School Efficiency Monographs
THE RECONSTRUCTED SCHOOL
FRANCIS B. PEARSON
Superintendent of Public Instruction for Ohio
Author of The Evolution of the Teacher, The High School Problem, Reveries Of A Schoolmaster, and The Vitalized School
World Book Company
In our school processes there are many constants which have general recognition as such by thoughtful people. On the other hand, there are many variables which should be subjected to close scrutiny to the end that they may be made to yield forth the largest possible returns upon the investment of time and effort. These phases of school procedure constitute the real problem in the work of reconstruction, and the following pages represent an effort to point the way toward larger and better results in the realm of these variables. In general, the aims and purposes of the worker determine the quality of the work done. If, therefore, this volume succeeds in stimulating teachers to elevate the goals of their endeavors, it will have accomplished its purpose.—F.B.P.
I. A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF THE TASK BEFORE THE SCHOOL II. THE PAST AS RELATED TO THE PRESENT III. THE FUTURE AS RELATED TO THE PRESENT IV. INTEGRITY V. APPRECIATION VI. ASPIRATION VII. INITIATIVE VIII. IMAGINATION IX. REVERENCE X. SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY XI. LOYALTY XII. DEMOCRACY XIII. SERENITY XIV. LIFE INDEX
THE RECONSTRUCTED SCHOOL
A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF THE TASK BEFORE THE SCHOOL
When people come to think alike, they tend to act alike; unison in thinking begets unison in action. It is often said that the man and wife who have spent years together have grown to resemble each other; but the resemblance is probably in actions rather than in looks; the fact is that they have had common goals of thinking throughout the many years they have lived together and so have come to act in unison. The wise teacher often adjusts difficult situations in her school by inducing the pupils to think toward a common goal. In their zeal for a common enterprise the children forget their differences and attain unison in action as the result of their unison in thinking. The school superintendent knows full well that if he can bring teachers, pupils, and parents to think toward a common goal, he will soon have unity of action. When people catch step mentally, they do the same physically, and as they move forward along the paths of their common thinking, their ways converge until, in time, they find themselves walking side by side in amiable and agreeable converse.
In the larger world outside the school, community enterprises help to generate unity of thinking and consequent unity of action. The pastor finds it one of his larger tasks to establish a focus for the thinking of his people in order to induce concerted action. If the enterprise is one of charity, the neighbors soon find themselves vying with one another in zeal and good will. In the zest of a common purpose they see one another with new eyes and find delight in working with people whose society they once avoided. They can now do teamwork, because they are all thinking toward the same high and worthy goal; lines of demarcation are obliterated and spirits blend in a common purpose. Unity of action becomes inevitable as soon as thinking becomes unified.
Cooeperation follows close upon the heels of community thinking. In the presence of a great calamity, rivalries, differences of creed and party, and long-established animosities disappear in the zeal for beneficent action. In the case of fire or flood people are at one in their actions because they are thinking toward the common goal of rescue. They act together only when they think together. Indeed, cooeperation is an impossibility apart from unified thinking. Herein lies the efficacy of leadership. It is the province of the leader to induce unity of thinking, to animate with a common purpose, knowing that united action will certainly ensue. If he can cause the thinking of people to center upon a focal point, he establishes his claim to leadership.
What is true of individuals is true, also, of nations. Before they can act in concert, they must think in concert, and, to do this, they must acquire the ability to think toward common goals. If, to illustrate, all nations should come to think toward the goal of democracy, there would ensue a closer sympathy among them, and, in time, modifications of their forms of government would come about as a natural result of their unity of thinking. Again, if all nations of the world should set up the quality of courage as one of the objectives of their thinking they would be drawn closer together in their feelings and in their conduct. If the parents and teachers of all these nations should strive to exorcise fear in the training of children, this purpose would constitute a bond of sympathy among them and they would be encouraged by the reflection that this high purpose was animating parents and teachers the world around. Courage, of course, is of the spirit and typifies many spiritual qualities that characterize civilization of high grade. It is quite conceivable that these qualities of the spirit may become the goals of thinking in all lands. Thus the nations would be brought into a relation of closer harmony. Had a score of boys shared the experience of the lad who grew into the likeness of the Great Stone Face, their differences and disparities would have disappeared in the zeal of a common purpose and they would have become a unified organization in thinking toward the same goal.
We cannot hope to achieve the brotherhood of man until the nations of the world have directed their thinking toward the same goals. What these goals shall be must be determined by competent leadership through the process of education. When we think in unison we are taken out of ourselves and become merged in the spirit of the goal toward which we are thinking. If we were to agree upon courage as one of the spiritual qualities that should characterize all nations and organize all educational forces for the development of this quality, we should find the nations coming closer to one another with this quality as a common possession. Courage gives freedom, and in this freedom the nations would touch spiritual elbows and would thus become spiritual confederates and comrades. By generating and developing this and other spiritual qualities the nations would become merged and unity of feeling and actions would surely ensue. Since love is the greatest thing in the world, this quality may well be made the major goal toward which the thinking of all nations shall be directed. When all peoples come to think and yearn toward this goal, hatred and strife will be banished and peace and righteousness will be enthroned in the hearts of men. When there has been developed in all the nations of the earth an ardent love for the true, the beautiful, and the good, civilization will step up to a higher level and we shall see the dawn of unity.
We who are indulging in dreams of the brotherhood of man must enlarge our concept of society before we can hope to have our dreams come true. It is a far cry from society as a strictly American affair to society as a world affair. The teaching of our schools has had a distinct tendency to restrict our notion of society to that within our own national boundaries. In this we convict ourselves of provincialism. Society is far larger than America, or China, or Russia, or all the islands of the sea in combination. It may entail some straining at the mental leash to win this concept of society, but it must be won as a condition precedent to a fair and just estimate of what the function of education really is and what it is of which the schoolhouse must be an exponent. Society must be thought of as including all nations, tribes, and tongues. In our thinking, the word "society" must suggest the hut that nestles on the mountain-side as well as the palace that fronts the stately boulevard. It must suggest the cape that indents the sea as well as the vast plain that stretches out from river to river. And it must suggest the toiler at his task, the employer at his desk, the man of leisure in his home, the voyager on the ocean, the soldier in the ranks, the child at his lessons, and the mother crooning her baby to sleep.
We descant volubly upon the subjects of citizenship and civilization but, as yet, have achieved no adequate definition of either of the terms upon which we expatiate so fluently. Our books teem with admonitions to train for citizenship in order that we may attain civilization of better quality. But, in all this, we imply American citizenship and American civilization, and here, again, we show forth our provincialism. But even in this restricted field we arrive at our hazy concept of a good citizen by the process of elimination. We aver that a good citizen does not do this and does not do that; yet the teachers in our schools would find it difficult to describe a good citizen adequately, in positive terms. Our notions of good citizenship are more or less vague and misty and, therefore, our concept of civilization is equally so.
Granting, however, that we may finally achieve satisfactory definitions of citizenship and civilization as applying to our own country, it does not follow that the same definitions will obtain in other lands. A good citizen according to the Chinese conception may differ widely from a good citizen in the United States. Topography, climate, associations, occupations, traditions, and racial tendencies must all be taken into account in formulating a definition. Before we can gain a right concept of good citizenship as a world affair we must make a thoughtful study of world conditions. In so doing, we may have occasion to modify and correct some of our own preconceived notions and thus extend the horizon of our education.
What society is and should be in the world at large; what good citizenship is and ought to be in the whole world; and what civilization is, should be, and may be as a world enterprise—these considerations are the foundation stones upon which we must build the temple of education now in the process of reconstruction. Otherwise the work will be narrow, illiberal, spasmodic, and sporadic. It must be possible to arrive at a common denominator of the concepts of society, citizenship, and civilization as pertaining to all nations; it must be possible to contrive a composite of all these concepts to which all nations will subscribe; and it must be possible to discover some fundamental principles that will constitute a focal point toward which the thinking of all nations can be directed. Once this focal point is determined and the thinking of the world focused upon it, the work of reconstruction has been inaugurated.
But the task is not a simple one by any means; quite the contrary, for it is world-embracing in its scope. However difficult the task, it is, none the less, altogether alluring and worthy. It is quite within the range of possibilities for a book to be written, even a textbook, that would serve a useful purpose and meet a distinct need in the schools of all lands. At this point the question of languages obtrudes itself. When people think in unison a common language is reduced to the plane of a mere convenience, not a necessity. The buyer and the seller may not speak the same language but, somehow, they contrive to effect a satisfactory adjustment because their thinking is centered upon the same objective. When thinking becomes cosmopolitan, conduct becomes equally so. If this be conceded, then it is quite within the range of possibilities to formulate a course of study for all the schools of the world, if only we set up as goals the qualities that will make for the well-being of people in all lands. True, the means may differ in different lands, but, even so, the ends will remain constant. A thousand people may set out from their homes with Rome as their destination. They will use all means of travel and speak many languages as they journey forward, but their destination continues constant and they will use the best means at their command to attain the common goal. Similarly, if we set up the quality of loyalty as one of our educational goals, the means may differ but the goal does not change and, therefore, the nations will be actuated by a common purpose in their educational endeavors.
