« AnteriorContinuar »
VII.-MANUAL AND INDUSTRIAL TRAINING.
Effect of industrial education upon general education.-Prof. Felix Adler: During an experience of 12 years in the application of manual training in the teaching of children between 6 and 14 years of age, I have observed that manual training in the ordinary school is the means of saving those children who are plainly and obviously deficient in what may be called literary quality. There are many children who are very slow in reading, in arithmetic, and in history, and it has been my observation that these children, especially numerous among the poorer classes, are at once stimulated intellectually by the opportunities of the school workshop. It has been my invariable experience that children who are slow in their progress in reading and history and mathematics are very quick in natural history and in drawing and in the workshop. Especially has the conjunction of a talent for natural history and for manual training frequently impressed The effect has been to stimulate these children not only in itself upon me. manual training and in natural history, but, awakening their self-confidence and self-respect, to stimulate them generally. Those boys who, in an ordinary public school, would be set down as dunces because they make no progress, and who would begin to consider themselves dunces after a while, find themselves facile princeps in the shop and in natural history, and gain the respect of others and take a new start. The best work in modeling and manual training in the school of which I have charge has been done by such pupils. Surely, therefore, this is an argument in favor of introducing manual training from the point of view of general education. If manual training can promote the intellectual training of a very large number of children defective on the intellectual side, that is a sufficient reason why it should be introduced.
Another result of my observation has been that the school-workshop is a means of strengthening the mathematics, the drawing and the elementary physics teaching. Although the main object, as the president has said, should be to educate the eye and the hand, nevertheless this education should not be unassociated with the other studies of the curriculum. The object should be to connect the manual training with the work of the class-room, and this can be accomplished by close connection between the work of the shop and the drawing, mathematics, elementary physics, etc. The pupils are asked to make their own physical apparatus, and geometrical figures are of course constantly brought before them, and many opportunities are offered for making their space perceptions more definite and clear. Another advantage in such a school brings me to what Professor Patten has said as to the function of the teacher taking the place of the military officer. It is very difficult for the teacher in the ordinary school room to discharge that function, but the teacher in the shop can do it. The pupils must present themselves before him before they go to work. He inspects their clothing and sees that they are neat, that they are neat in their work, that they put away their tools and keep them properly; he gives that personal supervision to the habits of his little workmen which should be given, but which the other teacher can not give.
In all respects I can say that we have found after 12 years of observation that the regular work. of the school has been strengthened by the introduction of manual training, and especially the English work and the compositions. The great difficulty lies in controlling the expression of the pupil's thoughts, of know. ing what is in the pupil's mind. The teacher must know this in order to be able to control the pupil's thought. By introducing shop teaching and requiring the pupil to describe the operations which he has performed in the shop, and to describe the work in the factories he visits, the master of the shop is enabled to know approximately the content of the pupil's mind and to control his manner of expression.
VIII. METHODS OF INSTRUCTION.
The best methods of teaching modern languages.-Ex-President E. H. Magill, of Swarthmore College: What then do I recommend to the students of the modern foreign languages in our colleges? First, that they should rid themselves, once for all, of the idea that a little smoothly flowing, trivial conversation, upon topics of daily interest, in another tongue, is the sine qua non, and that they should not spend, not to say waste, their valuable and overcrowded time in acquiring this fluent speech. The "natural method" (so called) of teaching the modern languages, in its unadulterated state, I consider to be one of the greatest popular fallacies of modern times. The very expression, "natural
method," is in itself misleading and a misnomer. If it really were the natural method, it would surely commend itself to all educators. But it should be remembered that what may be natural for young children, in acquiring their own tongue, is by no means natural for more mature minds. Children acquire their language by simple imitation, often repeated, with little or no exercise of the reasoning powers. No such method is possible with older persons in acquiring a foreign tongue. I say that no such method is really possible, after the reasoning powers have made any degree of development; and I will add that, if it were so, there is not time in this short life for its successful application. How much of written and spoken language does a young child learn in two months? I need scarcely say that it learns nothing in this time except how to utter a few common words and phrases, and, of course, nothing whatever of written or printed speech. And yet, in two months a mature mind may acquire enough knowledge of a foreign tongue to enable him to begin to read it with pleasure, and in two more months to read with considerable rapidity, and begin to make the acquaintance of authors whom it is a privilege to know. The "natural method," I say then, for mature minds, is wholly unnatural and irrational.
