« AnteriorContinuar »
should determine who shall be admitted to it. The practice of other professions in this particular, should be the practice of our profession. On this we should rest. Let the professional teachers of the country manage their own business and let the law sanction their transactions.
It has come to be understood in all the great centres of activity and thought that the teacher is the chief force in the educational system, The selection of this theme, Professional Degrees for Teachers by the President of this Section, seems to be very opportune. In this progress of educational efforts prevailing in other countries it has become prominent. Prof. MICKLEJOHN, Professor of the Theory, History, and Practice of Education in the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, is engaged in earnest effort “to make teaching a learned profession into which there shall be a difficult and discriminating entrance, and in which there shall be a career after the teacher has entered it.” A chair of Education has also been established in the University of Edinburgh. The University of Cambridge has taken an important step toward a similar professorship. At the next session of Parliament a bill will be presented for the organization of the work of teaching and the workers. Movements in the same direction are found in France and Germany. The United States are not lagging in this race. Initiatory steps in some of our universities and colleges have been taken for the founding of chairs of Pedagogy and Didactics. Such a chair has existed for several years in Iowa State University, The University of Michigan has very recently established a chair of Didactics. The conviction is becoming deeper in the American mind that Education is an important science, but that it needs cultivation; that pedagogy is a profession of great breadth, but that its growth is awaiting friendly aid. This movement of the public mind is destined to effect great results.
In conclusion, I beg leave to suggest that this branch of the National Educational Association choose a committee of five to prepare a plan for Professional Degrees for Teachers in the United States, and regulations for the granting of the same, and report at the next meeting of this body.
An animated discussion followed the reading of this paper.
DISCUSSION OF MR. GILCHRIST'S PAPER. Professor BROOKS, of the Millersville Normal School, of Pennsylvania, said that there had been a time in which he was in favor of degrees for teachers, but his enthusiasm was not now so great; he was doubtful in how far the conferring of degrees might remove the difficulties and dangers of the profession; he was, however, upon the whole, in favor of them. All arguments advanced for the giving of degrees in any profession hold here. Our Normal Schools do not, however, seem to be in a position to bestow degrees that would really confer honor, and inferior degrees would tend to degrade rather than to elevate.
W. N. BARRINGER, of Newark, N. J., said he desired to use all methods calculated to make entrance into the profession easy and safe. It is hard
to get rid of incompetent teachers. The question must be asked, How did they get into the profession? We cannot be too particular about requirements for entrance.
Commissioner Eaton, at this point, called the attention of the Department to the report of Dr. Da Motta, of Brazil, Minister of Public Instruction in that country, on the Normal Schools of the United States. The work, published in two volumes, contained an account of the location and economy of our Normal Schools, together with courses of study, and copies. of examination-papers from the St. Louis and other Normal Schools. Dr. Da Motta was anxious that his work should meet the approval of American educators.
J. P. WICKERSHAM, of Pennsylvania, stated that he had received a similar letter from the Brazilian Minister of Education, together with a copy of his book, with reference to whose value he desired the opinion of American normal workers.
The original discussion being resumed, Dr. Mayo, of Springfield, Mass., said that the value of degrees was in inverse proportion to the ease with which they were obtained. In his own profession nothing was easier to obtain than the title D. D. Teachers themselves are not free from blame for the present position of the profession. Comparatively few attend meetings of this kind; they do not defend their own system. A new educational system has developed itself in the last twenty years, of which many persons are ignorant; out of their ignorance grows opposition to the schools. Let the teachers properly represent their profession, and they will convince these people.
Miss GRACE C. BIBB, of the University of Missouri, spoke of the degrees. conferred in the Normal Department of that institution, and explained that these degrees were contemplated in the courses of instruction: an elementary degree, given upon completion of a two-years' course, designed to prepare for the common schools of the State; a degree given as supplementary to a full academic course, and now involving a year of professional training in addition to the work required for the degree in one of the four academic courses of science, arts, letters, or philosophy. A third, of extremely difficult acquisition, very rarely bestowed, and implying extraordinary scholarship and ability. These degrees are respectively, Principal, Bachelor, Master in Pedagogics,-as stated by the essayist.
Prof. John MICKLEBOROUGH, principal of the Cincinnati Normal School, said it was not evident to his mind that the mere conferring of degrees would, as had been suggested, add to the length of the teacher's tenure of office; this benefit, as well as others hoped for, could only follow the giving of degrees worthy to be honored. If degrees are given, they must mean something.
Professor PHELPs, President of the Department, said that in his opinion an adjustment of all these rexed questions would be reached with the progress of the profession.
Mr. T. MARCELLUS MARSHALL, of West Virginia, said that this, like most other questions, might easily be carried to extremes; in avoiding Scylla, we fall into Charybdis. While there are innumerable applicants for positions in cities, in many country places the teacher has to be sought. Many of those teachers securing positions do not do satisfactory work,there are many evils to be remedied. There is danger from too many Normal Schools as well as from too few; from too high a standard as well as from one too low. We need a deeper professional training, rather than wider literary culture. The belief of the speaker was that professional degrees will aid in bringing about proper professional zeal. West Virginia, in addition to the States named, confers the degree of Normal Graduate, but this is not considered of much importance. Persons can teach well in the primary schools when professionally trained for it by experience or normal drill, without possessing the literary qualifications necessary for the degree of A. M., or even of A. B., and it is folly to expect that any large number of our primary teachers can possess these acquirements. The speaker then went on to suggest the degrees which might with propriety be given in recognition of superior qualifications.
The President announced Edward Brooks, of Pennsylvania, J. C. GILCHRIST, of Iowa, and GRACE C. BIBB, of Missouri, as committee on Nomination of Officers.
