On the Firing Line in Education
by Adoniram Judson Ladd
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A. J. LADD Professor of Education, State University of North Dakota



All Rights Reserved Made in the United States of America

The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.


Of the ten studies making up this little volume only one, the last, aside from the Introduction, was designed primarily for publication. Each of the others had a definite personal audience in mind while being prepared. Still, nearly all have later found their way into print, and some have been reprinted in other periodicals and quoted quite extensively in still others. Many letters of appreciation, too, from strangers who have chanced to read this address or that, have come to the writer. These facts, together with expressions of appreciation upon delivery and with definite suggestions from many for publication, have finally led the writer to feel that possibly their gathering together might be worth while. But in fairness to himself, as well as to others, also in the interests of accuracy, he is prompted to give an additional reason for venturing upon the hazardous undertaking of offering "cold meats" to people not overly hungry. Not words of praise alone, no matter how warm, would justify such a decision, for one can never take such expressions at quite their face value—'tis so easy to make pleasant remarks! So the matter was thrown back to where it belonged all the time—upon the writer to decide the case on the merits of the various discussions as dealing with present-day educational problems.

While separate addresses, upon different topics, given at different times, and with no thought of connection, they all do bear upon one great matter of universal interest—that of education. The title, "On the Firing Line in Education," belongs specifically to but the first of the topics discust. Still, it is appropriate to the entire group since the various matters handled are fundamental and the positions taken considerably in advance of common use. But we are clearly moving in the general direction indicated—'twill not be long now before the main army has caught up, and then the firing line will be still further advanced.

I have a very definite conviction that, at any financial cost, we should provide thru the school for the physical as well as for the psychical and the moral development of the child. This is not to take the place of the home—merely to supplement the work of the majority of homes. Only thus can we adequately educate all. I believe, too, that in any scientific view of the educational process the sense organs are paramount in importance, and therefore urge their care and training. That the positions taken in the various addresses upon these and other matters are sound has been pretty well demonstrated during the last two years when the demands of war have faced us. This is made clear in the Introduction that follows.

I am under obligations to the various periodicals in which these studies have appeared for permission to use them again in this form. I also appreciate the courtesy of Mr. Badger, the publisher, in allowing me to use certain simplified forms of spelling, thus departing from the usual over-conservative practise of publishers. Is not this, too, one of the firing-line activities?


Grand Forks, North Dakota, March, 1919





Social Betterment, the Dominant Motive in Education 38

Child Study 43

Physical Education 50

The Educational Survey 51

Vocational Guidance 53

The Educational Psychologist 56


The Elementary School 65

The High School 67

The State University 75


The Kind of Teachers the University Should Employ 91

The University Teacher in his Classroom 94

The University's Attitude Toward the Preparation of Teachers for the Schools of the State 105



The Home 134

The Church 141

The School 150









From School and Society, April 5, 1919

Knowing that I was about to publish a book on education in which the Great War, now happily closed, was not taken as the point of departure, a friend said to me one day, in substance, "Aren't you taking undue risks just now in putting out a book on education that isn't based upon a program of reconstruction? Haven't all our so-called educational principles been dis-credited? Shall you get any readers if you do not admit educational failure thus far, and proceed to discuss a change of front, made imperative by recent revelations?" And the editor of a well known educational journal, in asking me for an article, recently, said, among other things, "I should be glad to have an article upon some phase of reconstruction after the war, educational, social, philosophical, as you may like. Here is the next great battlefield of the future, and if the educational forces do not redeem themselves here, it is my opinion that we shall become a greater laughing stock than we have ever been before."

To both of these statements I desire to take exception. To be sure, the war has taught us many lessons bearing upon education; to be sure, it has revealed shortcomings, limitations, and weaknesses. But it seems to me that it has also made clear that we have been working along right lines. Our fundamental educational principles have not been dis-credited. There is no far-reaching educational failure to admit, nor is there any serious shortcoming from which the educational forces of the country have to redeem themselves. "Laughing stock," does the gentleman say? Oh no! Far from it! Let us not get panicky! Some weaknesses brought to light? Certainly. But in the analysis, later to be made, let us see if, for the most part, they do not but demonstrate the soundness of our educational principles and the far-sightedness of our educational leaders together with the short-sightedness of the present critics, in that had suggested recommendations been followed these weaknesses would not have existed. Let us give here but one illustration, and that briefly. We all admit that the medical examinations for the war found too many physical defects, and too many men thereby incapacitated for efficient military service. But would not the results have been very different if, during the last generation, the suggestions and strong recommendations of educators relative to physical education in our schools been acted upon by the public? Ah! The fault was not with educational principles; they were sound. The educational forces of the country knew what was needed, but a parsimonious public would not follow intelligent leadership. We could say, all along the line, "I told you so," if we felt so inclined. Instead of being the "laughing stock" we could—if the matter were not too serious—throw the laugh upon the other fellow. The purpose of our schools has never been to produce soldiers at the drop of the hat, and so they have never been blighted by military training. (May it never come!) Their task has been to produce men and women of character and purpose and ideals—men and women of initiative who could become anything called for by an emergency. And nobly have they succeeded, as evidenced by the successful prosecution of the war.

In view of all that the United States has done to assist in bringing the war to its successful close, from the adoption of the selective draft down thru the management of the training camps, the operation of the railroads, conservation of food and fuel, to the knitting of a pair of socks and the sale of a thrift stamp, what shall be said of the success or failure of our schools? Every man, woman, and child in this gigantic work, from President Wilson down to the colored bootblack who saved his nickels to buy a stamp, or to the little girl who voluntarily went without her sugar, has been a product of the schools. Thru the instruction, the discipline, and the training given in those schools, they became the men and women who could rise to the emergency and do the things needed. And they did.

No college or university or professional school ever taught Mr. Wilson how to be President of the United States during these troublous days; nor Mr. McAdoo how to manage the railroads; nor Mr. Pershing all about war; nor any local worker how to lead the Red Cross work, any more than the lower schools have taught the boys who went into the trenches how to use the gas mask and how to go without food; how to shoulder arms and how to march. But the schools all along the line did help to give them ideals, did train them in team-play; did instil into them the principles of democracy and the love of country, so that when the need came they arose as one man to repel the foe. And the study of arithmetic, geography, and grammar; of chemistry, physics, and medicine; of Latin, Greek, and history has, in each case, made its contribution to the preparation of home workers, soldiers, scientific experts, financial managers, and statesmen—has helped to make each an individual of initiative.

Under the guidance of our educational leaders, following principles that they had workt out, the schools of the country were moving quietly along, each one of the 750,000 teachers doing faithfully the work at hand day by day. We had never thought of war as a possibility for us, and of course preparation for it had not been made, in the slightest degree, a part of the work of the schools. But when war, with all its horrors, was finally forced upon us and we needed statesmen and scientists and military leaders to guide and direct, they were at hand in the graduates of our colleges and universities—broadly trained men capable of assimilating, or learning, or in other ways gaining quickly, the specific form of efficiency needed in the particular activity assigned. And when we needed soldiers they were at hand in the person of our boys of the schools, both common and high, from every nook and corner of the land—boys and men who merely needed direction and leadership, capable of at once falling into line and quickly taking on the professional phase of their training. Could we have asked our schools to do more? The supreme test had come, and it was being met in a manner gratifying to all. The boys and the girls, the men and the women, on the farm, in the store, in the home, in the workshop, in the schools and colleges, have responded "Here am I. Show me what you want me to do, and I will do it even unto death." It was done, and they did it. The schools had nobly demonstrated their efficiency.

