« PreviousContinue »
concrete thought and practical application of everyday civic, commercial, and industrial life.
An honest attitude toward his work is the most essential quality in a supervisor. Positive traits of character, such as loyalty, fairness, and courage, must stand out in all he does. He must have the perseverance and patience to labor long with apparent failure until he can turn it to success. His optimism must inspire hope in others; his technical knowledge and skill must command their respect. These qualities in a supervisor not only inspire a teacher to bring the fulness of any subject or teaching to the pupils, but insures such confidence that she will feel free to invite her superior to pass upon a definite piece of work.
Constructive leadership in education must be based upon a balanst conception of the entire nature of the child. The percentage of selected men rejected by the various exemption boards thruout the country suggest that we have failed to send the entire boy to school. Those responsible for the program of studies should hold before the classroom teachers the importance of constructive recreation and robust health and should point the way to definite standards of physical hardihood. Personal hygiene and household sanitation offer a field for habit formation which makes for moral safety, civic efficiency, and personal success later on in life.
Next to the physical basis as an underlying factor in education comes the emotional nature of the child. This determines to a large extent his attitude toward his companions, his interest in nature about him, in art, and in music. The utilization by the teacher of these social and aesthetic values means a citizenship later on which will recognize community interests, organize community activities, and continually seek an improved environment. So basic are the physical and emotional natures of the child as a foundation upon which all teaching must rest that the supervisor must make their full appreciation by the teacher his first concern.
It is then the province of the supervisor to see that the fundamental academic subjects are properly related to these two aspects of child life. From them must come the energy and interest to enable the pupil to complete the academic work with the minimum of time and effort. Training of the hands in certain basic processes of a prevocational nature should supplement the academic work. The mental processes in handwork are much more valuable to the child than the concrete results. Here again the supervisor must be sure that the teacher considers, in her plans and practice, industrial and cultural education as supplementary rather than competitive.
Not only must the validity of the teacher's theory be checkt by the supervisor, as I have indicated, but the curriculum must be interpreted to her in terms of social need. No matter how carefully the curriculum may have been prepared, further interpretation to most teachers will be necessary. Outlines upon the various subjects must be prepared from time to time to bring out the fulness of the course of study and to set forth the best methods of teaching. All along the line practice must be measured in terms of social validity. Life must be significant at every level. The school comes in between the child and the world at large, while the primitive child had no such restrictions. Nature-study must be a study of things, not about things. Literature should contribute to an interpretation of life. Art should develop appreciation and common skill. Moral education must be concrete in form. Social ethics and social conditions are supplementary; one is the building, the other is the foundation. All school values should reflect the fighting values of the world outside. In fact, the unconscious method of great teaching comes from the proper social point of view.
Few teachers, unaided, will give sufficient emphasis to matters of present-day interest. Just now history is so vitally in the making that current events have a compelling power hitherto unknown. The vital significance of citizenship-its privileges and its responsibilities—stands out as never before. Just now material such as the “Teachers' Patriotic Leaflets," issued by the National Security League, might well replace much of our prescribed work in civics. Our interdependence upon each other and specific phases of international commerce set forth in some such form as the government bulletins on community and national life should supplement the general curriculum or be substituted for certain parts of it. In like manner the supervisor must clarify the importance and determine the place of thrift campaigns, of Junior Red Cross work, and of education in the conservation of food and fuel as a part of the school
program. All of these activities have educational possibilities in civic and social service which must not be overlookt. Undertaken without definite and positive direction, however, they would tend toward confusion, loss of time, and indefinite results.
The greatest task of the supervisor will always be the improvement of classroom instruction. Efforts toward this end must be based upon accurate knowledge of conditions gained from personal visits. This takes time. All criticism should be constructive and definite. To say that work is “good," "fair," or "unsatisfactory," without stating the particular reason for such a judgment requires no ability and will probably arouse curiosity or provoke resentment. On the other hand, a constructive criticism points out a definite deficiency and proposes a definite remedy.
