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toward improvement. They are to enable us to locate definite weaknesses; and they are also to give us a more precise statement of any good thing that has been done anywhere, and so make it possible to spread improvements more surely from city to city and from state to state.
The first decade of the twentieth century has seen the growth of a nation-wide interest in our educational standards. This is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable developments of the period under consideration. The first steps have been taken toward removing the reproach which has lain against our academic and professional degrees. This company is very familiar with those steps, and they need not be reviewed at this time. It is generally known that the most influential agency in the "standardizing" movement has been the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which has done great and unexpected things on the way to an answer to the simple question, What is a college? Various other voluntary bodies have worked together to the same end. In an important sense, this work is already a national work. It is manifest, however, that it cannot become a permanent and universal work till it has passed over into the sphere of government. And it can become fully established in the governmental sphere only by the concurrent action of the state governments, which are the source of all power to grant degrees within their several jurisdictions, and of the Federal government in so far as its jurisdiction over the District of Columbia is concerned. Is it beyond hope or belief that the several states will act in unison in this matter? A few of them, with New York in the lead, have already undertaken to regulate the granting of such degrees. I venture the expectation that the rest will follow in time, till the purchased diploma and the unearned scholastic title shall be altogether unknown in our land. Some of the obvious difficulties in the way of such a program will be lessened, if it be understood that an immediate adoption of one standard for all states and all institutions is not to be considered. The thing to be desired at the outset is an agreed scale of standards, upon which states and institutions may range themselves according to their condition and the needs of their people, their place upon such a scale being known to all and freely acknowledged.
A further suggestion should be added. The more mechanical and outward determination of scholastic standards is merely a clearing of the way for the finer, more intangible, and more vital standards which, while they measure spiritual achievements, cannot themselves be measured by any quantitative scale. Such standards are chiefly supplied by great teachers and by groups of great teachers. It would be difficult to say whether the past decade has shown an advance in these finer standards or not. It is a significant fact, however, that
it is a decade in which there have passed from this earthly scene such teachers as Shaler and Sumner and William James and Harris and Le Conte and Harper and McIver and Curry (for I am using the term “teacher" in some of its wider meanings) and Alice Freeman Palmer and a large company of their inspiring associates.
Just at this time I am particularly interested in American standards of elementary education. We are coming only by slow degrees to any general agreement concerning the norms by which a common school or a system of common schools may be judged. Some beginnings have been made in the application of definite measurements in this field. For the most part, however, we try to gauge its successes in a rather broad way, by reference to prevalent practice in progressive communities, by general conceptions of the aims and possibilities of education, and by the common-sense which emerges from wide experience. There is a prevalent tendency, manifest in some recent articles, to measure the progress of a city system of schools by the agencies organized for doing things beyond the ordinary scope of the schools. I cherish a strong belief in those activities which are referred to as the wider uses of the school plant, and I have been reading, with special pleasure and satisfaction, Mr. Perry's book upon those wider uses. But I think it cannot be denied that the wider uses may be most safely and effectively cultivated in a system of schools which is sound and strong in its main, central core. It is no easy task to judge fairly of the strength and soundness of that central core, nor is it easy to say, with precision, whether real progress has been making or what progress has been making within a decade as regards the central and essential excellence of our teaching. I believe, however, that substantial progress has been made and that such progress will continue thru the years that are to follow. Our cities play so characteristic and leading a part in our national civilization and their influence and standards are so largely independent of the boundary lines of the states, that the things which concern their efficiency must be regarded as a national interest, and their co-operation for the improvement of city-school standards generally must appear as a patriotic and national service.