To be sure, all this was not done without making mistakes. Not all the products of all the schools were able to rise to the occasion and to be depended upon in our hour of need. When the great national search-light was trained upon the product of the schools, seeking leaders of infinite variety and number, and likewise hosts of followers to do definite and difficult things, many deficient ones were discovered—some deficient in mental caliber, some weak in moral fiber, some lacking in physical stamina. And right here is to be seen the only serious failure of our schools. Not every boy, not every girl, had been made as efficient as could have been desired. But, happily, in our great numbers enough were found to do even the stupendous work at hand, and to do it well. In spite of moral lapses, not a few, in spite of instances of mental incompetence, far too many, and in spite of physical handicaps, distressingly large—in spite of all this, I say, the United States surprised the world with the quickness with which we pulled ourselves together, and with the marvelous efficiency with which we mobilized all our resources. Many losses of course there were—losses of men, losses of days, losses of dollars. But when all is said and done, the losses were slight when compared with the accomplishments. Credit to whom credit is due! But because of these losses unthinking men immediately began to criticise the schools. They should have been trade schools, or industrial schools or military schools—any kind of schools that they were not. And how clearly it was being demonstrated, we were told, that the time formerly spent on music and drawing, art and literature, algebra and geometry, history and Latin, had all been wasted! How much better it would have been if, instead of these "frills," the children had been given "practical subjects"! (Practical. Save the mark. One is tempted here to go off on a by-path and discuss the topic, "What is Practical?") Thus the criticism of the unthinking—of the laymen who went off at half-cock.

And this criticism was deepened and strengthened and extended and made more vehement, again by the unthinking, when the fine results of the Plattsburgh experiment were revealed, in which, thru the processes of intensive training, men were quickly whipt into shape for new, and difficult, and responsible undertakings. And the equally good results that came from the officers' training schools, in which college boys by a similar program were metamorphosed, almost at over-night, into capable army officers, had the same effect. How signally had the schools failed! And these long years spent in school and college, "dawdling over the frills," had been to no effect, whereas "a few weeks under intelligent educational direction accomplishes marvels."

And the same has further illustration. Ministers of the Gospel selected for chaplains, physicians and surgeons chosen for medical service, nurses for the Red Cross, engineers for various forms of engineering, and many others have all been given this short period of intensive training and, to their credit and ours be it said, all responded quickly. But the conclusion drawn by the unthinking has been, all along the line, that the later efficiency of these men which has gained for us the plaudits and the gratitude of the world was due to this short period of intensive training, "under men who were intelligent enough to know just what was needed and just how to go about to secure it"—men not hampered by any pedagogical nonsense or grown stale over a long attempt to discriminate between the "infinity of nothingness and the nothingness of infinity" (as one might summarize a rather common criticism), rather than to the former years of patient toil, and discipline, and accomplishment which had really laid the foundation so well that all were able thus to respond. The common school, the high school, the college, and the professional school was dis-credited, one and all, in favor of a short-cut method analogous to the so-called "Business College,"—a short-cut method that could result only in disaster if applied without the appropriate preparation.

How long it does take people to realize that real education is a slow process! that it takes years and years and years of varied experiences for the processes of assimilation and development to bring about the fine fruitage of stable character!

And the Government, too (I suppose we can criticize Washington just a little now without serious danger of being sent to jail), must have had the same point of view in regard to the general management of education since, during the war, it did not entrust its educational war program into the hands of the National Bureau of Education. It did have the War Department and the Navy Department and the Treasury Department manage their respective phases of war activities. Why was not the Department of Education called on to direct the educational work? Had it been, the S. A. T. C. fiasco, as well as some other blunders, would doubtless have been avoided. But the thought (or was it the lack of thought?) must have been that most anybody outside of the teaching profession would know better how to get educational results than any one from within. A similar point of view is generally discernible in the election of boards of education in towns and cities thruout the country—any one is satisfactory save those who know definitely what should be going on inside of the school house.

Perhaps all this was to be expected. I rather think so. But I confess to surprise when I find such criticism being echoed from within—from men who should know better, as, for example, the two quoted at the beginning of this article. The explanation, I suppose, is that, timid in nature, they have become panicky and lost their bearings. Perhaps they were suffering from a mild form of brain-storm, and have temporarily slipt back into the ranks of the unthinking.

Let us analyze the situation and see if we can discover just what the war did reveal as to the short-*comings of our educational system. Let us then try to locate the responsibility.

One of the most serious of the educational shortcomings thus revealed is a high percentage of illiteracy—nearly eight per cent, I understand, the country over. The seriousness of such a situation can scarcely be overestimated. It was serious in time of war—the inability of a soldier to read orders, or to follow written directions, or to make written reports, especially when one takes into consideration the myriad forms of war service just recently used, would limit his possibilities of service and cripple himself and all his companions. But illiteracy is even more serious in times of peace, for then such individuals are not immediately under the direction of intelligent officers and thus prevented from the disastrous results of their own ignorant actions. Think for a moment of what it means in a democracy and for a democracy to have one out of every ten (disregarding children) of the possible directing forces of the government unable to read or write!

But when we add to this statement of mere illiteracy the fact that a large percentage of these illiterates are of foreign birth or extraction and have never learned either to speak or understand the language of their adopted country, the situation is seen to be even more serious in potentiality, both in peace and war. Our authorities have been too lax, it seems, in not requiring that all children of foreign extraction, whether foreign or American born, be educated in the English language. In communities thickly settled by alien peoples they have too often allowed the schools to be conducted in the vernaculars of the people—a German school here, an Austrian school there, and an Italian school over yonder, and so on. And it goes without saying that in schools in which children are instructed in alien tongues 'tis not the American spirit that is inculcated nor American ideals that take root. No one would challenge the statement that here is a defect in the execution of our educational program, and one that must be remedied at any cost.

Still another serious weakness as revealed by the merciless hand of war is that of physical shortcoming. A large number of men were rejected for service and a still larger number accepted only for limited service because of physical disability as shown by the medical examinations. I have not the figures at hand, but 'tis common knowledge that the situation is considered grave. Eye defects, ear defects, defective teeth, weak lungs, flat feet, round shoulders, spinal curvature, unsymmetrical development, and many other defects were discovered in great numbers. Perhaps nothing but a rigid medical examination by a military officer would ever have opened our eyes to the real situation. But this did. The revelations came as a surprise to nearly all except the educational leaders of the country. They have known, all the time, what the situation has been and, for a generation, have been trying to combat it.

Again the question is raised as to whether these defects, or weaknesses, of American education, in both fields mentioned, as serious as they have been seen to be for war, are not even a more serious menace when looked upon from the point of view of peace, and therefore, even tho the war has been won, of such commanding importance as to demand our immediate and continued attention.

One might go on and name other shortcomings in the working out of our educational program that have been more clearly brought to the surface during the critical days of our warfare. But this article is not intended to be a catalog. The two mentioned are fundamental and far-reaching. Illiteracy and physical disability! Weakness along these lines strikes at the very roots of national life and of individual well-being. And if, as a nation and as individuals, we are ever going to enter into our inheritance, these defects must be remedied. But before trying to discuss remedies, it will be well to locate responsibility. Are our basic educational principles unsound, or merely our educational practises unsatisfactory? Are the educational leaders of the country all wrong in theory? Have their heads been so high among the clouds that they have not seen the real boy and his homely task? Or have they seen clearly and mapt out wisely, whereas the public, relatively unthinking upon technical matters and always slow to act in new fields, has not been ready to follow? Is it in theory or in practise where the real shortcoming is to be found? The answer to the question is vital. If in theory, then is the situation serious indeed for that would mean that our psychology is wrong—that our whole philosophy of life and of government has been built upon error. Truly, then, after all these years, the "educational forces" would need to "redeem" themselves so as not to be "a greater laughing stock than we have ever been before." But if the weakness lies merely in our practise, not yet having been able to attain to our ideals, then, tho serious, it would be but child's play, comparatively speaking, to put ourselves right. We should need to take courage, redouble our efforts, and all that, but should not need to start all over again.

