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teachers, which makes competition with them for positions in our primary schools so difficult. That this is a very grave evil is obvious. They who are content to accept cheap work in the school can have no idea of the meaning of education. They would degrade it to a mechanical process, and imagine that the teacher does his whole duty when he makes his pupils learn to read and write, and gives them some knowledge of arithmetic, geography, and history.”
Most of those interested in the condition of secondary institutions can find much in which to agree with Bishop Spalding. “The lower cannot call the higher” is a condition which will always confront education in our free country. The higher cannot be replaced by the lower with the expectation that success will result because it is the will of the majority. As the appeal to the crowd is made the basis of selection for the control of the education in public schools, so will the conditions control for the survival of the unfit in secondary education. The methods of education will continue to come and go at the cost perhaps of the loss of the national soul of the people.
This condition in our education as a whole has been criticised by Professor Laurie, who states that “ America is an uneducated country as we now understand education. It possesses no national system; it has not even the machinery whereby education could be given in the sense which it is given in Great Britain or Germany.” These are rather hard words for those who take pride in their country. Such a criticism from one of Professor Laurie's standing cannot be cast aside lightly, but yet our hope is that a remedy may be found in our higher institutions which are striving, in spite of the tendency of survival of the unfit, to aid in the great work of saving our country for the future. The tendency in America to appeal to the public is seen by Munsterburg, to be one of our serious problems, for he says: “A child who has himself the right of choice, or who sees that parents and teachers select the courses according to his tastes and inclinations, may learn a thousand pretty things, but never the one which is greatest of all: to do his duty. He who is allowed always to follow the paths of least resistance never develops the power to overcome resistance; he remains utterly unprepared for life. To do what we like to do that needs no pedagogical encouragement : water always runs down hill. Our whole public and social life shows the working of this impulse and our institutions outbid one another in catering to the taste of the public. The school alone has the power to develop the opposite tendency, to encourage and train the belief in duties and obligations, to inspire devotion to better things than those to which we are drawn by our instincts. Yes, water runs down hill all the time; and yet all the earth were sterile and dead if water could not ascend again to the clouds, and supply rain to the field which brings us the harvest. We see only the streams going down to the ocean, we do not see how the ocean sends up
6 American traits, p. 69.
the water to bless our fields. Just so do we see in the streams of life the human emotions following the impulses down to selfishness and pleasure and enjoyment, but we do not see how the human emotions ascend again to the ideals,-ascend in feelings of duty and enthusiasm; and yet without this upward movement our fields were dry, our harvest lost. That invisible work is the sacred mission of the school; it is the school that must raise man's mind from his likings to his belief in duties, from his instincts to his ideals, that art and science, national honor and morality, friendship and religion, may spring from the ground and blossom.”
Fortunately for the supply of rain definite laws control the source, but whether Providence will supply the pedagogical source is a serious problem for the educational world. The elective studies, if restricted to the group system, or if the soul of the institution is such that the highest ideals are in control, may be successful in many ways.
To simply conclude that because the Declaration of Independence should state “that all men are created free and equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” does not necessarily lead one to conclude that a self-chosen course of instruction, largely along the lines of least resistance, will develop men equipped for their work in life. Again this survival of the unfit has attracted the attention of our humorous philosopher, Mr. Dooley, who says in his characteristic way, in speaking of the student's entrance into college: “Th' prisidint takes him into a Turkish room, gives him a cigareet, an' says: “Me dear boy, what special branch iv larnin' wud ye like to have studied f'r ye be our compitint professors?'”
The introduction of a fad in education results from this tendency to introduce into studies of the schools anything which may appeal to the people in its novelty. Whether it has any reason for being introduced is seldom considered.
