Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

of living. We have been sacrificing for years and years, in my judgment, our physical and moral condition to our mental condition. In seeking for gold we have forgotten some of the vital principles of civilization."

That man would be called uneducated, but he was not. He had a trained mind, and you will find trained minds in sound bodies in rough clothes working on every building now erecting in San Francisco. They are as plenty there as anywhere. I do not see that university education greatly changes the daily habit of thought among young people. I see a good deal of one family in which are three educated young ladies. They do not habitually discuss Ibsen, or Spencer, or evolution, or psychology. They talk about clothes.

It seems to me that public education should fit for the average life. Some years since, from such data as I could get, I reached the conclusion that the average income of the families of this city was about that of the skilled artisan in constant employment-say $100 per month or less. I see no reason to doubt the substantial correctness of that conclusion. The most of us go thru life in very humble capacities. It is for such life that the most of us should be fitted. Those who have it in them to fill wider spheres will find their way into them as they always have. For the humbler walks of life the utility studies are most necessary. They train the mind, the eye, and the hand very satisfactorily. Too much culture may shut off avenues of enjoyment without opening others. I have always regretted the day when I was educated out of the enjoyment of such music as I could hear every day, or perhaps hear at all without paying more than I can afford. It would be a calamity to educate the children of Telegraph Hill out of the enjoyment of rag-time music. Happily it cannot be done. Do not misunderstand me as not appreciating culture and refinement, the development of all the faculties and the broadening of life. I can view this subject from the standpoint of the modern educator, and fully appreciate the elevation of thought, the mag. nificence of conception, the earnest desire for human welfare, the pobleness of aspiration of the great leaders of educational thought. But I am recalled to earth by the thought of the needs of the body, the inequality of human powers, and the shortness of human life. It is best to try what most of us can do, rather than that which few of us can do. Youth is the time for enjoyment It is wicked to deprive youth of opportunities which may never return. Twelve or fifteen hours per day is too much work for pupil or teacher. I am old and tough, but I should never have been either had I been subjected to the pressure of modern education and endeavored to respond to it. I find eight hours of intellectual work sufficient for a mind somewhat trained. Six hours of such work is quite enough for youth under sixteen. Eight hours is enough for any one. Eight hours five times a week, with the usual vacations, is quite strain enough on the vitality of any conscientious teacher. If she does more it is at the peril of her health. A teacher or a pupil is as much entitled to a short day as an artisan. More entitled, for the work is harder. Bishop Potter testified that his Board of Conciliation in New York fixed a working week of 474 hours for lithographers, because that was all that the average man could endure of such work and thrive. It is far less difficult than the study of psychology or the writing of “reports” by untrained minds. Says the Bishop: “The human mind has in departments of higher activity but so much power of sustained attention, and after that point is passed that power is uot only greatly weakened, but it becomes so far debilitated as to invalidate the excellence of the work. Applied to other forms of labor, it would be possible for a man to do a longer stint without fatigue.”

We have noted that national education is usually a manifestation of national impulses. It is so in our case, and the national impulse is rush, hurry, strive, compete, override, struggle for the mastery. The few can win. The many must

* J. G. Schonforber, p. 449 Ref. Ind. Com., vol. vii,

fail. The educational system which we have developed will do its most perfect work if it comes to teach self-restraipt, moderation, quiet. The world will go on well enough if we do not push it, and especially if we do not set our children at the wheel. The trade unions demand short hours in order that their members may have time and strength for social activities. Why is not that good for the teacher and the teacher's environment? The average woman teacher who reaches her school-room at eight o'clock in the morning and leaves it at five in the afternoon has exhausted her strength. Forty hours of school work per week, with the usual vacations, is the limit beyond which she may not safely pass. The immature girl student should attempt far less. From the close of our school day to the beginning of the next, neither teacher nor pupil should give more thought to school affairs than the carpenter gives to the building upon which he works, and what cannot be well done in those hours should be left undone. Nobody will care and nobody will be harmed. Those who are created to excel will discover their own way to excellence, and the others should be left in peace. It is both comfortable and useful to be ignorant of most things. I know of no gauge that will prove that the pleasures of the trained intellect are any “higher,” or in any way more valuable, than those of the untrained,—that Browning is nobler than Dooley, that Wagner is more delightful than rag-time, that the psychological reactions excited by a great work of art, when exposed to a trained eye, are any more agreeable than those aroused by pork and beans in a capable stomach. The enjoyment of any of them are matters of habit and training, and I am inclined to the belief that among innocent emotions those are most useful which can be experienced hy the greatest number. At any rate it is time that we learned to direct the struggle of Man with Nature, which has persisted through the ages into a struggle with human nature to restrain its excesses. It is the part of wisdom to conform our endeavor to our physical powers. Let us cease to attempt the impossible. Let us stop killing our teachers, and give the children a rest.