The one thing needful for the execution of this ambitious program of securing concerted thinking is to have in our schools teachers who are world-minded, who think in world units. Such teachers, and only such, can plan for world education and world affairs, and bring their plans to a successful issue. Some teachers seem able to think only of a schoolroom; others of a building; others of a town or township; still others of a state; some of a country; and fewer yet of the world as a single thing. A person can be no larger than his unit of thinking. One who thinks in small units convicts himself of provincialism and soon becomes intolerant. Such a person arrogates to himself superiority and inclines to feel somewhat contemptuous of people outside the narrow limits of his thinking. If he thinks his restricted horizon bounds all that is worth knowing, he will not exert himself to climb to a higher level in order that he may gain a wider view. He is disdainful and intolerant of whatever lies beyond his horizon, and his attitude, if not his words, repeats the question of the culpable Cain, "Am I my brother's keeper?" He is encased in an armor that is impervious to ordinary appeal. He is satisfied with himself and asks merely to be let alone. He is quite content to be held fast bound in his traditional moorings without any feeling of sympathy for the world as a whole.
The reverse side of the picture reveals the teacher who is world-minded. Such a teacher is never less than magnanimous; intolerance has no place in his scheme of life; he is in sympathy with all nations in their progress toward light and right; and he is interested in all world progress whether in science, in art, in literature, in economics, in industry, or in education. To this end he is careful to inform himself as to world movements and notes with keen interest the trend and development of civilization. Being a world-citizen himself, he strives, in his school work, to develop in his pupils the capacity and the desire for world-citizenship. With no abatement of thoroughness in the work of his school, he still finds time to look up from his tasks to catch the view beyond his own national boundaries. If the superintendent who is world-minded has the hearty cooeperation of teachers who are also world-minded, together they will be able to develop a plan of education that is world-wide. To produce teachers of this type may require a readjustment and reconstruction of the work of colleges and training schools to the end that the teachers they send forth may measure up to the requirements of this world-wide concept of education. But these institutions can hardly hope to be immune to the process of reconstruction. They can hardly hope to cite the past as a guide for the future, for traditional lines are being obliterated and new lines are being marked out for civilization, including education in its larger and newer import.
THE PAST AS RELATED TO THE PRESENT
In a significant degree the present is the heritage of the past, and any critical appraisement of the present must take cognizance of the influence of the past. That there are weak places in our present civilization, no one will deny; nor will it be denied that the sources of some of these may be found in the past. We have it on good authority that "the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge." Had the eating of sour grapes in the past been more restricted, the present generation would stand less in need of dentistry. When we take an inventory of the people of the present who are defective in body, in mind, or in spirit, it seems obvious that the consumption of sour grapes, in the past, must have been quite extensive. If the blood of the grandfather was tainted, it is probable that the blood of the grandchild is impure.
The defects of the present would seem to constitute a valid indictment against the educational agencies of the past. These agencies are not confined to the school but include law, medicine, civics, sociology, government, hygiene, eugenics, home life, and physical training. Had all these phases of education done their perfect work in the past, the present would be in better case. It seems a great pity that it required a world war to render us conscious of many of the defects of society. The draft board made discoveries of facts that seem to have eluded the home, the school, the family physician, and the boards of health. Many of these discoveries are most disquieting and reflect unfavorably upon some of the educational practices of the past. The many cases of physical unfitness and the fewer cases of athletic hearts seem to have escaped the attention of physical directors and athletic coaches, not to mention parents and physicians. Seeing that one fourth of our young men have been pronounced physically unsound, it behooves us to turn our gaze toward the past to determine, if possible, wherein our educational processes have been at fault.
The thoughtful person who stands on the street-corner watching the promiscuous throng pass by and making a careful appraisement of their physical, mental, and spiritual qualities, will not find the experience particularly edifying. He will note many facts that will depress rather than encourage and inspire. In the throng he will see many men and women, young and old, who, as specimens of physical manhood and womanhood, are far from perfect. He will see many who are young in years but who are old in looks and physical bearing. They creep or shuffle along as if bowed down with the weight of years, lacking the graces of buoyancy and abounding youth. They are bent, gnarled, shriveled, faded, weak, and wizened. Their faces reveal the absence of the looks that betoken hope, courage, aspiration, and high purpose. Their lineaments and their gait show forth a ghastly forlornness that excites pity and despair. They seem the veriest derelicts, tossed to and fro by the currents of life without hope of redemption.
Their whole bearing indicates that they are languid, morbid, misanthropic, and nerveless. They seem ill-nourished as well as mentally and spiritually starved. They seem the victims of inherited or acquired weaknesses that stamp them as belonging among the physically unfit. If the farmer should discover among his animals as large a percentage of unfitness and imperfection, he would reach the conclusion at once that something was radically wrong and would immediately set on foot well-thought-out plans to rectify the situation. But, seeing that these derelicts are human beings and not farm stock, we bestow upon them a sneer, or possibly a pittance by way of alms, and pass on our complacent ways. Looking upon the imperfect passersby, the observer is reminded of the tens of thousands of children who are defective in mind and body and are hidden away from public gaze, a charge upon the resources of the state.
Such a setting forth of the less agreeable side of present conditions would seem out of place, if not actually impertinent, were we inclined to ignore the fact that diagnosis must precede treatment. The surgeon knows full well that there will be pain, but he is comforted by the reflection that restoration to health will succeed the pain. We need to look squarely at the facts as they are in order to determine what must be done to avert a repetition in the future. We have seen the sins of the fathers visited upon the children to the third and fourth generation and still retained our complacency. We preach temperance to the young men of our day, but fail to set forth the fact that right living on their part will make for the well-being of their grandchildren. We exhibit our thoroughbred live stock at our fairs and plume ourselves upon our ability to produce stock of such quality. In the case of live stock we know that the present is the product of the past, but seem less ready to acknowledge the same fact as touching human animals. We may know that our ancestors planted thorns and yet we seem surprised that we cannot gather a harvest of grapes, and we would fain gather figs from a planting of thistles. But this may not be. We harvest according to the planting of our ancestors, and, with equal certainty, if we eat sour grapes the teeth of our descendants will surely be put on edge.
If we are to reconstruct our educational processes we must make a critical survey of the entire situation that we may be fully advised of the magnitude of the problem to which we are to address ourselves. We may not blink the facts but must face them squarely; otherwise we shall not get on. We may take unction to ourselves for our philanthropic zeal in caring for our unfortunates in penal and eleemosynary institutions, but that will not suffice. We must frankly consider by what means the number of these unfortunates may be reduced. If we fail to do this we convict ourselves of cowardice or impotence. We pile up our millions in buildings for the insane, the feeble-minded, the vicious, the epileptic, and plume ourselves upon our munificence. But if all these unfortunates could be redeemed from their thralldom, and these countless millions turned back into the channels of trade, civilization would take on a new meaning. Here is one of the problems that calls aloud to education for a solution and will not be denied.
One of the avowed purposes of education is to lift society to a higher plane of thinking and acting, and it is always and altogether pertinent to make an inventory to discover if this laudable purpose is being accomplished. Such an inventory can be made only by an analyst; the work cannot be delegated either to a pessimist or to an optimist. In his efforts to determine whether society is advancing or receding, the analyst often makes disquieting discoveries.
It must be admitted by the most devoted and patriotic American that our civilization includes many elements that can truly be denominated frivolous, superficial, artificial, and inconsequential. As a people, we seek to be entertained, but fail to make a nice distinction between entertainment and amusement. War, it is true, has caused us to think more soberly and feel more deeply; but the bizarre, the gaudy, and the superficial still make a strong appeal to us. We are quite happy to wear paste diamonds, provided only that they sparkle. So long have we been substituting the fictitious for the genuine that we have contracted the habit of loose, fictitious thinking. So much does the show element appeal to us that we incline to parade even our troubles. Simplicity and sincerity, whether in dress, in speech, or in conduct, have so long been foreign to our daily living and thinking that we incline to style these qualities as old-fogyish.
