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the formal work of the afternoon to a topic not touched in the report alluded to above, and one, indeed, that has not received the attention it deserves, because of the very minuteness and earnestness of the discussion of the important questions raised therein. The question to which I would invite your attention is this: "How can the students of a secondary school, whether large or small, be made to feel that they form a united society existing, not simply for the cultivation of intellectual power in the individual but for the realization in the mass of certain ideal standards of feeling and conductstandards to which the individual, consciously or unconsciously, submits and which he is careful of offending; a body moved by a public opinion which each student is conscious of shaping and in which he sees reflected his own noblest aims and impulses ?” I am confident that this is a question as worthy of careful study and as easy of solution as that of the relative educational values of physics and chemistry, or their proper sequence in a course of study.
It is perhaps hardly strange, in a period so marked by the spirit of individualism as are all lines of intellectual activity, that this influence should be strongly felt in all problems of school organization. Realizing as never before the preciousness of individuality and the necessity of conserving it, we have bent all our energies to the task of devising ways and means for its development, granting privilege after privilege to the individual student without considering or calling his attention to the duties owed in return to the social body to which he stands indebted for his growth in culture. This tendency appears in many forms. I see it in the high value set upon individual versus class instruction; I read it in a high school program recently published, where it states that a pupil regularly promoted may, "at the request of parent or guardian and with the approval of the principal, study any subject in the Course of Instruction' which the daily program will permit;" I hear it from the lips of the professor of pedagogy in one of the greatest American universities, when he declares that he does not know of a single subject of the secondary school course that he would regard as absolutely essential. Now, all this may be very right, if the school that gives greatest freedom to the individual student's development secures with equal care opportunities for the exercise of his social instincts; but there can be no question that the specializing spirit often leads to the cultivation of personal power at the serious loss of personal sensitiveness to the just claims of the school upon his active, public support of those principles affecting conduct that re. ceive cordial assent from the majority of students when presented to them as individuals. Yet, how often, when we have occasion to remind a student of St. Paul's passionate affirmation, that "No man liveth to himself,” are we met by the reply, “I can answer only for my own actions; I have no responsibility for those of others." In brief, we have as yet found no way of focusing the best sentiment of the whole school body in a positive manner upon the evils we would reform. Yet there are no societies among students that bring to their work greater energy, enthusiasm, honesty of purpose, and, in the main, better judgment in execution, than high school organizations.
To make clear the application of my general statement, let me give a single illustration. Belonging to the two high schools of this district is a cadet battalion. Its commissioned officers are elected by its members; its non-commissioned officers receive appointments by united action of the commissioned officers and the major of the battalion, Yr. Bradley, the present principal of the Manual Training High School. The cadets have rarely failed to elect boys of honorable and forceful character to important positions. Certain of these commissioned officers sit as a court martial for the trial of offenses of various kinds. It has been my privilege to be present at some of these trials. The boy who is summoned before the court martial for the first time is inclined to regard the whole affair as a huge joke from which he intends get some fun at the expense of his superiors. He consequently appears with a jaunty look and anything but a military bearing. The dignity and seriousness, however, with which he is met, the sharp criticism of his dress and the unsoldierly attitudes into which from nervousness he constantly falls, sober him quickly. He has come most likely with flimsy or feigned excuse; the flaws in which soon appear beneath the skillful examination of his judges. Often, dropping his show of bravado, he pleads guilty and is dismissed, sometimes reprimanded, sometimes fined, and always with most excellent advice as to his future conduct. He walks out with a far more business-like air than he entered, and often with a sense of shame and mortification at his foolishness. The boy may appeal from the decision of the court martial, and bring his case before the battalion at its monthly meeting; its decision, however, is rarely reversed. Thus the cadet brings himself or is brought by his fellows to the recognition and practice of soldierly bearing, honorable dealing, and unquestioning obedience. Now, I sincerely believe that in this self-governing organization we have a type that may be imitated in form and spirit for the maintenance and preservation of many other ideals.
Cheating in examinations has disappeared from several colleges, notably from Princeton, because the student body, by public action, decided, that, if they were left unwatched, the man who was dis. honorable enough to cheat and was detected by his classmates must sever his connection with the college; a conclusion voluntarily accepted by several offenders. You object, perhaps, that we can hardly expect of the high school student what we may of the collegian. I answer, that much more may be expected in the way of positive action, if students be rightly guided step by step and encouraged to its use. Boys and girls of high school age are no casuists; with them an action is absolutely right or absolutely wrong. They weave no fine-spun excuses for themselves over the mixture of good and evil in yielding to inclination; they do wrong deliberately, sometimes for the purpose of judging you severely, if you overlook too easily their offenses. They object to no punishment of which the school approves, but you will hardly get them to do that which they believe their mates would not accept as just. It sometimes becomes necessary to discover their feelings towards a movement requiring their co-operation. Have you ever noted with what marvelous rapidity, by glance of eye, they take note of each other's position before hazarding opinions? Their appeal is, not to the reasonableness of your proposition but to their classmates' conclusion.