There are four lines of improvement respecting fundamental facts of school education which call for emphasis. They are school attendance, teachers, buildings, and supervision. In these fundamentals, any national improvement is dependent almost wholly upon the independent efforts of the several states. From the side of the Federal government, only information, with incidental advice, can be offered. It is encouraging to note signs of positive improvement in these particulars within the decade past. The percentage of our school population enrolled in the schools has not greatly changed. But school attendance is more regular and for a longer annual term. In the larger cities, attendance for the first half of the elementary course is now in a fairly satisfactory condition. With all of their differences in detail, the statisticians agree that attendance in the latter half of the elementary course, even in the larger cities, still shows a lamentable falling-off. The area of compulsory school attendance is gradually widening, and it seems inevitable that before long all of the states will agree in providing for such compulsion. The dovetailing of compulsory school attendance with provision against unsuitable employment of children is gradually coming to greater effectiveness.
Great improvements in schoolhouse construction date from the Collingwood fire. Supervision has made notable gains; indeed, some of the most hopeful signs of progress are to be found in this part of the field. Normal schools, state and city and county, are prospering, and our teaching force is gradually working toward the point where all of its members will have had some measure of professional training. One of the most interesting efforts toward definite co-operation between the states is the effort to arrive at a satisfactory basis for interstate comity as regards the granting of teachers' certificates.
Taken altogether, the past decade has been a time for overcoming mere state and sectional and institutional isolation. There is still isolation-too much of it altogether-and the defects that arise from isolation. But there is less of isolation, and more of conscious unity, than there was ten years ago. The sense of a common cause is here. All of the aspirations and obligations of nationality lend force and sacredness to that common cause. We are helping each other a little more than we did, and each receiving a little more help from the rest. We are keeping step together, not under military compulsion but under the joyous consciousness of common aims and mutual support-keeping step-keeping step-and marching forward, all over our common land, to ends that are our country's, our God's, and truth's.
DISCUSSION LEONARD P. AYRES, associate director, Russell Sage Foundation, New York, N.Y. -The Department of Superintendence has always believed in the United States Bureau of Education, ever since bringing about its creation nearly fifty years ago. During the past year members of this Department have been engaged in an attempt to secure larger Federal support for the Bureau, and of this movement and its results I wish to give some account. Former attempts to widen the activities of the United States Bureau of Education have failed largely because the requests have been in the nature of general appeals for the enlargement of that bureau. Members of the United States Congress have never been greatly interested in enlarging the United States Bureau of Education. Another reason for the failure has been the fear of the states that the government might encroach upon their rights in the field of public education.
The hope of the present movement consists in the fact that the appeal is not a general appeal for enlargement, nor in any way an interference with the rights of the states. Those directly interested in promoting the efficiency of the United States Bureau of Educa
tion at this time aim simply to secure a field force of expert scientific investigators for the purpose of ascertaining more adequately the facts of present practice and making . available to each school worker the experience of all. The efforts put forth to convince legislators have assumed the form of letters, literature, personal effort, and telegrams. There has been a splendid response from many quarters of our country, especially from the educational people.
The Commissioner of Education and the Secretary of the Interior have united in working for the appropriation of $75,000 for the establishment of the corps. The recommendation was approved by the subcommittee of the House of Representatives and by the general Committee on Appropriations, altho the ten specialists asked for were reduced by them to two. When the matter was brought before the House of Representatives it was discussed for a longer period than any educational measure of recent years. The Senate Committee seems to be favorably disposed and it now seems probable that Congress will provide for three specialists. The work in behalf of the measure had been of great interest and enlightenment to the legislators and has made possible a fine advance.
In conclusion: There is a need for a committee of this Department on the Bureau of Education, and I bespeak your support for the resolution which will be submitted by the Committee on Resolutions relating thereto.
J. GEORGE BECHT, principal, State Normal School, Clarion, Pa.-Within the past quarter of a century the lines of advancement have been in the direction of finding a national basis for the training of children and in a sensible appreciation of what scientific method and management may accomplish when applied to the common arts of life. The truth of this last statement is significantly reflected in the periodical literature of the day as never before. The standard literary magazines are giving over their columns to the propaganda that education to be efficient must relate itself to these common arts of life; that education means adjustment and conservation; that adjustment means adapting one to his environment and conservation means eliminating the waste of human effort. This widespread discussion on the part of the laymen in educational practice is one of the most hopeful signs in the educational firmament. It is a just appreciation of what science may do when practically applied and will in the end work a moral, social, and economic revolution.
