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TRAINING FOR NATIONAL SERVICE
THOMAS E. FINEGAN, DEPUTY STATE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION,
ALBANY, N.Y. When the Congress of the United States of America, acting upon the recommendations of the President, on April 6, 1917, was compelled to declare war against the imperial German government because of its ruthless acts, the American people faced the determination of an issue which was the most vital in their whole history and was fraught with greater significance than any other act of theirs to the interests of the free peoples of the entire world. The final decision by the duly appointed agents of the people to take up arms against the enemy of civilization was reacht deliberately, with due concern about our attitude and our obligations to other libertyloving peoples, and with clear recognition of the burden that we were assuming and of the load that we were to carry thru to the end.
Every patriotic American, and there is no other American, is lifted up in these days when he reflects that no future historian and no nation will ever be able to charge that our country entered this conflict thru any motive of mere self-interest. The history of nations records no more glorious or unselfish act than our declaration of war.
We had no jeweled crown and no burnisht scepter to preserve. All the nations of the earth know well enough-enemies, neutrals, and allies alike the reward we expect. They know that there is now no bargain to be made with us. They know that this great people does not traffic in human liberty and Christian civilization. They know that we mean by our treasure, by our blood, by every supreme sacrifice, to see to it that out of this strugglecomes a well-ordered world. They know that we believe in morality and the righteousness of nations and that we mean to bring offenders to the bar of international justice according to the exalted standards of human and of national life in which we believe. They know that we mean, before we are thru, to hunt down the beasts among nations and to compel “by force and yet more force,” if necessary, the acceptance and observance by all peoples of the earth with whom we deal, of those great fundamental principles of liberty, justice, and humanity which have made us and which, please God, shall keep us a free nation worthy of the name.
And if it is true that the reward we seek is known to all men, the part that we are inevitably to play is equally clear. Whether we wish it or not, the balance of power lies in our hands and the measure of responsibility now rests equally upon our shoulders. The victory that is to be won must be won—the whole world now knows it—by the strength, the wisdom, and the self-sacrifice of the American people. We can make that statement without undue pride; it is but fact, solemn, weighted fact.
When the avowed purposes of ourselves and our Allies have been accomplisht, when the victory has been won, a new world will face us-a world in which we shall take our rightful place at the counsel table of nations. Our position as a political power and our relations to other governments will take on new meaning. Our commanding position in the world, our philosophy of life and government, the very righteousness of the cause for which we fight, will bring us new responsibilities. How are we to meet them?
In the first and last analysis the responsibility of the nation is the responsibility of her schools. Our system of education must lay the foundation for the future policy of the nation. We have witnest within the last four years the fruition of the long-vaunted system of German education. We have seen how completely a whole people has been deluded by a philosophy of life and a theory of government nourisht in its schools and universities. No better proof is needed that the schools do determine the trend of a nation. I have time for but a brief generalization as to how we may best articulate our work as teachers with the new world that lies before us.
We must stop quarreling about the relative values of educational systems. For the past twenty-five years at least we have been wrangling over the virtues of the classics and the virtues of the so-called modern school. Is it not about time for us to admit on all hands that the world is getting big enough for a multitude of educational theories and systems? There is to be room enough in our future educational world for the classicist and the modernist.
We never stood more in need of a study of the ancients than we do today. A few years ago we and other liberty-loving peoples like us reasoned ourselves into the fatuous belief that world-peace was approaching because we willed it so. The most momentous and the most disastrous fact in modern history was the failure of free peoples to foretell and adequately to prepare for this conflict. How mankind shall be governed is the issue of the ages and the one great outstanding fact of world-history.
The new world that we are to shape and control must thru its schools saturate the minds of whole peoples and especially of vast numbers of intellectual leaders with the clear lessons of the past. Let us have done with condemning the classics. Let us study all that has been in the world. Let us remember that the past makes the future. Let us remember that the inheritance of our fathers is worthless if we are not able correctly to interpret it.
And while we look to the past, we must live in the present and build for the future. War, with all its horrors, has its virtues. It clarifies our thinking. It centers our thought upon vital things. Our declaration of war a little over a year ago brought with it the confession that we have been a careless and in many respects an idle people, and that we have in many ways been far behind our enemies in the utilization of the fruits of the earth that lay in our hands.
The educational patriots who sometimes tremble about the future of vocational education need not be concerned any longer. We have learned in recent weeks that a democracy can hope to endure only by proving its superiority to autocracy in the employment of the material as well as the intellectual forces of the world. We need trained minds, we need intellectual leaders, and we need trained human units. We need millions of educated hands, and there can be no educated hand without a trained mind.
I do not mean that the schools of the future should rear mere automatons, but I do mean that it is the business of the schools to realize that every human being has a place in the general economy of things, and that it is the business of the school best to fit the individual to find and fill his place. I know that this is a platitude. I hope that the day is soon to come when it shall become a practice instead of a platitude. It is a platitude that must be repeated until it becomes a practice. Educational diagnosis and therapeutics have been much talkt of and little practist in this country. We must educate hands to do all the things that have ever been done anywhere in the world, and better than they have ever been done before, and, more than that, we must saturate minds with ideas which will lead hands to do new things for the betterment of mankind.
