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Title: The Vitalized School
Author: Francis B. Pearson
Release Date: January 23, 2006 [eBook #17588]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE VITALIZED SCHOOL***
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION OF OHIO
AUTHOR OF “THE EVOLUTION OF THE
“THE HIGH SCHOOL PROBLEM”
“REVERIES OF A SCHOOLMASTER”
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.
Published February, 1917.
Reprinted January, 1918.
The thoughtful observer must have noted in the recent past many indications of an awakened interest both in the concept of education and in school procedure on the part of school officials, teachers, and the public. Educators have been developing pedagogical principles that strike their roots deep into the philosophy of life, and now their pronouncements are invading the consciousness of people of all ranks and causing them to realize more and more that the school process is an integral part of the life process and not something detached from life.
The following pages constitute an attempt to interpret some of the school processes in terms of life processes, and to suggest ways in which these processes may be made identical.
It is hoped that teachers who may read these pages may find running through them a strand of optimism that will give them increased faith in their own powers, a larger hope for the future of the school, and an access of zeal to press valiantly forward in their efforts to excel themselves.
F. B. P.
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Life and living compared.—There is a wide difference between school-teaching and teaching school. The question “Is she a school-teacher?” means one thing; but the question “Can she teach school?” means quite another. School-teaching may be living; but teaching school is life. And any one who has a definition of life can readily find a definition for teaching school. Much of the criticism of the work of the schools emanates from sources that have a restricted concept of life. The artisan who defines life in terms of his own trade is impatient with much that the school is trying to do. He would have the scope of the school narrowed to his concept of life. If art and literature are beyond the limits of his concept, he can see no warrant for their presence in the school. The work of the schools cannot be standardized until life itself is standardized, and that is neither 2possible nor desirable. The glory of life is that it does not have fixity, that it is ever crescent.
Teaching defined.—Teaching school may be defined, therefore, as the process of interpreting life by the laboratory method. The teacher’s work is to open the gates of life for the pupils. But, before these gates can be opened, the teacher must know what and where they are. This view of the teacher’s work is neither fanciful nor fantastic; quite the contrary. Life is the common heritage of people young and old, and the school should be so organized and administered as to teach people how to use this heritage to the best advantage both for themselves and for others. If a child should be absent from school altogether, or if he should be incarcerated in prison from his sixth to his eighteenth year, he would still have life. But, if he is in school during those twelve years, he is supposed to have life that is of better quality and more abundant. Life is not measured by years, but by its own intensity and scope. It has often been said that some people have more life in threescore and ten years than Methuselah had in his more than nine hundred years.
Life measured by intensity.—This statement is not demonstrable, of course, but it serves to make 3evident the fact that some people have more of life in a given time than others in the same time. In this sense, life may be measured by the number of reactions to objectives. These reactions may be increased by training. Two persons, in passing a shop-window, may not see the same objects; or one may see twice as many as the other, according to their ability to react. The man who was locked in a vault at the cemetery by accident, and was not discovered for an hour, thought he had spent four days in his imprisonment. He had really lived four days in a single hour by reason of the intensity of life during that hour.
Illustrations.—In the case of dreams, we are told that years may be condensed into minutes, or even seconds, by reason of the rapidity of reactions. The rapidity and intensity of these reactions make themselves manifest on the face of the dreamer. Beads of perspiration and facial contortions betoken intensity of feeling. In such an experience life is intense. If a mental or spiritual cyclometer could be used in such a case, it would make a high record of speed. Life sometimes touches bottom, and sometimes scales the heights. But the distance between these extremes varies greatly in different persons. 4The life of one may have but a single octave; of the other, eight, or a hundred, or a thousand. The life of Job is an apt illustration. No one has been able to sound the depths of his suffering, nor has any one been able to measure the heights of his exaltation. We may not readily compute the octaves in such a life as his.
The complexity of life.—It is not easy to think life, much less define it. The elements are so numerous as to baffle and bewilder the mind. It looks out at one from so many corners that it seems Argus-eyed. At one moment we see it on the Stock Exchange where men struggle and strive in a mad frenzy of competition; at another, in a quiet home, where a mother soothes her baby to sleep, where there is no competition but, rather, a sublime monopoly. Again, it manifests itself in the clanking of machinery where men are tunneling the mountain or constructing a canal to unite oceans; or, again, in the laboratory where the microscope is revealing the form of the snow crystal. One man is watching the movements of the heavenly bodies as they file by his telescope, while another writes a proclamation that makes free a race of people. Another man is leading an army into battle, while 5some Doctor MacClure is breasting the storm in the darkness as he goes forth on his mission of mercy.
Manifestations of life.—These manifestations of life men call trade, commerce, history, mathematics, science, nature, and philanthropy. And men write these words in books, and other men write other books trying to explain their meaning. Then, still others divide and subdivide, and science becomes the sciences, and mathematics becomes arithmetic, and algebra, and geometry, and trigonometry, and calculus, and astronomy. Here mathematics and science seem to merge. And, in time, history and geography come together, and sometimes strive for precedence.
Thus, books accumulate into libraries and so add another to the many elements of life. Then magazines are written to explain the books and their authors. The motive behind the book is analyzed in an effort to discover the workings of the author’s mind and heart. In these revelations we sometimes hear the rippling of the brook, and sometimes the moan of the sea; sometimes the cooing of the dove, and sometimes the scream of the eagle; sometimes the bleating of the lamb, and sometimes the roaring of the lion. In them we see the moonbeams that 6play among the flowers and the lightning that rends the forest; the blossoms that filter from the trees and the avalanche that carries destruction; the rain that fructifies the earth and the hurricane that destroys.
Life in literature.—Back of these sights and sounds we discover men—Cicero, Demosthenes, Homer, Isaiah, Shakespeare, Milton, Dante. We trace the thoughts and emotions of these men and find literature. And in literature, again, we come upon another manifestation of life. Literature is what it is because these men were what they were. They saw and felt life to be large and so wrote it down large; and because they wrote it thus, what they wrote endures. They stood upon the heights and saw the struggles of man with himself, with other men, and with nature. This panorama generated thoughts and feelings in them, and these they could not but portray. And so literature and life are identical and not coördinates, as some would have us think.
Life as subject matter in teaching.—In teaching school, therefore, the subject matter with which we have to do is life—nothing more and nothing less. We may call it history, or mathematics, or 7literature, or psychology,—but it still remains true that life is the real objective of all our activities. And, as has been already said, we are teaching life by the laboratory method. We are striving to interpret the thing in which we are immersed. We feel, and think, and aspire, and love, and enjoy. All these are life; and from this life we are striving to extract strength that our feeling may be deeper, our thinking higher, our aspirations wider and more lofty, our love purer and nobler, and our own enjoyment greater. By absorbing the life that is all about us we strive to have more abundant and abounding life.
The teacher’s province.—Such is the province of one who essays the task of teaching school. School is life, as we have been told; but, at the same time, it is a place and an occasion for teaching life. If we could detach history from life, it would cease to be history. If literature is not life, it is not literature; and so with the sciences. These branches are but variants or branches of life, and all emanate from a common center. Whether we scan the heavens, penetrate the depths of the sea, pore over the pages of books, or look into the minds and hearts of men, we are striving after an interpretation of life.
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Teachers contrasted.—The vitalized school is an expression of the vitalized teacher. In the hands of the teacher of another sort, the vitalized school is impossible. Unless she can see in the multiplication table the power that throws the bridge across the river, that builds pyramids, that constructs railways, that sends ships across the ocean, that tunnels mountains and navigates the air, this table becomes a stupid thing, a dead thing, and an incubus upon the spirits of her pupils. To such a teacher mathematics is a lifeless thing, without hope or potency, the school is a mere convenience for the earning of a livelihood, the work is the drudgery of bondage, and the children are little less than an impertinence. The vitalized teacher is different. To her the multiplication table pulsates with life. It stretches forth its beneficent hand to give employment to a million workers, and food to a million homes. It pervades every mart of trade; it loads 10trains and ships with the commerce of nations; and it helps to amplify and ennoble civilization.
Vitalized mathematics.—In this table she sees a prophecy of great achievements in engineering, architecture, transportation, and the myriad applications of science. In brief, mathematics to her is vibrant with life both in its present uses and in its possibilities. She knows that it is a part of the texture of the daily life of every home as well as of national life. She knows that it pertains to individual, community, and national well-being. Knowing this, she feels that it is quite worth while for herself and her pupils, both for the present and for the future. She feels that, if she would know life, she must know mathematics, because it is a part of life; that, if she would teach life to her pupils, she must teach them mathematics as an integral part of life; and that she must teach it in such a way that it will be as much a part of themselves as their bodily organs. She wants them to know the mathematics as they know that the rain is falling or that the sun is shining, because the rain, the sunshine, and the mathematics are all elements of life. Her great aim is to have her 11pupils experience the study just as they experience other phases of life.
The teacher’s attitude.—Such a teacher with such a conception of life and of her work finds teaching school the very reverse of drudgery. Each day is an exhilarating experience of life. Her pupils are a part of life to her. She enjoys life and, hence, enjoys them. They are her confederates in the fine game of life. The bigness and exuberance of her abundant life enfolds them all, and from the very atmosphere of her presence they absorb life. Their studies, under the influence of her magic, are as much a part of life to them as the air they breathe or the food they eat. No two days are alike in her school, for life to-day is larger than it was yesterday and so presents a new aspect. Her spirit carries over into their spirits the truths of the books, and these truths thus become inherent.
College influences.—She teaches life, albeit through the medium of subjects and books, because she knows life. Her college work did not consist in the gathering together of many facts, but in accumulating experiences of life. Many of these experiences were acquired vicariously, but they were no less real on that account. Her generous 12nature was able to withstand the most assiduous efforts of some of her teachers to quench the flames of life that glowed in the pages of books, with the wet blanket of erudition. She was able to relive the thoughts and feelings of the authors whose books she studied and so make their experiences her own. She could reconstitute the emotional life of her authors and gain potency through the transfusion of spirit. Her books were living things, and she gleaned life from their pages.
Reading and life.—She can teach reading because she can read. Reading to her is an experience in life. The words on the printed page are not meaningless hieroglyphics. They are the electric wires which connect the soul of the author with her own, and through which the current is continually passing. When she reads Dickens, Tiny Tim is never a mere boy with a crutch, but he is Tiny Tim, and, as such, neither men nor angels can supplant him on the printed page. She knows the touch of him and the voice of him. She laughs with him; she cries with him; she prays with him; she lives with him. In her teaching she causes Tiny Tim to stand forth like a cameo to her pupils, with no rival and no peer. This she can do 13because he is a part of her life. She has no occasion either to pose or to rhapsodize. Sincerity is its own explanation and justification.
Power of understanding.—When she reads “Little Boy Blue” she can hear the sobbing of a heartbroken mother and thus, vicariously, comes to know the universality of death and sorrow. But she finds faith and hope in the poem, also, and so can see the sunlight suffusing the clouds of the mother’s grief. Thus she enters into the feeling of motherhood and so shares the life of all the mothers whose children are her pupils. In every page she reads she crosses anew the threshold of life and gains a knowledge of its joys, its sorrows, its triumphs, or its defeats. In short, she reads with the spirit and not merely with the mind, and thus catches the spiritual meaning of what she reads. She can feel as well as think and so can emotionalize the printed page. Nature has endowed her with a sensory foundation that reacts to the emotional situations that the author produces. Thus she understands, and that is the prime desideratum in reading. And because she understands, she can interpret, and cause her pupils to understand. Thus they receive another endowment of life.
14Books as exponents of life.—She has time for reading as she has time for eating and drinking, and for the same reason. To her they are all coördinate elements of life. She eats, and sleeps, and reads because she is alive; and she is more alive because she eats, and sleeps, and reads. She taps the sources of spiritual refreshment, without parade, and rejoices in the consequent enrichment of her life. She does not smite the rock, but speaks to it, and smiles upon it, and the waters gush forth. She descends into Hades with Dante, and ascends Sinai with Moses, and is refreshed and strengthened by her journeys. She sits enrapt as Shakespeare turns the kaleidoscope of life for her, or stands enthralled by Victor Hugo’s picture of the human soul. Her sentient spirit is ignited by the fires of genius that glow between the covers of the book, and her fine enthusiasm carries the divine conflagration over into the spirits of her pupils. There is, therefore, no drag or listlessness in her class in reading, because, during this exercise, life is as buoyant and spontaneous as it is upon the playground.
The meaning of history.—In her teaching of history she invests all the characters with life, because to her they are alive. And because they are 15alive to her they are alive to her pupils. They are instinct with power, action, life. She rehabilitates the scenes in which they moved, and, therefore, they must be alive in order to perform their parts. They are all flesh and blood people with all the attributes of people. They are all actuated by motives and move along their appointed ways obedient to the laws of cause and effect. They are not named in the book to be learned and recited, but to be known. She causes her pupils to know them as they would come to know people in her home. Nor do they ever mistake one for the other or confuse their actions. They know them too well for that. These characters are made to stand wide apart, so that, being thus seen, they will ever after be known. History is not a directory of names, but groups of people going about their tasks. They hunger, and thirst, and love, and hate, and struggle with their environment as their descendants are doing to-day.
Language and vitality.—When she is teaching a language, it is never less than a living language. In Latin the syntax is learned as a means, never an end. The big things in the study loom too large for that. The pupils become so eager to see what 16Cæsar will do next that they cannot afford the time to stare long at a mere ablative absolute. They are following the parade, and are not to be turned aside from their large purpose by minor matters. They are made to see and hear Cicero; and Rome becomes a reality, with its Forum, its Senate, and its Mamertine. When Dido sears the soul of the faithless Æneas with her words of scorn, the girls applaud and the boys tremble. When Troy burns, there is a real fire, and Achates is as real as the man Friday. When the shipwrecked Trojans regale themselves with venison, it is no make-believe dinner, but a real one. Where such a teacher is, there can be no dead language, no dry bones of history, and no stagnation in the stream of life.
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The child as the center in school procedure.—The child is the center of school procedure in all its many ramifications. For the child the building is erected, the equipment is provided, the course of study is arranged and administered, and the teacher employed. The child is major, and all else is subsidiary. In the general scheme even the teacher takes secondary place. Teachers may come and go, but the child remains as the focus of all plans and purposes. The teacher is secured for the child, and not the child for the teacher. Taxpayers, boards of education, parents, and teachers are all active in the interests of the child; and all school legislation, to be important, must have the child as its prime objective. Colleges of education and normal schools, in large numbers, are working at the educational problem in an effort to develop more effective methods of training the teachers of the child. A host of authors and publishers are 19giving to the interest of the child the products of their skill. In every commonwealth may be found a large number of men and women whose time and energies are devoted to the work of the schools for the child.
All children should have school privileges.—All these facts are freely admitted, wherever attention is called to them, but we still have truant officers, and child labor laws. We admit the facts, but, in our practices, strive to circumvent their application. If the school is good for one child, it is good for all children. Indeed, the school is maintained on the assumption that all children will take advantage of and profit by its presence. If there were no schools, our civilization would surely decline. If school attendance should cease at the end of the fifth year, then we would have a fifth-year civilization. It rests, therefore, with the parents of the children, in large measure, whether we are to have an eighth-grade civilization, a high-school civilization, or a college civilization.
Parental attitude.—Schools are administered on the assumption that every child is capable of and worthy of training, and that training the child will make for a better quality of civilization. The state 20regards the child as a liability during his childhood in the hope that he may be an asset in his manhood. In this hope time and money are devoted to his training. But, in the face of all this, there are parents, here and there, who still look upon their own children as assets and would use them for their own comfort or profit. They seem to think that their children are indebted to them for bringing them into the world and that their obligation to the children is canceled by meager provision of food, shelter, and clothing. They seem not to realize that “life is more than fruit or grain,” and deny to their children the elements of life.
The rights of the child.—All this is a sort of preface to the statement that the child comes into the world endowed with certain inherent rights that may not be abrogated. He has a right to life in its best and fullest sense, and no one has a right to abridge this measure of life, or to deprive him of anything that will contribute to such a life. He goes to the school as one of the sources of life, and any one who denies him this boon is doing violence to his right to have life. He does not go to school to study arithmetic, but studies arithmetic as one of the elements of life; and experience has demonstrated 21that arithmetic may be learned in the school more advantageously than elsewhere. He goes to school to have agreeable and profitable life. Each day is an integer of life and must be made to abound in life if it is to be accounted a success.
Child life.—Again, the child has a right to the quality of life that is consistent with and congenial to his age. A seven-year-old should be a seven-year-old, in his thinking, in his activities, in his amusements, and in his feeling. We should never ask or want him to “put away childish things” at this age, for these childish things are a proof of his normality and good health. His buoyant life and good health may prove disastrous to the furniture in his home, but far better marred furniture than marred childhood. If, at this age, he should become as quiet and sedate as his father, his parents and teacher would have cause for alarm. It is the high privilege of the parent and the teacher to direct his activities, but not to abridge or interdict them. If the teacher would reduce him to inaction and silence, she may well reflect that if he were an imbecile he would be quiet. He will not pass this way again; and if he is ever to have the sort of life that is in harmony with his age, he must have it now.
22Childhood curtailed.—He has a right, also, to the full measure of childhood. This period is relatively short, and any curtailment does violence to his physiological and psychological nature. All the years of his childhood are necessary for a proper balancing of his physical and mental powers, that they may do their appointed work in after years. Entire volumes have been devoted to this subject, but, in spite of these volumes, some mothers still try to hurry their daughters into the duties and responsibilities of adult life. One such mother went to the high school to get the books of her fifteen-year-old daughter and, upon being asked why the daughter was leaving school, replied, “Oh, she’s keeping company now.” That daughter will never be the hardy plant in civilization that she ought to be, because she was reared in a hothouse atmosphere. That mother had no right to cripple the life of her child by thwarting nature’s decrees.
Detrimental effects.—The pity of it all is that the child is at the mercy of the parent, or of the teacher, as the case may be. We become so eager to have “old heads on young shoulders” that we begrudge the child the years that are necessary for the shoulders to attain that maturity of strength 23that is needful for supporting the “old heads.” Then ensues a lack of balance, and, were all children thus denied their right to the full period of youth, we should have a distorted civilization. Dickens inveighs against this curtailment of youth prodigiously, and the marvel is that we have failed to learn the lesson from his pages. We need not have recourse to Victor Hugo to know the life of little Cosette, for we can see her prototype by merely looking about us.
The child’s right to the best.—As the child has a right to life in its fullness, so he has a right to all the agencies that can promote this type of life. If he meets with an accident he has a right to the best surgical skill that can be secured, and this right we readily concede; and equally he has a right to the best teacher that money will secure. If he has a teacher that is less than the best, the time thus lost can never be restored to him. A lady who had an unskillful teacher in her first year in the high school now avers that he maimed her for life in that particular study. Life is such a delicate affair that it demands expert handling. If we hope to have the child attain his right to be an intelligent coöperating agent in promoting life in 24society, then no price is too great to pay for the expert teaching which will nurture the sort of life in him that will make him effective.
The child’s native tendencies.—Then, again, the child has a right to the exercise of the native tendencies with which he is endowed. In fact, these tendencies should be the working capital of the teacher, the starting points in her teaching. There was a time when the teacher punished the child who was caught drawing pictures on his slate. Happily that sort of barbarity disappeared, in the main, along with the slate. The vitalized teacher rejoices in the pictures that the child draws and turns this tendency to good account. Through this inclination to draw she finds the real child and so, as the psychologists direct, she begins where the child is and sets about attaching to this native tendency the work in nature study, geography, or history. When she discovers a constructive tendency in the child, she at once uses this in shifting from analytic to synthetic exercises in the school order. If he enjoys making things, he will be glad of an opportunity to make devices, or problems, or maps.
The play instinct.—She makes large use, also, 25of the play instinct that is one of his native tendencies. This instinct is constantly reaching out for objects of play. The teacher is quick to note the child’s quest for objects and deftly substitutes some phase of school work for marbles, balls, or dolls, and his playing proceeds apace without abatement of zest. The vitalized teacher knows how to attach the arithmetic to this play instinct and make it a fascinating game. During the games of arithmetic, geography, history, or spelling, life is at high tide in her school and the work is thorough in consequence. Work is relieved of the onus of drudgery whenever it appears in the guise of a game, and the teacher who has skill in attaching school studies to the play instinct of the child will make her school effective as well as a delight to herself and her pupils. In such a plan there is neither place nor occasion for coercion.
Self-expression.—Another right of the child is the right to express himself. The desire for self-expression is fundamental in the human mind, as the study of archæology abundantly proves. Since this is true, every school should be a school of expression if the nature of the child is to have full recognition. Without expression there is no impression, 26and without impression there is no education that has real value. The more and better expression in the school, therefore, the more and better the education in that school. In the vitalized school we shall find freedom of expression, and the absence of unreasoning repression. The child expresses himself by means of his hands, his feet, his face, his entire body, and his organs of speech, and his expression through either of these means gives the teacher a knowledge of what to do. These expressions may not be what the teacher would wish, but the expression necessarily precedes intelligent teaching.
Imagination.—These expressions may reveal a vivid imagination, but they are no less valuable as indices of the child’s nature on that account. It is the very refinement of cruelty to try to interdict or stifle the child’s imagination. But for the imagination of people in the past we should not have the rich treasures of mythology that so delight us all. Every child with imagination is constructing a mythology of his own, and from the gossamer threads of fancy is weaving a pattern of life that no parent or teacher should ever wish to forbid or destroy. Day by day, he sees visions and dreams 27dreams, and so builds for himself a world in which he finds delight and profit. In this world he is king, and only profane hands would dare attempt to dethrone him.
The child’s experiences.—His experiences, whether in the real world, or in this world of fancy, are his capital in the bank of life; and he has every right to invest this capital so as to achieve further increments of life. In this enterprise, the teacher is his counselor and guide, and, in order that she may exercise this function sympathetically and rationally, she must know the nature and extent of his capital. If he knows a bird, he may invest this knowledge so as to gain a knowledge of many birds, and so, in time, compass the entire realm of ornithology. If he knows a flower, from this known he may be so directed that he may become a master in the unknown field of botany. If he knows coal, this experience may be made the open sesame to the realms of geology. In short, all his experiences may be capitalized under the direction of a skillful teacher, and made to produce large dividends as an investment in life.
Relation to school work.—Thus the school becomes, for the child, a place of and for real life, and 28not a place detached from life. There he lives effectively, and joyously, because the teacher knows how to utilize his experiences and native dispositions for the enlargement of his life. He has no inclination to become a deserter or a tenant, for life is agreeable there, and the school is made his chief interest. His work is not doled out to him in the form of tasks, but is graciously presented as a privilege, and as such he esteems it. There he learns to live among people of differing tastes and interests without abdicating his own individuality. There he learns that life is work and that work is the very quintessence of life.
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Rights of the coming generations.—Any school procedure that limits its interests and activities to the present generation takes a too restricted view of the real scope of education. The children of the next generation, and the next, are entitled to consideration if education is to do its perfect work and have complete and convincing justification. The child of the future has a right to grandfathers and grandmothers of sound body and sound mind, and the schools and homes of the present are charged with the responsibility of seeing to it that this right is vouchsafed to him. In actual practice our plans seem not to previse grandfathers and grandmothers, and stop short even of fathers and mothers. The child of the next generation has a right to a father and a mother of untainted blood, and neither the home nor the school can ignore this right.
Transmitted weaknesses.—If these rights are not scrupulously respected by the present generation, 31the child of the future may come into the world under a handicap that all the educational agencies combined can neither remove nor materially mitigate. If he is crippled in mind or in body because of excesses on the part of his progenitors, the schools and hospitals may help him through life in a sorry sort of fashion, but his condition is evermore a reminder to him of how much he has missed in comparison with the child of sound body and mind. If such a child does not imprecate even the memory of the ancestors whose vitiated blood courses through his stricken body, it will be because his mind is too weak to reason from effect to cause or because his affliction has taught him large charity. He will feel that he has been shamefully cheated in the great game of life, with no hope of restitution. By reason of this, his gaze is turned backward instead of forward, and this is a reversal of the rightful attitude of child life. Instead of looking forward with hope and happiness, he droops through a somber life and constantly broods upon what might have been.
Attitude of ancestors.—Whether he realizes it or not, he reduces the average of humanity and is a burden upon society both in a negative and in a positive sense. In him society loses a worker and 32gains a dependent. Every taxpayer of the community must contribute to the support which he is unable to provide for himself. He watches other children romp and play and laugh; but he neither romps, nor plays, nor laughs. He is inert. Some ancestor chained him to the rock, and the vultures of disease and unhappiness are feeding at his vitals. He asks for bread, and they give him a stone; he asks for life, and they give him a living death; he asks for a heaven of delight, and they give him a hell of despair. He has a right to freedom, but, in place of that, he is forced into slavery of body and soul to pay the debts of his grandfather. Nor can he pay these debts in full, but must, perforce, pass them on to his own children. Sad to relate, the father and grandfather look upon such a child and charge Providence with unjust dealing in burdening them with such an imperfect scion to uphold the family name. They seem blind to the patent truth before them; they seem unable to interpret the law of cause and effect; they charge the Almighty and the child with their own defections; they acquit themselves of any responsibility for what is before their eyes.
Hospitals cited.—Our hospitals for abnormal 33and subnormal children, and our eleemosynary institutions, in general, are a sad commentary upon our civilization and something of a reflection upon the school as an exponent of and a teacher of life. If the wards of these institutions, barring the victims of accidents, are the best we can do in the way of coming upon a solution of the problem of life, neither society nor the school has any special warrant for exultation. These defectives did not just happen. The law of life is neither fortuitous nor capricious. On the contrary, like begets like, and the law is immutable. With lavish hand, society provides the pound of cure but gives only superficial consideration to the ounce of prevention. The title of education will be cloudy until such time as these institutions have become a thing of the past. Both pulpit and press extol the efforts of society to build, equip, and maintain these institutions, and that is well; but, with all that, we are merely trying to make the best of a bad situation. Education will not fully come into its own until it takes into the scope of its interests the child of the future as well as the child of the present; not until it comes to regard the children of the present as future ancestors as well as future citizens.
34The child as a future ancestor.—If the children of the future are to prove a blessing to society and not a burden, then the children of the present need to become fully conscious of their responsibilities as agencies in bringing to pass this desirable condition. If the teacher or parent can, somehow, cause the boy of to-day to visualize his own grandson, in the years to come, pointing the finger of scorn at him and calling down maledictions upon him because of a taint in the family blood, that picture will persist in his consciousness, and will prove a deterrent factor in his life. The desire for immortality is innate in every human breast, we are taught, but certainly no boy will wish to achieve that sort of immortality. He will not consider with complacency the possibility of his becoming a pariah in the estimation of his descendants, and will go far in an effort to avert such a misfortune. There is no man but will shudder when he contemplates the possibility of having perpetuated upon his gravestone or in the memory of his grandchild the word “Unclean.”
The heart of the problem.—Here we arrive at the very heart of the problem that confronts the home and the school. We may close our eyes, or 35look another way, but the problem remains. We may not be able to solve it, but we cannot evade it. Each day it calls loudly to every parent and every teacher for a solution. The health and happiness of the coming generations depend upon the right education of the present one, and this responsibility the home and the school can neither shirk nor shift. We take great unction to ourselves for the excellence of the horses, pigs, and cattle that we have on exhibition at the fairs, but are silent as to our failures in the form of children, that drag out a half-life in our hospitals. In one state it costs more to care for the defectives and unfortunates than to provide schooling facilities for all the normal children, but this fact is not written into party platforms nor proclaimed from the stump. In the face of such a fact society seems to proceed upon the agreeable assumption that the less said the better.
Misconceptions.—We temporize with the fundamental situation by the use of such soporifics as the expressions “necessary evil” and the like, but that leaves us exactly at the starting point. Many well-meaning people use these expressions with great frequency and freedom and seem to think that 36in so doing they have given a proof of virtue and public spirit. It were worthy only of an iconoclast to deprecate or disparage the legislative attempts to foster clean living. All such efforts are worthy of commendation; but in sadness it must be confessed that, laudable as these efforts are, they have not produced results that are wholly satisfactory. Defectives are still granted licenses to perpetuate their kind; children still enervate their bodies and minds by the use of narcotics; and society daintily lifts its skirts as it hurries past the evil, pretending not to see. Legislation is an attempt to express public sentiment in statutory form; but public sentiment must precede legislation if it is to become effective. Efforts have been made through the process of legislation to deny the granting of marriage licenses to people who are physically unsound, but the efforts came to naught because public sentiment has not attained to this plane of thinking. Hence, we shall not have much help from legislation in solving our problem, until public sentiment has been educated.
The responsibility of the school.—This education must come, in large part, through the schools, but even these will fail until they come into a full 37realization of the fact that their field of effort is life in the large. Time was when the teacher thought she was employed to teach geography, grammar, and arithmetic. Then she enlarged this to include boys and girls. And now she needs to make another addition and realize that her function is to teach boys and girls the subject of Life, using the branches of study as a means to this end. In a report on the work of the schools at Gary, Indiana, the statement is made that the first purpose of these schools seems to be to produce efficient workers for the mills. This seems to savor of the doctrine of educational foreordination, and would make millwork and life synonymous. Life is larger than any mill. We may be justified in educating one horse for the plow and another for the race track, but this justification rests upon the fact that horses are assets and not liabilities.
Clean living.—Clean living in this generation will, undeniably, project itself into the next, and we have only to see to it that all the activities of the school function in clean living in the child of to-day, and we shall surely be safeguarding the interests of the child of the future. But clean living means more than mere externals. The daily bath, 38pure food, fresh air, and sanitary conditions are essential but not sufficient in themselves. Clean thinking, right motives, and a high respect for the rights and interests of the future must enter into the scheme of life. There must be no devious ways, no back alleys, in the scheme, but only the broad highway of life, open always to the sunlight and to the gaze of all mankind. All this must become thoroughly enmeshed in the social consciousness and in the daily practice of every individual, before the school can lay claim to success in the art of teaching efficient living.
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The politician defined.—The politician has been defined as one who makes a careful study of the wants of his community and is diligent in his efforts to supply these wants. This definition has, at the very least, the merit of mitigating, if not removing, the stigma that attaches to politicians in the popular thought. Conceding the correctness of this definition, it must be evident that society is the beneficiary of the work of the politician, and would be the gainer if the number of politicians were multiplied. The motive of self-interest lies back of all human activities, and education is constantly striving to stimulate and accentuate this motive. Even in altruism we may find an admixture of self-interest. The merchant who arranges his goods artistically may hope by this means to win more patronage, but, aside from this, he wins a feeling of gratification. His self-interest may look either toward a greater volume of business or to a better class of 41patrons, or both. While he is enlarging the scope of his business, he may be elevating the taste of his customers. In either case his self-interest is commendable. A successful merchant is better for the community than an unsuccessful one.
Self-interest.—The physician is actuated by the motive of self-interest, also. His years of training are but a preparation for the competition that is certain to fall to his lot. He is gratified at the increase of his popularity as a successful practitioner. But he prescribes modes of living as well as remedies, and so tries to forestall and prevent disease, while he is exercising his curative skill. He tries not only to restore health, but also to promote good health in the community by his recommendations of pure food, pure water, fresh air, and exercise. His motives are altruistic even while he is consulting self-interest. None but the censorious will criticize the minister for accepting a larger parish even with a larger salary attached. The larger parish will afford him a wider field for usefulness, and the larger salary will enable him to execute more of his laudable plans.
The methods of the politician.—Hence it will be seen that, in the right sense, merchants, physicians, 42and ministers are all politicians in that they seek to expand the sphere of their activities. Like the politician they study the wants of the people in order to win a starting point for leadership. True, there are quacks, charlatans, hypocrites, and demagogues, but none of these, nor all combined, avail to disprove the validity of the principle. It has often been said that the churches would do well to study and use the art of advertising that is so well understood by the saloons. This is another way of saying that the methods of the politician will avail in promoting right activities as well as wrong ones. The politician, whether he is a business man or a professional man, proceeds from the known to the related unknown, and thus shows himself a conscious or unconscious student of psychology. He studies that which is in order to promote that which should be.
Leadership.—The politician aspires to leadership, and that is praiseworthy, provided his cause is a worthy one. If the cause is unworthy, the cloven foot will soon appear and repudiation will ensue, which will mark him unsuccessful as a politician. He may be actuated by the motive of self-interest, in common with all others, but this interest may 43focus in the amelioration of conditions as they are or in the advancement of his friends. The satisfaction of leadership is the sole reward of many a politician, with the added pleasure of seeing his friends profit by this leadership. A statesman is a politician grown large—large in respect to motives, to plans and purposes, and to methods. The fundamental principle, however, remains constant.
The politician worthy of imitation.—The successful politician must know people and their wants. He must know conditions in order to direct the course of his activities. Otherwise, he will find himself moving at random, and this may prove disastrous to his purposes. Much misdirected effort has been expended in disparaging the politician and his methods. If the man and his methods were better understood, they would often be found worthy of close imitation in the home, in the school, in the church, in the professions, and in business.
