Page images

doses. The very extensiveness of the modern text, however, has made the proper treatment of the subject difficult, and suitable projects hard to define. Prof. Caldwell of Ohio State University, as he himself says, instead of urging more space devoted to electricity, as might be expected of an electrical engineer, has expressed his wish for an elimination of some of the material, and more time given to the simplest fundamentals such as Ohm's law. Here is the basis for the given electrical group-project.

Take another example, the often mentioned and much slighted universal law of the conservation of energy. The law is usually a great monument to man's insight into the absolute, towering alone in a desert of dry physical facts. Occasionally the text may naively suggest that such and such a thing might have been expected from the law, but more often it does not. Why not connect it up, as it should be, with moments and levers, work and efficiency, and all its related topics so as to make it a vital matter, the product of a definite project? In no other way can the pupil develop a real working knowledge of physics. In no other way can the knowledge be made part and parcel of the pupil, and in so doing the method of physics will have made decided progress.

[graphic][ocr errors]

American Notes—Editorial

As the new school year opens every teacher might well become introspective, and, among other things, ask "which shall it be, this year, between me and my pupils, sympathy or antagonism? The answer will depend upon the individual. Those who are honest and frank will soliloquize as follows: I know that my pupils will frequently try my patience. Often they will be exasperatingly dull and unresponsive. Some of them will be mischievous, or worse. Many of them will be frivolous and careless. They will be largely unappreciative of what I am trying to do for them. They will constantly do things in the wrong way and try to shift the blame upon someone else. That someone will often be myself. I shall want to scold and punish them. I shall be sorely tempted to grow sour and disgusted with teaching. Can I bear and resist all these distresses? Can I be patient and sweet-tempered and unselfish,-always looking upon the bright side, seeing through the present clouds to the coming sunshine,—to the time when these boys and girls will become men and women and rise up and call me blessed ?

Such is the alternative that is set before the teacher as he or she sets out upon the new school year. Would that each one could clearly see the magnitude of the issue, the certainty of the success or failure that waits upon discernment, self-mastery, patient continuance in well-doing, and consecration of self to the work of building character that shall stand every test in the hot crucible of life!

It is absolutely necessary to success that the teacher should realize that the pupils' viewpoint is entirely different from the teacher's. They are unexperienced and have not yet mastered their own powers nor do they understand them; they are largely obedient to impulse arising out of undisciplined emotions. They have to learn largely by experience. Telling is not teaching. Prohibition is not teaching. Punishment is often worse than useless. It does not remedy the fault, in the majority of instances, nor change the consequences. We do not argue for its entire abolishment; but the reform or improvement wrought by it is superficial and temporary and external to the real, inner character of the child; and oftentimes it results in a secret, sullen rebellion of spirit, and in a hatred of the one who inflicts it and of the institution that is back of it, and of the very process of schooling with which it is indelibly associated.

The teacher's mightiest tool in building character is sympathy. The child learns chiefly by experience directed by love. The teacher's opportunity is supreme, to hold and direct and develop through

loving sympathy and understanding of the needs of the struggling, untutored, often unloved and unappreciated child, coming to school, perhaps, from a sordid, barren home life, struggling against hereditary handicaps, often rebellious, often discouraged, often at fault and excessively trying,—but yet an immortal spirit with limitless possibilities of good as well as evil. This is the drama of school life. We must get our hold upon these immortals, and keep it, mainly through love. Power sufficient for these things comes not through knowledge but through sympathy. In the saving atmosphere of this sympathetic understanding of their struggles, temptations, failures and remorses, they are held back from despair and learn by experience,—the greatest of all teachers. Adults long to help the young to find a short-cut to a right life. We try to tell them the way to health, happiness and success; or to drive them into it. But nature has decreed that they must learn things chiefly at first hand. Not to realize this truth is fatal to the teacher's or the parent's influence over our boys and girls. This is the rock upon which thousands of loving hopes and ambitions has suffered shipwreck. By comradeship, by silent sympathy, by “watchful waiting”, by inextinguishable love we shall make our service of value and our own satisfaction with our work will be imperishable.