A hundred or more young men came to a certain city to enlist for the war. As they marched out through the railway station they rent the air with whooping and yells and other manifestations of boisterous conduct. These young fellows may have hearts of gold, but their real manhood was overlaid with a veneer of rudeness that could not commend them to the admiration of cultivated persons. Inside the station was another group of young men in khaki who were quiet, dignified, and decorous. The contrast between the two groups was most striking, and the bystanders were led to wonder whether it requires a world-war to teach our young men manners and whether the schools and homes have abdicated in favor of the cantonment in the teaching of deportment. In the schools and the homes that are to be in our good land we may well hope that decorum will be emphasized and magnified; for decorum is evermore the fruitage of intellectuality and genuine culture.
As a nation, we have been prodigal of our resources and, especially, of our time. We have failed to regard our leisure hours as a liability but, like the lotus eaters, have dallied in the realm of pleasure. Like children at play, we have gone on our pleasure-seeking ways all heedless of the clock, and, when misfortune came and necessity arose, many of us were unwilling and more of us unable to engage in the work of production. In some localities legislation was invoked to urge us toward the fields and gardens. We have shown ourselves a wasteful people, and in the wake of our wastefulness have followed a dismal train of disasters, cold, hunger, and many another form of distress. Deplore and repent of our prodigality as we may, the effects abide to remind us of our decline from the high plane of industry, frugality, and conservation of leisure. Nor can we hope to avert a repetition of this crisis unless education comes in to guide our minds and hands aright.
Again, we have been wont to estimate men by what they have rather than by what they are, and to regard as of value only such things as are quoted in the markets. Wall Street takes precedence over the university and to the millionaire we accord the front seat even in some of our churches. We accept the widow's mite but do not inscribe her name upon the roll of honor. We give money prizes for work in our schools and thus strive to commercialize the things of the mind and of the spirit. We have laid waste our forests, impoverished our fields, and defiled our landscapes to stimulate increased activity in our clearing-houses. Like Jason of old, we have wandered far in quest of the golden fleece. We welcome the rainbow, not for its beauty but for the bag of gold at its end. We seek to scale the heights of Olympus by stairways of gold, fondly nursing the conceit that, once we have scaled these heights, we shall be equal to the gods.
To indulge in even such a brief review of some of the weak places and defections of society is not an agreeable task, but diagnosis must necessarily precede the application of remedies. If we are to reconstruct education in order to effect a reconstruction of society we must know our problem in advance, that we may proceed in a rational way. Reconstruction cannot be made permanently effective by haphazard methods. We must visualize clearly the objectives of our endeavors in order to obviate wrong methods and futility. We must have the whole matter laid bare before our eyes or we shall not get on in the work of reconstruction. It were more agreeable to dwell upon our achievements, and they are many, but the process of reconstruction has to do with the affected parts. These must be our special care, these the realm for our kindly surgery and the arts of healing. We need to become acutely conscious that the present will become the past and that there will be a new present which will take on the same qualities that now characterize our present. We need to feel that the future will look back to our present and commend or condemn according to the practices of this generation. And the only way to make a sane and right future is to create a sane and right present.
THE FUTURE AS RELATED TO THE PRESENT
In planning a journey the one constant is the destination. All the other elements are variable, and, therefore, subordinate. So, also, in planning a course of study. The qualities to be developed through the educational processes are the constants, while the agencies by which these qualities are to be attained are subject to change. The course of study provides for the school activities for the child for a period of twelve years, and it is altogether pertinent to inquire what qualities we hope to develop by means of these school activities. To do this effectively we must visualize the pupil when he emerges from the school period and ask ourselves what qualities we hope to have him possess at the close of this period. If we decide upon such qualities as imagination, initiative, aspiration, appreciation, courage, loyalty, reverence, a sense of responsibility, integrity, and serenity, we have discovered some of the constants toward which all the work of the twelve years must be directed. In planning a course of study toward these constants we do not restrict the scope of the pupil's activities; quite the reverse. We thus enlarge the concept of education both for himself and his teachers and emphasize the fact that education is a continuous process and may not be marked by grades or subjects. For the teachers we establish goals of school endeavor and thus unify and articulate all their efforts. We focus their attention upon the pupil as they would all wish to see him when he completes the work of the school.
If children are asked why they go to school, nine out of ten, perhaps, will reply that they go to school to learn arithmetic, grammar, geography, and history. Asked what their big purpose is in teaching, probably three out of five teachers will answer that they are actuated by a desire to cause their pupils to know arithmetic, grammar, geography, and history. One of the other five teachers may echo something out of her past accumulations to the effect that her work is the training for citizenship, and the fifth will say quite frankly that she is groping about, all the while, searching for the answer to that very question. It would be futile to ask the children why they desire knowledge of these subjects and there might be hazard in propounding the same question to the three teachers. They teach arithmetic because it is in the course of study; it is in the course of study because the superintendent put it there; and the superintendent put it there because some other superintendent has it in his course of study.
Now arithmetic may, in reality, be one of the best things a child can study; but the child takes it because the teacher prescribes it, and the teacher takes it on faith because the superintendent takes it on faith and she cannot go counter to the dictum of the superintendent. Besides, it is far easier to teach arithmetic than it would be to challenge the right of this subject to a place in the course of study. To most people, including many teachers, arithmetic is but a habit of thinking. They have been contracting this habit through all the years since the beginning of their school experience, until now it seems as inevitable as any other habitual affair. It is quite as much a habit of their thinking as eating, sleeping, or walking. If there were no arithmetic, they argue subconsciously, there could be no school; for arithmetic and school are synonymous. Again, let it be said that there is no thought here of inveighing against arithmetic or any other subject of the curriculum. Not arithmetic in itself, but the arithmetic habit constitutes the incubus, the evil spirit that needs to be exorcised.
This arithmetic habit had its origin, doubtless, in the traditional concept of knowledge as power. An adage is not easily controverted or eradicated. The copy-books of the fathers proclaimed boldly that knowledge is power, and the children accepted the dictum as inviolable. If it were true that knowledge is power, the procedure of the schools and the course of conduct of the teachers during all these years would have ample justification. The entire process would seem simplicity itself. So soon as we acquire knowledge we should have power—and power is altogether desirable. The trouble is that we have been confusing knowledge and wisdom in the face of the poet's declaration that "Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, have ofttimes no connection." Our experience should have taught us that many people who have much knowledge are relatively impotent for the reason that they have not learned how to use their knowledge in the way of generating power. Gasoline is an inert substance, but, under well-understood conditions, it affords power. Water is not power, but man has learned how to use it in generating power. Knowledge is convenient and serviceable, but its greatest utility lies in the fact that it can be employed in producing power.
We are prone to take our judgments ready-made and have been relying upon the copy-books of the fathers rather than our own reasoning powers. If we had only learned in childhood the distinction between knowledge and wisdom; if we had learned that knowledge is not power but merely potential; and if we had learned that knowledge is but the means to an end and not the end itself, we should have been spared many a delusion and our educational sky would not now be so overcast with clouds. We have been proceeding upon the agreeable assumption that arithmetic, geography, and history are the goals of every school endeavor, the Ultima Thule of every educational quest. The child studies arithmetic, is subjected to an examination that may represent the bent or caprice of the teacher, manages to struggle through seventy per cent of the answers, is promoted to the next higher grade, and, thereupon, starts on his journey around another circle. And we call this education. These processes constitute the mechanics of education, but, in and of themselves, they are not education. One of the big problems of the school today is to emancipate both teachers and pupils from the erroneous notion that they are.
The child does not go to school to learn arithmetic and spelling and grammar. The goal to be attained is far higher and better than either of these or all combined. The study of arithmetic may prove a highly profitable means, never the end to be gained. This statement will be boldly challenged by the traditional teacher, but it is so strongly intrenched in logic and sound pedagogy that it is impregnable. The goal might, possibly, be reached without the aid of arithmetic, but, if a knowledge of this subject will facilitate the process, then, of course, it becomes of value and should be used. Let us assume, for the moment, that the teacher decides to set up thoroughness as one of the large objectives of her teaching. While she may be able to reach this goal sooner by means of arithmetic, no one will contend that arithmetic is indispensable. Nor, indeed, will any one contend that arithmetic is comparable to thoroughness as a goal to be attained. If the teacher's constant aim is thoroughness, she will achieve even better results in the arithmetic and will inculcate habits in her pupils that serve them in good stead throughout life. For the quality of thoroughness is desirable in every activity of life, and we do well to emphasize every study and every activity of the school that helps in the development of this quality.
If the superintendent were challenged to adduce a satisfactory reason why he has not written thoroughness into his course of study he might be hard put to it to justify the omission. He hopes, of course, that the quality of thoroughness will issue somehow from the study of arithmetic and science, but he lacks the courage, apparently, to proclaim this hope in print. He says that education is a spiritual process, while his course of study proves that he is striving to produce mental acrobats, relegating the spiritual qualities to the rank of by-products. His course of study shows conclusively that he thinks that knowledge is power. Once disillusion him on this point and his course of study will cease to be to him the sacrosanct affair it has always appeared and he will no longer look upon it as a sort of sacrilege to inject into this course of study some elements that seem to violate the sanctities of tradition.
