« PreviousContinue »
high school, and between 50,000 and 100,000 who have had no schooling beyond the eighth grade.
Cities suffer less from these untrained, uneducated, immature, raw recruits than the villages and country districts. Is not one of the fundamental tenets of democracy equality of educational opportunity? And is not the intelligence of the rural folk of this country as essential to the upbuilding, to the efficiency, and to the safety of democracy as the intelligence of city folk? If true democracy is to exist, then there must be as competent and well-trained teachers in the country as in the cities.
The teachers of tomorrow must know more than the teachers of the past. Patriotic ideals will not always have emotional crises to arouse them and tragic events about which to cluster. The day will come when they must be inculcated in the quiet recesses of the schoolroom. The brains of all the people must be mobilized to meet our common obligations, to provide mutual understanding and intercourse, and to solve our common prob ems.
These statements are based on the assumption that we must have a national policy in education and that the schools will reflect the principles, ideals, and ambitions of the nation. Nearly half of the present teaching force of this country is too poorly trained, or too young, or remains in teaching too short a time to be of great service in achieving such important results. The average American teacher gets her initial experience at eighteen or nineteen years of age and remains in teaching four years. This means that she leaves at the age of twenty-four. About the time a young doctor is entering upon his interneship, where he is expected to spend from one to two years acquiring experience before he is allowed to practice medicine, the typical American school teacher is finishing her professional career. Dentistry, law, engineering, nursing, journalism, every profession that is a profession requires many more years of training than are required for teaching
How and where is this training to be secured? The answer is, in the teacher-training institutions of this country. The welfare and the safety of the country demand federal recognition of teacher training. We have been provincial in that we have regarded education largely as a local matter. It has now become a national obligation. The Commission on National Emergency proposes to ask Congress for an appropriation to be distributed to the states under appropriate conditions and to be matcht by them for the training of teachers. We have long been committed to the policy of providing federal support for the education of soldiers and sailors to promote the arts of war and to protect us in time of war; now it seems that the nation must and ought to commit itself to the policy of providing federal support for the education of all its children to promote the arts of peace. One is as important as the other.
The lack of well-trained teachers has become worse since the beginning of the war. Thousands of men teachers have enlisted or have been drafted, and tens of thousands of women teachers have offered their services for relief or social work. Competent teachers are not available to take their places. The Commissioner of Education fears a shortage of 100,000 teachers this next year. This is a national calamity. England made the same tragic mistake when she entered the war. Many of her schools were closed and hundreds of thousands of children were put to work in the shops, factories, mills, and mines, or left free to roam the streets. As a result juvenile crime increast 34 per cent during the first year of the war. France faced a similar situation. Now both these nations are attempting, thru increast appropriations and by the stimulation of public sentiment, to rehabilitate their schools.
It may be urged that the schools should be closed to save coal. If it is necessary to close the schools to win the war, then the schools should be closed; but before we close the schools we should close the saloons, the pool halls, the billiard rooms, every place of questionable character, and every unnecessary industry. The schools must be kept open if possible. But, it may be askt, where are we to find the teachers? There must be several hundred thousand well-educated married women who have had successful experience as teachers. In the present emergency these women should volunteer their services as teachers, or the government should conscript them. The nation must understand that teaching is a form of high patriotic service, and that the education of the masses is as necessary for social solidarity and security as for social progress.
Such a remedy as I have proposed would be temporary, of course. Teaching will continue to be a way station on the road to professional careers for many, until it affords better rewards and worthier sanctions. Salaries are hopelessly inadequate. Half the teachers of this country get five hundred dollars a year. About 47 per cent get eight dollars a week or less, when distributing their salaries over fifty-two weeks to the year. And the situation has not improved with the war. In fact, it has grown steadily worse. The cost of living has increast 30 or 40 per cent and is still rising, but the salaries of teachers as a class remain practically unchanged. Small wonder that many, from economic necessity alone, have dropt out of teaching to enter other lines of work. The government has been offering salaries for clerical and stenographic work that are two and three times larger than the salary of the average teacher. I have found dozens of high-school graduates in Minnesota accepting employment this spring at salaries ranging from sixty-five to ninety-five dollars a month for twelve months. Plumbers, carpenters, cement workers, basket workers, the makers of soap and paste, and the iceman are better paid than teachers. Even house servants are better paid than teachers.
All this means that less and less competent persons will be attracted to teaching, unless unusual remedies are available. The first and simplest of these is that teachers be better paid. If we are to retain our present standards, salaries must be increast nearly 50 per cent at once; and if we are to improve the quality of the teaching staff, salaries must be advanst 100 per cent in the near future. In the midst of war can this nation be made to see and to appreciate the importance of this? This problem is not local; it is national. Teachers do not belong to any state; they belong to the United States.
It is evident to every thinking person that this movement for nationwide standards for teachers is but a part of the general movement to secure national recognition for all those agencies that affect the welfare, health, and education of all the people. Gradually but certainly the isolation between communities is breaking down, the boundaries of community life are being extended. The measure of a citizen today is the size of the unit in which he thinks.