How shall we account for the illiteracy revealed among both alien and native born? Not by faulty methods of teaching can it be explained, nor by anything else that teachers have done or have not done. Illiterates have not attended the schools. It is due either to insufficient legislation or to non-enforcement of laws, doubtless more the latter save in the case of adult aliens.

From the very beginning of our colonial life, early in the 17th century, universal education has been a part of both our educational and our governmental creeds. A program of compulsory education was early found necessary, early adopted, and never abandoned. Beginning in Massachusetts and going south and west, following considerably behind but then keeping almost even pace with settlement and development after statehood had come, legislation has decreed that every child born into the land or coming into it by immigration shall enjoy the advantages of education, at least to the extent of knowing how to read and write the English language. Every state in the Union has compulsory attendance laws upon its statute books. These laws are not as thorogoing as they should be in many cases but yet, even as they are, if enforced, they should leave almost no illiteracy among people whose childhood has been spent in this country. For the least satisfactory laws—those of some of the Southern states, Georgia, for example, require school attendance for at least four months of each year between the ages of eight and fourteen. But illiteracy, even among our own people, has been revealed—too much of it. The laws have not been enforced. There is the sore spot. Why have they not been enforced? But of that later.

The education of adult aliens is another matter, and a very different one. As a problem it is almost new. That is, it has been only in relatively recent years that it has been recognized as such. True, for several years some of the states most largely affected, such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and others have been wrestling with it, but not very much has yet been attempted toward introducing the compulsory features. And private agencies, philanthropic, industrial, religious, political, and others have also done good work. But all that had thus far been done had accomplisht little more, at the outbreak of the war, than to open our eyes to the existence of a problem. And in our leisurely way we were going about its solution. But war came. The European nations were aflame. We had many Europeans in our midst. Investigations were made. The universal draft was adopted. The revelations were startling. It was discovered that in 1910 there were in the United States 2,953,011 white persons of foreign birth, 10 years of age and over, unable to speak the English language. Of these 56,805 were from ten to fifteen years of age, 330,994 between fifteen and twenty-one, and 2,565,212 twenty-one and over. Note the number, more than two and a half millions, twenty-one years of age and over—men grown, fathers of families, many of them—unable to speak the language of their adopted country! And of these 788,631 were illiterate—unable to read or write in any language!

Nothing short of legal requirements on a large scale, and rigidly enforced, absolutely free of cost to the immigrant, can ever remove the menace. The law-making bodies of the country, both State and Federal, must act and act quickly or this growing menace will get beyond our control.

And the long catalog of physical defects—what shall be said of them? Shall they be charged against the "educational forces" of the country? Are they a disgrace from which we must "redeem" ourselves so that we shall not become the "greater laughing stock"? It is perfectly evident that somebody has blundered because the whole sad list of defects is, speaking broadly, preventive and, for the most part, also remediable. But where lies the responsibility—upon the home, the school, or society? Of course, primarily, upon the home; the child comes from the home, goes to the home, is a part of the home, is under the immediate control of the home. But yet, many homes, especially homes of alien peoples, are not sufficiently intelligent to have entrusted to them matters of such far-reaching importance. And many others are not financially able to have proper attention given.

But the school does know. And it, or what it represents, is abundantly able financially to handle the matter. It knows clearly how the child with physical defects is hampered in trying to perform its school work; it knows, too, how seriously the entire work of the school is interfered with when there are many such in the room; and it also knows the handicap under which such unfortunate children face life when school days are over. And the school knows, too, the preventive and remediable natures of these defects. Possessing all this knowledge, why has it not acted? To make a long story short, it has acted. To the extent of its authority and with all the influence and power at its command it has acted, has been acting for many years, and is still acting. For more than a generation the educational forces of the country have been engaged in a nation-wide educational campaign designed to make clear to the homes of the country and to the voters of the country the growing seriousness of the situation. On the lecture platform and from the Gospel pulpit, in the educational press and in the popular magazine, aye, in the daily newspaper, in private conversation and in public discussion, in season and out of season, they have labored unceasingly to acquaint the public with the facts and to urge preventive and remedial action. To the unselfish work of these leaders of educational thought and action, supplemented by the generous assistance of the medical profession, is due the fact of our present-day intelligence in regard to the matter. Educators have been deeply interested, thoroly alive, and intelligently at work. How they have agitated the matter of better ventilation and better lighting of schoolhouses! How they have pleaded for medical inspection and appropriate medical treatment of school children! How they have urged the employment of the school nurse! How they have workt for the playground and the gymnasium and for sane methods of handling the same!

But they do not form the court of last appeal. They have no authority. They all stand in about the same anomalous position as does the man nominally at the head of the educational activities of the country—the United States Commissioner of Education. They may gather statistics, make reports, and suggest action. But that is all. Tho possessing full knowledge of the situation, tho knowing just how to proceed to usher in a better day, they are not permitted to take any action. Responsible? Of course they are not responsible. "Redeem" themselves? From what, pray? "Laughing stock"? How long, oh! how long, will our great army of teachers, three-fourths of a million strong, be unappreciated, belittled, and maligned!

Who, then, is responsible? In the last analysis there is but one answer—the public itself. Since the community at large as well as the individual afflicted is, in the final outcome, a sufferer in every case of physical disability, as also in that of illiteracy, it is its duty, as a mesure of self-protection, at least, to assume direction. Adequate information is at hand as to desirable methods of procedure. Demonstrations a-plenty have been given to prove that the program suggested is feasible, inexpensive, and beneficial. This has been brought about thru the action of a few small groups who have thus presented clear and convincing object lessons. But why must we say "a few"? Why is not such work nation-wide? That is a longer story. It follows.

The United States of America is a Republic—a representative democracy—a government in which all the people participate. And the government of the United States is a Federal government. It is made up of a group of States, each one exercising supervision and control over its local matters. And education has thus far been considered a local matter. And in many ways that soverenty has been still further divided. We have as a smaller unit of school organization the county, and a smaller one yet, the township, and, in many states, a still smaller one, the school district, containing, in many instances, only a few square miles of territory and, of course, a very limited population. But in some respects, within certain limits, each of these small units is a law unto itself, having much to say as to the length of the school term, the character of the teaching, and many other phases including such as the one under consideration.

For these reasons it frequently happens that side by side are school districts, or townships, or counties, with widely differing educational programs. Here is one with attractive buildings, well ventilated and well lighted, well equipt in every way, in the hands of competent teachers, with physician and nurses subject to call. But just over the imaginary line is another with nothing quite satisfactory. They are just living up to the strict letter of the State's requirement and that is all. Not one dollar is being spent that represents the community's voluntary contribution to the welfare of its child life or to the future well-being of humanity.

And why? Just because we are a Democracy. Just because our action must be the united action of many, representing the average intelligence of the entire governmental unit and not that of its most intelligent members. For this reason a democracy is always slow to act along new lines. The majority of the people have to be convinced of the wisdom of the new mesure. And education is itself always a slow process. People change their minds slowly. Slowness of action is one of the prices we have to pay for our democracy. On the other hand, an absolute monarchy can act quickly, for there may be but one individual to assimilate the new idea or to be convinced of the wisdom of the proposed change.

