Imágenes de páginas

But the school gives a different sort of training; its discipline is for the freedom of the individual. The education of the family is in use and wont, and it trains rather than instructs. Its result is unconscious habit and ungrounded prejudice or inclination. Its likes and dislikes are not grounded in reason, but are unconscious results of early training. But the school lays all its stress on producing a consciousness of the grounds and reason for things. I should not say all its stress; for the school does in fact lay much stress on what is called discipline-on habits of alert and critical attention, on regularity and punctuality, on self-control and politeness. But the bare mention of these elements of discipline shows that they, too, are of a higher order than the habits of the family inasmuch as they all require the exertion of both will and intellect consciously in order to attain them. The discipline of the school forms a sort of conscious superstructure to the unconscious basis of habits which have been acquired in the family.

School instruction, on the other hand, is given to the acquirement of techniques; the technique of reading and writing, of mathematics, of grammar, geography, history, literature, and science in general.

One is astonished when he reflects upon it at first to see how much is meant by this word technique. All products of human reflection are defined and preserved by words used in a technical sense. The words are taken out of their colloquial sense, which is a loose one, except when employed as slang. For slang is a spontaneous effort in popular speech to form technical terms.

The technical or conventional use of signs and symbols enables us to write words and to record mathematical calculations; the technical use of words enables us to express clearly and definitely the ideas and relations of all science. Outside of technique all is vague hearsay. The fancy pours into the words it hears such meanings as its feelings prompt. Instead of science there is superstition.

The school deals with technique in this broad sense of the word. The mastery of this technique of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history lifts the pupil on to a plane of freedom and self-help hitherto not known to him. He can now by his own effort master for himself the wisdom of the race.

By the aid of such instruments as the family education has given him he can not master the wisdom of the race but only pick up a few of its results, such as the customs of his community preserve. By the process of hearsay and oral inquiry it would take the individual a lifetime to acquire what he can get in six months by aid of the instruments which the school places in his hands. For the school gives the youth the tools of thought.

Looking for the application of this technique we see two worlds-nature and man. Nature contains, first, abstract or inorganic objects, matter, and motion, to which arithmetic, algebra, and higher mathematics relate; then, secondly, it contains organic objects, like plants, animals, and men. This phase of nature, including vegetable and animal growth and the requisite conditions of climate, land and water and air, are treated in geography.

Hence the child has two studies that give him an insight into nature as the support of his life and as the instrument for him to conquer and use in the shape of machinery, motive powers, food, clothing, and shelter.

With his first lesson in arithmetic he learns something fundamental about the conditions of existence in time and space. Matter and force not merely happen to obey mathematical laws, but they have to do so as a primordial necessity of their nature. Every lesson in geography from the first is of practical use in giving the child command over organic nature.

Taking the other side of school instruction we find a happy selection of what reveals man to himself. Man as an object is body and soul—the body is a physiological object like animals and plants; the soul is intellect, will, and feeling. The child does not study psychology as such, but something better for him than psychology, for he studies the products of man's intellect and will and feeling. He

studies the structure of language in grammar, and this reveals the structure of intellect. He studies in literature the revelation of the human heart-its feelings, emotions, and aspirations, good and bad. Literature portrays the rise of feelings and their conversion into actions and ideas by the will and intellect; it shows the collisions of evil feelings with good. History, again, shows the human will in its distinctive province, for the will of man is manifest not so much in individual adventures as in the formation of states and religious movements and social changes. This is collective will, the will of the nation or people, and it is manifest in wars or in great social movements, such as colonization, the building of cities, internal improvements, commerce, productive industry, etc.

History reveals man to himself by showing him his deeds. Literature reveals man to himself by showing him his character in its process of formation-the ultimate springs of action as they well up from the unconscious depths of the soul. Grammar, philology, and language studies reveal the essential structure of the soul, its logical constitution as a self-activity or self-consciousness.

There are no other phases of nature and man than these five which we see are contemplated by the five chief branches of study in the district schools.

Secondary education must go on in the same direction, opening windows of the soul in five directions so that the pupil gets a better insight into these cardinal provinces of nature and man.

Therefore the secondary pupil will continue his study of mathematics, taking up algebra and geometry; of language, studying the ancient languages from which civilization has been transmitted, and modern languages. He will continue the view of organic nature, given in geography, by studying the outlines and methods of such natural sciences as geology, astronomy, physiology, zoology, and botany; continue history by adding to the special study of the United States, begun in the elementary school, the study of general history; continue the study of literature, begun in the school readers, by systematic study of the greatest writers like Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, and Chancer, in selected complete works of art, together with a history of literature. Mathematics are reenforced by physics (called natural philosophy) treating of the mathematical laws of solids and fluids.