Much may be accomplisht thru demonstration lessons and thru directed visits by teachers. The demonstration lesson should be given under normal classroom conditions by the supervisor, or by some teacher selected by him, before a group of teachers of the same grade or subject. After the exercise is concluded and the pupils have been dismist, a free and full discussion of the plan and method involved will invariably bring out constructive suggestions and concrete practices exceedingly valuable to all concerned. Such discussions will clarify aims and single out the proper points of attack. Visiting by teachers may result in similar benefits if properly directed and afterward discust.
The supervisor must also lead in devising and setting up definite standards of achievement. There must be a clear understanding as to specific accomplishments in every phase of the work. This involves a testing and measuring of results by some definite scale in the application of which the teacher must have an intelligent and sympathetic interest. Teacher and supervisor can then have a common basis for comparing results, in which there is unity of aim and honesty of purpose. This will insure that the individual needs of pupils will be met and the strength or weakness of the teacher be revealed in a helpful manner.
Both the supervisory principal and the general supervisor will always have certain administrative details to look after. The experienst expert in educational theory and practice is too valuable a man, however, to be tied down by mere matters of routine. If he is to furnish real leadership he will not permit any combination of circumstances to dissipate his time and energy from the aggressive constructive work before him.
In this brief discussion I have attempted to show that successful leadership by a supervisor must be founded upon sterling traits of character and recognized technical training and skill. He must then assure himself that his teachers have a sound educational theory based upon a full appreciation of the interdependence of the physical, emotional, and mental activities of the child. He must interpret the curriculum in terms of social need, measuring all school activities by the fighting values of the world outside, and utilizing matters of present-day interest to teach civic responsibility and social service. He must adapt new ideas to his school and anticipate and organize his teachers' needs. He must lead the way to better classroom instruction by definite constructive criticisms, by demonstration lessons, by directed visits, and by devising and stabilizing standards of achievement. His spirit must permeate the entire school from positive personal contact, and not indirectly from an office desk.
DISCUSSION J. H. BEVERIDGE, superintendent of schools, Omaha, Nebr.—The address you have just listened to is to be commended for the emphasis it places upon strong personality and the need of technical training and skill on the part of the principal; for the evident appreciation of constructive criticism, demonstration lessons, and well-directed visits; for the use of objective standards in measuring the efficiency of pupils; and for the interpretation of the curriculum in terms of social needs thru present-day activities.
The functions of the principal may be roughly classified under three heads: (1) clerical, (2) managerial, and (3) supervisory. Observation and experience coupled with careful investigation indicate that the principal is likely to spend too much time in the first and second functions and too little in the third and more important.
The reason for such a distribution of time is not always the fault of the principal. The requirements of the school system in which he works may be such as to entail a undue amount of clerical work. If this is the case it then becomes incumbent upon the administrator of the system to make some provision for clerical assistance to the principal. This may be done thru the use of pupils in the normal-training department of the high schools, or thru part-time service of pupils in the business department of such schools. Some systems are doing effective work in this way. The simplification of records is often an aid in lessoning the clerical work of the principal. Not infrequently we find a principal who enjoys the managerial work to such an extent that he fails to realize the facility with which this work may be accomplisht and hence wastes time. He may. possess the qualifications of a good visitor to such an extent that he gives to this department of his work much of the time that could be well devoted to supervision of classroom instruction. The work of managing the school may often be facilitated thru brevity of conferences and by developing initiative on the part of pupils thru student councils. Specific hours for conferences will aid the principal in economizing his time.
If we were to ask why classroom supervision does not receive more attention on the part of the principal no doubt we would find the answer, in many cases, to be the lack of training and skill in the technique of instruction, a lack of ability in supervision, and a belief that teachers do not care to be supervised. No one has a right to occupy the responsible position of supervising principal who does not possess skill in instruction, who does not know the art of supervising, who is not willing to study modern methods and grow in service. It is our belief that teachers are willing to be supervised, that they want to improve, that they desire to grow, and that they will cheerfully respond when approacht in the right way. The secret is in getting them to work and letting them know that they are a part of the system, that they have contributions to make and responsibilities to
The need of more careful supervision is made evident (1) thru many observations such as that quoted by the previous speaker from Murray's Elementary Standards; (2) by noting the kind of questions askt by the teachers and the kind of answers they accept from their pupils, as indicated by Miss Stevens in her thesis, in which she tells us that in a series of recitations the teachers used 18,933 words and all the pupils of those teachers used only 5,675 words. This is certainly an example of where the teachers had an excellent opportunity for growth in English, but how about the pupils ? (3) Thru differences observed in the efficiency of schools and classrooms under careful supervision and those lacking in this particular. (The experience of Rice, Stone, and Courtis all suggest, as stated in the Supervision of Arithmetic by Jessup and Coffman, that the most important single factor in effective arithmetical instruction is that of effective supervision.)
