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think, that every one of the subjects can be covered in the time allotted, but that in the majority of them the allotment is scanty rather than generous; that is, to complete the work in the time assigned, high pressure is necessary. Possibly it would be true to say that almost any one of the subjects could be covered comfortably in the time specified, provided too great demands were not made on the pupil's time and strength in other directions. It makes a great difference whether a pupil can give two hours or only one to the preparation of a lesson, and every class teacher knows that he can do better work and cover more ground with his classes, if the demands in other directions are not too great. It makes a difference, also, , whether the pupil's attention and energy are concentrated on three or four subjects, or scattered over seven or eight. The trouble is that our requirements have been shaped by specialists whose interest has been in the subject rather than in the student, and frequently, it would appear, the demands made in other directions have not been fully realized.
We have seen that the 16 point requirement which we have been considering is based on the expectation of 80 periods of high pressure work, that is, 20 periods a week for four years. Now the question of how many recitations per week a student can wisely carry is largely a local issue. It depends on a great variety of circumstances, and the number varies in different schools. In general, however, where the number of recitations is larger than normal, the amount of preparation expected is smaller, and the ground covered in each recitation is less. It means that more of the work is done in class and less outside, not that more work is done in the same time. A school with 25 recitations a week would have to devote proportionately more periods to algebra or Greek than a school with 20 recitations a week, so that the argument which fits one scale will apply with equal force, tho with changed figures, to the other.
The Committee of Ten prescribed 20 periods a week as the proper number, but I recall that a chorus of protest went up from schoolmasters, many of whom claimed that 15 was nearer the proper mark. Count on 20 recitations a week, say five in Latin, five in Greek or physics, and the remaining 10 divided among mathematics, history, English and a modern language, the work in each study being planned on the basis of the total time allowance given above. Of course, it can be done—we are doing all sorts of unwise things in our schools—but I doubt if you can find a schoolmaster who feels that it is wisely done.
Two or three points should be noted in passing. The Committee of Ten named 20 periods per week, but expressly stipulated that this was to be the maximum, not the normal, number, and also further stated that where the full number of periods was given, at least five of the 20 should be unprepared. It appears to be the assumption of the colleges where they consider the matter at all—that they may reasonably frame requirements demanding 20 prepared recitations a week. I have no hesitation in asserting that the required work cannot be done in the number of periods assigned to each subject if one quarter of the assigned periods are given to unprepared recitations. On the strength of the Committee of Ten's report, the colleges are demanding what the Committee of Ten never dreamed of authorizing.
In the second place, if the maximum number of recitations that a pupil can carry must be given to the bare college requirements, what opportunity is left for drawing, music, manual training, elocution, penmanship or spelling, some at least of which have a place in the education of youth? College requirements leave small time for anything else.
Still another point that should be considered is the proportion of the required work that must be done in the last two years. It cannot be evenly divided between the four years, partly because so much of the work calls for the maturity of the later years, and partly because it must be kept fresh for the college examinations. For instance, history may very advantageously be studied in the first year of the school course, but to meet the standard set up in history by the College Entrance Examination Board is too great a task for the powers of a first-year student, and even if he could accomplish it successfully, he could not hold it in memory and be ready for an examination two years later. The result is that the work is congested in the last two years. It has to be done with greater intensity, and it is necessary to carry too many subjects abreast. It was forcibly pointed out a year ago by one of our own number that whereas the colleges generally will not allow their freshman to pursue more than four or five studies at most at the same time, they force the sub-freshman, the younger, less capable schoolboy, to carry six, seven, or eight studies abreast. It is a menace to thoro scholarship, and it is a crime to the student. I firmly believe that one great cause of the pressure of college entrance requirements is the number of subjects that the pupils are compelled to carry at the same time. The quantity of work is too great, and it is made worse by being spread over too many subjects.
Thus far in this discussion, you may have noticed, I have spoken of nothing but a four years' course.