An exceptionally interesting and valuable Conference of educators was called together in June by the United States Commissioner of Education, Hon. Philander Člaxton, and met at Washington for an entire week's deliberations, forenoon, afternoon and evening. The Editor can only present here a brief "reaction” to the impressions of this Conference, which was attended by various educational leaders, such as State and County Superintendents of Education, Heads of Normal Schools and Departments of Education in Universities, Governors of States, Ministers of Foreign Governments to the United States, Officials of some of the great educational Foundations, representatives of the educational Press, etc. The larger aspects of public education were fully and freely discussed, and reports were made at different meetings, by high authorities, on educational conditions and ideals in other countries. Nearly every meeting was presided over by some distinguished educator or statesman or foreign plenipotentiary. The discussions were of a high order and the general impression of the conference was such as could but enhance the estimate of those in attendance of the value of education, and of the sure fact that its progress in all parts of the world is keeping pace with the rest of the great

- interests of civilization, and that it is coming to be regarded as the

one interest of supreme importance, the one that underlies and underwrites all other great enterprises of mankind.

An idea that was made very prominent throughout all the meetings was one that at first thought "jarred” a little upon the hearer's higher ideals until it had been carefully thought through,-after which it came clearer and seemed to be true and essential. This was the idea that education is a commodity that is vendible, that has its price and that we must convince the public they must buy on the same terms and conditions as any other commodity that ministers to their essential needs; the public must be shown that they must not only pay for education, but that the quality of the commodity will correspond with the price they pay for it; if they get it cheap they must expect to get a cheap brand; if they want the best, they must pay the price that the best demands. There is no dodging this unerring commercial condition and law.

Accordingly, many ways were discussed for getting the public away from the conception that someone owes it to them to give them, without money and without price, this most valuable of all products,—an education, for themselves and their children. A large movement was inaugurated to utilize the Press, throughout the entire country,—the big magazines, the dailies, the country weeklies, the educational press, the class journals like the Y. M. C. A. papers and the Red Cross magazine, -in short the whole available output of the people's printing offices in all languages,—to carry the message to all the millions of our citizens that the greatest and most valuable commodity upon the American market is American education; and to urge them to accept the very best quality thereof, and to pay for the same, for the sake of themselves, their children and their country.

This discussion, and all the doings at this great Convention, will not evaporate. It will crystalize in concrete action and has already done so-especially the movement to enlist the public press in a wide campaign of activity in behalf of education.

Dr. Claxton received the unqualified commendation of everybody for his sagacity and energy in organizing and carrying out the movement in such a large way. It was indeed an education and an inspiration to meet with so many leaders of thought and originators of action in such a great field of human endeavor; and the general public will share in the gains of these earnest and profound deliberations.

The Department of Education which opens in the Yale Graduate School this month under the supervision of Frank E. Spaulding, Ph. D., LL. D., will concern itself largely with the training of educational executives superintendents, supervisors and principals. The courses offered are practical courses of graduate grade, open as a rule only to those of some experience, who either already hold executive positions, or are preparing for such positions. As textbooks constitute by far the most important educational material, a prominent feature of several courses will be the analysis and study of texts, to determine standards in accordance with which texts should be selected and used. The Department will co-operate with educational publishers in guiding school and college officials in the selection of the desired text material. Specifically, the Department is inviting publishers to put on deposit with the Department, sample copies of elementary and high school textbooks. Basal texts are especially solicited but any books designed for school use will be of service. Catalogues and descriptive literature, especially briefs setting forth the characteristics of given texts, are also desired; all of which texts and accompanying literature will be given a prominent place in the Departmental library.

It is always an inspiring sight, which never loses its interest and impressiveness, when a whole audience rises and stands, uncovered, -with reverent attention,-as the last piece is played by band or orchestra, at all sorts of in-door and out-of-door concerts and entertainments,-in recognition of and in deference to “The Star Spangled Banner.” How many thoughts and emotions spring up in mind and heart, at such times! How seldom is anything apparent, even in the most miscellaneous throng, that is irreverent or even unappreciative! Who can measure the influence of this simple act, which is so representative of true “Americanism ?”

« PreviousContinue »