Advancing another brief step, we may try to imagine the superintendent's suggesting to the teachers at the opening of the school year that they devote the year to inculcating in their pupils the qualities of thoroughness, self-control, courage, and reverence. The faces of the teachers, at such a proposal, would undoubtedly afford opportunity for an interesting study and the linguistic reactions of some of them would be forcible to the point of picturesqueness. The traditional teachers would demand to know by what right he presumed to impose upon them such an unheard-of program. Others might welcome the suggestion as a means of relief from irritating and devastating drudgery. In their quaint innocence and guilelessness their souls would revel in rainbow dreams of preachments, homilies, and wise counsel that would cause the qualities of self-control and reverence to spring into being full-grown even as Minerva from the head of Jove.
But their beatific visions would dissolve upon hearing the superintendent name certain teachers to act as a committee to determine and report upon the studies that would best serve the purpose of generating reverence, and another committee to select the studies that would most effectively stimulate and develop self-control, and so on through the list. It is here that we find the crux of the whole matter. Here the program collides with tradition and with stereotyped habits of thinking. Many superintendents and teachers will contend that such a problem is impossible of solution because no one has ever essayed such a task. No one, they argue, has ever determined what subjects will effectually generate the specific qualities self-control or reverence, no one has ever discovered what school studies will function in given spiritual qualities. According to their course of reasoning nothing is possible that has not already been done. However, there are some progressive, dynamic superintendents and teachers who will welcome the opportunity to test their resourcefulness in seeking the solution of a problem that is both new and big. To these dynamic ones we must look for results and when this solution is evolved, the work of reconstruction will move on apace.
Reverting, for the moment, to the subject of thoroughness: it must be clear that this quality is worthy a place in the course of study because it is worthy the best efforts of the pupil. Furthermore, it is worthy the best efforts of the pupil because it is an important element of civilization. These statements all need reiteration and emphasis to the end that they may become thoroughly enmeshed in the social consciousness. If we can cause people to think toward thoroughness rather than toward arithmetic or other school studies, we shall win the feeling that we are making progress. Thoroughness must be distinguished, of course, from a smattering knowledge of details that have no value. In the right sense thoroughness must be interpreted as the habit of mastery. We may well indulge the hope that the time will come when parents will invoke the aid of the schools to assist their children in acquiring this habit of mastery. When that time comes the schools will be working toward larger and higher objectives and education will have become a spiritual process in reality.
It will be readily conceded that the habit of mastery is a desirable quality in every vocation and in every avocation. It is a very real asset on the farm, in the factory, in legislative halls, in the offices of lawyer and physician, in the study, in the shop, and in the home. When mastery becomes habitual with people in all these activities society will thrill with the pulsations of new life and civilization will rise to a higher level. But how may the child acquire this habit of mastery? On what meat shall this our pupil feed that he may become master of himself, master of all his powers, and master of every situation in which he finds himself? How shall he win that mastery that will enable him to interpret every obstacle as a new challenge to his powers, and to translate temporary defeat into ultimate victory? How may he enter into such complete sense of mastery that he will not quail in the presence of difficulties, that he will never display the white flag or the white feather, that he will ever show forth the spirit of Henley's Invictus, and that nothing short of death may avail to absolve him from his obligations to his high standards?
These questions are referred, with all proper respect, to the superintendent, the principal, and the teachers, whose province it is to vouchsafe satisfactory answers. If they tell us that arithmetic will be of assistance in the way of inculcating this habit of mastery, then we shall hail arithmetic with joyous acclaim and accord it a place of honor in the school regime,—but only as an auxiliary, only as a means to the great end of mastery. If they assure us that science will be equally serviceable in our enterprise of developing mastery, then we shall give to science an equally hearty welcome. However, we shall emphasize the right to stipulate that, in the course of study, the capitals shall be reserved for the big objective thoroughness, of the habit of mastery, and that the means be given in small letters and as sub-heads.
We may indulge in the conceit that a flag floats at the summit of a lofty and more or less rugged elevation. The youth who essays the task of reaching that flag will need to reinforce his strength at supply stations along the way. If we style one of these stations arithmetic, it will be evident, at once, that this station is a subsidiary element in the enterprise and not the goal, for that is the flag at the top. These supply stations are useful in helping the youth to reach his goal. We may conceive of many of these stations, such as algebra, or history, or Greek, or Chinese. Whatever their names, they are all but means to an end and when that end has been attained the youth can afford to forget them, in large part, save only in gratitude for their help in enabling him to win the goal of thoroughness.
The child eats beefsteak because it is palatable; the mother prescribes beefsteak and prepares it carefully with the child's health as the goal of her interests. Moreover, she has a more vital interest in beefsteak because she is thinking of health as the goal. For another child, she may prescribe eggs and, for still another, milk or oatmeal, according to each one's needs. Health is the big goal and these foods are the supply stations along the way. The physician must assist in determining what articles of food will best serve the purpose and to this end he must cooperate with the mother in knowing his patients. He must have knowledge of foods and must know how to adapt means to ends, never losing sight of the real goal. The inference is altogether obvious. A superintendent must write the prescription in the form of a course of study and he may not with impunity mistake a supply station for the goal. He must have knowledge of the pupils and know their individual needs and native interests. Having gained this knowledge, he will supply abundant electives in order to assist each child in the best possible way toward the goal.
If, then, the relation between major ends and minor means has been made clear, we are ready for the statement that these major ends may be made the common goals of endeavor in the schools of all lands. Thoroughness is quite as necessary in the rice fields of China as in the wheat fields of America, as necessary in the banks of Rome as in the banks of New York, quite as essential to mercantile transactions in Cape Town as in Chicago, and quite as essential to home life in Tokyo as in San Francisco. If these big objectives are set up in the schools of all countries pupils, teachers, and people will come to think in unison and thus their ways will converge and they will come to act in unison. The same high purposes will actuate and animate society as a whole and this, in turn, will make for a higher type of civilization and accelerate progress toward unity in school procedure.
Integrity connotes many qualities that are necessary to success in the high art of right and rational living and that are conspicuous, therefore, in society of high grade. It is an inclusive quality, and is, in reality, a federation of qualities that are esteemed essential to a highly developed civilization. The term, like the word from which it is derived, integer, signifies completeness, wholeness, entirety, soundness, rectitude, unimpaired state. It implies no scarification, no blemish, no unsoundness, no abrasion, no disfigurement, no distortion, no defect. In ordinary parlance integrity and honesty are regarded as synonyms, but a close analysis discovers honesty to be but one of the many manifestations of integrity. Lincoln displayed honesty in returning the pennies by way of rectifying a mistake, but that act, honest as it was, did not engage all his integrity. This big quality manifested itself at Gettysburg, in the letter to Mrs. Bixby, in visiting the hospitals to comfort and cheer the wounded soldiers, and in his magnanimity to those who maligned him.
In every individual the inward quality determines the outward conduct in all its ramifications, whether in his speech, in his actions, or in his attitude toward other individuals. It is quite as true in a pedagogical sense as in the scriptural sense that "Men do not gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles," and, also, that "By their fruits ye shall know them." The stream does not rise higher than the source. What a man is doing and how he is doing it tells us what he is. When we would appraise a man's character we take note of his habits, his daily walk and conversation in all his relations to his fellows. If we find a blemish in his conduct, we arrive at the judgment that his character is not without blemish. In short, his habitual acts and speech, in the marts of trade, in the office, in the field, in the home, and in the forum betoken the presence or absence of integrity. It follows, then, as a corollary that, if we hope to have in the stream of life that we call society the elements that make for a high type of civilization we must have integrity at the source; and with this quality at the source these elements will inevitably issue forth into the life currents. This being true, we have clear warrant for the affirmation that integrity is a worthy goal toward which we do well to direct the activities of the school.
Integrity in its large import implies physical soundness, mental soundness, and moral soundness. In time we may come to realize that physical soundness and mental soundness are but sequences of moral soundness, or, in other words, that a sound body and a sound mind are manifestations of a right spirit. But, for the present, we may waive this consideration and think of the three phases of integrity—physical, mental and moral. If, at the age of eighteen years, the boy or girl emerges from school experience sound in body, in mind, and in spirit, society will affirm that education has been effective. To develop young persons of this type is a work that is worthy the best efforts of the home, the school, the church and society, nor can any one of these agencies shift or shirk responsibility. The school has a large share of this responsibility, and those whose duty it is to formulate a course of study may well ask themselves what procedure of the school will best assist the child to attain integrity by means of the school activities.