The National Education Emergency Commission is trying to put the emphasis where it belongs. It believes that this Association should call the attention of the nation to the present emergency in education and that it should take the lead in demanding competent teachers for American children. It feels that it would be a travesty to win a glorious victory on the battlefields of France and to let the schools of the country diminish in importance and decrease in efficiency. It feels that the secondary line of defense, the line that holds the reserves, the line that is to weld the fruits of this victory into stable government, is the teachers of America and the children they are educating. It believes that while civilization hangs in the balance in Europe, steps must be taken at home at once to make it safe for the future. The commission insists that this is the most strategic moment in the history of public education in this country. It is a moment when a nation may transcend its provincialism and lay the foundation for future stability and future greatness by providing a teaching staff and an educational system commensurate with its dignity and its idealistic future.
THE ENLISTMENT OF THE PROFESSION
CARROLL G. PEARSE, PRESIDENT, STATE NORMAL SCHOOL, MILWAUKEE, WIS.
Educational unpreparedness must not follow military unpreparedness. We organized rapidly to fight the enemy abroad. We must organize as rapidly to meet the needs of education, which stabilizes government and gives force and point to our arms. When the United States was engulft in the German War, the nation was not ready. We had no army, no equipment for an army, no adequate transportation by land or sea. The little war machinery we had was at once put into action; volunteers were called, as the first stop-gap; and then the draft-every man within the age limits set wrote down his name, to go with a gun on his shoulder when summoned.
But the draft did not stop there; soldiers were not all the need. Advisers there must bewise men, with wide vision and practical sense, to say what must be done. Captains of industry, masters of transportation, princes of finance, wizards of science all were prest into service and put to work to win the war. Then the nation's resources of manufactured articles and raw materials, of artisan skill and of money, were swept into the ranks to do their part. One of the most splendid spectacles of our generation has been the quick, hearty response of the leaders of affairs of finance and industry—and the owners and managers of the nation's resources to the rallying call for service in the nation's emergency.
The war brought the teaching profession face to face with an emergency in the field of education almost equally startling. As by a lightning flash the war revealed certain respects in which our educational plans and practices had failed to prepare for the demands of this hour; and in this same white light, looking toward the future—those days that shall come after the war—we have seen that we are not now fitting American young people to meet the demands that those days will make.
Both counsel and action by school people were needed, and needed promptly. The new Army is built on the plans of trained soldiers; our Navy grows on the plans of trained naval officers; financiers make the plans to finance the war. School people must be lookt to for plans to meet the emergency in education, both now and for the years after the war.
Only one organization, the National Education Association, enlists the service of, and speaks for, the entire teaching profession; kindergarten, elementary school, high school, college, university, professional and technical school, state and municipal school systems, private and endowed schools, all have a part in its membership and its councils, and all find here the forum for the discussion of their problems. The National Education Association also considers the public's interest as well as the interest of its members. It was therefore for the National Education Association to consider at once the emergency that had sprung upon the nation, to begin the statement of the present problem, and to move for its solution.
The president of the Association appointed a commission, the members of which have been and are still at work on the situation. But the task which confronts the Association and the country cannot be accomplisht by a few. The counsel, the interest, and the support of the entire teaching profession are required, for two reasons: First, their financial support is needed. The necessity for consultation, for the collection of information and opinion, and for editing, publication, and distribution has tremendously increast. The Association has some income from investments, but the sum is wholly inadequate for these new demands. It has no other resource but the fees from memberships. Secondly, the cooperation of the entire profession in every branch is necessary if the service which both the country and the members of the profession need is to be rendered. The teachers of every rank and department must become familiar with the situation as it is ascertained; they must understand the plans proposed and the importance of them; they must be the interpreters and advocates of these plans to the general public, which is not directly connected with, and has not been informed about, school work, but is interested, vitally interested, in the results to be obtained and will be prepared to cooperate fully and cheerfully if it is informed and interested by the teachers.
There are 750,000 teachers in America. In the past, only about i per cent of the entire number of teachers have been regular, permanent members of the Association. France, with one-third the population of the United States, enrols more than 100,000 teachers in her national association. To be equally professional, the National Education Association must have 300,000 members.
The Association calls for the enlistment of all teachers in its ranks. The mark has been set at 50,000 by July, 1918; the 100,000 mark should be reacht by January, 1919. If the teachers rally in this as they have in various other "drives” in which they have helpt to promote activities important as war emergencies, they will go "over the top” in this movement, which has to do with their own professional honor and service and which will be taken as a measure of their professional spirit and devotion.
THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE RACE
FREDERICK PETERSON, M.D., PRESIDENT, LUNACY COMMISSION,
NEW YORK, N.Y. I come before you as an alienist. I am grateful to your distinguisht body for an opportunity to present some views on education from that standpoint. Pathology has after all taught us the most we know about the normal in biology. We learned physiology from our studies of function perverted by disease. We learned about the normal brain thru investigation of diseased brains. The admired Montessori method of teaching normal children had its origin in the methods of Itard and Seguin in teaching idiots.
So now in a world half mad, with all sorts of disorders in the body politic, perhaps an alienist may help, be it never so little, in some new adjustment toward the normal.
We have been suddenly awakened by the war from our complacent slumber. Pain, suffering, danger, stirring elements in the psychological mechanism, rouse alarm, quicken alertness, light up all the old memories and powers of defense.
The horror and surprise of a nation of madmen broken loose upon the world has brought a sudden consciousness among the peoples. We are appalled that our selective draft of young men who are to fight our battles in France and Flanders reveals defects in an average of 30 per cent-these