To these branches which the ideal course should contain there are certain incidental studies or arts of a useful character, such as vocal music, bookkeeping, calis. thenics, shorthand writing, cooking, woodworking, etc., which are added, some of them, to the high school courses of study throughout the country. The modern languages taught are usually German and French. The ancient languages are Latin and Greek.

It must be noticed in studying the secondary education of the United States that it stands between two other self-regulated systems of schools-the elementary, whose course is determined by the school committees, and the higher, whose course is determined by college faculties and boards of trustees. These two independent directive powers do not act in perfect harmony. Hence the secondary school has a twofold course of study to provide for-that indicated by the elementary school and that required by the college for admission.

But the public high schools are under the control of the school committees elected by the people. This causes them to lay more stress on a continuation of the fivefold course of elementary schools than on the studies required for admission to college.

On the other hand the private secondary schools lay the most stress on preparation for college. Here is one of the greatest defects in our system-or lack of system. The ideal course of study demands that five windows of the soul be kept open. The old preparatory school laid stress on Latin, Greek, and mathematics, neglecting all else. These three branches opened only two or three windows (to keep up our symbolism); mathematics gave the key to inorganic nature; Latin and Greek answered to grammar and literature, chiefly to grammar or the logical side of the soul, with a little touch of history and literature on the sides of the will and sensibility. Nature

was left out of sight, except as mathematics gave the general conditions of all nature-the structure of time and space.

The private secondary school, therefore, in the last generation slighted history, modern literature, natural science, and sociology. The public high school undertook to develop these important sides of a rounded education and succeeded in a measure. But it was obliged to adopt another course of study for its pupils fitting for college. Hence there arose a general or English course, and a classical course.

I have compared the classical course of study to a palm tree which first builds a tall stem and then suddenly expands into foliage at the top. So the preparatory school and the college required six years (four in the preparatory and two in college) to be devoted almost exclusively to Latin, Greek, and mathematics, and then in the last two years of the college made a hasty survey of nature and modern literature and history, as a sort of finishing touch.

There is no doubt that the high school course laid out by the school committees is more rational than the secondary course of the private preparatory schools, prescribed for them by the colleges. And yet the college course was the conscious product of the highest educated minds of the community. The unconscious evolution by "natural selection" in the minds of school committees elected by the people was wiser on the whole. Individual members of city school boards are always found who oppose classical studies altogether. But the pressure of popular demand always prevails to secure in the public schools what is needed.

The difficulty in this case is that the high school pupil taking up all the five branches-mathematics, natural science, history, modern literature, Latin and Greekin his four years, is not so far advanced in the classic languages as the special preparatory school, and does not compete with it on an equal footing. Special classical courses in the public high school are a costly experiment wherever carried on.

This produces what we may call a national disaster in our education, namely, the discouragement of pupils in high schools from taking up higher education. The public high schools, in proportion to their enrollment, send comparatively few to the colleges.

The disadvantages of this to the nation are great, for higher education even with a "palm-tree" course of study educates the majority of the real leaders of society. It might be supposed that those best versed in natural science would have this prestige, and doubtless natural science counts for much. But the classically educated man has advantages over all others. That this should be so may be seen by a brief consideration of the rationale of its course of study.

We have seen that there are needed five windows in the soul to see the five classes of objects in nature and humanity. Natural science relates chiefly to the organic and inorganic phases of nature but gives little insight into human nature. On the other hand language study, and especially literature, leads directly toward this knowledge of man that is essential to large directive power.

As to the dead languages, Latin and Greek, they are the tongues spoken by the two people who invented the two threads united in our modern civilization. The study of Greek puts one into the atmosphere of art, literature, and science, in which the people of Athens lived. This is the effect of Greek literature; it is also the effect of the mere language in its idioms and in its grammatical structure.

The study of Latin puts one similarly into the stern, self-sacrificing, political atmosphere of Rome. The Romans invented laws for the protection of life and private property, and also the forms of combination into corporations and city governments. To study Latin makes the pupil more attentive to, and conscious of, the side of his civilization that deals with combinations of men into social organizations.

No other ancient or modern language gives us anything of equal value for gaining an insight into the institutions under which we live, except the study of the Bible. The Hebrew thread of our civilization is still more important, because while the Roman secures civil freedom, and the Greek intellectual freedom and artistic taste,

the Hebrew oracles give us the revelation of the personality of God, the fountain of all freedom. For unless the absolute is a free personality, man's freedom must be all a temporary and abnormal affair; the iron fate which pantheism sees as the first principle will get the advantage after all.

We may see that the colleges ought to continue to lay chief stress on Latin, Greck, and mathematics as the studies that foster directive power, but they ought to add also the three moderns, natural science, modern literature, and history, incorporating them into the course throughout, so that the oak rather than the palm tree becomes the symbol of the curriculum.


By "directive power" is meant the influence that molds the actions of men. may be exercised not only by the military, political, or the industrial leader, but by the lone scholar who publishes great discoveries to the world; by the editors of periodicals, by the orators, preachers, and teachers, and especially by the poets and literary men.

