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Ten years

often willfully blind. The kindergarten entailed an entirely new philosophy of primary teaching which has to be understood by each teacher; hence, study. The old primary teaching entailed no philosophy-it traveled on tradition; hence, no study. The kindergarten children were so hard to govern; they wouldn't sit still when they came to primary schools; kindergartens hadn't taught them any. thing, etc.—all because the poor teachers couldn't understand this new institution which had been studying childish needs as shown in childish activities. But the opposition was less vicious than that shown to manual training. Here sarcasm and ridicule were brought to bear when argument failed. But manual training marched steadily on, and it has marched gloriously in. As Dr. Butler well says, “The time is surely past when the brain can say to the hand, 'I have no need of thee." Both manual training and the kindergarten are here to stay. Many of us, in the nature of things, cannot live to see both fully adjusted in our schools, as teachers in these departments, fortunately, must be trained for their work; but adjusted they will be as integral parts of every public school system in this country.

And the new education! What has become of it? Nobody ever hears of it now. The term never appears in educational papers. Its reputed advocates of the years past still seem very much in evi. dence. Nobody tries to laugh them out of court now. ago even their tremendous earnestness could not secure a respectful hearing in some very respectable educational gatherings. But they plead only for the kindergarten for little children; manual training for older children; greater inspiration and fewer per cents in recitation; more teaching and less examination; greater sympathy and patience with little children, and less of cast-iron order; more of things and less of form in subject matter; more observation and less definition and rule; more of good literature for little children; supplementary reading, and a great deal of it, and less of grammar books; elementary science for children and laboratory science for older pupils, together with the proper relation of studies; and all the time, and more than all the rest, the proper training of young men and young women for the great work of teaching. Is it not true that these things formed the burden of the contention of the cranks ten years ago? It seems impossible, but it is true. Have the cranks changed, or have we changed?

I have been able, very inadequately, to set forth the changes in school work of the past few years. They have been mighty, indeed; but it seems to me that we are even now in the sweep of the greatest educational movements the world has ever known, and it seems, also, that the lessons of the past years tell us that we may be living, active parts of these movements or they will roll over us, leaving but the wrecks of might have beens.

RECENT IMPROVEMENTS IN PRIMARY SCHOOL WORK.

BY SARAH L. ARNOLD, SUPERVISOR OF PRIMARY SCHOOLS, MINNEAPOLIS,

MINX.

I have been asked to outline the recent improvements in primary school work. The topic, happily, includes improvements only, and does not reach out to take in many changes which have been attempted and the experiments which have been made in our eager de. sire to enrich and strengthen the school's curriculum. The present period is emphatically a period of question, experiment, and change. It is a time when the new is eagerly seized because it is new, and the old is ruthlessly swept from the field because it is old. Originality bears the palm in the popular mind. Truths lose favor when they have attained their majority.

Naturally, then, this topic demands an expression of personal conviction. Amidst so many new methods, plans, and devices, who shall judge which improve upon the work of a generation ago? We can only select such steps as seem to have been taken in accordance with the principles which are in harmony with recognized and eternal law. If any changes have been made which enable us without question to lead the child to clearer and fuller knowledge and to wider and happier development, these changes we must pronounce good.

In speaking of this topic, I shall draw from the record of the experience of the best primary schools of to-day as I have personally known them or as I have read of their development. I shall not assume that the progress which I shall describe has been universal. We may feel encouraged, indeed, if we can heartily believe that our best schools are more clearly than ever before recognizing the true ideal of teaching, and are growing towards this ideal in their everyday experience. Sooner or later, the rank and file will follow the leading of the pioneers. My references to improvement in primary work, then, apply to the growth in the best schools of to-day. In considering this growth, I shall note the introduction of new subjects, the advance in methods, and the impelling cause.

It is not many years since the common practice in primary schools everywhere expressed the conviction that children were sent to school simply to learn to read, write, and cipher. The chief end of the school was to teach the three R's, and teachers commonly so fixed their eyes upon this immediate result of their labors that they forgot, if they had ever known, the higher end beyond. To read from the primer, first or second reader; to spell a column of words

from the spelling-book; to write the arbitrary copy; to add, subtract, multiply, and divide—these were the duties of the child in the primary school, and the drill necessary to fix these forms in his mind entirely occupied the teacher. In my own experience as a child in the primary school, I can find nothing to point beyond this; no evidence that the teacher recognized a higher aim in her work. Often, in the crowded school which I attended, an older pupil was set to teach me the appointed task. I remember that I was taught to write by a larger girl, who feebly and crudely outlined the letters upon my slate for me. Vor can I forget the delight with which the class of little ones sat under a pine tree out of doors, while an older pupil pronounced the words of the spelling lesson, which we dutifully spelled when our attention was called back from the waving boughs and the blue sky, seen through the branches of the tree above our heads. Between the school walls, I wrote, read, spelled, and “did my examples." Occasional rote songs varied the exercises. I have no memory of anything else. Yet the school was a fair example of the primary schools of a growing town.