Frederick W. Taylor, a pioneer in this direction, shows in a very conclusive way what may be accomplished by applying the principles of scientific management to the activities that range from carrying a hod to the highest expressions of physical labor. As an illustration he takes the trade of brick-laying, which has been carried on in the same way since the days of primitive man. But science steps in and asks, Why lower a hundred pounds of human flesh to lift a four-pound brick? Why shall a brick-layer toss a brick three or four times to find its best face? Why tap it three or four times to get its proper level ? Why stand in a position that requires a half-dozen movements when one would suffice? And science gives the answer, Build the platform for the bricks so that it can be easily adjusted to the height of his work. Lay the bricks on the platform with the best face in position, make the mortar of uniform consistency and a single tap will be sufficient; and take a position that will eliminate useless movement.
M. L. BRITTAIN, state school commissioner, Atlanta, Ga.-In the general progress, which has been shown I desire to emphasize two subjects in particular in which the development has been marked during recent times.
One of these is the increasing attention paid to health and hygiene.
It was Herbert Spencer, I believe, who was really responsible for much of the emphasis which our schools now place upon the study of our bodies and the art of right living. In his Essay on Education he refers with fine scorn to those who have so persistently exalted the merely ornamental over those studies which are so vitally worth while. We are learning the lesson the great philosopher taught and not only have placed physiology
almost universally in the courses of study of our public schools, but of late are striving to reach the subject in still more practical fashion. “Health Days” and “Cleaning Up” anniversaries are being celebrated, and special occasions are being used to direct public attention to these important matters. They are even yet, however, not well enough emphasized altho history and common-sense show their importance. The Greek mindthe greatest of the centuries—ran most swiftly along the pathway of literature and learning when it dwelt in a body which thru training and culture was the wonder and admiration of the world.
The other point to which I shall refer is the increasing attention paid to the teaching of agriculture. The rapid growth of urban life and depopulation of our farms have been brought forcibly to our attention, not only by the figures of the Census Bureau, but by the increased cost of living as well. Nearly every man who comes to the city from the country becomes a consumer instead of a producer. The increase in the first class and the loss to the second naturally have an important effect on the cost of food and clothing. This injures everybody concerned and yet the migration is unnecessary and frequently undesired even by those who make the change. Our books and courses of study have tended cityward in their influence and are yet too much inclined to give instruction on stocks and bonds instead of fields and crops. If we had devoted some of the educational money we have been spending to make doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers, and merchants toward giving instruction in agriculture it would have been better for us all. The very subject in which we are most vitally interested has been a sort of Cinderella, sitting disconsolate in the ashes while her haughty sisters flaunted their proud plumes thru the culture courses of the average curriculum. It is perhaps as important for the urban child to acquire some knowledge of Nature and her products as for the one living in the country, for it was no meaningless myth which the classic story told of the renewed life and vigor which came to the wearied Antaeus from contact with his Mother Earth.
But to make this teaching effective we must bring to it the same interest and energy which have achieved success elsewhere. Above all there must be enthusiasm in the work.
PRELIMINARY REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMY
OF TIME IN EDUCATION
GIVEN BY PROFESSOR HENRY SUZZALLO IN THE ABSENCE OF PRESIDENT
JAMES H. BAKER, CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE
The chairman of the Department of Superintendence has given me only ten minutes in which to make a preliminary report for the Committee on Economy of Time in Education. Any thoro report is, therefore, out of the question, and I shall confine myself to the presentation of the three important conclusions of the committee that bear on the motion to be presented at the conclusion of this presentation, namely, that the Department of Superintendence appoint a Committee of Five on Economy of Time in Elementary Education to work in connection with the general committee appointed from the National Council.
A SHORTENED PERIOD OF GENERAL EDUCATION
Our first proposition is that the period of years now allowed to general cultural or liberal education by the existing organization of our school system is too long, and should be abbreviated. The committe especifi