These facts are easily made clear by historical references, and, happily, in the very matter under discussion—educational procedure. In the eighteenth century Prussia, under the two great Hohenzollern kings, Frederick William I and his son, Frederick the Great, the two ruling from 1713 to 1786, made most rapid strides in education. Both were practically absolute rulers, but they were benevolent and far-sighted, and the educational reforms that they inaugurated were basic and far-reaching, such as state-control and support, compulsory attendance, and the professional education of teachers. Being absolute in authority, all they needed to do was to promulgate the decrees and order their execution. The result was that, educationally, Prussia immediately forged ahead of all the other European countries.

England, on the other hand, was a limited monarchy. Her king could not have acted thus even if he so desired. Such mesures had to have the sanction of Parliament, which would have to hark back to an enlightened public opinion since Parliament was a representative body. And public opinion, especially in matters of education, is slow of creation. As a matter of fact, even tho the English people were much in advance of the Germans in civilization and in all the refinements of life, it was not till 1833 that England as a government took her first step looking toward the education of her children thru appropriating money. And the grant of that Act was only a paltry L20,000 a year to be used by two religious societies for the erection of school houses. And it was an entire generation later, even 1870, before they adopted the necessary principles of compulsory attendance and local taxation. More than a hundred years behind Prussia, England was, in the management of educational affairs!

Another illustration of the slow action of democracy is nearer at hand both in time and space, even in our own country. For one reason or another, rather, for many reasons, education was at a low-water mark in the United States the latter part of the eighteenth and the first part of the nineteenth centuries. Thoughtful men, progressive educators, prominent statesmen, searching for the cause and for the remedy, found the one in the poor character of the teaching being done and the other in the establishment of the State Normal School patterned after those of Germany. This was first suggested in 1816 in Connecticut and pretty faithfully kept before the people of New England thereafter. But in spite of every effort, including a campaign of education and the establishment of private normal schools for the purposes of demonstration, it was not till 1838 that the Massachusetts legislature could be induced to act. And she would not have done so then had it not been that a very prominent man of Boston, a friend of the cause, Mr. Edmund Dwight, showed his faith in the movement by making a generous contribution out of his private funds. Note, too, this action from another point of view—the amount of Democracy's initial contribution toward this new great movement in America: Mr. Dwight's gift of $10,000 was evenly matched by that of the wealthy state of Massachusetts! And the $20,000 was the amount planned for the establishment of three new normal schools and their maintenance for three years! That amount to-day would scarcely build a coal shed for each of three new normal schools!

But I am not advocating monarchical methods even to hasten so good a cause as educational improvement. I am merely accounting for our slowness of action in needed reform. For several reasons I should be decidedly opposed to adopting such a program of centralization even if we could. In the first place, not every absolute monarch would act as did Frederick the Great. There are few benevolent despots. In France during the seventeenth centuries the Louises were just as absolute as were the Fredericks in Germany. But they were not interested in education for the people. Again, Germany's system of education, tho objectively efficient, has been far from satisfactory because not based on sane moral principles. And that fact, by the way, has finally been Germany's undoing. Now, we can scarcely conceive of Democracy erecting an educational structure on an unsatisfactory moral foundation.

And still again, the action of an absolute monarch, in all such matters as education, tho perhaps temporarily rapid, is not permanent. Remove the guiding spirit and it slips back. An illustration will assist. Again Germany furnishes it. The little duchy of Gotha, just south of Prussia, serves us. During the Thirty Years' War Gotha had suffered greatly. Near its close, in 1640, Duke Ernest the Pious became its ruler. He had at heart the good of his people. He believed that education could be a very important factor in their upbuilding, and at once put into effect a progressive program. His people were greatly bettered and his duchy became a fine object lesson for other German States. But Duke Ernest died. And his educational reforms, not springing from the people themselves, followed him not long after.

A few years ago President Diaz, Mexico's benevolent despot of nearly half a century, died. And his people, never having been taught how to rule themselves nor practised in the art, went to pieces.

Democracy is slow but she is apt to be sure. Her action in educational matters is often provokingly dilatory, but she holds what she gains and thus continues to progress. She does not take a step forward until she is sure of her ground, but then she stands firm. Her actions are the results of deliberate thought based on adequate data gathered from actual experiments and not to be shaken. Democracy would not give up universal education nor take one step backward in the matter of compulsory attendance to secure it. She would not part with her elementary normal schools for anything in the world. And when once she sees her duty clear she will add to her school workers, in every community, the physician, the nurse, and the playground director. She will do it and, quickly noting improvements, soon wonder why she had not done it long before.

Since so much emphasis has been placed on the conservative nature of Democracy and on its consequent slowness of action, a word should be added as to its possibilities in emergency. Tho we were slow in entering the Great War, once our duty was clear we acted with a promptness, a unanimity, and an efficiency that surprised both friend and foe, giving heart to the one and consternation to the other. Tho a democracy, we invested our chief executive with a power and an authority beyond that possest by any monarch in the world.

So let us not be discouraged. The situation is not as bad as it might be. Our fundamental principles are sound. We are working along right lines and accomplishing good results. Our shortcomings, our weaknesses, our failures, if you wish to call them such, are seen only when our record is compared with a perfect score. The schools have not yet attained to 100 per cent efficiency; that is, the country over. Here and there, under the favorable conditions of an intelligent citizenry willing to follow expert leadership even to the extent of providing adequate funds, are schools and departments of schools of approximately 100 per cent efficiency. And these, as Democracy's experiments, assure us of other advance steps. They are object lessons. Thus Democracy always advances.

Finally, what shall we say? What shall we do? Not to "redeem" ourselves, oh, no! not that! but to approximate the 100 per cent efficiency all along the line? What? Why, knowing that we are headed aright, keep steadily forward with our eyes on the goal, refusing to be stampeded by the unthinking critic of whom Democracy always has a plenty. Take courage! Speed up!



President's Address delivered at the Annual Banquet of the Fortnightly Club, Grand Forks, North Dakota, June 4, 1917

The plan of the military campaign is worked out in the quiet, away back in the rear, sometimes at considerable distance from the place of actual hostilities. It is worked out quietly, usually slowly, and attracts but little attention. But when worked out and ready to be put into operation, the plan is taken forward and activities begin. Supplies are gotten ready, men stationed, guns loaded, the firing line is formed. Here is where the battle is to be fought, where an attempt is to be made to carry out the plans formed in the quiet, back there in the rear. Activity characterizes the scene. Advances are being made, new things being done. Every effort is put forth to realize the plans.

It is not different in education. In the quiet of the laboratories and the study, thoughtful men consider conditions, form plans, and develop theories of educational betterment that have to be tried out, out in the open. A firing line has to be formed, a place where new things are to be done different from the regular conventional activities. The humdrum, prosaic, traditional, everyday work goes on, in the main, all around but at these points where some advances are being tried, a new and it is hoped better program tested. All eyes are centered, all minds eager. The analogy is not inapt.

It is my purpose to discuss briefly some of the things that are happening on our educational firing lines. I want to bring to your attention first, however, the plan of the great educational campaign upon which we have entered, the goal before us at the present time, and then take up a few of the relatively new and typical positions being taken by leaders of educational thought, having the realization of that goal in view. This will present to you some of the things that are actually being done in a few progressive communities and point out possibilities for others.


If I interpret aright the present-day educational thought, the dominant motive in it all is social in character. That is to say, in all of our plans for the education of children we keep them in mind as future members of society, acting with one another and all working together for the common good and for the betterment of the race. And around this motive, or back of it, or being used by it as a means, can be grouped all the significant educational practises of the time.

