Imágenes de páginas

And finally, what is the effect of this prolonged and earnest investigation upon that ideal of a liberal education that has so long been held in esteem among us? It will not have escaped notice that only one of the committee's four programmes makes a place for the study of Greek, while one excludes both Greek and Latin. It is true that these are recommended as ideal arrangements, and that it is expressly stated in the report to be the unanimous opinion of the committee that, "under existing conditions in the United States as to the training of teachers and the provision of necessary means of instruction, the two programmes called respectively modern languages and English must, in practice, be distinctly inferior to the other two." Nevertheless, it seems clear that the committee has been able to disentangle the real from the accidental in our conception of a liberal education, and has put the former forward in all its strength. It has not forgotten the precept of Aristotle, that "there are branches of learning and education which we must study with a view to the enjoyment of leisure," and that "these are to be valued for their own sake." "It is evident, then," the philosopher continues, "that there is a sort of education in which parents should train their sons, not as being useful or necessary, but because it is liberal and noble. Whether this is of one kind only, or of more than one, and if so, what they are and how they are to be imparted, must hereafter be determined." It is just this determination that the committee has made; and it is a determination that each age, perhaps each generation, must make for itself. Between a diminution of the time given to classical study and a relapse into quasi barbarism there is no necessary relation of cause and effect. May not the American say, as did Paulsen of his countrymen, that "idealism generally, if we will use this word of so many meanings, is a thing which is not implanted from without, but grows from within, and that, in particular, the idealism in the character of the German people has deeper roots than the Greek and Latin lessons of our gymnasia?"

Mr. Lowell's hope, expressed so eloquently at the Harvard anniversary, will not be disappointed by the recognition of a broader basis for human culture. Every one may accept the recommendations of the committee of ten and still say with him: "I hope the day may never come when the weightier matters of a language, namely, such parts of its literature as have overcome death by reason of their wisdom and the beauty in which it is incarnated, such parts as are universal by reason of their civilizing properties, their power to elevate and fortify the mind-I hope the day may never come when these are not predominant in the teaching given here. Let the humanities be maintained undiminished in their ancient right. Leave in the traditional preeminence those arts that were rightly called liberal; those studies that kindle the imagination, and through it irradiate the reason; those studies that manumitted the modern mind; those in which the brains of finest temper have found alike their stimulus and their repose, taught by them that the power of intellect is heightened in proportion as it is made gracious by measure and symmetry. Give us science, too, but give first of all, and last of all, the science that ennobles life and makes it generous. Many-sidedness of culture makes our vision clearer and keener in particulars. For, after all, the noblest definition of science is that breadth and impartiality of view which liberates the mind from specialties and enables it to organize whatever we learn, so that it becomes real knowledge by being brought into true and helpful relation with the rest."

# # *


WILLIAM T. HARRIS, LL. D., United States Commissioner of Education.

I am to present some considerations on the course of study in secondary schools with especial reference to the "report of the committee of ten" recently published. What I shall say will be partly in the way of comment on that important report and partly in the way of presenting my own solutions of some of the problems to which it is addressed.

In the first place, I would venture the remark that the report of a committee must generally be a compromise. The individual views of the several members of the committee have been advanced and discussed-in the end they have been so modified that a majority can approve them. It naturally follows that each person signing the report accepts it as the nearest approximation to his view that he finds practicable. It often happens that in the process of elimination all that is salient and suggestive gets omitted and only the dead level of commonplace ideas is retained. Generally it is best to preserve the differences of opinion that remain after all of the discussions in the committee in the form of minority reports or explicit reservations over the signature of the dissenting members. Such dissent helps the outsider to enter into the spirit of the discussion and to understand grounds.

Mere educational authority as such is harmful unless it brings with it its grounds which may be studied and mastered, adopted or refuted, by the teacher who reads the conclusions set forth.

In the report of the committee of ten there is an admirable device to preserve individual differences and points of view. There are nine reports of special conferences-each conference being conducted by a subcommittee of ten persons, experts in the topic assigned them and representing widely separate parts of the country.

By letting each group of experts sit by itself and formulate its demands on the time of the programme of the secondary school, we were likely to get the utmost diversity possible as regards points of view from which secondary studies could be considered. Each branch of study would claim what time the members of its conference thought desirable for its thorough treatment, rather than the time possible to allow it after adjusting its claims in view of all the rest of the programme.

The able presentation of the scope and significance of the nine branches of secondary study by the several conferences affords rich material for study to all interested in school work. But it furnishes a statement of the problem and sets forth the difficulties of making a satisfactory programme rather than suggests a solution.

It was for the committee of ten to digest the results and harmonize the differences of the nine subcommittees.

