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W: F. PHELPS, of Minnesota ; T. M. MARSHALL, of West Virginia, and others. The discussion showed a divided sentiment as to excluding academic instruction from Normal Schools. The only remarks furnished were those of Mr. MARSHALL.
REMARKS OF MR. MARSHALL. Two gentlemen have just said that nine-tenths of the Normal Schools do redundant work, by reteaching what has already been taught in the High School. They are evidently mistaken. Men are too likely to view things from a narrow stand-point. I have heard these local views expressed to a greater or less extent here every year since I became a member. But I am heartily glad that the discussions in this Department this year have been more truly practical than any I have heretofore heard.
It has been acknowledged on all hands that some literary work,-more or less according to situation or circumstances,-must be done by Normal Schools in order that their pupils shall know the subject-matter to be taught as it must be known by the good teacher. This is wiser than what I have often heard here formerly.
I also beg leave to call the attention of gentlemen to the fact that this is a large country, very diverse in population and feature, and yet more diverse in school matters than in other things.
Those Normal Schools which admit only the best graduates of High Schools, have, of course, little or no literary work that they need to do; and yet, even they may find that a thorough review of the branches which are taught in primary and grammar schools, and which their students have not given attention to for some years, is highly beneficial. One can not know a thing too well, especially when he is to teach it.
However, we will admit that under such circumstances, nothing but professional studies need be pursued, and nothing but professional work done, still the assertions of the gentlemen are, in my opinion, entirely too far reaching.
There are many places where there are so few High Schools or where their average work is of such a quality that a high standard of admission to Normal Schools cannot be maintained. The Normal Pupils could not be found, and the school would die.
A prominent element in success is adaptability. Then allow the Normal Schools to adapt themselves, as Prof. McLouth has done, and as others do and have done, to their surrounding, merely requiring of them thorough work in their graduates in both the academic and the Normal curricula.
The following persons were elected officers for next year, in accordance with?the recommendation of the nominating committee:
President–J. C. GILCHRIST, Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Vice-President-EDWIN C. HEWETT, Normal, Ill. - Secretary-G: W. FETTER, Philadelphia, Pa.
First Day's Proceedings
TUESDAY, JULY 29, 1879.
The Department met in the Assembly Room of the Girls' Normal-School Building, at 3 P. M. The Secretary being absent W: A. BELL of Indiana, was appointed Secretary pro tem.
The President, Geo. P. BROWN then delivered the following address on
CULTURE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.
I cannot better express to the ladies and gentlemen of this Association my appreciation of the honor conferred upon me, in electing me to preside over your deliberations, than to assure you that I have compressed what I have to say into very narrow limits. In this opening address I shall attempt to answer briefly the question: What can the elementary schools do more than they are now doing to promote culture among the people?
Culture is a word much used. It has a variety of meanings, if we may judge from the great variety of things that it is used to name. Yet most agree that the thing it names to each one using the word, it is desirable to obtain and the schools should encourage. An accepted authority in defining culture makes it a synonym for civilization. That is not the meaning given to the word in this paper.
Culture deals with the spiritual growth and development of the individual. Civilization addresses itself to social needs and conveniences.
Culture is concerned with the real inner life of the man. Civilization is the machinery of life expressed in their inventions and organizations that promote social happiness and physical comfort.
Culture creates the idea; civilization furnishes the instruments for the realization of an idea.
Culture produced a SHAKESPEARE, a Milton, a GOETHE, an EMERSON ; civilization produced a FULTON, a MORSE, and an EDISON.
Culture makes souls; civilization makes railroads-good things, it is true, but not so good as souls.
Ours is pre-eminently an age of civilization rather than of culture.
It is an age of concentration rather than of expansion. Culture precedes and produces civilization. An age of expansion has ever been followed by an age of concentration; of the practical application of ideas to organizations and institutions. In the fulness of time this in turn gives place to an age of expansion, for, as MATTHEW ARNOLD says: “Man, after he has made himself comfortable and has to determine what to do with himself next, will begin to remember that he has a mind, and that the mind may be made the source of great pleasure.”
Nor is our definition of culture that of the English statesman who called it “a smattering of the two dead languages of Greek and Latin."
Nor is it that which is implied in the following words of another Englishman :—“The silliest cant of the day is the cant about culture. Culture is a desirable quality in a critic of new books, and sits well on a possessor of belles-lettres. The man of culture is in politics one of the poorest mortals alive. For simple pedantry and want of good sense, no man is his equal. Perhaps men of culture are the only class of responsible beings who cannot, with safety, be entrusted with power.”
If culture were merely a smattering of the two dead languages of Greek and Latin, this would probably be a fair estimate of its value.
But our definition suggests no necessary relation to a knowledge of the dead languages. The essentials of that culture which the elementary schools should strive to promote are three. In this discussion I have borrowed a few phrases from the writings of MATTHEW ARNOLD, which more happily express my thought than would any words of my own.
Culture is, first, “a knowledge of the best that has been thought and said in the world.” It is a knowledge of the history of the humane spirit,
Culture is, in the second place, " that tact and delicacy of judgment” by which one is able to estimate properly the relations in what he reads, and of what he reads to his own environment. Culture is more than these, it is that spirit and desire which prompts him who has the knowledge and judgment to discern the right, to labor to make the right prevail.
Some one has said that the object of culture is to make an “intelligent being more intelligent." But true culture is more than this. It is not only the knowledge and tact to discover what “reason and the will of GOD are,” but it is an active, earnest desire to make “reason and the will of God prevail."
Whether or not this definition shall pass with you as the definition of culture, all must admit that it is a definition of culture and that it describes a quality of great value. More than this, we must admit that it is the one thing needful, compared with which all other acquisitions are small and unworthy. To promote this culture should le the end and purpose of instruction in every grade of school. It should be the end and purpose of instruction everywhere.