Our High School System as Related to

the State.

BY ARTHUR J. PILLSBURY,

Editor of the Tulare Register. I was much interested in an article related to this question from the pen of Superintendent Thomas J. Kirk, which appeared in a recent issue of the Saturday Bee, but it does not seem to me that too much can be said on the subject between now and the holding the election next year. The High School has friends enough in California to require that justice be done it if only those friends can be aroused to demand justice; but the High School also has more enemies than such friends of secondary education are aware of, and some of them are very powerful

I have before me a letter from the cashier of one of the largest savings banks in this State in which occurs this sentence: “We are not prepared to endorse the proposition that a High School education is essential to the prosperity cr happiness of a business man,” and the institution which he represents has resisted the inclusion of bank lands in a High School district and, so far, with success.

There are two classes of people, I take it, who will join this venerable cashier in refusing to endorse the proposition that a High School education is essential to the prosperity and happiness of a business man or woman, or an intelligent American citizen. One of these classes is made up of men like our cashier, the horizons of whose lives are bounded by the periphery of an American dollar. The

other class is composed of those who are not yet awake to the need of secondary education. The first class have got to be whipped out of their old fogy boots at the polls and before the Legislature, and the task is not going to be any too easy. The second class has got to be educated up to the need of the time, and that task will also not be light, with something less than a year for doing the work.

The attitude of California toward ber High School system is anomalous and ought not to be. Our State provides liberally for elementary education and it has not been parsimonious in its support of the University of California, but the High School, the connecting link between the lower and higher forms of education, receives no aid at all from the State, and the responsibility for this organization, conduct and maintenance of High Schools is thrown entirely upon those communities which have the enterprise and love of learning needful to induce them to take upon themselves a burden that is not easy, and an obligation which such communities are not always fitted adequately to discharge. It is time that California adopted its High School offspring into the educational family and provided at least in part for its maintenance.

The American idea of free, public education is that the State shall set up an educational ladder that shall reach from the kindergarten to the University, to the end that young men and women who have the instinct to climb may pass over that ladder as a birthright. California has suffered a break in the ladder that it should lose no time in spanning.

Now, for some reasons for the faith that is in me. The primary and grammar schools have performed their joint function when they have put the pupil in the possession of the tools indispensable for the acquisition of intelligence, but they have not opened the windows of the youthful mind out upon any intellectual vistas likely to prove inviting. The pupil is put in possession of tools without being taught how to use them. He knows how to read, but not what to read. He knows how to write, but his training in composition has been very slight, and he is not capable of effective expression, either oral or written. After many years of effort he has succeeded in memorizing a considerable variety of hard, dry facts, but little or no stimulus has been given his imagination and his view of life is still shut in. At the time of completing his grammar school course the pupil is barely at the threshold of adolescence, has pipped his infant shell, and is barely coming to himself, has acquired some proficiency in memorizing, but has not been taught how to think. To turn him out of school at that age with so meager a preparation for life is to equip him for the performance of only the humblest utilities and for the most narrow capacity for enjoying the good things of life. It leaves bim nothing more than a mere industrial factor, like the ox, with a capacity for enjoyment most likely confined within a purely physical range. If anything better and broader come into his life, it must be from outside the school system which the State has afforded.

The High School stands at the parting of the ways. It occupies the time betwixt adolescence and adulthood. The mind then for the first time has power to co-ordinate, to trace relationships, to compare – to think Taking the pupil from the grammar school, where he has been taught the use of intellectual tools, the High School teaches him what to construct; and sends him about his way with definite ideas as to how he will order his life, what sort of a character he will fashion, with the elemental tools, the use of which he has learned. It is trite to say that the High School is the poor man's college, but so it is and is likely ever to be. The professional man and specialist will go on to college, take post graduate courses and so on thru special schools of training, but the typical American citizen. having acquired in the High School an adequate outlook upon life's possibilities and pleasures, will go from the High School to the shop, farm, and home, to live each his own life and do his work in the world, intelligent,

cuthu

og

broad in range of mental and moral vision, the bightst type of citizenry the world will know.

It is entirely possible that the precise sphere of Iligh School effort has not yet been determined. The High School must take the first pupil where the grammar school leaves him. That much is foreordained, but it does not follow that the High School must take the pupil clear to where the University would like to have him brought. I think that the State should make the University take the pupil where the High School can most advantageously leave him, for the end and aim of the poor man's college must be to fit the pupil for life rather than for entrance into the college of the wealthy, or the college of those who are to enter upon highly specialized work.

