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many who attempt to manage the affairs of a free people without understanding the business !
But with all the popular ignorance of the details of education there is yet in the public mind a degree of hard common sense which enables the people to discover that our Normal Schools do not come up to their requirements in the direction of professional training, but that they are duplicating the work of the graded and higher schools merely. Let the training schools and their directors appreciate this fact and let them bring the schools back to their true sphere and the opposition will cease and be succeeded by a cordial and hearty support. The topics to be discussed at the present session have a direct bearing upon the special sphere of professional instruction. They have been selected with this end in view and it is to be hoped that they will serve to emphasize the thought just enunciated.
J. C. GILCHRIST, Principal of the State Normal School at Cedar Falls, Iowa, then read the following paper on
PROFESSIONAL DEGREES FOR TEACHERS. The human mind, by its constitutional nature, reverences knowledge and learning. Consequently, the people have always paid respect to the learned, not to the men as men, but to learning and skill which they were supposed to possess. One of the strongest incentives in all ages to acquire knowledge is the ambition to secure the distinction ever awaiting the true 'scholar. Out of this principle academic degrees arose. They were a necessity of the exigencies of society, and have existed so long that it is difficult to trace their origin to any single founder or any single act. Indications of their existence can be found in the history of all ages. The possession of a title was useful to the masses in order that they might bestow their respect discriminatively. The scholars themselves would find in a title, both as to honors and emoluments, security against pretenders.
Degrees serve two purposes or functions. The first purpose is to give evidence that the possessor of the degree has certain attainments in scholarship and skill which are attested by some college or university upon the result of an examination conducted by its faculty. This is the ordinary degree. Of the same class is the honorary degree, the difference being that, in the latter case, the college or university attests the scholarship and proficiency of the party concerned on the strength of his common fame. The second purpose is to give evidence that the holder of the degree has the necessary qualifications for the practice of some profession or art, attested by some college or university on the result of an examination.
The importance of the profession of teaching needs no commendation or defence before such a body as this. Yet I am not sure that even this body of Normal-School teachers fully comprehends the potential magni. tude of our profession. The cause of education, as a philosophy, now in its infancy and demanding growth; as a system of legislation, now incoherent and faulty; as a policy, now so capricious and often disastrous in administration; as a force in the civilization of the age, now so inefficient compared with its potentiality, is in the hands of the teachers. Who else would become the explorers and exponents of this interest ? The world expects them to sustain, to advance, and to
it. And it is a matter of pride that the teachers of America, indeed the teachers of the world are not indifferent to it. Look at this great assembly of instructors, who for twenty-one years have devoted themselves to the advancement of education in all its departments. Look at the American Institute of Instruction, and the Teachers' Association of nearly every State in the Union. These all mean individual improvement, concentration of influ. ence on vital issues of the hour, broader views and more penetrating analysis of educational philosophy. The teachers have been devoted, selfdenying, and earnest in behalf of their cause to a degree not exceeded by other professions. But, all along, it is plain the teachers have been laboring under many and heavy difficulties. Obstacles are in their way, hard to surmount; restraints that greatly impede their progress; disabilities that weigh heavily upon the mind and heart. Generally, the profession is not permitted to regulate its own customs, methods and procedures. As a public servant, the teacher is exposed to criticism by all classes, thinking and unthinking, qualified and unqualified. He is constantly subjected to humiliating examinations, even after years of experience, distinguished success, and the endorsement of the highest authorities. The best wages are grossly disproportionate to the necessary preparation for the vocation, the anxieties connected with its labors, the amount of work to be done, and the value of its results. The precarious tenure of employment, the want of a standard of eligibility; the absence of prerogatives, honors, or securities; isolation from the world, and the limitations of the teacher's chances for promotion, are evils against which he must contend.
The depression of the teacher is the depression of the interest of education, which is the interest of humanity. The encouragement of the profession, the placing it on a broader and surer foundation, is an enterprise that concerns, not the teacher alone, but the entire people. Now, we believe that a well-devised and well-administered system of professional degrees will do great good. Degrees, adapted as they are to satisfy the common mind have done much for other professions and certainly can do as much for us. They are highly prized to-day by the ministerial, medical, and legal professions. They know their value. Abolish the degrees and these professions would at once experience a loss of influence, which would be serious to their interests, perhaps disastrous. Give such degrees to us, and the decisive benefits, which the other professions enjoy, would soon be secured to us.
