« AnteriorContinuar »
spontaneously developed by the youth. It is generally conceded that just now, in England and this country, there is danger of intemperance in sport. This may be less disastrous than intemperance in drink or meat; nevertheless there is such a thing as inebriety in athletic games. I do not refer to the danger of broken limbs and bruised faces, for they are rarely enduring injuries, but to the danger of unfair rivalries, of bad associations, of peculiar temptations in the anticipations and enjoyment of victory or in the depression of defeat, in the neglect of other and higher scholastic duties, in the waste of time and money upon costly journeys, perhaps in extravagant hospitality. The boys themselves must be encouraged to correct these tendencies, but they have a right to expect that we older boys will remind them of their highest obligations and encourage their fulfillment. With the reasonable control which players, teachers, parents can readily exercise, and which the young ladies and the newspapers might greatly encourage, the just medium can be secured, and athletics continue to be an essential factor in the training of American boys.
The place of games in education.-James L. Hughes, inspector of Toronto public schools (Canada): In physical development, as in all other departments of human culture, the law holds good that the informal is better than the formal, giving as it does not merely greater power, but greater spontaneity and freedom also; so the games of the yard and field will be recognized as forming one of the most important departments of physical, intellectual, and moral training. New games will be devised by the highest medical councils of the world, in consultation with the best minds in the teaching profession. Games may be improved without limiting the freedom and spontaneity of the playground. The games are really the best means provided in the schools of to-day for the exercise of the complete self-activity of the pupils; the only agencies for the full development of executive power; the only school process that completes the essential sequence of feeling, thought, decision, action, in application to the threefold nature of the child. The educators will not continue long to be mad enough to leave so potent an educational agency as games to chance.
Play, and plenty of it.-Principal George M. Grant, Queen's University (Ontario): Physical development does not demand gymnasium apparatus or a drill sergeant. As a rule children will see to this matter for themselves, in the best ways, if only opportunities are allowed. The games of children are, for the great mass, the very best means of securing good physical culture. Play, and plenty of it, is indispensable in education. Play means harmonious development of the body without fostering the self-consciousness that is apt to be induced by modern pretentious substitutes in the shape of military drill and gymnastic ex
There is no substitute.-Clara Conway, chairman of committee National Council of Education: Any plan or system of physical training which gives no attention to individual needs is defective. But here lies the chief danger, namely, that the lack of wisdom or skill in the use of apparatus may lead to serious results. There is no doubt that ill-chosen or ill-directed exercise in the gymnasium is a cause of deformity. The frequent and prolonged performance of unnatural movements is a fruitful source of enfeeblement and nervous disease. There is fortunately a strong reactionary movement against excessive work in the gymnasium, and the wisest are those who see that no movement they can prescribe can take the place of free voluntary out-of-door exercise, in which the activities have full play and in which the emotion of pleasure is a strong element. The law of will must be in force, hence there is doubt if physical exercise imposed upon pupils under protest of the will can be effective. On the other hand, in dealing with nervous or overtaxed students care should be taken to avoid exercise which requires sustained attention, and more still to avoid excessive exercises, the results of which are as serious as those of overwork.
The relation of mental to physical work.-Clara Conway, chairman of committee National Council of Education: The relation of mental and physical work is very close and vital, and yet in a careful study of the question how to give at the same time work to the inactive muscles of the child and repose to his over taxed brain there seems to be a kind of contradiction which makes the solution of the problem very difficult. The conditions of the work are the same for the brain which thinks and the muscle which contracts, and in both these organs greater activity of function is accompanied by greater production of heat. In the la borer and in the thinker alike there is an increased flow of blood toward the organ which works, and a greater vibration of heat within the active element.
In difficult gymnastics there is a strong exercise of the will, judgment, and other psychical faculties, and if there is economy in the expenditure of muscular force it is at the expense of the nerves and the brain. Therefore, it is impossible that the nerve centers gain repose under the influence of movements which excite the whole nervous system. The overworked student requires economy of nervous energy, perfect repose of the brain, and rest of the psychical powers. A run in the green fields will free the mind and rest the head better than any system ever invented, because the head has no part in the lively exercise of running. All thoughtful teachers with gymnasia at command have noticed the indiference and apathy of intellectual students in the matter of difficult exercise. The reason is physiological and ought to be regarded. The tired brain makes strong and instinctive protest against an exercise requiring as much effort of the brain as of the body. In every case of this kind the discriminating teacher will prescribe exercise producing muscular and not nervous fatigue. Exercises which have been long practiced and have been mastered are performed automatically and require no brain activity, while at the same time they quicken the blood current, regulate the respiration, and give tone to the digestive functions. There are conditions of mental sluggishn ss for which one remedy is the performance of physical exercises requiring the concentration of will power and sustained attention: no system of education is complete which ignores the fact. But for the overworked child help comes best from long walks with mother over the hills, from the old popular games, and, indeed, from anything rather than difficult gymnastics.
