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work of such a character and conducted in such a way as to bar out some of the noblest characters and best scholars in our country who would otherwise come into our schools. It is a pet theory with me that the public school and the university should be very closely connected. I shall offer the following resolution :
Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to forinulate the scholastic and professional attainments that should be required for admission to the positions of class teacher and of principal, and how far diplomas of graduation from high schools, normal schools, colleges, and universities should be taken in lieu of examination, and to report at the next meeting of this department.
I will not attempt to say anything in advocacy of this resolution, ex. cept that I believe that if we could have some doctrine formulated on this subject as the expression of the unanimous opinion of the superintendents of this country we would all feel the benefit of it in our whole work. This country is pre-eminently the country of local home-rule. Each county, city, and State has its own system of public education, all more or less alike, but differing in details. Very different it is in the educational countries of Europe, where there is a central board, or min. ister of public instruction, and where the work is done in the same way all over the country. I suppose every superintendent here has met with the same difficulty I have met with in trying to carry out any systematic plan of qualification for applicants for position that of local political influence. That is something that every superintendent has to fight. Now I believe that if for no other reason than for the purpose of having something behind the local superintendent, having the voice of this great department behind him in his work, it would be well that we should formulate some definite doctrine. It may not be the best; but I should like to see some definite doctrine, however defective, formulated by this convention and spread before the country as the unanimous wish and opinion of the superintendents.
DR. WHITE: In my notes I had reference to the test of professional knowledge. The test of scholarship should test knowledge, power, and skill.
EXAMINATION FOR PROMOTION IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
BY WILLIAM DEWITT HYDE,
President of Bowdoin College.
This is a question on which there is abundant evidence at hand, and on which, although the doctors disagree, the arguments on all sides have been ably and exhaustively presented.
In favor of examinations it is urged that they afford a stimulus to the pupil, making study definite, systematic, and sustained ; that they are a guide to the teacher, making instruction responsible and efficient; that they are a guarantee to the superintendent of faithfulaess on the
part of both pupil and teacher, and that they render grading impartial and uniform.
Against examinations it is urged that they foster in the pupils nervousness and disease; intermittent strain rather than steady advance; superficial and hurried cramming, rather than substantial and permanent progress; the cultivation of a particular kind of smartness, rather than a firm and thorough grasp of knowledge; that they beget in those who are gifted by nature with an abnormal preponderance of portative memory a shallow vanity in its possession; and that they give over to discouragement and disgust those in whom nature has so mixed the intellectual elements as to render them good for something besides the passing of examinations. It is urged that they rob teachers of originality and independence, that they strip instruction of all spontaneity and inspiration, inducing in their place uniformity, constraint, routine, servility, and deadness. And finally, it is claimed that in so far as superintendents rely upon examinations for their estimate of the work of pupils and teachers they are sure to be misinformed; that their grading will be one-sided and unfair; that the precocious adepts at verbal memorizing will be pushed ahead so fast that they never will master anything, and that the slow substantial plodders, who take time and pains to assimilate what they learn, will be compelled :o go over the same ground so often that they will be discouraged and drop out before the course is finished.
This sharp division of opinion is expressed in a great diversity of practice. Some superintendents insist on examinations for promotion, attach much weight to them, and say that they work well. Others have discarded examinations altogether, and say that they are better off without them. Others regard them as a necessary evil and retain them as a matter of form, but base promotion almost entirely upon reports of teachers as to the age, character, capacity, and proficiency of their pupils. Others employ examinations as a convenient penalty to inflict on the stupid and negligent pupils of a class, and hold up immunity from this dreadful evil of examination as a reward to the brigbt and studious.
Such is the sharp division of opinion and the wide diversity of practice on this subject.
I find myself in agreement with every argument advanced on both sides; and yet neither one of the four practical solutions of the question seems to me satisfactory.
On the one hand a graded school system is an impossibility, a contradiction in terms, anless there is included in it some thorough, broad, systematic means of ascertaining the proficiency of the pupils. On the other hand examinations, as they have been conducted in many of our schools, have been prolific of injury to the physical, mental, and moral natures of pupils and teachers alike.
Not the continuation of examinations as they have been; not the aban.
donment of them altogether; not a balf-way compromise between such
' examinations and none at all; but a more reasonable and just system of examination is the true solution of the problem.
The subject of examination has not received the thought and atten. tion which it deserves. The existing methods of examination are altogether behind the times. We have been making rapid progress in instruction. The old theory of instruction, which made it consist chiefly in stuföng the pupil's mind with a lot of isolated facts, which were to be kept stowed away in the pigeon-holes of memory, is exploded, and the practice which was based on that theory has been abandoned by all good teachers. The teacher of to-day aims not chiefly to cram the memory with a load of particular verbal propositions, but rather to develop the powers, organize the faculties, and awaken interest; to couple fact with principle; to see the particular proposition in the light of its universal relations; and to grasp and retain facts under the form of laws which include them, and in connection with processes which embody the practical workings of law and fact combined. Not bare possession but power to use; not naked apprehension and arbitrary retention, but rational comprehension and vital assimilation are the chief ends at which our best teachers aim to-day.