1. A system of professional degrees will make teachers prominent in society as a learned class. This result has attended their use in the past. In the middle ages academical degrees assumed great importance because they elevated the scholars of the times above the extreme rudeness of society prevailing in Western Europe. The prestige of degrees which we all recognize in this country, was not less influential in Rome, when her young men went to Athens to bring back academical honors. In short, the great men of all civilized countries-orators, statesmen, scientists, and divines, have appreciated degrees conferred by the schools because they distinguished these men and enlarged their influence over society.
2. A wise system of degrees securing some privileges and emoluments, will prove a strong incentive in obtaining professional qualifications. At present, the rewards and attractions of the profession are certainly few. Invest it with more liberal privileges than our day allows; encourage it by multiplying chances for preferment; secure the entrance thereto against the inroads of incompetency and empiricism ; give it the safeguards of stability and competency ; open the doors of the civil service of the government and to distinction everywhere; place the successful teacher on a plane with our orators, our literati, and our military men; then shall we see untiring exertions put forth by hundreds to gain eminence in the pedagogical ranks.
3. A system of degrees for the teacher will induce a more perfect development of educational philosophy and pedagogical practice. To the love that many teachers now have for their calling there will be added the inspiration of ambition and the patience of investigation, because when the mind brings forth its discoveries and lays them before the world, there will be a reasonable ground for expecting appreciation and not the fear of derision and neglect. The teachers' profession is the basis of all professions and as a distinct philosophy is slowly ascending in the thought of the world; yet it greatly needs the impetus that an army of thinkers can give. Educational Science is now in its infancy. Our professional literature is meagre in quantity and quality compared with that of other professions; but we are perfectly aware that its boundaries are far-reaching though undetermined ; and its plains rich and fertile though unexplored. They will be, they must be searched out; and the teacher will yet arise as an intrepid explorer, who will lead his forces into the wild domain and subject it to system and cultivation. Who will come to this work if not the teacher ? Let the race be announced, the prizes prepared, and the contestants encouraged.
4. A system of degrees will soon remove or mitigate the evils depressing the profession. This statement is perhaps a corollary, easily deducible from the previous propositions and arguments, but I wish to set it off by itself. It is clear that competition of persons not admitted to the fraternity will be stopped; that useless and annoying examinations will cease; that the precarious tenure of position will disappear and more permanency will be secured; that the passiveness of the teacher in the administration of school affairs will give way to a recognition of his experience, counsel, and skill; and his isolation from public affairs will be exchanged for active participation therein.
The practical elements of this theme remain for discussion.
1. What shall the degrees be? Nothing seems so appropriate as the titles, Doctor and Master, for, as you are all aware, the word doctor, keeping with its Latin derivation, was originally used to signify a teacher; and up to the twelfth century, we are told, it was the designation of a teacher, even in the universities; but finally came to designate a degree or rank in the learned hierarchy. I am in favor of retaining the title notwithstanding its appropriation by other parties. We can not afford to take
the English word teacher, for, to get the full advantage of a title, it must gratify the common mind by containing the grace and mysticism of a foreign derivation. Similar statements can be made for the word master. But how can we, by the use of degrees, get a clear separation of teaching from other professions by which these degrees have been appropriated ? This can be done by some accompanying word of appropriate signification whose initial letter will differ from that of any word now in use for such a purpose. Such a word is Instruction or Education. Some might prefer Pedagogy. Didactics is excluded, for an obvious reason-its initial letter is now in use. You are aware that professional degrees for teachers do not obtain in our country, indeed not in any country, as far as I know. The Normal Schools of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania are the only schools of the United States that give degrees. Iowa proposes to give a degree to graduates of the four-years' course, but, as her one normal school has existed only three years, no classes in that course have been graduated. There is no uniformity among the schools that do give degrees. Kansas State Normal Schools confer the degrees of“ Bachelor of the Elements,” and “Bachelor of Didactics.” I am not sure but North-Missouri Normal School at Kirksville gives “Bachelor of Elementary Didactics,” “Bachelor of Arts and Didactics,” and also a post-graduate degree of “Master of Arts and Professional Teacher.” Warrensburg, Missouri, confers the degree of “ Bachelor of Scientific Didactics” on the graduates of the full course. The Normal Department of the State University of Missouri confers “Principal of Pedagogics,” “Bachelor of Pedagogics,” and “Master of Pedagogics." Nebraska Normal School grants the degree of "Normal Graduate.” The Pennsylvania State Normal Schools give the degree of “Bachelor of the Elements,
,” “Bachelor of the Sciences,” and “ Bachelor of the Classics ;" also the post-graduate degrees of “Master of the Elements,"
,” “Master of the Sciences,” and “Master of the Classics.” Uniformity may not exist among all the Normal Schools of Pennsylvania. I understand that the use of degrees in this State is satisfactory. Full graduates of the State Normal School of Tennessee, at Nashville, receive the degree of “ Licentiate of Instruction.”
