Imágenes de páginas

In English literature the particular characteristics of the author would not determine chiefly what was selected, but what of life a selection contained. Chronology would not determine the order of arrangement, but the complexity of the conception which the selection embodied. If selection was made upon such a basis the student might not know so much about literature as a whole, about the Beef and Beer School of Fielding and Smollett, but he would know more about the best and most helpful literature.

The effects upon mathematics, Latin and Greek would be even greater. As now taught much of these subjects has no . bearing upon the life of any one except the specialist; they are dead matter in the mental life of the student. Mathematics would be reduced to the study of arithmetic and geometry. In Latin and Greek the subject-matter would not be selected to give the student a conception of Grecian and Roman life,-both can be gotten better through translations and history-but with special reference to English grammar and derivation. This basis of selection would reduce the time necessary to be spent upon these subjects in the secondary schools to at least two years, while Latin would drop out as a required college study, as is already practically the case with Greek.

In science there would be a complete change of front. Subject-matter would be limited to a study of fundamental, biological, physical and chemical laws that have a direct bearing upon every-day life, and would not be selected to illustrate every possible law and its variations. Materials which illustrate the same law would not be multiplied ad infinitum as at present. Science would be freed from the world of detail which so burdens and taxes the memory. There would be no zoölogy, botany, as such, but a study of scientific principles, their practical variations and applications.

A like change would occur in the subject-matter of history. About three fourths of what now appears would be dropped out. Materials, instead of being selected from one standpoint,—the political-would be selected from at least four others. Instead of treating primarily of the political phase of the world's development, it would also treat of the industrial, intellectual, social, æsthetical and moral phase of national life. These phases of

national life would be put on a parity with the political, and not relegated to the last paragraph of the last chapter. Only that subject-matter would be selected which embodied national ideals in all these directions, laws of growth and development. No effort whatever would be made to trace all the ins and outs of a nation's life. History would be made descriptive sociology.

What effect would such a basis of selection have upon science, mathematics, literature, as such, in secondary schools and colleges? There would be no such thing. Science, mathematics, literature, as such, have no place in education below the university. There can be but one study in secondary schools and colleges, and that is life, its aim and means of realization. The study of these subjects as such must be relegated to the university. The difference in the treatment of the subjects is determined by the difference in the aim. Education below the university must prepare men for life; the university must advance the interest of science and prepare men for professions.

Not only would this basis of selection change the materials in the subjects which have already gained a place in the course of study, but would also influence the subject-matter of the curriculum as a whole. Much of science, mathematics, Latin and Greek would be dropped out, while a broader study of such subjects as anthropology, sociology and political science would be necessitated.

The effect upon instruction would be even as marked as that upon the selection of subject-matter. Educational materials, like all others, may be used in countless different ways. Facts would be presented as a means of giving knowledge of principle, and seldom, if ever, as ends in themselves. Experiments are not performed in physics simply to have the student describe them, but that he may therefrom deduce inferences. History is the laboratory where experiments in individual and national life have been performed. Yet much of history instruction is merely a repetition of those experiments from which no inferences whatever are drawn. If principle were given its proper place, historical instruction would culminate in giving knowledge of national and individual ideals and laws of social development. Historic facts would be studied for this purpose, viewed and

interpreted in the light of these ideals and laws. The same would be true in literature. The topics which now receive the major part of attention would become incidental. Instruction would be centered upon giving the student a knowledge of the best and most helpful literature, a knowledge of intellectual, social, æsthetical and moral life, upon developing in the student a taste for good literature. Chemistry would not be a study in beautiful experiments, names, tests and symbols. Botany and zoology would not be degraded to a description of plants and animals. All subjects would be studied from the standpoint of life. Principle would be made the end of instruction in each branch.