Added to this program of the old days, we find in the modern schoolrooms periods for nature study, literature or history stories, and language lessons. Music is definitely taught as a study instead of being contined to the rote songs, and drawing is included in every day's program. We find periods allotted, also, to physical exercises and to industrial work. The more recent of these innovations are the nature studies and the literature and history lessons. The language, music, drawing, and physical exercises have for a longer period held a place in the primary program.

What is indicated by the presence of these new subjects? Why have we added to the work of the primary teacher subjects seemingly so wide and so profound, and why do we find the pages of our primary journals teeming with devices as to nature study and storytelling, to the frequent exclusion of the so-called essentials—the three R's?

The answer to this question indicates the line of growth in our primary work. The three R's are no longer considered the essentials. Necessary, vital, we concede them to be; but their conquest is no longer the chief end sought. The presence of the new subjects acknowledges the recognition of a deeper and higher aim in teaching. We know, now, that the end of school-life is more than to learn to read, and write, and spell, and cipher. We demand that the school shall strengthen and develop in right lines all the powers which God has given to the child. We recognize that childhood is the period for obtaining materials for the fuller and deeper knowledge of after-life--for fixing habits and determining the taste which shall guide the growth of the future. The child's business is, not simply to learn to use books but to learn to live. Books are of no advantage to him except as they enable him to interpret life and to determine his own action in accordance with right principles. His own experience must always lie underneath the knowledge which he gains from books. To this experience everything in books must be referred. We are assured that he must learn how to live; first, by learning to read the lessons written for him in the world of nature; and, second, by drawing from the experience of those who have lived worthily and have given to the world thoughts worthy to endure. The child must learn to interpret the life which lies at his own door before he can reach out to understand other lives. From his own seeing, imagining, and thinking he must get materials which will help him to interpret the lives of others as expressed in literature, and history. This belief has led us to place underneath and before the lessons in reading and writing other lessons through which the child shall gain the ideas which must underlie the reading and writing-without which books can give him but empty words. The presence of nature study, literature and history stories in our primary programs indicates the attempt to attain to realities instead of working with forms and to recog. nize the place of the form as determined by the thought which it exists to express. No word is real to the child until it stands as the sign of its own idea; no thought can be apprehended except it express something akin to his own experience. What folly, then, for us to use symbols which are dead to the child! Our first work is to bring him into the fuller experience which of itself demands these modes of expression. Through nature study, the child widens his experience in the world of nature and gains new ideas, which find expression in his own language and enable him more readily to apprehend the messages written for him in books. Bryant's "Fringed Gentian" sings its clearest note for him whose eyes have seen the "blossom wet with heaven's own dew"—whose heart has been gladdened by the beauty of the autumn visitor. Tennyson's “Song of the Brook” is not for him whose feet have never wandered by the brook-side-whose eyes have never rejoiced in the fern-shaded, rippling waters. The lessons written for us in literature and history likewise demand of us an experience of our own. "The Village Blacksmith," who swings his heavy sledge and looks the whole world in the face, is a reality to the child who has eagerly peered in at the open door of her own village blacksmith shop. A little six-year-old in M- ran eagerly to a blacksmith whom she knew. "I've learned some poetry in school, and it's about you," she cried. “Let's hear it," he replied; and, leaning on his anvil, he listened while the child recited the poem. “Yes, you've hit it,” he said; “that's me.” The familiar companionsbip with noble thoughts and noble deeds, rehearsed in poem and story in the early days of childhood and associated with childhood experiences--with little acts of self-denial, of courage, of patiencefurnish the links between the child's feeling and thought and the mighty lessons which have been written for him in other lives. Better: This world of poem and story in which his childish imagination travels is the threshold of that world of real and noble action upon which his boyhood must enter and in which his manhood must reign.

I have spoken thus of the subjects which to-day assume prom. inence in our primary schools. If we inquire with thoughtful minds, we shall recognize the change, not only in the subjects introduced but also in the manner in which these subjects are presented. The most vital changes, to my mind, are seen in the method of presenting reading, language, and nature study. The language lesson no longer deals primarily with the form of expression. We are recognizing the truth that the thought determines the expression, and are making thought-getting the business of our primary language teaching. Instead of dwelling upon words spelled alike but having different meanings, rules for the use of capital letters, the place of the apostrophe and terms by which the mature grammatical thought can be whittled down to the comprehension of the child, we have come to recognize that the great thing which determines expression is the possession of a thought which demands to be spoken. We have set out by providing such exercises for language as will lead the child to observe, to imagine, to think, and so to come to the real knowledge which clamors for expression. Again, we are subordinating the form to the spirit, and are working to obtain the thing first, knowing that its symbol will be surely associated with it. Hence, in our language classes, instead of the formal mechanical exercise which has been predominant, we find the description of a flower, or a tree, or an animal which the children have observed, or the reproduction of a story in which they have been heartily interested. The teacher's wise guidance sets the pattern right if the children err in formal expression. They are given something to say and the desire to say it. This being true, the form is easily adjusted and fixed.

In the reading lesson, also, we recognize the subordination of form to thought-of the letter to the spirit. Hugh Miller, in his "Schools and Schoolmasters," tells us how laboriously and painfully he toiled in memorizing letters, sounds, and syllables; and, later, the words which his faithful teacher taught him in order. Ilow the catechism and proverbs followed, equally meaningless to the child;

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