Observe that I do not say that the ability to converse intelligently in a foreign tongue is a knowledge to be undervalued and despised; but I do say most emphatically that this knowledge can never be acquired except by daily association with those to whom the language is their mother tongue, without the expenditure of an amount of time entirely incommensurate with its real value. Those who are never to mingle with foreigners can have no practical use for the language as a medium of conversation, and for those who are to do this there is no more valuable preparation than that obtained from reading and hearing read by a competent linguist the language to be learned. That this reading may be extensive, even in the short courses which our colleges can afford, there must be a thorough ground work laid by becoming rapidly familiar with the forms and constructions of the language and the principal common idioms and a vocabulary should be acquired as fast as possible, after the forms become somewhat familiar, by reading the language even superficially at first; and reading not in the ordinary readers of mere fragments from various authors, but reading some complete selections from authors of unquestioned reputation.
Hence, I say, make the grammatical drill short, sharp, incisive; reduce the amount of grammar needed for reading to a minimum; and by all means never waste time in the bootless and wearisome task of turning good English into poor French in the early stages of the course. It is quite early enough for a student to begin writing original French when he becomes familiar, after a great amount of reading (partly superficial, for rapidity, and partly critical, for thoroughness of knowledge) with the manner in which other persons write it! But this is by no means to be understood as ruling out dictée exercises, which should be practiced almost daily from the beginning. It is excellent practice for a student to write out translations in English of the language studied, and then restore it to the language from which it was taken. Many points, which would escape notice entirely if merely translation into English were followed, would thus receive attention and be rapidly and firmly impressed upon the memory.
The one panacea in teaching Greek.-Thomas D. Seymour, professor of Greek at Yale: The most foolish thing in education is the suffering of words to be forgotten as soon as they are learned. For this evil but one cure can be foundreview. If I am ever pronounced a monomaniac this is the subject which will be found uppermost in my mind. This is the one panacea which I offer for all ordinary ills and troubles in learning Greek: If the student learns with difficulty or forgets easily, if he has weak eyes or an aching head, if he has but little time for study or is behind his class, whether he wants to excel in Greek or wishes to take as little pains as possible with the language, let him review!
The principle of reviewing, of course, is this: If I am introduced to a man on the train and have a casual half-hour's conversation with him to-day I may be able to identify that man at once a year hence, or, having near-sighted eyes and thus a dull memory for faces, I may be compelled to say: "I remember your face very well, but I confess I can not say where I have met you before." But if I have a ten-minutes' talk with that man to-day, meet him on the street and exchange greetings with him next week, talk with him again for five minutes a month hence, see him and some of his relatives for a few moments in the spring, I could identify that man with certainty a year or ten years hence, although I had never spent in all more than half an hour with him. So with words. If a student meets a word to-day and is introduced to it, has a little
chat with it, as we may say, but does not meet that word again for two months, he is obliged to say: "Your face is familiar, but I can not call you by name. I must apply to my nomenclator for information about you."
The plan of reviewing which students should be urged to adopt, and which they must be stimulated constantly to follow, is to review the day's lesson as soon as possible after the exercise in the classroom. Only thus can the corrections which have been inculcated be fixed firmly in the mind. Otherwise when the student takes up that work after an intermission of one, two, or three days he is apt to remember only that something has been said on this or that point. Often he is not quite sure whether a member of the class gave one rendering and the teacher strongly preferred the other, or whether the case was just reversed. But if he reviews the work soon after the lesson is read he can not fail to remember the circumstances and the exact point that was made. Now, if once a week the student takes time (perhaps half an hour) to review all the Greek he has read during the week no special effort is required; he remembers the meaning of the words and phrases and the whole situation. Again, if once a month the student takes the time (perhaps an hour or an hour and a half) to review all the Greek he has read during the preceding month, no great effort is required; the words and constructions are familiar. Then the general review at the close of the term becomes what it should be, a look from a superior position over the whole field which has been traversed. Most of the details of that work are fixed in the memory for life, and even if they should become dimmed they may be easily brightened.
The only objection that can be raised to such a system of reviews is that it takes time. And so it does at first; but the time which is invested in that way bears the heaviest interest from the very outset. The advantage gained from the thorough appreciation of the situation, through the familiarity with the earlier portions of the work will be felt at once. The same words and constructions are constantly recurring, as the student will remember in his vexation when he is obliged to look up a word for the fifth or tenth time.
How to learn to read Greek as a living language.-Prof. Thomas D. Seymour, of Yale University (in school and college): If the teacher has not time to have the Greek both read aloud and translated, he should omit part of the translation and have all read aloud. * * *
This practice in pronouncing Greek words until they are as familiar to the ear as they are to the eye, should begin with the very beginning of the study of Greek. If this is neglected then the loss can never be made good.