The general principles of physical training.—Clara Conway (from the same report as the preceding): Our first duty as the guardians of the child is to see with all po sible care that the growth of childhood be not disturbed or distorted by any in uences adverse to nature. But how? By such a nice adjustment of mental and physcal work that one be not made to suffer at the expense of the other; by systematic daily exercise in order to acquire the aptitude. To this end we place walking first; well-selected games, second: gymnastics, third. Walking, as a physical exercise merely, is a perfect exercise, because it taxes the whole system; every mu cle, every nerve and fiber is brought into play. And when to this is added the interest awakened by the love of nature, a study of birds, a hunt for flowers, a search for insects, the temper is sweetened, the imagination brightened, the mind broadened, the spirit lifted near to God. It is something, says John Burroughs, to press the pulse of our old mother by mountain lakes an str ams and knows what health and vigor are in her veins.
Comes rank next. There seems to be a close relation between pleasure and hih vitality or the vigor of the system, and between pain and the feebleness of the system Hence the law of self-conservation. But the games should be carefully selected. Girls and boys left to themselves in this matter make their choice without considering the importance of quality and quantity. Gymnastics have a value, too, which we must not under stimate in the general summing up; but in this day and generation, when the world is alive to the supreme importance of a healthy body and physical culture is the latest fashionable "fad," not many words are needed here. The first derived from the practice of gymnastics, says an eminent physiologist, is the education of movements. The country boy, rough, clumsy, and uncultured, rapidly gains case, grace, and polish. His muscles, hitherto used to slow obedience, learn to obey with rapidity and precision, and thus undergo a discipline to which they had been strangers. The gymnastic work, carefully done, gives strength, and strength gives confidence. There is a way of standing, walking, and sitting, not only easy and graceful, but requiring least expenditure of force. "Strength at the center and freedom at the surface" should be a precept of the gymnasium. "Let soul demand and body respond" should be another. Much of the work of the gymna ium is reformatory or hospital work. There is a patient uprooting of physical faults growing out of inheritance and out of environment and habits of life, and in their stead are established fine, graceful carriage, case of manner, new and correct habits. In the hands of skill and wisdom the gymnasium is a powerful means for the freeing of the body, until it becomes not only the fit temple of God, but the expression of his best thought.
Should boys and girls engage in the same exercises? Dr. Sargent answers the question in these words: Up to 10 years of age any exercise that will be beneficial to a boy will be just as valuable to a girl. Between 10 and 14 girls should take lighter exercise, with more frequent intervals of rest. After that age it is simply a question of time, amount, and degree, rather than of quality. As a general rule, he says, girls need more muscle, making exercise than they
get, not so much for the sake of acquiring greater strength as for the influence that well-developed muscles have upon the brain, nerve centers, and other parts of the system. For this reason many of the so-called calisthenic movements do not meet the demands of the female organism. They weary and exhaust without giving anything adequate in return. These matters can safely be left to the judgment of a well-trained teacher. The corset should be taken off and kept off, or, what is better, never put on, in order that the body may be built up with the new material that will come to it as the result of the exercise, and to eliminate the old, broken-down tissue from the system.
Should the schools be furnished with the apparatus of the gymnasium?
We answer that no gift in the power of the State is too rare or precious for the child in its keeping, and no expense too great for the process of preparation for American citizenship. If the eminent specialists, who are doing so much for the causes of physical education, will demonstrate beyond question their ability and power-and we think they can-to remedy the evils of imperfect physical organizations, then the State owes it to the child, through.the school, not only to provide the necessary means, but to furnish also the teacher, wise by natural fitness, and skilled by the best training of the schools.
What system? The answer is brief. every system.