Education and substitution.—Education, in the large, is the process of making substitutions. Evermore, in school work, we are striving to substitute something better for something not so good. In brief, we are striving to substitute needs for wants. But before we can do this we must determine, by 44careful study and close observation, what the wants are. Ability to substitute needs for wants betokens a high type of leadership. The boy wants to read Henty, but needs to read Dickens or Shakespeare. How shall the teacher proceed in order to make the substitution? Certainly it cannot be done by any mere fiat or ukase. Those who are incredulous as to the wisdom of establishing colleges of education and normal schools to generate and promote methods of teaching have here a concrete and pertinent question: Can a college of education or normal school give to an embryo teacher any method by which she may effectively substitute Shakespeare for Henty?
Methods contrasted.—Some teachers have attempted to make this substitution by means of ridicule and sarcasm and then called the boy stupid because he continued to read his Henty. Others have indulged in rhapsodies on Shakespeare, hoping to inoculate the boy with the Shakespearean virus, and then called the boy stolid because he failed to share their apparent rapture. The politician would have pursued neither of these plans. His inherent or acquired psychology would have admonished him to begin where the boy is. He 45would have gone to Henty to find the boy. Having found him, he would have sat down beside him and entered into his interest in the book. In time he would have found something in the book to remind him of a passage in Shakespeare. This passage he would have read in his best style and then resumed the reading of Henty. Thus, by degrees, he would have effected the substitution, permitting the boy to think that this had been done on his own initiative.
The principle illustrated.—The vitalized teacher observes, profits by, and initiates into her work the method of the politician and so makes her school work vital. Beginning with what the boy wants, she lures him along, by easy stages, until she has brought him within the circle of her own wants, which are, in reality, the needs of the boy. The boy walks along in paces, let us say, of eighteen inches. The teacher moderates her gait to harmonize with his, but gradually lengthens her paces to two feet. At first, she kept step with him; now he is keeping step with her and finds the enterprise an exhilarating adventure. She is teaching the boy to walk in strides two feet in length, and begins with his native tendency to step eighteen inches. 46Thus she begins where the boy is, by acquainting herself with his wants, attaches her teaching to his native tendencies, and then proceeds from the known to the related unknown. Libraries abound in books that explain lucidly this simple elementary principle of teaching, but many teachers still seem to find it difficult of application.
Substitution illustrated.—This method of substitution becomes the rule of the school through the skill of the vitalized teacher. The lily of the valley is substituted for the sunflower, in the children’s esteem, and there is generated a taste for the exquisite. The copy of the masterpiece of art supplants the bizarre chromo; correct forms of speech take the place of incorrect forms; the elegant usurps the place of the inelegant; and the inartistic gives place to the artistic. The circle of their wants is extended until it includes their needs, and these, in turn, are transformed into wants. Thus all the pupils ascend to a higher level of appreciation of the things that make for a more comfortable and agreeable civilization. They work under the spell of leadership, for real leadership always inspires confidence.
Society and the school.—At its best, society is 47but an enlarged copy of the vitalized school. Or, to put it in another way, the vitalized school is society in miniature. As the school is engaged in the work of making substitutions, so, in fact, is society. Legislative bodies are striving to substitute wise laws for the laws that have fallen behind the needs of the times, that the interests of society may be fully conserved. The church is substituting better methods of work in all its activities for the methods that have become antiquated or ineffective. This it does in the hope that its influence may be broadened and deepened. Ministers and officials are constantly pondering the question of substitutions. The farmer is substituting better methods of tilling the soil for the methods that were in vogue in a former time before science had invaded the realms of agriculture, to the end that he may increase the yield of his fields, make larger contributions to commerce, increase his profits, and so be better able to gratify some of the higher desires of his nature.
The automobile factory.—Each successive model in an automobile factory is a concrete illustration of the process of making substitutions, and each substituted part bears witness to a close scrutiny 48of past experiences as well as of the wants of prospective purchasers. The self-starter was a want at first; but now it is a need, and, therefore, a necessity. If the school would but make as careful study of the boy’s experiences and his wants as the manufacturer does in the case of automobiles, and then would attach the substitutions to these experiences and wants, the boy would very soon find himself in happy possession of a self-starter which would prove to be the very crown of school work. The automobile manufacturer is both a psychologist and a politician.
Results of substitutions.—As a result of substitutions we have better roads, better houses, better laws, cleaner streets, better fences, better machinery, more sanitary conditions, and a higher type of conduct. We step to a higher level upon the experiences of the past and make substitutions as we move upward. The progress of civilization is measured by the character of these substitutions and the rapidity with which they are made. The people on the Isle of Marken make but few substitutions, and these only at long intervals, and so they are looked upon as curiosities among humans. In all our missionary enterprises we are endeavoring 49to persuade the peoples among whom we are working to make substitutions. Instead of their own, we would have them accept our books, our styles of clothing, our plans of government, our modes of living, our means of transportation, and, in short, our standards of life. But, first of all, we must learn their standards of life; otherwise we cannot proceed intelligently or effectively in the line of substitutions. We must know their language before we can teach them ours, and we must translate our books into their language before we can hope to substitute our books for theirs. All the substitutions we hope to make presuppose a knowledge of their wants. Hence the methods of the missionary bear a close analogy to the methods of the politician.
The Idealist.—This is equally true of the vitalized teacher. She is a practical idealist. In the words of the poet, her reach is beyond her grasp, and this proclaims her an idealist. In her capacity as a politician she makes a close study of the wants of her constituents, both pupils and parents, and so learns how best to articulate school work with the interests of the community. She does not hold aloof from her pupils or their homes, but 50studies them at close range, as do the missionary and the politician. She lives among them and so learns their language and their modes of thinking and living. Only so can she come into sympathetic relations with them and be of greatest service to them in promoting right substitutions. She finds one boy surcharged with the instinct of pugnacity. This tendency manifests itself both in school and at home. Her own conclusions are ratified by the parents. He wants to fight. His whole nature cries aloud for battle. In such a case, neither repression nor suppression will avail. So she attaches a phase of school work to this native disposition and gives his pugnacious instinct a fair field.
An example.—Enlisting him as her champion in a tournament, she pits against him a doughty antagonist in the form of a problem in arithmetic. In tones of encouragement she gives the signal and the fight is on. The boy pummels that problem as he would belabor a schoolmate on the playground. His whole being is focused upon the adventure. And when he has won his meed of praise, he feels himself a real champion. The teacher merely substituted mind for hands in the contest and so fell 51in with his notion that fighting is quite right if only the cause is a worthy one. He is quick to see the distinction and so makes the substitution with alacrity and with no loss of self-respect. Ever after he disdains the vulgar brawl and does not lose the fighting instinct. Thus the vitalized teacher by knowing how to make substitutions wins for society a valiant champion. If we multiply this example, we shall readily see how such a teacher-politician deserves the distinction of being termed a practical idealist.
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Acquisitiveness.—In fancy, at least, we may attain a position over and far above the city of London and from this vantage-place, with the aid of strong glasses, watch a panorama that is both entrancing and bewildering. The scene bewilders not alone by its scope, but still more by its complexity. The scene is a shifting one, too, never the same in two successive minutes. Here is Trafalgar Square, with its noble monument and the guardian lions, reminding us of Nelson in what is accounted one of the most heroic naval engagements recorded in history. As we look, we reconstitute the scene, far away, in which he was conspicuous, and reread in our books his stirring appeal to his men. Thence we glance up Regent Street and see it thronged with equipages that betoken wealth and luxury. Richly dressed people in great numbers are moving to and fro and giving color to the picture. A shabby garb cannot be made to fit into this picture. 53When it appears, there is discord in the general harmony. All this motion must have motives behind it somewhere; but we can only conjecture the motives. We have only surface indications to guide us in our quest for these. But we are reasonably certain that these people are animated by the instinct of acquisition. They seem to want to get things, and so come where things are to be had.
Desires for things intangible.—There are miles of vehicles of many kinds wending their tortuous, sinuous ways in and out along streets that radiate hither and thither. They stay their progress for a moment and people emerge at Robinson’s, at Selfridge’s, at Liberty’s. Each of these is the Mecca of a thousand desires, and faces beam with pleasure when they reappear. Some desire has evidently been gratified. Others alight at the National Gallery and enter its doors. When they come forth it is obvious that something happened to them inside that building. The lines of care on their faces are not so evident, and their step is more elastic and buoyant. Their desires did not have tangible things as their objectives as in the case of the people who entered the shops for merchandise, 54but their faces shine with a new light and, therefore, their quest must have been successful. As we look, we realize that desires for intangible things may be as acute as for tangible ones, and that the gratification of these desires produces equal satisfaction.
Westminster Abbey.—Not far away other throngs are invading Westminster Abbey. In those historic and hallowed precincts they are communing with the Past, the Present, and the Future. All about them is the sacred dust of those who once wrought effectively in affairs of state and in the realm of letters. History and literature have their shrine there, and these people are worshipers at that shrine. All about them are reminders of the Past, while the worshipers before the Cross direct their thoughts to the Future. Earth and Heaven both send forth an invitation for supreme interest in their thoughts and feelings. History and literature call to them to emulate the achievements whose monuments they see about them, while the Cross admonishes them that these achievements are but temporal. Here they experience a fulfillment of their desires. Their knowledge is broadened, and their faith is lifted up. The Past thrills 55them; the Future inspires them; and thus the Present is far more worth while.
House of Parliament.—Across the way is Parliament, and this conjures up a long train of events of vast import. The currents that flow out from this power-house have encircled the globe. Here conquests have been planned that electrified nations. Here have been generated vast armies and navies as messengers of Desire. Here have been voted vast treasures in execution of the desires of men for territorial extension and national aggrandizement. These halls have resounded with the eloquence of men who were striving to inoculate other men with the virus of their desires; and the whole world has stood on tiptoe awaiting the issue of this eloquence. Momentous scenes have been enacted here, all emanating from the desires of men, and these scenes have touched the lives of untold millions of people.
Commerce.—We see the Thames near by, teeming with ships from the uttermost corners of the earth, and we think of commerce. We use the word glibly, but no mind is able to comprehend its full import. We know that these ships ply the seas, bearing food and clothing to the peoples who live far away, but when we attempt to estimate the 56magnitude of commerce, the mind confesses to itself that the problem is too great. We may multiply the number of ships by their tonnage, but we get, in consequence, an array of figures so great that they cease to have any meaning for the finite mind. The best and most that they can do for us is to make us newly aware that the people who dwell in the jungles of Africa, who roam the pampas of South America, who climb the Alps, the Rockies, the Andes, and the Himalayas, all have desires that these ships are striving to gratify.
Social intercourse.—Going up the river to Hampton Court we see people out for a holiday. There are house-boats with elaborate and artistic fittings and furnishings, and other craft of every sort that luxury can suggest. One could imagine that none but fairies could stage such a scene. The blending of colors, the easy dalliance, the rippling laughter, the graceful feasting, and the eddying wavelets all conspire to produce a scene that serves to emphasize the beauty of the shores. Underneath this enchanting scene of variegated beauty we discover the fundamental fact that man is a gregarious animal, that he not only craves association with his kind but that playing with them brings him into 57more harmonious communion with them. In their play they meet upon the plane of a common purpose and are thus unified in spirit. Hence, all this beauty and gayety is serving a beneficent purpose in the way of gratifying the inherent desire of mankind for social intercourse.
The travel instinct.—At Charing Cross the commerce drama is reënacted, only here with trains instead of boats, and, mainly, people instead of merchandise. Here we see hurry and bustle, and hear the shriek of the engine and the warning blast of the guard. Trains are going out, trains are coming in. When the people step out upon the platforms, they seem to know exactly whither they are bound. There are porters all about to help them achieve their desires, and cabs stand ready at the curb to do their bidding. Here is human commerce, and the trains are the answer to the call of the human family to see their own and other lands. These trains are swifter and more agreeable for nomads than the camel of the desert or the Conestoga wagon of the prairie. The nomadic instinct pulls and pushes people away from their own door-yards; hence railways, trains, engines, air brakes, telegraph lines, wireless apparatuses, and all the 58many other devices that the mind of man has designed at the behest of this desire to roam about.
Monuments.—Further down the Thames we see Greenwich, which regulates the clocks for the whole world, and furnishes the sea captain the talisman by which he may know where he is. Over against St. Paul’s is the Bank of England, which for long years ruled the finances of the world. Yonder is the Museum, the conservator of the ages. There is the Rosetta Stone, which is the gateway of history; there the Elgin Marbles, which proclaim the glory of the Greece that was; there the palimpsests which recall an age when men had time to think; and there the books of all time by means of which we can rethink the big thoughts of men long since gone from sight. There are things that men now call curiosities that mark the course of minds in their struggles toward the light; and there are the sentiments of lofty souls that will live in the hearts of men long after these giant stones have crumbled.
Desire for pastoral beauty.—Beyond the city, in the alluring country places, we see a landscape that delights the senses, ornate with hedges, flowers, vine-clad cottages, highways of surpassing smoothness, 59fertile fields, and thrifty flocks and herds. There are carts and wagons on the roads bearing the products of field and garden to the marts of trade. Men, women, and children zealously ply the hoe, the plow, or the shovel, abetting Nature in her efforts to feed the hungry. In this pastoral scene there is dignity, serenity, and latent power. Its beauty answers back to the æsthetic nature of mankind, and nothing that is artificial can ever supplant it in the way of gratifying man’s desire for the beautiful.
Economic articulation.—Through all the diversified phases of this panorama there runs a fundamental principle of unity. There are no collisions. In the economy of civilization the farmer is coördinate with the artist, the artisan, and the tradesman. But, if all men were farmers, the economic balance would be disturbed. The railroad engineer is major because he is indispensable. So, also, is the farmer, the legislator, the artist, and the student. There is a degree of interdependence that makes for economic harmony. The articulation of all the parts gives us an economic whole.
Aspirations.—This panorama is a picture of life; and the school is life. Hence the panorama and 60the school are identical; only the school is larger than the panorama, even though the picture is reduced in size to fit the frame of the school. The pupils in the school have dreams and aspirations that reach far beyond the limits of the picture of our fancy. And all these aspirations are a part of life and so are indigenous in the vitalized school. And woe betide the teacher who would abridge or repress these dreams and aspirations. They are the very warp and woof of life, and the teacher who would eliminate them would suppress life itself. That teacher is in sorry business who would fit her pupils out with mental or spiritual strait-jackets, or mold them to some conventional pattern, even though it be her own. These pupils are the prototypes of the people in our panorama, and are, therefore, animated by like inclinations and desires.
Desire is fundamental.—Here is a boy who is hungry; he desires food. But so does the man who is passing along the street. The man is focusing all his mental powers upon the problem of how he shall procure food. The man’s problem is the boy’s problem and each has a right to a solution of his problem. The school’s business is to help the boy solve his problem and not to try to quench his 61desire for food or try to persuade him that no such desire exists. This desire is one of the native dispositions to which the work of the school is to attach itself. Desires are fundamental in the scheme of education, the very tentacles that will lay hold upon the school activities and render them effective. The teacher’s large task is to strengthen and nourish incipient desires and to cause the pupil to hunger and thirst after the means of gratifying them.
Innate tendencies.—Each pupil has a right to his inherent individuality. The school should not only begin where the boy is, but should begin its work upon what he is. Only so can it direct him toward what he ought to be. If the boy would alight at the National Gallery in order to regale himself with the masterpieces of art, why, pray, should the teacher try to curtail this desire and force him into Westminster Abbey? If she will accompany him into the Gallery and prove herself his friend and guide among the treasures of art, she will, doubtless, experience the joy of hearing him ask her to be his companion through the Abbey later on. The Abbey is quite right in its way and the boy must visit it soon or late, but to this particular boy the Gallery comes first and he should be 62led to the Abbey by way of the Gallery. In school work the parties are all personally conducted, but the rule is that a party is composed of but one person.
Illustration.—The girl is not to be condemned because she desires to visit the Selfridge shop rather than the Museum. The teacher may rhapsodize upon the Museum to the limit of her strength, but the girl is thinking of the beautiful fabrics to be seen at the shop, and, especially, of the delicious American ice cream that can be had nowhere else in London. It is rather a poor teacher who cannot lead the girl to the British Museum by way of Selfridge’s. If the teacher finds the task difficult, she would do well to traverse the route a few times in advance. The ice cream will help rather than hinder when they stand, at length, before the Rosetta Stone or read the original letter to Mrs. Bixby. The store and the Museum are both in the picture, and the teacher must determine which should come first in the itinerary of this girl. The native dispositions and desires will point out the way to the teacher.
The old-time schoolmaster was fond of setting as a copy in the old-fashioned copy book “All work 63and no play makes Jack a dull boy”; but, later, when he caught Jack playing he gave him a flogging, thus proving himself both inconsistent and deficient in a knowledge of psychology and fair play. If we are going to Greenwich we shall save time by taking the longer journey by way of Hampton Court. As we disport ourselves amid the beauties and gayeties of the Court we can prolong our pleasures by anticipating Greenwich, and so make our play the anteroom of our work.
Variety in excellence.—In the vitalized school we shall find each pupil eager in his quest of food for the hunger he feels, and the teacher rejoicing in the development of his individuality. She would not have all her pupils attain the same level even of excellence. They are different, and she would have them so. Nor would she have her school exemplify the kind of order that is to be found in a gallery of statues. Her school is a place of life, eager, yearning, pulsating life, and not a place of dead and deadening silence. Her pupils have diversified tastes and desires and, in consequence, diversified activities, but work is the golden cord that binds them in a healthy and healthful unity. This is sublime chaos, a busy, happy throng, all working at full strength 64at tasks that are worth while, and all animated by hopes and aspirations that reach out to the very limits of space.
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A conflict.—There was a fight on a railway train—a terrific fight. The conductor and two other Americans were battling against ten or more foreigners. These foreigners had come aboard the train at a mining town en route to the city for a holiday. The train had hardly got under way, after the stop, when the fight was on. The battle raged back and forth from one car to the other across the platform amid the shouts and cursing of men and the screams of women. Bloody faces attested the intensity of the conflict. One foreigner was knocked from the train, but no account was taken of him. The train sped on and the fight continued. Nor did its violence abate until the train reached the next station, where the conductor summoned reënforcements and invoked the majesty of the law in the form of an officer. The affray, from first to last, was most depressing and gave to the unwilling witness a feeling that civilization is something of a misnomer and that men are inherently ferocious.
66Misconceptions.—More mature reflection, however, served to modify this judgment, and the application of some philosophy resolved the distressing combat into a relatively simple proposition. The conductor and his assistants were fighting for their conception of order, and their opponents were fighting for their conception of manhood. Reduced to its primal elements, the fight was the result of a dual misconception. The conductor was battling to vindicate his conception of order; the foreigners were battling to vindicate their conception of the rights of men in a democracy. Neither party to the contest understood the other, and each one felt himself to be on the defensive. Neither one would have confessed himself the aggressor, and yet each one was invading the supposed rights of the other. Judicial consideration could readily have averted the whole distressing affair.
Foreign concept of democracy.—The foreigners had come to our country with roseate dreams of democracy. To their conception, this is the land where every man is the equal of every other man; where equal rights and privileges are vouchsafed to all men without regard to nationality, position, or possessions; where there is no faintest hint of the 67caste system; and where there are no possible lines of demarcation. Their disillusionment on that train was swift and severe, and the observer could not but wonder what was their conception of a democracy as they walked about the streets of the city or gave attention to their bruised faces. Their dreams of freedom and equal rights must have seemed a mockery. They must have felt that they had been lured into a trap by some agency of cruelty and injustice. After such an experience they must have been unspeakably homesick for their native land.
“Melting pot.”—Their primary trouble arose from the fact that they had not yet achieved democracy, but had only a hazy theoretical conception of its true meaning. Nor did the conductor give them any assistance. On the contrary he pushed them farther away into the realm of theory, and rendered them less susceptible to the influence of the feeling for democracy. Before these foreigners can become thoroughly assimilated they must know this feeling by experience; and until this experience is theirs they cannot live comfortably or harmoniously in our democracy. To do this effectively is one of the large tasks that confront the American 68school and society as a whole. If we fail here, the glory of democracy will be dimmed. All Americans share equally in the responsibility of this task. The school, of course, must assume its full share of this responsibility if it would fully deserve the name of melting pot.
Learning democracy.—Meeting this responsibility worthily is not the simple thing that many seem to conceive it to be. If it were, then any discussion appertaining to the teaching of democracy would be superfluous. This subject of democracy is, in fact, the most difficult subject with which the school has to do, and by far the most important. Its supreme importance is due to the fact that all the pupils expect to live in a democracy, and, unless they learn democracy, life cannot attain to its maximum of agreeableness for them nor can they make the largest possible contributions to the well-being of society. It has been said that the seventeenth century saw Versailles; the eighteenth century saw the Earth; and the nineteenth century saw Humanity. Then the very pertinent question is asked, “Which century will see Life?” We who love our country and our form of government fondly hope that we may be the first to see Life, and, if 69this privilege falls to our lot, we must come to see life through the medium of democracy.
The vitalized school a democracy.—Life seems to be an abstract something to many people, but it must become concrete before they can really see it as it is. Democracy is a means, therefore, of transforming abstract life into concrete life, and so we are to come into a fuller comprehension of life through the gateway of democracy. The vitalized school is a laboratory of life and, at the same time, it is the most nearly perfect exemplification of democracy. The nearer its approach to perfection in exemplifying the spirit and workings of a democracy, the larger service it renders society. If the outflow from the school into society is a high quality of democracy, the general tone of society will be improved. If society deteriorates, the school may not be wholly at fault, but it evidently is unable to supply to society reënforcement in such quantity and of such quality as will keep the level up to normal.
Responsibility of the individual.—In society each individual raises or lowers the level of democracy according to what he is and does. The idler fails to make any contributions to the well-being of society and thus lowers the average of citizenship. 70The trifler and dawdler lower the level of democracy by reason of their inefficiency. They may exercise their right to vote but fail to exercise their right to act the part of efficient citizens. If all citizens emulated their example, democracy would become inane and devitalized. Tramps, burglars, feeble-minded persons, and inebriates lower the level of democracy because of their failure to render their full measure of service, and because, in varying degrees, they prey upon the resources of society and thus add to its burdens. Self-reliance, self-support, self-respect, as well as voting, are among the rights that all able-bodied citizens must exercise before democracy can come into its rightful heritage.
The function of the school.—All this and much more the schools must teach effectively so that it shall be thoroughly enmeshed in the social consciousness or their output will reveal a lack of those qualities that make for the larger good of democratic society. Democracy must be grooved into habits of thought and action or the graduates of the schools will fall short of achieving the highest plane of living in the community. They will not be in harmony with their environment, and friction will ensue, which will reduce, in some degree, the level of democracy. 71Hence, the large task of the school is to inculcate the habit of democracy with all that the term implies. Twelve years are none too long for this important work, even under the most favorable conditions and under the direction of the most skillful teaching. Indeed, civic economy will be greatly enhanced if, in the twelve years, the schools accomplish this one big purpose.
Manifestations of democratic spirit.—We may not be able to resolve democracy into its constituent elements, but the spirit that is attuned to democracy is keenly alive to its manifestations. The spirit so attuned is quick to detect any slightest discord in the democratic harmony. This is especially true in the school democracy. A discordant note affects the entire situation and militates against effective procedure. In the school democracy we look for a series and system of compromises,—for a yielding of minor matters that major ones may be achieved. We look for concessions that will make for the comfort and progress of the entire body, and we experience disappointment if we fail to discover some pleasure in connection with these concessions. We expect to see good will banishing selfishness and every semblance of monopoly. We expect 72to find every pupil glad to share the time and strength of the teacher with his fellows even to the point of generosity, and to find joy in so doing. We expect to find each pupil eager to deposit all his attainments and capabilities as assets of the school and to find his chief joy in the success of all that the school represents.
Obstacles in the path.—But it is far easier to depict democracy than to teach it. In fact, the teacher is certain to encounter obstacles, and many of these have their source in American homes. Indeed, some of the most fertile sources of discord in the school may be traced to a misconception of democracy on the part of the home. One of these misconceptions is a species of anarchy, which appropriates to itself the gentler name of democracy. But, none the less, it is anarchy. It disdains all law and authority, treads under foot the precepts of the home and the school, flouts the counsels of parents and teachers, and is self-willed, obstinate, and defiant. Democracy obeys the law; anarchy scorns it. Democracy respects the rights of others, anarchy overrides them. Democracy exalts good will; anarchy exalts selfishness. Democracy respects the Golden Rule; anarchy respects nothing, not even itself.
73Anarchy.—When this spirit of anarchy gains access to the school, it is not easily eradicated for the reason that the home is loath to recognize it as anarchy, and resents any such implication on the part of the school. The father may be quite unable to exercise any control over the boy, but he is reluctant to admit the fact to the teacher. Such a boy is an anarchist and no sophistry can gloss the fact. What he needs is a liberal application of monarchy to fit him for democracy. He should read the Old Testament as a preparation for an appreciative perusal of the New Testament. If the home cannot generate in him due respect for constituted authority, then the school must do so, or he will prove a menace to society and become a destructive rather than a constructive agency. Here we have a tense situation. Anarchy is running riot in the home; the home is arrayed against the attempts of the school to correct the disorder; and Democracy is standing expectant to see what will be done.
Snobbery.—Scarcely less inimical to democracy than anarchy is snobbery. The former is violent, while the latter is insidious. Both poison the source of the stream of democracy. If the home instills into the minds of children the notion of inherent 74superiority, they will carry this into the school and it will produce a discord. A farmer and a tenant had sons of the same age. These lads played together, never thinking of superiority or inferiority. Now the son of the tenant is president of one of the great universities, and the son of the proprietor is a janitor in one of the buildings of that university. Democracy presents to view many anomalies, and the school age is quite too early for anything approaching the caste system or snobbery. The time may come when the rich man’s son will consider it an honor to drive the car for his impecunious classmate.
Restatement.—It needs to be repeated, therefore, that democracy is the most difficult subject which the school is called upon to teach, not only because it is difficult in itself, but also because of the attitude of many homes that profess democracy but do not practice it. To the influence of such homes one may trace the exodus of many children from the schools. The parents want things done in their way or not at all, and so withdraw their children to vindicate their own autocracy. They are willing to profit by democracy but are unwilling to help foster its growth. They not only lower the level of democracy but even compel their children 75to lower it still more. The teacher may yearn for the children and the children for the teacher, but the home is inexorable and sacrifices the children to a misconception of democracy.
Coöperation.—Democracy does not mean fellowship, but it does mean coöperation. It means that people in all walks of life are animated by the common purpose to make all their activities contribute to the general good of society. It means that the railroad president may shake hands with the brakeman and talk with him, man to man, encouraging him to aspire to promotion on merit. It means that this brakeman may become president of the road with no scorn for the stages through which he passed in attaining this position. It means that he may understand and sympathize with the men in his employ without fraternizing with them. It means that every boy may aspire to a place higher than his father has attained with no loss of affection for him. It does not mean either sycophancy or truculence, but freedom to every individual to make the most of himself and so help others to make the most of themselves.
The democratic teacher.—Democracy is learned not from books but from the democratic spirit that 76obtains in the school. If the teacher is surcharged with democracy, her radiating spirit sends out currents into the life of each pupil, and the spirit of democracy thus generated in them fuses them into homogeneity. Thus they become democratic by living in the atmosphere of democracy, as the boy grew into the likeness of the Great Stone Face.
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Patriotism as a working principle.—The vitalized school generates and fosters patriotism, not merely as a sentiment, but more particularly as a working principle. Patriotism has in it a modicum of sentiment, to be sure, as do religion, education, the home, and civilization; but sentiment alone does not constitute real or true patriotism. The man who shouts for the flag but pursues a course of conduct that brings discredit upon the name of his country, belies the sentiment that his shouting would seem to express. The truly patriotic man feels that he owes to his country and his race his whole self,—his mind, his time, and his best efforts,—and the payment of this obligation spells life to him. Thus he inevitably interprets patriotism in terms of industry, economy, thrift, and the full conservation of time and energy, that he may render a good account of his stewardship to his country.
Spelling as patriotism.—With this broad conception 78in mind the teacher elevates patriotism to the rank of a motive and proceeds to organize all the school activities in consonance with this conception. Actuated by this high motive the pupils, in time, come to look upon correct spelling not only as a comfort and a convenience, but also as a form of patriotism in that it is an exponent of intelligent observation and as such wins respect and commendation from people at home and people abroad. Or, to put the case negatively, if we were all deficient in the matter of spelling, the people of other lands would hold us up to ridicule because of this defect; but if we are expert in the art of spelling, they have greater respect for us and for our schools. Hence, such a simple matter as spelling tends to invest the flag of our country with better and fuller significance. Thus spelling becomes woven into the life processes, not as a mere task of the school, but as a privilege vouchsafed to every one who yearns to see his country win distinction.
Patriotism a determining motive.—In like manner the teacher runs the entire gamut of school studies and shows how each one may become a manifestation of patriotism. If she has her pupils 79exchange letters with pupils in the schools of other countries, they see, at once, that their spelling, their writing, and their composition will all be carefully assessed in the formation of an estimate of ourselves and our schools. It is evident, therefore, that the pupils will give forth their best efforts in all these lines that the country they represent may appear to the best advantage. In such an exercise the motive of patriotism will far outweigh in importance the motive of grades. Besides, the letters are written to real people about real life, and, hence, life and patriotism become synonymous in their thinking, and all their school work becomes more vital because of their patriotism.
History.—In the study of history, the pupils readily discover that the men and women who have given distinction to their respective countries have done so, in the main, by reason of their attainments in science, in letters, and in statesmanship. They are led to think of Goethals in the field of applied mathematics; of Burbank in the realm of botany; of Edison in physics; of Scott and Burns in literature; of Max Müller in philology; of Schliemann in archæology; of Washington and Lincoln in the realm of statesmanship; and of Florence Nightingale 80and Clara Barton in philanthropy. They discover that France deemed it an honor to have Erasmus as her guest so long as he found it agreeable to live in that country, and that many countries vied with one another in claiming Homer as their own. Phillips Brooks was a patriot, not alone because of his profession of love for his country, but because of what he did that added luster to the name of his country.
Efficiency.—The study of physiology and hygiene affords a wide field for the contemplation and practice of patriotic endeavor. The care of the body is a patriotic exercise in that it promotes health and vigor, and these underlie efficiency. Anything short of efficiency is unpatriotic because it amounts to a subtraction from the possible best that may be done to advance the interests of society. The shiftless man is not a patriot, nor yet the man who enervates his body by practices that render him less than efficient. The intemperate man may shout lustily at sight of the flag, but his noise only proclaims his lack of real patriotism. An honest day’s work would redound far more to the glory of his country than his noisy protestations. Seeing that behind every deliberate action there lies a 81motive, the higher the motive the more noble will be the action. If, then, we can achieve temperance through the motive of patriotism, society will be the beneficiary, not only of temperance itself, but also of many concomitant benefits.
Temperance.—Temperance may be induced, of course, through the motives of economy, good health, and the like, but the motive of patriotism includes all these and, therefore, stands at the summit. Waste, in whatever form, is evermore unpatriotic. Conservation is patriotism, whether of natural resources, human life, human energy, or time. The intemperate man wastes his substance, his energies, his opportunities, his self-respect, and his moral fiber. Very often, too, he becomes a charge upon society and abrogates the right of his family to live comfortably and agreeably. Hence, he must be accounted unpatriotic. If all men in our country were such as he, our land would be derided by the other nations of the world. He brings his country into disrepute instead of glorifying it because he does less than his full share in contributing to its well-being. He renders himself less than a typical American and brings reproach upon his country instead of honor.
82Sanitation.—One of the chief variants of the general subject of physiology and hygiene is sanitation, and this, even yet, affords a field for aggressive and constructive patriotism. Grime and crime go hand in hand; but, as a people, we have been somewhat slow in our recognition of this patent truth. Patriotism as well as charity should begin at home, and the man who professes a love for his country should make that part of his country which he calls his home so sanitary and so attractive that it will attest the sincerity of his profession. If he loves his country sincerely, he must love his back yard, and what he really loves he will care for. It does him no credit to have the flag floating above a home that proclaims his shiftlessness. His feeling for sanitation, attractiveness, and right conditions as touching his own home surroundings will expand until it includes his neighborhood, his county, his State, and his entire country.
A typical patriot.—A typical patriot is the busy, intelligent, frugal, cultured housewife whose home is her kingdom and who uses her powers to make that kingdom glorious. She regrets neither the time nor the effort that is required to make her home clean, artistic, and comfortable. She places 83upon it the stamp of her character, industry, and good taste. She supplies it with things that delight the senses and point the way to culture. To such a home the crude and the bizarre are a profanation. She administers her home as a sacred trust in the interests of her family and never for exhibition purposes. Her home is an expression of herself, and her children will carry into life the standards that she inculcates through the agency of the home. Life is better for the family and for the community because her home is what it is, and, in consequence, her patriotism is far-reaching in its influence. If all homes were such as this, our country would be exploited as representing the highest plane of civilization the world has yet attained. The vitalized teacher is constantly striving to have this standard of home and home life become the standard of her pupils.
