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of each machine. This can be exactly determined and expressed in mathematical ratios, but, when we apply this standard to the schools, we forget that efficiency of education is a spiritual and intellectual matter that cannot be reduced to exact terms or expressed in exact figures. I do not mean to say that comparisons of expenditure do not lead to some desirable results. What I do mean to say is that by this means alone we cannot come to any adequate determination of the value of the school administration and that a reorganization which has to do only with economy is likely to be so permeated and so tinged with the spirit of modern business administration that it may, in fact, be actually detrimental to the progress of the schools.
The second danger which arises in this movement for reorganization is that we are confronted by false standards of efficiency. Each man is prone to think that those things which he finds of importance in his business are the only ones. of major importance in school work. Each tends to lose sight of the fact that we have now a whole people educating a whole people for all the varied activities of life that have been developed by our modern civilization.
When the Boston Latin School was first established it was for a specific purpose, primarily that of preparing for the ministry; but since that time the fields of life activity for which the public schools prepare have been broadened, until, to-day, there is no calling, no profession, no means of gaining a livelihood for which the public school is not supposed to give at least the elements of preparation. It is not so very long ago that those subjects which are now considered absolutely essential for an elementary education were looked upon as being fads and foibles, and were attacked as vigorously as some of the subjects which have been more recently introduced into the school curriculum are now attacked. When a public composed of men and women educated a generation ago, sets itself to the task of reforming the schools, it is likely to adopt too much of the spirit of the “good old times” and fails to recognize that the schools of to-day are educating the children for entrance into a fiercer competition for which more things may be of essential importance.
I do not wish to be understood as defending all that the schools have undertaken, but I do insist that any fair judgment of the efficiency of the schools demands a careful estimate of modern necessities made by those competent by training and experience to make such judgment. A reorganization which is based upon a demand for the “Three R's” may be justified; but it is likely to be blinded to the necessity of the whole; to be carried away by the immediate interests of the majority of those concerned in the movement; and, on the whole, to cripple the efficiency of the school.
It will be noticed that each of these dangers arises from the fact that it is the public which has set itself to perform this reorganization, and from this a third danger arises. The spirit of democracy has been aroused and has set itself to the correction of some of the evils of political administration. At the same time this same spirit of democracy is attempting to make its schools more efficient and more economical. The machinery by which the public acts has been established for political purposes, and because the two works are going forward at the same time and by the use of the same machinery, there is grave danger that we shall have a mixture of politics with school administration. It is unnecessary for me to point out how serious the danger to the community when that condition arises, whereby appointments to positions as teachers are determined on any other standard than efficiency as instructors.
There is no more serious menace to a community than a school board composed of members who are willing to listen to applicants for positions, and to appoint them or to recommend them to superintendents who are nominally tho not actually the appointing authority. There is no graver situation than that which renders it necessary to fill all the positions with girls froni the local normal school or with residents of the city, because they have friends who are powerful upon the school board. It seems, therefore, to me that great care must be taken to see that the machinery of administration which is established as a result of any proposed reorganization shall be such that only those who have some knowledge of educational ability and some experience in judging of efficiency of education shall have the major say in determining who shall have charge of our schools.
Having now in mind that educational organization should be directed on the one side to the incorporation of such business ideals as tend to increase economy, and on the other side to the development of every means which aids in giving increased efficiency, let us consider the relation of the teacher to each of these.
To what extent is the teacher more than any other citizen concerned in the establishing and maintaining of an economical business organization? It seems clear to me that the answer is, not at all. To be sure it is of vital interest to her that such an economical administration shall exist, but this interest is personal and passive. Actively and creatively the teacher, individually or collectively, has neither the duty put upon her, nor does she possess the necessary breadth of experience, to devise or establish a system or scheme which will insure the proper distribution of supplies, the taking care of janitors, the accounting for coal, the securing of its most economical use, or the building and equipping of school buildings. Advice and assistance she may give, abuses and neglect she may point out, protests as to incompetency of janitors or insistence upon efficient service she may make; but these duties are subordinate and subsidiary, and the teacher will do well not to allow thenecessity of exercising them to cause the thought to arise that she is concerned with the establishing and administration of the financial side of school organization in any other than an advisory capacity.
