« IndietroContinua »
N a Ny. NEW thing in education is pro
A. posed by Dean James E. Russell in what he calls the “Institute of Educational Research.” DurAn Educational ing the last twenty-five Clinic years education as a process has been subjected to experimentation. A department of education has been added to almost - every college and university organization and every such department has regarded it as one of its important functions to carry on some phase of laboratory or field work, whether in child study, psychological measurements, school administration, or the teaching process. Many of the experimenters have been poorly equipped for the work; others have lacked the necessary funds. Much of their work has failed to win the respect of their colleagues on college faculties and the public has been unable to arrive at a true valuation of the work accomplished. The ancient controversies between humanist and scientist, between idealist and pragmatist, between artist and vocationist, have rotated around assumptions and unknown terms. The long arguments have not yet settled the question whether the traditional or the experiential is the greater factor in education. We do not know whether Latin and algebra and wood-working have equal educational value or whether any one of the three has any such value. When may a subject be said to have educational value? Is educational value identical with cash value? Is a man
educated when he is vocationally fit? Or vice versa, must a man be vocationally fit before he may be said to be educated ? Is it the business of the schools to bring about vocational fitness? Or to cultivate the sensibilities, which is refinement? Or to purify the emotions, which is morality? Are these interrelated or mutually exclusive 2 In the language of a modern drama: “God knows.” But the ‘‘Institute of Educational Research’’ is creating the machinery by which it hopes to make answer to all of these questions. Its division of Educational Psychology will seek to find out whether algebra is a fit subject for a high school curriculum or whether it should be cast into outer darkness where Greek and astronomy are gnashing their educational teeth. This same division will presumably also seek to determine whether some process can be discovered by which the educator can recognize the various talents in the embryonic man and woman. By what signs may we know the potential engineer, surgeon or poet? And how may we differentiate these intellectual elite from the common laborer, the mechanic, the artisan 2 The vocational advisers have indeed shaped destinies without exact knowledge of such matters, but the division of Educational Psychology will seek scientific data for such delicate work. Another division is that of ‘‘School Experimentation.” For this division a fully organized school is available—the Lincoln School. This school is avowedly a school of experimentation. Parents who send their children to it, do so with full knowledge that the school is more interested in the process than in the result. This would be a dangerous circumstance in a school under less efficient management. But at the Lincoln School the factors are so carefully controlled that no harm can come to the child factor. It is to be hoped that American public education will be less and less an experiment as this division of “School Experimentation’’ more and more makes certain the fundamental values in public school work. The third and last division is that of “Field Studies.” This is a gentle substitute for the “School Survey” so blatantly advised and advertised in the school age before the war. The “survey’’ epidemic did not last long but it clearly demonstrated its value. School systems grow barnacles. Or if another figure may be used, they often become ill from over-doses of politics or from sleeping sickness. Wherever this happens a survey by wholly disinterested persons becomes extremely valuable. It is this local extremity that becomes the opportunity of the division of “Field Studies.” And a survey by this Institute is not only unobjectionable, since it will not induce personal exploitation; but it is even highly desirable since it will bring the best minds to bear on a situation that would otherwise be paralyzed by local sterility. The Institute of Educational Research is not unfairly compared with the Institute for Medical Research. Its field is even more important. The mind is more important than the body. It is a dignified proposal to bring science and scientific method to the service of ancient problems in education. It is a modern attempt to take up the inquiry where Socrates and Plato left off. And it is to be hoped that the spirit of the direc
HE educational conference period is at hand. Every district superintendent will hold a conference of two days, with every teacher The convention of his district present, Season between October 1 and November 15. Many cities have adopted the annual institute plan, calling their teachers into an extended conference before the opening day of the school year. Then follow the state conferences. The special teachers meet periodically under the leadership of State Department officials. The district superintendents convene for a two day session; the New York State Council of City and Village Superintendents meets for a two or three day conference; the University Convocation gathers all teaching interests for an educational symposium ; and the State Teachers • Association invites every teacher and every school officer to its three day convention. This program, with local variations, obtains in most of the states. It is a vast and varied effort to put the educational machinery into its best possible condition, and to animate and fructify the teaching personnel. Some have questioned the wisdom of so many meetings, but the answer is swift and inevitable, so far as New York State is concerned. The interests are too varied to permit fewer meetings. Supervision, rural and urban, special subjects, special purposes, segregated fields of effort, demand a variety of conferences. Then, too, the numbers are too large and the distances too great to reduce the number of meetings appreciably.