In our efforts to generate this quality of integrity, or, indeed, any quality, it must be kept clearly in mind every day and every hour of the day that the children with whom we have to do are not all alike. On the contrary, they differ, and often differ widely, in respect of mental ability, environment, inheritances, and native disposition. If they were all alike, it would be most unfortunate, but we could treat them all alike in our teaching and so fix and perpetuate their likeness to one another. Some teachers have heard and read a hundred times that our teaching should attach itself to the native tendencies of the child; yet, in spite of this, the teacher proceeds as if all children were alike and all possessed the same native tendencies. Herein lies a part of the tragedy of our traditional, stereotyped, race-track teaching. We assume that children are all alike, that they are standardized children, and so we prescribe for them a standardized diet and serve it by standardized methods. If we were producing bricks instead of embryo men and women our procedure would be laudable, for, in the making of bricks, uniformity is a prime necessity. Each brick must be exactly like every other brick, and, in consequence, we use for each one ingredients of the same quality and in like amount, and then subject them all to precisely the same treatment.
This procedure is well enough in the case of inanimate bricks, but it is far from well enough in the case of animate, sentient human beings. It would be a calamity to have duplicate human beings, and yet the traditional school seems to be doing its utmost to produce duplicates. The native tendencies of one boy impel him toward the realms of nature, but, all heedless of this big fact, we bind him hard and fast to some academic post with traditional bonds of rules and regulations and then strive to coerce him into partaking of our traditional pabulum. His inevitable rebellion against this regime we style incorrigibility, or stupidity, and then by main strength and authority strive to reduce him to submission and, failing in this, we banish him from the school branded for life. Our treatment of this boy is due to the fact that another boy in the school is endowed with other native tendencies and the teacher is striving to fashion both boys in the same mold.
In striving to inculcate the quality of integrity, wholeness, soundness, rectitude in Sam Brown our aim is to develop this specific boy into the best Sam Brown possible and not to try to make of him another Harry Smith. We need one best Sam Brown and one best Harry Smith but not two Harry Smiths. If we try to make our Sam Brown into a second Harry Smith, society is certain to be the loser to the value of Sam Brown. We want to see Sam Brown realize all his possibilities to the utmost, for only so will he win integrity. Better a complete Sam Brown, though only half the size of Harry Smith, than an incomplete Sam Brown of any size. If the native tendencies of Sam Brown lead toward nature, certain it is that by denying him the stimulus of nature study, we shall restrict his growth and render him less than complete. If we would produce a complete Sam Brown, if we would have him attain integrity, we must see to it that the process of teaching engages all his powers and does not permit some of these powers to lie fallow.
If Sam Brown is a nature boy, no amount of coercion can transform him into a mathematics boy. True he may, in time, gain proficiency in mathematics, but only if he is led into the field of mathematics through the gateway of nature. He may ultimately achieve distinction as a writer, but not unless his pen becomes facile in depicting nature. Unless his native interests are taken fully into account and all his powers are enlisted in the enterprise of education toward integrity, he will never become the Sam Brown he might have been and the teacher cannot win special comfort in the reflection that she has helped to produce a cripple. We can better afford to depart from the beaten path, and even do violence to the sanctity of the course of study, than to lose or deform Sam Brown. If his soul yearns for green fields and budding trees, it is cruel if not criminal to fail to cater to this yearning. And only by cultivating and ministering to this native disposition can we hope to be of service in aiding him to achieve integrity.
It needs to be emphasized that integrity signifies one hundred per cent, nothing less, and that such a goal is quite worth working toward. On the physical side, the problem looms large before us. Since we can produce thoroughbred live stock that scores one hundred per cent, we ought to produce one hundred per cent men and women. In a great university, physical examinations covering a period of seventeen years discovered one physically perfect young woman and not one physically perfect young man. Our live stock records make a better showing than this. For years we have been quoting "a sound mind in a sound body" in various languages but have failed in a large degree to achieve sound bodies. Nor, indeed, may we hope to win this goal until we become aroused to the importance of physical training in its widest import for all young people and not merely for the already physically fit, who constitute the ball teams. If the child is physically sound at the age of six, he ought to be no less so at the age of eighteen. If he is not so, there must have been some blundering in the course of his school life, either on the part of the school itself or of the home. When we set up physical soundness as the goal of our endeavors and this ideal becomes enmeshed in the consciousness of all citizens, then activities toward this end will inevitably ensue. Physical training will be made an integral part of the course of study, medical and dental inspection will obtain both in the school and in the home, insanitary conditions will no longer be tolerated, intemperance in every form will disappear, and every child will receive the same careful nurture that we now bestow upon the prize winners at our live-stock exhibition. The thinking of people will be intent toward the one hundred per cent standard and, in consequence, they will strive in unison to achieve this goal.
The large amount of incompleteness that is to be found among the products of our schools may be traced, in a large measure, to our irrational and fictitious procedure in the matter of grading. We must keep records, of course, but it will be recalled that in the parable of the talents men were commended or condemned according to the use they made of the talents they had and were not graded according to a fixed standard. Seeing that seventy-five per cent will win him promotion, the boy devotes only so much of himself to the enterprise as will enable him to attain the goal and directs the remainder of himself to adventures along the line of his native tendencies. The only way by which we can develop a complete Sam Brown is so to arrange matters that the whole of Sam Brown is enlisted in the work. Otherwise we shall have one part of the boy working in one direction and another part in another direction, and that plan does not make for completeness. We must enlist the whole boy or we shall fail to develop a complete boy. If we can find some study to which he will devote himself unreservedly, then we may well rejoice and can afford to let the traditional subjects of the course of study wait. We are interested in Sam Brown just now and he is far more important than some man-made course of study. We are interested, too, in one hundred per cent of Sam Brown, and not in three fourths of him. If arithmetic will not enlist all of this boy and nature will enlist all of him, then arithmetic must be held in abeyance in the interest of the whole boy.
The seventy-five per cent standard is repudiated by the world of affairs even though it is emphasized by the school. Seventy-five per cent of accuracy will not do in the transactions of the bank. The accounts must balance to the penny. The figures are right or else they are wrong. There is no middle ground. In the school the boy solves three problems but fails with the fourth. None the less he wins the goal of promotion. Not so at the bank. He is denied admission because of his failure with the fourth problem. Seventy-five will not do in joining the spans of the great bridge across the river. We must have absolute accuracy if we would avoid a wreck with its attendant horrors. The druggist must not fall below one hundred per cent in compounding the prescription unless he would face a charge of criminal negligence. The wireless operator must transcribe the message with absolute accuracy or dire consequences may ensue. The railway crew must read the order without a mistake if they would save life and property from disaster.
But, in the school, the teachers rejoice and congratulate one another when their pupils achieve a grade of seventy-five. It matters nothing, apparently, that this grade of seventy-five is a fictitious thing with no basis in logic or reason, in short a mere habit that has no justification save in tradition, and that, in very truth, it is a concession to inaccuracy and ignorance. When we promote the boy for solving three out of four problems we virtually say to him that the fourth problem is negligible and he may as well forget all about it. Sometimes a teacher grieves over a grade of seventy-three, never realizing that another teacher might have given to that same paper a grade of eighty-three. We proclaim education to be a spiritual process, and then, in some instances, employ mechanics to administer this process. By what process of reasoning the superintendent or the teacher arrives at the judgment that seventy-five is good enough is yet to be explained. Our zeal for grades and credits indicates a greater interest in the label than in the contents of the package.
Teaching is a noble work if only it is directed toward worthy goals. Nothing in the way of human endeavor can be more inspiring than the work of striving to integrate boys and girls. The mere droning over geography, and history, and grammar is petty by comparison. And yet all these studies and many others may be found essential factors in the work and they will be learned with greater thoroughness as means to a great end than as ends in themselves. The supply stations take on a new meaning to the boy who is yearning to reach the flag at the top. But it needs to be said here that the traditional superintendent and teacher will greet this entire plan with a supercilious smile. They will call it visionary, unpractical, and idealistic—then return to their seventy-five per cent regime with the utmost complacency and self-satisfaction. It is ever so with the traditional teacher. He seeks to be let alone, that he may go on his complacent way without hindrance. To him every innovation is an interference, if not a positive impertinence. But, in spite of the traditional teacher, the school is destined to rise to a higher level and enter upon a more rational procedure. And we must look to the dynamic teacher to usher in the renaissance—the teacher who has the vitality and the courage to break away from tradition and write integrity into the course of study as one of the big goals and think all the while toward integrity, physical, mental, and moral.