Second Day's Proceedings.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 1879. The President called the Department to order, and after a statement that the absence of persons who had promised to read papers compelled a change of programme, Prof. LEWIS McLouth, of the State Normal School at Ypsilanti, Mich., proceeded to read the following paper, entitled
A CONTRIBUTION TO THE QUESTION OF PROFESSIONAL IN
STRUCTION IN NORMAL SCHOOLS. Mr. President :
There is a science underlying every art. Out of fixed, underlying prin·ciples every art grows, and becomes an expression of those principles. Art grows unconsciously out of these principles ; because they do not become manifest till expressed in art. Consciously, on the other hand, science grows out of art. As WHEWELL says, “The principles which Art Involves, Science Evolves.” Art, at last, when perfected, becomes conscious of these correlated principles, and thereby is able to work rationally, to foresee results, and to select and attain those that are desired.
For the perfect practice of an art then,-the highest and best practice,
there must be two kinds of knowledge: A knowledge of processes and a knowledge of the principles or laws that underlie and control these pro
For practical purposes the first,-knowledge of processes,-is most important; though for the highest exemplification of art both are necessary.
These truths apply in all human arts and occupations,-in agriculture, carpentry, stock-breeding, and all the other humbler pursuits; they apply to law, to statesmanship, and to the fine arts; to teaching as an art and as a science they also apply.
Now, however, it may be for the humbler callings, at least for all the higher pursuits of men,-such as we denominate the professions,-for the practice of law and medicine and music and oratory, as well as for teaching, two kinds of preparation are needed: A general and a special preparation. The general preparation is the general development and discipline of the powers for the sake of character and culture. The special preparation is to give skill in the processes of the particular art to be cultivated, and knowledge of the scientific principles that fundamentally control and give form to those processes.
The general preparation is, or may be, mostly the same for all the professions; the special preparation must be as varied as the different pro fessions themselves. The general preparation,-i. e., character and culture, —is given by the general schools of all grades and hy all educating agencies. The work of making the special preparation itself, even, is an educating agent, and so more or less contributes to the general preparation ; but conversely the work of general education contributes little directly to special preparation. This special preparation has been made in the past by apprenticeship under special masters of the different arts or professions, more lately in technical and professional schools. Schools of medicine, of music, of agriculture, of engineering, of law, and of theology have thus been founded ; and so Normal Schools have been established presumably to furnish necessary special training to those who elect to follow the calling of teacher.
Bnt, although the art of teaching is perhaps the oldest of all arts; and although it is one of the most difficult as well as important of all, still its correlated science has not been yet very fully elaborated. Teachers have mostly done their work empirically,-have, so to speak, worked by “the rule o' thumb.” Zeal, honesty, and general intelligence,-those qualifications that are regarded as constituting only the general preparation for the other professions,—have been thought sufficient for the work of teaching. So teaching has not yet been generally recognized as a profession. So Normal Schools have been standing on uncertain ground, not quite knowing their own function, and by many not being recognized as having any.
When the educational tide-wave ran high, when the people were prosperous, or thought themselves so, Noi mal Schools, public and private, were established in great numbers, often by men who hardly knew their own purposes, except in a vague and general way.
In the newer States sometimes local emulation has been the chief exciting cause. If one town is selected as the seat of a prospective State University, another must have the Normal School, and still another gets the State Prison. If, indeed, there are several ambitious and influential towns, there may be several Normal Schools. But after a time comes a revulsion. Debts, both municipal and private, that were easily contracted are not so easily paid. Business languishes; rich men become poor; extravagance retrenches. Taxes are high and hard to collect; wages and prices are low. Men question and scrutinize every private and public ex. penditure. Then the Normal Schools do not escape. Their nondescript function, and the uncertain ground on which they stand have generally made them, among public educational institutions, the first to receive attack. Governors have pronounced against them in their messages; legislative committees have reported adversely, or have been compelled to make labored defence, and educators themselves have not always refrained from questioning their right to be. Such has been and is the opposition that some have been closed, many have been compelled to continue under greatly shortened sail, while all have been anxiously looking about for safer moorings.
Now the opponents of the Normal Schools, neglecting the large class who are actuated by parsimony alone, may be divided into two classes :
First—Those who,-often among teachers themselves,-deny or ignore a science of teaching. These are they who believe that the only qualifications a teacher needs are academical knowledge and a good character; and that skill comes only and wholly by practice. There are many teachers who tacitly take this view and a few who openly avow it. Their own skill, whatever it is, they have acquired by practice, and without previous special training. They have learned the trade by trial, and have never studied or analyzed their own methods of procedure. Not believing in any but a general preparation for the work of teaching, they, of course, do not see the need of Normal Schools. This class also includes many in other professions, who are influential, and who in most matters are intelligent, but who have never given this matter any attentive study. Many such find their way into the State legislatures, and if they do not oppose the Normal Schools, support them only in a kind of tolerant way, because of their general faith in all educational means and measures, and because of their general desire to favor everything bearing the name of school.
The second class of opponents is composed of those who, while they believe in the need of special professional training for teachers, do not believe the Normal Schools are generally doing so exclusively as they should the kind of work for which they conceive these schools to have been established. Looking over Normal-School courses of study, and finding at most not more than ten per cent of their work such as bears directly upon the special training of teachers, while the other nine-tenths are directed towards general academical acquirements,--to the teaching of language, literature, and science,-they fail to see sufficient distinctive difference between the Normal Schools and good high schools and academies, to justify the existence of the former. Believing thoroughly in scholastic attainments as a preparation for the teacher's work, they yet believe in