A more debatable question may be raised regarding the nature of these conferences. When we think of the vast amount of “talk’’ that will be ‘‘turned out” at these meetings, much of it mere talk, we are reminded of the Pauline warning, scientia inflat. Since deflation is the order of the day, these conferences might be deflated. Formal and inflated addresses might profitably give way to “inquiry meetings,” where the perplexed might question and the confident might answer. The original meaning of conference might be revived with propriety. That must have been a wonderful conference where the lost son of Joseph and Mary was found “sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions.” The doctors were undoubtedly inspired by the questions; and went back to their several tasks endued with new and greater power. Is not this the chief purpose of every educational conference?
The address that is an end in itself merely, may satisfy the speaker’s ‘‘ desire for ornament and reputation,” as my Lord of Verulam expressed it “as if learning were a tower of state, for a proud mind to raise itself upon;” but it will be husks to the hungry teacher, Rather let the discourses grow naturally out of the perplexities of the teachers, and if the answers are fitting they will send each teacher back to the great task in hope, in confidence and in humble devotion to the cause of learn1ng.
I believe that education is the strong defense of a free nation, and that ignorance is a curse to any people. I believe that the free public-school system of the United States is the best guarantee of
the rights vouchsafed to us by the Constitution. I believe, further, that the public schools of the land are the cradle of our democracy, and that in the classrooms and upon the playgrounds, where the sons and daughters of the street sweeper and railroad magnate, of day labor and multimillionaire meet upon an equal footing and stand upon their own individual merits, the lessons of democracy and fraternity are best taught. I believe that the hope of America is in her youth, and that the battle grounds of the world is the heart of the child, and that government fails at its source when it ceases to make ample provision for the development and nurture of its future citizens.— Fred L. Shaw, Superintendent of Public Instruction of South Dakota.
The most compelling needs of American education at the present moment are, first, increasing provision for teacher training both quantitatively and qualitatively; second, extensive revision of the methods of taxation for raising School revenue, based on a nation-wide study of conditions. The first thing is to set up in the schools and colleges the machinery for the proper type of training for teachers. And this equipment must be accompanied by a change in the common public attitude toward the profession of teaching. If there is any greater Service in a democracy than the training of the child, I do not know what it is. But unless public opinion recognizes the profession of teaching as an eminently dignified and admirable profession, worthy of social as well as economic recognition, we can never attract into teaching the type of person that in a democracy we must have. I don’t know any place where a fine, sound, mature, intellectual personality pays such big dividends as in the school room.—James R. Angell.
- o System I Represent
By DAVID B. CORSON, Superintendent of Schools, Newark, N. J.
The belief which animates Newark is that its children constitute its chief asset and that there is a great civic obligation to provide in a liberal manner the inestimable privileges of education. The facilities of the school system are available for community service and there is active effort to instruct not only the foreign adult but all who seek selfimprovement and advancement. The conviction which animates the management and leadership of the schools is that education consists not only in the attainment of knowledge but in the formation of right habits, the acquisition of requisite manual and intellectual skill, and the development of personal power and worthy character.
One of the great ideals of the Newark school system is the conservation of health. The aim is not only that individual personal improvement shall be made but that a nation of hardier men and women shall be developed. The accomplishments include existing health clubs and health associations organized to form health habits based upon the instruction given in hygiene. Most of the schools have well equipped gymnasiums, and there is a large athletic field where competitive games and athletic contests are held. Much attention is given to mass athletics, the theory being that the 'varsity teams have their place in fixing standards of athletic prowess and in creating loyalty to the several schools, but that all students must be trained for physical endurance and achievement.
