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Chapter IV.


Contents.—The Chicago University conferences; Dewey's paper; Harper's proposals; the report of the commission of twenty-one—The discussion of the Kansas City plan—The report of the committee on the culture element and economy of time in education—The reports of the standing committees on the division of time between the elementary and secondary periods—The report of the committee of nine—The new Harvard plan for college admission—The new Chicago plan for college admission—The report of the committee of the High School Teachers' Association of New York City—The investigations by the New York and Brooklyn teachers' association—The report of the Lange committee to the California council of education— Summary of the second decade of the discussion.

Early in the second decade of the movement toward a functional reorganization the University of Chicago and the academies and high schools affiliating and cooperating with this institution took it up, and through the initiative and personal force of President Harper the discussion was carried on with great vigor. At the general session of the fifteenth conference, held during November, 1901, Prof. John Dewey read a paper on "Current Problems in Secondary Education," in which he declared that among the problems of first importance were those relating to the articulation of the secondary school in the educational system. In this address he pointed out that the elementary school and the college represent distinctly different forces and traditions, historically; that the one was created by a broad democratic movement, while the other is a response to the desire to pass on to a privileged class the wisdom and enlightenment of the past; and that the high school is the product of the meeting of these two forces, and upon it, more than upon any other part of the school system, rests the responsibility of making an adjustment.1

The year following (1902) the conference discussed reorganizing the system of education on the basis of an elementary school of six grades, followed by a secondary school of six grades. The discussion was summed up by President Harper in the following form:2

A Proposition.

1. To connect the work of the eighth grade of the elementary school with that of the secondary school.

JFor paper in full, see Sch. Rev. (1902), vol. 10. pp. 13-28.
- Sch. Rev., vol. 11 (1903). pp. 1-:'..

2. To extend the work of the secondary school to include the first two years of college work.

3. To reduce the work of the seven years thus grouped together to six years.

4. >Co make It possible for the best class of students to do the work in five years.

Such a plan would fit in with—

1. The necessity, so widely recognized, of lifting the standard for admission to the professional schools.

2. The general feeling that in some way or other time must be saved in the preliminary stages of educational work in order that men and women may enter upon their life work at an earlier age.

3. The practice, recognized in other countries, of drawing a sharp line between the work of the gymnasium or lycee and that of the university.

4. The practice, now in common vogue, of making the first two years of college work only an extension of the work in the secondary school, j

5. The contention, which seems to be well founded, that much of the secondary work of to-day was college work 30 years ago.

6. The tendency already manifesting itself in some quarters in accordance with which high schools are offering postgraduate work and universities are accepting this work in lieu of the work of the first two years.

7. The principle that the line of separation at the close of the second college year is much more clearly marked, pedagogically, than the line at the close of the present high-school period.

S. The tendency, everywhere apparent, to extend the scope of the educational work offered by the State or municipality.

9. The tendency, already beginning to be noticed among smaller colleges, to limit the work offered to that of the preparatory school and the first two years of college.

10. The opinion, not infrequently expressed, that the work of the eighth grade is in some measure superfluous for certain classes of pupils and in some measure injurious to certain other classes.

11. The belief, more and more generally accepted, that the work of the school must be adapted to the needs and possibilities of the individual pupil, rather than that pupils should be treated in mass.

12. The principle that a pupil giving evidence of ability to do the highest grade of work may profitably be excused from doing the same amount of work required of the pupil of lower grade.

In opposition to such a plan there may be suggested:

1. The inclination to regard any system actually in use as better than a system or policy still to be tested.

2. The feeling that the reduction of time can be gained only by a loss of thoroughness.

3. The general lack of interest in any proposition to substitute a well-ordered educational system for the present lack of system.

4. The difficulties involved in adjusting the lower work to the higher, on the ground that the great mass of pupils receive only the lower, and that the publicschool system is intended primarily for them.

5. The belief that the State has already gone too far in providing public education of a high character.

6. The opinion that the present college policy, although it is the result of a gradual development, has now reached a position which it must always occupy.

7. The fear that the college idea would be injured by the rivalry of the new high-school colleges.

8. The desire to see specialism begin at a very early age.

9. The hesitation with which many would regard the transfer of the eighth grade from the realm of elementary to that of secondary work.

10. The failure, even in these times, to accept the doctrine of individualism in the field of pedagogical work.

This report closed with a recommendation that the conference establish three committees of seven each to consider the general problem; the first committee, from the point of view of the elementary work; the second, from the point of view of the secondary school; and the third, from the point of view of the college; these three committees to form a joint committee of 21. The conclusions reached by these committees were received by the general conference during its seventeenth annual session, November, 1903.

The committee on elementary schools reported that there were reasons outside those resulting from a desire to adjust the curriculum to the college which make the shortening of the course of the elementary school to seven years desirable^- In this connection the committee submitted the following: (a)That the possibility of finishing the elementary school in less than the traditional eight-year period might induce many who would otherwise leave school to finish the entire course; (b) that the necessary condensation of work due to the adoption of the seven-year course would be beneficial, forcing, as it would, an elimination of nonessential matter; (c) that inasmuch as experience has shown better results to have been secured where the eighth grades are congregated at central points and taught by teachers who have specialized in their training, the advisability of limiting elementary school work to seven years and combining eighthgrade classes with the high school is suggested; and (d) that taking the eighth grade into the high school will still further increase the elevating influence which the high school is exerting on the elementary school.