In this universal appeal to a common consciousness and desire for mutual support we may find if we will the strongest force we have for the upbuilding and controlling of individual character. Therefore, encourage its growth, by giving every possible opportunity to the school for the expression of its feeling and opinion, through united or representative action. In this way only can the school learn to co-ordinate the action of its heart with its brain, its feeling with its intelligence. Trust your students, and you will have no reason to fear in them lack of taste or wisdom. Let them learn the strength and weakness of concerted action; better mistakes now than when they try to serve in later years a large community. Do not keep them in pupilage too long. Give them credit for an increasing power of social action, that keeps pace with their growth in judgment. If we expect mature society to cleanse itself of cheating, lying, stealing, and impurity, we cannot begin too early to invite their co-operation in the cure of these ills. It is not difficult to make them realize that these evils entail more serious consequences upon school society than upon the individual offender. When our students once believe this, our work is practically done. Later they will leave us with faith in their fellows, hope in the power of united action, charity for the weakness of individuals, and some ability to make their knowledge efficient in a society of which the school after all is a faithful though possibly a flattering counterpart.
SHOULD ELECTIVES IN THE HIGH SCHOOLS BE BY COURSES
OR BY SUBJECTS?
BY OSCAR D. ROBINSON, PRINCIPAL OF HIGH SCHOOL, ALBANY, N. Y.
Such was the question assigned us in the wisdom of your committee, and feeling thoroughly convinced that courses of study are, and for a long time must remain, a necessity in our school economy, we are forced to occupy the unfortunate position of defending that which to the minds of probably more than ninety per cent of this audience needs no defense. If it be true that there is always a fair presumption in favor of existing conditions and institutions, then the burden of argument should be upon those who demand a change in the existing order, and the subject should have been opened by those who would attack, and not by those who would defend, a system which we have reached through wearisome years of effort and evolution. Among the prominent educators in the country we know of only one who unreservedly advocates the abolition of all courses of study in high schools, and but for the products of his prolific pen for the past few month this discussion would seem almost a waste of time. But the mere fact that our course-of-study system has been openly and repeatedly attacked by so eminent an authority as Dr. Samuel Thurber is perhaps sufficient reason why some of the valuable time of this association should be devoted to the question as proposed by the committee. Let us bear in mind, that, in a discussion of this kind, all the favorable conditions for argument are on the side of the untried, the merely theoretical.
In favor of choice by courses of study we can cite the established order of things (needing improvement, to be sure; but so elastic as to readily admit of improvement), the approval of thousandsin fact, almost the entire body—of our best educators, and results (which, while not all that could be wished, are certainly far above what could reasonably be expected in the absence of this system). On the other hand, in favor of choice by electives we have no end of brilliant arguments and glowing statements of what the results would be, and—that's all. Any facts supporting the theory of choice by electives in secondary schools are as difficult to find as the traditional dentes gallinarum. It is worthy of note, also, that Mr. Thurber does not even hint at the desirability or possibility of conducting the great endowed or private schools in any other manner than by study courses.
Here, then, at the very outset, let us state what we are to understand by the expressions "electives by courses” and “electives by subjects.” By the first we mean simply this: That all the subjects which pupils may be allowed to pursue in a given school are so arranged that each is awarded a certain ratio of the whole time (say of a four-years' course), and that each takes its place in a fixed order with reference to the other subjects. As more subjects are admitted in the curriculum of most schools than every pupil can profitably pursue, these are arranged in groups, often differing by only a single subject, and by a rather awkward nomenclature are called “courses of study.” Critics and iconoclasts seem to take delight in speaking of these so-called courses as though they were entirely separate and distinct from each other, each with a distinct set of pupils and a separate set of teachers, a form of statement very misleading and entirely at variance with the facts. The much criticised (and in some respects justly criticised) specimen programs of the committee of ten furnish a good illustration of fixed courses. These differentiate almost wholly along the line of language studies, and we all know that there is no necessary separation of pupils except in the one or more subjects which differentiate one course from another. In the first year, for example, the classical and Latin-scientific courses are identical, and in the second year they differ but slightly. As a matter of fact, all those pursuing algebra through a given year, in whatever course, would recite to the same set of teachers; the same is true of physics, geometry, Latin, etc. The classicals are not separated from the others in branches common to all, but only in the one subject of Greek, and so on through the whole. Undoubtedly many secondary schools make a silly display of multiform courses of study," much to the satisfaction of the reformers, but it is well to bear in mind, when citing the terrible example of a school with "seven courses of study," that the “Latin course” of such a school may differ from the "French course” by a single subject, and very likely not by a single teacher. I find, that, in most of the few high schools where Greek is allowed, four so-called courses are the outside limit, and in schools omitting Greek three is the maximum number. The numbers are much more likely to be three and two. So much for the number of courses. We repeat, then, that, by the course method, the mathematics of each of the four years is fixed in amount and in the order of succession, and all the pupils of a given grade pursue their mathematics as though they were in the same course. The same is true of those other substantial subjects which make up the bulk of the high school curricula. Students of the same grade, in subjects common to all the courses, are grouped as if belonging to the same course, and are separated only in the