The two questions naturally suggest themselves: Would not the difficulty be obviated by the establishment of a six year high school course? and, Is not the trouble done away with in private schools where such a course is feasible? To these questions I reply, first, that we have to deal with things as they are, not as they might be, or even as they may be. The four year high school course is what we have; a large proportion of college students are prepared in the public high schools, and it is probable that in the future the proportion will become larger instead of smaller. If this is the case, the question as to what the colleges may rightly demand must be considered with reference to what can be done in a four year course. In the second place, I reply that, while the conditions in schools fortunate enough to have a five or six year course may be slightly easier, yet the difference is not as great as might be imagined, and even in those schools the pressure is still beyond all reason. The mortality may be somewhat less than in high schools where a high grade of scholarship is maintained, and where the number of students dropped, simply because they cannot maintain the pace, is something appalling, but the fact remains that even in the most fortunately situated schools the pressure is altogether too great. That is a fact, not a theory, and the reason is not far to seek. Simply beginning subjects one or two years earlier does not put pupils that much farther ahead, for the work must be done more slowly and less maturely. It has been found by experience in more than one school that students beginning a subject later frequently catch up in a comparatively short time with those who begin considerably earlier. There is a gain in beginning some subjects earlier, and there is a distinct gain in avoiding the abrupt and awkward transition from grammar to high school. There is a decided relief from pressure in the years corresponding to the first and second years of the high school, and there is some relief in the later years, but it is by no means great enough to solve the problem. The reason is chat much of the work demanded by the present college requirements calls for a degree of maturity that does not exist before the later years, and therefore cannot be done before that time. No arrangement of a course of study, no beginning of Latin and geometry earlier, has yet succeeded in making a sixteen year old mind eighteen years of age.
The situation is practically identical in both classes of schools. We are both of us confronted with an amount of work that we cannot do properly in the time allowed, and that the student cannot accomplish with the best results to himself.
Briefly stated, the substance of what I have tried to say is this. The requirements of the colleges to which we send our students vary from 13 to 17 points. In order to meet their demands our courses must cover at least 16 points. That is calculated by the colleges to require 20 periods of work for four years. The allowance of time for the individual subjects is in some cases fair, tho not generous, while in others it is decidedly inadequate. Almost any one of the required subjects can be covered in the time allowed, provided the demands in other directions are not too great, but the sum total of them all is more than the ordinary boy or girl can wisely or reasonably be expected to carry.
That is the thesis that I set out to maintain.
Thus far I have discussed the subject in a somewhat technical manner, dealing with points, periods, and other peculiarities of our professional jargon, and I have done this because,
as I said at the beginning, I want to rest the case not on a basis of assertion and opinion, but on a foundation of fact. It has been a difficult thing to do, for our educational system is not uniform, and it is not easy to find a common denominator for our varying school courses. At the same time whether a program calls for 15 or for 25 periods a week, and whether a course is four years or six years long, I think that the argument is sound in principle, and that the same line of reasoning, with changed figures, will apply with equal force to nearly all cases. College entrance requirements are too great in quantity. Our experience tells us that our pupils are trying to do too much, and an analysis of the situation shows us where the trouble lies.
The result of this is an unreasonably high pressure in our schools, and this pressure in its turn is producing certain definite effects. It is one cause of the great mortality in our high grade schools. The number of pupils “ dropped ” in some of our schools is beyond all reason, and while this is by no means the only cause, one of the potent factors in producing this result is found in the college entrance requirements. Another result is the crowding out of subjects and of work that are of great importance in a well-rounded educational scheme. Personally I lay less stress on this than on some other considerations, but still it carries decided weight.
The great evil, however, resulting from the excessive entrance requirements of the colleges, is found in the serious congestion, especially in the last two years of the course. Too many subjects have to be carried at the same time, and too much ground has to be covered in each subject. The student's mind is distracted by the number of studies among which he has to divide his attention, and the quantity of work to be covered is so great that proper assimilation is impossible. Quality is sacrificed to quantity. Here we touch the heart of the whole question. We are not pleading that our labor as teachers may be lightened; we are not concerned chiefly that our pupils may have an easier time; we are striving to send into college the best prepared pupils possible. That does not mean those best fitted to pass examinations or those who have