Education may be defined as the process of raising the level of appreciation. This definition will stand the ultimate test. Here is bed-rock; here is the foundation upon which we may predicate appreciation as a goal in every rational system of education. Appreciation has been defined as a judgment of values, a feeling for the essential worth of things, and, as such, it lies at the very heart of real education. It must be so or civilization cannot be. Without appreciation there can be no distinction between the coarse and the fine, none between the high and the low, none between the beautiful and the ugly, none between the sublime and the commonplace, none between zenith and nadir. Hence, appreciation is inevitable in every course of study, whether the authorities have the courage to proclaim it or not. Just why it has not been written into the course of study is inexplicable, seeing that it is fundamental in the educational process. It is far from clear why the superintendent permits teachers and pupils to go on their way year after year thinking that arithmetic is their final destination, or why he fails to take the tax-payers into his confidence and explain to them that appreciation is one of the lode-stars toward which the schools are advancing. In his heart he hopes that the schools may achieve appreciation, and it would be the part of frankness and fairness for him to reveal this hope to his teachers and to all others concerned.
It is common knowledge that business affairs do not require more than ten pages of arithmetic and it would seem only fair that the study of the other pages should be justified. These other pages must serve some useful purpose in the thinking of those who retain them, and, certainly, no harm would ensue from a revelation of this purpose. If they are studied as a means to some high end, they will prove no less important after this fact has been explained. We may need more arithmetic than we have, but it is our due to be informed why we need it; to what use it is to be put. These things we have a right to know, and no superintendent, who is charged with the responsibility of making the course of study, has a right to withhold the information. If he does not know the explanation of the course of study he has devised, he ought to make known that fact and throw himself "on the mercy of the court."
In these days of conservation and elimination of waste every subject that seeks admission to the course of study should be challenged at the door and be made to show what useful purpose it is to serve. Nor should any subject be admitted on any specious pretext. If there are subjects that are better adapted to the high purposes of education than the ones we are now using, then, by all means, let us give them a hearty welcome.
Above all, we should be careful not to retain a subject unless it has a more valid passport than old age to justify its retention. If Chinese will help us win the goal of appreciation more effectively than Latin, then, by all means, we should make the substitution. But, in doing so, we must exercise care not to be carried away by a yearning for novelty. Least of all should any subject be admitted to the course of study that does not have behind it something more substantial and enduring than whim or caprice.
The subjects that avail in generating and stimulating the growth of appreciation are many and of great variety. Nor are they all found in the proverbial course of study of the schools. When the boy first really sees an ear of corn from another viewpoint than the economic, he finds it eloquent of the marvelous adaptations of nature. From being a mere ear of corn it becomes a revelation of design and beauty. No change has taken place in the ear of corn, but a most important change has been wrought in the boy. Such a change is so subtle, so delicate, and so intangible that it cannot be measured in terms of per cents; but it is no less real for all that. It is a spiritual process and, therefore, aptly illustrates the accepted definition of education. Though it defies analysis and the rule of thumb, the boy is conscious of it and can say with the man who was born blind, "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see," and no cabalistic marks in a grade-book can express the value of the change indicated by that statement.
The sluggard deems the sunrise an impertinence because it disturbs his morning slumber; but such a change may be wrought in him as to cause him to stand in reverence before the very thing he once condemned. The sunrise, once an affront, is now nothing less than a miracle, and he stands in the sublime presence with uncovered and lowered head. He is a reverent witness of the re-birth of the world. An hour ago there was darkness; now there is light. An hour ago the world was dead; now it is gloriously alive. An hour ago there was silence; now there is sound of such exquisite quality as to ravish the soul with delight. As the first beams of sunlight come streaming over the hills, ten thousand birds join in a mighty chorus of welcome to the newborn day and the world is flooded with song; and the whilom sluggard thrills under the spell of the scene and feels himself a part of the world that is vibrant with music. Can it be denied that this man is all the better citizen for his ability to appreciate the wonderfulness of a sunrise?
But while we extol and magnify the quality of appreciation, it is well to note that it cannot be superinduced by any imperial mandate nor does it spring into being at the behest of didacticism. It can be caught but not taught. Indeed, it is worthy of general observation that the choice things which young people receive from the schools, colleges, and normal schools are caught and not taught, however much the teachers may plume themselves upon their ability to impart instruction. Education, at its best, is a process of inoculation. The teacher is an important factor in this process of generating situations that render inoculation far more easy; and we omit one of the most vital things in education when we refer only to the teacher's ability to "impart instruction." The pupil gets certain things in that room, but the teacher does not give them. The teacher's function is to create situations in which the spirit of the pupil will become inoculated with the germs of truth in all its aspects. If he could give the things that the pupils get, then all would share alike in the distribution. If the teacher could impart instruction, he certainly would not fail to lift all his pupils over the seventy-five per cent hurdle.
If instruction or knowledge could be imparted, education would no longer be a spiritual process but rather one of driving the boy into a corner, imparting such instruction as the teacher might decree and keeping on until the point of saturation was reached or the supply of instruction became exhausted, when the trick would be done. The process would be as simple as pouring water from one vessel into another. Sometimes the teacher of literature strives to engender appreciation in a pupil by rhapsodizing over some passage. She reads the passage in a frenzy of simulated enthusiasm, with a quaver in her voice and moisture in her eyes, only to find, at the end, that her patient has fallen asleep. Appreciation cannot be generated in such fashion. The boy cannot light his torch of appreciation at a mere phosphorescent glow. There must be heat behind the light or there can be no ignition. The boy senses the fictitious at once and cannot react to what he knows to be spurious. Only the genuine can win his interest.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said that no one can gaze into the starry sky at night for five minutes and not believe in the existence of God. But to people who lack such appreciation the night sky is devoid of significance. There are teachers who never go forth to revel in the glories of this star-lit masterpiece of creation, because, forsooth, they are too busy grading papers in literature. Such a teacher is not likely to be the cause of a spiritual ignition in her pupils, for she herself lacks the divine fire of appreciation. If she only possessed this quality no words would be needed to reveal its presence to the boy; he would know it even as the homing-pigeon knows its course. When the spirits of teacher and pupils become merged as they must become in all true teaching, the boy will find himself in possession of this spiritual quality. He knows that he has it, the teacher knows that he has it, and his associates know that he has it, and one and all know that it is well worth having.
It is related of Keats that in reading Spenser he was thrown into a paroxysm of delight over the expression "sea-shouldering whales." The churl would not give a second thought to the phrase, or, indeed, a first one; but the man of appreciation finds in it a source of pleasure. Arlo Bates speaks with enthusiasm of the word "highly" as used in the Gettysburg Speech, and the teacher's work reaches a high point of excellence when it has given to the pupil such a feeling of appreciation as enables him to discover and rejoice in such niceties of literary expression. It widens the horizon of life to him and gives him a deeper and closer sympathy with every form and manifestation of life. Every phase of life makes an appeal to him, from bird on the wing to rushing avalanche; from the blade of grass to the boundless plains; from the prattle of the child to the word miracles of Shakespeare; from the stable of Bethany to the Mount of Transfiguration.
Geography lends itself admirably to the development of appreciation if it is well taught. Indeed, to develop appreciation seems to be the prime function of geography, and the marvel is that it has not been so proclaimed. In this field geography finds a clear justification, and the superintendent who sets forth appreciation as the end and geography as the means is certain to win the plaudits of many people who have long been wondering why there is so much geography in the present course of study. Certainly no appreciation can develop from the question and answer method, for no spiritual quality can thrive under such deadening conditions. If the questions emanated from the pupils, the situation would be improved, but such is rarely the case. Teaching is, in reality, a transfusion of spirit, and when this flow of spirit from teacher to pupil is unimpeded teaching is at high tide. When the subject is artfully and artistically developed the effect upon the child is much the same as that of unrolling a great and beautiful picture. The Mississippi River can be taught as a great drama, from its rise in Lake Itasca to its triumphal entry into the Gulf. As it takes its way southward pine forests wave their salutes, then wheat fields, then corn fields, and, later, cotton fields. Then its tributaries may be seen coming upon the stage to help swell the mighty sweep of progress toward the sea. When geography is taught as a drama, appreciation is inevitable.
The resourceful teacher can find a thousand dramas in the books on geography if she knows how to interpret the pages of the books, and with these inspiring dramas she can lift her pupils to the very pinnacle of appreciation. Such tales are as fascinating as fairy stories and have the added charm of being true to the teachings of science. A raindrop seems a common thing, but cast in dramatic form it becomes of rare charm. It slides from the roof of the house and finds its way into the tiny rivulet, then into the brook, then into the river and thus finally reaches the sea. By the process of evaporation, it is transformed into vapor and is carried over the land by currents of air. As it comes into contact with colder currents, condensation ensues and then precipitation, and our raindrop descends to earth once more. Sinking into the soil at the foot of the tree it is taken up into the tree by capillary attraction, out through the branches and then into the fruit. Then comes the sunshine to ripen the fruit, and finally this fruit is harvested and borne to the market, whence it reaches the home. Here it is served at the breakfast table and the curtain of our drama goes down with our raindrop as orange-juice on the lip of the little girl.
