appointment of a committee on uniform statistics. If we could say without reserve that the interest in American education, from the kindergarten to the university, has been definitely shifted from quantity to quality, we should make one of the most hopeful and inspiriting declarations that could be made. I do not venture to make such a declaration; but I believe such a shifting has plainly begun, and some of its finest beginnings are to be credited to the first decade of the twentieth century.
It should not occasion surprise that the movement toward more accurate and comparable statistics should be viewed as a sign of the shifting of emphasis from quantity to quality. It is indeed a most important indication of such a change. We are losing interest in statistics which simply give us ground for indiscriminate congratulation or indiscriminate condemnation. Our statistics are to help us find our way in the face of recognized difficulties. They are to be unimportant in themselves; but they are to be increasingly helpful in the effort