Play is recognized as of great educational value. All but one of the regular schools have well equipped kindergartens. Games are played in the ele
mentary grades, and organized play is substituted for the old time disorderly recess. The playground system comprises after-school, summer, and all-year playgrounds. The Board of Education now controls all municipal organized play activities. The program includes social and recreational centers open at night, where clubs meet and games and dancing are encouraged under supervision. The city is divided into medical inspection districts with a physician in charge of each, and with trained nurses assigned to the several schools. The medical department has its own building and its own clinics for dental, optical, and orthopedic cases. At first Specialists in the city gave their services gratuitously, but there are now paid clinicians. There is an Advisory Board of three distinguished physicians who serve without remuneration to aid the medical and physical education departments in the corrective work in Orthopedic, goitre, and cardiac cases. The psychological clinic has a specialist of broad training and extensive experience with two trained assistants, and a third Specialist who assists in the mental examination of children. Still another ideal is evidenced first in the prevocational work done in the
special activities in the alternating Schools. These activities are: Gardening, cobbling, printing, typewriting,
Woodworking, electrical wiring, mechanical drawing, sewing, cooking, and costume and other designing. In these schools daily recitations in double periods in some one of these activities is provided for both boys and girls. The evening schools provide not only work of similar nature and about the same scope for youth and adults, but some work more clearly vocational which appeals to those employed in the trades who desire to improve themselves. We have a School of Industrial Arts with a large evening enrollment. The purpose of the school is to prepare students to unite the skill of the trained artisan with the knowledge and taste of the artist so that utility and beauty may be combined in manufactured products. The vocational work consists of continuation classes in factories, continuation schools of the prevocational type, and of vocational schools. The continuation schools were opened in September last and are for children between the ages of fourteen and sixteen to whom “age and schooling certificates’’ have been issued. There is a vocational school for boys and one for girls. The range of their work is that usually found in schools of their type. The Board of Education is now constructing a new building to accommodate 800 boys, at a cost of more than a million dollars. There are other types of school work not generally called vocational—the art, the commercial, and the academic. We have in Newark high schools a curriculum which provides for music or art as majors, thus permitting gifted students in either of these fields to obtain a good general high school education while studying the special vocational subject. The commercial curriculum provides, in addition to the special technical subjects of the bookkeeper, clerk, or stenographer, that cultural subjects shall also be studied. The dominant educational ideal of the Newark school system is the development of sterling character. To achieve it she seeks to realize three subsidiary ideals; namely, to make the instruction in the schools vital and not formal, to make the school organization flexible
and comprehensive, and to make capable and successful teachers as happy as possible. The chief subsidiary ideal is that instruction shall be vital and purposeful, not merely formal. To accomplish this, courses of study have been simplified and modernized. The results of the instruction have been tested in a number of surveys of the essential subjects conducted by our own Department of Reference and Research. Two series of educational meetings are held each year by members of the superintendent’s staff for guidance and inspiration of teachers. The children of fortunate parents are well equipped to profit by instruction when they enter school because of favorable environment and association. There are many under-privileged children in the schools who lack this preparation. We have in the school system a secondary means for providing this enriching : experience in a Department of Visual Education, well organized and well equipped with a central film library and with apparatus in many schools for showing the pictures. This Department provides the opportunity for privileged, as well as under-privileged children, to broaden their knowledge by observation in widely extended fields. Programs are arranged in the superintendent’s office and are planned for instruction and not entertainment. To make instruction function as vitally as possible an important experiment in the classification of the children in the Newark schools is now well inaugurated. The standard size of classes is thirty pupils in grades above the seventh, and forty pupils in grades below the eighth, but smaller classes are authorized in shops and special departments, and in cases where the right grading requires it. The plan is to have classes of reasonable size and to make