Probably many of you are familiar with what the well-known archæologist, our countryman by adoption, who died less than a year ago, Dr. Heinrich Schliemann, has written with regard to his experience in learning foreign languages, in which he had unusual success. When he, as an errand boy in Hamburg, saw that his promotion in business could be gained only by a knowledge of the Russian language, he could find no teacher, but set to work with an old Russian grammar and a copy of a Russian translation of Télémaque, which he found at an old book stall. He read this Russian Telemachus aloud, and in order to force himself to persist in this, he hired, for a few cents a night, an old man who knew not a word of Russian to hear him read this work aloud for three hours every evening! Schliemann afterwards learned about a dozen other languages in a similar way, and believed with all his heart that his success in this matter was due solely to his patience and persistence in reading aloud.
If from the first the Greek is made thoroughly familiar to ear and tongue, the easy, oft-recurring words like those for house, boy, man, woman, horse, etc., would demand no more effort of mind for their apprehension than many English words, like mansion, steed, etc., which the school boy does not himself ordinarily use. And if the most frequent words require no effort of the memory the more time and strength are reserved for the rarer and more difficult words.
But the reading of the Greek aloud not only aids materially in fixing the meanings of words in the memory; it also renders important service in assisting the mind to grasp a clause or a whole sentence as a complex, and to receive the thought of the whole as a unit, rather than in separate details, each of which has to be disentangled from the rest. Thus, and thus only, does the beginner learn to read Greek as a living language, and he will find true literary enjoyment as he gains increased facility in reading without conscious translation.
The home-study of pupils.-Margaret W. Sutherland, in the Ohio Educational Monthly: The giving of work to pupils simply to give them home-work seemed a strange thing to me. In 22 years of teaching, that phase of my duty had never
presented itself. I had always determined what I thought a proper amount of work to require from my pupils and then allowed it to be done at any time they could do it. I believe very thoroughly in giving them work to do and then holding them responsible for the doing of it. * But I do not like the teacher to assume that she has the control of an hour, an hour and a half, or two hours, out of school time. Indeed, when one is among teachers, the question sometimes seems not to be "Have teachers any rights that parents are bound to respect?" but "Have parents any rights at all in their children?"
In the earlier years of school life, I can scarcely see the two sides to the question, "Shall a child study out of school hours?" It may be that my range of vision is narrow. I am ready to have it widened by any one who will give me more light. But these early years are so evidently a period for physical growth; nature so plainly points out the necessity for play; there is so much to be learned through childish investigation of the world lying about, that more than five hours of the day that ought to be much shorter than the grown person's day on account of the amount of sleep so necessary for proper growth, to be spent on school-work is eminently unwise. Psychologists and physiologists both warn us against the danger of overstimulation of the brain, which leads to
an increased activity of the organ due to an unfair distribution of the physical energy, the organ of the mind being enriched at the expense of the vital organs." I deprecate the requiring little children to do school-work at home, not only on account of the possibility of injury to the body, but because it does not seem to me best for the mind. There is danger of the mind's becoming jaded from continuing too long at the same kind of work. It loses its interest in a subject; and the strength of will is not sufficient to hold the attention firmly and habits are formed detrimental to concentration, that secret of success in all mental labor in later life.
There seem to me still other reasons why the teacher should not claim too much of the child's time out of school hours. I recognize the fact that our children come from a great variety of homes. Surely, many of them have work to do at home. This is particularly true of our girls in the cities and of both our boys and girls in the country. This work is often manual training of a valuable kind; and when there is not too much of it, it affords a healthful variety to the child.
There are parents-and I do not want to think their number pitiably small-(if it be, our schools must have done lamentable work in the past and are responsible for miserable failure) who can advise good reading for their children, and who wish them to have some time for acquiring that taste for good books that is rarely acquired if not in childhood or youth. Some one suggested that our schools were doing this work in literature as part of the regular school work. The amount done in this line in even our best schools is pitiably small. What cultivated parents would be at all satisfied with it? We shall do well if we teach the children in our schools how to read a good book and then direct them to some good books. It is a noble thing to inspire a love for good books in the child who has no one at home to be to him an inspiration. To guide and inspire is the design of the "Reading Circle for Children." Shall we interfere with its good work by sending home so much spelling to be studied or so many problems to be solved?