While instruction has been moving rapidly forward under the impulse of psychology and pedagogics, examination has been standing comparatively still. We have been testing new methods by old standards. Is it then surprising that we hear from many quarters complaints like this, “ The best teachers do not obtain the highest per cents. from their pupils ? Of course they do not, any more than new wine confined in old wine-skins produces the highest per cent. of well-preserved wine. New methods require new tests. Instruction which aimed chiefly at
' filling the memory with isolated facts rightly enough was tested by an examination which aimed to call out on a given occasion specimens of all the particular propositions that had been stowed away within the previous month or term or year. But to test the work of a well-taught pupil in a modern school by such an examination is as absurd as testing a locomotive on a turnpike. Such an examination is an imposition upon the mind of the pupil, and an insult to the intelligence of the teachers; an injustice against which every wise parent ought to protest; a nuisance of which every superintendent ought to rid his schools at once. If exåmination for promotion means of necessity a single set of questions, at the close of a period of study, covering minutely all the details included within that period, then let us by all means do away with this relic of educational superstition and pedagogical barbarism, and leave our pupils to a 66
go-as-you-please” course through the public schools until maturity or the necessity of earning a living compels them to withdraw.
Before consenting to such an entire abandonment of system as this involves, let us consider what examination is; what it is for.
Let us see if there is not a more rational method of examination which will ac
complish the desired ends, and at the same time avoid the evils that have so generally accompanied them.
An examination is simply an exhibition of what the pupil has learned. Its aim is to show how far the pupil has profited by his study and instruction, and how much practical good he has gained from them.
Now a pupil may get hold of what he learns in a variety of ways. The good he derives from study may be of various kinds. There are at least three distinct forms in which he may possess that which he has learned; apprehension, application, and comprehension.
The first, apprehension, simply lays hold of the lessons as presented by book or teacher, and carries them in that precise form in the memory. The second, application, consists in the power to use what has been learned, in forming new combinations, solving new problems, and dealing with new cases. The third, comprehension, grasps the mean. ing of the subject as a whole, distinguishes the main features from the subordinate details, and sees the subject in its broad relations to other domains of truth and life.
Since knowledge may take these three distinct forms, examination, which is to exhibit broadly and fairly the pupil's attainments, should call for the display of knowledge in each of these three forms. The methods of conducting such a threefold examination will vary with different subjects of study and modes of teaching. Not as a model of what all systems of examination ought to be, but as a specimen of what in some cases examination might be, the following outline is suggested.
The three kinds of examination, testing apprehension, power to make application, and comprehension, should be distinct in method and separate in time.
The first kind of examination, testing apprehension of the precise details of the particular lessons, should be very frequent. It may be either oral or written. It may take the form of a weekly review or of a daily review at the beginning of the regular recitation. The period covered by this examination or review should be brief; not extending over more than the work of the previous week. These daily reviews or frequent examinations serve a double purpose. They are an indispensable aid to teaching. As a recent writer has said, “ nine-tenths of all we remember in life is very much more due to conscious or unconscious reconsideration than to any primary vigorous mastery of it.” Of course every teacher begins his lesson with at least a few hasty questions on the lesson of the day before. But in the mind of both pupil and teacher this review is apt to be regarded as a secondary matter. By making this review a separate thing, and by making the results of these reviews an element in promotion, several important advantages are secured at once. The pupil feels free to display ignorance and difficulty on the ad.
. vance lesson, and will ask questions; this gives the teacher a chance to teach the lesson to the best advantage. It gives each pupil a chance to have the benefit of the teacher's instruction and explanation on difficult
points, before he is held finally responsible for knowing them. It compels the pupil to go over each lesson three or four times, and gives the teacher an opportunity to bring out three or four times the prominent features of each lesson.
These results, tabulated and accompanied by the teacher's comments as to the age, character, capacity, temperament, health, and proficiency of the pupil, afford the superintendent ono very important element in the problem of promotion. He knows by this the pupil's fidelity to regular daily duty. He is sure that the pupil who stands well in these reviews, not for one day or one hour only but for three or four days, has had in his memory at least the contents of his daily lessons, and since the period covered has been in each case brief, this has been ac. complished without requiring the pupil to carry at any one time an ex. cessive load of memorized details.
The second kind of examination is to test the pupil's power to make practical application of what he knows. The pupil should be required
. to hand in the results of work assigned by the teacher in connection with his studies. The pupil should be allowed all the time he needs to do this work, and should be taught never to hand in any work until it represents the very best that he can do. The kind of work will vary with different subjects. In manual training, of course, the actual things made by the pupil constitute his answers to this kind of examination. Problems in arithmetic and algebra, the demonstration of original prop. ositions in geometry, the writing out in the pupil's own language of a story told by the teacher, in grammar and rhetoric, a record of experiments witnessed or performed in physics and chemistry, the analysis of flowers in botany, maps in geography, summaries or narratives following a different thread or order from that of the book in history, translations in language, are appropriate subjects for such collateral examination work.
This kind of examination also has a great educational value. It teaches the pupil to turn his knowledge to account. It trains him in neatness, accuracy, and method. It enables him to test himself as he goes along. It gives the teacher an insight into the strength and weak. ness of the pupil, and affords an objective point toward which supplementary reading and instruction can be directed.
Furthermore, this test is more nearly like the test of actual life. We seldom in real life have catch-questions sprung upon us. We know what is expected of us beforehand, we have time to think it over, to consult our books, to make a few rough experiments, and then if we fail it is solely because we do not know how to do the thing. Now, this second type of examination, giving the pupil, as it does, all the legitimate helps he can get and all the time he wants, and with nothing to fret or worry him, tests him precisely as the world will test him after he leaves school. Henco it is at once a most valuable feature of education and a most ef. fective test. The only objection to it is that it gives an opportunity for