What are some of the objects to be secured by the principal thru supervision ? (1) changing conditions from what they are to what they ought to be; (2) making the superior points of one teacher the practice of as many as possible in the classes; (3) making the office of the principal a clearing-house thru which good ideas and good methods may be promoted and poorer methods be eliminated; (4) measuring the progress and efficiency of pupils thru the use of standards and scales; (5) determining thru the grades retardation and acceleration of pupils and making such provision as is necessary to lessen retardation and aid acceleration (too frequently bright pupils in classes receive less attention than they should and thus inculcate habits of laziness); (6) interpreting the curriculum so that the pupil may be given the opportunity to discover himself his elements of strength, his tendencies, and thus be fitted into the work in society where he will render most service; (7) discovering and developing initiative and resourcefulness in such pupils as have the germ, and making this contagious in the school as far as possible.
To attain these aims the supervising principal must know what good teaching is, he must be a student of education, and as such he must have that discriminating judgment which will separate the wheat from the chaff. He must be a teacher of teachers and have that inspiration and leadership which commands respect and wins esteem because of merit.
He may have many types of teachers to supervise. He will always have two: (1) the new, those fresh from normal school and college; and (2) those older in the service. For the former he must interpret the curriculum so that they may see their theory realized in practice--some of which may not carry over. He should cooperate with the institutions from which they come so that the institutions may know of their success or failure in the field. They must be imbued with that spirit of enthusiasm that makes them continue to grow. For the latter he must give a new vision. Some will be the most helpful and efficient in the corps; others must drink from educational fountains of youth, must be sprinkled with the perfume of modern theory and practice, yea, even be born again. All this is possible thru the leadership and inspiration of many in the field. Are we equal to the task of reconstruction in education wbich is now upon us? Let us here pledge ourselves to this service. A. B. Hinsdale once said, “Few spectacles are more pitiful than a little man at the head of one of the big school systems of the country. He is about as competent to vitalize and energize the school as a pocket dynamo would be to drive a city electric railway system.”
HOW LEADERSHIP IN MAKING NEW ADJUSTMENTS IN
EDUCATION MUST BE PROVIDED
ERNEST HORN, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION, IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY,
IOWA CITY, IOWA There has probably never been a period in which the reconstruction of school practice has proceeded more rapidly than at the present. And yet we are only at the beginning of reconstruction. The demands which the government is now making on the schools involve immediate reconstruction, widespread in its effect, and all signs point to even more elaborate changes within the next ten years.
On the other hand there probably has never been a time in which the country has been so well prepared to make adjustments as at the present. There is more professional spirit abroad. The number of trained teachers and administrators is greatly increasing. Courses in our teachers' colleges and normal schools are generally more practical. Moreover we are using scientific methods which up to the last few years have not been used in the service of educational progress.
What I have to say deals with the problem of providing leadership that will open the eyes of classroom teachers to modern progress in education, help them to understand their course of study, and show them how to teach more effectively. Perhaps the problem should have been stated: Where can the classroom teacher look for leadership and direction in the various reconstructions which confront her? What are to be the connecting links between leaders, whoever they may be, and their classrooms? The problem is, in other words, how to improve classroom teaching.
Last year the use of a detailed syllabus was recommended to this section as one effective method for guaranteeing that the teacher be led into better ways of teaching. It seems certain that a highly detailed syllabus of the course of study is absolutely essential to any plan of leadership in systems with a population of 25,000 or more.