The democracy that is to endure will not only train the minds and the hands of its future citizens but will look to the condition of their bodies. It is as vitally important to teach boys and girls the proper care of their bodies, the essentials of a well-regulated diet, the value of recreation and play, of sunshine and pure air, of rest and sleep, and the relation of these things to the training of the mind and the hand, to the development of character, and to the preservation of life itself, as it is to teach them to read and write. The health of a nation, we have lately discovered, is of vital concern in its striking power. It is the duty and obligation of the leaders of public education in this country to predicate the health work of the schools upon standards which will develop men and women who are as fit for service in times of peace as the government demands its men shall be in times of war.
You will observe that I have been forst to deal in general terms with the topic assigned to me. The best training for national service, in my judgment, lies in the best training of the individual human unit. It is the business of the school to begin with the individual. I have no pet theory to present, no crystallized program to outline, but I apprehend that the schools of the future, as their contribution to the continued safety of democracy and to an enduring peace upon the earth, will be guided by these fundamental principles:
1. They will have reverence for the past and will seek in all possible ways to study and to interpret the record of mankind as a guide to living men.
2. They will leave no field of successful human endeavor out of their program and will study what the hands of men have done and what they may do to preserve the liberties and the civilization which we enjoy.
3. They will consider the health and physical well-being of every school child and will nourish human life as the most priceless thing next to human liberty.
4. They will employ all agencies for human betterment and for national safety and will lay the foundation for a national system of disciplinary and military training for all able-bodied men of proper age, so that every American citizen may effectively meet his responsibilities to the nation.
5. Finally, they will train the future generation of citizens to believe, no matter what the immediate issue of the present conflict, that there can never be compromise or harmony between our way of life and that of the enemies of civilization whom we now oppose. However long the road, the journey must bring us to a clear realization of this fact: democracy, with all that it means, must be supreme upon the earth if the future happiness and well-being of mankind is to be assured.
COMPETENT TEACHERS FOR AMERICAN CHILDREN
L. D. COFFMAN, DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, UNIVERSITY OF
MINNESOTA, MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. The American people have made a new resolve: it is that hereafter their children shall be taught only by loyal, patriotic supporters of the American government. The importance of such a resolve can scarcely be overestimated. It means that education is recognized by the nation as the bulwark of American liberty and the source of strength and safety of American institutions. It means that hereafter our faith will not consist in blind trusting that things will come out right, but that planning will take the place of drifting, and purpose the place of chance.
Not until recently were we aware that there are many un-American schools and many un-American teachers. Our ignorance of the situation was appalling and our stupidity colossal. Not until we entered the worldconflict did we pause, take stock, and discover the sinister influence of German Kultur in the schools of the country. Now we find that there has been an organized program for the Germanizing of America. The president of the German-American Alliance, Mr. Charles J. Hexamer, said in 1911, “What the root is to the tree, that the German language is to Germany. We hope to introduce the teaching of German in all elementary schools. The more the teaching of German increases, the greater will be the number of boys and girls who will be brought to us and who will receive the keys to the treasure houses of our Kultur."
* The quotations in this paper were taken from an article on "Americans for America," by Mr. David Lawrence, in the Saturday Evening Post, June 15, 1918.
This man, a native-born American, and the organization he represented were largely responsible for the existence of 491 evangelical schools in this country, some of which were supported by state funds, in which German is the only language taught.
It was the avowed and undisguised purpose of the Germans to make the schools and education their chief instrumentalities of action. The official quarterly of the League for Germanism in Foreign Lands (September, 1909) contains the following statement: "Work done in the interests of the German school abroad is a noble service rendered to the German nation; for the most effective means of perpetuating Germanism in foreign countries is the school.”
Unmistakable evidence is available to show that German protagonists sought to influence and mold courses of study and to provide for the publication of textbooks glorifying Prussianism and German autocracy and minimizing English influence and American traditions. The ultimate end of all this planning is revealed in a statement in the Pan-American Gazette: “The Germanization of America has gone ahead too far to be interrupted. Whoever talks of the danger of Americanization of the Germans now here (in America) is not well informed or cherishes a false conception of our relations. In a hundred years the American people will be conquered by the victorious German spirit, so that it will present an enormous German Empire.”
This end was to be attained thru the schools by having German teachers teach German ideals thru the German language. These teachers did their work well and, utilizing every opportunity, developt an affection for Germany which the war, in many instances, has been unable to disturb.
What these teachers did and were doing for Germany all teachers in the future must do for America. Their patriotism must be of the simonpure quality. They must be familiar with and teach the facts about foreign lands, but the ideals they seek to implant must be American ideals, and the language of the graded schools in which these ideals are imparted must be the English language.
The national emergency in education not only demands that teachers be enthusiastic and loyal supporters of the institutions that protect them, and of the ideals that dominate them, but also demands that they be better qualified both academically and professionally than teachers in the past have been. The United States has had almost no national teacher-training plan or system of education at all. In this respect she has been a drifter among the nations of the world. At any rate the inequities in her schools constitute their most striking characteristic. And there are no inequities more pronounst than those relating to the training of teachers.
These irregularities, inequalities, and inequities must be ironed out and the general scholastic level of teachers raised. There are approximately 300,000 teachers in this country who have had no education beyond the