Any system that is good, or a combination of the best in
Should not become a will training.-W. T. Harris: I think that physical exercise ought not to be set as a task when it is intended to serve as recreation. It seems to me that it has been one of the great defects in physical education that it has been brought into the schools and made a will training, so that the child who has been exhausting his nervous energy all the morning at his lessons in school is then called upon to exhaust it even more rapidly in set forms of exercise instead of relaxing, as he ought to. The child must stand up; he must not lean. He must pay strict attention and imitate precisely the motions prescribed. This is a strain on the will power, and calisthenics, as practiced in many cases, exhaust nervous energy faster than a class exercise in Latin or Greek. Now I am a great stickler for the old-fashioned recess, the wild recess, the pupil bursting out of the schoolroom, running about, shouting, and pushing his fellows. It is this recess that recreates the pupil and restores his nervous energy. After the enjoyment of a little freedom and a run the child returns to the schoolroom and does his work better; but these set exercises which strain the attention of the child are hurtful. * * * There is great danger in this, matter of physical exercise of overstraining in certain directions and producing permanent weakness. When one looks at the danger of half knowledge in this matter, one is almost frightened.
A vast problem.-G. Stanley Hall: If the object of the [physical] exercise is to increase the strength and physical development, it should always be when the body is rested and fresh. But if the object is divergence, in order to further intellectual work, it is a totally different thing. Then it should come when they are fatigued. Physical exercise is not one thing, but it is a great many things. I do not think we realize what a vast problem it is.
In case of fatigued pupils.-Clara Conway: I have frequently, in the schoolroom, seen pupils object to the physical exercise when the hour came, and upon investigation I find that the pupil is tired. In such a case I think it common sense that the pupil be allowed to rest, or sent out in the air and sunshine, where she may have the best rest. I think it would be cruel, I think it would be an outrage, to compel a girl to take physical exercise under those circumstances. On the other hand, I am not prepared to state that physical exercise should be dispensed with. I believe in physical exercise, but if it is observed that physical exercise is harmful it should be abandoned.
There are times when physical exercise should be given to tired pupils who are mentally fatigued, and in that case it should be such exercise that the attention of the student is not required, and where no concentration of the mental faculties is necessary, but in which the exercise is merely automatic.
Preservation of health a sine qua non.-G. Stanley Hall: Some of us have progressed to the point where we feel that no system of education is beneficial if the young person leaves the schoolroom in worse health than he entered it.
X.-PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS.
Questions to be approached slowly.-Superintendent E. E. White, Cincinnati : The imperative need is that the people be educated, no matter where. If the private schools are imperfect they will be improved through the very necessities of the case; the parents will not continue long to send their children to inferior schools. think this compulsory education should be an English education; that American children should be taught the language of the country; and I do not see any difficulty in securing this in all public schools. We have had such a law thirty years in Ohio. I am told that there are localities in some of the Western States where the instruction in the public school is not in English. No one can object to stopping that; but the difficulty is in demanding that instruction in private schools shall be in English. This may be right, but it brings an element into the question that gives trouble. In many private schools the teachers themselves can not speak English, and for that reason English in private schools and the State supervision of private schools are questions that I would like to see approached slowly. The people in most of the States are not yet familiar with the compulsory system.
State authority over private schools.-Governor H. W. Ladd, of Rhode Island: In a State so small and compact as ours it should be the aim to so systematize and correlate all our activities in this line as to be able, each year, to give an accurate and intelligent review of the whole field, and to show exactly what has been expended, what has been accomplished, and what are the various channels through which the work has been carried on, with such details of the plans and methods employed as may be necessary to an intelligent understanding of the whole situation. To this end the powers of the State Board should be enlarged to give them a definite connection with each and every educational institution carried on by the State; and they should also be clothed with authority to secure from each and every private school in the State such an annual return as shall show how many children are taught therein, and also what grade of instruction is given. These changes will at once place the board in a position to exercise its supervisory and directory powers with an effectiveness impossible in the present condition of affairs. Then, conclusions and recommendations will be based upon complete and accurate information from every section of the State and from all grades and forms of instruction.
How far the State may take cognizance of private schools.-Superintendent A. P. Marble, of Worcester, Mass.: A compulsory school law, then, implies that the State (which is only an organized form of public opinion) may take cognizance of private schools far enough to see that no child is deprived of that small amount of education on which the State insists; that is, ability to read and write in the English language, and a moderate knowledge of arithmetic and geography, for example.
But so much of oversight is not hostility to private schools, nor any infringement of parental control any more than the law requiring parents to clothe and feed their children. On the contrary, such an oversight is a positive help to a private school; since parents would not patronize it if the children could not receive certificates to entitle them to be einployed, or if their children did not receive a fair amount of education, such as the law requires.
