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COOPERATION BETWEEN SCHOOL AND COLLEGE IN
CHARACTER FORMATION ANNA P. MACVAY, WADLEIGH HIGH SCHOOL, NEW YORK, N.Y. Serious-minded persons are unanimous in thinking that the highest values in life are moral, not material. The thought that what a man is counts for more than what he has or what he knows should be uppermost in the minds of all exponents of education. If in the routine of teaching and administration we lose our sense of values and center attention wholly on statistics that can be publisht or equipment that can be seen, we need to take time for meditation till we regain a true sense of proportion and put first things first.
The aim of education is twofold: to make the students good and to make them good-for-something. Much is said nowadays about vocational guidance and the need of specialists in that important subject, but every teacher should be a moral guide. The poet calls to the youth of America: “Ye Are the Hope of the World.” But how can Mr. Hagedorn or any other optimist see his vision realized unless we who teach the youth are true to our high vocation? The formation of character is the supreme duty of the schools.
In our fear of transgressing the law against doctrinal teaching in state institutions we fail to emphasize the fundamentals of morality. The Bible--that great storehouse of ethics and religion-is generally ignored by the experts who plan our courses of study and fix the requirements for entrance to higher schools. Comparable to this neglect of moral education is the lack of instruction in patriotism. When the searchlight of public interest was turned recently upon our educational system to discover what means were there employed to develop loyal citizens, it was found that in the up-bringing of American youth little heed has been taken to teach intelligent patriotism. We have trusted to haphazard methods to awaken in them national consciousness and to tinge their emotions with love of country. The only sure way to make them loyal is to teach them the fundamental principles and ideals of our forefathers and make them able to justify their faith.
Many a teacher or professor is more interested in his department of instruction than he is in his students. His one aim seems to be to make them familiar with his particular subject and to encourage them in scholarship. He manifests no interest in the higher values of student life. This misplaced emphasis should be corrected. The school ought to concern itself with the personality of the student. Its chief aim should be to develop boys and girls into men and women of the finest type, characterized by self-control, self-respect, and consideration for the rights and feelings of others. The responsibility for imparting moral lessons to students does not belong exclusively to any one officer or teacher, altho principals and deans feel its weight most because of their advisory positions. Every instructor in contact with the student body exerts an influence for better or worse. Every subject in the curriculum has its moral aspect. It is not so much what one teaches as how one teaches that impresses right ideals on students.
Professor Giddings, head of the department of sociology, Columbia University, in an address on “The Aim and Scope of the Public High School,” delivered before the New York High School Teachers' Association, surprised his audience by showing that the chief value of manual training is to teach pupils pride in their work and the vital truth that a plumb line and a try-square cannot lie; that the chief value of commercial training in schools is to teach respect for contracts and the rights of others; and that the surest and most direct road to efficient leadership in the industrial and business world is thru unremitting study of the Latin language and of algebraical mathematics. Undoubtedly moral values lurk in other subjects, many of them wholly unsuspected by the very ones who are supposed to teach them!
The responsibility for training American youth in morals does not rest upon the elementary and secondary schools but is shared by the colleges which undertake the higher education. Schools furnish students to the colleges, and colleges furnish teachers to the schools. Cooperation is mutually advantageous and promotes the welfare of the students, for whose sake all our educational institutions exist. The confederation between school and college for furthering academic preparation is well recognized. Its success is demonstrated by the good work of the College Entrance Examination Board. All schools and colleges keep permanent records of their students' scholarships and furnish copies to interested inquirers; but in how many of them are kept systematic records of character and conduct?
Personality records kept with care and justice are valuable factors in organizing America's forces for the present war. The National Advisory Committee on. Personnel of the United States Army is composed of psychologists and teachers, skilled judges of human nature and individual endowment, who classify the recruits according to their several abilities and aptitudes and assign them to duty. Wherever this intelligent handling occurs it increases the happiness of the men and the efficiency of the service. The card for recording data concerning the recruits has, following their names, columns in which are to be indicated their physical qualities, intelligence, ability for leadership, character, and value.
Vassar College has begun a somewhat similar rating of its students. The instructors are askt to rate the students in their classes on originality, accuracy, logic, industry, and general ability. The wardens of the halls of residence are askt to rate the girls under their supervision on reliability, leadership, judgment, industry, and cooperation. These data enable the college officers to exercise greater wisdom in selecting those whom they can commend as candidates for various positions of trust and responsibility.
The character records kept at Wadleigh High School are useful in a variety of ways. They often influence teachers who are hasty in judgment
CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION FOR THE USE OF THE COMMITTEE ON UNDERGRADUATE
ADMISSIONS To the Principal of the High School:
Please supply information on the following points and return this blank to the Secretary, Barnard College, New York, N.Y.
.High School completed the course of study in the in
.191. She was especially proficient in the following subjects:
She was especially weak in the following subjects:
Should the candidate's work be carefully supervised, or can she be trusted to work well without special oversight ?
Please give also any information regarding the candidate's character and personality which ought to be in the possession of those who would have special charge of her college work.
Do you certify that the candidate is a person of good moral character ?
Signature of Principal.
Address of school.
to modify their opinions of girls. They help judges to decide who shall receive scholarships and other school honors. They enlighten parents who inquire about their daughters. They show the evidence on which the school officers base their recommendation of candidates for teachers' training schools. On these blanks appear such questions as: Is she reliable? Is she truthful? Is she obedient? If teachers answer these questions in the negative concerning any girl, her chance of admission to the training school will be slight. Likewise these records furnish data for answering the numerous letters of inquiry which employers send to the school, requesting confidential information concerning the ability and character of alumnae and undergraduates who are seeking positions in the business world.
These records are a chief source of information in estimating candidates for entrance to college. The knowledge that they are so used helps to sober many otherwise irresponsible girls. Altho they may think that diligent cramming will help them to pass examinations in subjects which they have neglected, they know that cramming is not possible in the matter of character tests and records. In disciplining girls who are inclined to idleness and indifferent to duty it is of incalculable assistance to show them that the colleges which they hope to enter will ask information concerning their conduct and habits of study. Too many colleges assume that all candidates are alike morally desirable and ask nothing of the schools except their scholarship records. Others make their requests in such vague and general terms that there is no opportunity for replies to be specific and to distinguish, for example, between the best candidates and those negatively good.
The Barnard College confidential blank, which is very satisfactory, is found on page 416.
The most important use we make of character records at Wadleigh is as a means of helping toward self-mastery. A censure card filed by a teacher concerning a girl's misconduct, or a statement that she is unreliable, or disobedient, or untruthful, or lacking in punctuality, gives us an opportunity to have an earnest talk with her alone or in the presence of a parent or a teacher. We appeal to her to overcome her weaknesses of character and offer her our help in so doing; her resolution taken, she generally fulfils our hopes. The knowledge that records are kept probably deters some girls from wrongdoing and causes them to ponder the significance of standards. They may not know Philip Gilbert Hammerton's definition of the intellectual life as "that preference for higher thoughts over lower thoughts,” but few of them fail to realize by experience that attainments depend upon aspirations, that choice determines actions, that actions grow into habits which form character, and that character makes destiny.