« PreviousContinue »
Mr. McMURRY.-Our purpose is to discuss and raise questions on this paper. Questions will therefore be readily listened to at any point, and as far as possible satisfactory answers attempted. One of the chief questions asked about education is, What can it do to prepare children for the civilization-for the social order-in which they are to live? The counter question of equal importance is. What does civilization itself furnish? What has the past worked out and delivered to us, with which to prepare the children for the social state? One of our first duties, then, is to find out and gather up the culture materials of the past with which to educate children for the future.
MR. TARBELL.-In what sense do you use the words "principal center and substance of culture ?"
MR. MCMURRY.–The choicest materials of culture-those which contribute to high ideals and to the strengthening of moral character-may be called the principal center and substance of culture. The American people began upon a very high level. Many of the people who first settled this country and laid the basis for our laws and institutions were far above the average of even civilized peoples in their moral and political standards. If we stop to trace the influence of the Puritans in politics, religion, and literature, we shall find that it has penetrated to the very marrow of our national life, and whatever was best and most enduring was directly owing to it. There was salt enough in the Puritans to salt a nation, and many of our best ideals to-day are derived directly from them. America is a young country compared with the societies of Europe, and it might be supposed that educative influences of the best sort had not been stored up in the brief period of our development; but even in this short time our country has passed through great and stirring epochs, the history of which, as worked out by our best authors in prose and verse, not only furnishes the children with plenty to read and think about but gives also that moral stimulus and character development which make the essential foundation of culture. Materials furnished by this history are mentally nutritious, and furnish the minds of children with their appropriate food. By noticing the fourth section of this report, it is seen that the prevailing idea is to use the complete masterpieces of American literature to teach American history, literature, and life.
MR. WILLIAMS.—What advantage has this literature, selected and arranged, over the reading found in the reading-book?
MR. MCMURRY. –The purpose of the Herbartians is to present complete masterpieces in their full force — not fragments and extracts, however choice in themselves. A child that has read “Hiawatha,” or the "Sketch Book," or Hawthorne's stories, complete, has gained much greater benefit than he could by reading short, scrappy selections. A single complete masterpiece, like "Evangeline,” contains more culture in its make-up that three or four extracts or fragments which, taken together, contain as much reading matter as “Evangeline." A longer complete work of literature gives greater time for the interest of the pupil to accumulate, and it gives the author a chance to make a strong and permanent impression upon the reader.
The question was raised whether the reading laid out for the fourth grade, such as Hawthorne's "Wonder Book," Kingsley's "Greek Heroes,” etc., would not take the child entirely away from home and native land; that is was not domestic, not American.
MR. MCMURRY.-There is a much closer connection between these Greek stories and our American history stories than appears at first sight. The Greek stories are personal and heroic, and the spirit that breathes in them is closely akin to the spirit and exploits of our pioneer explorers. Besides, the classic stories of Jurope belong as much to us as to the European nations. They are also simpler and better adapted to children in the third grade than our American history stories. We use these Greek stories for oral narrative and presentation in third grade, and read them in the fourth grade.
DR. HINSDALE. -Why do you speak of exactly thirteen stories in the fourth grade?
MR. MCMURRY.—The stories, of course, need not be limited to any particular number, but the number thirteen expressed here simply indicates a particular collection of stories of the Mississippi Valley used in a few of our schools.
There followed a brisk discussion of the thirteen explorers of the Mississippi Valley.
MR. JONES asked why they were taken before the colonial explorers—why leave out the New England stories.