Mulberry Bend.—In striking contrast with this home are conditions in Mulberry Bend, New York, as described by a writer thoroughly conversant with conditions as they were until recently—conditions, however, now much bettered: “These alleys, running from nowhere to nowhere, alongside cellars where the light never enters and where nothing can 84live but beast-men and beast-women and rats; behind foul rookeries where skulk the murderer and the abandoned tramp; beside hideous plague-spots where the stench is overpowering—Bottle Alley, where the rag-pickers pile their bags of stinking stuff, and the Whyo Roost where evil-visaged beings prowl about, hunting for prey; dozens of alleys winding in and out and intersecting, so that the beast may slay his prey, and hide in the jungle, and be safe; these foul alleys—who shall picture them, or explore their depths, or describe their wretchedness and their hideousness?… Upon the doorsteps weary mothers are nursing little babies who will never know the meaning of innocent childhood, but will be versed in the immoral lore of the Underworld before they learn their alphabet. Ragged children covered with filth play about the pushcarts and the horses in the street, while their mothers chatter in greasy doorways, or shout from upper windows into the hordes below, or clatter about creaky floors, preparing the foul mess of tainted edibles which constitutes a meal.”
With many other phases of this gruesome picture this author deals, and then concludes with the following: “But in the rookeries which, like their 85inmates, skulk and hide out of sight in the crowded street; in these ramshackle structures which line the back alleys, and there breed their human vermin amid dirt and rags—in these there is no direct sunlight throughout the long year. Rookeries close to the front windows, shutting out light and air, and rookeries close to the rear windows, and rookeries close to each side, and never a breath of fresh air to ventilate one of these holes wherein men and women and children wallow in dirt, and live and fight and drink and die, and finally give way to others of their kind.” So long as such conditions as these continue in our country, sanitation as a manifestation of patriotism will not have done its perfect work, and the stars and stripes of our flag will lack somewhat of their rightful luster.
Patriotism in daily life.—When the influences of hygiene and of home economics, taught as life processes and not merely as prerequisites for graduation, by teachers who regard them as forms of patriotism,—when these influences have percolated to every nook and cranny of our national life,—to the homes, the streets and alleys, the farms, the shops, the factories, and the mines, such conditions as these will disappear, and we as a nation shall 86then have a clearer warrant for our profession of patriotic interest in and devotion to the welfare of our country as a whole. But so long as we can look upon insanitary conditions without a shudder; so long as we permit dirt to breed disease and crime; so long as we make our streams the dumping places for débris; so long as we tolerate ugliness where beauty should obtain; and so long as our homes and our farms betray the spirit of shiftlessness,—so long shall we have occasion to blush when we look at our flag and confess our dereliction of our high privilege of patriotism.
The American restaurant.—Perhaps no single detail of the customs that obtain in our country impresses a cultivated foreigner more unfavorably than the régime in our popular restaurants. The noise, the rattle and clatter and bang, the raucous calling of orders, and the hurry and confusion give him the impression that we are content to have feeding places where we might have eating places. He regards all that he sees and hears as being less than proper decorum, less than a high standard of intelligence, less than refined cultivation, and less than agencies that contribute to the graces of life. He marvels that we have not yet attained the conception 87that partaking of food amounts to a gracious and delightful ceremony rather than a gastronomic orgy. His surprise is not limited to the people who administer these establishments, but extends to the people who patronize them. He marvels that the patrons do not seek out places where there is quiet, and serenity, and pleasing decorum. He returns to his own land wondering if the noisy restaurant is typical of American civilization. He may not know that the study of domestic science in our schools has not had time to attain its full fruition in the way of inculcating a lofty conception of life in the dining room.
Thrift as patriotism.—Another important phase of patriotism is thrift; and here, again, we have come short of realizing our possibilities. There are far too many people who have failed to lay in store against times of emergency, far too many who care only for to-day with slight regard for to-morrow. Moreover, there are far too many who, despite sound bodies, are dependents, contributing nothing to the resources of society, but constantly preying upon those resources. There are in our country not fewer than one hundred thousand tramps, and by some the number has been estimated at a half-million. 88If this vast army of dependents could be transferred to the ranks of producers, tilling our fields, harvesting our crops, constructing our highways of travel, redeeming our waste places, and beautifying our streams, life would be far more agreeable both for them and for the rest of our people. They would become self-supporting and so would win self-respect; they would subtract their number from the number of those who live at public expense; and they would make contributions to the general store. They would thus relieve society of the incubus of their dependence, and largely increase the number of our people who are self-supporting.
Some contrasts.—We are making some progress in the line of thrift through our school savings and postal savings, but we have not yet attained to a national conception of thrift as an element of patriotism. This is one of the large yet inspiring privileges of the vitalized school. Thrift is so intimately identified with life that they naturally combine in our thinking, and we have only to reach the conception that our mode of life is the measure of our patriotism in order to realize that thrift and patriotism are in large measure identical. The industrious, frugal, thrifty man is patriotic; the unthrifty, 89lazy, shiftless man is unpatriotic. The one ennobles and honors his country; the other dishonors and degrades his country.
Conclusion.—If the foregoing conclusions are valid, and to every thoughtful person they must seem well-nigh axiomatic, then the school has a wide field of usefulness in the way of inculcating a loftier and broader conception of patriotism. The teacher who worthily fills her place in the vitalized school will give the boys and girls in her care such a conception of patriotism as will give direction, potency, and significance to every school activity and lift these activities out of the realm of drudgery into the realm of privilege. Her pupils will be made to feel that what they are doing for themselves, their school, and their homes, they are doing for the honor and glory of their country.
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Tom Sawyer.—Tom Sawyer was one of the most effective teachers that has figured in the pages of the books; and yet we still regard Mark Twain as merely the prince of humorists. He was that, of course, but much more; and some day we shall read his books in quest of pedagogical wisdom and shall not be disappointed. It will be recalled that Tom Sawyer sat on the top of a barrel and munched apples while his boy companions whitewashed the fence in his stead. Tom achieved this triumph because he knew how to emancipate work from the plane of drudgery and exalt it to the plane of a privilege. Indeed, it loomed so large as a privilege that the other boys were eager to barter the treasures of their pockets in exchange for this privilege. And never did a fence receive such a whitewashing! There wasn’t fence enough and, therefore, the process must needs be repeated again and again. The best part of the entire episode was that everybody 92was happy, Tom included. Tom was happy in seeing his plan work, and the other boys were happy because they were doing work that Tom had caused them to become eager to do.
Work as a privilege.—To make work seem a privilege is a worthy task for the school to set before itself, and if it but achieves this it will prove itself worth all it costs. At first thought, it seems a stupendous task, and so it is. But Tom Sawyer accomplished it in an easy, natural way, with no parade or bombast. He had habit and tradition to contend against, just as the school has, but he overbore these obstacles and won the contest. Some of those boys, before that morning, may have thought it ignoble to perform menial tasks; but Tom soon overcame that feeling and led them to feel that only an artist can whitewash a fence properly. Some of them may have been interpreting life as having a good time, but, under the tutorage of Tom, they soon came to feel that having a good time means whitewashing a fence.
The persistency of habit.—In striving to exalt and ennoble work, the school runs counter to habits of thought that have been formed in the home, and these habits prove stubborn. The home has so 93long imposed work as a task that the school finds it difficult to make it seem a privilege. The father and mother have so often complained of their work, in the presence of their children, that all work comes to assume the aspect of a hardship, if not a penalty. It often happens, too, that the parents encourage their children to think that education affords immunity from work, and the children attend school with that notion firmly implanted in their minds. They seem to think that when they have achieved an education they will receive their reward in the choicest gifts that Fortune has to bestow, and that their only responsibility will be to indicate their choices.
Misconceptions of work.—Still further, when children enter school imbued with this conception of work, they feel that the work of the school is imposed upon them as a task from which they would fain be free. If their parents had only been as wise as Tom Sawyer and had set up motives before them in connection with their home activities and thus exalted all their work to the plane of privilege, the work of the school would be greatly simplified. It is no slight task to eradicate this misconception of work, but somehow it must be done before the work 94of the school can get on. Until this is done, the work of the school will be done grudgingly instead of buoyantly, and work that is done under compulsion is never joyous work. Nor will work that is done under compulsion ever be done in full measure, as the days of slavery clearly prove.
Illustrations.—Life and work are synonymous, and no amount or form of sophistry can abrogate their relation. The man who does not work does not have real life, as the invalid will freely witness. The tramp on the highway manages to exist, but he does not really live, no matter what his philosophy may be. Many children interpret life to mean plenty of money and nothing to do, but this conception merely proves that they are children with childish misconceptions. They see the railway magnate riding in his private car and conceive his life to be one of ease and luxury. They do not realize that the private car affords him the opportunity to do more and better work. They see the president of the bank sitting in his private office and imagine that he is idle, not realizing that his mind is busy with problems of great magnitude, problems that would appall his subordinates. They cannot know, as he sits there, that he is projecting his thoughts into far-off 95lands, and is watching the manifold and complex processions of commerce in their relations to the world of finance.
Concrete examples.—They see the architect in his luxurious apartments, but do not realize that his brain is directing every movement of a thousand men who are causing a colossal building to tower toward the sky. They see a Grant sitting beneath a tree in apparent unconcern, but do not know that he is bearing the responsibility of the movements of a vast army. They see the pastor in his study among his books, but do not know the travail of spirit that he experiences in his yearning for his parishioners. They see the farmer sitting at ease in the shade, but do not know that he is visualizing every detail of his farm, the men at their tasks, the flocks and herds, the crops, the streams, the machinery, the fences, and the orchards and vineyards. They see the master of the ship, standing on the bridge clad in his smart uniform, and imagine that he is merely enjoying the sea breezes the same as themselves, not knowing that his thoughts are concentrated upon the safety of his hundreds of passengers and his precious cargo.
The potency of mental work.—Only by experience 96may children come to know that work may be mental as well as physical, and the school is charged with the responsibility of affording this experience. Through experience they will come to know that mind transcends matter, and that in life the body yields obedience to the behests of the mind. They will come to know that mental work is more far-reaching than physical work, in that a single mind plans the work for a thousand hands. They will learn that mental work has redeemed the world from its primitive condition and is making life more agreeable even if more complex. They will come to see the mind busy in its work of tunneling mountains, building canals and railways, navigating oceans, and exploring the sky. They will come to realize that mental work has produced our libraries, designed our machinery, made our homes more comfortable and our fields more fertile.
Work a blessing.—As a knowledge of all these things filters into their minds, their conception of life broadens, and they see more and more clearly that life and work are fundamentally identical. They see that work directs the streams of life and gives to life point, potency, and significance. They soon see that knowledge is power only because it is the 97agency that generates power, and that knowledge touches life at every point. They will come to realize that work is the one great luxury in life, and that education is designed to increase the capacity for work in order that people may indulge in this luxury more abundantly. The more work one can do, the more life one has; and the better the work one can do, the higher the quality of that life. They learn that the adage “Work to live and live to work” is no fiction but a reality.
Work and enjoyment.—The school, therefore, becomes to them a workshop of life, and unless it is that, it is not a worthy school. It is not a something detached from life, but, rather, an integral part of life and therefore a place and an occasion for work. The school is the Burning Bush of work that is to grow into the Tree of Life. But life ought to teem with joy in order to be at its best, and never be a drag. Work, therefore, being synonymous with life, should be a joyous experience, even though it taxes the powers to the utmost. If the child comes to the work of the school as the galley-slave goes to his task, there is a lack of adjustment and balance somewhere, and a readjustment is necessary. It matters not that a boy spends two hours over a 98problem in arithmetic if only he enjoys himself during the time. But, if he works two hours merely to get a passing grade or to escape punishment, the time thus spent does not afford him the pleasure that rightfully belongs to him, and some better motive should be supplied.
The teacher’s problem.—The teacher’s mission is not to make school work easy, but, rather, to make the hardest work alluring and agreeable. Here, again, she may need to take counsel with Tom Sawyer. Whitewashing a fence is quite as hard work as solving a problem in decimals or cube root. Much depends upon the mental attitude of the boy, and this in turn depends upon the skill of the teacher and her fertility of mind in supplying motives. Whitewashing a fence causes the arms to grow weary and the back to ache, but the boys recked not of that. On the contrary, they clamored for more of the same kind of work. This same spirit characterizes the work of the vitalized school. The pupils live as joyously in the schoolroom as they do outside, and the harder the work the greater their joy.
When work is made a privilege by the expert teacher, school procedure becomes well-nigh automatic and there is never any occasion for nagging, 99hectoring, or badgering. Such things are abnormal in life and no less so in the vitalized school. They are a confession on the part of the teacher that she has reached the limit of her resources. She admits that she cannot do what Tom Sawyer did so well, and so proclaims her inability to articulate life and work effectively.
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Initial statement.—Life and words are so closely interwoven that we have only to study words with care in order to achieve an apprehension of life. Indeed, education may be defined as the process of enlarging the content of words. No two of us speak the same language even though we use the same words. The schoolboy and the savant speak of education, using the same word, but the boy has only the faintest conception of the meaning of the word as used by the savant. We must know the content of the words that are used before we can understand one another, either in speaking or in writing. For one man, a word is big with meaning; for another, the same word is so small as to be well-nigh meaningless. To the ignorant boor, the word “education” means far less than the three R’s, while to the scholar the word includes languages, ancient and modern, mathematics through many volumes, sciences that analyze the dewdrop, determine the weight of the 101earth and the distances and movements of the planets, history from the Rosetta Stone to the latest presidential election, and philosophy from Plato to the scholar of to-day.
The word “education.”—And yet both these men spell and pronounce the word alike. The ignorant man has only the faintest glimmering of the scholar’s meaning of the word when he speaks or writes it. Still the word is in common use, and people who use it are wont to think that their conception of its meaning is universal. If the boor could follow the expansion of the word as it is invested with greater and greater content, he would, in time, understand Aristotle, Shakespeare, Gladstone, and Max Müller. And, understanding these men, he would come to know philosophy, literature, and language, and so would come to appreciate more fully what education really is. In contemplating the expansion of the word, one might easily visualize the ever widening circle produced by throwing a pebble into a pool; but a better conception would be the expansion of a balloon when it is being inflated. This comparison enables one to realize that education enlarges as a sphere rather than as a circle.
102The scholar’s concept of the sea.—The six-year-old can give the correct spelling of the word sea as readily as the sage, but the sage has spent a lifetime in putting content into the word. For him, the word epitomizes his life history. Through its magic leading he retraces his journeys through physiography and geology, watching the sea wear away two thousand feet of the Appalachian Mountains and spread the detritus over vast areas, making the great fertile corn and wheat belt of our country. He knows that this section produces, annually, such a quantity of corn as would require for transportation a procession of teams that would encircle the earth nine times, at the equator, and he interprets all this as sea. The word leads him, also, through the mazes and mysteries of meteorology, revealing to him the origin of the rain, the snow, the dew, and the frost, with all the wonders of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.
Further illustration.—He can discern the sea in every blade of grass, in every leaf, and in every flower. In the composition of his own body, he finds that ninety per cent of it is sea. He finds his heart pumping the sea through his veins and arteries as a vital part of the life process; and through the 103power of capillary attraction, the sea is coursing through every hair of his head. In the food upon his table, the meat, the bread, the milk, the vegetables, and the fruits, he finds the sea. Not his poetry, but his science follows the raindrop from the roof to the rivulet, on to the river, then to the ocean, then into vapor and on into rain down into the earth, then up into the tree, out into the orange, until it finally reappears as a drop of juice upon the rosy lip of his little six-year-old.
The child’s conception.—Whether the child ever wins the large conception of the sea that her father has depends, in part, upon the father himself, but, in a still larger degree, upon her teacher. If the teacher thinks of the sea merely as a word to be spelled, or defined, or parsed, that she may inscribe marks in a grade book or on report cards, then the child will never know the sea as her father knows it, unless this knowledge comes to her from sources outside the school. Instead of becoming a living thing and the source of life, her sea will be a desert without oasis, or grass, or tree, or bird, or bubbling spring to refresh and inspire. It would seem a sad commentary upon our teaching if the child is compelled to gain a right conception of the sea outside 104the school and in spite of the school, rather than through and by means of the school.
The quest of teacher and child.—The vitalized teacher knows the sea as the sage knows it, and can infuse her conception into the consciousness of the child. She feels it to be her high privilege to lead the child on in quest of the sea and to find, in this quest, pulsating life. In this alluring quest, she is putting content into the word, and thus discovering, by experience, what life is. This is education. This is the inviting vista that stretches out before the eyes of the child under the spell and leadership of such a teacher. In their quest for the meaning of the sea, these companions, the child and the teacher, will come upon the fields of grain, the orchards, the flocks and herds, the ships, the trains, and the whole intricate world of commerce. They will find commerce to be a manifestation of the sea and moreover a big factor in life. It will mean far more than mere cars to be counted or cargoes to be estimated in the form of problems for the class in arithmetic. The cargoes of grain that they see leaving the port mean food for the hungry in other lands, and the joy and vigor that only food can give.
The sea as life.—At every turn of their ramified 105journey, these learners find life and, best of all, are having a rich experience in life, throughout the journey. They are immersed in life and so are absorbing life all the while. Wider and wider becomes their conception of life as exemplified by the sea, and their capacity for life is ever increasing. Day by day they ascend to higher levels and find their horizon receding farther and farther. For them, life enlarges until it embraces all lands, the arts, the sciences, the languages, and all history. Whether they pursue the sea into the mountains; to the steppes, plateaus, or pampas; to the palace or the hovel; to the tropics or the poles,—they find it evermore representing life.
The word “automobile.”—It would seem to be quite possible to construct a twelve-year course of study based upon this sort of study of words and their content with special emphasis upon the content. Since life is conterminous with the content of the words that constitute one’s vocabulary, it is evident that the content of words becomes of major importance in the scheme of education. To be able to spell the word “automobile” will not carry a young man very far in his efforts to qualify as a chauffeur, important though the spelling may be. As a mere 106beginning, the spelling is essential, but it is not enough. Still the child thinks that his education, so far as this word is concerned, is complete when he can spell it correctly, and carry home a perfect grade. No one will employ the young man as a driver until he has put content into the word, and this requires time and hard work. He must know the mechanism of the machine, in every detail, and the articulation of all its parts. He must be able to locate trouble on the instant and be able to apply the remedy. He must be sensitive to every slightest sound that indicates imperfect functioning. This, of course, carries far beyond the mere spelling of the word, but all this is essential to the safety of his passengers.
Etymology.—Etymology has its place, of course, in the study of words, but it stops short of the goal. It may be well to take the watch apart in order to make an examination of its parts, but until it is reconstituted and set going, it is useless as a watch. So with a word. We may give its etymology and rhapsodize over its parts, but thus analyzed it is an inert thing and really inane so far as real service is concerned. If word study does not carry beyond the mere analysis, it is futile as a real educative 107process. To be really effective, the word must be instinct with life and busy in the affairs of life, and not a mere specimen in a museum. Too often our work in etymology seems to be considered an end in itself, rather than a means to an end.
The word in use.—Arlo Bates says that the word “highly” in the Gettysburg Speech is the most ornate word in the language in the setting that Lincoln gave it. The merest tyro can give its etymology, but only when it was set to work by a master did it gain potency and distinction. The etymology of the word “fidelity” is reasonably easy, but this analysis is powerless to cause the child to thrill at the story of Casabianca, or of Ruth and Naomi, or of Esther, or Antigone, or Cordelia, or Nathan Hale, or the little Japanese girl who deliberately bit through her tongue that she might not utter a syllable that would jeopardize the interests or safety of her father. The word analyzed is a dead thing; the word in use is a living thing. The word merely analyzed is apt to be ephemeral; the word in use is abiding and increasingly significant. As the child puts more and more content into the word, he, himself, expands at the same rate in the scope and power of his thinking. Words are the materials out of which 108he weaves the fabric of life, and the pattern depends upon the content of his words.
Illustrations from art.—The child can spell the word “art” and can repeat the words of the book by way of a memorized definition, but he cannot define the word with even a fair degree of intelligence. He cannot know the meaning of the word until its significance becomes objectified in his life processes. This requires time, and thought, and experiences with books, with people, and with galleries. In short, he must live art before he can define the word; and his living art invests the word with content. The word will grow just as he grows in his conception of art. At first, he may denominate as art the simple little daubs of pictures that he makes with the teacher’s hand guiding his brush. But, later on, as he gains a larger conception, these things will appear puerile if not silly. The time may come when he can read the thoughts of the masters as expressed in their masterpieces. Then, and only then, will he be able to define the word.
Michael Angelo.—At the age of fifteen, Michael Angelo wrought the Mask of the Satyr, which would not be considered a work of art if that were the only product of his chisel. What he did later was the 109fulfillment of the prophecy embodied in the Mask. At the age of eighty, he produced the Descent from the Cross, which glorifies the Duomo in Florence. In between these productions, we find his David, his Moses, the Sistine Ceiling, with many others scarcely less notable. He rose to a higher and higher conception of art as he lived art more and more fully, and his execution kept pace with the expansion of his conception. He gave content to the word both for himself and for the world until now we associate, in our thinking, art with his name. He himself is now, in large measure, our definition of art—and that because he lived art.
The child’s conception of truth.—In his restricted conception, the boy conceives truth to be the mere absence of peccadillos. He thinks that his denial of the charge that he was impolite to his sister, or that he went on a foraging expedition to the pantry, is the whole truth and, indeed, all there is to truth. It requires a whole lifetime to realize the full magnitude of his misconception. In the vitalized school, he finds himself busy all day long trying to find answer to the question: What is Truth? In the Alps, there is a place called Echo Glen where a thousand rocks, cliffs, and crags send 110back to the speaker the words he utters. So, when this boy asks What is Truth? a thousand voices in the school and outside the school repeat the question to him: What is Truth? Abraham Lincoln tried to find the answer as he figured on the bit of board with a piece of charcoal by the firelight. Later on, he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, and in both exercises he was seeking for the meaning of truth.
The work of the school.—Christopher Columbus was doing the same thing in his quest, and thought no hardship too great if he could only come upon the answer. Galileo, Huxley, Newton, Tyndall, Humboldt, Darwin, Edison, and Burbank are only the schoolboys grown large in their search for the meaning of truth. They have enlarged the content of the word for us all, and by following their lead we may attain to their answers. Every school study gives forth a partial answer, and the sum of all these answers constitutes the answer which the boy is seeking. Mathematics tells part of the story, but not all of it; science tells another part, but not all of it; history tells still another part, but not all of it. Hence, it may be reiterated that one of the prime functions of the vitalized school is to invest words with the largest possible content.
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The question raised.—That education is a preparation for complete living has been quoted by every teacher who lays any sort of claim to the standard definitions. Indeed, so often and so glibly has the quotation been made that it is well-nigh axiomatic and altogether trite. But we still await any clear explanation of what is meant by complete living. On this point we are still groping, with no prophetic voice to tell us the way. By implication we have had hints, and much has been said on the negative side, but the positive side still lies fallow. When asked for an explanation, those who give the quotation resort to circumlocution and, at length, give another definition of education, apparently conscious of the mathematical dictum that things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other. So we continue to travel in a circle, with but feeble attempts to deviate from the course.
113The vitalized school an exemplification.—Nor will this chapter attempt to resolve the difficult situation in which we are placed. It is not easy to define living, much less complete living. All that is hoped for here is to bring the matter to the attention of all teachers and to cause them to realize that the quest for a definition of complete living will be for them and for their pupils an exhilarating experience. The vitalized school will belie its name if it does not strive toward a solution of the difficulty, and any school that approximates a satisfactory definition will be proclaimed a public benefactor. In fact, the school cannot lay claim to the distinction of being vitalized if it fails to exemplify complete living, in some appreciable degree, and if it fails to groove this sort of living into a habit that will persist throughout the years. This is the big task that the school must essay if it would emancipate itself from the trammels of tradition and become a leader in the larger, better way. Complete living must become the ideal of the school if it would realize the conception of education of which it is a professed exponent.
Incomplete living.—The man who walks with a crutch; the man who is afflicted with a felon; the 114man who lacks a hand or even a finger,—cannot experience complete living. Through the power of adaptation the man with a crutch may compass more difficult situations than the man with sound legs will attempt, but he cannot realize all the possibilities of life that a sound body would vouchsafe to him. The man without hands may learn to write with his toes, but he is not employed as a teacher of penmanship. His life is a restricted one and, therefore, less than complete. We marvel at the exhibitions of skill displayed by the maimed, but we feel no envy. We may not be able to duplicate their achievements, but we feel that we have ample compensation in the normal use of our members. We know instinctively that, in the solitude of their meditations, they must experience poignant regrets that they are not as other people, and that they must pass through life under a handicap.
The sound body.—It is evident, therefore, that soundness of body is a condition precedent to complete living. The body is the organism by means of which the mind and the spirit function in terms of life; and, if this organism is imperfect, the functioning will prove less than complete. Hence, it 115is the province of the school to so organize all its activities that the physical powers of the pupils shall be fully conserved. The president of a large university says that during his incumbency of seventeen years they have found only one young woman of physical perfection and not a single young man, although the tests have been applied to thousands. College students, it will be readily conceded, are a selected group; and yet even in such a group not a physically perfect young man was found in tests extending over seventeen years. If a like condition should be discovered in the scoring of live stock at our fairs, there would ensue a careful investigation of causes in the hope of finding a remedy.
Personal efficiency.—We shall not achieve national efficiency until every citizen has achieved personal efficiency, and physical fitness is one of the fundamental conditions precedent to personal efficiency. Here we have the blue print for the guidance of society and the school. If we are ever to achieve national efficiency, we must see to it that every man and woman, every boy and girl, has a strong, healthy body that is fully able to execute the behests of mind and spirit. This may 116require a stricter censorship of marriage licenses, including physical examinations; it may require more stringent laws on our statute books; it may require radical changes in our methods of physical training; and it may require the state to assume some of the functions of the home when the home reveals its inability or unwillingness to cope with the situation. Heroic treatment may be necessary; but until we as a people have the courage to apply the remedies that the diagnosis shows to be necessary, we shall look in vain for improvement.
Physical training.—Seeing that it is so difficult to find a man or a woman among our people who has attained physical perfection, it behooves society and the schools to take a critical inventory of their methods of physical training and their meager accomplishments as a preliminary survey looking to a change in our procedure. We seem to have delegated scientific physical training to athletics and pugilism, with but scant concern for our people as a whole. If pink-tea calisthenics as practiced mildly in our schools has failed to produce robust bodies, then it is incumbent upon us to adopt a régime of beefsteak. What the traditional school has failed to do the vitalized school must attempt 117to do or suffer the humiliation of striking its colors. There is no middle course; it must either win a victory or admit defeat in common with the traditional school. The standard is high, of course, but every standard of the vitalized school is and ought to be high.
Cigarettes.—If the use of cigarettes is devitalizing our boys, and this can be determined, then the manufacture and sale must be prohibited unless our legislative bodies would plead guilty to the charge of impotence. But we are told that public sentiment conditions the enactment of laws. If such be the case, then the school and its auxiliaries should feel it a duty to generate public sentiment. If cigarettes are harmful, then they should be banished, and the task is not an impossible one by any means. As to the injurious effects of cigarettes, as distinguished an authority as Thomas A. Edison says the following:
“The injurious agent in cigarettes comes principally from the burning paper wrapper. The substance thereby formed is called ‘acrolein.’ It has a violent action on the nerve centers, producing degeneration of the cells of the brain, which is quite rapid among boys. Unlike most narcotics, this degeneration is permanent and uncontrollable. I employ no person who smokes cigarettes.”
118We have eliminated dangerous explosives from our Fourth of July celebrations, and the ban can as easily be placed upon any other dangerous product. Just here we inevitably meet the cry of paternalism, but we shall always be confronted by the question to what extent the government should stand aside and see its citizens follow the bent of their appetites and passions over the brink of destruction. It is the inherent right of government to maintain its own integrity, and this it can do only through the conservation of the powers of its citizens. If paternalism is necessary to this end, then paternalism is a governmental virtue. Better, by far, some paternalism than a race of weaklings.
Military training.—We may shrink away from military training in the schools, just as we shrink from the régime of pugilism; but we may profit by observing both these types of training in our efforts to develop some method of training that will render our young people physically fit. We need some type of training that will eliminate round and drooping shoulders, weak chests, shambling gait, sluggish circulation, and shallow breathing. The boys and girls need to be, first of all, healthy animals with large powers of endurance, elastic, buoyant, 119graceful, and in general well set up. These conditions constitute the foundation for the superstructure of education. The placid, anæmic, fiberless child is ill prepared in physique to attain to that mastery of the mental and spiritual world that makes for an approximation to complete living.
Examples cited.—If one will but make a mental appraisement of the first one hundred people he meets, he will see among the number quite a few who reveal a lack of physical vigor. They droop and slouch along and seem to be dragging their bodies instead of being propelled through space by their bodies. They can neither stand nor walk as a human being ought to stand and walk, and their entire ensemble is altogether unbeautiful. We feel instinctively that, being fashioned in the image of their Maker, they have sadly declined from their high estate. Their bodily attitude seems a sort of apology for life, and we long to invoke the aid of some teacher of physical training to rescue them from themselves and restore them to their rightful heritage. They are weak, apparently ill-nourished, scrawny, ill-groomed; and we know, without the aid of words, that neither a vigorous mind nor a 120great spirit would choose that type of body as its habitation.
The body subject to the mind.—A healthy, vigorous, symmetrical body that performs all its functions like a well-articulated, well-adjusted mechanism is the beginning, but only a beginning. Next comes a mind that is so well trained that it knows what orders to give to the body and how to give them. Many a strong body enters the door of a saloon because the mind is not sufficiently trained to issue wise orders. The mind was befuddled before the body became so, and the body becomes so only because the mind commands. Intoxication, primarily, is a mental apostasy, and the body cannot do otherwise than obey. If the mind were intent upon securing a book at the library, the body would not have seen the door of the saloon, but would have been urgent to reach the library. There is neither fiction nor facetiousness in the adage, “An idle brain is the devil’s workshop.” On the contrary, the saying is crammed full of psychology for the thoughtful observer. Hence, when we are training the mind we are wreaking destruction upon this workshop.
Freedom a condition precedent.—Complete living 121is impossible outside the domain of freedom. The prisons show forth no examples of complete living. But mental thralldom is quite as inimical to complete living as thralldom of the body. The mind must know in order to move among the things of life in freedom. Ignorance is slavery. The mind that is unable to read the inscription on a monument stands baffled and helpless, and no form of slavery can be more abject. The man who cannot read the bill of fare of life is in no position to revel in the good things that life offers. The man who cannot read the signboards of life gropes and flounders about in the byways and so misses the charms. If he knows the way, he has freedom; otherwise he is in thralldom. The man who cannot interpret life as it shows itself in hill, in valley, in stream and rock and tree, goes through life with bandaged eyes, and that condition affords no freedom.
Street signs.—A man who had been traveling through Europe for several weeks, and had finally reached London, wrote enthusiastically of his pleasure at being able to read the street signs. All summer he had felt restricted and hampered, but when he reached a country where the street signs were intelligible, he gained his freedom. Had he 122been as familiar with Italian, German, and French as he is with English, life would have been for him far more nearly complete during that summer and therefore much more agreeable and fertile. There is no more exhilarating experience than to be able to read the street signs along the highway of life, and this ability is one of the great objectives of every vitalized school.
Trained minds.—Nature reveals her inmost secrets only to the trained mind. No power can force her, no wealth can bribe her, to disclose these secrets to others. Only the mind that is trained can gain admission to her treasure house to revel in its glories. John Burroughs lives in a world that the ignorant man cannot know. The trained mind alone has the key that will unlock libraries, art galleries, the treasure houses of science, language, history, and art. The untrained minds must stand outside and win what comfort they can from their wealth, their social status, or whatever else they would fain substitute for the training that would admit them. All these things are parts of life, and those who cannot gain admission to these conservatories of knowledge cannot know life in its completeness.
123Achievements of trained minds.—In order to know life in the large, the mind must be able to leap from the multiplication table to the stars; must become intimate with the movements of the tides, the glacier, and the planets; must translate the bubbling fountain and the eruption of Vesuvius; must be able to interpret the whisper of the zephyr and the diapason of the forest; must be able to hear music in the chirp of the cricket as well as in the oratorios; must be able to delve into the recesses of the mine and scale the mountain tops; must know the heart throbs of Little Nell as well as of Cicero and Demosthenes; must be able to see the processions of history from the cradle of the race to the latest proclamation; and must sit in the councils of the poets, the statesmen, the orators, the artists, the scientists, and the historians of all time. A mind thus trained can enter into the very heart of life and know it by experience.