When we come to realize, in our enlarged vision, the possibilities of geography in fostering the quality of appreciation, our teaching of the subject will be changed and vitalized, our textbooks will be written from a different angle, and our pupils will receive a much larger return upon their investment of time and effort. The study of geography will be far less like the conning of a gazetteer or a city directory and more like a fascinating story. In our astronomical geography we shall make many a pleasing excursion into the far spaces and win stimulating glimpses into the infinities. In our physical geography we shall read marvelous stories that outrival the romances of Dumas and Hugo. And geography as a whole will reveal herself as the cherishing mother of us all, providing us with food, and drink, and shelter, and raiment, giving us poetry, and song, and story, and weaving golden fancies for the fabric of our daily dreams.
And when, at length, through the agency of geography and the other means at hand, our young people have achieved the endowment of appreciation, life will be for them a fuller and richer experience and they will be better fitted to play their parts as intelligent, cultivated men and women. The gateways will stand wide open through which they can enter into the palace of life to revel in all its beauteous splendor. They will receive a welcome into the friendship of the worthy good and great of all ages. When they have gained an appreciation of the real meaning of literature, children who have become immortal will cluster about them and nestle close in their thoughts and affections,—Tiny Tim, Little Jo, Little Nell, Little Boy Blue, and Eppie. A visitor in Turner's studio once said to the artist, "Really, Mr. Turner, I can't see in nature the colors you portray on canvas." Whereupon the artist replied, "Don't you wish you could?" When our pupils gain the ability to read and enjoy the message of the artist they will be able to hold communion with Raphael, Michael Angelo, Murillo, Rembrandt, Rosa Bonheur, Titian, Corot, Andrea del Sarto, Correggio, Fra Angelico, and Ghiberti. In the realms of poetry they will be able to hold agreeable converse with Shelley, Keats, Southey, Mrs. Browning, Milton, Victor Hugo, Hawthorne, Poe, and Shakespeare. And when the great procession of artists, poets, scientists, historians, dramatists, statesmen, and philanthropists file by to greet their gaze, entranced they will be able to applaud.
Browning says, "'Tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do." The boy who has acquired the habit of wishing ardently in right directions is well on the way toward becoming educated. For earnest wishing precedes and conditions every achievement that is worthy the name. The man who does not wish does not achieve, and the man who does wish with persistency and consistency does not fail of achievement. Had Columbus not wished with consuming ardor to circumnavigate the globe, he would never have encountered America. The Atlantic cable figured in the dreams and wishes of Cyrus W. Field long before even the preliminaries became realities. The wish evermore precedes the blueprint. It required forty-two years for Ghiberti to translate his dream into the reality that we know as the bronze doors of the Baptistry. But had there been no dreams there had been no bronze doors, and the world of art would have been the poorer. Every tunnel that pierces a mountain; every bridge that spans a river; every building whose turrets pierce the sky; every invention that lifts a burden from the shoulders of humanity; every reform that gilds the world with the glow of hope, was preceded by a wish whose gossamer strands were woven in a human brain. The Red Cross of today is but a dream of Henri Dunant realized and grown large.
The student who scans the records of historical achievements and of the triumphs of art, music, science, literature, and philanthropy must realize that ardent wishing is the condition precedent to further extension in any of these lines, and he must be aware, too, that the ranks of wishers must be recruited from among the children of our schools. The yearning to achieve is the urge of the divine part of each one of us, and it naturally follows that whoever does not have this yearning has been reduced to the plane of abnormality in that the divine part of him has been subordinated, submerged, stifled. Every fervent wish is a prayer that emanates from this divine part of us, and, in all reverence, it may be said that we help to answer our own prayers. When we wish ardently we work earnestly to cause our dreams to come true. We are told that every wish comes true if we only wish hard enough, and this statement finds abundant confirmation in the experiences of those who have achieved.
The child's wishes have their origin and abode in his native interests and when we have determined what his wishes are, we have in hand the clue that will lead us to the inmost shrine of his native tendencies. This, as has been so frequently said, is the point of attack for all our teaching, this the particular point that is most sensitive to educational inoculation. If we find that the boy is eager to have a wireless outfit and is working with supreme intensity to crystallize his wish into tangible and workable form, quite heedless of clock hours, it were unkind to the point of cruelty and altogether unpedagogical to force him away from this congenial task into some other work that he will do only in a heartless and perfunctory way. If we yearn to have him study Latin, we shall do well to carry the wireless outfit over into the Latin field, for the boy will surely follow wherever this outfit leads. But if we destroy the wireless apparatus, in the hope that we shall thus stimulate his interest in Latin, the scar that we shall leave upon his spirit will rise in judgment against us to the end of life. The Latin may be desirable and necessary for the boy, but the wireless comes first in his wishes and we must go to the Latin by way of the wireless.
It is the high privilege of the teacher to make and keep her pupils hungry, to stimulate in them an incessant ardent longing and yearning. This is her chief function. If she does this she will have great occasion to congratulate herself upon her own progress as well as theirs. If they are kept hungry, the sources of supply will not be able to elude them, for children have great facility and resourcefulness in the art of foraging. They readily discover the lurking places of the substantials as well as of the tid-bits and the sweets. They easily scent the trail of the food for which their spiritual or bodily hunger calls. The boy who yearns for the wireless need not be told where he may find screws, bolts, and hammer. The girl who yearns to paint will somehow achieve pigments, brushes, palette, and teachers. Appetite is the principal thing; the rest comes easy. The hungry child lays the whole world under tribute and cheerfully appropriates whatever fits into his wishes. If his neighbor a mile distant has a book for which he feels a craving, the two-mile walk in quest of that book is invested with supreme charm, no matter what the weather. The apple may be hanging on the topmost bough, but the boy who is apple-hungry recks not of height nor of the labyrinth of hostile branches. He gets the apple. As some one has said, "The soul reaches out for the cloak that fits it."
There is nothing more pathetic in the whole realm of school procedure than the frantic efforts of some teachers to feed their pupils instead of striving to create spiritual hunger. They require pupils to "take" so many problems, con so many words of spelling, turn so many pages of a book on history, and then have them try to repeat in an agony of effort words from a book that they neither understand nor feel an interest in. The teacher would feed them whether they have any craving for food or not. Such teachers seem to be immune to the teachings of psychology and pedagogy; they continue to travel the way their grandparents trod, spurning the practices of Pestalozzi, Froebel, and Francis Parker. They seem not to know that their pupils are predatory beings who are quite capable of ransacking creation to get the food for which they feel a craving. Not appreciating the nature of their pupils, they continue the process of feeding and stuffing them and thus fall into the fatal blunder of mistaking distention for education.
Ruth McEnery Stuart has set out this whole matter most lucidly and cogently in her volume entitled Sonny. In this story the boy had four teachers who took no account of his aspirations and natural tendencies, but insisted upon feeding him traditional food by traditional methods. To them it mattered not that he was unlike other boys. What was suitable for them must be equally suitable for him. The story goes that a certain school-master was expounding the passage "Be ye pure in heart." Turning to the boys he exclaimed, "Are you pure in heart? If you're not, I'll flog you till you are." So with Sonny's four teachers. If he had no appetite for their kind of food, they'd feed it to him till he had. But when the appetite failed to come as the result of their much feeding, they banished him to outer darkness with epithets expressive of their disappointment and disgust. They washed their hands of him and were glad to be rid of him.
His next teacher, however, was different. She sensed his unlikeness to other boys and knew, instinctively, that his case demanded and deserved special treatment. She consulted his aspirations and appraised his native tendencies. In doing so, she discovered an embryo naturalist and thus became aware of the task to which she must address herself. So she spread her nets for all living and creeping things, for the beasts of the forest, the birds of the air, for plants, and flowers, and stones,—in short, for all the works of nature. In name she was his teacher, but in reality she was his pupil, and his other four teachers might have become members of the class with rich profit to themselves. In his examination for graduation the boy utterly confounded and routed the members of the examining committee by the profundity and breadth of his knowledge and they were glad to check his onslaught upon the ramparts of their ignorance by awarding him a diploma.