Formerly the motive was largely psychological. That is, the school effected its organization, chose its curriculum, worked out its program, and decided upon its methods in order that it might assist the child in the development of its instincts and capacities, thus enabling him to realize his own personality. The great French educator, Rousseau, living in the eighteenth century, was responsible for this movement and it was a notable advance beyond the haphazard and aimless practise of the time. Pestalozzi, the great Swiss educational reformer, Froebel, the German apostle of childhood, and Herbart, the psychological genius of the Fatherland, were disciples of Rousseau and worked out from his point of view, trying to put it into practise in the school-rooms.

And here was the firing line in education for many a long day. True, none of these later men ignored social relationships as did Rousseau. True, a strong case could be made out, if one should wish to defend the thesis, that these distinguished followers of Rousseau, even tho carrying out his program in the main, were likewise inaugurating the new sociological movement. But yet it was not sufficiently clear to dominate even in their own minds. The individual stood out beyond the mass. He filled the stage. Nor did they clearly pass it on to others. As a matter of fact, what the immediate followers of these men got from them was the theory of individualism in its better form.

The best definition of education that can be given from this point of view is the development of an inner life. That is what Rousseau wanted to bring about and Pestalozzi and Froebel, and our own Colonel Parker of more recent times, the modern apostle of childhood, had the same vision. And so to Froebel and these others, likewise, the school was an institution in which each child should discover his own individuality, work out his own personality, and develop harmoniously all his powers. True, in that environment and doing all that, the child is going to learn the relationships of society, and thus the school might become a means for social progress as well as the instrument of individual development. But this was incidental. The development of the inner life was the goal. Fashioned in the quiet, in the study, away from the haunts of man, this became the program and the rallying cry, and out on the firing line it was striven for. On the educational battlefields of both Europe and America, where redoubts were being stormed and advance positions taken, this was the one great end in view. It eventuated in the child study movement of the present generation that is now at its height and that has done so much to mitigate the severities of the old time school room practises and likewise greatly aided in putting education on a scientific basis.

The immediate followers, I say, of the great European quartet of educators had the above worthy goal in view; but with their followers, many of them, especially the noisy ones, the modern sophists, it degenerated into a theory of pure individualism of the most selfish type. The theory of getting on in the world, every man for himself, became rampant. The school came to be looked upon as an institution in which children could learn how to get ahead of the rest of the community, and education as merely another weapon to use in making society contribute more to purse and pleasure. And on the firing line, formed by these noisy agitators, mistaken by many as educational leaders, these were the things striven for. But this aberration was only temporary. The real educational leaders, in trying to realize the goal of Rousseau and Pestalozzi and to do it having to combat this movement of wildcat educational speculation, gradually came to see a more important truth even than the one they were seeking. As on many another firing line, victories by the wayside have clarified our vision and given us new perspectives, and a goal, not at first recognized, looms large upon the horizon.

For thru all this struggle we have learned that the first business of the public school is to teach the child to live in the world in which he finds himself, to understand his share in it and to perform it because, after all, unless people learn to adapt themselves to other individuals and communities, disorder and chaos follow. In it all we have come to see that education is the best instrument for regenerating society.

Not individual development, then, the selfish view of Rousseau, not even the harmonious development of all the faculties, the one-sided, somewhat restricted, or undeveloped, view of Pestalozzi and others of his followers, surely not individual efficiency for personal gain, the selfish view of crass materialism, but social efficiency is the present-day motive in education. And the definition of education takes on a different color. Not merely the development of inner life but in conjunction with that or in addition to it, the development in the individual of the power of adjustment to an ever changing social environment. And likewise the school becomes more than a place in which the child can discover himself. Aye, it is the instrument that democracy has fashioned for realizing its broad and humanitarian ideal. Democracy is ever striving for closer and more harmonious relation between its members, a greater degree of social justice, and the school is its efficient means.

These two tendencies, the psychological and the sociological,—only two since the narrow individualistic was never accepted and is now being rapidly eliminated—these two are not antagonistic nor mutually exclusive. The difference is largely in point of view or emphasis. One may say that they are but the two sides of the same shield but the fact remains that there are two sides. There is a difference and the change came as suggested. And the change has modified conditions on the firing line. Ever since Mr. Spencer asked his suggestive question, "what knowledge is of most worth," the question of educational values has been raised and the curriculum has come under close scrutiny. The result has been a modification. The purely linguistic and literary, that which does not function directly for preparation in life and society, is slowly giving way to that which deals with the facts and forces of nature and of social institutions.

Thus far I have tried to make plain the great educational campaign in which we are engaged, as seen on the firing line,—to point out the goal before us, universal education, of course, and social efficiency for each member of the group. That suggests at once as a definition of education, the one made famous by Herbert Spencer more than a half century ago, "Preparation for complete living." That was good as a start in the new direction, but one of the most prominent generals of our educational forces now commanding at the front, John Dewey of Columbia University, has suggested a modification which brings it up to date and gives the key-note of explanation to the tactics now in vogue out there in the front ranks. He says that instead of being the preparation for life, education is life itself. Some without trying to probe deeply into the thought back of the trenchant expression, have said that this was a mere play upon words. But Dewey is not a man who plays with words. What he meant by the statement is that the child is best prepared for life as an adult by living the right kind of life as a child. That is by living a life that has real meaning to him now, a normal natural life, putting forth those activities that spring from within, not merely sitting behind a narrow desk trying to memorize wordy descriptions of complicated facts thought to be useful to him later on. And when we go out and see what they are doing on the firing line we shall see just that being done.


But perhaps I should guard against a possible misapprehension. In eliminating the materialistic point of view in individualism—narrow individual development for personal gain—we have not thrown aside the goal of development suggested by Rousseau and Pestalozzi. Advanced educational thought has that prominently in mind—the discovery of the child's latent powers—his possibilities—his tastes—his "bent" and the development of the same. But while with them that was the goal, the end in view, and a somewhat selfish one, even tho not crassly materialistic, it has become, with us, a means to a larger end, namely, social betterment. The child must be known and developed to enable it to be able to contribute its largest quota to the welfare of society.

With this general direction of educational activity made plain, and incidentally the character of the activities along the entire battle front, let us pass to a consideration of a few specific activities that will illustrate the general movement. Let us bear in mind that we have in view, in the first place, the individual child whose tastes and aptitudes we must discover and, on the basis of discovery, whose fullest development, consistent with the rights of others, we must seek. And the reason for this, you know, is that only as this is done and he is prepared to do that kind of work in the world for which his tastes best adapt him—only thus can he be made the most efficient member of society possible. Because, as Plato said, centuries ago, "Society is but the individual writ large"—a collection of individuals. The foundation of all things in social life is the individual.

Now, I'll admit, at once, that that is not the program of the rank and file of the schools. It should be, but it isn't. What the schools are trying to do, in the main, is to teach the children a lot of facts that tradition says would be well for them to know when they become adults, wholly irrespective of the child's present attitude toward these facts—whether or not they have meaning for him. What the high schools are trying to do is to teach the relatively few who survive this grade program, in addition to these elementary tradition-directed facts of knowledge, a lot more of meaningless matter prescribed by the colleges and listed under that alluring title, "entrance requirements." And as a result of these programs the schools are sending altogether too many of their boys and girls into society unacquainted with themselves, and ill-fitted for any useful occupation, and therefore out of sympathy with the serious work of the world. They are misfits in the social and economic world and are obliged to take their places in the ranks of the lowest-paid of unskilled labor—and work up if they can.

