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cast-iron committees find themselves appointed to report on some subject which has no new fresh interest for them, and they do not see how to begin fresh work. We do not want any more reports on such general topics as high schools, or private schools, or co-education, or moral education, or educational psychology, but we do want specialized reports which focus the whole mind of the sub-committees on some special topic, within those more general topics such as in the domain of moral education) the freedom of the will in the light of Ribot's work on “The Diseases of the Will”; or (in the domain of educational psychology) the effect of committing to memory by the so-called aids or arts of memory; or on the formation of logical habits of thinking; or the best method of cultivating a convenient memory for names; the true remedy for duplicate registration of pupils attending both winter and summer schools, a duplication which is common in most of the State school reports ; on a legitimate mode of interesting the people in electing good members to the school board ; on the proper
l manner of securing the interest of the public press in the good features of the public schools; on the effect of the private schools in raising or lowering the standard of respectability in the profession of teaching; on the best method of securing literary and scientific culture in a corps of teachers. No one of these topics would do for a second report; no one of them would do for a first report made by members of the council not interested in it. The volunteer system is the only system for round-table work. It would be best generally to concentrate attention, and guide it by having a report made upon some particular book like Lange's work on Apperception, or Mrs. Jacobi's book on Science and Language Study.
The general work of the Association, as a whole, should go on in deep ruts, but the special work of the departments should be specialized and always fresh and new. This will take care of itself if there be a sufficiency of these small groups encouraged. Perhaps there are only four persons in the entire nation interested in some special topic. The National Association, with its facilities for cheap transportation and cheap board, furnishes the best opportunity each year for the meeting of these four persons, or any other similarly interested four persons. Perhaps the attraction of the particular interest would not be sufficient to draw together the four specialists. But the National Association adds a host of other attractions, and in the aggregate these are strong enough to prevail.
We wish to produce as many growing teachers as possible, -as many as possible who each year have found fresh leads and have distanced their former selves.
It seems to me, therefore, quite doubtful whether the division of the National Association into sectional associations, with which it alternates biennially, would not be rather a step backward. It would perhaps break the continuity which is essential as a kind of background on which the specialization which we have discussed can best take place. It will cer
tainly make the familiar faces that meet us from year to year, coming from a great distance, -as in the present meeting, from Colorado and Texas,it will make these faces less familiar to us, and different sections of the Union will be in less direct sympathy than formerly.
If I have studied aright this problem, it is not the General Association that is in need of reform, but only the departments. These departments, instead of breaking away from the type of the General Association, as they should do, are imitating its organization when they ought to devote themselves to developing and fostering voluntary sub-committees or round tables devoted to special work.
The General Association, with its wide scope, its great masses, its distinguished personalities, its cheap fares, its entertaining tours, and its spectacle of great combination, and, lastly, with the great interest and substantial tributes of respect which it elicits from the business men of all parts of the country, and from the world in general outside the scholastic field,—the General Association, with these reasons for being, should continue as it is.
PRES. G. STANLEY HALL expressed his appreciation of the views set forth by Dr. Harris. He thought that waste might be avoided were this body to adopt some of the methods pursued by scientific academies in this country and in Europe, and referred in particular to some degree of specialization in studies of educational subjects, instancing as good examples: Canfield's admirabıle studies of the Relations between the State and the High School in each State in the Union ; Draper's Study of the Early History of Schools in New York State; Greenwood's Studies of Children, which had attracted attention in Europe ; Hartwell's admirable monograph on Physical Training; Blackmar on State Aid to Higher Education ; Knight on Land Grants ; Howard's Evolution of the University ; Key's School and Health, etc., etc. There is no reason why, besides the mass meeting element, which is indispensable in the National Association, the sections should not be organized for far more effective work than now. Very much of the energy of this Association is wasted by threshing old straw, by random work, by people who have no conception of the best that has been said and done in their own subject. Nothing is more demoralizing and wasteful than to hear a half-hour paper of this sort. There is no association of teachers in the world so badly organized in this respect as those in this country. Even the French and German method of having one preannounced subject for an entire day and footing up the conclusions of the meeting in the form of a syllabus or resolutions, makes their reports more interesting and more valuable than ours. We should also have, in
smaller circles or round tables, little groups of those interested in special topics, like psychology, geography, school hygiene, etc., to work and confer at unoccupied hours, and on a special plan, by methods somewhat like those employed in pedagogical seminaries in Europe.
DR. E. E. White, of Ohio, supposed that the purpose of the discussion was to determine what changes, if any, were now needed in the organization and management of the National Educational Association. The changes suggested in the able paper, to which all bad listened with so much interest, relate to details of administration. The special lines of inquiry and investigation suggested by Dr. Harris can all be provided for in the several departments now organized, and, if necessary, new departments
, can be added. The several departments of the Association were originally organized for the consideration of topics of special interest to their membership. This has been overlooked in some instances. What is needed is more specialization in these departments.
He was pleased to observe that no radical change in the organization of the General Association is recommended in the paper. The changes needed here relate to administration, and the most important of these relate to the program. It is easy to criticise a program when made, but it is not so easy to make a program that is above criticism. All will agree that no man should be asked as a compliment to himself or his locality to read a paper in the Association. The men who have something to say worthy of such a hearing should be sought out and called to this duty. The topics discussed should be vital topics,-topics of special present interest. What is needed is light, not rhetoric or declamation.