It devolves upon the superintendent and teachers, therefore, to determine what studies already in the schools or what others that may be introduced will best serve the purpose of fostering aspiration. They cannot deny that this quality is an essential element in the spiritual composition of every well-conditioned child as well as of every rightly constituted man and woman. For aspiration means life, and the lack of aspiration means death. The man who lacks aspiration is static, dormant, lifeless, inert; the man who has aspiration is dynamic, forceful, potent, regnant. Aspiration is the animating power that gives wings to the forces of life. It is the motive power that induces the currents of life. The man who has aspiration yearns to climb to higher levels, to make excursions into the realms that lie beyond his present horizon, and to traverse the region that lies between what he now is and what he may become. It is the dove that goes forth from the ark to make discovery of the new lands that beckon.
In a former book the author tried to set forth the influence of the poet in generating aspiration, and in this attempt used the following words: "When he would teach men to aspire he writes Excelsior and so causes them to know that only he who aspires really lives. They see the groundling, the boor, the drudge, and the clown content to dwell in the valley amid the loaves and fishes of animal desires, while the man who aspires is struggling toward the heights whence he may gain an outlook upon the glories that are, know the throb and thrill of new life, and experience the swing and sweep of spiritual impulses. He makes them to know that the man who aspires recks not of cold, of storm, or of snow, if only he may reach the summit and lave his soul in the glory that crowns the marriage of earth and sky. They feel that the aspirant is but yielding obedience to the behests of his better self to scale the heights where sublimity dwells."
It were useless for teachers to pooh-pooh this matter as visionary and inconsequential or to disregard aspiration as a vital factor in the scheme of education. This quality is fundamental and may not, therefore, be either disregarded or slurred. Fundamental qualities must engage the thoughtful attention of all true educators, for these fundamentals must constitute the ground-work of every reform in our school procedure. There can be life without arithmetic, but there can be no real life without aspiration. It points to higher and fairer levels of life and impels its possessor onward and upward. This needs to be fully recognized by the schools that would perform their high functions worthily, and no teacher can with impunity evade this responsibility. Somehow, we must contrive to instill the quality of aspiration into the lives of our pupils if we would acquit ourselves of this obligation. To do less than this is to convict ourselves of stolidity or impotence.
Chief among the agencies that may be made to contribute generously in this high enterprise is history, or more specifically, biography, which is quintessential history. A boy proceeds upon the assumption that what has been done may be done again and, possibly, done even better. When he reads of the beneficent achievements of Edison he becomes fired with zeal to equal if not surpass these achievements. Obstacles do not daunt the boy who aspires. Everything becomes possible in the light and heat of his zeal. Since Edison did it, he can do it, and no amount of discouragement can dissuade him from his lofty purpose. He sets his goal high and marches toward it with dauntless courage. If a wireless outfit is his goal, bells may ring and clocks may strike, but he hears or heeds them not.
To be effective the teaching of history must be far more than the mere droning over the pages of a book. It must be so vital that it will set the currents of life in motion. In his illuminating report upon the schools of Denmark, Mr. Edwin G. Cooley quotes Bogtrup on the teaching of history as follows: "History does not mean books and maps; it is not to be divided into lessons and gone through with a pointer like any other paltry school subject. History lies before our eyes like a mighty and turbulent ocean, into which the ages run like rivers. Its rushing waves bring to our listening ears the sound of a thousand voices from the olden time. With our pupils we stand on the edge of a cliff and gaze over this great sea; we strive to open their eyes to its power and beauty; we point out the laws of the rise and fall of the waves, and of the strong under-currents. We strive by poetic speech to open their ears to the voices of the sea which in our very blood run through the veins from generation to generation, and, humming and singing, echo in our innermost being."
Such teaching of history as is here portrayed will never fall upon dull ears or unresponsive spirits. It will thrill the youth with a consuming desire to be up and doing. He will ignite at touch of the living fire. His soul will become incandescent and the glow will warm him into noble action. He yearns to emulate the triumphs of those who have preceded him on the stage of endeavor. If he reads "The Message to Garcia" he feels himself pulsating with the zeal to do deeds of valor and heroism. Whether the records deal with Clara Barton, Nathan Hale, Frances Willard, Mrs. Stowe, Columbus, Lincoln, William the Silent, Erasmus, or Raphael, if these people are present as vital entities the young people will thrill under the spell of the entrancing stories. Then will history and biography come into their own as means to a great end, and then will aspiration take its rightful place as one of the large goals in the scheme of education. As Browning says, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" and again:
What I aspired to be And was not, comforts me.
No one who gives the matter thoughtful consideration will ever deprecate or disparage the possession of the virtue of obedience; but, on the other hand, no such thoughtful person will attempt to deny that this virtue, desirable as it is, may be fostered and emphasized to such a degree that its possessor will become a mere automaton. And this is bad; indeed, very bad. We extol obedience, to be sure, but not the sort of blind, unthinking obedience that will reduce its possessor to the status of the mechanical toy which needs only to be wound up and set going. The factory superintendent is glad to have men about him who are able to work efficiently from blueprints; but he is glad, also, to have men about him who can dispense with blueprints altogether or can make their own. The difference between these two types of operatives spells the difference between leadership and mere blind, automatic following. Were all the workers in the factory mere followers, the work would be stereotyped and the factory would be unable to compete with the other factory, where initiative and leadership obtain.
One psychologist avers that ninety per cent of our education comes through imitation; but, even so, it is quite pertinent to inquire into the remaining ten per cent. Conceding that we adopt our styles of wearing apparel at the behest of society; that we fashion and furnish our homes in conformity to prevailing customs; that we permit press and pulpit to formulate for us our opinions and beliefs; in short, that we are imitators up to the full ninety per cent limit, it still must seem obvious to the close observer that the remaining ten per cent has afforded us a vast number and variety of improvements that tend to make life more agreeable. This ten per cent has substituted the modern harvester for the sickle and cradle with which our ancestors harvested their grain; it has brought us the tractor for the turning of the soil in place of the primitive plow; it has enabled us to use the auto-truck in marketing our products instead of the ox-teams of the olden times; it has brought us the telegraph and telephone with which to send the message of our desires across far spaces; and it has supplied us with conveniences and luxuries that our grandparents could not imagine even in their wildest fancies.
A close scrutiny will convince even the most incredulous that many teachers and schools arc doing their utmost, in actual practice if not in theory, to eliminate the ten per cent margin and render their pupils imitators to the full one hundred per cent limit. We force the children to travel our standard pedagogical tracks and strive to fashion and fix them in our standard pedagogical molds. And woe betide the pupil who jumps the track or shows an inclination to travel a route not of the teacher's choosing! He is haled into court forthwith and enjoined to render a strict accounting for his misdoing; for anything that is either less or more than a strict conformity to type is accounted a defection. We demand absolute obedience to the oracular edicts of the school as a passport to favor. Conformity spells salvation for the child and, in the interests of peace, he yields, albeit grudgingly, to the inevitable.
In world affairs we deem initiative a real asset, but one of the saddest of our mistakes in ordering school activities consists in our fervid attempts to prove that the school is detached from life and something quite apart from the world. We would have our pupils believe that, when they are in school, they are neither in nor of the world. At our commencement exercises we tell the graduates that they are now passing across a threshold out into the world; that they are now entering into the realms of real life; and that on the morrow they will experience the initial impact of practical life. These time-worn expressions pass current, at face value, among enthusiastic relatives and friends, but there are those in the audience who know them to be the veriest cant, with no basis either in logic or in common sense. It is nothing short of foolishness to assert that a young person must attain the age of eighteen years before he enters real life. The child knows that his home is a part of the world and an element in life, that the grocery is another part, the post-office still another part, and so on through an almost endless list. Equally well does he know that the school is a part of life, because it enters into his daily experiences the same as the grocery and the post-office. Full well does he know that he is not outside of life when he is in school, and no amount of sophistry can convince him otherwise. If the school is not an integral part of the world and of life, so much the worse for the school and, by the same token, so much the worse for the teacher. Either the school is a part of the world or else it is neither a real nor a worthy school.
The hours which the child spends in school are quite as much a part of his life as any other portion of the day, no matter what activities the school provides, and we do violence to the facts when we assume or argue otherwise. Here is a place for emphasis. Here is the rock on which many a pedagogical bark has suffered shipwreck. We become so engrossed in the mechanics of our task—grades, tests, examinations, and promotions—that we lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with real life in a situation that is a part of the real world. The best preparation for life is to practice life aright, and this is the real function of the school. If teachers only could or would give full recognition to this simple, open truth, there would soon ensue a wide departure from some of our present mechanized methods. But so long as we cling to the traditional notion that school is detached from real life, so long shall we continue to pursue our merry-go-round methods. If we could fully realize that we are teaching life by the laboratory method, many a vague and misty phase of our work would soon become clarified.