Now, what is being done on the firing lines to remedy this situation and to usher in the new day? Well, first, in our normal schools—institutions established and maintained for the simple purpose of preparing young people for teaching children—great emphasis is being placed upon the study of the child. It is felt that only as the teacher understands the child mind and the laws of its development can she direct that development aright. (That's a sensible point of view, isn't it? And yet it is only on the firing line in educational practise that we find it recognized. Without that factor of equipment, the teacher is teaching subjects, not boys and girls.) In many normal schools child study is one of the required subjects—no one may graduate or be recommended for a teaching position who has not taken it. It should be required in all—and will be a little later on. No person should be allowed to occupy the position of teacher of children who has not made such a study—and proved himself efficient in it. Boards of education should demand it even if some normal schools do not yet require it for graduation. It is far and away the most important part of the teacher's professional equipment.

And then in our schools of education and teachers colleges—institutions set apart for preparing teachers for our high schools and for administrative positions—the study of adolescence is receiving increasing attention. The high school boy and the high school girl are being made the subjects of close, careful, scientific study. It is thought that in order to deal effectively with these young people the high school teacher should understand those marvelous changes—physical, mental, and moral—thru which they are passing. How else can one know how to check where checking is needed (and it usually is needed somewhere along the line); to guide where the pathway is obscure (and every adolescent is sure to pass thru valleys of darkness during the high school course); and to inspire where inspiration is lacking (and with some it is lacking a good deal of the time)—in a word, how else than thru a knowledge of the situation can one be the "philosopher, guide, and friend" that the adolescent always needs?

Do you know that about one-fourth of all students who enter the freshman classes of our high schools, thruout the United States, drop out before the close of the first semester? Do you know, too, that the elimination continues right along until that one-fourth is made more than one-half before graduation day arrives? Now, these boys and girls enter full of hope and expectation, eager and ambitious for what the high school is supposed to do for them; they do not plan to drop out before completing the course—nor do their parents plan to have them do so. Why do they do it? What has changed their point of view and sent them from the school, sad and disappointed, and their parents dissatisfied with both school and child? What is it? Do you want me to tell you? The situation has been the subject of investigation in many places thruout the country, and the conclusion reached by thoughtful men and women, unbiased students of educational practises, is that, while many influences combine to bring about that unfortunate result, the chief cause of this high mortality is the unsympathetic attitude of high school teachers toward the adolescent. But, you may ask, why unsympathetic? Because they regard them as fickle, unstable, and irrational, and so have but little patience with them. I'll admit that the adolescent seems all that at times, but that is only on the surface. The developmental changes—physical and moral—thru which he is passing often make the life during this period one of turmoil. From fourteen to eighteen—the normal high school period—is frequently called the "storm and stress period" of life. Not having made a study of the situation, high school teachers, in the main, do not know the fundamental scientific facts, and therefore can not account for actions, points of view, signs of waywardness, lack of appreciation, poor lessons, etc., etc., that sometimes characterize the youth while a student in the high school. They often lay to an unclean mind what springs from a perfectly normal development of the sex function; they are sure that moral perversity is the basis of actions that are more correctly explained by reference to a moral nature merely in the process of development; they think that pure laziness alone explains the lack of vigorous work, whereas the boy is growing so fast that he has no strength for anything else; they scold him for being awkward and say it is due to carelessness and a slip-shod mind, because they do not know that the muscles sometimes grow faster than the bones, making accurate co-ordination a physical impossibility; in a word, to general, all round cussedness they charge behavior that should be referred to high blood pressure, aching bones, the knitting together by fiber growth of the various brain centers, and finally, to youthful enthusiasm, all of which are perfectly normal signs of developing youth. They do it because they do not know any better. They are ignorant of many things that touch, and vitally, the young people with whom they are working. But how could it be otherwise? They have never given any reflective thought to the matter. The term "half-baked" that they often apply to the adolescent in disgust, or in coarse jest, is, from this point of view, more applicable to themselves.

That, I say,—the unsympathetic attitude of the high school teacher toward the adolescent—is the chief cause of the high mortality of high school students. That, coupled with another, that springs from the same fundamental situation—ignorance of the needs and points of view of the adolescent—tho not so chargeable to the individual class teacher as to the school system as a whole, local, state, and national, pretty nearly cover the ground. The other cause to which I refer is the course of study and program of activities that are so ill-adapted to the tastes, and needs, and capacities of adolescent boys and girls—studies and activities that have no real meaning to them and that fit them for nothing definite save college entrance where the same old process, meaningless to many, often goes on for another period.

What is being done on the firing line to better such conditions? A good deal; quite a good deal. Normal schools and schools of education here and there, the former more than the latter, are now giving attention to the matter, requiring in some cases and urging in others, prospective teachers to become intelligent in regard to the lives they are to direct. It is being done at our own institution as at others. This year Dr. Todd has given instruction in child study to nearly one hundred young men and women who are looking forward to teaching in the grades, and I have had a group of some thirty-five or forty prospective high school teachers and superintendents who have been making a careful study of adolescence. I guarantee that these people will not make the crude and unfeeling blunders that I have mentioned as too common among high school teachers, as they run. These are firing-line activities. They were nearly new a dozen years ago. My introduction of such courses in our University was smiled at indulgently by some of my colleagues and sharply criticised, especially the work in adolescence, by others. They are not yet required of students preparing to teach, but have evidently demonstrated their value since, tho in no sense snap courses, they have become very popular.

As illustrative of this work let me refer to a notable recent action of the legislature of Iowa. It has just passed an Act appropriating to the State University $25,000 a year for the purpose of financing what is called a "child-welfare" campaign. The plan is to make an exhaustive scientific study of the child from both the physiological and psychological points of view, to the end that it may be better known and thus more satisfactorily guided in its educational career.

One other thing, in this same connection, is being done on our firing lines all over the country—something that is hoped will set the people at large, parents and citizens generally, to thinking sanely on educational matters and ere long rectify our blunders as to subjects of study and general school activities and thus result in sending the children out efficient workmen in suitable fields. I refer to addresses and discussions such as this and others, to articles in newspapers and magazines, and the educational press, and to even more extensive and thoro discussions put out in book form from time to time for the laymen.

The old darkey says, "The world do move." We sometimes think it moves very slowly, but yet it "do move." Tho we can't see it move, we can, by looking back, see that it has moved.


Another thing for which we are fighting out on the firing lines is an adequate system of physical education. This would include periodical medical inspection of every child from the kindergarten up; it would also include the school nurse and the visiting nurse, and, as well, free public clinics for ear, eye, nose, throat, and tooth difficulties. It would also include, for mental and moral as well as physical ends, well-equipt playground and gymnasium facilities under the direction of men and women expert and skilful in those fields—and these would be in operation the entire year.

The physical education of the child and adolescent should be as carefully planned, as scientifically workt out in a positive way, as the intellectual. Why not? Because you know—every intelligent person knows—that the physical is the basis for the mental and the moral. You know—we all know—that a sound, a healthy, a sane life can not be developt in an unsound or a diseased body. Then why are these activities merely on the firing lines and not a part of the regular program? Because ignorance, and prejudice, and selfishness, and stubbornness, and penuriousness are still keeping many people in the trenches. But they will be dislodged. Just as sure as fate they will be driven from cover. They are fighting a losing battle. They are standing in the way of an irresistible movement that is sure to engulf them. If there were time I should like to describe just what is being done along this line in some places and give the reflex influence of the same on the community. It has surely meant a new heaven and a new earth to many a child, and glimmerings of the same to many a community. But I pass to less spectacular matters, continuing to discuss principles rather than illustrations.