The first part of the report recites the history of the organization and work of the committees and then brings together in Tables I and II the recommendations of the several conferences without undertaking any change. Such a programme, as might be expected, shows very strongly one thing, namely, the necessity of modifying the demands of some or all of the subcommittees for the sake of adjustment. It is a reductio ad absurdum. It tells us that if the experts in each of the nine branches were to get what they ask we should have 22 recitations per week in the first year of the high school, 374 per week in the second year, 35 in the third year, and 374 in the fourth year. That is to say, the pupils would have a daily average of 43 recitations in the first year, 7 the second year, 7 the third year, and 7 the fourth. If each lesson required fifty minutes (taking time for change of classes) the second and fourth years would require the pupil to recite continuously from 9 in the morning to 4.30 in the afternoon, providing for a single intermission of an hour and a quarter for lunch in the middle of the day. All the lessons, seven in number, would have to be prepared out of school.

This paper was read before the department of superintendence at its session in Richmond, Va., February, 1894. Reprinted from Education.

ED 93-92

Such a strain on pupils would very soon destroy all elasticity and the reaction essential to individuality would cease.

Of course the members of the subcommittees would never for a moment approve such a programme. Each set of experts supposed that the demands of the other conferences would be modified and adjusted in such a way as to make a reasonable programme after allowing their special topic the time required.

The report of the committee of ten proceeds next to show in Table III that the demands of the subcommittees can not be made reasonable even by cutting them down uniformly 20 per cent and allowing four recitations or lessons a week where five lessons are asked for. Even this programme in Table III would demand for the second and fourth years an average of 6 lessons per day.

Up to this point, therefore, the results of the report are negative as far as making a programme is concerned. It is with Table IV that the committee of ten first offers a programme that it considers practicable. In order to reach this it was necessary to drop the guidance of the subcommittees and commence in earnest the study of the comparative educational values of the general branches, and secondly the necessary order of evolution of said branches and their adaptation to the several stages of maturity that the pupil reaches in the secondary school.

I would call special attention here to the fact that the committee of ten considered first the normal standard for the programme and resolved unanimously that in no case should there be more than 20 recitation periods or lessons a week, and only 15 of these (or 3 per day) should be such as require previous preparation on the part of the pupil. This fact makes unreasonable all those attacks on the report which condemn it for requiring too much work of the pupil in the secondary school. The recommendations of the committee of ten do not err in this respect, for they fall safely within the hygienic limits prescribed in the most cautious and conservative schools.

Turning to Table IV, which contains this model programme, not compiled from the results of the subcommittees, but formed in view of the conflicting necessities of hygiene, of preparation for college or the technical school, and of comparative educational values-turning to this table we find four programmes, a purely classical, a Latin-scientific, a modern language programme, and an English programme. I may be believed when I say that the formation of the classical programme consumed nearly all the time devoted by the committee of ten to discussions. It was easy after making the classical programme to omit Greek and substitute more science and modern language to form the Latin-scientific programme, and in the third or modern language programme to substitute more modern language for Latin. The so-called English programme was formed by increasing the time devoted to English language and literature and reducing the number of foreign languages studied to one, which might be an ancient or a modern language.

The chief result of the committee's report, so far as a practical recommendation is concerned, therefore, is to be found in the classical programme of Table IV. This gives Latin five hours per week during the first and second years, and four hours the third and fourth years. Greek has five hours per week in the third and fourth years and does not appear at all in the first and second. This arrangement makes the separation of the pupils who are fitting for college from those who are taking the scientific or modern language or English programme take place at the beginning of the third year, and offers the desirable opportunity for change of mind on the part of the secondary pupil after he has completed his second year and begins to see what education means. He may defer the question of college until the commencement of the third year.

The mathematical studies are, algebra, four hours a week in the first year and two hours a week for half of the third year; geometry, three hours a week second year and two hours a week half of the third year; trigonometry and higher algebra, elective in the fourth year for three hours a week; English language and literature,

rhetoric, composition and the like studies require four hours a week first year, two hours a week second year, three hours the third year, and two hours fourth year. The natural sciences are represented by physical geography three hours a week first year. This branch includes an elementary view of the organic aspects of nature, such as botany, zoology, ethnology, meteorology, geology, and astronomy. The other aspect of nature is physics, molar or molecular, called "natural philosophy" and "chemistry." Natural philosophy is assigned three hours a week second year; chemistry three hours a week fourth year. General history has four hours a week first year, three hours a week second year, and is elective with trigonometry for three hours the fourth year. Finally a modern language, French or German, takes four hours a week second year and third year and three hours a week fourth year.

This result seemed to the committee a pretty rich programme after all; it was reached only after harmonizing apparently irreconcilable conflicts. It provides for Latin, Greek, mathematics, natural science, history, English literature, and modern languages.

From this hasty survey of the report of the committee of ten let me now turn your attention for a moment to the fundamental questions that concern the course of study and to the reasons that have made this item in secondary schools the weakest part of our school system, although it must be confessed that the teachers in the secondary schools are on the whole more skillful, so far as command of methods is concerned, than the teachers in the elementary schools or the professors in colleges.