The public-school authorities, if wise, would not undertake to inspect private schools in any other than a friendly spirit and for the purpose of learning what is indispensable for them to know. They would be received cheerfully, since all schools are presumed to aim at good education; and they would soon be welcome in making friendly criticism. And parents would not long patronize a school which refused to allow the public-school authorities to ascertain what is so important for them to know, where the principle is acted on that all children have a right to a moderate amount of education. On any other principle than that outlined above, a compulsory school law-it would be better to call it a law for securing to each child his birthright of intelligence, since compulsion is a harsh term to American ears-on any other principle, such a law would be a dead letter; for if the school authorities can not inquire into the character of any school, then by means of a fictitious school the law might be successfully and easily evaded. Examination of each pupil applying for a certificate is only an indirect and practically very cumbersome way of inspecting the school which he has attended. This is not a merely theoretical question. In my city a private or parcchial school for French children has invited with great cordiality an inspection for the purpose indicated above; and in a few instances certificates have been refused to children who had not acquired a knowledge of the English language.
PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS.
What the private school should be measured by.-F. W. Parker, Cook County Normal School: The work of all private schools of any kind, whether sectarian or secular, should be measured entirely by their direct influence for good upon the common school, into which they will one day all be merged as soon as democratic growth demands that step.
Status of separate schools in Ontario.-Hon. George W. Ross, minister of education: The public schools of Ontario are undenominational. Fifty years ago the Roman Catholics were granted separate schools, and by a more recent act, in settlements where a Roman Catholic population predominated and a Roman Catholic was employed as a teacher in the public schools, Protestants were allowed to form themselves into Protestant separate schools. These classes of schools number as follows: Public schools, 5,380; Catholic separate schools, 243; and Protestant separate schools, 11. The department has not the same authority under the statute over Roman Catholic separate schools as it has over the public schools. Yet in the main features, such as the qualification of teachers, excluding those in religious orders, the selection of text-books, except those required for religious exercises, the authority of the department may be said to be the same.
Transfer of parochial schools to school boards in Minnesota.-Circular of State Superintendent D. L. Kiehle (October 20, 1891): The transfer of parochial schools to the control of a board of education has deservedly attracted much attention. It is important as an experiment in uniting all American children in the system of state schools; satisfactory to a large class of our fellow-citizens who have hitherto expressed great distrust of the influence of the public schools upon the religious character of their children; and also important in the possible danger of putting the public school administration in compromising relations with a religious body. Therefore such an experiment requires on all sides a spirit of intelligent confidence and entire frankness. It is in this interest and in answer to many questions that I call attention to such matters as may be helpful in studying and directing this experiment.
1. The State has made ample provision fort he education of her youth. It is her policy to make them satisfactory to her best citizens and helpful to them in their highest ambition in training their children for the duties of life. She therefore requires all the people to share the expense and desires above all else that all the youth of the State enjoy the advantages afforded.
2. The attitude of the State is one of entire organic separation from religion as represented in denominations; and she therefore requires that the distinctive work of the churches be entirely excluded from the public schools. The language of the constitution is very explicit, and is as follows: "But in no case shall the moneys derived as aforesaid, or any portion thereof, or any public moneys or property be appropriated or used for the support of schools wherein the distinctive doctrines, creeds, or tenets of any particular Christian or other religious sect are promulgated or taught." (Article VIII, sec. 3.)
To take this as showing indifference, or still more, opposition of the state to matters and institutions religious, is farthest from the truth, for in every way possible the state expresses the greatest interest in those religious bodies whose purpose, with that of the family, is to elevate and purify the character of the people. While the state must forego the exercise of authority in matters religious, in order to protect the rights of all religious bodies, she speaks in no uncertain sound requiring that the principles of the purest type of morality be carefully inculcated in the minds and habits of youth. It is her purpose in the administration of her public schools to express the spirit of the ordinance of 1787 for the government of the territory of the Northwest: "Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged."
So decided is this attitude of the state as the superior importance of character building that she allows to those of her teachers who fully appreciate their high calling all possible liberty in their choice of methods.
With this preface I proceed to define the limitations within which the public schools must be conducted.
LIMITATIONS BY STATUTE.
A board of education may not lawfully bind themselves to require or apply any religious test in the selection of teachers; neither may they distribute or classify pupils in departments, grades or classes, according to their religious