Nevertheless the demands made upon the High School will be quite onerous and varied enough to fill four years of ambitious adolescence. The paramount function of the High School must be to induct the pupil into the elemental mystery of human learning, history, language, literature, science. These provided for, the High School should devote at least one study and recitation period each day to such special knowledge and training as will equip the pupil to intelligently begin work upon the farm, in the counting room, the shop, or the home - to open the windows of the understanding in the direction of a life work, as well as in that of a broadened outlook upon human affairs and accomplishments. This can be done.

It will be entirely practicable to teach in a High School the elements of the science of scientific farming: Agricultural chemistry, botany, entomology,

soil analysis, etc. There is no reason why the farmer of the future should deal with an alchemy, surpassing in mystery that of the electrician, without a suspicion of why he does what he does.

It will be entirely practicable to teach in the High School course of four years. the elements of every day business: Commercial geography, bookkeeping, typewriting, and shorthand. There will have to be practice beyond the school period to insure proficiency, but the pupils can be put so far upon their way that they can perfect themselves in their chosen field of work without having to prolong their school life beyond the High School period.

It will be entirely practicable to teach, as an aside, in a High School course of four years so much of mechanics as will make a pupil all his life handy with tools and exact in all that he does. It would be too much to undertake to teach handicrafts in a High School, but the hand and the eye need training as well as the power to think, and such training must be had, if at all, during that period of adolescence when the pupil will be in the High School anyhow.

It will be entirely practicable to teach, as an aside, and in connection with a four years' High School course, so much of domestic economy as will fit the girl graduate for home life, for domestic needle work, cutting and fitting her own, garments and cooking wholesome food wholesomely and serving it appetizingly.

It will be entirely practicable during a four years' High School course su to carry along these elective training courses as to link the more theoretical part of school work closely with everyday business, industry and life, and to fit the graduate for immediate entrance upon his life pursuit. It will at once tend to make him an efficient industrial factor and an intelligent, liberal-minded citizen.

If the poverty of our state were so extreme that it could provide but one stage of education for its youth, that stage should, of course, embrace the Primary and Grammar Grade course, but if it were able to add to this another degree of learning, it should be the High School rather than the University degree. If any form of education should be left to local initiative and private enterprise it should be that higher education which is embraced in the University course and not the High School course which California has, so far as the State is concerned, left out of its educational ladder.

realetea 2

[ocr errors]

sifa

I think that I may reasonably make claim to having outlined with some liberality the work which a High School should undertake to do; and, if it undertake to do this, it will be seen that such a school must be liberally provided for in buildings, teaching force, and apparatus. The task will be found quite beyond the means of small and isolated or farming communities. Therefore State aid is needed.

The support of the common schools is jointly carried by local initiative, county enterprise, and State aid. The State University is sustained by the State as a whole. There is no reason, economic or logical, why the State and the community may not join in maintaining High Schools.

It has been objected that all have access to the advantages offered by the primary schools and all have access to the University, but that all could not have access to the High Schools; and, therefore, High Schools ought not to be aided out of a common State fund. This objection can be reached by making the bestowal of State aid conditioned upon a waiving of the right to charge a tuition.

It would be proper for the community applying for State aid for High Schools to first build and equip a High School building and, I should say, vote $3 in local tax to each $2 to be received from the State at large. I should favor basing State aid on the average daily attendance of pupils at, possibly, a rate of $2 per pupil per month. If this did not lighten the load of each High School district, it would at all events increase the efficiency; and the efficiency of High Schools will have to be considerably increased before they will cover the utilities I have outlined.

The Constitutional Amendment proposing State aid to High Schools, to be voted for next year, contemplates the naming in the appropriation measure of the specific schools which are to receive such appropriations. Aid should go to all if to any, but a wise surveillance might be required on the part of the State Board of Education to guard against misappropriation and misuse.

There are now 129 High Schools in this State. That law will not prove beneficent which doubles the number of High Schools without doubling the attendance. In other words, not every cross road should attempt a High School; and yet there ought to be a High School at every considerable trading center. A multiplicity of weak High Schools with only partial courses will not so well subserve the public need as fewer schools, larger and better equipped. Therefore, I am not sure but that State aid ought to be limited to High Schools in incorporated towns or to High Schools having an average daily attendance of fifty pupils or more.

Whatever is done in the direction of State aid to High School support should be done with a view to becoming a permanent policy. Such aid is not wanted by fits and starts. High schools should be established only where they can be maintained. We must look to a policy of permanency.

The Constitutional Amendment which will pave the way for this is before the people. The opposition to it will be technical and covert rather than open and on principle, and it is not too soon to begin a campaign of education for the amendment's adoption.

[ocr errors]

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL: We cannot have ideal teachers in our public schools for the price we pay, or in the numbers we require.

« EelmineJätka »