In a minor way she may effect much towards economical administration. It is her close scrutiny of supplies, her provision for their economical use, which, tho of small amount in a single room, yet in the aggregate saves the thousands of dollars which maintain the salary schedule or render possible some desirable improvement or extension of the work.
From the point of view of business organization, I say, therefore, that the function of the teaching force is limited to the furnishing of information and to the attempting of such eco-nomical use of materials as shall leave available for other purposes as large as possible a portion of the school funds.
But, when we consider the question of efficiency and the teacher's relation thereto, we must say that the teacher reigns supreme.
Whether considered individually or collectively, it is the duty of the teacher to promote efficiency in education. Not only may we say duty, but that in the last analysis the possibility of improvement in efficiency lies only with the teacher. It is after all the individual teacher with her particular class who is the unit upon which educational efficiency must be built. The principals, supervisors, and superintendent may have much to do with organizing these various units so that they may work together as a whole without friction and without waste of time and energy; but, unless there is efficiency in each room, the organizing ability of these officials will be of little value. It is the business of each teacher to see that her own particular part of the work is carried forward with efficiency. Upon. the efficiency of each teacher the value of the whole school system depends, and that system which has any considerable number of incompetent teachers must, of necessity, be limited as to the value of its product.
The teacher's first duty is to her class. Her greatest work is that which she does with them. The only valid reason that she can offer for her retention in the service is that the work she does is efficient; that the boys and girls under her charge are getting all that boys and girls of their age and endowed with their abilities can with profit acquire.
If time allowed, I should like to turn aside at this point long enough to discuss the trials of the teacher, to point out the false standards of efficiency by which she is sometimes measured, to comfort and sympathize a moment with those of you who have been compelled to choose the bad or
even the good because it complied with the standards of a dictatorial principal, even tho you knew that there was a better or a best that might have been done for your children, if you had been allowed to do it. It requires tact, perseverance, and optimism to keep steadily at that which is best when the system of administration is archaic or imbecile, and when permanency of tenure and possibility of promotion depend upon compliance with methods which will produce the particular kinds of results demanded by officials in superior positions—I nearly said, by superior officials. To illustrate, I asked a teacher recently if she approved of a certain topic which I found her teaching. She said, “Not at all."
“ Then why do you teach it?" said I. “Because I feel sure that the principal will include it in the promotion examinations.” “How can you tell so certainly what he will ask?” I inquired.
Because I have kept all the questions for the past twenty-two years, and that topic had been included every third year. It is due next June."
Perhaps we should say it under our breaths, but false standards of efficiency may sometimes be found among school-teachers and administrative officers as well as among those of the outer world who judge us. It is to these false ideals that we must devote our attention to the end that desirable ideals may be established in their stead.
Collectively, too, the teachers have much to do with efficiency. The false standards by which the public judges the school
may be in great measure corrected by the collective efforts of teachers. Public opinion is a peculiarly indefinite and tangible thing which, nevertheless, may be reached and shaped by perfectly well recognized means. The collective effort of teachers
find great fields of accomplishment awaiting it in this very effort to foster and create a sound public opinion which will support the teaching force in everything which looks towards increased efficiency, and which will defend and fight for them in any encroachment which lowers the quality of the work done in the schools.
The moral force of a community must be called to the support of the schools and the teaching body may become a potent factor in summoning all that which is best and purest. The danger is that, absorbed in the righteousness and soundness of our cause, we shall think we can correct the evil against which we protest, or establish the good for which we seek. We can, in fact, do neither. No evil can be permanently eradicated until the public opinion of the entire community is strongly set