MR. MCMURRY.-It seems appropriate for the children of the Mississippi Valley to begin their study of history with stories of the Mississippi Valley; just as it is appropriate for children of New England to begin with the stories of New England. The idea is to begin at home, with the persons for whom our own towns and rivers were named, like Marquette and Joliet. If the lives of these men are spirited, heroic, and interesting, they will answer our purpose. I would defend the selection of the pioneer stories of the Mississippi Valley because the quality of the stories is the best. New England has no better stories with which to awaken and stimulate the minds of children than has the Mississippi Valley. The stories of Marquette, La Salle, and Lincoln are as choice and high-spirited as any stories of our country. And no other country has any better stories, if as good. Besides this, the majority of American children already live in the Mississippi Valley, if we include the lake states in this region. The story of George Rogers Clark is remarkably heroic and stirring. He showed as much iron strength of character, as much grit and spirit, as any man of the Revolution. The story of Fremont is, in some respects, as good as that of Columbus, and is much simpler; for the story of Columbus involves different nations, continents, oceans, and the world-whole. The history and geography of the Mississippi Valley go hand-in-hand, as is indicated by the course of study. It is not intended that we should neglect the stories of the East, but use them in the fifth grade. In one respect it makes very little difference where we begin our pioneer history stories. Pioneer life and exploration are the same in their spirit, 'whether we begin with Columbus or Fremont. The chronology of these pioneer biographies is of very little importance in the fourth and fifth grades.
Miss NICHOLsos asked if the character of George Rogers Clark was not a questionable one for children to study. His life had serious flaws.
MR. MCMURRY.-Clark's later life showed great weaknesses and faults; but that part of his early life which is included in the story is remarkably vigorous and interesting, as well as high-spirited. But the question, after all, may be fairly asked whether Clark's character is one that ought to be held up to children.
The question was asked whether boys are to be trained to be citizens of America rather than of the world, as the Romans trained children to be citizens of Rome; or is the Greek idea right, or training boys to be men.
MR. MCMURRY.-What we need in education is to select, first, what is purest and best in our own national material-what has been given us from our own past. Was it Emerson or Thoreau who said, that a man could not be a true citizen until he voted and paid taxes in his own township? [Some one suggested that it could not have been Thoreau, as he wouldn't vote or pay taxes.] It is better to begin at home, and grow up under the full influence of the family, neighborhood, and the state, and especially of our Christian civilization. No matter what is done the child will grow up under the full measure of the influence of his environment and of the civilization in which he lives. The best we can do, therefore, is to utilize the best of our surroundings and the choicest of our historical and literary materials, and in this way we shall get the best out of our present surroundings and past development.
MR. BALDWIN.-What is the true idea of an Herbartian regarding the object sought?
MR. Soldan.-What is Herbartian, in the sense given, is the principle involved, and not the material. We may easily differ regarding the material, and not thus interfere with the principle involved.
The second question is whether the child is educated for any purpose outside himself. Should Paul be educated for Dombey & Son, and not for Paul himself? Herbart says the child must be educated for himself. His view has been unfortunately explained as being for the civilization around him and for which he acts. The child must be brought up to feel the heart-beats of the noblest life that is within his possibility. He must attain such a condition as to lead (1) to a good life with others, 2) to a useful life with others, and (3) to a happy life with others. Is not this what Herbart means and his followers claim?
MB. MCMURRY. I think Mr. Soldan is right, as I understand him; and yet Herbart believes that what men have thought and felt and written are among the greatest of all educative agencies, and supply the ideals for future development.
MR. LUKENS asked the question whether the course of study suggested involved the theory of the "culture epochs." Nothing had been said on this point, either in the paper or in the discussion.
MR. MCMURRY.-In making out this outline of a course of study, I have had in mind the idea of the "culture epochs;" that is, the theory that children develop as the race has developed, by a not very clear process; and, that, at certain ages of child life, they are in sympathy with literature belonging to certain corresponeling epochs of race growth. I have chosen the work of the grades, to some extent, at least, under the suggestion of this theory. Nothing, however, has been specifically stated on this point in the paper or discussion.
MR. LUKENS asked further what was the attitude of the Herbartians to the subject of child study.
MB. MCMURRY said, that, while not laying any claim to expert knowledge in the field of child study, he thought there were important lines of sympathy and co-operation between the Herbartians and scientific students of child study. The experiments along the lines of fatigue, physical reactions and measurements, hr. giene, etc., have already supplied much useful help to teachers. Both schools believe in a more careful, and sympathetic, and individual study of children. The doctrine of apperception brings the Herbartians into very close touch with the efforts of all those engaged in child study.
MR. MARBLE. –Why in the fourth grade use foreign and ancient literature?