Things of the spirit.—But education is a spiritual process, as we have been told; and, therefore, education is without value unless it touches the spirit. Indeed, it is only by the spirit that we may test the quality of education. It is spirit that sets metes and bounds and points the way to the fine 124things of life. A man may live in the back alley of life or on the boulevard, according to the dictates of the spirit. If his spirit cannot react to the finer things, his way will lie among the coarse and bizarre. If he cannot appreciate the glory that is revealed upon the mountain, he will gravitate to the lower levels. If his spirit is not attuned to majestic harmonies, he will drift down to association with his own kind. If he cannot thrill with pleasure at the beauty and fragrance of the lily of the valley, he will seek out the gaudy sunflower. If his spirit cannot rise to the plane of Shakespeare and Victor Hugo, he will roam into fields that are less fruitful. The spirit that is rightly attuned lifts him away from the sordid into the realms of the chaste and the glorified; away from the coarse and ugly into the realm of things that are fine and beautiful; and away from the things that are mean and petty into the zone of the big, the true, the noble, and the good. And so with body, mind, and spirit thus doing their perfect work, he can, at least, look over into the promised land of complete living.
Altruism.—We are commanded to let our light shine, and this command is a noble and an inspiring 125one. A man who by such training as has been depicted approximates complete living is prepared to let his light shine primarily because he has light, and in the next place because his training has made him generous in spirit and altruistic; and his greatest joy comes from letting his light so shine that others may catch his spirit and move up to higher planes of living.
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The question stated.—There are many, doubtless, who will deny, if not actually resent, the statement that some do more real teaching in ten minutes than others do in thirty minutes. But, in spite of denials, the statement can be verified by the testimony of a host of expert observers and supervisors. Indeed, stenographic reports have been made of many class exercises by way of testing the truth of this statement, and these reports are a matter of record. Assuming the validity of the statement, therefore, it is pertinent to inquire into the causes that underlie the disparity in the teaching ability of the ten-minute teacher and the thirty-minute teacher. The efficiency expert would be quick to seize upon this disparity in the rate of progress as the starting point in his critical examination. In a factory a like disparity would lead to unpleasant consequences. The workman who consumes thirty minutes in accomplishing a piece of 128work that another does in ten minutes would be admonished to accelerate his progress or else give way to a more efficient man. If we had instruments of sufficient delicacy to test the results of teaching, we should probably discover that the output of the ten-minute teacher is superior in quality to that of the thirty-minute teacher. For we must all have observed in our own experience that the clarity of our thinking depends upon its intensity.
Examples.—A young man who won distinction as a college student had a wide shelf fitted up on one side of his room at which he stood in the preparation of all his lessons. His theory was that the attitude of the body conditions the attitude of the mind. Professor James gives assent to this theory and avers that an attitude of mind may be generated by placing the body in such an attitude as would naturally accompany this mental attitude. This theory proclaims that, if the body is slouching, the mind will slouch; but that, if the body is alert, the mind will be equally so. Another college student always walked to and fro in his room when preparing his history lesson. A fine old lady, in a work of fiction, explained her mental acumen by the single statement, “I never slouch.” Every 129person must have observed many exemplifications of this theory in his own experience even if he has not reduced it to a working formula.
Basic considerations.—Any consideration of the time element, in school work, must take into account, therefore, not only the number of minutes involved in a given piece of work, but also the intensity of effort during those minutes. Two minds, of equal natural strength, may be fully employed during a given period and yet show a wide difference in the quality and quantity of the results. The one may be busy all the while but slouch through the minutes. The other may be taut and intensive, working at white heat, and the output will be more extensive and of better quality. The mind that ambles through the period shows forth results that are both meager and mediocre; but the mind whose impact is both forceful and incisive produces results that serve to magnify the work of the school. Thus we have placed before us two basic considerations, one of which is the time itself, in actual minutes, and the other is the character of the reactions to external stimuli during those minutes.
Two teachers compared.—In order to consider 130these factors of the teaching process with some degree of definiteness it will be well to have the ten-minute teacher and the thirty-minute teacher placed in juxtaposition in our thinking. We shall thus be able to compare and contrast and so arrive at some clear judgments that may be used as a basis for generalizations. We may assume, for convenience and for concreteness, that the lesson is division of fractions. There will be substantial agreement that the principle involved in this subject can be taught in one recitation period. The reasons for some of the steps in the process may come later, but the child should be able to find his way to the correct answer in a single period. Now if one teacher can achieve this result in thirty minutes and the other in ten minutes, there is a disparity in the effectiveness of the work of these teachers which is worthy of serious consideration. The ten-minute teacher proves that the thirty-minute teacher has consumed twenty minutes of somebody’s time unnecessarily. If the salary of this thirty-minute teacher should be reduced to one third its present amount, she would inveigh against the reduction.
School and factory compared.—If she were one 131of the operators in a factory, she would not escape with the mere penalization of a salary reduction. The owner would argue that he needed some one who could operate the machine up to its full capacity, and that, even if she should work without salary, her presence in the factory would entail a loss in that the output of her machine was so meager. If one operator can produce a shoe in ten minutes and the other requires thirty minutes for the same work, the money that is invested in the one machine pays dividends, while the other machine imposes a continuous tax upon the owner. This, of course, will be recognized as the line of argument of the efficiency expert, but it certainly is not out of place to call attention to the matter in connection with school work. The subject of efficiency is quite within the province of the school, and it would seem to be wholly within reason for the school to exemplify its own teachings.
Appraisal of teaching expertness.—The teacher who requires thirty minutes for division of fractions which the other teacher compasses in ten minutes consumes twenty minutes unnecessarily in each recitation period, or two hundred minutes in the course of the day. The efficiency expert would ask 132her to account for these two hundred minutes. In order to account for them satisfactorily she would be compelled to take an inventory of her acquired habits, her predilections, her attitude toward her pupils and her subjects, and any shortcomings she may have in regard to methods of teaching. She would, at first, resent the implication that the other teacher’s method of teaching division of fractions is better than her own and would cite the many years during which her method has been used. When all else fails, tradition always proves a convenient refuge. We can always prove to-day by yesterday; only, by so doing, we deny the possibility of progress.
The potency of right methods.—A teacher of Latin once used twenty minutes in a violent attempt to explain the difference between the gerund construction and the gerundive construction. At the end of the time she had the pupils so completely muddled that, for months, the appearance of either of these constructions threw them into a condition of panic. To another class, later, this teacher explained these constructions clearly and convincingly in three minutes. In the meantime she had studied methods in connection with subject matter. 133Another teacher resigned her position and explained her action by confessing that she had become so accustomed to the traditional methods of teaching a certain phase of arithmetic that it was impossible for her to learn the newer one. Such a teacher must be given credit for honesty even while she illustrates tragedy.
The waste of time.—In explaining the loss of two hundred minutes a day the teacher will inevitably come upon the subject of methods of teaching, and she may be put to it to justify her method in view of its results. The more diligently she tries to justify her method, the more certainly she proclaims her responsibility for a wrong use of the method. Those twenty minutes point at her the accusing finger, and she can neither blink nor escape the facts. The other teacher led her pupils into a knowledge of the subject in ten minutes, and this one may neither abrogate nor amend the record. As an operative in the factory she holds in her hand one shoe as the result of her thirty minutes while the other holds three. Conceding that results in the school are not so tangible as the results in the factory, still we have developed methods of estimating results in the school that have convincing weight 134with the efficiency expert. We can estimate results in school work with sufficient accuracy to enable us to assess teaching values with a goodly degree of discrimination.
Possibilities.—It would be a comparatively simple matter to compute in days and weeks the time lost during the year by the thirty-minute teacher, and then estimate the many things that the pupils could accomplish in that time. If the thirty-minute teacher could be transformed into a ten-minute teacher, the children could have three more hours each day for play, and that would be far better for them than the ordeal of sitting there in the class, the unwilling witnesses, or victims, of the time-wasting process. Or they might read a book in the two hundred minutes and that would be more enjoyable, and the number of books thus read in the course of a year would aggregate quite a library. Or, again, they might take some additional studies and so make great gains in mental achievements in their twelve years of school life. Or they might learn to work with their hands and so achieve self-reliance, self-support, and self-respect.
Conservation.—In a word, there is no higher type of conservation than the conservation of 135childhood, in terms of time and interest. The two hundred minutes a day are a vital factor in the life of the child and must be regarded as highly valuable. The teacher, therefore, who subtracts this time from the child’s life is assuming a responsibility not to be lightly esteemed. She takes from him his most valuable possession and one which she can never return, try as she may. Worst of all, she purloins this element of time clandestinely, albeit seductively, in the guise of friendship. The child does not know that he is the victim of unfair treatment until it is too late to set up any defense. He is made to think that that is the natural and, therefore, only way of school, and that he must take things as they come if he is to prove himself a good soldier. So he musters what heroism he can and tries to smile while the teacher despoils him of the minutes he might better be employing in play, in reading, or in work.
The teacher’s complacency.—This would seem a severe indictment if it were incapable of proof, but having been proved by incontrovertible evidence its severity cannot be mitigated. We can only grieve that the facts are as they are and ardently hope for a speedy change. The chief obstacle in 136the way of improvement is the complacency of the teacher. Habits tend to persist, and if she has contracted the habit of much speaking, she thinks her volubility should be accounted a virtue and wonders that the children do not applaud the bromidic platitudes which have been uttered in the same form and in the same tones a hundred times. She is so intoxicated with her own verbosity that she can neither listen to the sounds of her own voice nor analyze her own utterances. While her neighbor is teaching she is talking, and then with sublime nonchalance she ascribes the retardation of her pupils to their own dullness and never, in any least degree, to her own unprofitable use of their time.
The voluble teacher.—And while she rambles on in her aimless talking the children are bored, inexpressibly bored. It is axiomatic that the learning process does not flourish in a state of boredom. Under the ordeal of verbal inundation the children wriggle and squirm about in their seats and this affords her a new point of attack. She calls them ill-bred and unmannerly and wonders at the homes that can produce such children. She does not realize that if these children were grown-ups they 137would leave the room regardless of consequences. When they yawn, she reminds them of the utter futility of casting pearls before swine. All the while the twenty minutes are going and the pupils have not yet learned how to divide fractions. Over in the next room the pupils know full well how to divide fractions and the teacher is rewarding their diligence with a cookie in the form of a story, while they wait for the bell to ring. Out of the room of the thirty-minute teacher come the children glowering and resentful; out of the other room the children come buoyant and happy.
The test of teaching.—Not alone did the former teacher use the time of her pupils for her own ends, but, even more, she dulled their interest, and the damage thus inflicted cannot be estimated. Many a child has deserted the school because the teacher made school life disagreeable. She was the wet blanket upon his enthusiasm and chilled him to the marrow when he failed to go forward upon her traditional track. The teacher who can generate in the minds of her pupils a spiritual ignition by her every movement and word will not be humiliated by desertions. Indeed, the test of the teacher is the mental attitude of her pupils. The child who 138drags and drawls through the lesson convicts the teacher of a want of expertness. On the other hand, when the pupils are all wide-awake, alert, animated, eager to respond, and dynamic, we know that the teacher has brought this condition to pass and that she is a ten-minute teacher.
Meaningless formalities.—One of the influences that tends to deaden the interest of children is the ponderous formality that sometimes obtains. The teacher solemnly calls the roll, although she can see at a glance that there are no absentees. This is exceedingly irksome to wide-awake boys and girls who are avid for variety. The same monotonous calling of the roll day after day with no semblance of variation induces in them a sort of mental dyspepsia for which they seek an antidote in what the teacher denominates disorder. This so-called disorder betokens good health on their part and is a revelation of the fact that they have a keen appreciation of the fitness of things. They cannot brook monotony and it irks them to dawdle about in the anteroom of action. They are eager to do their work if only the teacher will get right at it. But they are impatient of meaningless preliminaries. They see no sense in calling the roll when everybody 139is present and discredit the teacher who persists in the practice.
Repeating answers.—Still another characteristic of the thirty-minute teacher is her habit of repeating the answers that pupils give, with the addition of some inane comment. Whether this repeating of answers is merely a bad habit or an effort on the part of the teacher to appropriate to herself the credit that should otherwise accrue to the pupils, it is not easy to say. Certain it is that school inspectors inveigh against the practice mightily as militating against the effectiveness of the teaching. Teachers who have been challenged on this point make a weak confession that they repeat the answers unconsciously. They thus make the fatal admission that for a part of the time of the class exercise they do not know what they are doing, and admitting so much we can readily classify them as belonging among the thirty-minute teachers.
Meanderings.—Another characteristic is her tendency to wander away from the direct line and ramble about among irrelevant and inconsequential trifles. Sometimes these rambles are altogether entertaining and enable her pupils to pass the time pleasantly, but they lack “terminal facilities.” They 140lead from nowhere to nowhere in the most fascinating and fruitless meanderings. Such expeditions bring back no emoluments. They leave a pleasant taste in the mouth but afford no nourishment. They use the time but exact no dividends. Like sheet lightning they are beautiful but never strike anything. They are soothing sedatives that never impel to action. They lull to repose but never vitalize.
The ten-minute teacher.—It is evident, therefore, that only the ten-minute teacher is worthy of a place in the vitalized school. She alone is able and willing to conserve, with religious zeal, the time and interest of the pupils. To her their time and interest are sacred and she deems it a sacrilege to trifle with them. She knows the market value of her own time but does not know the value of the time of the possible Edison who sits in her class. She gives to every child the benefit of the doubt and respects both herself and her pupils too much to take chances by pitting herself against them and using their time for her own purposes. Moreover, she never permits their interest to flag, but knows how to keep their minds tense. Their reactions are never less than incisive, and, therefore, the truths of the lesson groove themselves deep in their consciousness.
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Teaching as a fine art.—Teaching is an art. This fact has universal recognition. But it may be made a fine art, a fact that is not so generally recognized. The difference between the traditional school and the vitalized school lies in the fact, to a large degree, that, in the former, teaching is regarded merely as an art, while in the latter it becomes a fine art. In the former, the teacher is an artisan; in the latter the teacher is an artist. The difference is broadly significant. The artisan, in his work, follows directions, plans, specifications, and blue-prints that have been devised and designed by others; the artist imbues his work with imagination. The artisan works by the day—so much money for so many hours’ work with pay day as his large objective; the artist does not disdain pay day, but he has an objective beyond this and has other sources of pleasure besides the pay envelope. The artisan thinks and talks of pay day; 144the artist thinks and talks of his work. The artisan drops his work when the bell rings; the artist is so engrossed in his work that he does not hear the bell. The artisan plods at his task with a grudging mien; the artist works in a fine frenzy.
Characteristic qualities.—It is not easy to find the exact words by which to differentiate the traditional teacher from the artist teacher. There is an elusive quality in the artist teacher which is not easily reduced to or described by formal words. We know that the one is an artist teacher and that the other is not. The formal examination may not be able to discover the artist teacher, but there is a sort of knowledge that transcends the findings of an examination, that makes her identity known. She is a real flesh and blood person and yet she has a distinctive quality that cannot be mistaken even though it eludes description. She exhales a certain exquisiteness that reveals itself in the delicacy and daintiness of her contact with people and the objective world. Her impact upon the consciousness is no more violent than the fragrance of the rose, but, all at once, she is there and there to stay, modest, serene, and masterful.
She is as gentle as the dawn but as staunch as 145the oak. She has knowledge and wisdom, and, better still, she has understanding; she needs no diagram. Her gaze penetrates the very heart of a situation but is never less than kindly, and her eyes are never shifty. Her aplomb, her pose, and her poise belong to her quite as evidently as her hands. She is genuine and altogether free from affectation. Her presence stimulates without intoxicating, and she accepts the respect of people with the same naturalness and grace as would accompany her acceptance of a glass of water. Both the giver and the recipient of this respect are ennobled by the giving. Indeed she would far rather have the respect of people, her pupils included, than mere admiration, for she knows full well that respect is far more deeply rooted in the spirit and bears fruit that is more worth while. Her nature knows not inertia, but it abounds in enterprise, endeavor, and courage that are born of a high purpose.
Joy in her work.—Her teaching and her life do not occupy separate compartments but are identical in time and space; only her teaching is but one phase or manifestation of her life. She fitly exemplifies the statement that “Art is the expression of man’s joy in his work.” She has great joy in her 146work and, therefore, it is done as any other artist does his work. She enjoys all life, including her work. Indeed, she has contracted the habit of happiness and is so engrossed in the big elemental things of life that she can laugh at the incidental pin-pricks that others call troubles. She differentiates major from minor and never permits a minor to usurp the throne. Being an integral part of her life, her work takes on all the hues of her life. For her, culture is not something added; rather it is a something that permeates her whole nature and her whole life. She does not read poetry and other forms of literature, study the great masterpieces of music and art, and seek communion with the great, either in person or through their works—she does not do these things that she may acquire culture, but does them because she has culture.
Dynamic qualities.—Her character is the sum of all her habits of thinking, feeling, and action and, therefore, is herself. Since she is an artist, her habits are all pitched in a high key and she is culture personified. Her immaculateness of body and spirit is not a superficial acquisition but a fundamental expression of her real self. Just as the electric bulb diffuses light, so she diffuses an atmosphere 147of culture. She gives the artistic touch to every detail of her work because she is an artist, a genuine, sincere artist in all that makes up life. She has the heart of an artist, the eyes of an artist, the touch of an artist. Whether these qualities are inherent or acquired is beside the point, at present, but it may be remarked, in passing, that unless they were capable of cultivation, the world would be at a standstill. There is no place in her exuberant vitality for a jaundiced view, and hence her world does not become “stale, flat, and unprofitable.”
Aspiration and worship.—Every sincere, noble aspiration is a prayer; hence, she prays without ceasing in obedience to the admonition of the Apostle. And, let it be said in reverence, she helps to answer her own prayers. Her spirit yearns out toward higher and wider attainments every hour of the day, not morbidly but exultantly. And while she aspires she worships. The starry sky holds her in rapt attention and admiration, and the modest flower does no less. She is thankful for the rain, and revels in the beauty and abundance of the snow. The heat may enervate, but she is grateful, none the less, because of its beneficent influence upon the farmer’s work. Like food and sleep, her attitude 148of worship conserves her powers and preserves her balance. When physical weariness comes, she sends her spirit out to the star, or the sea, or the mountain, and so forgets her burden in the contemplation of majesty and beauty. In short, her spirit is attuned to all beauty and sublimity and truth, and so she is inherently an artist.
Professor Phelps quoted.—In his very delightful book, “Teaching in School and College,” the author, Professor William Lyon Phelps, says: “I do not know that I could make entirely clear to an outsider the pleasure I have in teaching. I had rather earn my living by teaching than in any other way. In my mind, teaching is not merely a life work, a profession, an occupation, a struggle; it is a passion. I love to teach. I love to teach as a painter loves to paint, as a musician loves to play, as a singer loves to sing, as a strong man rejoices to run a race. Teaching is an art—an art so great and so difficult to master that a man or a woman can spend a long life at it, without realizing much more than his limitations and mistakes, and his distance from the ideal. But the main aim of my happy days has been to become a good teacher, just as every architect wishes to be a good architect, and every professional 149poet strives toward perfection. For the chief difference between the ambition of the artist and the ambition of a money-maker—both natural and honorable ambitions—is that the money-maker is after the practical reward of his toil, while the artist wants the inner satisfaction that accompanies mastery.”
Attitude toward work.—To these sentiments the artist teacher subscribes whole-heartedly, if not in words, certainly by her attitude and practices. She regards her work not as a task but as a privilege, and thinking it a privilege she appreciates it as she would any other privilege. She would esteem it a privilege to attend a concert by high-class artists, or to visit an art gallery, or to witness a presentation of a great drama, or to see the Jungfrau; and she feels the same exaltation as she anticipates her work as a teacher. She sings on her way to school because of the privileges that await her. She experiences a fine flow of sentiment without becoming sentimental. Teaching, to her, is a serious business, but not, in the least, somber. Painting is a serious business, but the artist’s zeal and joy in his work give wings to the hours. Laying the Atlantic cable was a serious business, but the vision 150of success was both inspiring and inspiriting, and temporary mishaps only served to stimulate to greater effort.
The element of enthusiasm.—To this teacher, each class exercise is an enterprise that is big with possibilities; and, in preparation for the event, she feels something of the thrill that must have animated Columbus as he faced the sea. She estimates results more by the faces of her pupils than by the marks in a grade book, for the field of her endeavors is the spirit of the child, and the face of the child telegraphs to her the awakening of the spirit. Like the sculptor, she is striving to bring the angel of her dream into the face of the child; and when this hope is realized, the privilege of being a teacher seems the very acme of human aspirations. The animated face and the flashing eye betoken the sort of life that her teaching aims to stimulate; and when she sees these unmistakable manifestations, she knows that her big enterprise is a success and rejoices accordingly. If, for any reason, her enthusiasm is running low, she takes herself in hand and soon generates the enthusiasm that she knows is indispensable to the success of her enterprise.
151Redemption of common from commonplace.—She has the supreme gift of being able to redeem the common from the plane of the commonplace. Indeed, she never permits any fact of the books to become commonplace to her pupils. They all know that Columbus discovered America in 1492, but when the recitation touches this fact she invests it with life and meaning and so makes it glow as a factor in the class exercise. The humdrum traditional teacher asks the question; and when the pupil drones forth the answer, “Columbus discovered America in 1492,” she dismisses the whole matter with the phonographic response, “Very good.” What a farce! What a travesty upon the work of the teacher! Instead of being very good, it is bad, yea, inexpressibly bad. The artist teacher does it far better. By the magic of her touch she causes the imagination of her pupils to be fired and their interest to thrill with the mighty significance of the great event. They feel, vicariously, the poverty of Columbus in his appeals for aid and wish they might have been there to assist. They find themselves standing beside the intrepid mariner, watching the angry waves striving to beat him back. They watch him peering into space, day after day, 152and feel a thousand pities for him in his suspense. And when he steps out upon the new land, they want to shout out their salvos and proclaim him a victor.
The voyage of Columbus.—They have yearned, and striven, and prayed with Columbus, and so have lived all the events of his great achievements. Hence, it can never be commonplace in their thinking. The teacher lifted it far away from that plane and made it loom high and large in their consciousness. A dramatic critic avers that the action of the play occurs, not upon the stage, but in the imagination of the auditors; that the players merely cause the imagination to produce the action; and that if nothing were occurring in the imagination of the people in the seats beyond what is occurring on the stage, the audience would leave the theater by way of protest. The artist teacher acts upon this very principle in every class exercise. Neither the teacher nor the book can possibly depict even a moiety of all that she hopes to produce in the imagination of the pupils. She is ever striving to find the one word or sentence that will evoke a whole train of events in their minds. Just here is where her superb art is shown. A whole volume could 153not portray all that the imagination of the pupils saw in connection with the voyage of Columbus, and yet the teacher caused all these things to happen by the use of comparatively few words. This is high art; this proclaims the artist teacher.
Resourcefulness.—In her work there is a fineness and a delicacy of touch that baffles a satisfactory analysis. She has the power to call forth Columbus from the past to reënact his great discovery in the imagination of her pupils—all without noise, or bombast, or gesticulation. She does what she does because she is what she is; and she needs neither copyright nor patent for protection. Her work is suffused with a rare sort of enthusiasm that carries conviction by reason of its genuineness. This enthusiasm gives to her work a tone and a flavor that can neither be disguised nor counterfeited. Her work is distinctive, but not sensational or pyrotechnic. Least of all is it ever hackneyed. So resourceful is she in devising new plans and new ways of saying and doing things that her pupils are always animated by a wholesome expectancy. She is the dynamo, but the light and heat that she generates manifest themselves in the minds of her pupils, while she remains serene and quiet.
154The thirteen colonies.—With the poet Keats she can sing:
Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
Animated by this sentiment, she disdains no form of truth, whether large or small, for in every form of truth she finds beauty; and her spirit reacts to it on the instant, and joy is the resultant. This is the basis for her superb enthusiasm in every detail of her work as well as the source of her joyous living. Her pupils may name the thirteen original colonies without a slip, but that is not enough for her. The establishing of these colonies formed a mighty epoch in history, and she must dwell upon the events until they throb through the life currents of her pupils. Names in books must mean people with all their hopes, their aspirations, their trials and hardships, their sorrows and their joys. The conditions of life, the food, the clothing, the houses, the modes of travel, and the dangers must all come into the mental picture. Hence it is that she prepares for the lesson on the colonies as she would make ready for a trip with the pupils around the world, and the mere giving of names is negligible in her inspiring enterprise.
155Every subject invested with life.—She finds in the circulation of the blood a subject of great import and makes ready for the lesson with enthusiastic anticipation. Her step is elastic as she takes her way to school on this particular day, and her face is beaming, for to-day comes to the children this stupendous revelation. She feels as did the college professor when he was just ready to begin an experiment in his laboratory and said to his students, “Gentlemen, please remove your hats; I am about to ask God a question.” She approaches every truth reverently, albeit joyously, for she feels that she is the leader of the children over into the Promised Land. In the book already quoted, Professor Phelps says, “I read in a German play that the mathematician is like a man who lives in a glass room at the top of a mountain covered with eternal snow—he sees eternity and infinity all about him, but not much humanity.” Not so in her teaching of mathematics; for every subject and every problem transports her to the Isle of Patmos, and the hour is crowded with revelations.
Human interest.—And wherever she is, there is humanity. There are no dry bones in her work, for she invests every subject with human interest 156and causes it to pulsate in the consciousness of her pupils. If there are dry bones when she arrives, she has but to touch them with the magic of her humanity, and they become things of life. Whether long division or calculus, it is to her a part of the living, palpitating truth of the world, and she causes it to live before the minds of the pupils. The so-called dead languages spring to life in her presence, and, like Aaron’s rod, blossom and bring forth at her touch. Wherever she walks there are resurrections because life begets life. No science, no mathematics, no history, no language, can be dull or dry when touched by her art, but all become vital because she is vital. By the subtle alchemy of her artistic teaching all the subjects of her school are transmuted into the pure gold of truth and beauty.
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Responsibility of the exemplar.—If the teacher could be convinced that each of her pupils is to become a replica of herself, she would more fully appreciate the responsibilities of her position. At first flush, she might feel flattered; but when she came into a full realization of the magnitude of the responsibility, she would probably seek release. If she could know that each pupil is striving to copy her in every detail of her life, her habits of speech, her bodily movements, her tone of voice, her dress, her walk, and even her manner of thinking, this knowledge would appall her, and she would shrink from the responsibility of becoming the exemplar of the child. She cannot know, however, to what extent and in what respects the pupils imitate her. Nor, perhaps, could they themselves give definite information on these points, if they were put to the test. Children imitate their elders both consciously and unconsciously; so, whether the teacher wills 160it so or not, she must assume the functions of an exemplar as well as a teacher.
Absorbing standards.—If we give full credence to Tennyson’s statement, “I am a part of all that I have met,” then it follows that we have become what we are, in some appreciable measure, through the process of absorption. In other words, we are a composite of all our ideals. The vase of flowers, daintily arranged, on the breakfast table becomes the standard of good taste thenceforth, and all through life a vase of flowers arranged less than artistically gives one a sensation of discomfort. A traveler relates that in a hotel in Brussels he saw window curtains of a delicate pattern; and, since that time, he has sought in many cities for curtains that will fill the measure of the ideal he absorbed in that hotel. Beauty is not in the thing itself, but in the eye of the beholder, and the eye is but the interpreter of the ideal. One person rhapsodizes over a picture that another turns away from, because the latter has absorbed an ideal that is unknown to the former.
Education by absorption.—This subject of absorption has not received the careful attention that its importance warrants. In the social consciousness education has been so long associated with 161books, and formal processes, that we find it difficult to conceive of education outside of or beyond books. If, as we so confidently assert, education is a spiritual process, then whatever stimulates the spirit must be education, whether a landscape, a flower, a picture, or a person. The traveler who sits enrapt before the Jungfrau for an hour or a day is becoming more highly educated, even in the absence of books and formalities. The beauty of the mountain touches his spirit, and there is a consequent reaction that fulfills all the claims of the educational processes. In short, he is lifted to a higher plane of appreciation, and that is what the books and the schools are striving to achieve.
The principle illustrated.—In the presence of this mountain the tourist gains an ideal of grandeur which becomes his standard of estimating scenery throughout life. A boy once heard “The Dead March” played by an artist, and when he was grown to manhood that was still his ideal of majestic music. A traveler asserts that no man can stand for an hour on the summit of Mt. Rigi and not become a better and a stronger man for the experience. A writer on art says that it is worth a trip across the ocean to see the painting of the bull by 162Paul Potter; but that, of course, depends upon the ideals of the beholder. All these illustrations conform to and are in harmony with the psychological dictum that in the educational process the spirit reacts to its environment.
The teacher as environment.—But the environment may include people as well as inanimate objects, mountains, rivers, flowers, and pictures. And, as a part of the child’s environment, the teacher takes her place in the process of education by absorption. A city superintendent avers that there is one teacher in his corps who would be worth more to his school than the salary she receives even if she did no teaching. This means that her presence in the school is a wholesome influence, and that she is the sort of environment to which the pupils react to their own advantage. It might not be a simple thing to convince some taxpayers of the truth of the superintendent’s statement, but this fact only proves that they have not yet come into a realization of the fact that there can be education by absorption.
The Great Stone Face.—The people of Florence maintain that they need not travel abroad to see the world, for the reason that the world comes to 163them. It is true that many thousands visit that city annually to win a definition of art. There they absorb their ideals of art and thus attain abiding standards. In like manner the child may sojourn in the school to gain an ideal of grace of manner and personal charm as exemplified by the teacher, and no one will have the temerity to assert that this phase of the child’s education is less important than those that are acquired through the formal processes. The boy in the story grew into the likeness of the “Great Stone Face” because that had become his ideal, and not because he had had formal instruction in the subject of stone faces, or had taken measurements of or computed the dimensions of the one stone face. He grew into its likeness because he thought of it, dreamed of it, absorbed it, and was absorbed by it, and reacted to it whenever it came into view.
Pedagogy in literature.—Hawthorne, in this story, must have been trying to teach the lesson of unconscious education or education by absorption, but his readers have not all been quick to catch his meaning. Teachers often take great unction in the reflection that they afford to the child his only means of education, and that but for them the 164child would never become educated at all. We are slow to admit that there are many sources of education besides the school, and that formal instruction is not the only road to the acquisition of knowledge. Tennyson knew and expressed this conception in the quotation already given, but we have not acquired the habit of consulting the poets and novelists for our pedagogy. When we learn to consult these, we shall find them expressing many tenets of pedagogy that are basic.
The testimony of experience.—But we need not go beyond our own experiences to realize that much of our education has been unconsciously gained, that we have absorbed much of it, and, possibly, what we now regard as the most vital part of it. We have but to explore our own experiences to discover some person whose standards have been effective in luring us out of ourselves and causing us to yearn toward higher levels; who has been the beacon light toward which our feet have been stumbling; who has been the pattern by which we have sought to shape our lives; and for whom we feel a sense of gratitude that cannot be quenched. The influence of that person has been a liberal education in the vital things that the 165books do not teach, and we shudder to think what we might have been had that influence not come into our lives. This ideal is not some mythical, far-away person, but a real man or woman who has challenged our admiration by looks, by conduct, by position, and by general bearing in society.
The one teacher.—This preliminary part of the subject has been dwelt upon thus at length in an effort to win assent to the general proposition that unconscious education is not only possible, but an actuality. This assent being once given, the mind feels out at once for applications of the principle and, inevitably, brings the parent and the teacher into the field of view. But the parent is too near to us in time, in space, and in relation to afford the illustration that we seek, and we pass on to the teacher. In the experience of each one of us there stands out at least one teacher as clear in definition as a cameo. This teacher may not have been the most scholarly, or the most successful in popular esteem, or even the most handsome, but she had some quality that differentiates her in our thinking from all others. Others may seem but a sort of blur in our memory, but not so this one. She alone is distinct, distinctive, and regnant.
166Her supremacy.—The vicissitudes of life have not availed to dethrone her, nor have the losses, perplexities, and sorrows of life caused the light of her influence to grow dim. She is still an abiding presence with us, nor can we conceive of any influence that could possibly obliterate her. She may have been idealized by degrees, but when she came fully into our lives she came to stay. She came not as a transient guest, but as a lifelong friend and comrade. She crept into our lives as gently as the dawn comes over the hills, and since her arrival there has been no sunset. Nor was there ever by pupil or teacher any profession or protestation, but we simply accepted each other with a frankness that would have been weakened by words.
