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N his annual reports as president of Columbia University, Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler usually gives expression to views on education A Noteworthy whose timeliness and Report pertinence attract ma
tion-wide attention. Be
sides giving attention in these reports to the needs and achievements of his own institution, Doctor Butler generally discusses in his broad-visioned way problems, the right solution of which are necessary to the highest usefulness of American education. Among the topics touched upon in President Butler's report for 1921 are three which are not only timely, but are of interest to all people who are concerned about the right development of American education. The first of these topics is the question whether the American college is to become a country club or an institution for the discipline and instruction of young men and women who have completed the work of the lower Schools. In his trenchant style he points out the growth of the feeling among the leisure class that the college is to be looked upon as an agreeable place in which to finish the formalities of a systematic education without troubling much about the intellectual discipline Or scholarship, to take part in manly exercise and outdoor sports, and to make a useful circle of friends likely to
be helpful in social or in business ways in after years. Because of the increasing number of students who go to college in the belief that the country club idea is the chief thing, it has come about that the serious business of the college has been pushed into the background. As a result of this perverted conception. of the purpose of college education, we now have in American life a rather large group of college graduates who are as undisciplined and uneducated both in mind and morals as if they had never gone to college at all. President Butler unsparingly condemns this degradation of the purpose of higher education, and calls for the speedy displacement of the false notion by the more worthy and honorable view that a college is a place in which to acquire serious and sustained discipline, and to obtain a genuine grasp upon the underlying facts and the controlling history of civilization. It would be well for all college teachers and administrators to give heed to what Doctor Butler says on this all important topic. Another topic, not less vital to American education, commented upon by Doctor Butler, is the over-organization of education. “So far as education is concerned,’’ to quote his exact language, “there has been over-organization for a long time past. Too many persons are engaged in supervising, in inspecting, and in recording the work of other per
sons.” All thoughtful observers of present-day schools will fully agree with Doctor Butler's opinion. As a result of this tendency to over-organization, there is too much machinery and we have come to lay more stress upon the form of education than upon its content. “Statistics,” says Doctor Butler, ‘‘displace scholarship.” He is entirely right in saying this. If the present tendency keeps on, there will be a serious loss of that individual initiative and experiment among teachers, without which the formal processes of teaching lose their highest value.
Under the head of waste in education Doctor Butler points out the need of a return to the sound and well-tested educational principle that there is far more value in courses of instruction that develop young men and women of trained minds than in those utilitarian courses that give immediate attention to the special career which they elect to follow. He condemns the abandonment of Latin and Greek, and holds that the results of the present program of secondary education are regrettable. Doctor Butler supports his position by facts that seem irrefutable. As one means of lessening waste in caucation, he contends that those who are preparing to teach and to direct the work of education should study the aim of educational process, its most useful subject-matter, its philosophic basis and the history of its development rather than methods of teaching. IIe is right in holding that the too intense study of method in edution sterilizes the whole teaching process. It is largely to the exaltation and exaggeration of method that present-day education in elementary and secondary schools has become so wasteful and inefficient. These comments give an altogether inadequate account of this noteworthy discussion of some of our most difficult
educational problems. This report of Columbia's distinguished president should be read by all school and college people who take their work seriously.
* * *
ERMANENT tenure for teachers has become an accepted fact in the city school system of New York state. While it remains to be
* seen whether this policy Superintend- Will affect favorably the ents quality of the work of
- city schools, it is not likely that the law providing for permanent tenure after three years of acceptable service will ever by repealed.
Experience will probably show the need
of certain modifications, but the general principle of permanency of position after an adequate trial is certain to become a finality in education administration in the city schools of the Empire state. It is yet one of the serious defects of the Education Law in New York state that in all but cities of the first class superintendents of schools hold their positions at the pleasure of the board of education. This is an altogether indefensible practice, and steps should be taken at once to have the law amended in such a way as to insure to the chief educational officer in the cities of the state a reasonable tenure. Although it is to the credit of the majority of the boards of education in the cities of New York that superintendents are not made to feel that their positions are in constant jeopardy, far more effective work could be done if superintendents could be assured of at least a. definite term in which to carry out their policies. If a limited term is thought desirable, the period should be at least six years, but a still better plan is a permanent tenure after a reasonable.”