Mr. McMURRY.-- There does not seem to be too much opportunity given to foreign history in the Herbartian scheme. Much of the best materials for the earlier grades must come from Europe, as our own history and literature are deficient in these.
The question was again raised whether we should not consider, first of all, the child's own needs and possibilities, and educate him for complete and all-round manhood rather than for the perhaps narrow civilization in which he lives. Why should we impose our civilization on a child? Why not let him be free to develop what is in him? Child study seems thus broader and more universal as a basis.
MR. Cook.-Do we not use Greek to avoid provincialism?
MR. HINSDALE.- The Greek is the type of the universal; the Roman is more parrow. Were not both of them national in culture? Is it not simply a question of relativity? The two views-that of child study and the historical of Herbartare complementary, and does not much depend upon the emphasis placed on one or the other?
MR. Cook.-Child study does not interfere with the application of the Herbartian principles in making a course of study. We must nourish the child with the materials of the civilization. The two standpoints are not antagonistic.
MR. MCMURRY. -Child study should certainly have a full measure of recognition. On the one side, it keeps us close to childen and to the persistent needs and difficulties that pervade education. On the other side, the history, literature, and other culture products of the past supply the materials of instruction. They supply, also, the great inspiring ideals of political, social, and religious life, which have been so potent in educational progress. We usually forget the powerful and pervading influence of the past upon us. We are constantly re-thinking its thoughts and imitating its acts. If we could blot out these historical influences and shut ourselves off from the ideas and examples of such men as Longfellow, Washington, Milton, the Puritans, etc.; if we could actually eliminate the influences of the past upon our present life, we should be face to face with blank barbarism.
Even in the education of children, child study is very narrow in its suggestive ness. There is much greater variety and depth of suggestiveness in this history of education in different countries and in the works of classic writers on education than in a whole school of people devoted to child study in a purely experimental way. What reason have you to think, friends, that, from your little child study, you can outweigh what has been established by our seers and prophets ? Child study has its well-earned place and value, but it is no substitute for the best influences of past civilization.
For lack of time the discussion covered only the first part of the report. The place of natural science in the course of study could not be treated.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON PEDAGOGICS.—THE LAWS
OF MENTAL CONGRUENCE AND ENERGY APPLIED TO
The nouns congruence and congruity, and the adjectives congruent and congruous, are derived from the Latin verb congruere, which means to come together with something, and so to agree. The nouns mean suitableness, appropriateness, consistency, agreement, coincidence, correspondence, fitness, harmony, and their adjectives mean pertaining to or having this quality. The words have respect to relations, and they are favorites with those philosophers who place virtue in the fitness of things. For men to render obedience to God, or for a son to honor his father, is said to be congruous to the light of reason. Incongruence and incongruous are the negatives of these words. Con. gruence may be affirmed of physical things alone, or of psychic things alone, or of physical and psychic things taken together. The element of time is involved. Congruence is simultaneous or successive. If successive activities are congruous, the first flows naturally into the second; they blend. The first leaves the body or the mind, as the case may be, in a suitable frame to enter upon the second. Particular at. tention may be directed to this point, because the argument of this paper will turn in large part upon the relations of successive psychic states.
I. Bodily Activities as Congruous or Incongruous.-It is obvious that congruence must be affirmed of some physical activities, incongruence of others. No reference is here made to organic functions. Walking is a good preparation for leaping, wielding a hammer for shoving a plane. But violent exercise disqualifies the muscles or nerves for any activity that requires careful handling or delicate touch. The surgeon could not qualify himself for a difficult operation by first engaging in the vigorous exercises of the gymnasium, nor the painter fit himself for putting the last touches to a fine picture by crushing stones with a sledge. No more does the skillful teacher place the writing or the drawing lesson just after the school recess. We need not dwell upon the laws that underlie these facts further than to say that congruent exercises appear to involve, in whole or part, similar co-ordinations of the nerves and muscles and similar physical tones.
IJ. Physiological and Psychological States as Congruous and Incongruous. —That certain correlations exist between the body and the mind is too plain to be disputed; also, certain oppositions or antagonisms.