Another matter of interest these days is the educational survey that has been taken up by many progressive communities. The plan is, as many of you know, to subject the school system of a city or community to a searching investigation in order to discover, if possible, its weak points, if it has any, to the end of their betterment. Experts are brought in who, without fear or favor, examine the system from all possible points of view—location and arrangement of school buildings including heating, lighting, and general health conditions, adequacy of playground and athletic facilities, the extent to which the schools are satisfying community needs in the way of equipt workmen and the needs of the young people for equipment for suitable work, the cost of the system, attendance, methods of teaching and supervision, course of study, etc. Outside experts are brought in for various reasons: known to have no personal interest in the outcome, their reports are likely to be received with greater respect; and, too, a local committee, thru nearness and very familiarity, would fail to notice features, good as well as bad, that might at once attract the attention of strangers. Many cities, ranging from 2500 to half a million people, have already availed themselves of the survey with, in the main, very gratifying results. Not only have cities used the survey, but other units of educational administration. There have been a few very significant and interesting rural school surveys by counties in several states. A similar study has been made of several State universities, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, for example. I notice that the legislature of Minnesota has just arranged for a survey of theirs. You all recall that such a survey was made of all the institutions of higher education of North Dakota only a short time ago. The general feeling is that it was well worth while. Such and even more extensive surveys have already been made in five other states—Oregon, Iowa, Washington, Colorado, and Wyoming. The end sought in each and all of these surveys, whether city schools, higher institutions, or state-wide systems, is greater efficiency—larger service to society. A survey of this character is usually followed by a detailed printed report that is generously distributed resulting in greater interest in the schools and a more intelligent appreciation of their work and their needs.


Much has been said in recent years about vocational education. The schools have been severely criticised for not teaching trades. Many have demanded that that be the dominating motive in all our schools, especially in the high schools. The educational press, for the last decade, has kept the matter in the limelight. Books have been written calling attention to the heavy dropping out of school of pupils even before reaching high school age wholly unfitted to do anything above the most menial and lowest-paid work. They have argued strenuously and sometimes logically for better things. To this program the objection has been raised that children in these early years are not yet ready to choose their work of life; that they do not yet sufficiently know themselves—their own tastes and capacities for such serious choice; it has also been urged that to place before children such attractive objective features would result in swerving many from the normal pathway of their development and check it midway. The result has been what might be called a compromise, and the firing-line activities have been somewhat modified. Not vocational education but vocational guidance is now more nearly the thought. And this has a much larger content, a background, a more scientific basis, and one organically connected with the larger movement of which I have already spoken—the social motive in education supplemented by the individual involving the discovery and development of taste and capacity.

I have already called attention to the high mortality of high school students. The reasons I have given are the lack of sympathy that the teacher has with the adolescent and the lack of meaning found in the work being done. The same facts account for the heavy elimination that takes place in the upper grades of the elementary school. But both are being remedied to some extent. The first thru the child-study movement and the second thru the matter of vocational guidance. And the two are very closely connected as one can see at a glance. Thru the child-study movement the teacher comes to know child nature so well that direct application can be made to the individual child and an intimate knowledge gained of his tastes, capacities, ambitions, and dominant interests. This will enable her to give the subject matter definite meaning in the early years, and, later on, when vocations begin to attract, the guiding may be intelligent and the final choice a suitable one. From the beginning of the adolescent period there should be opportunities furnished by the school or thru its co-operative effort for children to test themselves in various lines—academic lines, vocational lines. They should, in a word, be vocationally tempted in as many different directions as possible so as to come to know themselves so well that the final settling will not be haphazard. In these ways they should be guided into their vocations, definite ones, just as early in life as they can be adequately prepared for them. For example:—if his tastes and capacities fit a certain boy for merely a mechanical pursuit that requires but little academic learning, such as carpentry, plumbing, blacksmithing, brick laying, etc., he should, relatively early in the adolescent period, be thus guided, and not forced to attempt an academic course that can have no possible meaning to him. This would send him out, a productive member of society, happy in his work because suited to him and efficient in it because fitted for doing it well. If, on the other hand, tastes and capacities fit for academic or professional careers, such as medicine, law, teaching, or engineering, the principle would remain the same but the program would differ. The academic work, meaningless to the prospective plumber, or dressmaker, would be full of meaning to the embryo lawyer or teacher, and the period of preparation much prolonged.

Such are the points of view that teachers should hold, and such the opportunities that schools should offer. And it is all being found out on the firing lines. This program is being carried out to some extent in many places in different parts of the country. The time is not very far distant when something of the kind will be demanded in all our towns. For out in the front ranks the high school is no longer regarded chiefly as a preparatory for college. Out there it is seen to possess a much larger function—assisting the child—every child—to form its own acquaintance and to begin the planning of its future. In other words, the thought on the firing line is that the high school is an institution established by a community for community purposes—to take its young people—all of them—and guide them thru the difficult and transitional period of adolescence, directing, inspiring, shaping, checking, developing for the largest manhood and womanhood possible and providing the community with efficient workmen in various lines.


While there are many other activities, significant and interesting, that might well be considered in such a treatment as this, I shall close with a very brief mention of one more—the place and work of the educational psychologist in our modern system.

One of the most significant of the newer movements in educational procedure is that termed educational mesurements, perhaps better called the mesurement of intelligence. About a generation ago it began to be observed that many children did not pass thru the grades with the regularity that was thought normal or desirable. Many were obliged to repeat grades—they did not "pass," to use the language of the schools. The more the matter was investigated, the more serious was it seen to be. Investigation has gone on until at last carefully gathered statistics tell us that almost, if not quite, one-half of all the children in the schools fail to progress thru the grades at the expected rate. For some reason, or for some combination of reasons, they are retarded from one to three years. And of the $400,000,000 annually spent to carry on the work of the schools it is estimated that from $40,000,000 to $50,000,000 go every year in attempts to teach these retarded ones what they have already tried but failed to learn. Here was a double loss, a financial one of large proportions and a human one of much more serious import. Why the retardation? And what could be done to check it?

Thoughtful consideration was given to the matter with the following revelation: it was seen that in educational procedure all matters of grading, promotion, even choice of subject matter where there was a choice, were being handled on the basis of results of tests of information—possession of knowledge facts—rather than of ability or intelligence. This might not be so bad if the knowledge sought in these tests were knowledge necessary to have in order to function adequately in the new or advanced environment. But usually no such relationship could be traced. It was but another illustration of no present meaning connected with the work of the school. A remedy was sought, and is being sought, in trying to substitute for the information test a test of intelligence. It is generally admitted that neither one is an adequate mesure of the other. A child may have a very high grade of intelligence and yet make a very poor showing in the ordinary schoolroom test for knowledge, not that he has been unable to learn such facts but merely that his interests and attention have not been thus focust. On the other hand, it is entirely possible for one of low-grade intelligence to receive a very creditable "mark" in a test for information since it is frequently a test of verbal memory, that "great simulator of intelligence," as Binet calls it.

One of the most interesting of the books bearing upon this new educational movement is The Measurement of Intelligence by Professor Terman of Leland Stanford University. In the thoughts just exprest I have used material found in this book.

So, for a few years now, educational psychologists have been trying to work out a series of tests of intelligence, so that children may be located on the basis of their general intelligence, or ability to accomplish results. The results so far are very promising as tending to eliminate much of the loss mentioned above. And out on our firing lines the educational psychologist is being looked upon as a necessity in any system looking forward to real efficiency. It is thought that thru the saving he could effect in the two directions cited his regular employment would be a matter of economic foresight. A few years ago it was the school physician who was being fought for out in the front ranks. He is now a fixture in every up-to-date school system, and it is the psychologist for whom battle is now being waged. And it is only a question of time when his position will be secure and the line pushed forward for another attack.

