Page images

and hands in a very important way. This work the children all take great delight in, and it leads up in a systematic way to the manual training work proper. This kind of manual or kindergarten work can be and should be put into all city schools.

But when I consider the state of the minds and bodies of children below thirteen years, and the amount of work which they already have to do, and when I think of the lack of knowledge and enthusiasm on the part of the people as yet concerning manual training, and also the great lack of competent teachers, I am of the opinion that manual training, comprising the various branches of tool-work, should not be extended lower at the present time than the five highest grades. This opinion is liable to change upon the acquisition of new light in the shape of new facts and ampler demonstration.

MR. ANDERSON (after the reading of Mr. Compton's paper, referring to the resolution appointing the committee of which he had made a report): Allow me to explain the condition of this resolution. In the first place the committee had no resolution to work upon, as read to them by the secretary, and I have to apologize for calling the attention of the association to the question, which it seems was called at the last meeting of this Department. I have learned recently from the president of the association that this original motion was laid aside and a substitute adopted. This substitute imposes upon the committee the duty of visiting the departments of training and reporting thereon. The motion for which this was substituted, requtred the committee to examine into the curriculum of elementary schools and report what changes might be made, as they thought desirable. Now, the whole question was killed. I question very much whether my colleagues are able to give the time and attention to this question, and ask to be relieved from acting upon this question further, and beg to name Dr. Butler in my place to report upon these improvements.

A MEMBER: When that paper was read by Dr. Allen this morning, that covered all God's creation, it seemed to me that I could not comprehend what manual training in ungraded schools meant. The paper may fit one thing as well as another. Now, it seems to me that this committee ought to bring in a definition of manual training. I believe we are all agreed in what Dr. White said last night; and I believe we are all agreed that manual training should be in all cities and large towns. But Lieutenant Ford said they should be training schools. But there were objections, I noticed; and we ought to know what we are going to talk about.

THE PRESIDENT: On motion, Mr. Butler is appointed on the committee and Mr. Anderson relieved.

MR. ANDERSON: I move that this committee be instructed to define, in their report, what is manual training, and to what phase of elementary work it is applicable.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

PROFESSOR POWELL: As a member of that committee, I beg and pray that this Department will not pass that motion. I have not time to study my share of the work, to study up a definition. I have an eye to the future welfare of the children of this country, and all this Depart: ment, and when I think of the height to which a definition led us this morning in Dr. Harris' discussion, when I think of the impracticable ideas to which that led us, I hope, in the name of education, that this Department will not ask any committee to define it. I don't want a definition. I hope the gentleman will not insist upon this question; or, if he does, I hope the Department will not adopt it.

MR. SEABORN: I trust, Mr. President, we shall not, at this stage of discussion, undertake to define the question. At least, for the present, each man had better have his own definition. Dr. White may frame a definition that suits him but that does not satisfy me completely, and I do the same without satisfying Dr. White. It is the letter that killeth; it is the spirit that giveth life.

DR. NEWELL: Manual training is just like mathematics; when we speak of mathematics one person means arithmetic, another algebra, geometry, and the next means calculus; and, he is right, too. And when we speak of manual training it is not of any specific thing, its general name including many specific things; it includes the training of the hand in the mechanical art schools, of which we heard to-day; also in the trade schools and technology schools.

DR. MARBLE: I move the adoption of the definition just given.
MR. ANDERSON: I rise to a point of order, that the committee

DR. MARBLE: I move the committee be requested to report the definition just given by Mr. Newell.

DR. ALLEN: Mr. President, I think we ought to define education. We have had this morning a very severe criticism from a very eminent doctor-from a gentleman who stands as high in educational matters as any man in this country—and I had supposed that that definition that Dr. Harris criticised was a pretty good definition. But I was partly convinced this morning that it is not a very good definition, and I would like to reconstruct my opinions on that subject. If we are to define manual training, we ought to define education; and I hope at another meeting we may be able to define three or four subjects, so as to be able to tell these superintendents of normal schools, who want to learn everything in God's creation. I suppose they would settle relig. ion and politics. I think we ought to let some things alone until the day of judgment.

MR. GOODY: It seems to me that the proposition to define manual training is simply a proposition whether we shall discuss manual training or something else. If one man means manual training and another means another thing, how can that answer the question ? Now, of course, there may be differences of opinion as to what definition is de. sirable; but it seems to me that there ought to be no difference of opinion whether we discuss the question of manual training or something else.

MR. WOODWARD: I have always claimed that we should present the thing before the name. I therefore suggest that it is better for us to have manual trainiug, and after we have it ire will name it.