Redway' states: “When we are willing to admit that the development of a sturdy moral character is the one essential end of education, and that the cultivation of the other faculties is a secondary matter which may be approached from many sides, and by a legion of methods, there will be fewer opportunities for the fad in education to become an epidemic. One may foist an imitation of his own ways upon another, but in doing so he destroys individuality without giving anything in the place of it—no matter whether the relations be those of principal and assistant, or teacher and pupil. No advance steps are beneficial to an individual, a class, a people, or a race that do not flow from a natural growth of the mind or from a self-conviction as to their needs. The greatest problem in education, therefore, is not so much the unmasking of fundamental principles as the discovery of the conditions and rate of their assimilation. When we have mastered this problem, rational processes will not be apt to degenerate into fads.”
Here we have another instance of the survival of the unfit. Yet how many ever think that when a fad is introduced to add to the burdens of their children in many cases it has no educational value whatever? If the fad is suggested, it is associated with such ideals that it appeals to the parents and they do not hesitate to pass a favorable opinion upon it without the least thought upon the matter. When we hear the praisemonger tell us of our system of education we pride ourselves that it is a progressive one, yet a recognized authority * tells us that “If the teachers could make the schools what they themselves desire, there would not be the necessity for so much discussion about educational reform. What we need is a reform in the public opinion of the average American. Common schools is a splendid term ; 'common’ is a splendid word. But there is such a thing as commonplace, and, in general, what we need in our schools on the part of parents and the community is a higher average standard as to what they have a right to expect of the schools, teachers, and governing boards."
* EDUCATIONAL REVIEW, II, p. 181. 8 A. B. Hart, EDUCATIONAL Review, 13, p. 484.
We cannot but feel that great improvement is necessary before the system of education will educate. The citizen must awaken to the fact that the expenditure of large sums of money does not necessarily insure the best of education. The duty of supplying the finances is only the basis of the great work. Responsible men who realize what responsibility is, are also necessary. Responsibility to many simply means privilege to develop their hobbies. The great need of the day is the realization of the citizens that they are responsible for the schools of our country and that they should be taught by and under the control of responsible men. When our people can be made to see the great cost of this lack of interest and its future danger, then the future of the schools will be brighter.
The lack of interest on the part of the public has given many of the schools into the hands of irresponsible persons. As an illustration of this condition we have the following statement: “With all deference to the faithful and conscientious ones, in many instances the school fund is being wantonly and unrighteously wasted. Men and women who have made a failure of their own lives and enterprises are to-day occupying these positions. Men engaged in managing the organizations of the different political parties have undertaken to control appointments in the interests of their party machines, and the downright scoundrels have infested the school organization in some places for the sake of plunder. It is this deplorable state of affairs that is driving democratic American into the arms of the bureaucrat." These are hard words for those who have the future inter
• Hughes, The making of citizens, p. 150.
ests of our country at heart. Yet can we say that they are not true? In many places, no doubt, they are not true, but when we study the political measures which the public allow with indifference to be a part of the selection of their school superintendents are we not in a position to read something like the following: 10 “ The school superintendent, like all other American institutions, varies enormously. He is often merely an artful politician, a skillful wire-puller, and absolutely destitute of any educational qualification for his high post. He devotes a small portion of his time to his work, and his main interest in the school is concerned with helping his political friends. But of that type of superintendent we will say nothing more here. We would rather devote our attention to the skilled experts who are generally found at the head of a large city organization. Too often their tenure of office is as uncertain as that of the teacher, and the wonder is that these distinguished men are content to fill such precarious posts.”
Those who have seen the selection made by various cities of superintendents of their schools cannot but feel that there is much truth in such a statement. We must not imagine, however, that such conditions are favorable to the production of expert teachers. It has been stated in a recent report that teachers are bred not born. One cannot be attracted by unfavorable conditions for development, by low salaries and lack of appreciation, and the result is that it is doubtful whether the teachers who are educated for teaching remain in their chosen work for any length of time. The professional life of the teacher in America is said to average five years, while that of the country teacher is two years. At a period in the child's life which can be made of such lasting value if proper instruction is given, is it not a wrong to the child and to the nation's future that the schools do not receive attention from those who are responsible? Does not such a condition appeal to us and show us that the best fitted for the work of teaching leave the field for other occupations? Henderson " tells us that “ One cannot be in the world any great length of time without com
10 Ibid., p. 154. 11 Education and the larger life, p. 72.