The rôle of ideal.—But the rôle of ideal is not an easy one. It is a comparatively simple matter to give instruction in geography, arithmetic, and history, but to know one’s self to be the ideal of a child, or to conceive of the possibility of such a situation and relation, is sufficient to render the teacher deeply thoughtful. Once it is borne in upon her that the child will grow into her likeness, she cannot dismiss the matter from her thinking as she can the lesson in grammar. The child may 167be unconscious of the matter, but the teacher is acutely conscious. When she stands before her class she sees the child growing into her image, and this reflection gives cause and occasion for a careful and critical introspection. She feels constrained to take an inventory of herself to determine whether she can stand a test that is so searching and so far-reaching.
The teacher’s other self.—As she stands thus in contemplation she sees the child grown to maturity with all her own predilections—physical, mental, spiritual—woven into the pattern of its life. In this child grown up she sees her other self and can thus estimate the qualities of body, mind, and spirit that now constitute herself, as they reveal themselves in another. She thus gains the child’s point of view and so is able to see herself through the child’s eyes. When she is reading a book, she is aware that the child is looking over her shoulder to note the quality of literature that engages her interest. When she is making a purchase at the shop, she finds the child standing at her elbow and duplicating her order. When she is buying a picture, she is careful to see to it that there are two copies, knowing that a second copy must be provided 168for the child. When she is arranging her personal adornment, she is conscious of the child peeping through the door and absorbing her with languishing eyes.
The status irrevocable.—Wherever she goes or whatever she does, she knows that the child is walking in her footsteps and reënacting her conduct. Her status is irrevocably fixed in the life of the child, nor can any philosophy or sophistry absolve her from the situation. She cannot abdicate her place in favor of another, nor can she win immunity from responsibility. She is the child’s ideal for weal or woe, nor can men or angels change this big fact. Through all the hours of the day she hears the child saying, “Whither thou goest I will go,” and there is no escape.
The child’s viewpoint.—This is no flight of fancy. Rather it is a reality in countless schoolrooms of the land if only the teachers were alive to the fact. But we have been so busy measuring, estimating, scoring, and surveying the child for our purposes that we have given but scant consideration to the child’s point of view as regards the teacher. We have not been quick to note the significant fact that the child is estimating, measuring, scoring, and 169surveying the teacher for purposes of its own and in the strictest obedience to the laws of its nature.
The child’s need of ideals.—Every child needs and has a right to ideals, and finds the teacher convenient both in space and in the nature of her work to act in this capacity. Because of the character of her work and her peculiar relation to the child, the teacher assumes a place of leadership, and the child naturally appropriates her as the lodestar for which his nature is seeking. And so, whether the teacher leads into the morass or into the jungle, the child will follow; but if she elects to take her way up to the heights, there will be the child as faithful as her shadow. If the teacher plucks flowers by the way, then, in time, gathering flowers will become habitual to the child, nor will there be any need to admonish the child to gather flowers. The teacher plucks flowers, and that becomes the child’s command. Education by absorption needs neither admonition nor homilies.
The ideal a perpetual influence.—And all this is life—actual life, fundamental life, and inevitable life. Moreover, the inevitableness of this phase of life serves to accentuate its importance. The idealized teacher gives to the child his ideals of 170conduct, literature, art, music, home, school, and service. Take this teacher out of his life and these ideals vanish. Better by far eliminate the formal instruction, important as that may be made to be, than to rob the child of his ideals. They are the influences that are ever active even when formal instruction is quiescent. They are potent throughout the day and throughout the year. They induce reactions and motor activities that groove into habits, and they are the external stimuli to which the spirit responds.
The teacher’s attitude.—The vitalized school takes full cognizance of this phase and means of education and gives large scope and freedom for its exercise and development. The teacher is more concerned with who and what her pupils are to be twenty years hence than she is in getting them promoted to the next grade. She knows full well that vision clarifies sight, and she is eager to enlarge their vision in order to make their sight more keen and clear. She, therefore, adopts as her own standards of life and conduct what she wishes for her pupils when they have come to maturity. She may not proclaim herself an ideal teacher or a model teacher, but she is cognizant of the fact that she 171is the model and the ideal of one or more pupils in her school and bases her rule of life upon this fact.
Prophetic conduct.—In her dress she decides between ornateness and simplicity as a determining factor in the lives of her pupils both for the present and for the years to come. In this she feels that she is but doing her part in helping to determine the trend and quality of civilization. She is reading such books as she hopes to find in their libraries when they have come to administer homes of their own. She is directing her thinking into such channels as will bear the thoughts of her pupils out into the open sea of bigness and sublimity. Knowing that pettiness will be inimical to society in the next generation, she is careful to banish it from her own life.
Her rule of life.—In her thinking she comes into intimate relations with the sea and all its ramified influences upon life. She invites the mountains to take her into their confidence and reveal to her the mysteries of their origin, and their influence upon the winds, the seasons, the products of the earth, and upon life itself. She communes with the great of all times that she may learn of their 172concepts as to the immensities which the mind can explore, as well as intricate and infinite manifestations of the human soul. She associates with the planets and rides the spaces in their company. She asks the flowers, the sunrise glow of the morning, the hues of the rainbow, and the drop of dew to explain to her what God is, and rejoices in their responses.
Her growth.—And so, through her thinking she grows big—big in her aspirations, big in her sympathies with all nature and mankind, big in her altruism, and big in her conceptions of the universe and all that it embraces. And when people come to know her they almost lose sight of the teacher in their contemplation of the woman. Her pupils, by their close contact and communion, became inoculated with the germs of her bigness and so follow the lead of her thinking, her aspirations, her sympathies, and her conceptions of life. Thus they grow into her likeness by absorbing her thoughts, her ideals, her standards, in short, herself.
Seeing life large.—The bigness of her spirit and her ability to see and feel life in the large superinduce dignity, poise, and serenity. She never flutters; but, calm and masterful, she moves on her majestic way with regal mien. Nor is her teaching 173less thorough or less effective because she has a vision. On the contrary, she teaches cube root with accuracy and still is able to see and to cause her pupils to see the index finger pointing out and up toward the mathematical infinities. She can give the latitude and longitude of Rome, and, while doing so, review the achievements of that historic city. She can explain the action of the geyser and still find time and inclination to take delight in its wonders. She can analyze the flower and still revel in its beauty. She can teach the details of history and find in them the footprints of great historical movements. All these things her pupils sense and so invest her with the attributes of an ideal.
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The term defined.—The socialized recitation, as its name implies, is a recitation in which teacher and pupils form themselves into a committee of the whole for the purpose of investigating some phase of a school study. In this committee the line of cleavage between teacher and pupils is obliterated as nearly as possible, the teacher exercising only so much of authority as will preserve the integrity of the group and forestall its disintegration. The teacher thus becomes a coördinate and coöperating member of the group, and her superior knowledge of the subject is held in abeyance to be called into requisition only in an emergency and as a last resort. It will readily be seen, however, that the teacher’s knowledge of the subject must be far more comprehensive in such a procedure than in the question-and-answer type of recitation, for the very cogent reason that the discussion is both liable and likely to diverge widely from the limits of the book; and 177the teacher must be conversant, therefore, with all the auxiliary facts. She must be able to cite authorities in case of need, and make specific data readily accessible to all members of the group. This presupposes wide reading on her part, and a consequent familiarity with all the sources of knowledge that have a bearing upon the subject under consideration.
The pupil-teacher.—In order to make the coöperative principle of the recitation active in practice a pupil acts as chairman of the meeting, serving in rotation, and gives direction to the discussion. He is clothed with authority, also, to restrict the discussion to time limits that there may be no semblance of monopoly and that the same rights and privileges may be accorded to each member of the class. The chairman, in short, acts both as captain and as umpire, with the teacher in the background as the court of final appeal. Knowing the order of rotation, each pupil knows in advance upon what day he is to assume the functions of chairman and makes preparation accordingly, that he may acquit himself with credit in measuring up to the added responsibilities which the position imposes. In taking the chair he does not affect an air of superiority for the reason that he knows the position to have 178come to him by rotation and that upon his conduct of the duties depend his chances for honor; and acting for his peers he is careful not to do anything that will lead to a forfeiture of their respect and good will.
Some advantages.—It requires far more time to describe these preliminary arrangements than it does to put them into operation. Indeed, after the first day, they become well-nigh automatic. Because of their adaptableness the pupils look upon the new order as the established order, and, besides, the rotation in the chair affords a pleasing antidote to monotony. Each day brings just enough novelty to generate a wholesome degree of anticipation. They are all stimulated by an eagerness to know just what the day will bring forth. The class exercise is relieved of much of the heavy formalism that characterizes the traditional recitation and that is so irksome to children of school age. The socialized recitation is a worthy enterprise that enlists the interest of all members of the group and unifies them upon the plane of a common purpose. In the common quest they become members in a social compact whose object is the investigation of some subject that has been found worthy the attention and thoughtful consideration of scholars and authors.
179The gang element.—The members of the group represent all strata of society, and the group is, in consequence, a working democracy. Moving in the same direction under a common impulse and intent upon a laudable enterprise, race and class distinctions are considered negligible, if, indeed, they are not entirely overlooked or forgotten. The group is, in truth, a sublimated gang with the undesirable elements eliminated and the potential qualities of the gang retained. The gang spirit when impelling in right directions and toward worthy ends is to be highly commended. In the gang, each member stimulates and reënforces the other members, and their achievements in combination amply justify their coöperation. The potency of the gang spirit is well exemplified in such enterprises as “tag day” for the benefit of charity, the sale of Red Cross stamps, and the sale of special editions of papers. People willingly enlist in these enterprises who would not do so but for the element of coöperation. We have come to recognize and write upon the psychology of the gang, and the socialized recitation strives to utilize these psychological principles for the advancement and advantage of the enterprise in hand.
180Proprietary interest.—In a coöperative enterprise such as the one under consideration each member of the group feels a sense of responsibility for the success of the enterprise as a whole, and this makes for increased effort. In the traditional recitation the pupil feels responsibility only for that part of the lesson upon which he is called to recite. In his thinking the enterprise belongs to the teacher, and therefore he feels no proprietary interest. If the lesson is a failure, he experiences no special compunction; if a success, he feels no special elation. If the trunk with which he struggles up the stairs is his own, he has the feeling of a victor when he reaches the top; but since it belongs to the teacher, he feels that he has finished a disagreeable task, takes his compensating pittance in the form of a grade, and goes on his complacent way. The boy who digs potatoes from his own garden thinks them larger and smoother than the ones he digs for wages. The latter are potatoes, while the former are his potatoes. Proprietary interest sinks its roots deep into the motives that impel to action.
This interest in practice.—The recitation in question strives to generate a proprietary interest in the enterprise on the part of every member of 181the class so that each one may have a share in the joy of success. Such an interest gives direction and efficacy to the work of the class exercise. Given such an interest, the pupil will not sit inert through the period unless stimulated by a question from the teacher, but will ask intelligent and pertinent questions to help the enterprise along. Moreover, each pupil, because of his proprietary interest in the enterprise, will feel constrained to bring to class such subsidiary aids as his home affords. His interest causes him to react to clippings, pictures, magazine articles, books, and conversations that have a bearing upon the topic, and these he contributes opportunely in his zeal for the success of the recitation. His pockets become productive of a varied assortment of materials that the tentacles of his interest have seized upon in his preparation for the event, and so all members of the class become beneficiaries of his explorations and discoveries.
The potency of ownership.—A child is interested in his own things. The little girl fondles her doll in the most tender way, even though it does not measure up to the accepted standards of excellence or elegance. But it is her doll; hence her affection. Volumes have been written upon the general subject 182of interest, and we have been admonished to attach our teaching to the native interests of the child, but the fundamental interest of proprietorship has strangely enough been overlooked. If we want to discover and localize the child’s interest, we have but to make an inventory of his possessions. His pony, his dog, or his cart will discover to us one of his interests. Again, if we would generate an interest in the child, we have but to make him conscious that he is the owner of the thing for which we hope to awaken his interest. This is fundamental in this type of recitation. The teacher effaces herself as much as possible in order to develop in the pupils a feeling of proprietorship in the exercise in progress, and the pupils are quick to take the advantage thus afforded to make the work their own.
Exemplified in society.—The socialized recitation has its counterpart in many a group in society. In the blacksmith shop, at the grocery, in the barber shop, in the office, at the club, and in the field, we find groups of people in earnest, animated conversation or discussion. They are discussing politics, religion, community affairs, public improvements, tariff, war, fashions, crops, live stock, or machinery. Whatever the topic, they pursue the give-and-take 183policy in their efforts to arrive at the truth. They contest every point and make concessions only when they are confronted by indisputable facts. Some feeling, or even acrimony, may be generated in the course of the discussion, but this is always accounted a weakness and a substitute for valid argument. The recitation is rather more decorous than some of these other discussions, but, in principle, they are identical. Every one has freedom to express his convictions and to adduce contributory arguments or evidence. There are no restrictions save the implied one of decorum. The utmost courtesy obtains in the recitation, even at the sacrifice of some eagerness. There may be a half-dozen members of the group on their feet and anxious to be heard, but they do not interrupt one another without due apology.
Abiding resultants.—Unlike some of their elders, they are ready to acknowledge mistakes and to make concessions. They do not scruple to correct the mistakes of others, knowing that corrections will be gratefully received, but they do not accept mere statements from one another. They must have evidence. They combat statements with evidence from books or other sources that are regarded 184as authorities. They read extracts, or draw diagrams, or display pictures or specimens in support of their contentions. There is animation, to be sure; and, at times, the flushed face and the flashing eye betoken intense feeling. But the psychologist knows full well that these expressions intensify and make abiding the impressions. Both in victory and in defeat the pupil comes to an appreciation of the truth. Defeat may humiliate, but he will evermore know the rock on which his craft was wrecked. Victory may elate and exalt, but he will not forget the occasion or the facts. The truths of the lesson become enmeshed in his nervous system and throughout life they will be a part of himself.
Reflex influence.—Still further, this type of recitation reaches back into the home and begets a wholesome coöperation between the home and the school, and this is a desideratum of no slight import. The events of the day are recounted at the home in the evening, and the contributions of the members of the family are deposited as assets in the recitation the next day. Then the family is eager to learn of the reactions of the class to their contributions. Such a community of interests cannot be confined to the four walls of a home, but finds its way to 185other homes and to places of business; the discussions of the class become the property of society, and the influence is most salutary. Indirectly, the school is affording the people of the community many profitable topics of conversation, and these readily supplant the futile and less profitable topics. It is easy to measure the intelligence of an individual or of a community by noting the topics of conversation. Gossip and small talk do not thrive in a soil that has been thoroughly inoculated with history, art, music, literature, economics, and statecraft.
Influence upon pupils.—From the foregoing it will be seen that this type of recitation represents, not a modus operandi, but, rather, a modus vivendi, not a way of doing things, merely, but a manner of living. The work of the school is redeemed from the plane of a task and lifted to the plane of a privilege. The pupil’s initiative is given full recognition and inspiriting freedom ensues. The teacher is not a taskmaster but a friend in need. Pupils and teacher live and work together in an enterprise in which they have common interests. The emoluments attending success are shared equally and there is no place for envy in the distribution of 186dividends. There is fair dealing in every detail of the work, with no semblance of discrimination. There is a cash basis in every transaction. If a pupil’s offerings are rejected, he sees at once that they are inferior to others and becomes a willing shareholder in the ones that are superior to his own. Nothing that is spurious or counterfeit can gain currency in the enterprise, because of the critical inspection of the members of the group, all of whom are jealous for the preservation of the integrity of their organization.
In this cross section of life we find young people learning, by the laboratory method, the real meaning of reciprocity; we find them winning the viewpoints of others with no abatement or abrogation of their own individuality; we find them able and willing to make concessions for the general good; we find them learning justice and discrimination in their assessment of values; we find them enlarging their horizons by ascending to higher levels of intelligence. This work is as much a part of life for them as their food or their games and they accept it on the same terms. They are becoming upright, intelligent, effective citizens by performing some of the work that engages the time and energies of 187such citizens. They are learning how to live by the experience of actual living.
Part of an actual recitation given.—Some schools have developed this type of recitation to a very complete degree and in a very effective way. In one such school the young woman who teaches the subject of history makes the following report of a part of one of her recitations in this study:
The class was called to order by the chairman for the assignment for the next day’s lesson, which proceeded as follows:
Teacher:—To-morrow we shall have for the work of this convention the New Constitution as a whole. We are ready for suggestions as to how we had best proceed.
Earl:—It seems to me that a good way would be to compare it with the Articles of Confederation.
Joe:—I don’t quite get your idea. Do you mean to take them article by article?
(Joe and Frank begin at the same time. Teacher indicates Joe by nod.)
Joe:—But there are so many things in the new that are not in the old.
Earl:—That is just it. Let’s make a list of the 188points in one that do not appear in the other. Then by investigation and discussion see if we can tell why.
Teacher:—Frank, you had something to say a moment ago.
Frank:—Not on Earl’s plan, which I think an excellent one, but I wished to ask the class if they think it important while looking through these two documents to keep in mind the questions: “Is this the way things are done to-day?” and “Does this apply in our own city?” and “In case the President or Congress failed in their duty, what could the people do about it?”
Ella:—It seems to me that Frank’s suggestion is a good one for it bears upon what we decided in the beginning, that we must apply the history of the past to see how it affects us to-day.
Violet:—I should like to know how the people received the work of this convention. You know that it was all so secret no one knew what they were doing behind their closed doors. If the people were like they are to-day there would certainly be some opposition to the New Constitution.
Elsie:—Good. Mr. Chairman, I move that Violet report the reception and rejection of the New Constitution 189by the people of the several States as a special topic for to-morrow.
Robert:—Second the motion.
Chairman:—Miss Brown, have you any suggestion as to time limit?
Teacher:—I suggest ten minutes. (Chairman puts vote and suggestion is carried.)
Teacher:—Mr. Chairman, may we have the secretary read the several points in the assignment?
At the chairman’s request the secretary reads and the class note as follows: Study of the New Constitution, emphasizing points of similarity and difference.
Seek reasons for same.
Application of Constitution to our present-day life.
Remedy for failures if officers fail to do their duty.
Special topic ten minutes in length on the reception of the Constitution by the people of the different States.
Teacher:—I think that will be enough—consult the text. In connection with the special topic some valuable material may be found in the Civics section in the reference room. The other references on this subject you had given you. Mr. Chairman, may we have the secretary read the points brought out by yesterday’s recitation?
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Agriculture a typical study.—In the vitalized school the subject of agriculture is typical and may profitably be elaborated somewhat by way of illustrating the relation of a subject to school procedure. From whatever angle we approach the subject of agriculture we find it inextricably connected with human life. This fact alone gives to it the rank of first importance. Its present prominence as a school study is conclusive evidence that those who are charged with the responsibility of administering the schools are becoming conscious of the need for vitalizing them. Time was when arithmetic was regarded as the most practical subject in the school and, therefore, it was given precedence over all others. History, grammar, and geography were relegated to secondary rank, and agriculture was not even thought of as a school study. But as population increased and the problem of providing food began to loom large in the public consciousness, 193the subject of agriculture assumed an importance that rendered it worthy a place in the school curriculum. It is a high tribute to the school that whenever any subject takes hold of the public mind the school is thought of at once as the best agency for promulgating that subject. The subjects of temperance and military training aptly illustrate this statement of fact.
Its rapid development.—So soon, therefore, as the subject of agriculture became prominent in the public consciousness there ensued a speedy development of colleges and schools of agriculture for the training of teachers. This movement was prophetic of the plan and purpose to incorporate this study in the school régime. And this prophecy has been fulfilled, for the school now looks upon agriculture as a basic study. True, we are as yet only feeling our way, and that for the very good reason that the magnitude of the subject bewilders us. We have written many textbooks on the subject that were soon supplemented by better ones. The more the subject is studied, the more we appreciate its far-reaching ramifications. We find it attaching itself to many other subjects to which it seemed to have but remote relation in the earlier stages of our study. 194In brief, we are now on the borderland of a realization of the fact that agriculture is as broad as life and, therefore, must embrace many other studies that have a close relation to life.
Relation to geology and other sciences.—In the beginning, geology and agriculture seemed far apart, but our closer study of agriculture has revealed the fact that they are intimately related. It remained for agriculture to lay the right emphasis upon geology. The study of the composition and nature of the soil carried us at once to a study of its origin and we found ourselves at the very door of geology. When we began to inquire how the soil came to be where it is and what it is, we found ourselves yearning for new and clearer lines of demarcation in science, for we could scarcely distinguish between geology and physiography. We soon traced our alluvial plains back to their upland origin, and then we were compelled to explain their migration. This led us inevitably into the realm of meteorology, for, if we omit meteorology, the chain is broken and we lose our way in our search for the explanation we need. But having availed ourselves of the aid of meteorology, we have a story that is full of marvelous interest—the great story of the evolution 195of the cornfield. In this story we find many alluring details of evaporation, air movements, precipitation, erosion, and the attraction of gravitation. But in all this we are but lingering in the anteroom of agriculture.
The importance of botany.—Advancing but a single step we find ourselves in the realm of botany, which is a field so vast and so fascinating that men have devoted an entire lifetime to its wonders, and then realized that they had but made a beginning in the way of exploring its possibilities. In our own time Mr. Burbank has made his name known throughout the world by his work in one phase of this subject, and a score of other Burbanks might be working with equal success in other branches of the subject and still not trench upon one another’s domain. Venturesome, indeed, would be the prophet who would attempt to predict the developments in the field of botany in the next century in the way of providing food, shelter, and clothing for the race. The possibilities stagger the imagination and the prophet stands bewildered as he faces this ever-widening field. But botany, vast as it is seen to be, is only one of the branching sciences connected with agriculture.
196Physics and chemistry.—Another advance brings us into the wide and fertile field of physics and chemistry, for in these subjects we find the means of interpreting much in agriculture that without their aid would elude our grasp. We have only to resolve a grain of corn into its component elements to realize the potency and scope of chemistry. Then if we inquire into the sources of these elements as they have come from the soil to form this grain of corn, the indispensability of a knowledge of chemistry will become more apparent. In our explanations we shall soon come upon capillary attraction, and the person is dull, indeed, who does not stand in awe before the mystery of this subject. If we broaden our inquiry so as to compass the evolution of an ear of corn, we shall realize that we have entered upon an inquiry of vast and fascinating import. The intricate and delicate processes of growth, combining, as they do, the influences of sunshine and moisture and the conversion into food products of elements whose origin goes back to primeval times,—these processes are altogether worthy of the combined enthusiasms of scientist and poet.
Physiology.—But no mention has been made, 197as yet, of the science of physiology, which, alone, requires volumes. We have but to ask how wheat is converted into brain power to come upon a realization of the magnitude of the study of this science. We have only to relax the leash of fancy to see that there are no limits to the excursions that may be made in this field. If we allow fancy to roam, taking the a posteriori course, we might begin with “Paradise Lost” and reach its sources in garden and field, in orchard, and in pasture where graze flocks and herds. But in any such fanciful meandering we should be well within the limits of physiology, and should be trying to interpret the adaptation of means to end, or, to use the language of the present, we should be making a quest to determine how the products of field, orchard, and pasture may be utilized that they may function in poetry, in oratory, in discoveries, and in inventions. In short, we should be trying to explain to ourselves how agriculture functions in life.
Art as an auxiliary.—In a recent work of fiction a chapter opens with a picture of a little girl eating a slice of bread and butter which is further surmounted by apple sauce and sugar. If the author of the book “Agriculture and Life” had only caught 198a glimpse of this picture, he might have changed the title of his book to “Life and Agriculture.” He certainly would have given to the life element far more prominence than his book in its present form affords. His title makes a promise which the book itself does not redeem, more’s the pity. If science would use art as an ally, it need not be less scientific, and its teachings would prove far more palatable. The little girl with her bread and butter would prove quite as apt as an introductory picture for a book on agriculture as for a work of fiction. It matters not that agriculture includes so many other sciences, for life is the great objective of the study of all these, and the little girl exemplifies life.
Relation of sciences to life.—The pictures are practically endless with which we might introduce the study of agriculture—a boy in the turnip field, a milkmaid beside the cow, or Millet’s celebrated picture “Feeding the Birds.” And, sooner or later, pursuing our journey from such a starting point, we shall arrive at physiology, chemistry, botany, physics, meteorology, and geology, and still never be detached from the subject of life. In the school consciousness agriculture and domestic science seem far apart, but by right teaching they are made to 199merge in the subject of life. Upon that plane we find them to be complementary and reciprocal. In the same way chemistry, botany, and physiology merge in agriculture for the reason that all these sciences as well as agriculture have to do with life. In the traditional school chemistry is taught as chemistry—as a branch of science, and the learner is encouraged to seek for knowledge. In the vitalized school the truths of chemistry are no less clearly revealed, but, in addition, their relations to life are made manifest, and the learner has a fuller appreciation of life, because of his study of chemistry.
Traditional methods.—In the traditional school domestic science is taught that the girl may learn how to cook; but in the vitalized school the girl learns how to cook that she may be able to make life more agreeable and productive both for herself and for others. In the traditional school the study of agriculture consists of the testing of soils and seeds, working out scientific theories on the subject of the rotation of crops, testing for food values the various products of the farm, judging stock, studying the best method of propagating and caring for orchards, and testing for the most economic processes for conserving and marketing crops. In 200the vitalized school all this is done, but this is not the ultimate goal of the study. The end is not reached until all these ramifications have touched life.
The child as the objective.—Reverting once more to the little girl of the picture, it will be conceded, upon careful consideration, that she is the center and focus of all the activities of mind and hand pertaining to agriculture. Every furrow that is plowed is plowed for her; every tree that is planted is planted for her; every crop that is harvested is harvested for her; and every trainload of grain is moving toward her as its destination. But for her, farm machinery would be silent, orchards would decay, trains would cease to move, and commerce would be no more. She it is that causes the wheels to turn, the harvesters to go forth to the fields, the experiment stations to be equipped and operated, the markets to throb with activity, and the ships of commerce to ply the ocean. For her the orchard, the granary, the dairy, and the loom give of their stores, and a million willing hands till, and toil, and spin.
The story of bread.—But the bread and butter, the apple sauce, and the sugar! They may not be 201omitted from the picture. The bread transports us to the fields of waving grain and conjures up in our imagination visions of harvesters with their implements, wagons groaning beneath their golden loads, riches of grain pouring forth from machines, and brings to our nostrils the tang of the harvest time. Into this slice of bread the sun has poured his wealth of sunshine all the summer long, and into it the kindly clouds have distilled their treasures. In it we find the glory of the sunrise, the sparkling dewdrop, the song of the robin, the gentle mooing of the cows, the murmur of the brook, and the creaking of the mill wheel. In it we read the poetry of the morning and of the evening, the prophecy of the noontide heat, and the mighty proclamations of Nature. And it tells us charming stories of health, of rosy cheeks, of laughing eyes, of happiness, of love and service.
Food and life.—The butter, the apple sauce, and the sugar each has a story of its own to tell that renders fiction weak by comparison. If our hearts were but attuned to the charm and romance of the stories they have to tell, every breakfast-table would be redolent with the fragrance of thanksgiving. If our hearts were responsive to the eloquence 202of these stories, then eating would become a ceremony and upon the farmer who provides our food would descend our choicest benedictions. If the scales could but fall from our eyes that we might behold the visions which our food foretells, we could look down the vista of the years and see the children grown to manhood and womanhood, happy and busy in their work of enlarging and beautifying civilization.
Agriculture the source of life.—Agriculture is not the sordid thing that our dull eyes and hearts would make it appear. In it we shall find the romance of a Victor Hugo, the poetry of a Shelley or a Shakespeare, the music of a Mozart, the eloquence of a Demosthenes, and the painting of a Raphael, when we are able to interpret its real relation to life. When the morning stars sang together they were celebrating the birth of agriculture, but man became bewildered in the mazes of commercialism and forgot the music of the stars. It is the high mission of the vitalized school to lead us back from our wanderings and to restore us to our rightful estate amid the beauties, the inspiration, the poetry, and the far-reaching prophecies of agriculture. This it can do only by revealing to us the 203possibilities, the glories, and the joy of life and causing us to know that agriculture is the source of life.
Synthetic teaching.—The analytic teaching of agriculture will not avail; we must have the synthetic also. Too long have we stopped short with analysis. We have come within sight of the promised land but have failed to go up and possess it. We have studied the skeleton of agriculture but have failed to endow it with life. We must keep before our eyes the picture of the little girl. We must feel that the quintessence and spirit of agriculture throbs through all the arteries of life. Here lies the field in which imagination can do its perfect work. Here is a subject in which the vitalized school may find its highest and best justification. By no means is it the only study that fitly exemplifies life, but, in this respect, it is typical, and therefore a worthy study. On the side of analysis the teacher finds the blade of grass to be a thing of life; on the side of synthesis she finds the blade of grass to be a life-giving thing. And the synthesis is no less in accord with science than the analysis.
The element of faith.—Then again agriculture and life meet and merge on the plane of faith. The element of faith fertilizes life and causes it to 204bring forth in abundance. Man must have faith in himself, faith in the people about him, and faith in his own plans and purposes to make his life potent and pleasurable. By faith he attaches the truths of science to his plans and thus to the processes of life; for without the faith of man these truths of science are but static. Faith gives them their working qualities. There is faith in the plowing of each furrow, faith in the sowing of the seed, faith in the planting of each tree, and faith in the purchase of each machine. The farmer who builds a silo has faith that the products of the summer will bring joy and health to the winter. By faith he transmutes the mountains of toil into valleys of delight. Through the eyes of faith he sees the work of his hands bringing in golden sheaves of health and gladness to his own and other homes.
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An analogy.—If we may win a concept of the analogy between the vitalized school and a filtration-plant, we shall, perhaps, gain a clearer notion of the purpose of the school and come upon a juster estimate of its processes. The purpose of the filtration-plant is to purify, clarify, and render more conducive to life the stream that passes through, and the function of the school may be stated in the same terms. The stream that enters the plant is murky and deeply impregnated with impurities; the same stream when it issues from the plant is clear, free from impurities, and, therefore, better in respect to nutritive qualities. The stream of life that flows into the school is composed of many heterogeneous elements; the stream that issues from the school is far more homogeneous, clearer, more nearly free from impurities, and, therefore, more conducive to the life and health of the community. The stream of life that flows into the school is composed 207of elements from all countries, languages, and conditions. In this are Greeks and barbarians, Jews and Gentiles, saints and sinners, the washed and the unwashed, the ignorant, the high, the low, the depraved, the weak, and the strong.
Life-giving properties.—The stream that issues from the school is the very antithesis of all this. Instead of all these heterogeneous elements, the stream when it comes from the school is composed wholly of Americans. A hundred flags may be seen in the stream that enters the school, but the stream that flows out from the school bears only the American flag. The school has often been called the melting-pot, in which the many nationalities are fused; but it is far more than that. True, somehow and somewhere in the school process these elements have been made to coalesce, but that is not the only change that is wrought. The volume of life that issues from the school is the same as that which enters, barring the leakage, but the resultant stream is far more potent in life-giving properties because of its passage through the school.
Changes wrought.—When we see the stream entering the filtration-plant polluted with impurities and then coming forth clear and wholesome, we 208know that something happened to that stream in transit. Similarly, when we see the stream of life entering the school as a mere aggregation of more or less discordant elements and then coming forth in a virtually unified homogeny, we know that something has happened to that stream in its progress through the school. To determine just what happens in either case is a task for experts and a task, moreover, that is well worth while. In either case we may well inquire whether the things that happen are the very best things that could possibly be made to happen; and, if not, what improvements are possible and desirable.
Another misconception.—The analogy between the plant and the school will not hold if we still retain in the parlance of school procedure the expression “getting an education.” The act of getting implies material substance. Education is not a substance but a process, and it is palpably impossible to get a process. So there can be no such thing as getting an education, in spite of the tenacity of the expression. Even to state the fact would seem altogether trite, were we not confronted every day with the fact that teachers and parents are either unable or unwilling to substitute some right 209expression for this wrong one. Education is not the process of getting but, rather, the process of becoming, and the difference is as wide as the difference between the true and the false.
Just how long it will require to eradicate this conception from the school and society no one can well conjecture. Its presence in our nomenclature reveals, in a marked way, the strength of habit. Many teachers will give willing assent to the fact and then use the expression again in their next sentence. Certainly we shall not even apprehend the true function and procedure of the vitalized school until we have eliminated this expression. If we admit the validity of the contention as to this expression, then we may profitably resume the consideration of our analogy, for, in that case, we shall find in this analogy no ineptitude.
The validity of the analogy.—We cause the stream of water to pass through the filtration-plant that it may become rectified; we cause the stream of life to pass through the school that it may become rectified. When the stream of water becomes rectified, bodily disease is averted; when the stream of life is rectified, mental and spiritual disease is averted. The analogy, therefore, holds good whether we consider 210the process itself or its effect. We have only to state the case thus to have opened up for us a wide field for profitable speculation. The diseases of mind and spirit that invade society are the causes that lie back of our police courts, our prisons, and, very often, our almshouses. Hence, if the stream of life could be absolutely rectified, these undesirable institutions would disappear, and life for the entire community would be far more agreeable by reason of their absence.