The amount of time or emphasis placed upon different branches would also be affected. The time devoted to a subject at present is largely determined by the number of facts it embraces; the amount of time it will take the student to gain a general grasp of the subject. Such a standard may be valid in the university, but never out of it. The basis of emphasis must be, How much does the subject contribute to the aim of education? If much, then that subject must receive a proportionate amount of time. Little emphasis should be placed upon those subjects which have no direct relation to life, however rich they may be from the standpoint of pure science.

Lack of unity is the bane of modern education. It seems to go everywhere, but strives to arrive nowhere. The student is introduced to the whole realm of learning. Each subject is presented in large measure with no reference to its connection with any other, or to the present or future life of the individual. The sole aim of each instructor is to give knowledge of his particular subject. The information gained from the different branches, as a result, is in a state of chaos. It lacks an organizing center which binds every part into a whole. This organizing center is to be found in individual and national life. The correlation itself is to be brought about through giving principle its place in instruction. Each branch, then, would contribute something to the end of education. To do that would be the aim of instruction in that particular branch. Each subject would be seen in relation to the whole; the facts of each branch would be correlated about the principles and ideals it contributes. The

ideals and principles contributed by all branches would be bound into a conception of individual and national life, and how to attain it.

Results are the test of efficiency. With what does the student leave school? With a head full of mathematical formulæ, with a conglomeration of scientific, literary, and historical facts. Upon entering the active affairs of life, he finds that he does not know enough to take up any line of professional work,-that much of his learning is of no practical use. After a few years, in many cases, it is impossible to tell from his success or manner of living that he has had superior educational advantages. If instruction were centered upon principle, the results would be quite different. The student would be fitted for life for the business of all-living. He would be equipped with knowledge that cannot be forgotten, with principles of guidance, with standards of judgment, with ideals that would serve as stimuli to emotions and ends of action.

Principle should, therefore, be given the foremost place in instruction because of its value to individual and national life, and its service in attaining the aim of education because of its utility as a basis of selection and goal of instruction, since giving principle such a place would give unity to educational work and increase its efficiency.



Down a Swiss mountain runs a small stream
Catching the sunlight, gleam after gleam;
Through the grooved gorges, with a wild song,
This snow-born rivulet races along.

Over a precipice with shining feet,

It tries the deep distance, confident, fleet.

Ere it can fall to the vale far away,

All its bright flood is air-shattered to spray.




OME time ago an educational journal published a paper by a well-known superintendent of public schools, in which the writer says of children: "They are not interested in the scientific distinctions of root, stem, leaves, and flowersplants must be instinct with human attributes: . . . they do not care for the bear and fox of natural history; it is the bear and the fox of the fairy tale and the fable, endowed with human attributes, that touches their emotions and arouses their deepest interest."

The italics are mine, the English is his. The utterances of a man in the position of this writer may be accepted without question, and this, I am told, is the usual fate of his utterances or they may be tested to find their true value. In this case the fairest test would be the examination of nature-study books and papers which make the plants "instinct with human attributes," and the animals" endowed with human attributes." There are plenty of specimens to examine.

In a book meant to instruct as well as amuse children occurs the following sentence, "It (the apple tree) uses its gay flowerleaves to attract the attention of the bee, and persuade it to visit the flowers." This implies conscious purpose on the part of the apple tree and considerable knowledge. It implies that the apple tree knows that its flowers will attract bees; that bees must be attracted to the flowers in order to take the pollen from one to another; that bees do take pollen from one to another; that the pollen must be so taken in order to form seeds; that it is important to form seeds; and it implies also a consciousness of the future seeds. Surely here are more human forethought, knowledge and observation than most botanists would be willing to attribute to an apple tree, however old.

This is a very wonderful apple tree, however, and endowed with human attributes as richly as even the superintendent could desire. The tree is represented as protecting its seeds from being wasted by keeping its apples green and unattractive until the seeds ripen, when the apples tempt boys and girls to eat them, thereby scattering the ripe seeds to advantage.

« AnteriorContinuar »