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as "Motives," "Hereditary Environment,” “Relation of School-Work to Citizenship," "The State's Duty to the Feeble-Minded," "The Science of Ethics,” etc.
Of the sectional meetings, two studied the history of education, one following Rosenkranz's outline of educational systems; another group broadened their interests and their sympathies by a study of German literature. All this work was in addition to the discussion of the common, every-day problems of the schoolroom. I mention this instance because it seems to me an ideal form of institute work for professional teachers and because the benefits of this system have been remarked by so many educators.
But, as the non-professional class of teachers is the larger, and as their need is greater, so the work of the institute for non-professional teachers is more important, and what follows relates to this form of institute work.
What, then, should the institute do for teachers ? Among the most important uses of institutes are:
1. To enable teachers to gain and regain scholarship. This is not to say that academic work should occupy the greater part of the time in institutes. It is not to say that teachers have a right to demand that the work of the institute be so planned that they may acquire a knowledge of any subject from the foundation. But it is the legitimate work of the institute to make knowledge of a subject richer and fuller; to review and emphasize the salient points of the subjects under discussion. There are two good reasons for this view: First, without this knowledge-drill it is difficult to make institute work profitable or interesting to the comparatively untrained teachers in attendance. Second, academic instruction supplies the best of illustrative material for more strictly professional work.
Another reason might be given. An institute conductor or instructor rarely presents to his class a lesson on the principles of percentage, or evolution, or the drainage system of a continent, or phrase modifiers, or any other important topic familiar to institute workers, but, that, for some in his classes, the lesson is the first scientific development of the subject that has come within their experience. And yet with our present status such persons may be, and often are, teachers. They are distinctly the gainers by the presentation of the important points in the academic branches with which they have to do.
Institute reviews are beneficial to teachers, also, in that they restore elements of knowledge which had sunk below the level of consciousness, and so had become unavailable for teaching purposes. A good illustration of this is found in the case of a teacher engaged in routine work within rather narrow limits, as in intermediate work. Such teachers have often said to me that they felt themselves losers by the fading out from consciousness of the elements of scholarship formerly possessed. To such the academic work of the institute is an intellectual tonic and restorative.
I have said so much concerning this question because it is a much mooted point. From a study of the question on its merits, from observation, and a somewhat extended experience, I am convinced that it is unwise to attempt to banish academic work from the institute; that instruction from the knowledge standpoint given by a master is not only a legitimate part of institute work, but is almost indispensable for reaching the best results.
II. The second and the greatest object for which the institute exists is to enable teachers to master the special principles of their art. This has to do with the strictly professional part of the teacher's equipment. Roughly speaking, the institute presents four phases of this work: the principles of psychology, organization, management, and methodology. The reasons for emphasizing these elements are obvious. Psychology is to the teacher's art what anatomy is to the medical practitioner. President Stanley Hall declares psychology to be the heart of modern pedagogy. But it is not the skeletonized psychology of the old book-makers that will be a source of strength in the institute. What is needed is the applied, vitalized psychology which discovers in the living child the powers, the tendencies, and the capacities of the human soul, and reveals in the teacher's art the means of influencing and guiding that soul aright. To secure right school government and methods of presenting truth are problems in applied psychology, and it is pre-eminently the business of the insti. tute to promote conditions for their successful solution. These condi. tions will be met, not only in the giving of formal instruction on psychological and allied subjects, in lectures and discussions, though these are good; but the whole attitude and atmosphere of an institute should be such as to promote professional growth in the highest sense.
The institute is one of the most efficient means of keeping in touch with the leaders in educational thought. The ablest educational journalism, the most attractive book-writers, cannot rival the institute in the propagation of what is really an educational gospel. Let me cite a single illustration of this. An honored member and former officer of this association was, some years since, conducting a state school of institute workers. He brought up the then comparatively new script method of teaching reading to beginners. Practically the entire body of institute workers was against him at first; but as he developed the principles of the method the able conductor won for it the approval of all, and through the institutes of an entire state the new method was presented and indorsed.
In professional matters the good institute is to the teacher what the newspaper and magazine are to the general scholar, keeping her abreast of current thought.
III. A third important object of the institute is to enable teachers to acquire the right relation to their work. The dignity, the worth, the possibilities of the teacher's work are ideas which slowly grow into the mind, and depend largely upon association and a knowledge of the professional elements of the teaching work. One may sometimes plod drearily along a road, oblivious to beauty appealing to every sense until a more observant friend points it out; and as we may through greater knowledge increase our appreciation of the beauty in a landscape, or a picture, or a poem, so we may through the proper means come to more truly know and feel the dignity and the worth of the work in which we are engaged. The institute furnishes most favorable conditions for acquiring this right relation to one's work. Aspiration may be fostered; inspiration may be generated; unity and harmony may be developed. Under the care of skilled instructors, the tide of ambition and earnestness and enthusiasm rises higher and higher, until the gates are opened and the generous flood flows out to enrich all the tributary fields.