Function of the school.—The school, then, is established and administered to carry on this process of rectification. By means of this process ignorance becomes intelligence, coarseness becomes culture, strife becomes peace, impurity becomes purity, disease becomes health, and darkness becomes light. The child comes into the school not to get something but to have something done to and for him that he may become something that he was not before, and, therefore, that he may the better execute his functions as a member of society. In short, he comes into the school that he may pass through the process of rectification. In this process he loses neither his name, his extraction, his identity, nor his individuality. On the contrary, 211all these attributes are so acted upon by the process that they become assets of the community.
Language.—In order to lead to a greater degree of clarity it may be well to be even more specific in explaining this process of rectification. Language is fundamental in all the operations of society. It is indispensable to the grocer, the farmer, the lawyer, the physician, the manufacturer, the housewife, and the legislator. It is the means by which members of society communicate with one another, and without communication, in some form, there can be no social intercourse, and, therefore, no society. People are all interdependent, and language is the bond of union. They must use the same language, of course, and the words must be invested with the same meaning in order to be intelligible.
Language a social study.—Just here great care must be exercised or we shall go astray in depicting the work of the school in dealing with this subject of language. The child comes into the school with language of a sort, but it needs rectification in order to render it readily available for the purposes of society. Herein lies the crux of the whole matter. If this child were not to become a member of society, it would matter little what sort of language he uses 212or whether he uses any language. If he were to be banished to some island there to dwell alone, language would be unnecessary. Hence, his study of language in the school is, primarily, for the well-being of society and not for himself. Language is so essential to the life processes that, without it, society would be thrown out of balance. The needs of society are paramount, and hence language as it concerns the child relates to him chiefly if not wholly as a member of society.
Grammar.—Grammar is nothing else than language reduced to a system of common terms that have been agreed upon in the interests of society. People have entered into a linguistic compact, an agreement that certain words and combinations of words shall be understood to mean certain things. The tradesman must understand the purchaser or there can be no exchange. The ticket-agent must understand the prospective traveler or the latter cannot take the journey and reach his destination. Hence, grammar, with all that the term implies, is a means of facilitating the activities of society and pertains to the individual only in his relation to society.
Needs of society.—True, the individual will 213find life more agreeable in society if he understands the common language, just as the traveler is more comfortable in a foreign country if he understands its language. But we need emphasis upon the statement that we have grammar in the school because it is one of the needs of society. The individual may not need chemistry, but society does need it, and the school must somehow provide it because of this need. Hence we place chemistry in the school as one of the ingredients of the solvent which we employ in the process of rectification. Those who are susceptible to the influences of this ingredient will become inoculated with it and bear it forth into the uses of society.
Caution.—But just here we find the most delicate and difficult task of the school. Here we encounter some of the fundamental principles of psychology as explained and emphasized by James, McDougall, and Strayer. Here we must begin our quest for the native tendencies that condition successful teaching. We must discover what pupils are susceptible to chemistry before we can proceed with the work of inoculation. This has been the scene and source of many tragedies. We have been wont to ask whether chemistry will be good for the 214boy instead of making an effort to discover whether the boy will be good for chemistry—whether his native tendencies render him susceptible to chemistry.
Some mistakes.—Our procedure has often come but little short of an inquisition. We have followed our own predilections and prejudices instead of being docile at the feet of Nature and asking her what to do. We have applied opprobrious epithets and resorted to ostracism. We have been freely dispensing suspensions and expulsions in a vain effort to prove that the school is both omniscient and omnipotent. We have tried to transform a poet into a mechanic, a blacksmith into an artist, and an astronomer into a ditcher. And our complacency in the presence of the misfits of the school is the saddest tragedy of all. We have taken counsel with tradition rather than with the nature of the pupil, the while rejoicing in our own infallibility.
Native dispositions.—Society needs only a limited number of chemists and only such as have the native tendencies that will make chemistry most effective in the activities of society. But we have been proceeding upon the agreeable assumption that every pupil has such native tendencies. Such 215an assumption absolves the school, of course, from the necessity of discovering what pupils are susceptible to chemistry and of devising ways and means of making this important discovery. Because we do not know how to make this discovery we find solace in the assumption that it cannot or need not be made. We then proceed to apply the Procrustean bed principle with the very acme of sang froid. Here is work for the efficiency expert. When children are sitting at the table of life, the home and the school in combination ought to be able to discover what food they crave and not insist upon their eating olives when they really crave oatmeal.
The ideal of the school.—We shall not have attained to right conditions until such time as the stream of life that issues from the school shall combine the agencies, in right proportions and relations, that will conserve the best interests of society and administer its activities with the maximum of efficiency. This is the ideal that the school must hold up before itself as the determining plan in its every movement. But this ideal presupposes no misfits in society. If there are such, then it will decline in some degree from the plane of highest efficiency. 216If there are some members of society who are straining at the leash which Nature provided for them and are trying to do work for which they have neither inclination nor aptitude, they cannot render the best service, and society suffers in consequence.
Misfits.—The books teem with examples of people who are striving to find themselves by finding their work. But nothing has been said of society in this same strain. We have only to think of society as composed of all the people to realize that only by finding its work can society find itself. And so long as there is even one member of society who has not found himself, so long must we look upon this one exception as a discordant note in the general harmony. If one man is working at the forge who by nature is fitted for a place at the desk, then neither this man nor society is at its best. And a large measure of the responsibility for such discord and misfits in society must be laid at the door of the school because of its inability to discover native tendencies.
Common interests.—There are many interests that all children have in common when they enter the school in the morning, and these interests may well become the starting points in the day’s work. 217The conversations at breakfast tables and the morning paper beget and stimulate many of these interests and the school does violence to the children, the community, and itself if it attempts to taboo these interests. Its work is to rectify and not to suppress. When the children return to their homes in the evening they should have clearer and larger conceptions of the things that animated them in the morning. If they come into the school all aglow with interest in the great snowstorm of the night before, the teacher does well to hold the lesson in decimals in abeyance until she has led around to the subject by means of readings or stories that have to do with snowstorms. The paramount and common interest of the children in the morning is snow and, therefore, the day should hold snow in the foreground in their thinking, so that, at the close of the day, their horizon in the snow-world may be extended, and so that they may thus be able to make contributions to the home on the subject of snow.
Real interests.—In the morning the pupils had objective snow in which they rollicked and gamboled in glee. All day long they had subjective snow in which the teacher with fine technique caused them to revel; and, in the evening, their concept of snow 218was so much enlarged that they experienced a fresh access of delight. And that day was their snow epiphany. On that day there was no break in the stream of life at the schoolhouse door. There was no supplanting of the real interests of the morning with fictitious interests of the school, to be endured with ill grace until the real interests of the morning could be resumed in the evening. On the contrary, by some magic that only the vitalized teacher knows, every exercise of the day seemed to have snow as its center. Snow seemed to be the major in the reading, in the spelling, in the geography, and in the history.
On that day they became acquainted with Hannibal and his struggles through the snow of the Alps. On that day they learned of the avalanche, its origin, its devastating power, and, of course, its spelling. On that day they read “Snow Bound” and the snow poems of Longfellow and Lowell. Thus the stream of life was clarified, rectified, and amplified as it passed through the school, and, incidentally, the teacher and the school were glorified in their thoughts.
Circus day.—But snow is merely typical. On other days other interests are paramount. On 219circus day the children, again, have a common interest which affords the teacher a supreme opportunity. The day has been anticipated by the teacher, and the pupils have cause to wonder how and whence she ever accumulated such a wealth of pictures of animal life. All day long they are regaled with a subjective menagerie, and when they attend the circus in the evening they astonish their parents by the extent and accuracy of their information. They know the animals by name, their habitat, their habits, their food, and their uses. In short, they seemed to have compassed a working knowledge of the animal kingdom in a single day through the skill of the teacher who knows how to make the school reënforce their life interests.
The quality of life.—If we now extend the scope of common interests that belong in the category with the snow and the animals, we shall readily see that the analogy of the filtration-plant holds good in the entire régime of the vitalized school. But we must never lose sight of the additional fact that the quality of life that issues from the school is far better because of its passage through the school. The volume may be less, through unfortunate leakage, but the quality is so much better that its value 220to society is enhanced a hundred- or a thousand-fold. The people who pass through the school have learned a common language, have been imbued with a common purpose, have learned how to live and work in hearty accord, have come to revere a common flag, and have become citizens of a common country.
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Poetry defined.—Poetry has been defined as “a message from the heart of the artist to the heart of the man”; and, seeing that the heart is the center and source of life, it follows that poetry is a means of effecting a transfusion of life. The poet ponders life long and deeply and then gives forth an interpretation in artistic form that is surcharged with the very quintessence of life. The poet absorbs life from a thousand sources—the sky, the forest, the mountain, the sunrise, the ocean, the storm, the child in the mother’s arms, and the man at his work, and then transmits it that the recipient may have a new influx of life. The poet’s quest is life, his theme is life, and his gift to man is life. His mission is to gain a larger access of life and to give life in greater abundance. He gains the meaning of life from the snowflake and the avalanche; from the grain of sand and the fertile valley; from the raindrop and the sea; from the chirp of the cricket 223and the crashing of the thunder; from the firefly and the lightning’s flash; and from Vesuvius and Sinai. To know life he listens to the baby’s prattle, the mother’s lullaby, and the father’s prayer; he looks upon faces that show joy and sorrow, hope and despair, defeat and triumph; and he feels the pulsations of the tides, the hurricane, and the human heart.
How the poet learns life.—He sits beside the bed of sickness and hears the feeble and broken words that tell of the past, the present, and the future; he visits the field of battle and sees the wreckage of the passions of men; he goes into the dungeon and hears the ravings and revilings of a distorted soul; he visits pastoral scenes where peace and plenty unite in a song of praise; he rides the mighty ship and knows the heartbeats of the ocean; he sits within the church and opens the doors of his soul to its holy influences; he enters the hovel whose squalor proclaims it the abode of ignorance and vice; he visits the home of happiness where industry and frugality pour forth their bounteous gifts and love sways its gentle scepter; and he sits at the feet of his mother and imbibes her gracious spirit.
224Transfusion of life.—And then he writes; and as he writes his pen drips life. He knows and feels, and, therefore, he expresses, and his words are the distillations of life. His spiritual percipience has rendered his soul a veritable garden of emotions, and with his pen he transplants these in the written page. And men see and come to pluck the flowers to transplant again in their own souls that they, too, may have a garden like unto his. His élan carries over into the lives of these men and they glow with the ardor of his emotions and are inspired to deeds of courage, of service, and of solace. For every flower plucked from his garden another grows in its stead more beautiful and more fragrant than its fellow, and he is reinspired as he inspires others. And thus in this transfusion of life there is an undertow that carries back into his own life and makes his spirit more fertile.
Aspiration.—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 225may 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.
Perseverance.—Or he writes the fourth “Æneid” to make men feel that the palm of victory comes only to those who persevere to the end; that duty does not abdicate in favor of inclination; and that the high gods will not hold guiltless the man who stops short of Italy to loiter and dally in Carthage even in the sunshine of a Dido’s smile. When Italy is calling, no siren song of pleasure must avail to lure him from his course, nor must his sail be furled until the keel grates upon the Italian shore. His navigating skill must guide him through the perils of Scylla and Charybdis and the stout heart of manhood must bear him past Mount Ætna’s fiery menace. His dauntless courage must brave the anger of the greedy waves and boldly ride them down. Nor 226must his cup of joy be full until the wished-for land shall greet his eager eyes.
Overweening ambition.—Or, again, the poet may yearn to teach the wrong of overweening, vaulting ambition and he writes “Paradise Lost” and “Recessional.” He pictures Satan overthrown, like the Giants who would climb into the throne on Olympus. He pictures Hell as the fitting place for Satan overthrown, and in his own place he pictures the outcast and downcast Satan writhing and cursing because he was balked of his unholy ambition. And, lest mortals sink from their high estate, borne down by their sins of unsanctified ambition, he prays, and prays again, “Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, lest we forget, lest we forget.” And the prayer echoes and reëchoes in the soul of the man, and the world sees his lips moving in the prayer of the poet, “Lest we forget, lest we forget.”
Native land.—Or, again, he writes Bannockburn and the spirit is fired with patriotic devotion to native land. We hear the bagpipe and the drum and see the martial clans gathering in serried ranks and catch the glint of their arms and armor as they flash back the sunlight. We hear their lusty calls as they rush together to defend the hills and the 227homes they love. We see, again, the Wallace and the Bruce inciting valorous men to deeds of heroism and hear the hills reëchoing with the shock of steel upon steel. From hill to hill the pibroch leaps, and hearts and feet quicken at its sound. And mothers are pressing their bairns to their bosoms as they cheer their loved ones away to the strife. And while their eyes are weeping their hearts are saying:
“Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha so base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!”
Faith.—And after the sounds of battle are hushed he sings “To Mary in Heaven” and causes the man to stand in the presence of the Burning Bush and to hear the command “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” And the heart of the man grows tender as the poet opens his eyes to catch a glimpse of the life of faith that the star foretells even as the Star of Bethlehem was prophetic. And, through the eyes of the lover, he looks over into the other life and knows that his faith is not in vain. And when faith sits enthroned, the music of the brook at his feet becomes sweeter, the stars shine more brightly, the 228earth becomes a place of gladness, and life is far more worth while. The poet has caused the scales to fall from his eyes and through them the light of Heaven has streamed into his soul.
The teacher’s influx of life.—And the teacher imbibes the spirit of the poet and becomes vital and thus becomes attuned to all life. Flowers spring up in her pathway because they are claiming kinship with the flowers that are blooming in her soul. The insect chirps forth its music, and her own spirit joins in the chorus of the forest. The brooklet laughs as it ripples its way toward the sea, and her spirit laughs in unison because the poet has poured his laughter into her soul. She stands unafraid in the presence of the storm because her feeling for majesty overmasters her apprehension of danger. The lightning’s flash may rend the oak but, even so, she stands in mute admiration at this wondrous manifestation of life. Her quickened spirit responds to the roll and reverberation of the thunder because she has grown to womanhood through the poet’s copious draughts of life.
The book of life.—The voices of the night enchant her and the stars take her into their counsels. The swaying tree speaks her language because both 229speak the language of life. She takes delight in the lexicon of the planets because it interprets to her the book of life, and in the revelations of this book she finds her chief joy. For her there are no dull moments whether she wanders by the river, through the glades, or over the hills, because she is ever turning the pages of this book. She moves among the things of life and accounts them all her friends and companions. She knows their moods and their language and with them holds intimate communion. They smile upon her because she can reciprocate their smiles. Life to her is a buoyant, a joyous experience each hour of the day because the poet has poured into her spirit its fuller, deeper meanings.
The teaching.—And because the poet has touched her spirit with the wand of his power the waters of life gush forth in sparkling abundance. And children come to the fountain of her life and drink of its waters and are thereby refreshed and invigorated. Then they smile back their gratitude to her in their exuberance of joyous life.
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An American story.—There is a story to the effect that a certain Mr. Jones was much given to boasting of his early rising. He stoutly maintained that he was going about his work every morning at three o’clock. Some of his friends were inclined to be incredulous as to his representations and entered into a kindly conspiracy to put them to the test. Accordingly one of the number presented himself at the kitchen door of the Jones residence one morning at half-past three and made inquiry of Mrs. Jones as to the whereabouts of her husband, asking if he was at home. In a very gracious manner Mrs. Jones replied: “No, he isn’t here now. He was around here early this morning but I don’t really know where he is now.” This is a clean, fine, typical American story, and, by means of such a story, we can test for a sense of humor. The boy in school will laugh at this story both because it is a good one and because he is a normal boy. If he does not 232laugh at such a story, there is cause for anxiety as to his mental condition or attitude. If the teacher cannot or does not laugh, a disharmony is generated at once between teacher and pupil which militates against the well-being of the school. If the teacher reprimands the boy, the boy as certainly discredits the teacher and all that she represents. If she cannot enjoy such a wholesome story, he feels that her arithmetic, geography, and grammar are responsible, and these studies decline somewhat in his esteem. Moreover, he feels that the teacher’s reprimand was unwarranted and unjust and he fain would consort with people of his own kind. Many a boy deserts school because the teacher is devoid of the saving grace of humor. Her inability to see or have any fun in life makes him uncomfortable and he seeks a more agreeable environment.
Humor in its manifestations.—A sense of humor diffuses itself through all the activities of life, giving to them all a gentle quality that eliminates asperities and renders them gracious and amiable. Like fireflies that bespangle the darkness of the night, humor scintillates through all life’s phases and activities and causes the day to go more pleasantly and effectively on. It twinkles through the thoughts 233and gives to language a sparkle and a nicety that cause it to appeal to the artistic sense. It gives to discourse a piquancy that stimulates but does not irritate. It is the flavor that gives to speech its undulatory quality, and redeems it from desert sameness. It pervades the motives and gives direction as well as a pleasing fertility to all behavior. It is pervasive without becoming obtrusive. It steals into the senses as quietly as the dawn and causes life to smile. Wit may flash, but humor blithely glides into the consciousness with a radiant and kindly smile upon its face. Wit may sting and inflame, but humor soothes and comforts. The man who has a generous admixture of humor in his nature is an agreeable companion and a sympathetic friend to grown-up people, to children, and to animals. His spirit is genial, and people become kindly and magnanimous in his presence.
One of John B. Gough’s stories.—The celebrated John B. Gough was wont to tell a story that was accounted one of his many masterpieces. It was a story of a free-for-all convention where any one, according to inclination, had the privilege of freely speaking his sentiments. When the first speaker had concluded, a man in the audience called lustily for 234a speech from Mr. Henry. Then another spoke, and, again, more lustily than before, the man demanded Mr. Henry. More and more vociferous grew the call for Mr. Henry after each succeeding speech until, at last, the chairman with some acrimony exclaimed: “The man who is calling for Mr. Henry will please be quiet. It is Mr. Henry who is now speaking.” The man thus rebuked was somewhat crestfallen, but managed to say, as if in a half-soliloquy: “Mr. Henry! Why, that ain’t Mr. Henry. That’s the little chap that told me to holler.”
At the conclusion of one of his lectures in which Mr. Gough told this story in his inimitable style, a man came to the platform and explained to him that he had a friend who seemed to lack a sense of humor and wondered if he might not prevail upon Mr. Gough to tell him this particular story in the hope that it would cause him to laugh. In a spirit of adventure Mr. Gough consented, and at the time appointed told the story to the old gentleman in his own best style. The old gentleman seemed to be deeply interested, but at the conclusion of the story, instead of laughing heartily as his friend had hoped, he solemnly asked, “What did he tell him to holler fur?”
235The man who lacks a sense of humor.—There was no answer to this question, or, rather, he himself was the answer. Such a man is obviously outside the pale, without hope of redemption. If such a story, told by such a raconteur, could not touch him, he is hopeless. In his spiritual landscape there are no undulations, but it reveals itself as a monotonous dead-level without stream or verdure. He eats, and sleeps, and walks about, but he walks in a spiritual daze. To him life must seem a somber, drab affair. If he were a teacher in a traditional school, he would chill and depress, but he might be tolerated because a sense of humor is not one of the qualifications of the teacher. But, in the vitalized school, he would be intolerable. If children should go to such a teacher for spiritual refreshment, they would return thirsty. He has nothing to give them, no bubbling water of life, no geniality, no such graces of the spirit as appeal to buoyant childhood. He lacks a sense of humor, and that lack makes arid the exuberant sources of life. He may solve problems in arithmetic, but he cannot compass the solution of the problem of life. The children pity him, and no greater calamity can befall a teacher than to deserve and receive the pity of a child. He might, 236in a way, teach anatomy, but not physiology. He might be able to deal with the analytic. He might succeed as curator in a museum of mummies, but he will fail as a teacher of children.
Story of a boy.—A seven-year-old boy who was lying on his back on the floor asked his father the question, “How long since the world was born?” The father replied, “Oh, about four thousand years.” In a few moments the child said in a tone of finality, “That isn’t very long.” Then after another interval, he asked, “What was there before the world was born?” To this the father replied, “Nothing.” After a lapse of two or three minutes the child gave vent to uncontrollable laughter which resounded throughout the house. When, at length, the father asked him what he was laughing at, he could scarcely control his laughter to answer. But at last he managed to reply, “I was laughing to see how funny it was when there wasn’t anything.”
The child’s imagination.—The philosopher could well afford to give the half of his kingdom to be able to see what that child saw. Out of the gossamer threads of fancy his imagination had wrought a pattern that transcends philosophy. The picture that his imagination painted was so extraordinary 237that it produced a paroxysm of laughter. That picture is far beyond the ken of the philosopher and he will look for it in vain because he has grown away from the child in power of imagination and has lost the child’s sense of humor. What that child saw will never be known, for the pictures of fancy are ephemeral, but certain it is that the power of imagination and a keen sense of humor are two of the attributes of childhood whose loss should give both his father and his teacher poignant regrets.
The little girl and her elders.—The little girl upon the beach invests the tiny wavelets not only with life and intelligence, but, also, with a sense of humor as she eludes their sly advances to engulf her feet. She laughs in glee at their watery pranks as they twinkle and sparkle, now advancing, now receding, trying to take her by surprise. She chides them for their duplicity, then extols them for their prankish playfulness. She makes them her companions, and they laugh in chorus. If she knows of sprites, and gnomes, and nymphs, and fairies, she finds them all dancing in glee at her feet in the form of rippling wavelets. And while she is thus refreshing her spirit from the brimming cup of life, her matter-of-fact elders are reproaching her for 238getting her dress soiled. To the parent or the teacher who lacks a sense of humor and cannot enter into the little girl’s conception of life, a dress is of more importance than the spirit of the child. But the teacher or the parent who has the “aptitude for vicariousness” that enables her to enter into the child’s life in her fun and frolic with the playful water, and can feel the presence of the nymphs among the wavelets,—such a teacher or parent will adorn the school or the home and endear herself to the child.
Lincoln’s humor.—The life of Abraham Lincoln affords a notable illustration of the saving power of humor. Reared in conditions of hardship, his early life was essentially drab and prosaic. In temperament he was serious, with an inclination toward the morbid, but his sense of humor redeemed the situation. When clouds of gloom and discouragement lowered in his mental sky, his keen sense of humor penetrated the darkness and illumined his pathway. He was sometimes the object of derision because men could not comprehend the depth and bigness of his nature, and his humor was often accounted a weakness. But the Gettysburg speech rendered further derision impossible and the wondrous alchemy 239of that address transmuted criticism into willing praise.
Humor betokens deep feeling.—Laughter and tears issue from the same source, we are told, and the Gettysburg speech revealed a depth and a quality of tenderness that men had not, before, been able to recognize or appreciate. The absence of a sense of humor betokens shallowness in that it reveals an inability to feel deeply. People who feel deeply often laugh in order to forestall tears. Lincoln was a great soul and his sense of humor was one element of his greatness. His apt stories and his humorous personal experiences often carried off a situation where cold logic would have failed. Whether his sense of humor was a gift or an acquisition, it certainly served the nation well and gave to us all an example that is worthy of emulation.
The teacher of English.—Many teachers could, with profit to themselves and their schools, sit at the feet of Abraham Lincoln, not only to learn English but also to imbibe his sense of humor. Nothing is more pathetic than the efforts of a teacher who lacks a sense of humor to teach a bit of English that abounds in humor, by means of the textual notes. The notes are bad enough, in all conscience, but the 240teacher’s lack of humor piles Ossa upon Pelion. The solemnity that pervades such mechanical teaching would be farcical were it not so pathetic. The teacher who cannot indulge in a hearty, honest, ringing laugh with her pupils in situations that are really humorous is certain to be laughed at by her pupils. In her work, as in Lincoln’s, a sense of humor will often save the day.
Mark Twain as philosopher.—Mark Twain will ever be accounted a very prince of humorists, and so he was. But he was more than that. Upon the current of his humor were carried precious cargoes of the philosophy of life. His humor is often so subtle that the superficial reader fails to appreciate its fine quality and misses the philosophy altogether. To extract the full meaning from his writing one must be able to read not only between the lines but also beneath the lines. The subtle quality of his humor defies both analysis and explanation. If it fails to tell its own story, so much the worse for the reader. To such humor as his, explanation amounts to an impertinence. People can either appreciate it or else they cannot, and there’s the end of the matter.
In the good time to come when the school teaches reading for the purpose of pleasure and not for examination 241purposes, we shall have Mark Twain as one of our authors; and it is to be hoped that we shall have editions devoid of notes. The notes may serve to give the name of the editor a place on the title page, but the notes cannot add to the enjoyment of the author’s genial humor. Mark Twain reigns supreme, and the editor does well to stand uncovered in his presence and to withhold his pen.
A Twain story.—One of Mark Twain’s stories is said to be one of the most humorous stories extant. The story relates how a soldier was rushing off the battlefield in retreat when a companion, whose leg was shattered, begged to be carried off the field. The appeal met a willing response and soon the soldier was bearing his companion away on his shoulder, his head hanging down the soldier’s back. Unknown to the soldier a cannon ball carried away the head of his companion. Accosted by another soldier, he was asked why he was carrying a man whose head had been shot away. He stoutly denied the allegation and, at length, dropped the headless body to prove the other’s hallucination. Seeing that the man’s head was, in truth, gone, he exclaimed, “Why, the durn fool told me it was his leg.”
242Humor defies explanation.—The humor of this story is cumulative. We may not parse it, we may not analyze it, we may not annotate it. We can simply enjoy it. And, if we cannot enjoy it, we may pray for a spiritual awakening, for such an endowment of the sense of humor as will enable us to enjoy, that we may no longer lead lives that are spiritually blind. Bill Nye wrote:
“The autumn leaves are falling,
They are falling everywhere;
They are falling through the atmosphere
And likewise through the air.”
Woe betide the teacher who tries to explain! There is no explanation—there is just the humor. If that eludes the reader, an explanation will not avail.
A teacher of Latin read to his pupils “The House-Boat on the Styx” in connection with their reading of the “Æneid.” It was good fun for them all, and never was Virgil more highly honored than in the assiduous study which those young people gave to his lines. They were eager to complete the study of the lesson in order to have more time for the “House-Boat.” The humor of the book opened wide the gates of their spirits through which the truths of the regular lesson passed blithely in.
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Yearning toward betterment.—Much has been said and written in recent times touching the matter and manner of vitalizing and humanizing the studies and work of the school. The discussions have been nation-wide in their scope and most fertile in plans and practical suggestions. No subject of greater importance or of more far-reaching import now engages the interest of educational leaders. They are quite aware that something needs to be done, but no one has announced the sovereign remedy. The critics have made much of the fact that there is something lacking or wrong in our school procedure, but they can neither diagnose the case nor suggest the remedy. They can merely criticize. We are having many surveys, but the results have been meager and inadequate. We have been working at the circumference of the circle rather than at the center. We have been striving to reform our educational training, hoping for a reflex that 245would be sufficient to modify the entire school régime. We have added domestic science, hoping thereby to reconstruct the school by inoculation. We have looked to agriculture and other vocational studies as the magnetic influences of our dreams. Something has been accomplished, to be sure, but we are still far distant from the goal. The best that writers can do in their books or educational conferences can do in their meetings, is to report progress.
The obstacle of conservatism.—One of the greatest obstacles we have to surmount in this whole matter of vitalizing school work is the habitual conservatism of the school people themselves. The methods of teaching that obtained in the school when we were pupils have grooved themselves into habits of thinking that smile defiance at the theories that we have more recently acquired. When we venture out from the shore we want to feel a rope in our hands. The superintendent speaks fervently to patrons or teachers on the subject of modern methods in teaching, then retires to his office and takes intimate and friendly counsel with tradition. In sailing the educational seas he must needs keep in sight the buoys of tradition. 246This matter of conservatism is cited merely to show that our progress, in the very nature of the case, will be slow.
Schools of education.—Another obstacle in the way of progress toward the vitalized school is the attitude and teaching of many who are connected with colleges of education and normal schools. We have a right to look to them for leadership, but we find, instead, that their practices lag far in the rear of their theories. They teach according to such devitalized methods and in such an unvitalized way as to discredit the subjects they teach. It is only from such of their students as are proof against their style of teaching that we may hope for aid. One such teacher in a college of education in a course of eight weeks on the subject of School Administration had his students copy figures from statistical reports for several days in succession and for four and five hours each day. The students confessed that their only objective was the gaining of credits, and had no intimation that the work they were doing was to function anywhere.
The machine teacher.—Such work is deadening and disheartening. It has in it no inspiration, no life, nothing, in short, that connects with real life. 247Such a teacher could not maintain himself in a wide-awake high school for a half year. The boys and girls would desert him even if they had to desert the school. And yet teachers and prospective teachers must endure and not complain. Those who submit supinely will attempt to repeat in their schools the sort of teaching that obtains in his classes, and their schools will suffer accordingly. His sort of teaching proclaims him either more or less than a human being in the estimation of normal people. Such a teacher drones forth weary platitudes as if his utterances were oracular. The only prerequisite for a position in some schools of education seems to be a degree of a certain altitude without any reference to real teaching ability.
Statistics versus children.—Such teaching palliates educational situations without affording a solution. It is so steeped in tradition that it resorts to statistics as it would consult an oracle. We look to see it establishing precedents only to find it following precedents. When we would find in it a leader we find merely a follower. To such teaching statistical numbers mean far more than living children. Indeed, children are but objects that become useful as a means of proving theories. 248It lacks vitality, and that is sad; but, worst of all, it strives unceasingly to perpetuate itself in the schools. Real teaching power receives looks askance in some of these colleges as if it bore the mark of Cain in not being up to standard on the academic side. And yet these colleges are teaching the teachers of our schools.
Teaching power.—Hence, the work of vitalizing the school must begin in our colleges of education and normal schools, and this beginning will be made only when we place the emphasis upon teaching power. The human qualities of the teachers must be so pronounced that they become their most distinguished characteristics. It is a sad commentary upon our educational processes if a man must point to the letters of his degree to prove that he is a teacher. His teaching should be of such a nature as to justify and glorify his degree. As the preacher receives his degree because he can preach, so the teacher should receive his degree because he can teach, even if we must create a new degree by which to designate the real teacher.
Degrees and human qualities.—There is no disparagement of the academic degree in the statement that it proves absolutely nothing touching the 249ability to teach. It proclaims its possessor a student but not a teacher. Yet, in our practices, we proceed upon the assumption that teacher and student are synonymous. We hold examinations for teachers in our schools, but not for teachers in our colleges of education. His degree is the magic talisman that causes the doors to swing wide open for him. Besides, his very presence inside seems to be prima facie evidence that he is a success, and all his students are supposed to join in the general chorus of praise.
Life the great human interest.—The books are eloquent and persistent in their admonitions that we should attach all school work to the native interests of the child. To this dictum there seems to be universal and hearty assent. But we do not seem to realize fully, as yet, that the big native interest of the child is life itself. We have not, as yet, found the way to enmesh the activities of the school in the life processes of the child so that these school activities are as much a part of his life as his food, his games, his breathing, and his sleep. We have been interpreting some of the manifestations of life as his native interests but have failed thus to interpret his life as a whole. The child is but the aggregate of all his inherent interests, and 250we must know these interests if we would find the child so as to attach school work to the child himself.
The child as a whole.—Here is the crux of the entire matter, here the big problem for the vitalized school. We have been taking his pulse, testing his eyes, taking his temperature, and making examinations for defects—and these things are excellent. But all these things combined do not reveal the child to us. We need to go beyond all these in order to find him. We must know what he thinks, how he feels as to people and things, what his aspirations are, what motives impel him to action, what are his intuitions, what things he does involuntarily and what through volition or compulsion. With such data clearly before us we can proceed to attach school work to his native interests. We have been striving to bend him to our preconceived notion instead of finding out who and what he is as a condition precedent to intelligent teaching.
Three types of teachers.—The three types of teachers that have been much exploited in the books are the teacher who conceives it to be her work to teach the book, the one who teaches the subject, and the one who teaches the child. The 251number of the first type is still very large in spite of all the books that inveigh against this conception. It were easy to find a teacher whose practice indicates that she thinks that all the arithmetic there is or ought to be is to be found in the book that lies on her desk. It seems not to occur to her that a score of books might be written that would be equal in merit to the one she is using, some of which might be far better adapted to the children in her particular school. If she were asked to teach arithmetic without the aid of a book, she would shed copious tears, if, indeed, she did not resign.
The first type.—To such a teacher the book is the Ultima Thule of all her endeavors, and when the pupils can pass the examination she feels that her work is a success. If the problem in the book does not fit the child, so much the worse for the child, and she proceeds to try to make him fit the problem. It does not occur to her to construct problems that will fit the child. When she comes to the solution of the right triangle, the baseball diamond does not come to her mind. She has the boy learn a rule and try to apply it instead of having him find the distance from first base to third in a direct line. In her thinking such a proceeding would be banal 252because it would violate the sanctity of the book. She must adhere to the book though the heavens fall, and the boy with them.