2. What degrees shall be given and who shall receive them ?
In considering this subject, I propose that the fraternity be divided into three classes. First, the fresh graduates of our Normal Schools, who are prepared, in the main, for the schools of elementary instruction, including the country and graded schools. These persons might receive the lowest degree, which, I venture to suggest, may be Licentiate of Instruction (L. In.) The second class might be composed of graduates of Normal Schools and Colleges who have taught successfully say five years, and hold important positions in schools for secondary instruction, as our Public High Schools, Preparatory Schools, and Academies; also superintendencies. These might receive the next higher degree, Master of Instruction (M. In.) The third class might be regarded as composed of prominent educators, having served in the profession for at least ten years: and hold positions in institutions for superior instruction, as scientific and technical schools, colleges, universities, normal and other professional
schools and schools of special instruction. These might receive the highest degree, Doctor of Instruction (D. In.) In this class should be included Superintendents of large cities and Superintendents of Public Instruction. The present prevailing degrees would, of course, be additionally conferred upon presidents of colleges, principals, chancellors, deans, and the highest educational executives. Around these degrees and the granting of them should be erected suitable limitations, securities and safeguards so that they can not be abused.
3. What privileges should a degree confer ?
First, all persons having a degree should be authorized by their diploma to teach in their respective States, and by courtesy in other States, without subsequent examinations. When they seek a higher degree than that which they have, possibly another examination should be held. What the charac. ter of this examination should be is an important consideration.
Graduates of Normal Schools are authorized to teach without further examination in Alabama, California—the new Constitution of that State may change this feature-Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia. In Indiana they are so authorized on receiving diplomas, which are granted after two years' successful teaching, certificates being given at graduation. In Rhode Island "local committees may waive examinations.” In Wisconsin, the graduates of the two-years' course, after one year's successful teaching, their diplomas being countersigned by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, are authorized to teach for five years, but the diplomas for the full course of four years, under similar procedure, becomes a permanent certificate. In Minnesota diplomas formerly possessed a legal value, as a five-years' certificate, renewable at the end of that time on examination by the Principal of the Normal School; but this feature was repealed. So far as I know, in all other States, graduates of Normal Schools are not authorized to teach by virtue of their graduation. This is wrong. It is oppression on that most worthy class, our Normal graduates; a suppression of all ambition and an incubus upon all inspiration. Let us abolish it. I was pleased to find an opinion against this injurious practice of ever-recurring examinations expressed by Dr. McCosh but a few days ago. I could give the names of other great men who look upon it as pernicious.
4. Who should grant professional degrees to teachers ?
I can go no further than to say that faculties of Normal Schools founded by State authority should be competent to grant degrees to the students of the same. It is evident that there should exist uniformity of degrees among the Normal Schools of the United States, and in the manner of granting them. It is no doubt well that the public school authorities, the Superintendents of Public Instruction, or their deputies, and County Superintendents, should join the faculties in the final examination. But this is not enough. State Committees, acting in unison under the general instruction of a National Committee, should grant the higher degrees already indicated. Whether or not there should be formal examinations, I will not venture an opinion before this body. There is one principle that should be recognized as self-evident, the members of the profession