. One of these vital topics is moral training in the public schools,-a topic that needs to be discussed in a philosophic manner. Moral training should be placed on as sure a psychological basis as intellectual training.
Hon. J. H. SHINN, of Arkansas, said : That so far as he was qualified to speak upon the paper of the learned Commissioner of Education, he should speak as an indorser and not as a critic. That the discussion so far had really added nothing to the paper in comprehension and hardly anything by extension. Dr. Harris asks us to continue the general work of the Association as it has been managed from the beginning, and to make the specialization of the departments still more special and possibly more thorough. So far as I have been correct in my diagnosis of the general work of the Association, so far I fully agree with the paper. The great general work of the National Association should go on in the same trend with a certain deepening of the ruts. Deepen the enthusiasm,-deepen the general regard,—deepen the educational ferment. Take the language of the doctor and make it a watchword : “On as we are, only deepen the ruts.” As an addition he would suggest that the departments take on the special tint of special work and go deeper into the scientific natur, of
the great problems underlying the general work. He suggested as an additional work for the N. E. A. the gathering together at the end of each twenty-five years the particular papers upon special questions, and a generalization thereof by a committee specially appointed thereto. That this generalization, with all proper limitations, be published as the work of the Association and sold at the least price to teachers of the country. He thought that this would add to the real power of the Association and make it a surer multiple of good.
MR. W. R. GARRETT, State Superintendent of Tennessee, and President of the National Association: Mr. President,- I did not expect to address the Department, but I cannot refuse to respond to your invitation.
When your program announced that the Commissioner of Education would read a paper upon “The National Association : its Organization and Functions," I looked forward with much interest and some anxiety to the expression of his opinions, for I know the weight which they carry with all our members and with the whole country. I have listened to him to-night with pleasure and satisfaction.
The clear and comprehensive view which he has presented of the Association and its functions, and the philosophical analysis which he has made of the elements of its usefulness, leave but little to be said by others. In his estimates of the relative value of its several elements, I do not think he has ranked the social features too high. Among the social features I understand him to include the excursion feature. Those who have been regular attendants upon our meetings have now travelled to every portion of the United States. I need not enlarge upon the pleasure of this feature to its members, or the benefit toʻthe cause of education.
Why do ten thousand members attend our meetings ? Why has this Association grown to be the largest, the grandest educational body in the world ? It is because the members find in its meetings something which they need. It is because they love the Association. It is because it reaches their hearts as well as their heads.
It is sometimes urged that the work is too general in its character; that it does not possess the definite and specific value of the work of some European societies. There is some force in this objection. I think that we should give heed to it.
Our departments are, however, becoming more special and technical in their work. The General Association can never do this sort of work, and ought not to do it. It has a grander purpose. It is a mass meeting. It is the foundation. Upon this foundation the various departments rest. I favor the introduction of special and technical work into the several departments, and the establishment of such other departments as may be needed to provide for more special work.
It is also argued tbat too much repetition is found in the papers read before the Association. Possibly there may be some force in the objection ; yet, if true, it is not fatal. We are not a society of inventors. We are an association for the diffusion of knowledge. It is not necessary that everything which is brought before us should be either a fresh theory in philosophy, never before presented to the public, or a brand new system of “new education."
It is also objected that papers, or addresses, or expressions, sometimes find their way into the proceedings of the Association which are not purely intellectual, but which betray some taint of sentiment or rhetoric. Fortunately this is true. I believe in rhetoric, so far as rhetoric means feeling or sentiment. I do not believe in bombast. I believe the great body of our members agree with me. From the human breast thought and impulse spring forth in one mingled ray as inseparably interwoven as the light and heat of the sun. We argue, as teachers, that the whole boy must be sent to school. It is even more true of the man. In voluntary schools the whole man must go to school. He is there with his head and his heart. Let both be addressed.
It is sometimes urged that the Association is becoming unwieldy, and will fall to pieces of its own weight. I do not fear its falling to pieces as long as ten thousand members attend its meetings. In the great law of growth and decay, we have not yet reached the period of decay.
It has been suggested that the Association should, of its own volition, divide into several sectional bodies, with annual meetings, from which delegates should be sent to a national body. This would convert our great national mass meeting into a body of delegates. I think there should be a national body of delegates, but not at the expense of our mass meeting. I should be willing to see a new department organized, to be known as the Department of Delegates, and which should consist of delegates from the several State Teachers' Associations and from other organized educational bodies, under such regulations as this Association might provide. Such a department could meet with us at the same time as the Council, or could hold separate meetings similar to those of the Department of Superintendence, and could do useful work in reflecting, assimilating, and formulating current educational sentiment. I am not willing to abandon our organization to effect these lesser objects.
This Association is a growth. It did not spring full-grown into being. It has grown by successive steps. At one of its early meetings only three members were present. At many of its meetings the attendance was small. Why has it now grown to be the grandest educational body in the world ? It has grown because it has supplied a want; because it has adapted itself to the tastes of the educational public. It has grown from a teachers' association to be an educational association. It is a national association, and performs a work which no sectional association can perform.