IV. The fourth great object of the institute is to enable teachers to establish right relations to each other. These relations have greatly changed since the influences which draw and bind teachers together have begun to be felt. Formerly, teachers worked in isolation; now, side by side, in the heartiest co-operation. Formerly, the tendency was to evolve pedagogical plans and processes from one's inner consciousness; and sometimes in the mind of the pedagogue, as in the minds of the villagers
Still the wonder grew
Now, the greatest as well as the humblest gladly learns from his fellows and the records of experience.
To learn the lessons of good fellowship, of interdependence and mutual helpfulness, the institute provides excellent conditions, and one of the most obvious and most encouraging results of the institute system has been the cordial personal relations existing among teacher's.
At this point I make brief mention of the relation of the institute to the permanent agencies for the training of teachers. The institute makes no pretension to completeness of work. For the class of teachers who offer themselves without any professional training it is only an imperfect substitute for the normal school. But, as a rule, the institute stimulates the desire for fuller knowledge and a higher training, and it often happens that the institute becomes the guidepost to the normal school and the college for those who but for the awakening influence of the institute would never have been in attendance upon them.
These are among the important benefits which the institute brings to teachers at work in the schools. The extent to which teachers appropriate these advantages will mainly depend upon right methods of doing institute work. For this purpose the most general and most advantageous organization is similar to that of a school. There is a double gain in this. It is the most efficient form of organization, and it makes the entire institute an illustration-a model-in school management. And this is as true in the details of institute work as in its general control.
Ordinarily an institute should, for at least part of the work, be divided into classes, according to the varying abilities or needs of its members. There are two methods of conducting these classes: the lecture method and the recitation method. Each of these has its place, and it would be unwise to exclude either. In short-session institutes the lecture will, of necessity, be the principal medium of instruction; but even here there should be some opportunity for members of the institute to "talk back.” In institutes having longer than one-week sessions there should be an earnest attempt to secure energetic study of the subjects dealt with in the institute and a large and intelligent participation in the classroom work. Lecturing is an exposure to knowledge; but often it does not "take." Intelligent study is an inoculation which never fails to produce the expected results.
I hold firmly to the idea, that, in institutes whose sessions continue longer than one week, the recitation should be the standard method for carrying on institute work. These are the reasons for this view of the case:
1. Institutes are largely for those teachers who have not enjoyed a liberal training; it is only for those who are liberally trained that the lecture system will yield the largest advantage.
2. All teachers are given more or less to imitation. Continually deluge institute members with oceans of talk, and they will go and do likewise, to the infinite harm of thousands of innocent children. On the other hand, every recitation skillfully conducted in the institute-questions carefully framed, topics properly correlated, all matters of detail firmly in hand-stimulates the teacher-pupils to a more artistic and efficient use of the recitation.
3. One grows strong by what he makes his own, Teachers appropriate for themselves that which they themselves investigate. From such investigation, if properly directed, they will get more, and more permanently, than by merely listening to a lecture on the same subject. There are exceptions; but this is true of the average work of the average institute.
4. The judicious institute conductor can usually so guide and supplement the recitation as to secure all the advantages of the lecture with none of its disadvantages.
5. To the teacher the power of clear, connected, worthy expression is of the highest importance. The institute recitation is a powerful auxiliary in developing this power.
The disposition to make the institute mainly a means of recreation and amusement is to be deprecated. By all means let the institute be attractive; but let it not be forgotten that there is a serious work to be done—so serious as to engage the best efforts of all who have to do with institute management. To review and re-enforce the scholarship of teachers; to impart the elements of skill and professional knowledge; to give to teachers right views of, and right relations to, the work in which they are engaged; to establish the most helpful relations of teachers to each other; surely these interests are so important as to forbid spending the major portion of the institute sessions in listening to humorous lectures and engaging in social diversions.
There have been many attempts to make the work of institutes more efficient by grading them. These attempts have been attended with varying success. In long-session institutes there would seem to be the same reason for grading as in a school. But the baleful shadow of the examination for teachers' certificates, which is usually held at the close of an institute, generally prevents complete grading. The impending examination causes a large part of the institute to ask, not what the institutes can give, nor what they most need, but what they can do which will help them most in the examination.
Institutes have been in existence since 1839; under their present name since 1843. What results have they brought to pass ?
Among the most important effects which have been brought about by institutes may be named the following:
1. They have been the forerunners of more complete methods of fitting teachers for their work, and their existence and activity have made it easier to establish such complete instrumentalities.
2. The institute has reached a class which otherwise would have remained almost unaided in their efforts to gain technical preparation for the work of teaching.
3. The institute has done much to rouse an interest in education, not only among teachers but among all classes of people. Not every county can go to the normal school; but the institute, as it were,