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brings the normal school to every county. It might be called normal school extension.
4. The institute has aided much to raise the standard of professional qualifications for teachers, especially in rural schools; and this makes it possible to raise the legal requirements for teachers, and so protect the schools, in a measure, from empiricism.
I have tried in this paper to show the ways in which the institute is helpful to teachers, the methods by which these advantages may be best assured to those for whom they are intended, and the most obvious results of institute work in the past.
There is every reason to believe that an agency so democratic, so progressive, and so adaptable will in future exert an even wider and more helpful influence than it now exerts; and that the institute will remain, as it is, pre-eminent among the instrumentalities for instructing and improving teachers now at work in the schools.
THE INSTRUCTION AND IMPROVEMENT OF TEACHERS NOW
AT WORK IN THE SCHOOLS.
BY TEACHERS' CLASSES.
BY EARL BARNES, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, CALIFORNIA.
The question is often asked, Why do teachers need to be kept under constant instruction more than any other professional class? The steady development of human knowledge and the development of new educational methods add no problem to the teacher's work which is not met by the physician, and we have no physicians' classes. Owing to the monopoly of education by the state, however, the teacher's work is subject to peculiar limitations. The money available for the support of the half-million teachers needed in our country to-day is not sufficient to enable us to command the services of well-trained men and women, and the inertia of governmental organ. ization makes it impossible for the money to be so distributed as to offer those rewards to genius and preparation that we find in the physician's calling. The great governmental machine, with its financial limitations, makes the employment of a large number of poorly. prepared teachers unavoidable. This same necessary element of economy leads to overcrowding these ill-prepared teachers so that most of them have neither time nor strength, even if they had the training and the habit of intellectual work, to carry on individual lines of study. This condition of things makes it imperative that the superintendent, or some one else, should devote time and effort to the training of the teachers now in actual service.
The aim of such a class should be, to awaken professional interest and enthusiasm and to direct the teacher's educational thinking into valuable lines. Such classes cannot be expected to give much liberal culture, or information, or intellectual training. If these have not been secured by the previous education of the teacher, little can be done in teachers' meetings. The teachers' class is not a broadly educational institution, destined to develop and find permanent place in our school system. Institutes, associations, and clubs will furnish sufficient distributing points for new educational supplies when we are able to admit no one to the teachers' calling who is not professionally trained. The teachers' class is a makeshift device needed to-day to fill a gap.
The materials for this study are drawn largely from personal experience in New York, Indiana, and, more especially, in California, where for the past four years I have been constantly at work with classes of teachers in active service.
In the organization of the teachers' classes we have found the following method effective: The superintendent of a city or town sends out a circular to his teachers, saying that, beginning with a certain date (taking care to avoid holiday seasons), a course of study will be taken up by the teachers, under the direction of Mr. Blank, covering some particular field, and asking their hearty support for the work. All financial friction is avoided if the board of education sets aside a small sum to pay the printing bills and the expenses of the instructor. This also secures a sense of personal responsibility. If the board provides special instruction for the teachers they ought to avail themselves of it. Still further personal responsibility is secured by dismissing the schools a half-hour or an hour earlier than usual and holding the meeting at some central location at three or four o'clock. Friday is a bad day to meet; Tuesday works well. If the lectures and discussions are accompanied by schoolroom experiments or tests, a Saturday morning meeting for the working up of results is desirable. Attendance on this session must be purely voluntary-a few teachers attending on compulsion will ruin the work. But these are details unworthy consideration in such a body, it may be said. The man who disregards these details ruins his work before he begins it. The conductor who is going to work with a class of women teachers—and all our town and city teachers are women now --wearied by long hours of exhausting work in our overcrowded schoolrooms, worried by small economies that small wages make im
perative, cannot be too careful about the details of his arrangements. It be calls the teachers together Friday evening, under compulsion from the superintendent, with a request that they contribute to Decessary expenses, the conductor will find himself confronted by a mass of wearied irritability that paralyzes the activity of even a professional educational agitator.
What is the best subject matter for such a series of meetings? Academic subjects, whether languages, literature, history, science, or art, belong to the field of so-called university extension. Teachers are the best patrons of such courses; but, with the differences in tastes and previous study that prevail in all school departments, it is unwise to organize the teachers as a class for the study of these siibjects. The teachers' class should be given up to professional work, and not all professional study is adapted to its use.
The history of education is not good material for such a class. The value of this study lies in tracing lines of development during periods of time. The members of teachers' classes have too unequal preparation, too little time for study, and too few available collections of historical records to make such study valuable. Besides, the whole spirit of American pedagogy is opposed to such study. We live on the near edge of the immediate present; witness the fact that in this great national meeting of American pedagogues our program does not contain a single historical study, though we have abundant forecasts of the future.