I have discust with you briefly some of the interesting points of view of the education of to-day. I have tried to place before you, first, what I think to be its dominant motive—social betterment, made effective thru discovery and development of the individual's tastes and dominant interests. To show how this program is becoming established and worked out, I have touched upon various new lines of activity in sympathy with and contributing to the general movement. Thus I discust briefly the great child-study movement having for its goal knowledge of the individual child as a basis for its educational treatment. Following this I spoke of physical education—its beginning in many places and the great need for extension. Another activity named was the educational survey by means of which a community may have its own educational activity tested by impartial experts that its real efficiency may be known. Then followed brief discussion of the new movement for vocational guidance that is doing so much where being used to make the youth efficient and happy in his chosen and appropriate field of activity. I closed the discussion with a mention of a still newer movement having the same great ends in view—the employment of the educational psychologist. Firing-line activities all of these are, each vigorous and active in the great movement for educational betterment.



An Address delivered before the Annual Conference of the North Dakota Superintendents and Principals at the University of North Dakota, May 18, 1916

This is a topic of great interest to us all—to you in the field and to us here on the campus. The work of the two institutions is so closely related, each depends so much upon the other, that participation in the activities of one bespeaks interest in the other. But before we can discuss at all intelligently the matter of relationship it will be necessary to look at the two separately—objectively, as it were—to note the function of each and its place in the educational system of the State. What is the university? What is the high school? And what is the work of each? are questions that must first be answered.

In the first place, of course, the two are but parts of a still larger whole, neither being an independent, self-sufficing entity. The larger whole is the educational system of the State, of which there is one other part equally important with the two named, even the elementary school. And all three parts forming the whole are creations of the State, devised, controlled, and maintained for a very definite purpose—namely, the welfare and happiness of our people.

While it is true that the three parts are correlative, each supplementing the others and the system incomplete without all three, it is also true that they are co-ordinate, no one of the three being, per se, in authority over any other, nor any one subordinate to another. Let me put before you, very briefly, that we may all be thinking together, the system in its outlines and then discuss each of its parts, trying to discover its function and its node of work. Then we shall pass to the matter of relationship.

The system as a whole covers and tries to provide for the entire school life of the individual. The elementary period, or department, includes, in the main, as now organized, the work of the first eight years of the child's school life and ministers to it from the age of six to fourteen years. The secondary, beginning where the elementary closes, carries on the work for four years and is followed by the higher, the colleges and the professional schools—the university.

It may clarify matters somewhat and thus give us a clearer perspective, if, before, entering upon the discussion, I account for the system as we have it to-day.

Our Colonial forefathers in the Old Bay State, back in the 17th century, in providing to meet the situation that prest upon them, unconsciously laid the foundations for an educational system that expanded with their expansion and developed with their development. But before taking the initial steps they did not wait to analyze the entire situation and upon logical or philosophical grounds map it out in its entirety. They had no such thought. They needed ministers of the Gospel and, since a knowledge of Latin was the one sure gateway to that profession, they established a Latin school almost as soon as they had set their own dwelling places in order. This was in 1635, and Harvard College followed the very next year to complete the preparation. It was an afterthought and came eleven years later when they legislated for an elementary school. And even tho we can see, in what they had then produced, the fundamental factors of our present somewhat complicated system, the people who were responsible for its organization were only dimly conscious of the significance of it all. They builded better than they knew. The broad outlines can not be improved. Details, of course, are ever changing as local conditions change, but from the very nature of things, the elementary, the secondary, and the higher schools have remained with us, each for a quite definite purpose and all working together for a common end. Let us look, therefore, for a moment, at each of the three and see for what it stands and what it should attempt to do.


The fundamental purpose of the elementary school in a democracy is well stated in the first legislation on the continent touching elementary education, tho not mentioning the elementary school. It was in the Massachusetts colonies in 1642. The General Court passed an ordinance of which the following quotation gives the substance:

"This Court, taking into consideration the great neglect of many parents and masters in the training of their children in labor and learning, and other employments which may be profitable to the commonwealth, do hereupon order and decree that in every town the chosen men appointed for managing the prudential affairs of the same shall henceforth stand charged with the care of the redress of this evil ... and for this end they, or the greater number of them, shall have the power to take account, from time to time, of all parents and masters, and of their children, concerning their calling and employment of their children, especially of their ability to read and understand the principles of religion and the capital laws of this country; and they shall have power ... to put forth as apprentices the children of such as they shall find not to be able and fit to employ and to bring them up."

Here was compulsory elementary education, that children might know how to read, might "understand the principles of religion and the capital laws of the State," and also that they might be taught to work. And why? For their own present and future welfare, and that they might be "profitable to the commonwealth," the document reads.

It was for all the children of all the people. The same thought is with us to-day and, analyzed and stated in our present-day terminology, may be put about as follows:

The elementary school is for all the people and aims to do for all three things: first, exercise a positive directive influence over the child's physical development; second, carry on, in a more systematic, scientific manner the training of the sense organs already begun by the home, thus opening up the life to the beauties of nature, art, and other forms of truth, and so providing for the development of the inner life of each in accordance with inherent leaning and capability; and, third, equip them with the tools of knowledge and give such knowledge facts and develop such points of view as will enable each to become a self-directing, constructive, and contributing member of his democratic community.

Attendance upon the elementary school should, in the interests of all as individuals and of the State as an organization, be compulsory.


The high school should likewise be for all, tho for a somewhat different purpose. While attendance should not be compulsory, the aim should be to make it universal. For a somewhat different purpose, I said; I should perhaps have said for an added purpose, because I would have the three ends of the elementary school kept constantly in view as fundamental bases. But, assuming that these things have been well done, the chief purpose of the high school should be to discover the child's latent powers, his dominant interests, and then, so far as these are wholesome, help him plan his education in their general direction. I might put it briefly thus: the chief function of the high school should be to help the child to become acquainted with himself and begin the planning of his future. Let us look at it carefully and see if it is not sound.

At the conclusion of the elementary school, at the age of 14, the boys and girls are still children; they are developing, not developed, in either body or mind. They have not yet reached, in the main, the period of rapid acceleration of physical growth, intellectual expansion, or moral development; they are just reaching it; they are now in the early stages of that wonderful period of adolescence when the boy is being transformed into the man and the girl into the woman. They are neither children nor adults, yet manifesting the characteristics of both. They do not know themselves, nor does any one else know them intimately. How can they? They are not yet formed. They are in the process of formation. What will emerge as a result of the process, we know only in broad outlines—not at all in minute detail. So many factors are at work and there are possible so many combinations of factors that no one can tell; for it is during the period of adolescence that hereditary characteristics show themselves. Up to this time the child is a child of the race; during this period it becomes the offspring of its parents. And the factors of heredity—father, mother, ancestry—are mingling and clashing and combining with the factors of environment, and what the outcome is going to be, nobody knows, in specific cases, in advance.

This is the period when the heart, the lungs, and the brain are being transformed, modified, whipt into shape for the performance of the duties of adulthood. It is a period when, in the intellectual realm, because of what is taking place in the physical, concepts are being clarified, relationships traced, ideas formed, things seen in the right perspective, and real reasoning begun. It is the period when, in the moral field, because of what is being accomplished in the physical and the intellectual, principles are being apprehended that will finally enable the individual to distinguish between right and wrong, to organize on principle rather than upon expediency his relationships with his fellows, and eventually to become a free moral agent, self-controlled and self-directed. It is the period, therefore, when ideals are being formed, habits fixt, character shaped, life plans matured, and professions chosen.

And so, with such an individual and during such a period, what other function of the high school can begin to compare, either in importance or in appropriateness, with the one stated?

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