probationary period. This period should be at least three years. After that there should be no question about the permanency of any superintendent whose personal worth and administrative efficiency are beyond question. It is one of the anomalies of the law creating permanent tenure for principals and teachers, that the chief administrative officer of the school systems of all but first class cities of the state has absolutely no legal protection against evil forces that may wish to deprive him of his position. The fate of every superintendent is wholly in the hands of the board of education he serves. He may be dropped from his position without a moment’s notice. Under such conditions men of the highest order of ability will not choose for their life work a profession in which they may be hampered by narrowmindedness, malevolence, or political antagonisms. In altogether too many boards of education of the state the moral and intellectual quality of the membership in these boards is far below that of the superintendent of schools. If his policy fails to have the approval of boards of education whose knowledge of school work is too limited to enable them to appraise it fairly, a superintendent may be removed from his position without the slightest legal redress. It is one of the discreditable things in New York state that political leaders have been against all attempts to secure for superintendents even limited tenure. The reasons for the hostility of politicians to a policy that would restrict their hold upon the schools of our cities are obvious. But the time has come when their hostility must be overcome. There should come from every part of the state an insistent demand for legislation that will give to superintendents the same assurance of permanency that
all other members of the teaching force of our city schools now have.
It is to be hoped that the next legislature will be made to see that the city school systems of the state can not possibly reach their highest efficiency and usefulness as long as the superintendents of schools are not assured at least a reasonable degree of permanency in their positions.
HE fifty-second annual meeting of the Department of Superintendence of the N. E. A., which will be held in Chicago, February 24 Department to March 2, is considered of by many as the most Superintendence important educational event of the entire year. National leaders in education are brought together at these annual conventions and their discussions cover the ontine field of education. On account of its central location and ample hotel accommodations, Chicago which entertained the department but three years ago, has been again selected as the meeting place. A timely and comprehensive program has been arranged by President R. G. Jones for the general sessions and excellent programs have been prepared by the chairmen of the different affiliated organizations including the newly organized Department of Elementary School Principals which meets for the first time this year. An attractive feature of the Chicago meeting, which no one can afford to miss, will be the splendid exhibit of the publishing houses and school supply firms in the Lighter Building. All who can possibly do so should plan to attend and take advantage of the exceptional opportunities for inspiration and help which this annual meeting affords.
What Part Shall the Colleges and Universities Play in the American Program of Education?
By LOTUS D. COFFMAN, President, University of Minnesota
State universities since they were first established have been regarded as a part of the public school system. There have been occasions when the relationship was more theoretical than real. Universities have at times attempted to isolate themselves, to set up highly artificial entrance requirements, and to administer their affairs without reference to the other units of public education. The barriers thus established did not lend to friendly discussion. Senatorial courtesy rather than a spirit of mutual helpfulness usually characterized the conferences of the representatives of the various units. But whereever the spirit of disunion and separation has arisen, it has not survived long.
Nothing has contributed more to a friendly relationship between the various units than the increased attention that education is now receiving. Students are flocking to school as they never did before. High schools are increasing in number, and the number of students in them is increasing rapidly. State universities are deluged with newcomors. Their growth is due partly to our theory of education. We have consistently maintained that the doors of the schools should be free and equally open to all from the kindergarten to and through the university. Their
growth is due partly to the new interest in education which the War aroused. But there is another cause
much more fundamental than either of these, and that is the growing recognition of the unusual complexity of the problem this generation has to face and to solve. It is a significant fact that each generation has raised the levels of training for its successors; it
has done so because the social, economic and political problems of each succeeding generation have been more difficult than those of the preceding generation. Progress could have been assured in no other way. The very safety and security of democracy depends upon high levels of trained intelligence; the more complex, the more intricate the problems become, the higher these levels of trained intelligence must be. The problems of this day and generation are almost overwhelmingly difficult. They challenge the intelligence and imagination of every one. Humanity recognizes this and it is sending its children to school that they may be properly equipped to solve these problems. But whatever may be the cause of the increased interest in the schools, their growth has forced the attention of every one upon them in a new way. Clearly some reorganization is as necessary as it is desirable. To go on providing for indefinite numbers of students in the various schools without taking an inventory of the aims and forms of organizations of the whole system of American education, including the university, is to perpetuate a system that must sooner or later break of its own weight. There are certain principles which I believe to be perfectly clear and to be generally accepted. One is that the road to the university should be as free and as equally open to all as possible. The other is that every one who is qualified to attempt a higher education should be privileged to do so. Whenever univer. sities place unnecessary and artificial limitations upon their registration, they will become aristocratic in form if not in nature. They will be in danger of ceas