Educational classics, if studied as biography or as links in a historical chain of ideas, are subject to the same difficulties as broader studies in the history of education. If taken up and studied as isolated attempts to answer educational questions, and if through discussions these answers are brought into immediate relations with the actual schoolroom experience of the class, Rousseau's "Émile" or Pestalozzi's "How Gertrude Teaches Her Children” may form the basis for interesting and broadening study.
Formal works in psychology are likewise barren reading for the teachers' class; and it must be remembered that I am speaking, not of a little club of congenial spirits but of a class that includes most of the teachers in the department or in some branch of it. The unequal intellectual standing of such a class and the lack of vital points of contact between text-books of psychology and actual teaching make such study perfunctory and of slight value. This leaves us as valuable subjects of study the whole range of real questions concerning the children themselves, the curriculum, the methods of instruction, and the problems of school organization and management. How, then, should these questions be taken up? Is it better to start with
some treatise on pedagogy or methods, or is it better to gather up details and work out home-made generalization?
It seems to me there can be no question that the last method is the one to pursue. The teacher, like the child, must be approached through his lines of natural interest. Listen to a group of teachers of the class who especially need this training, and see how uniformly they talk about the details of their every-day schoolroom life. They are lost in the details; there are so many trees that they never see the woods, and it is exactly here that they need help. They seldom turn to a discussion of Rousseau, or experimental psychology, or Herbart, or the committee of ten. Those teachers who care for these topics are those who have broad training, in the school or in life, and they are capable of self-sustained professional life. But, you say, “It is not what these untrained and overworked teachers like to do that concerns us; it is what they ought to do.” Even admitting this, we must nevertheless begin where these teachers now are if we are to lead them effectively where want them to go. Besides, who knows where
want them to go? Do we want them to get anywhere in particular? Is it not that we want them rather to get power-power to observe clearly and honestly the phenomena about them in their schoolrooms; power to select the essential from the merely passing; power to see the relations of these concrete essentials to Mary Gibbs or Tommy Hodge; power to see the relations of Mary Gibbs or Tommy Hodge to the community in which they live and to the possible industral, political, religious, moral, and ästhetic life which opens before them? This is surely the problem—to get the teacher where he is strong enough and is well enough acquainted with the actualities of his work so that he can direct himself.
At first, then, I should say, the method of work in the teachers' class should be inductive; taking up simple studies on the children themselves; their ways of seeing things and thinking about them; their ambitions, passions, and fears, their plays, their language, their various forms of expression. Along with this we may have simple definite experiments in the subjects taught, noting how the children respond to number, or literature, or nature lessons in the various grades, under different conditions of presentation; or we may take up the problems of school organization and discipline. Every school. room should be a laboratory; no one can be a vital teacher who is not an investigator.
But this kind of work requires a conductor of no mean ability. The teachers' class contains such a variety of personalities, having different preparation, with many of its members set in a mold of habit by years of work, that the instructor must be a man or woman of versatility and sympathetic understanding, backed by a wide knowledge of human nature and pedagogic theory and practice. In some of our cities and towns this work is being admirably done by superintendents of ability and professional training, who call on outside talent for occasional assistance. I believe such a superintendent is the ideal conductor; but at present we have not enough of them to go around. The special teacher and the teacher who has done something especially well can both be used to great advantage in the teachers' classes, with, of course, a constant danger of jealousy. Progressive teachers from neighboring towns can be invited in to excellent advantage to lead or direct some piece of work. There still remains, however, a large place for the professional trainer of pedagogues. True, he does not know the teachers personally, though that is sometimes just as well, and he is ignorant of the local conditions and practices; but he brings from his university or normal school an air of freshness. He, in a sense, connects the class with the institution he represents, and he has the advantage of the prophet who is out of his own country. The rapid development of departments of education in our colleges and universities and of the professional sides of our normal schools, now going on, will furnish a limited number of such leaders, but nowhere else in the teacher's world is the demand so far in excess of the supply, and the demand is growing more rapidly than is the supply.
The state is rapidly broadening its activity as an educator. In 1850 it generally provided for education between the ages of seven and twenty; but gradually the age limit has been pushed down and up, until now, through the development of the public kindergarten and the state university, it has become possible in many parts of our country for a person to attend a free school under the charge of the state from the time he is two and one-half years old until he dies of old age. Nor is the end yet: The present tendency of the state is to take upon itself the care of the child wherever it can do the work better than the parent can do it. Hence, the demand for teachers will multiply in the future even faster than our population grows. With a better appreciation of the teacher's work more money will be forthcoming, but we shall necessarily have for years to come great numbers of badly paid and hence weak teachers, incapable of self-sustained professional life. To train them into efficiency we need thousands of strong superintendents, or directors, or class conductors, selected for reasons of special fitness and finely trained in the best educational thought and practice of all time.
To put the matter of this paper in condensed form, I should say: For many years there will be a large demand for teachers' classes.