There has been a process of adjustment going on in higher education in several directions, especially since 1870. First, an elevation of the standard of admission took place, chiefly brought about by the action of Harvard College. Secondly, an extension of the scope of elective studies as a consequence of the raised standard which now brought the freshmen class nearly up to where the junior class had been. Thirdly, the requirements for admission began to be more varied and to require something of English literature and a modern language, with some natural science and history; but much more Latin and Greek.

Had the Latin and Greek requirements remained the same, the new standard of admission would have fitted the course of study of the public high school, and the problem would have been solved. As it is now, the situation of the high school as a feeder for the college is worse than before 1870. Then the classical requirements for graduation at the high school would admit the students to college, while the collateral branches of history, science, and English literature that he had begun in the high school gave him greater apperceptive power, or greater ability to grasp the practical application of what he had learned.

Is it not a mistake that higher education has made in trying to lengthen the school life of youth by increasing the length of the secondary school course? Is it not far better to take the student into college at 16 or 18 years of age, and after the course of study that leads him to see the unity of human learning take him into a postgraduate course that teaches him how to specialize and pursue lines of original investigation in the laboratory or seminary?

This radical question is now in a fair way to be answered rationally; for this report of the committee of ten will lead to such investigations of the educational value of secondary branches and methods of instruction as will put us in possession of accurate knowledge in regard to the nature and limits of elementary, secondary, and higher education. We shall learn the fitting age for each and not, as heretofore, esteem it an advantage to hold back the pupil as long as possible in the elementary and secondary courses under plea of securing greater thoroughness. We shall understand that the elementary methods are of necessity too mechanical to be used to advantage beyond the fourteenth year, while the secondary methods consist too much of copying styles and classic forms, in aping modes of work and habits of thinking, to be continued to advantage beyond the eighteenth year. We shall know better than we do now what is fitting for each age and period. With this we shall enter on a new and more scientific epoch of educational theory and practice.


By CHARLES W. ELIOT, President of Harvard University.

The report of the committee of ten has now been in the hands of the teachers of the country for about six months, so that there has been time to formulate and publish some criticism and objections. I propose to comment in this paper on one criticism or objection which in various forms and by several different persons has been brought before the educational public. Whenever I speak of the report I intend to include the reports of the conferences as well as the proper report of the committee of ten, for the chief value of the total report lies in the conference reports.

The objection to the report which I shall discuss is contained in the question, "What do college men know about schools?" Those who urge this objection say in substance, "More than half the members of the conferences were at the moment in the service of colleges and universities, and the same was true of the committee of ten. The wise management of schools for children of from 6 to 18 years of age is a different business from the wise management of colleges and universities. Not only is the age of the pupils different, but their mode of life and the discipline they need are also different. The mental capacity of young children is low compared with that of college students; their wills are weaker, and their moral qualities undeveloped. How can men who teach and govern young people from 18 to 24 years of age know anything about schools for children? Let them attend to the higher education and not attempt to teach experts in elementary and secondary education how to conduct their very different business. That a man has succeeded in conducting a college or a university makes it altogether probable that his advice will be worthless as to the best mode of conducting a school or a system of schools. We school superintendents and principals have to handle masses of average material; your college and university teacher has only a small number of exceptional individuals to deal with."

To meet this objection I wish to affirm and illustrate the proposition that the chief principles and objects of modern educational reform are quite the same from beginning to end of that long course of education which extends from the fifth or sixth to the twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth year of life. The phrase "educational construction" would perhaps be better than the phrase "educational reform;" for in our day and country we are really constructing all the methods of universal democratic education. We seldom realize how very recent and novel an undertaking this educational construction is. As a force in the world universal education does not go behind this century in any land. It does not go back more than twenty years in such a civilized country as France. It dates from 1871 in England. Plato maintained that the producing or industrial classes needed no education; and it is hardly more than a hundred years since this Platonic doctrine began to be seriously questioned by social philosophers. It is not true yet that education is universal even in our own land; and in all lands educational practice lags far behind educational theory. In this process of educational construction, so new, so strange, so hopeful, I believe that the chief principles and objects are the same from the kindergarten through the university, and therefore I maintain that school teachers ought to understand and sympathize with university reform and progress, and that college and university teachers ought to comprehend and aid school reform and progress. Let us review together those chief principles and objects, although in so doing I shall necessarily repeat some things I have often said before.

I. The first of these objects is the promotion of individual instruction-that is, the addressing of instruction to the individual pupil rather than to groups or classes. At present the kindergarten and the university best illustrate the progress of this

A paper read before the American Institute of Instruction at Bethlehem, N. H., July 11, 1894. Reprinted from the Educational Review, October, 1894.

« AnteriorContinuar »