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discussion brought out vividly the points of the paper, and by vigorous opposition or defence aroused the powers of the weakling. The vigorous oral debate has here its tremendous advantages over the printed paper read in the educational periodicals.
We have not mentioned the advantage of personal contact of mind with mind. In these gatherings the young teacher sees those who have grown old in the service and who have acquired reputation for their work. He meets his equals and measures their ideals by his own. He learns to see the details of his profession from many different points of view. The impression derived from the printed page differs from that derived from personal conversation. Each has its advantages. The personal impression is more stimulating and provocative of imitation. The cool study of the printed paper leads to deeper self-activity. Both are useful, -nay, indispensable.
It is obvious that for this personal lesson upon the teacher our recent large associations are far more valuable than the small gatherings of the early date ; where three hundred met then, now we have three thousand. The visitor to the Association now sees ten times the number of eminent teachers, and rejoices in a tenfold opportunity for profit.
I do not think that I overestimate the value of this feature of the Educational Association when I call it one-half. On this basis I shall call the direct aid received from the essays and papers read one-fourth ; the direct aid from the debates and discussions, one-fourth ; the direct aid from personal conversation with and observation of fellow-members of the convention, eminent persons, and otherwise, this,—and the benefit of observation on that section of the country into which the Association takes the visitor, amounts to one-half the direct aid that he gets at the Association.
Since 1870 the Association has been in process of forming departments for the further specialization of work. It has done this partly by absorbing existing associations devoted to special work, and partly by forming new departments direct.
It absorbed the normal school and superintendents' associations, and in after years successively the departments of (a) higher instruction, (6) elementary instruction, (c) industrial education, (d) the National Council of Education, (e) the kindergarten, (f) of art education, (g) music instruction, and (h) secondary instruction; thus making ten departments in all. There has been since 1884 an educational exposition, which may be called the eleventh department.
Since these departments provide for the much-needed specialization of work, and furnish a counterpoise to the mighty swing of the general meetings of the Association, their influence is salutary. There is no doubt that much more can be done in this direction. There should be a department that unites those interested in the study of child life ; another that unites the specialists who are at work in the mastery of foreign systems of education ; one for students of the Herbartian educational experiments,
-those that make so much of Robinson Crusoe as a centre of school work, and whose great word is “apperception.” Those who have read the educational essay that has made so much noise in England, and which bears the absurd title of “A Pot of Green Feathers,” I need not say, are already interested in this question of apperception, as the very centre of educacational psychology. The doctrine of apperception, briefly stated, is this : We not only perceive or see objects, but we recognize or apperceive them. When we apperceive we relate what we see to what we already knew before, -we sometimes call this inward digestion of what we see. Now education, it is evident enough, deals with this matter of recognizing or assimilating (apperceiving) the new material learned by relating it to what we knew before.
If a department of psychology were formed that held two meetings at each annual session, I doubt not that it would soon prepare some work which would gladly be given a place on the program of the General Association, and certainly before it secured a place on the general program it would get into the old departments of elementary instruction or normal instruction, or into the superintendents' section or some other.
I would lay emphasis on the specializing of work indefinitely. Apart from the National Association such specializing would have its danger; but in the Association it at once adds strength and gains strength. There could be a department of statistical study, wherein the few specialists who are interested in the science of statistics, in the new sense which is coming to be accentuated by sociologists, conld confer together round a table. Round-table discussions over specialties is in my opinion what is needed to introduce a new fountain of vitality into the Association. Not that the Association is failing in vitality, for it never had so much at any former period as it has now. But this new element of specialization is a new element of vitality which may make the annual visit twice as valuable as it has been hitherto. I have mentioned by way of examples of these round-table departments,--those that should study child life, foreign systems of education (say French, German, English, Chinese, etc.), or pedagogical movements like that of the Herbartians, or, again, educational psychology, or statistics. I would add other examples of specialization. Let the specialists in teaching English literature have a round table; the specialists in teaching ancient history or modern history or the philosophy of history; the specialists in teaching French or any modern language ; those specially interested in teaching fractions or any other part of arithmetic. These round-table discussions could be called for any year. They could not be expected to discuss the same subject for two consecutive years. Here is just the trouble with our present departments. They have worked over the material ready to hand, and have no new material in the process of making. The Council of Education has formed a list of committees on a variety of subjects and stereotyped it once for all. The members of those
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 ths formation of logical habits of thinking; or the best method of cultivating a convenient memory for dames; 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 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 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 admirable 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 had 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
a 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