The book supreme.—She seems quite unable to draw upon the farm, the grocery, the store, or the playground for suitable problems. These things seem to be obscured by her supreme devotion to the book. She lacks fertility of resources, nor does she realize this lack, because her eyes are fastened upon the book rather than upon the child. Were she as intent upon the child as she is upon the book, his interests would direct attention to the things toward which his inclinations yearn and toward which his aptitudes lure him. In such a case, her ingenuity and resourcefulness would roam over wide fields in quest of the objects of his native interests and she would return to him laden with material that would fit the needs of the child far better than the material of the book.
The child supreme.—The teacher whose primary consideration is the child and who sees in the child the object and focus of all her activities, never makes a fetish of the book. It has its use, to be sure, but it is subordinate in the scheme of education. It is not a necessity, but a mere convenience. She could 253dispense with it entirely and not do violence to the child’s interests. No book is large enough to compass all that she teaches, for she forages in every field to obtain proper and palatable food for the child. She teaches with the grain of the child and not against the grain. If the book contains what she requires in her work, she uses it and is glad to have it; but, if it does not contain what she needs, she seeks it elsewhere and does not return empty-handed.
Illustrations.—She places the truth she hopes to teach in the path of the child’s inclination, and this is taken into his life processes. Life does not stop at way-stations to take on supplies, but absorbs the supplies that it encounters as it moves along. This teacher does not stop the ball game to teach the right triangle, but manages to have the problem solved in connection with or as a part of the game. She does not taboo the morning paper in order to have a lesson in history, but begins with the paper as a favorable starting point toward the lesson. She does not confiscate the contents of the boy’s pocket as contraband, but is glad to avail herself of all these as indices of the boy’s interests, and, therefore, guides for her teaching.
254Attitude toward teaching materials.—When the boy carries a toad to school, she does not shudder, but rather rejoices, because she sees in him a possible Agassiz. When he displays an interest in plant life, she sees in him another Burbank. When she finds him drawing pictures at his desk, she smiles approval, for she sees in him another Raphael. She does not disdain the lowliest insect, reptile, or plant when she finds it within the circle of the child’s interests. She is willing, nay eager, to ransack the universe if only she may come upon elements of nutrition for her pupils. From every flower that blooms she gathers honey that she may distill it into the life of the child. She does not coddle the child; she gives him nourishment.
History.—Her history is as wide as human thought and as high as human aspiration. It includes the Rosetta stone and the morning paper. It travels back from the clothing of the child to the cotton gin. The stitch in the little girl’s dress is the index finger that points to the page that depicts the invention of the sewing machine. Every engine leads her back to Watt, and she takes the children with her. Every foreign message in the daily paper revives the story of Field and the laying of 255the Atlantic cable. Every mention of the President’s cabinet gives occasion for reviewing the cabinets of other Presidents with comparisons and contrasts. At her magic touch the libraries and galleries yield forth rich treasures for her classroom. Life is the textbook of her study, and the life of the child is the goal of her endeavors.
The child’s native interests.—In brief, she is teaching children and not books or subjects, and the interests of the children take emphatic precedence over her own. She enters into the life of the child and makes excursions into all life according to the dictates of his interests. The child is the big native interest to which she attaches the work of the school. The program is elastic enough to encompass every child in her school. Her program is a garden in which something is growing for each child, and she cultivates every plant with sympathetic care. She considers it no hardship to learn the plant, the animal, the place, or the fact in which the child finds interest. Because of the child and for the sake of the child she invests all these things with the quality of human interest.
The school and the home.—Arithmetic, language, history, and geography touch life at a thousand 256points, and we have but to select the points of contact with the life of each pupil to render any or all of these a vital part of the day’s work and the day’s life. They are not things that are detached from the child’s life. The child’s errand to the shop involves arithmetic, and the vitalized teacher makes this fact a part of the working capital of the school. The dinner table abounds in geography, and the teacher is quick to turn this fact to account in the school. Her fertility of resources, coupled with her vital interest in human beings and human affairs, soon establishes a reciprocal relation between the home and the school. Similarly, she causes the language of the school to flow out into the home, the factory, and the office.
The skill of the teacher.—History is not a school affair merely. It is a life affair, and through all the currents of life it may be made to flow. The languages, Latin, German, French, Spanish, are expressions and interpretations of life, and they may be made to appear what they really are if the teacher is resourceful enough and skillful enough to attach them to the life of the pupil by the human ligaments that are ever at hand. Chemistry, physics, botany, and physiology all throb with life if only the teacher 257can place the fingers of the pupils on their pulses. Given the human teacher, the human child, and the humanized teaching, the vitalized school is inevitable.
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Behavior in retrospect.—The caption of this chapter implies the behavior of human beings, as a matter of course, and the study of this subject is, at once, both alluring and illusive. No sooner has the student arrived at deductions that seem conclusive than exceptions begin to loom up on his speculative horizon that disintegrate his theories and cause him to retrace the steps of his reasoning. Such a study affords large scope for introspection, but too few people incline to examine their own behavior in any mental attitude that approaches the scientific. The others seem to think that things just happen, and that their own behavior is fortuitous. They seem not to be able to reason from effect back to cause, or to realize that there may be any possible connection between what they are doing at the present moment and what they were doing twenty years ago.
Environment.—In what measure is a man the product of his environment? To what extent is 260a man able to influence his environment? These questions start us on a line of inquiry that leads toward the realm of, at least, a hypothetical solution of the problem of behavior. After we have reached the conclusion, by means of concrete examples, that many men have influenced their environment, it becomes pertinent, at once, to inquire still further whence these men derived the power thus to modify their environment. We may not be able to reach final or satisfactory answers to these questions, but it will, none the less, prove a profitable exercise. We need not trench upon the theological doctrine of predestination, but we may, with impunity, speculate upon the possibility of a doctrine of educational predestination.
Queries.—Was Mr. George Goethals predestined to become the engineer of the Panama Canal from the foundation of the world, or might he have become a farmer, a physician, or a poet? Could Julius Cæsar have turned back from the Rubicon and refrained from saying, “The die is cast”? Could Abraham Lincoln have withheld his pen from the Emancipation Proclamation and permitted the negro race to continue in slavery? Could any influence have deterred Walter Scott from writing 261“Kenilworth”? Was Robert Fulton’s invention of the steamboat inevitable? Could Christopher Columbus possibly have done otherwise than discover America? Does education have anything whatever to do in determining what a man will or will not do?
Antecedent causes.—Here sits a man, let us say, who is writing a musical selection. He works in a veritable frenzy, and all else seems negligible for the time. He well-nigh disdains food and sleep in the intensity of his interest. Is this particular episode in his life merely happening, or does some causative influence lie back of this event somewhere in the years? Did some influence of home, or school, or playground give him an impulse and an impetus toward this event? Or, in other words, are the activities of his earlier life functioning on the bit of paper before him? If this is an effect, what and where was the cause? In the case of any type of human behavior can we postulate antecedent causes? If a hundred musicians were writing musical compositions at the same moment, would they offer similar explanations of their behavior?
Leadership.—As a working hypothesis, it may be averred that ability to influence environment 262betokens leadership. With such a measuring-rod in hand we may go out into the community and determine, with some degree of accuracy, who are leaders and who are mere followers. Then we should need to go further and discover degrees of leadership, whether small or large, and, also, the quality of the leadership, whether good or bad, wise or foolish, selfish or altruistic, noisy or serene, and all the many other variations. Having done all this, we are still only on the threshold of our study, for we must reason back from our accumulated facts to their antecedent causes. If we score one man’s leadership fifty and another’s eighty, have we any possible warrant for concluding that the influences in their early life that tend to generate leadership were approximately as five to eight?
Restricted concepts.—This question is certain to encounter incredulity, just as it is certain to raise other questions. Both results will be gratifying as showing an awakening of interest, which is the most and the best that the present discussion can possibly hope to accomplish. Very many, perhaps most, teachers in the traditional school do their teaching with reference to the next examination. They remind their pupils daily of the 263on-coming examination and remind them of the dire consequences following their failure to attain the passing grade of seventy. They ask what answer the pupil would give to a certain question if it should appear in the examination. If they can somehow get their pupils to surmount that barrier of seventy at promotion time, they seem quite willing to turn their backs upon them and let the teacher in the next grade make what she can of such unprofitable baggage.
Each lesson a prophecy.—And we still call this education. It isn’t education at all, but the merest hack work, and the tragedy of it is that the child is the one to suffer. The teacher goes on her complacent way happy in the consciousness that her pupils were promoted and, therefore, she will retain her place on the pay roll. It were more logical to have the same teacher continue with the pupil during his entire school life of twelve years, for, in that case, her interest in him would be continuous rather than temporary and spasmodic. But the present plan of changing teachers would be even better than that if only every teacher’s work could be made to project itself not only to graduation day, but to the days of mature manhood and womanhood. 264If only every teacher were able to make each lesson a vital prophecy of what the pupil is to be and to do twenty years hence, then that lesson would become a condition precedent to the pupil’s future behavior.
Outlook.—Groping about in the twilight of possibilities we speculate in a mild and superficial way as to the extent to which heredity, environment, and education either singly or in combination are determining factors in human behavior. But when no definite answer is forthcoming we lose interest in the subject and have recourse to the traditional methods of our grandfathers. We lose sight of the fact that in our quest for the solution of this problem we are coming nearer and nearer to the answer to the perennial question, What is education? Hence, neither the time nor the effort is wasted that we devote to this study. We may not understand heredity; we may find ourselves bewildered by environment; we may not apprehend what education is; but by keeping all these closely associated with behavior in our thinking we shall be the gainers.
Long division ramified.—We are admonished so to organize the activities of the school that they 265may function in behavior. That is an admonition of stupendous import as we discover when we attempt to compass the content of behavior. One of the activities of the school is Long Division. This is relatively simple, but the possible behavior in which it may function is far less simple. In the past, this same Long Division has functioned in the Brooklyn Bridge, in the Hoosac Tunnel, and Washington Monument, in the Simplon Pass, and in Eiffel Tower. It has helped us to travel up the mountain side on funicular railways, underneath rivers and cities by means of subways, under the ocean in submarines, and in the air by means of aircraft, and over the tops of cities on elevated railways. Only the prophet would have the temerity to predict what further achievements the future holds in store. But all that has been done and all that will yet be done are only a part of the behavior in which this activity functions.
Behavior amplified.—Human behavior runs the entire gamut, from the bestial to the sublime, with all the gradations between. It has to do with the mean thief who pilfers the petty treasures of the little child, and with the high-minded philanthropist who walks and works in obedience to the behests 266of altruism. It includes the frowzy slattern who offends the sight and also the high-born lady of quality whose presence exhales and, therefore, inspires to, refinement and grace. It has to do with the coarse boor who defiles with his person and his speech and the courtly, cultured gentleman who becomes the exemplar of those who come under his influence. It touches the depraved gamin of the alley and the celebrated scholar whose pen and voice shed light and comfort. It concerns itself with the dark lurking places of the prowlers of the night who prey upon innocence, virtue, and prosperity and with the cultured home whose members make and glorify civilization.
Its scope.—It swings through the mighty arc, from the anarchist plotting devastation and death up to Socrates inciting his friends to good courage as he drinks the hemlock. It takes cognizance of the slave in his cabin no less than of Lincoln in his act of setting the slaves free. It touches the extremes in Mrs. Grundy and Clara Barton. It concerns itself with Medea scattering the limbs of her murdered brother along the way to delay her pursuers and with Antigone performing the rites of burial over the body of her brother that his soul 267might live forever. It has to do with Circe, who transformed men into pigs, and with Frances Willard, who sought to restore lost manhood. It includes all that pertains to Lucrezia Borgia and Mary Magdalene; Nero and Phillips Brooks; John Wilkes Booth and Nathan Hale; Becky Sharp and Evangeline; Goneril and Cordelia; and Benedict Arnold and George Washington.
Behavior in history.—Before the teacher can win a starting-point in her efforts to organize the activities of her school in such a manner that they may function in behavior, she must have a pretty clear notion as to what behavior really is. To gain this comprehensive notion she must review in her thinking the events that make up history. In the presence of each one of these events she must realize that this is the behavior in which antecedent activities functioned. Then she will be free to speculate upon the character of those activities, what modifications, accretions, or abrasions they experienced in passing from the place of their origin to the event before her, and whether like activities in another place or another age would function in a similar event. She need not be discouraged if she finds no adequate answer, for she will be the better teacher because of the speculation, even lacking a definite answer.
268Machinery.—She must challenge every piece of machinery that meets her gaze with the question “Whence camest thou?” She knows, in a vague way, that it is the product of mind, but she needs to know more. She needs to know that the machine upon which she is looking did not merely happen, but that it has a history as fascinating as any romance if only she cause it to give forth a revelation of itself. She may find in tracing the evolution of the plow that the original was the forefinger of some cave man, in the remote past. For a certainty, she will find, lurking in some machine, in some form, the multiplication table, and this fact will form an interesting nexus between behavior in the form of the machine and the activities of the school. She will be delighted to learn that no machine was ever constructed without the aid of the multiplication table, and when she is teaching this table thereafter she does the work with keener zest, knowing that it may function in another machine.
Art.—When she looks at the “Captive Andromache” by Leighton she is involved in a network of speculations. She wonders by what devious ways the mind of the artist had traveled in reaching this type and example of behavior. She wonders whether 269the artistic impulse was born in him or whether it was acquired. She sees that he knew his Homer and she would be glad to know just how his reading of the “Iliad” had come to function in this particular picture. She further wonders what lessons in drawing and painting the artist had had in the schools that finally culminated in this masterpiece, and whether any of his classmates ever achieved distinction as artists. She wonders, too, whether there is an embryo artist in her class and what she ought to do in the face of that possibility. Again she wonders how geography, grammar, and spelling can be made to function in such a painting as Rosa Bonheur’s “The Plough Oxen,” and her wonder serves to invest these subjects with new meaning and power.
Shakespeare.—In the school at Stratford they pointed out to her the desk at which Shakespeare sat as a lad, with all its boyish hieroglyphics, and her thought instinctively leaped across the years to “The Tempest,” “King Lear,” and “Hamlet.” She pondered deeply the relation between the activities of the lad and the behavior of the man, wondering how much the school had to do with the plays that stand alone in literature, and whether he imbibed the power 270from associations, from books, from people, or from his ancestors. She wondered what magic ingredient had been dropped into the activities of his life that had proven the determining factor in the plays that set him apart among men. She realizes that his behavior was distinctive, and she fain would discover the talisman whose potent influence determined the bent and power of his mind. And she wonders, again, whether any pupil in her school may ever exemplify such behavior.
History.—When she reads her history she has a keener, deeper, and wider interest than ever before, for she now realizes that every event of history is an effect, whose inciting causes lie back in the years, and is not fortuitous as she once imagined. She realizes that the historical event may have been the convergence of many lines of thinking emanating from widely divergent sources, and this conception serves to make her interest more acute. In thus reasoning from effect back to cause she gains the ability to reason from cause to effect and, therefore, her teaching of history becomes far more vital. She is studying the philosophy of history and not a mere catalogue of isolated and unrelated facts. History is a great web, and in the events she sees 271the pattern that minds have worked. She is more concerned now with the reactions of her pupils to this pattern than she is with mere names and dates, for these reactions give her a clew to tendencies on the part of her pupils that may lead to results of vast import.
Poetry.—In every poem she reads she finds an illustration of mental and spiritual behavior, and she fain would find the key that will discover the mental operations that conditioned the form of the poem. She would hark back to the primal impulse of each bit of imagery, and she analyzes and appraises each word and line with the zeal and skill of a connoisseur. She would estimate justly and accurately the activities that functioned in this sort of behavior. She seeks for the influences of landscapes, of sky, of birds, of sunsets, of clouds,—in short, of all nature, as well as of the manifestations of the human soul. Thus the teacher gains access into the very heart of nature and life and can thus cause the poem to become a living thing to her pupils. In all literature she is ever seeking for the inciting causes; for only so can she prove an inspiring guide and counselor in pointing to them the way toward worthy achievements.
272Attitude of teacher.—In conclusion, then, we may readily distinguish the vitalized teacher from the traditional teacher by her attitude toward the facts set down in the books. The traditional teacher looks upon them as mere facts to be noted, connoted, memorized, reproduced, and graded, whereas the vitalized teacher regards them as types of behavior, as ultimate effects of mental and spiritual activities. The traditional teacher knows that seven times nine are sixty-three, and that is quite enough for her purpose. If the pupil recites the fact correctly, she gives him a perfect grade and recommends him for promotion. For the vitalized teacher the bare fact is not enough. She does not disdain or neglect the mechanics of her work, but she sees beyond the present. She sees this same fact merging into the operations of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, physics, and engineering, until it finally functions in some enterprise that redounds to the well-being of humanity.
Conclusion.—To her every event of history, every fact of mathematics and science, every line of poetry, every passage of literature is pregnant with meaning, dynamic, vibrant, dramatic, and prophetic. Nothing can be dull or prosaic to her 273electric touch. All the facts of the books, all the emotions of life, and all the beauties of nature she weaves into the fabric of her dreams for her pupils. The goal of her aspirations is far ahead, and around this goal she sees clustered those who were her pupils. In every recitation this goal looms large in her vision. She can envisage the viewpoint of her pupils, and thus strives to have them envisage hers. She yearns to have them join with her in looking down through the years when the activities of the school will be functioning in worthy behavior.
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Spiritual freedom.—There is no slavery more abject than the bondage of ignorance. John Bunyan was not greatly inconvenienced by being incarcerated in jail. His spirit could not be imprisoned, but the imprisonment of his body gave his mind and spirit freedom and opportunity to do work that, otherwise, might not have been done. If he had lived a mere physical life and had had no resources of the mind upon which to draw, his experience in the jail would have been most irksome. But, being equipped with mental and spiritual resources, he could smile disdain at prison bars, and proceed with his work in spiritual freedom. Had he been dependent solely, or even mainly, upon food, sleep, drink, and other contributions to his physical being for his definition of life, then his whole life would have been restricted to the limits of his cell; but the more extensive and expansive resources of his life rendered the jail virtually nonexistent.
276 Illustrations.—It is possible, therefore, so to furnish the mind that it can enjoy freedom in spite of any bondage to which the body may be subjected. Indeed, the whole process of education has as its large objective the freedom of the mind and spirit. Knowledge of truth gives freedom; ignorance of truth is bondage. A man’s knowledge may be measured by the extent of his freedom; his ignorance, by the extent of his bondage. In the presence of truth the man who knows stands free and unabashed, while the man who does not know stands baffled and embarrassed. In a chemical laboratory the man who knows chemistry moves about with ease and freedom, while the man who does not know chemistry stands fixed in one spot, fearing to move lest he may cause an explosion. To the man who knows astronomy the sky at night presents a marvelous panorama full of interest and inspiration, to the man who is ignorant of astronomy the same sky is merely a dome studded with dots of light.
Rome.—The man who lacks knowledge of history is utterly bewildered and ill at ease in the Capitoline Museum at Rome. All about him are busts that represent the men who made Roman history, but they have no meaning for him. Nero 277and Julius Cæsar are mere names to him and, as such, bear no relation to life. Cicero and Caligula might exchange places and it would be all one to him. He takes a fleeting glance at the statue of the Dying Gaul, but it conveys no meaning to him. He has neither read nor heard of Byron’s poem which this statue inspired. He sees near by the celebrated Marble Faun, but he has not read Hawthorne’s romance and therefore the statue evokes no interest. In short, he is bored and uncomfortable, and importunes his companions to go elsewhere.
When he looks out upon the Forum he says it looks the same to him as any other stone quarry, and he roundly berates the shiftlessness of the Romans in permitting the Coliseum to remain when the stone could be used for building purposes, for bridges, and for paving. The Tiber impresses him not at all for, as he says, he has seen much larger rivers and, certainly, many whose water is more clear. In the Sistine Chapel he cannot be persuaded to give more than a passing glance at the ceiling because it makes his neck ache to look up. The Laocoön and Apollo Belvedere he will not see, giving as a reason that he is more than tired of looking at silly statuary. He feels it an imposition that he should be dragged 278around to such places when he cares nothing for them. His evident boredom is pathetic, and he repeatedly says that he’d far rather be visiting in the corner grocery back home, than to be spending his time in the Vatican.
Contrasts.—In this, he speaks but the simple truth. In the grocery he has comfort while, in the Vatican, he is in bondage. His ignorance of art, architecture, history, and literature reduces him to thralldom in any place that exemplifies these. In the grocery he has comfort because he can have a share in the small talk and gossip that obtain there. His companions speak his language and he feels himself to be one of them. Were they, by any chance, to begin a discussion of history he would feel himself ostracized and would leave them to their own devices. If they would retain him as a companion they must keep within his range of interests and thinking. To go outside his small circle is to offer an affront. He cannot speak the language of history, or science, or art, and so experiences a feeling of discomfort in any presence where this language is spoken.
History.—In this concrete illustration we find ample justification for the teaching of history in the 279schools. History is one of the large strands in the web of life, and to neglect this study is to deny to the pupil one of the elements of freedom. It is not easy to conceive a situation that lacks the element of history in one or another of its phases or manifestations. Whether the pupil travels, or embarks upon a professional life, or associates, in any relation, with cultivated people, he will find a knowledge of history not only a convenience but a real necessity, if he is to escape the feeling of thralldom. The utilitarian value of school studies has been much exploited, and that phase is not to be neglected; but we need to go further in estimating the influence of any study. We need to inquire not only how a knowledge of the study will aid the pupil in his work, but also how it will contribute to his life.
Restricted concepts.—We lustily proclaim our country to be the land of the free, but our notion of freedom is much restricted. In the popular conception freedom has reference to the body. A man can walk the streets without molestation and can vote his sentiments at the polls, but he may not be able to take a day’s ride about Concord and Lexington with any appreciable sense of freedom. He may walk about the Congressional Library and feel 280himself in prison. He may desert a lecture for the saloon in the interests of his own comfort. He may find the livery stable more congenial than the drawing-room. His body may experience a sort of freedom while his mind and spirit are held fast in the shackles of ignorance. A Burroughs, an Edison, a Thoreau, might have his feet in the stocks and still have more freedom than such a man as this. He walks about amid historic scenes with his spiritual eyes blindfolded, and that condition of mind precludes freedom.
Real freedom.—We shall not attain our high privileges as a free people until freedom comes to mean more than the absence of physical restraint. Our conception of freedom must reach out into the world of mind and spirit, and our educational processes must esteem it their chief function to set mental and spiritual prisoners free. We have only to read history, science, and literature to realize what sublime heights mind can attain in its explorations of the realms of truth, and, since the boys and girls of our schools are to pass this way but once, every effort possible should be made to accord to them full freedom to emulate the mental achievements of those who have gone before. They have a 281right to become the equals of their predecessors, and only freedom of mind and spirit can make them such. Every man should be larger than his task, and only freedom of mind and spirit can make him so. The man who works in the ditch can revel among the sublime manifestations of truth if only his mind is rightly furnished.
Spelling.—The man who is deficient in spelling inevitably confines his vocabulary to narrow limits and so lacks facility of expression and nicety of diction. Accordingly, he suffers by comparison with others whose vocabulary is more extensive and whose diction is, therefore, more elegant. The consciousness of his shortcomings restricts the exuberance of his life, and he fails of that sense of large freedom that a knowledge of spelling would certainly give. So that even in such an elementary study as spelling the school has an opportunity to generate in the pupils a feeling of freedom, and this feeling is quite as important in the scheme of life as the ability to spell correctly. In this statement, there is no straining for effects. On the contrary, many illustrations might be adduced to prove that it is but a plain statement of fact. A cultured lady confesses that she is thrown into a panic whenever 282she has occasion to use the word Tuesday because she is never certain of the spelling.
The switchboard.—Life may be likened to an extensive electric switchboard, and only that man or woman has complete freedom who can press the right button without hesitation or trepidation. The ignorant man stands paralyzed in the presence of this mystery and knows not how to proceed to evoke the correct response to his desires. It has been said that everything is infinitely high that we cannot see over. Hence, to the man who does not know, cube root is infinitely high and, as such, is as far away from his comprehension as the fourth dimension or the precession of the equinoxes. In the presence of even such a simple truth as cube root he stands helpless and enthralled. He lives in a small circle and cannot know the joy of the man whose mind forgathers with the big truths of life.
Comparisons.—The ignorant man cannot accompany this man upon his mighty excursions, but must remain behind to make what he can of his feeble resources. The one can penetrate the mysteries of the planets and bring back their secrets; the other must confine his thinking to the weather and the crops. The one can find entertainment in 283the Bible and Shakespeare; the other seeks companionship among the cowboys and Indians of the picture-films. The one sits in rapt delight through an evening of grand opera, reveling on the sunlit summits of harmony; the other can rise no higher in the scale of music than the raucous hand organ. The one finds keen delight among the masterpieces of art; the other finds his definition of art in the colored supplement. The one experiences the acme of pleasure in communing with historians, musicians, artists, scientists, and philologists; the other finds such associations the very acme of boredom. The one finds freedom among the big things of life; the other finds galling bondage.
Three elements of freedom.—There are three elements of freedom that are worthy of emphasis. These are self-reliance, self-support, and self-respect. These elements are the trinity that constitute one of the major ultimate aims of the vitalized school. The school that inculcates these qualities must prove a vital force in the life of the pupil; and the pupil who wins these qualities is well equipped for the work of real living. These qualities are the golden gateways to freedom, nor can there be a full measure of freedom if either of these qualities 284be lacking. Moreover, these qualities are cumulative in their relations to one another. Self-reliance leads to and engenders self-support, and both these underlie and condition self-respect. Or, to put the case conversely, there cannot be self-respect in the absence of self-reliance and self-support.
Self-reliance.—It would not be easy to over-magnify the influence of the school that is rightly conducted in the way of inculcating the quality of self-reliance and in causing it to grow into a habit. Every problem that the boy solves by his own efforts, every obstacle that he surmounts, every failure that he transforms into a success, and every advance he makes towards mastery gives him a greater degree of self-reliance, greater confidence in his powers, and greater courage to persevere. It is the high privilege of the teacher to cause a boy to believe in himself, to have confidence in his ability to win through. To this end, she adds gradually to the difficulties of his work, always keeping inside the limits of discouragement, and never fails to give recognition to successful achievements. In this way the boy gains self-reliance and so plumes himself for still loftier flights. Day after day he moves upward and onward, until at length he exemplifies 285the sentiment of Virgil, “They can because they think they can.”
This quality in practice.—The self-reliance that becomes ingrained in a boy’s habits of life will not evaporate in the heat of the activities and competition of the after-school life. On the contrary, it will be reënforced and crystallized by the opportunities of business or professional life, and, in calm reliance upon his own powers, he will welcome competition as an opportunity to put himself to the test. He is no weakling, for in school he made his independent way in spite of the lions in his path, and so gained fiber and courage for the contests of daily life. And because he has industry, thrift, perseverance, and self-reliance the gates of success swing wide open and he enters into the heritage which he himself has won.
The sterling man.—His career offers an emphatic negation to the notion that obtains here and there to the effect that education makes a boy weak and ineffective, robbing him of the quality of sterling elemental manhood, and fitting him only for the dance-hall and inane social functions. The man who is rightly trained has resources that enable him to add dignity and character to social functions in that 286he exhales power and bigness. People recognize in him a real man, capable, alert, and potential, and gladly pay him the silent tribute that manhood never fails to win. He can hold his own among the best, and only the best appeal to him.
Self-respect.—And, just as he wins the respect of others, so he wins the respect of himself, and so the triumvirate of virtues is complete. Having achieved self-respect he disdains the cheap, the bizarre, the gaudy, and the superficial. He knows that there are real values in life that are worthy of his powers and best efforts, and these real values are the goal of his endeavors. Moreover, he has achieved freedom, and so is not fettered by precedent, convention, or fads. He is free to establish precedents, to violate the conventions when a great principle is at stake, and to ignore fads. He can stand unabashed in the presence of the learned of the earth, and can understand the heartbeats of life, because he has had experience both of learning and of life. And being a free man his life is fuller and richer, and he knows when and how to bestow the help that will give to others a sense of freedom and make life for them a greater boon.
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Prelude.—When the vitalized school has finally been achieved there will result a radical departure from the present procedure in the matter of examinations. A teacher in the act of preparing a list of examination questions of the traditional type is not an edifying spectacle. He has a text-book open before him from which he extracts nuts for his pupils to crack. It is a purely mechanical process and only a mechanician could possibly debase intelligence and manhood to such unworthy uses. Were it not so pathetic it would excite laughter. But this teacher is the victim of tradition. He knows no other way. He made out examination questions in accordance with this plan fifteen years ago and the heavens didn’t fall; then why, pray, change the method? Besides, men and women who were thus examined when they were children in school have achieved distinction in the world’s affairs, and that, of itself, proves the validity of the method, according to his way of thinking.
289 Mental atrophy.—It seems never to occur to him that children have large powers of resistance and that some of his pupils may have won distinction in spite of his teaching and his methods of examination and not because of them. His trouble is mental and spiritual atrophy. He thinks and feels by rule of thumb, “without variableness or shadow of turning.” In the matter of new methods he is quite immune. He settled things to his complete satisfaction years ago, and what was good enough for his father, in school methods, is quite good enough for him. His self-satisfaction would approach sublimity, were it not so extremely ludicrous. He has a supercilious sneer for innovations. How he can bring himself to make concessions to modernity to the extent of riding in an automobile is one of the mysteries.
Self-complacency.—His complacency would excite profound admiration did it not betoken deadline inaction. He became becalmed on the sea of life years ago, but does not know it. When the procession of life moves past him he thinks he is the one who is in motion, and takes great unction to himself for his progressiveness—“and not a wave of trouble rolls across his peaceful breast.” So 290he proceeds to copy another question from the text-book, solemnly writing it on a bit of paper, and later copying on the blackboard with such a show of bravery and gusto as would indicate that some great truth had been revealed to him alone. In an orotund voice he declaims to his pupils the mighty revelations that he copied from the book. His examination régime is the old offer of a mess of pottage for a birthright.
Remembering and knowing.—In our school practices we have become so inured to the question-and-answer method of the recitation that we have made the examination its counterpart. As teachers we are constantly admonishing our pupils to remember, as if that were the basic principle in the educational process. In reality we do not want them to remember—we want them to know; and the distinction is all-important. The child does not remember which is his right hand; he knows. He does not remember the face of his mother; he knows her. He does not remember which is the sun and which is the moon; he knows. He does not remember snow, and rain, and ice, and mud; he knows.
Questions and answers.—But, none the less, 291we proceed upon the agreeable assumption that education is the process of memorizing, and so reduce our pupils to the plane of parrots; for a parrot has a prodigious memory. Hence, it comes to pass that, in the so-called preparation of their lessons, the pupils con the words of the book, again and again, and when they can repeat the words of the book we smile approval and give a perfect grade. It matters not at all that they display no intelligent understanding of the subject so long as they can repeat the statements of the book. It never seems to occur to the teacher that the pupil of the third grade might give the words of the binomial theorem without the slightest apprehension of its meaning. We grade for the repetition of words, not for intelligence.
Court procedure.—In our school practices we seem to take our cue from court procedure and make each pupil who recites feel that he is on the witness stand experiencing all its attendant discomforts, instead of being a coöperating agent in an agreeable enterprise. We suspend the sword of Damocles above his head and demand from him such answers as will fill the measure of our preconceived notions. He may know more of the subject, 292in reality, than the teacher, but this will not avail. In fact, this may militate against him. She demands to know what the book says, with small concern for his own knowledge of the subject. We proclaim loudly that we must encourage the open mind, and then by our witness-stand ordeal forestall the possibility of open-mindedness.
Rational methods.—When we have learned wisdom enough, and humanity enough, and pedagogy enough to dispense with the quasi-inquisition type of recitation, the transition to a more rational method of examination will be well-nigh automatic. Let it not be inferred that to inveigh against the question-and-answer type of recitation is to advocate any abatement of thoroughness. On the contrary, the thought is to insure greater thoroughness, and to make evident the patent truth that thoroughness and agreeableness are not incompatible. Experience ought to teach us that we find it no hardship to work with supreme intensity at any task that lures us; and, in that respect, we are but grown-up children. We have only to generate a white-heat of interest in order to have our pupils work with intensity. But this sort of interest does not thrive under compulsion.
293 Analysis and synthesis.—The question-and-answer method evermore implies analysis. But children are inclined to synthesis, which shows at once that the analytic method runs counter to their natural bent. They like to make things, to put things together, to experiment along the lines of synthesis. Hence the industrial arts appeal to them. But constructing problems satisfies their inclination to synthesis quite as well as constructing coat-hangers or culinary compounds, if only the incitement is rational. The writers of our text-books are coming to recognize this fact, and it does them credit. In time, we may hope to have books that will take into account the child’s natural inclinations, and the schools will be the beneficiaries.