Let us glance first at the central idea of the elementary school.

We can deduce the course of study quite easily from the idea of the school as an instrumentality designed to connect the child as the new individual with his race, and enable him to participate in civilization.

By education we add to the child's experience the experience of the human race. His own experience is necessarily one-sided and shallow; that of the race is thousands of years deep and it is rounded to fullness. Such deep and rounded experience is what we call wisdom.

To prevent the child from making costly mistakes we give him the benefit of seeing the lives of others. The successes and failures of our fellow-men instruct each of us far more than our own experiments.

The elementary school attempts to give this wisdom in a systematic manner. It uses the essential means for its work in the shape of text-books, in which the experience of the race is digested and stated in a clear and summary manner, in its several departments, so that a child may understand it. He has a teacher to direct his studies and instruct him in the proper methods of getting out of books the wisdom recorded in them. He is taught first in the primary school how to spell out the words, and how to write them himself. Above all, he is taught to understand the meaning of the words. All first use of words reaches only a few of their many significations. Each word has many meanings and uses, but the child gets at only one meaning, and that the simplest and vaguest, when he begins. His school work is to train him into accuracy and precision in the interpretation of language. He learns gradually to fill each word of the printed page with its proper meaning. He learns to criticise the statements he reads, and to test them in his own experience and by comparison with other records of experience.

In other words, the child at school is set to work to enlarge his own puny life by the addition of the best results of other lives. There is no other process so well adapted to insure a growth in self-respect as the mastery of the thought of the thinkers who have stored and systematized the experience of mankind.

This is the clue to the hopes founded on education. The patriotic citizen sees that a government managed by illiterate people is a government of one-sided and shallow experience, and that a government by the educated classes insures the benefits of a much wider knowledge of the wise ways of doing things.

The work of the school produces self-respect because the pupil makes himself the measure of his fellows, and grows to be equal to them spiritually by the mastery of their wisdom. Self-respect is the root of the virtues and the active cause of a career of growth in power to know and power to do. Webster called the free public schools "a wise and liberal system of police by which property and the peace of society are secured." He explained the effect of the school as exciting "a feeling of responsibility and a sense of character."

This, he saw, is the legitimate effect. For as the school causes its pupils to put on the forms of thought given them by the teacher and by the books they use; causes them to control their personal impulses and to act according to rules and regulations; causes them to behave so as to combine with others and get help from all while they in turn give help; as the school causes the pupil to put off his selfish promptings and to prefer the forms of action based on the consideration of the interests of othersit is seen that the entire discipline of the school is ethical. Each youth educated in the school has been submitted to a training in the habit of self-control and of obedi ence to social order. He has become to some extent conscious of two selves-the. one his immediate animal impulse and the second his moral sense of conformity to the order necessary for the harmonious action of all.

Curious scholars have explored and recorded the methods of education of all peoples; for each people has some way of initiating its youth into the manners and customs and intellectual beliefs which constitute the warp and the woof of its civilization. The bulk of all education is performed by the family in all ages. The lessons in the care for the person; the conventional forms of eating and drinking; behavior toward strangers and toward one's relations; the mother tongue; the stock of beliefs and such habits of scientific observation as may exist in the community; the ideals of life; the duties of a citizen; the consciousness of nationality and the sentiment of patriotism that depends on it; the elementary arts and trades such as exist within the home; all these things are learned within the family. But letters and science are usually taught, if taught at all, by a teacher set apart for the work, and his department is called the school.

The school is the auxiliary institution founded for the purpose of reenforcing the education of the four fundamental,institutions of civilization. These are the family, civil society (devoted to providing for the wants of food, clothing, and shelter), the state, and the church. The characteristic of the school is that it deals with the means necessary for the acquirement, preservation, and communication of intelligencethe mastery of letters and mathematical symbols; of the technical terms used in geography and grammar and the sciences; the conventional meaning of the lines used on maps to indicate water, mountains, towns, latitude, longitude, and the like. The school devotes itself to instructing the pupil in these dry details of arts that are used to record systematic knowledge. These conventionalities once learned, the youth has acquired the art of intellectual self-help; he can, of his own effort, open the door and enter the treasure house of literature and science. Whatever his fellowmen have done and recorded he can now learn by sufficient diligence of his own. The difference between the part of education,acquired within the family and that acquired in the school is immense, incalculable. The family arts and trades, manners and customs, habits and beliefs, have formed a sort of close-fitting spiritual vesture, a garment of the soul always worn and expressive of the native character, not so much of the individual as of his tribe or family or community. He, the individual, had from birth been shaped into these things as by a mold; all his thinking and willing and feeling have been molded into the form or type of humanity looked upon as the ideal by his parents and acquaintances.

This close-fitting garment of habit has given him direction, but not self-direction or freedom. He does what he does blindly, from the habit of following custom and doing as others do.

« AnteriorContinuar »