The committee, in discussing the further question whether or not such a change is feasible, referred to the satisfactory experience of Kansas City, Mo., which for a number of years has had a seven-year elementary course, and urged that the shortening of the course should be effected, not by the transfer of the studies of the last year to the high school, but by the sifting of the present work of the elementary schools and its redistribution over seven years.

The committee on secondary schools reported in favor of the general proposition to shorten the school course,2 on the ground that such an arrangement would tide the pupil over the period of adolescence,

1 For the report of the committee in full, sec Sch. Rev., vol. 12 (1904), pp. 15-19. 3 Ibid., pp. 19-22.

when he tends to think his education completed, and when, under our present arrangement, he is tempted to leave school on the assumption that he no longer needs it; and that extending the high-school course upward would give an opportunity for a more extended education to many who, were they forced to leave their home town, would be unable to afford it.

The committee on colleges reported that the advantages accruing to the people were of such character and such magnitude as to warrant the adoption of the plan suggested. In this report the committee gave consideration in some detail to the unfavorable comments on the plan made by the presidents of several of the colleges with whom the committee was in correspondence.1

The foregoing reports were referred back to the three committees, sitting as a body, and known as the Commission of Twenty-One, President Harper, chairman. This commission was instructed to report a year later at the eighteenth annual conference, to be held in November, 1904. At the appointed time the report, which follows, was submitted:2

Your commission finds, as a result of their study of the subject connected with these propositions, that among other questions the following require to be investigated, namely:

1. Is the present policy of differentiation between the elementary and secondary schools desirable; or, should an effort be made toward greater unification in method and organization?

2. Should the elementary school correspond to the period of childhood, and therefore should it provide for six years of school work from the ages of 6 to 12 years, instead of eight years as at present?

3. Should the secondary school correspond to the period of youth, and should it therefore provide for six years of school work from the ages of 13 to 18, instead of four years as at present?

4. What revision of the curricula of the elementary and secondary schools and what changes in methods of teaching can be made that will contribute to economy of time and efficiency of work?

5. In order to secure a well-balanced development and at the same time to contribute to the economy of time, can the school year be lengthened advantageously and minor vacations be more equally distributed?

6. Under what limitations should high schools undertake to do the work of the first two college years?

The committee recommended that a new commission of 15 persons be appointed to carry on the investigation of these questions, the report of the same to constitute, in part, the basis of the nineteenth educational conference, to be held November, 1905.

While the report of the Commission of Twenty-One received attention, the chief topic of interest before this eighteenth conference was that of the upward extension of the high school to include the

1 For the report of the committee in full, see Sen. Rev., vol. 12 (1904), pp. 22-25,

2 See report, Sen. Rev., vol. 12 (1905), pp. 23-25.

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first two years of college work.1 This topic had been discussed at both the sixteenth (1902)2 and seventeenth (1903)3 conferences, in the form, originally, of a proposal to add to the present four years' course in the high school two years of college work from above and one year of elementary work from below, and to reduce the seven years thus grouped together to a period of six years.4 Very early the discussion assumed that two years were to be added from below, making a secondary period of eight years which was to be condensed to six years.5 In the discussion held during the eighteenth conference, however, the question turned not on the idea of condensing a seven or eight year secondary period, but rather on the conditions that would justify the high schools in undertaking to do the first two years of college work in addition to their regular four years' course, and on the basis on which the colleges would credit the work thus given. In this connection Supt. J. Stanley Brown asserted that the idea was being practically carried into effect in different sections of the country and in different ways and in varying degrees. He cited Philadelphia, Pa., Muskegon, Mich., Saginaw, Mich., St. Joseph, Mo., Goshen, Ind., and Joliet, 111., as examples,8 and stated that in each instance the extended secondary school had come about in response to demands from parents who could not afford to send their children to distant points for advanced schooling.

This examination of the various proposals suggested for shortening the course of study, carried on by the schools in relation with the University of Chicago, was influenced by the knowledge that since 1867 the elementary schools of Kansas City, Mo., have been organized on a seven-year basis, and that the arrangement was reported to be entirely satisfactory.7 The interest which these discussions aroused centered attention for a time upon the Kansas City plan. The National Education Association, through its Department of Superintendence, responded to this general interest in 1903 by inviting James M. Greenwood, superintendent of the Kansas City schools, to describe the plan at the Cincinnati meeting.

In his address Supt. Greenwood contended that all the essentials of an eight years' course can be compressed into seven years; that Kansas City had never found it necessary to change to eight years

1See Sch. Rev., vol. 13 (1905), p. 14.

2 Ibid., vol. 11 (1903), pp. 1-20.

3 Ibid., vol. 12, pp. 15-28.

'See proposals by Harper, The High School of the Future, Sch. Rev., vol. 11 (1903), p. 1.

5 See statement of the plan, Soldau, Shortening the Years of Elementary Schooling, Sch. Rev., vol. 11 (1903), p. 6.

* See condensed statement by Brown, Present Development of Secondary Schools According to the Proposed Plan, Sch. Rev., vol. 13 (1905), pp. 15-18.

* See the reference to the Kansas City plan made by the Committee on Elementary Schools, mentioned on p. 58 and found In Sch, Rev., vol. 12 (1904), pp. 15-19.

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