It is eminently fitting that the teacher give special heed to this matter at this time for the following reasons:
The time is not distant when the question of the continued existence of a Government “ of the people, for the people, and by the people,” will have to be answered. How it shall be answered will depend upon the extent to which culture prevails. Even now religious beliefs are rapidly changing. Statements of doctrine that lately were accepted without question are now rejected by many and apologized for by more. The Bible, that in our childhood was generally and reverently thought to be the language of the Creator addressed to his creatures, has come to be to many but the mythology of a peculiar people. To others it is a poem, written in the language of literature, and not in the language of science. To a large
majority it has ceased to have that sacredness and infallibility which they formerly attached to it.
GOD, who but yesterday was a being who thinks, loves, and wills, the personal and self-conscious ruler of the universe, has come to be to many but the law of molecular activity, and to many others little more than the aggregation in thought of abstract attributes and principles by which to test our conduct.
It is a time of revolution in religious opinions and beliefs, and it needs no prophetic vision to see that the time for a revolution in the State is at hand. Like all revolutions it will be attended by great destruction. Destruction of much that is outgrown and a barrier to progress, we must admit this we can afford to lose; but destruction as well of much that, if preserved, would be helpful. In the progress of this iconoclastic movement many will experience shipwreck of their faith in religion and God. To discard the form will be to them to discard the substance. When they find in the Bible statements which they have come to believe do not fit the truth as since revealed, all reverence for its teaching ceases. When they are forced to the conclusion that a mistake has been made in thinking of God as having the form and other attributes of man, a personal self-conscious ruler of the universe, they are ready to exclaim there is no God! When Heaven ceases to be with them a city with golden streets and jasper walls, it ceases to be, and immortality becomes a delusion. In passing from one mount of vision to another we must ever pass through the Slough of Despond. Is it too much to say that whether he shall attain the second mount after having been driven from the first or will be stifled in the slough, will depend upon his culture. Will not a “knowledge of the best that has been thought and said in the world,” a knowledge of the history of the humane spirit and “that tact and delicacy of judgment” that the acquiring this knowledge can be made to give, whereby one may determine more clearly what reason and the will of God are, and add to this the earnest, active desire to make reason and the will of God prevail —will not these, I say, help him to pass the slough, to go safely by the lions, to escape from the castle of doubt, and to climb the highest mount from which a wider and clearer view of his relations to man and to God shall bring a more rational and enduring peace to his troubled soul ?
We may lament that men should ever leave the mount of vision on which they were born and seek for any other view than is there presented. But the fact remains that they are doing this, and will ever do it, so long as knowledge increases and an honest effort is made to know the truth. Change prevails everywhere and in all things. Whether in the world of spirit that change shall be progress will depend in no small degree upon the teacher's successful effort to make intelligent beings more intelligent, and inspire them with the desire to labor to make the truth prevail.
In an age when thought was staynant, culture could with comparative safety be limited to the controlling few; but in an age when thought is everywhere active and aggressive, the culture of all is the only safeguard against anarchy in thought or in conduct.
Leaving this broader view of the relation of culture to civilization and religion, let us consider what relation it sustain to the system of education with which we are especially concerned.
I have called this an age of civilization. It were better to call it an age of machinery. Men are engaged in the study and use of machinery on the farm, in the house, in the manufactory, in our means of transportation, and in our means of communicating intelligence. But machinery is not limited to the world of matter. It has invaded the world of spirit. The people are absorbed in the study of the machinery of politics, of the Church, and of social life. Every one is trying to invent or is learning to use some machine.
From this absorbing interest in machinery two things result which concern the school. One is that the people are demanding what they call a practical education for their children. The value of each subject taught in the schools is estimated by the immediate relation it bears to the machinery of life. Arithmetic must be taught because it is of use in keeping accounts. Penmanship is valuable for the same reason. One must learn how to read, not for the culture derived therefrom, but because through the machinery of the press knowledge of all other machinery is disseminated. Drawing is taught not for its æsthetic culture. Few have the hardihood to advocate it on that ground. The potent arguments are those which emphasize its commercial value in designing patterns for wall paper or calico.
An education, to be practical, must, according to this view, have immediate and direct reference to the machinery of life.
The second result that concerns the school is that the teacher has become a more devout worshipper of machinery than the patron; not the machinery of life but the machinery of the school. It is the how more than the what for which he feels professional concern. So strong is the pupil's belief in the importance of machinery that he considers a breach of order a greater school sin than a breach of good faith. Go into our best schools, so called. In most of them loyalty to truth is less regarded than loyalty to order and routine. When this is not so it is because the teacher has the strength and courage to resist the prevailing tendency.
Then there is the machinery of the stated examination and of estimating the pupil's standing by his per cents. The average teacher in our elementary schools, I will go further and say that all these teachers, with few exceptions, and all the pupils, with fewer exceptions, are much more concerned that the school shall be able to answer the particular questions. that may be asked upon examination day, than that they shall have a clear and comprehensive knowledge of the subject taught. The teacher is not censurable to any great degree for all this. He is but following the directions of his superiors. The superintendent, who has worked long enough with his eyes open to discover the truth of what I have said, thinks he is not to blame. His excuse is that it is the fashion to estimate the standing of a school in this way, and that a show of good order and good per cents is what pleases the public. I know of schools in one of the larger cities where the pupils receive 110 per cent in scholarship. Cities having the poorest schools, make, as a rule, a showing of the highest per cents on examination.
I think that the Superintendent is to blame. It is he that made the standard, and it is he that should change it. He is employed, because of