Thinking.—In the process of synthesis the pupil is free to draw upon the entire stock of his accumulated resources, whereas in the question-and-answer method he is circumscribed. In the question-and-answer plan he is encouraged to remember; in the other he is encouraged to think. In our theories we exalt thinking to the highest pinnacle, but in our practice we repress thinking and exalt memory. We admonish our pupils to think, sometimes with a degree of emphasis that weakens our admonition, 294and then bestow our laurel wreaths upon those who think little but remember much. Our inconsistency in this respect would be amusing if the child’s interests could be ignored. But seeing that the child pays the penalty, our inconsistency is inexcusable.
Penalizing.—The question-and-answer régime, in its full application, is not wholly unlike a punitive expedition, in that the teacher asks the question and sits with pencil poised in air ready to blacklist the unfortunate pupil whose memory fails him for the moment. The child is embarrassed, if not panic-stricken, and the teacher seems more like an avenging nemesis than a friend and helper. Just when he needs help he receives epithets and a condemning zero. He sinks into himself, disgusted and outraged, and becomes wholly indifferent to the subsequent phases of the lesson. He feels that he has been trapped and betrayed, and days are required for his redemption from discouragement.
Traditional method.—In the school where this method is in vogue the examination takes on the color and character of the recitation. At the close of the term, or semester, the teacher makes out the proverbial ten questions which very often reflect her own bias, or predilections, and in these ten questions 295are the issues of life and death. A hundred questions might be asked upon the subjects upon which the pupils are to be tested, but these ten are the only ones offered—with no options. Then the grading of the papers ensues, and, in this ordeal, the teacher thinks herself another Atlas carrying the world upon her shoulders. The boy who receives sixty-seven and the one who receives twenty-seven are both banished into outer darkness without recourse. The teacher may know that the former boy is able to do the work of the next grade, but the marks she has made on the paper are sacred things, and he has fallen below the requisite seventy. Hence, he is banished to the limbo of the lost, for she is the supreme arbiter of his fate.
No allowance is made for nervousness, illness, or temperamental conditions, but the same measuring-rod is applied to all with no discrimination, and she has the marks on the papers to prove her infallibility. If a pupil should dare to question the correctness of her grades, he would be punished or penalized for impertinence. Her grades are oracular, inviolable, and therefore not subject to review. She may have been quite able to grade the pupils justly without any such ordeal, but the 296school has the examination habit, and all the sacred rites must be observed. In that school there is but one way of salvation, and that way is not subject either to repeal or amendment. It is via sacra and must not be profaned. Time and long usage have set the seal of their approval upon it and woe betide the vandal who would dare tamper with it.
Testing for intelligence.—This emphatic, albeit true, representation of the type of examinations that still obtains in some schools has been set out thus in some detail that we may have a basis of comparison with the other type of examinations that tests for intelligence rather than for memory. For children, not unlike their elders, are glad to have people proceed upon the assumption that they are endowed with a modicum of intelligence. They will strive earnestly to meet the expectations of their parents and teachers. Many wise mothers and teachers have incited children to their best efforts by giving them to know that much is expected of them. It is always far better to expect rather than to demand. Coercion may be necessary at times, but coercion frowns while expectation smiles. Hence, in every school exercise the teacher does well to concede to the pupils a reasonable degree of intelligence and 297then let her expectations be commensurate with their intelligence.
Concessions.—It is an affront to the intelligence of a child not to concede that he knows that the days are longer in the summer than in winter. We may fully expect such a degree of intelligence, and base our teaching upon this assumption. In our examinations we pay a delicate compliment to the child by giving him occasion for thinking. We may ask him why the days are longer in summer than in winter and thus give him the feeling that we respect his intelligence. Our examinations may always assume observed facts. Even if he has never noted the fact that his shadow is shorter in summer than in winter, if we assume such knowledge on his part and ask him why such is the case, we shall stimulate his powers of observation along with his thinking. If the teacher asks a boy when and by whom America was discovered, he resents the implication of crass ignorance; but if she asks how Columbus came to discover America in 1492, he feels that it is conceded that there are some things he knows.
Illustrations.—If we ask for the width of the zones, we are placing the emphasis upon memory; 298but, if we ask them to account for the width of the zones, we are assuming some knowledge and are testing for intelligent thinking. If we ask why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west we are, once again, assuming a knowledge of the facts and testing for intelligence. If we ask for the location of the Suez, Kiel, and Welland canals, we are testing for mere memory; but, if we ask what useful purpose these canals serve, we are testing for intelligence. When we ask pupils to give the rule for division of fractions, we are testing again for mere memory; but when we ask why we invert the terms of the divisor, we are treating our pupils as rational beings. Our pedagogical sins bulk large in geography when we continually ask pupils to locate places that have no interest for them. Such teaching is a travesty on pedagogy and a sin against childhood.
Intelligence of teacher.—If the teacher is consulting her own ease and comfort, then she will conduct the examination as a test for memory. It requires but little work and less thinking to formulate a set of examination questions on this basis. She has only to turn the pages of the text-book and make a check-mark here and there till she has accumulated ten questions, and the trick is done. 299But if she is testing for intelligence, the matter is not so simple. To test for intelligence requires intelligence and a careful thinking over the whole scope of the subject under consideration. To do this effectively the teacher must keep within the range of the pupil’s powers and still stimulate him to his best efforts.
Major and minor.—She must distinguish between major and minor, and this is no slight task. Her own bias may tend to elevate a minor into a major rank, and this disturbs the balance. Again, she must see things in their right relations and proportions, and this requires deliberate thinking. In “King Lear” she may regard the Fool as a negligible minor, but some pupil may have discovered that Shakespeare intended this character to serve a great dramatic purpose, and the teacher suffers humiliation before her class. If she were testing for memory, she would ask the class to name ten characters of the play and like hackneyed questions, so that her own intelligence would not be put to the test. Accurate scholarship and broad general intelligence may be combined in the same person and, certainly, we are striving to inculcate and foster these qualities in our pupils.
300Books of questions and answers.—When the examinations for teachers shall become tests for intelligence and not for memory, we may fully expect to find the same principle filtering into our school practices. It is a sad travesty upon education that teachers, even in this enlightened age, still try to prepare for examinations by committing to memory questions and answers from some book or educational paper. But the fault lies not so much with the teachers themselves as with those who prepare the questions. The teachers have been led to believe that to be able to recall memorized facts is education. There are those, of course, who will commercialize this misconception of education by publishing books of questions and answers. Of course weak teachers will purchase these books, thinking them a passport into the promised land.
The reform must come at the source of the questions that constitute the examination. When examiners have grown broad enough in their conception of education to construct questions that will test for intelligence, we shall soon be rid of such an incubus upon educational progress as a book of questions and answers. The field is wide and alluring. History, literature, the sciences, and the 301languages are rich in material that can be used in testing for intelligence, and we need not resort to petty chit-chat in preparing for examinations.
The way of reform.—We must take this broader view of the whole subject of examinations before we can hope to emerge from our beclouded and restricted conceptions of education. And it can be done, as we know from the fact that it is being done. Here and there we find superintendents, principals, and teachers who are shuddering away from the question-and-answer method both in the recitation and in the examination. They have outgrown the swaddling-clothes and have risen to the estate of broad-minded, intelligent manhood and womanhood. They have enlarged their concept of education and have become too generous in their impulses to subject either teachers or pupils to an ordeal that is a drag upon their mental and spiritual freedom.
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An outline.—Education is the process of world-building. Every man builds his own world and is confined, throughout life, to the world which he himself builds. He cannot build for another, nor can another build for him. Neither can there be an exchange of worlds. Moreover, the process of building continues to the end of life. In building their respective worlds all men have access to the same materials, and the character of each man’s world, then, is conditioned by his choice and use of these materials. If one man elects to build a small world for himself, he will find, at hand, an abundant supply of petty materials that he is free to use in its construction. But, if he elects to build a large world, the big things of life are his to use. If he chooses to spend his life in an ugly world, he will find ample materials for his purpose. If, however, he prefers a beautiful world, the materials will not be lacking, and he will have the joy and inspiration 304that come from spending a lifetime amid things that are fraught with beauty.
Exemplifications.—This conception of education is not a figment of fancy but a reality whose verification can be attested by a thousand examples. We have only to look about us to see people who are living among things that are unbeautiful and who might be living in beautiful worlds had they elected to do so. Others are spending their lives among things that are trivial and inconsequential, apparently blind to the great and significant things that lie all about them. Some build their worlds with the minor materials, while others select the majors. Some select the husks, while others choose the grain. Some build their worlds from the materials that others disdain and seem not to realize the inferiority of their worlds as compared with others. Their supreme complacency in the midst of the ugliness or pettiness of their worlds seems to accentuate the conclusion that they have not been able to see, or else have not been able to use, the other materials that are available.
Flowers.—To the man who would live in a beautiful world flowers will be a necessity. To such a man life would be robbed of some of its charm if his 305world should lack flowers. But unless he has subjective flowers he cannot have objective ones. He must have a sensory foundation that will react to flowers or there can be no flowers in his world. There may be flowers upon his breakfast table, but unless he has a sensory foundation that will react to them they will be nonexistent to him. He can react to the bacon, eggs, and potatoes, but not to the flowers, unless he has cultivated flowers in his spirit before coming to the table.
Lily-of-the-valley civilization.—All the flowers that grow may adorn his world if he so elects. He may be content with dandelions and sunflowers if he so wills, or he may reach forth and gather about him for his delight the entire gamut of roses from the Maryland to the American Beauty, the violet and its college-bred descendant the pansy, the heliotrope, the gladiolus, the carnation, the primrose, the chrysanthemum, the sweet pea, the aster, and the orchid. But, if he can reach the high plane of the lily-of-the-valley, in all its daintiness, delicacy, chastity, and fragrance, he will have achieved distinction. When society shall have attained to the lily-of-the-valley plane, life will be fine, fragrant, and beautiful. Intemperance will 306be no more, and profanity, vulgarity, and coarseness will disappear. Such things cannot thrive in a lily-of-the-valley world, but shrink away from the presence of beauty and purity.
Music.—Again, the man who is building such a world will elect to have music as one of the elements. But here, again, we find that he must have a sensory foundation or there will be no music for him. Moreover, the nature of this sensory foundation will determine the character of the music to be found in his world. He may be satisfied with “Tipperary” or he may yearn for Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Melba, and Schumann-Heink. He may not be able to rise above the plane of ragtime, or he may attain to the sublime plane of “The Dead March in Saul.” He has access to all the music from the discordant hand organ to the oratorio and grand opera. In his introduction of a concert company, the chairman said: “Ladies and gentlemen, the artists who are to favor us this evening will render nothing but high-grade selections. If any of you are inclined to be critical and to say that their music is above your heads, I beg to remind you that it will not be above the place where your heads ought to be.” In substance he was saying that the 307nature of the music depended not so much upon the singers as upon the sensory foundation of the auditors.
Music and life.—Having a sensory foundation capable of reacting to the best music, this man opens wide the portals of his world for the reception of the orchestra, the concert, the opera, and the choir, and his spirit revels in the “concord of sweet sounds.” Through the toil of the day he anticipates the music of the evening, and the next day he goes to his work buoyant and rejuvenated by reason of the musical refreshment. He has music in anticipation and music in retrospect, and thus his world is regaled with harmony. His world cannot be a dead level or a desert, for it is diversified by the alluring undulations of music and made fertile by the perennial fountains of inspiring harmony, and his world
“shall be filled with music
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.”
Children.—Again, this man elects to have children in his world, for he has come to know that there is no sweeter music on earth than the laughter 308of a child. Were he sojourning five hundred miles away from the abode of children he would soon be glad to walk the entire distance that he might again hear the prattle, the laughter, or even the crying of a child. Cowboys on the plains have been thrown into a frenzy of delight at the sight of a little child. Full well the man knows that, if he would have children in his world, he must find these children for himself; for this task may not be delegated. If he would bring Paul and Florence Dombey into his world, he must win them to himself by living with them throughout all the pages of the book. In order to lure Pollyanna into his world to imbue it with the spirit of gladness, he must establish a community of interests with her by imbibing her spirit as revealed in the book.
Characterizations.—He may not have Little Joe in his world unless his spirit becomes attuned to the pathos of Bleak House. And he both wants and needs Little Joe. Echoing and reëchoing through his soul each day are the words of the little chap, “He wuz good to me, he wuz,” and acting vicariously for the little fellow he touches the lives of other unfortunates as the hours go by and brings to them sunshine and hope and courage. And he 309must needs have Tiny Tim, also, to banish the cobwebs from his soul with his fervent “God bless us every one.” The day cannot go far wrong with this simple prayer clinging in his memory. It permeates the perplexities of the day, gives resiliency to his spirit, and encourages and reënforces all the noble impulses that come into his consciousness. Wherever he goes and whatever he is doing he feels that Tiny Tim is present to bestow his childish benediction.
Lessons from childhood.—In Laddie he finds a whole family of children to his liking and feels that his world is the better for their presence. To Old Curiosity Shop and Silas Marner he goes and brings thence Little Nell and Eppie, feeling that in their boon companionship they will make his world more attractive to himself and others by their gentle graces of kindness and helpfulness. In his quest for children of the right sort he lingers long with Dickens, the apostle and benefactor of childhood, but passes by the colored supplement. For all the children in his world he would have the approval and blessing of the Master. He would know, when he hears the words “Except ye become as little children,” that reference is made to such children 310as he has about him. At the feet of these children he sits and learns the lessons of sincerity, guilelessness, simplicity, and faith, and through their eyes he sees life glorified.
Stars.—Nor must his world lack stars. He needs these to draw his thoughts away from sordid things out into the far spaces. He would not spend a lifetime thinking of nothing beyond the weather, the ball-score, his clothes, and his ailments. He wants to think big thoughts, and he would have stars to guide him. He knows that a man is as high, as broad, and as deep as his thoughts, and that if he would grow big in his thinking he must have big objects to engage his thoughts. He would explore the infinite spaces, commune with the planets in their courses, attain the sublime heights where the masters have wrought, and discover, if possible, the sources of power, genius, and inspiration. He would find delight in the colors of the rainbow, the glory of the morning, and the iridescence of the dewdrop. He would train his thoughts to scan the spaces behind the clouds, to transcend the snow-capped mountain, and to penetrate the depths of the sea. He would visualize creation, evolution, and the intricate processes of life. So he must have stars in his world.
311Books.—In addition to all these he must have books in his world, and he is cognizant of the fact that his neighbors judge both himself and his world by the character of the books he selects. He may select Mrs. Wiggs or Les Miserables. If he elects to have about him books of the cabbage patch variety, he condemns himself to that sort of reading for a whole lifetime. Nor is any redemption possible from such standards save by his own efforts. Neither men nor angels can draw him up to the plane of Victor Hugo if he elects to abide in the cabbage patch. If he prefers Graustark to Macbeth, all people, including his dearest friends, will go on their way and leave him to his choice. If he says he cannot read Shakespeare, Massinger, Milton, or Wordsworth, he does no violence to the reputation of these writers, but merely defines and classifies himself.
Authors as companions.—Having learned or sensed these distinctions, he elects to consort with Burns, Keats, Shelley, Southey, Homer, Dante, Virgil, Hawthorne, Scott, Maupassant, Goethe, Schiller, and George Eliot. In such society he never has occasion to explain or apologize for his companions. He reads their books in the open and gains a feeling of elation and exaltation. When he would 312see life in the large, he sits before the picture of Jean Valjean. When he would see integrity and fidelity in spite of suffering, he sits before the portrait of Job. When he would see men of heroic size, he has the characters of Homer file by. If he would see the panorama of the emotions of the human soul, he selects Hugo as his guide. If he would laugh, he reads Tam O’Shanter; if he would weep, he reads of the death of Little Nell. If he would see real heroism, he follows Sidney Carton to the scaffold, or Esther into the presence of the King. He goes to Shelley’s Skylark to find beauty, Burns’s Highland Mary to find tenderness, Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter to find tragedy, and the Book of Job to find sublimity. Through his books he comes to know Quasimodo and Sir Galahad; Becky Sharp and Penelope; Aaron Burr and Enoch Arden; and Herodias and Florence Nightingale.
People.—But his world would be incomplete without people, and here, again, he is free to choose. And, since he wants people in his world who will be constant reminders to him of qualities that he himself would cultivate, he selects Ruth and Jephthah’s daughter to represent fidelity. When temptation assails him he finds them ready to lead him back 313and up to the plane of high resolves. To remind him of indomitable courage and perseverance he selects William the Silent, Christopher Columbus, and Moses. When his courage is waning and he is becoming flaccid and indolent, their very presence is a rebuke, and a survey of their achievements restores him to himself. As examples of patriotic thinking and action he invites into his world Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton. They remind him that he is a product of the past and that it devolves upon him to pass on to posterity without spot or blemish the heritage that has come to him through the patriotic service and sacrifice of his progenitors.
Influence of people.—That he may never lose sight of the fact that it is cowardly and degrading to recede from high ideals he opens the doors of his world for Milton, Beethoven, and Michael Angelo. Their superb achievements, considered in connection with their afflictions and hardships, are a source of inspiration to him and keep him up to his best. As a token of his appreciation of these exemplars he strives to excel himself, thus proving himself a worthy disciple. They need not chide him, for in their presence he cannot do otherwise than hold 314fast to his ideals and struggle upward with a courage born of inspiration. Living among such goodly people, he finds his world resplendent with the virtues that prove a halo to life. With such people about him he can be neither lonely nor despondent. If the cares of life fret him for the moment, he takes counsel with them and his equilibrium is restored. In their company he finds life a joyous experience, for their very presence exhales the qualities that make life worth while.
As an inevitable result of all the influences that constitute his world he finds himself yearning for meliorism as the crownpiece. Drinking from the fount of inspiration that gushes forth at the behest of all these wholesome influences, he longs for betterment. Good as he finds the things about him, he feels that they are not yet good enough. So he becomes the eloquent apostle of meliorism, proclaiming his gospel without abatement. The roads are not good enough, and he would have better ones. Our houses are not good enough, and he would have people design and build better ones. Our music is not good enough as yet, and he would encourage men and women to write better. Our books are not good enough, and he would incite people to 315write better ones. Our conduct of civic affairs is not good enough, and he would stimulate society to strive for civic betterment. Our municipal government is not good enough, and he proclaims the need to make improvement. Our national government is not all that it might be, and he would have all people join in a benevolent conspiracy to make it better.
Influence of the school.—Thus day by day this man continues the building of a world for himself. And day by day he strives to make his world better, not only as an abiding place for himself but also as an example for others. In short, this man is a product of the vitalized school, and is weaving into the pattern of his life the teachings of the school. In exuberance of spirit and in fervent gratitude he looks back to the school that taught him to know that education is the process of world-building. And to the school he gives the credit for the large and beautiful world in which he lives.
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The school an expression of the teacher.—The vitalized school may be a school of one room or of forty rooms; it may be in the city, in the village, in the hamlet, or in the heart of the country; it may be a kindergarten, a grade school, a high school, or a college. The size or the location of the school does not determine its vital quality. This, on the contrary, is determined by the character of its work and the spirit that obtains. In general it may be said that the vitalized teacher renders the school vital. This places upon her a large measure of responsibility, but she accepts it with equanimity, and rejoices in the opportunity to test out her powers. It needs to be oft repeated that if the teacher is static, the school will be static; but if the teacher is dynamic, the school will be dynamic. The teacher can neither delegate, abrogate, abate, nor abridge her responsibility. The school is either vitalized or it is not, according to what the teacher 318is and does, and what the teacher does depends upon what she is. In short, the school is an expression of the teacher, and, if the school is not vitalized, the reason is not far to seek.
A centralized school.—For the purpose of illustration we may assume that the typical vitalized school is located in the country, and is what is known as a centralized school. The grounds comprise about ten acres, and the building contains, all told, not fewer than twenty rooms, large and small. This building was designed by a student of school problems, and is not merely a theory of the architect. Each room, and each detail, articulates with every other room in harmony with a general scheme of which the child and his interests are the prime considerations. The well-being of the child takes precedence over the reputation of the architect. Every nook of the building has its specific function, and this function has vital reference to the child. The location of each piece of furniture can be explained from the viewpoint of the child, and the architectural scheme is considered subsidiary. The seats conform to the child, and not the reverse. The scheme of lighting concerns itself with the child’s welfare rather than with the external appearance.
319Integrity in construction and decoration.—The decorations throughout the building are all chaste and artistic. Nothing below this standard can win admission. No picture is admitted that does not represent art. The theory is that the school has a reflex influence upon the homes that attracts them to its standards, and experience reveals the fact that the decorations in the homes are constantly rising in artistic tone. The standards of the school become the standards of the pupils, and the pupils, in turn, modify and improve the standards of the homes. There is a degree of simplicity and dignity throughout the building that banishes from the homes the ornate and the bizarre. There is integrity in every detail of construction, and the absence of veneer gives to the pupils a definition of honesty and sincerity. There is nothing either in the building or in the work of the school that savors of the show element. The teachers of history and mathematics cannot display the products of their teaching and, therefore, there is no display of her products by the teacher of drawing. This school believes in education but not in exhibition. Words of commendation may be dispensed in the classrooms, but there is no exhibit of any department in the 320halls. The teachers are too polite and too considerate to sanction any such display.
Simplicity and sincerity.—The library is notable for the character of the books, but not for the number. The teachers and pupils are too genuine ever to become thrasonical, and no teacher or pupil is ever heard to boast of anything pertaining to the school. They neither boast nor apologize, but leave every visitor free to make his own appraisement of their school and its belongings. The teachers are too truly cultured and the pupils are too well trained ever to exploit themselves, their school, or their work. The pictures, the statuary, the fittings, and the equipment are all of the best, and, hence, show for themselves without exploitation. To teachers and pupils it would seem a mark of ill-breeding to expatiate upon their own things. Such a thing is simply not done in this school. The auditorium is a stately, commodious, and beautiful room, and everybody connected with the school accepts it as a matter of course with no boastful comment. Anything approaching braggadocio would prove a discordant note in this school, and, in this respect, it represents the American ideal that is to be.
Rooms are phases of life.—The home economics 321room, the industrial arts room, the laboratories, the dining room, the rest rooms, and the hospital room are all supplied with suitable fittings and equipment and all represent phases of life. At luncheon each pupil is served a bowl of soup or other hot dish to supplement his own private lunch, and this food is supplied at public expense. The school authorities have the wisdom to realize that health is an asset of the community and is fundamental in effective school work. The pupils serve their schoolmates in relays, wash the dishes, and restore them to their places. The boys do not think they demean themselves by such service, but enter into it in the true spirit of democracy. A teacher is present to modify and chasten the hurry and heedlessness of childhood, and there is decorum without apparent repression.
Industrial work.—In connection with the industrial arts department there is a repair shop where all the implements that are used in caring for the school farm, gardens, orchards, and lawns are kept in repair. Here the auto trucks in which the pupils are brought to the school are repaired by the drivers, assisted by the boys. In this shop the boys gain the practical knowledge that enables them to keep 322in repair the tools and machinery, including automobiles, at their homes. The farmers who have no sons in school avail themselves of the skill and fidelity that obtain in the shop, bringing in their tools, their harness, and their automobiles for needed repairs. The money thus earned is expended for school equipment. The products of the orchards, farm, and garden are the property of the school and are all preserved for use in the home economics department for school lunches. The man in charge of the farm is employed by the year and is a member of the teaching staff. The farm, gardens, orchard, and lawn are integral parts of the school, and perform the functions of laboratories.
School a life enterprise.—There are all grades in the school, from the kindergarten through the high school. There is but slight disparity in the size of the classes, for the parents instinctively set apart thirteen years of the time of their children for life in the school. To these parents school and life are synonymous, and when a child enters the kindergarten he enlists in the enterprise for a term of thirteen years. The homes as well as the school are arranged on this basis, and this plan of procedure is ingrained in the social consciousness. 323Deserting the school is no more thought of than any other form of suicide. If, by any chance, a boy should desert the school, he would be a pariah in that community and could not live among the people in any degree of comfort. He would be made to feel that he had debased himself and cast aspersion upon society. The looks that the people would bestow upon him would sting more than flagellation. He would be made to feel that he had expatriated himself, and neither himself nor his parents would be in good standing in the community. They would be made to feel that their conduct was nothing short of sacrilege.
Public sentiment.—In view of the school sentiment that obtains in the community the eighth grade is practically as populous as the first grade. Attendance upon school work is a habit of thinking both with the children and with their parents, and school is taken for granted the same as eating and sleeping. If a boy should, for any cause, fail to graduate from the high school, every patron of the school would regard it as a personal calamity. They would feel that he had, somehow, been dropped off the train before he reached his destination, and the whole community would be inclined to wear 324badges of mourning. Every parent is vitally interested in each child of the community, whether he has children in school or not, and thus school taxes are paid with pride and elation. The school is regarded as a safe investment that pays large dividends. Patrons rally to the calls of the school with rare unanimity and heartiness. Differences in politics and religion evaporate in their school, for the school is the high plane upon which they meet in fraternal concord.
The course of study.—The course of study is flexible, and because of its resiliency it adapts itself easily and gracefully to the native dispositions and the aptitudes of the various pupils. If the boy has a penchant for agriculture, provision is made for him, both in the theory and in the practical applications of the subject. If he inclines to science, the laboratories accord him a gracious welcome. The studies are adapted to the boy and not the boy to the studies. No boy need discontinue school to find on the outside something that is congenial, for, within the school, he may find work that represents life in all its phases. If he yearns for horticulture, then this study is made his major and, all in good time, he is made foreman of the group 325who care for the gardens. If the course of study lacks the element which he craves and for which he has a natural aptitude, this branch is added to the course. The economy of life demands the conservation of childhood and youth and the school deems it the part of wisdom as well as civic and social economy to provide special instruction for this boy, as was done in the case of Helen Keller. This school, in theory and in practice, is firm in its opposition to wasting boys and girls. Hence, ample provision is made for the child of unusual inclinations.
Electives.—The pupils do not elect a study because it is easy, but because their inclinations run in that direction. Indeed, there are no easy courses, no snap courses in the school. Diligent, careful, thorough work is the rule, and there can be found no semblance of approval for loafing or dawdling. The school stands for purposes that are clear in definition and for work that is intense. There are no prizes offered for excellent work, but the approbation of parents, teachers, and schoolmates, in the estimation of the pupils, far transcends any material or symbolic prizes that could be offered. In school work and in conduct the pupils all strive to win this 326approval. There is no coarseness nor boorishness, for that would forfeit this approval. The cigarette is under ban, for public sentiment is against it; and, after all, public sentiment is the final arbiter of conduct. Hence, no boy will demean himself by flying in the face of public sentiment through indulging in any practice that this sentiment proclaims unclean or enervating.
The school the focus of community life.—This school is the focus of the community. Hither come the patrons for music, for lectures, for art, for books and magazines, for social stimulus, and, in short, for all the elements of their avocational life. Indeed, in educational matters, the community is a big wholesome family and the school is the shrine about which they assemble for educational and cultural communion. It is quite a common practice for mothers to sit in the classrooms engaged in knitting or sewing while their children are busy with their lessons. For, in their conception of life, geography and sewing are coördinate elements, and so blend in perfect harmony in the school régime. At the luncheon period these mothers go to the dining room with their children in the same spirit of coöperation that gives distinction to the school and 327to the community. There is an interflow of interests between the school and the homes that makes for unity of purpose and practice. There is freedom in the school but not license. People move about in a natural way but with delicate consideration for the rights and sentiments of others. The atmosphere of the school interdicts rudeness. There is a quiet dignity, serenity, and intensity, with no abatement of freedom. In this school it is not good form for a boy to be less than a gentleman or for a girl to be less than a lady.
The teachers.—The atmosphere in which the pupils live is, mainly, an exhalation from the spirit of the teachers. They live and work together in a delightful spirit of concord and coöperation. They are magnanimous and would refuse to be a part of any life that would decline from this high plane. In this corps there are no hysterics, no heroics, no strain, no stress. They are, first of all, successful human beings; and their expert teaching is an expression of their human qualities. Their teaching is borne along on the tones of conversation. They know that well-modulated tones of voice contribute to the culture and well-being of the school. Should a teacher ever indulge in screeching, nagging, 328hectoring, badgering, or sarcasm, she would find herself ostracized. Such things are simply not done in this school. Hence, she would soon realize that this school is no place for her and would voluntarily resign. The school is simply above and beyond her kind.
Unity of purpose.—Among the teachers there are no jealousies, because each one is striving to exalt the others. They are so generous in their impulses, and have such exalted conceptions of life, that they incline to catalogue their colleagues among the very elect. The teacher in the high school and the teacher in the primary grade hold frequent conversations concerning each other’s work, and no teacher ever loses interest in the pupils when they advance to the next grade. To such teachers, education is not parceled out in terms of years but is a continuous process, even as life itself. They use the text-book merely as a convenience, but never as a necessity. If all the text-books in the school should be destroyed overnight, the work would proceed as usual the next day, barring mere inconvenience. They respect themselves and others too highly ever to assume a patronizing air toward their pupils. On the contrary, they treat them as coördinates 329and confederates in the noble and exhilarating game of life.
The vitalized school.—They have due regard to their personal appearance, but, once they have decided for the day, they dismiss the matter from their thinking and devote their attention to major considerations. Neither in dress, in manner, nor in conversation do they ever bring into the school a discordant note. School hours are not a detached portion of life but, rather, an integral part of life, and to them life is quite as agreeable during these hours as before and after. Such as they cannot do otherwise than render the school vital. And when such teachers and patrons as these join in such a benevolent conspiracy, then shall we realize not only a typical school but the vitalized school.
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|Alexander||The Prussian Elementary School System||$2.50|
|Bagley||Classroom Management. Its Principles and Technique||1.25|
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|Bricker||Teaching of Agriculture in the High School||1.00|
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|Principles of Secondary Education 3 Vols.|
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|Ganong||The Teaching Botanist||1.25|
|Graves||A History of Education.|
|Vol. I. Before the Middle Ages||1.10|
|Vol. II. A History of Education During the Middle Ages||1.10|
|Vol. III. Modern Times||1.10|
|Great Educators of Three Centuries||1.10|
|Peter Ramus and the Educational Reformation of the 16th Century||1.25|
|A Students’ History of Education||1.25|
|Halleck||Education of the Central Nervous System||1.00|
|Hanus||Educational Aims and Values||1.00|
|Modern School, A||1.25|
|Hart||Educational Resources of Village and Rural Communities||1.00|
|Heatwole||A History of Education in Virginia||1.25|
|Henderson||Principles of Education||1.75|
|Herrick||Meaning and Practice of Commercial Education||1.25|
|Holtz||Principles and Methods of Teaching Geography||1.10|
|Home||Philosophy of Education||1.50|
|Psychological Principles of Education||1.75|
|Idealism in Education||1.25|
|Story-Telling, Questioning and Studying||1.10|
|Howerth||The Art of Education||1.00|
|Huey||Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading||1.40|
|Hummel and Hummel||Materials and Methods in High School Agriculture||1.25|
|Jessup and Coffman||The Supervision of Arithmetic||1.10|
|Johnson, Henry||Teaching of History in Elementary and Secondary Schools||1.40|
|Kahn and Klein||Commercial Education, Principles and Methods in||1.40|
|Kennedy||Fundamentals in Methods||1.25|
|Kerschensteiner||The Idea of the Industrial School||.50|
|Kilpatrick, V. E.||Departmental Teaching in Elementary Schools||.60|
|Kilpatrick, W. B.||Froebel’s Kindergarten Principles Critically Examined||.90|
|Kirkpatrick, E. A.||Fundamentals of Child Study||1.30|
|Lee||Play in Education||1.50|
|McKeever||Training the Girl||1.50|
|The Industrial Training of the Boy||.50|
|MacVannel||Outline of a Course in the Philosophy of Education||.90|
|Miller||Education for the Needs of Life||1.25|
|Monroe||Principles of Secondary Education||2.00|
|Text-Book in the History of Education||2.00|
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|Source Book in the History of Education for the Greek and Roman Period||2.40|
|Brief Course in the History of Education||1.40|
|Cyclopedia of Education, 5 Vols.||25.00|
|O’Shea||Dynamic Factors in Education||1.25|
|Perry||Management of a City School||1.25|
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|Smith||All the Children of All the People (Teachers’ Edition)||1.10|
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|Experiments in Educational Psychology||1.00|
|Strayer||A Brief Course in the Teaching Process||1.25|
|Strayer and Norsworthy||How to Teach||1.40|
|Strayer and Thorndike||Educational Administration Quantitative Studies||2.00|
|Taylor||Handbook of Vocational Education||1.00|
|Principles and Methods of Teaching Reading||.90|
|Thorndike||Education: A First Book||1.25|
|Vandewalker||Kindergarten, The, in American Education||1.25|
|Ward||The Montessori Method and the American School||1.25|
|Wayland||How to Teach American History||1.10|
***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE VITALIZED SCHOOL***
******* This file should be named 17588-h.txt or 17588-h.zip *******
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