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been given to German, French, and Spanish; (3) a year has been added to the total amount of time that may be given to the study of history and civics; (4) the six short “parallel courses” in English have been discontinued; (5) a four-year progressive course in the study of the English language and literature, and in the practice of English composition, has been prescribed in place of two years' study previously required; (6) a one-year course in elementary biology designed for the first year has been supplemented by more advanced year-courses in botany and zoölogy; and (7) the syllabus in physical geography has been extended, by including selected topics relating to structural and dynamic geology and the phenomena of the solar system.
When the Department decided to abolish half-year courses, it was confronted with an embarrassing dilemma. Either it must upset the custom long prevalent in the New York schools of carrying every subject in the school program thru the term with five lessons a week, or it must establish an ill-balanced course of studies. To illustrate, if the new rule of the Board of Regents, requiring that instruction in English be given to every class every week thruout the course, is to be observed, either the number of lessons a week must be less than five or other important subjects will be crowded out of the curriculum. Again, if the power to discern and appreciate the beautiful in form and color develops slowly and gradually, then the instruction in drawing, to be effective, must be extended beyond a term or year. If this be done, the number of lessons a week must be small or the subject will receive more than its due share of the student's time and attention at the expense of other subjects deemed essential to symmetrical training in the secondary school. There was no escape from this dilemma. Therefore, notwithstanding the embarrassment incident to a more complex program, the Department, choosing what seemed to be the lesser evil, instituted courses having a variable number of lessons a week.
The second fundamental notion operative in the revision of the syllabus has been expressed in an attempt to present to the schools such a systematized body of essential topics in the several subjects of study as shall assist them to establish and maintain worthy standards of instruction and scholarship. To accomplish this end, the Education Department has accepted the definitions and outlines of subject matter recommended by authoritative committees of experts representing national organizations, as far as these have been obtainable. In this way have been formulated (1) the aim of the instruction and the work to be done in the modern foreign languages; (2) the larger topics defining the range of study in mathematics; (3) the outlined specifications for study and laboratory work in advanced botany and zoology; and (4), with some limitations, the definition of requirements indicating the extent and quality of the instruction to be given in Latin and Greek. In these four great fields of study, it may fairly be said that the new syllabus is in substantial accord with the recommendations made by representative experts and indorsed by the National Educational Association.
The syllabuses in physics, chemistry, and physical geography are not identical with those approved by the National Educational Association, but they are quite as broad and strong. They are even more serviceable, inasmuch as each of them comprises not only a comprehensive outline of topics, but also a series of laboratory experiments selected and defined with unprecedented care and skill.
In history four courses have been provided : ancient, European, English, and American. This is in accord with the report of the Committee of Seven made in 1899. In the year 1900 a committee selected by an association of history teachers in New England entered upon the work of preparing a port on practical methods of teaching history with such topical outlines, references, and bibliographies as shall help teachers to put into operation such suggestions for reforms in history teaching as may be applicable to secondary schools.” The results of this co-operative effort of history teachers from colleges and secondary schools were published in 1904, as A history syllabus for secondary schools. With the consent of the authors and publishers, and in accordance with the recommendation of a committee representing the Associated Aca
demic Principals, this syllabus, somewhat modified, has been adopted for the state of New York. The more important topics have been printed in large type, and the schools given an option between three-hour courses and five-hour courses in ancient, European, and English history, each course running thru a year. This was done on account of the pressure of other subjects, and the belief that the number of fields of history to be included in the curriculum of many schools would be lessened by insistence on the five-hour courses.
The four-year syllabus in English has been based upon the books for reading and study designated in the uniform college entrance requirements. It is constructed on the theory that an acquaintance with literature and skill in composition are of paramount importance, and that a knowledge of the principles of rhetoric should be developed inductively from the material found in literature and put into use in the compositions of students. The study of grammar has been distributed thru the several terms, on the principle that it will be made more effective if it is kept constantly in the minds of the students. This course in English specifies the books to be read each term, suggests supplementary readings, lays down a precise and progressive plan in the different forms of composition, and is primarily designed to furnish definite and trustworthy guidance to inexperienced teachers.
An incidental feature of the revised syllabus is a one-year course in biology consisting of some study of botany, zoology, and human physiology. Its unity is insured by the special emphasis given to the study of the vital processes that characterize both plants and animals. It is elementary and therefore adapted to the first year. It aims at scientific teaching, but not comprehensive knowledge. It is to be a required subject for all students in secondary schools who expect to prepare for teaching in any of the twelve normal schools or fourteen city training schools within the state of New York. There is a double design in this requirement. The first is to arouse the student's sympathy for animate objects, to develop his power to make accurate observations, to train him to make an intelligible record of his knowledge, and to prepare him for subse
quent science-study in the secondary school. The second is to make“ nature-study” successful in the elementary schools, by qualifying teachers to give instruction in this subject.
The amount or range of work to be done under the present syllabus is one-fifth greater than that required by the syllabus
Hitherto the state academic diploma has been based upon a four-year curriculum which required a student to pursue three subjects of study at a time with five lessons a week in each subject. A new rule of the Board of Regents requires students hereafter to carry four instead of three subjects simultaneously, with at least 18 in place of 15 lessons a week.
This increase in requirements has been made because adequate training in the several fields of study now deemed essential for a symmetrical education in the secondary school cannot be acquired by a student taking less than four subjects at a time; because it appeared from the records of the Department that a majority of students under the requirement of 15 lessons a week obtained, on the average, a four-year diploma in three years; and because an investigation made by the Department in 1902 showed that the average number of lessons a week in the high schools of the state was already 17.8. The wisdom of this decision is amply supported by the experience of France and Germany, in the corresponding years of whose secondary schools the average number of lessons a week is respectively 25 and 30.
Closely related to the syllabus is the passing mark in the state examinations. The increasing importance of these examinations as a means of determining standards of scholarship in the state's secondary schools may be inferred from the fact that approximately 57,000 answer papers were accepted in 1884 and 397,000 in 1904. In these examinations 75 was a passing mark and 90 was a mark of honor. What is the significance of this passing mark? Does an academic diploma, issued on examinations of which 75 is the passing mark, indicate that its possessor is a successful student and fair scholar, or does it show that the student has met the minimum requirements for promotion in the several subjects of study? In other words, does the passing mark of 75 stand for scholarship merely, or for
promotion ? If we accept the first alternative, and construe 75 per cent. as evidence of scholarship, we must affirm that the standard of examinations is so high that it excludes from recognition some weak and slowly developing students whose legal and moral right to whatever education they can get in a secondary school cannot be successfully questioned. If we take the second alternative, interpreting 75 to indicate only fitness for promotion, we must concede that the academic diploma is not evidence of an aptitude for learning or the attainment of considerable scholarship. After mature deliberation it was decided not to grasp either horn of this dilemma, but to establish the following scheme of differentiated credentials to go into operation with the class entering the school in September, 1905 :
(1) A diploma based upon a general average of 65. (2) A diploma based upon a general average of 75. (3) A diploma based upon a general average of 85. (4) A diploma based upon a general average of 90.
It was further decided that in computing general averages, the rating of any paper not below 60 may be included.
EDWARD J. GOODWIN DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
ALBANY, N. Y.