The girls in our higher grammar grades must receive our special thought when we are considering this question of home study. We are either criminally ignorant or cruelly thoughtless if we do not give our girls special care at the transitional period of their lives. They so especially need plenty of fresh air, sleep, and all attention of those interested in their well being to keeping them free from anxiety and nervous feeling. Let them pass this period in safety, and they develop into strong women, capable of a great amount of mental labor, and of wonderful endurance where love demands it. Of a bright and sunshiny disposition, they scatter blessings wherever they go. On the other hand, if they are given work that curtails the time that ought to be spent out of doors, work that prevents their being sound asleep before the grown members of the household, or worse than all, if they are worried about class standing or high per cents, they are apt to carry through life seeds of suffering that will render impossible prolonged mental effort without serious danger, seeds of suffering that will make them break down under any severe trial or make them peevish and fretful or selfish and despondent.
A grievous defect of our system.-President O. D. Smith, of the Alabama Educational Association: I am satisfied that too much stress is laid on results achieved by pupils and far too little on the efort and labor bestowed. One of the griev
ous defects of our sytems of marking, rewards, and distinctions, is that it takes no account of earnest, conscientious effort, of severe, persistent labor, unless they have been successful. The dull pupils, those hampered by an adverse environment, by want of preparation for work required, feel the injustice of such systems; to their other obstacles is added the discouragement of unappreciated effort. I insist that honest, hard work rank highest in all estimate of school work. Let the student feel that work is the valuable thing to him in its results in achieving a real education.
There is danger also that our improved methods, superior appliances, the processes of the new education will insensibly infuse into the minds of teacher and pupil the fatal notion that there is an easy road to education, over level plains, by the still waters, through rosy bowers; that the old, rugged road, up the hill Difficulty, with its briars and brambles, rocks and rough places, traveled with toil and sweat, has been abandoned.
The schoolmaster of the olden time had one qualification worthy of imitation, he believed in and exacted work.
Just so far as the improvement in processes, methods, and appliances have stimulated and facilitated work, so far as they have made a given amount of work effective, they are a positive good; so far as they supersede the necessity of work they are an evil. One must work out his education as well as work out his salvation.
Vicious modes of recitation.-President E. B. Andrews, of Brown University: A vicious mode of handling your class will do very much to develop inaccuracy, more perhaps than a perfect curriculum can overcome. A recitation which is merely that, only a text to the pupil, embodying no instruction, is sure to promote superficiality. There is a knack of reciting which many will acquire; a habit of mere glibness and parroting will follow, and the mind be turned away from real attainments. Here lies one of the teacher's chief temptations. We are forced to cherish rapid and fluent class exercises, because they save us time, which is so precious. We are thus beguiled into treating, if not considering, those as the best scholars whose tongues wag the fastest in the class. Next, our own ideas as to what a recitation should be become confused and faulty, the final result being that the appearance of attainments is substituted for attainments themselves, and that the pupil is actually aided by us to lose sight of his own real growth, only to be awakened, perhaps too late, when out in active life he is called to match himself with those trained upon a more thorough plan.
Every day's lesson an examination.-William A. Mowry, in Education: In primary and secondary schools almost every day's lesson is an examination, not merely of what has been prescribed to be learned for that special occasion, but indirectly and incidentally of all that has been taught before on the subject. It is, in truth, the mark of a good teacher to keep a perpetual informal review on foot, and to cause his classes to feel that any past acquisitions are always liable to come up in new connections.
College entrance examinations.-President D. C. Gilman, in the Cosmopolitan: I believe that the day is coming when there will be a revision of our educational creed, when the colleges will not make their entrance examinations such rigid tests of memory as they are now, but will contrive to make them tests of power. Is a boy capable of carrying forward the studies of the college? That must be found out. His capacity to retain and repeat what he has learned is one sign of his qualifications, but there are many others which a nicer analysis may employ. The qualitative test is quite as important as the quantitative. Not the size of the brain, but its structure determines its worth. The possession of 10,000 facts may distinguish an idiot, but an idiot gives no proper emphasis; he does not perceive the difference between the trifling and the fundamental.
IX. PHYSICAL TRAINING.
A just medium can be secured.-President D. C. Gilman, in the Cosmopolitan One of the first requisites of a good preparatory school is bodily discipline. This is partly to be secured by watchfulness in respect to posture, diet, repose, gymnastic, within the school walls it is to be still further promoted by abundant exercise in the open air. Manly sports with the bat and the oar, running, jumping, bowling, swimming, rowing, riding, fencing, boxing, and, if possible, sailing, are all to be encouraged. Nor is military training to be underrated. The systematic exercise of every limb and every muscle is desirable, not under rules too rigidly laid down by the higher authorities, but under regulations