THE CHAIRMAN: I think this discussion has gone far enough, and we had better return to the question in hand. It is probable you gentle- . men will have an opportunity, from year to year, to give your opinion upon this question. If it lingers as long in our body as Congressional aid did, we will remain friendly. It does appear to the Chair that we are leaving the question in a somewhat mixed condition. When I was a boy, I looked up to Dr. Harris and Dr. Woodward for advice and counsel in educational matters; and now when I find all these gentlemen differing on this question, it mixes me up; and when looking at tho matter, I am like the ScotchmanI

You can and you can't ;
You will and you won't;
You'll be damned if you will,

And you'll be damned if you don't. It is now in that condition; but I mean we young members of the con. vention. There is nobody that can settie these questions; but we have the privilege of differing and discussing them, and out of this comes the survival of the fittest.



[ocr errors]


Superintendent of Springfield (Mass.) Schools. What is the chief end of man--when he happens to be superintend. ent of schools ? · What is the reason, or (to be modest) the excuse for his official existence? Although the law and the rules of the school board prescribe everywhere, in a general way, the same official duties, it would be found upon investigation that the purpose and character of the work of different superintendents vary widely and in essential respects. One makes a study of school-house architecture and devotes his time and energy mainly to manipulating an unwieldy and, perhaps, re. fractory board, so as to get them to erect good school buildings; another spends most of his time in attending to the routine work of the office, gathering statistics and compiling statistical reports; a third may make the mere machinery of school work his chief concern, devising plans for managing the promotion of pupils, for conducting examinations and conveniently tabulating the results; still another may make some one phase of school-work, such as language-work, manual training, drawing, geography, etc., the main purpose of his effort.

Now, I have a good deal of faith in the “man of one idea.” As a rule, he has ove idea more than his critics. But is it not possible in our enthusiasm to build up one line of work that we may see the importance of this particular work in false perspective? Is it not possible that we may neglect the weightier matters of the law by allowing our interest and energies to be absorbed in the minor details ?

The superintendent is, or ought to be, a specialist, capable of doing a kind of work which no one without special training can do. Many of the details of routine work, usually required of him by boards of ed. ucation, can be attended to just as well by some one whose time is not worth as much as his is, provided he knows his work. It is bad business management for a board to pay the superintendent the salary of a specialist and then require him to devote his time to work which demands no special training. After paying a physician ten dollars for a prescription, it is not economy to pay him another ten dollars to go to the apothecary to have it put up-a service which a boy can do equally

[ocr errors]

well for twenty-five cents. There is a good deal of work which many superintendents are required to do that could be done quite as well by some person whose services could be secured for a small salary:

(1) In the first place, a superintendent ought never to serve as clerk or secretary of the board.

(2) in the second place, he ought not to spend his time in attending to the distributing of books and supplies to the schools. He ought to have a clerk or agent to attend to such details.

(3) Thirdly, he ought not to spend any time in gathering statistics and compiling statistical reports. All such work should be done by a clerk.

(4) Fourthly, he ought not to devote much of his time to the examination of schools and classes, except in so far as this is necessary to determine the character of the teachers' work. I have known superintendents in small towns to examine the manuscripts of every pupil in every school in examinations for promotion. Such work is a wicked waste of precious time.

(ö) And lastly, the superintendent should not allow himself to have his chief interest in what may be called the machinery of public school work. The school system of a large city necessarily involves a certain amount of mechanism in its organization; there must be unity, contiuuity, and harmony of work. But unity is a very different thing from uniformity, and requires much less rigidity and mechanical precision in organization. Unity is consistent with variety, and is characteristic of life; uniformity excludes variety, and is only possible where life is gone. A tree has unity, a telegraph-pole uniformity. It is by aiming at uni. formity that so many wheels are found necessary in a system of public schools that the superintendent has little time for anything but watching the running of the machinery, managing throttle-valves, levers, and cranks.

What, then, is to be the chief work of the superintendent? In what direction should his interest lie? If there are poor school-houses, he must urge the erecting of better ones; it the machinery of the system does not run without undue friction, he must give it attention; but bis energy should not be permanently expended in these directions.

The superintendent must be, first of all, a teacher of pedagogics. His most important work must be to train his teachers to do thorough and clear thinking on all lines of educational work which they are doing. He must not simply, in a dogmatic way, teach them pedagogical truths, but he must train them to observe children, to interpret their observations, and to deduce from them the principles that must guide them in their teaching.

The superintendent must do a work that is almost identical with that of the teacher of pedagogics in a normal school or college. Indeed, I believe that he has more satisfactory conditions or facilities for teaching pedagogics than are found in the best normal schools and colleges.

« EelmineJätka »