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SUSAN W. NORTON, STATE NORMAL SCHOOL,
HE aim of education is to furnish opportunity for the highest possible physical, mental, and spiritual living at this present moment and the equipment for such living at every subsequent moment. This series of articles will confine itself exclusively to the spiritual life in the schools. Not that the other two phases of life are unimportant, but they have been more adequately treated in much of our present educational literature. The needs along these lines have been more generally recognized. Our schools for the training of teachers are emphasizing the proper physical environment of the child and the importance of physical education. The prospectve teacher spends months in studying the laws of mental activity, methods of presenting knowledge, methods of testing and measuring the intellectual life of the child, in order to learn how to minister to its needs. Without such knowledge the teacher cannot hope to reach her highest standard of efficiency. Without the ability to present truth by skillful questioning no teacher can hope to stimulate her pupils to their highest attainment.
Assuming then, that the teacher is alert to the physical needs of her pupils, that she can skillfully present subjects in such a way as to arouse thoroughly the child's intellectual powers, what then? Has she done all that can rightfully be expected of her? The true teacher knows that she has not.
But the training of spiritual life seems so unexplored a field that she hesitates to touch more than its borders. Many teachers give incidental moral talks when some occasions arise which seem to offer a good opportunity. Others use history and literature to press home a moral truth. If the moral truth is discerned by the
child under the skillful guidance of the teacher, it is of great value. If however, the teacher moralizes, the time is worse than wasted. The child not only does not accept the ideal that the teacher is trying to present, but he may act unfavorably toward the piece of literature under study, possibly develop an actual distaste for it. Do you remember the feeling you had as a child toward some one who was held up to your youthful mind as a model? It were better that the poem or biography were left to make its own appeal without comment, than that it should be touched by an unskilled hand.
All this incidental instruction, however, leaves untouched the other phase of moral education, namely, moral training. The child must be furnished favorable conditions for embodying his ideal. In a previous article it was shown that the schools as at present organized do not furnish these conditions. How can the organization of the school be changed to meet this need?
An organization is (1) a body of people united, (2) for a definite well-known purpose, (3) each part of the organization having specific well-known duties, (4) the organization having adequate power for dealing with any who thoughtlessly or willfully interfere with the rights of its members, (5) the organization having ample provision for making such progressive changes within itself as experience may show are for the better.
As soon as the teacher calls her school to order on the opening day and makes her list of the pupils assigned to her, the school is organized. The purpose is already in the minds of the pupils, namely, "to get knowledge." This purpose has been set for them by their parents and others, the thought being emphasized by their previous experience in school. The teacher is compelled to accept this purpose furnished by others as a starting point.
The specific well-known duties of each part of the organization have also been established by tradition: The duties of the teacher are (a) to make the pupils "behave," (b) to make them "learn." As a necessary collary, the duties of the pupils are (a) to be "made" to behave, (b) to be "made" to learn. These ready made ideas of the duties of each part are firmly fixed in the child's
mind. The teacher must accept them as a starting point. The teacher must be able to handle her school under the already established organization. Only under those conditions are the teacher and children ready for a higher order of things.
These changes for betterment come through changes in the ideas, and their embodiment, of "Purpose," "Duties"? and Motives." Changes in ideas and embodiment, are effected through Opportunity (1) furnished by the usual school activities and especially through Inductive Spiritual Lessons offering material for building spiritual ideals; (2) for expressing or living these ideals in the entire activity of the school, through changed forms of procedure. The changes may be made in the outward form or in the purpose and meaning of the form. Transformation, not reformation, is the problem of the schools.
It has been said that changes in organization come through changes in ideals. Instead of "changes in ideals" "substitution of ideals" would better express what really takes place; for while the new ideal sometimes incorporates the old one, often times there is nothing of the old in the new.
An ideal cannot be imparted to another by words alone. Each person must build his own ideals by thinking. The facts of history and the subject matter of various studies, and the lives of those about us are full of useful material. Our own experiences, however, furnish the best material for each individual. The work of the teacher is to awaken in the minds of the class, by suitable questions, a keen sense of former experiences such as will be needed for the desired induction. Truths reached in this way become a part of the individual. The new ideal thus gained inductively, because of the vitality of truths thus gained and because of the greater power of higher ideals, will crowd out the old, lower ideal. The materials for the first new ideals are gathered and fashioned from the following inductive lesson. This lesson has been given many times and in many places and always with practically the same results. It has been used more than a hundred times before State Institutes, Summer Schools and other educational gatherings, in city graded schools and in Training Departments of
Normal Schools, in practically the same form. No reproduction on paper can give the absorbing interest of the lesson with a class. The pupils give the lesson. An ideal is personal; it can be formed only by individual thought and made clear by expression in words. The answers here given are such expressions. The lesson is given in full that beginners may catch the spirit and style of such lessons. From start to finish in giving the lesson, those pupils whose faces indicate that they may give trouble in school are designated to answer when they indicate by the properly uplifted hand that they are ready to voice an answer. Every answer is referred back to the class by the question, "Who agree?" or "Who disagree?" This gives every child in the class the opportunity to express his decision on the point in question. It also helps the teacher to keep his hand on the mental pulse of the class. It is, as it were, a spiritual barometer revealing to the teacher the condition of the spiritual atmosphere.
Teacher takes the class, that is, glances with a smile into the eyes of every individual in the class. T. (Holding up his hand quietly, unobstrusively, just below his face) I wish to find out something about the schools of this city. Who will help me? (Pupils respond in large numbers by the hand uplifted in imitation of the teacher. The teacher notes mentally those whose hearty response expresses goodwill and cordially thanks all responding.) T. How many grades or classes are there in the city schools? C. (Designated from those with properly uplifted hands.) There are twelve grades I think.
T. Who else thinks so? (Pupils respond by the uplifted hand more largely than before.)
What are the names of these classes?
C. First, second, third and so on up to twelfth.
T. Who agrees? (A still larger number respond.)
T. So many agree that I will write that answer on the board.
(Writes) 1, Names; 1st, 2nd, 3rd,
T. Who makes these classes?
The superintendent and teacher make them. T. Agree? (Writes:)
2. Made by the superintendent and teacher.
T. From what do they judge?
C. They judge from written examinations and class work.
3. Made from written examinations and class work.
T. When do they make them? When does a teacher know in what class a boy or girl belongs for the next year?
C. She knows as soon as she counts up your mistakes and failures.
T. Is it your mistakes and failures that promote you?
C. She knows as soon as she puts together the marks for the class work and the examinations.
T. Who agrees? What then shall I write?
T. How does staying in one of these classes affect one's wanting to stay in that class? The longer a girl stays in one of these classes, say the seventh grade, the more she wants to stay in it for the next year. Who agree? (No hands.) (No hands.) Well, if that is not
right, what is right?
C. The longer a person stays in one of these classes the less he wants to stay in it.
T. Is that right? Who agrees? Well, that is a unanimous vote. I think it must be right. (Writes)
5. The longer a person stays in one of these classes the less he wants to stay in it.
T. Where will I find these classes? If I go down street into the stores and offices, will I find them there?
C. You will find them in school only.
T. Disagree? (Writes)
6. These classes are found in school only.
(All along so far the teacher has been keenly observant of his class and whenever a "trouble maker" has seemed inclined to