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THE UNITY OF EDUCATIONAL REFORM.1
By CHARLES W. Eliot, President of Harvard University. The report of the committee of ten has now been in the hands of the teachers of the country for about six montlıs, so that there has been time to formulate and publislı somo criticism and objections. I propose to comment in this paper on one criticism or objection which in various forms and by several different persons has boen brought before the eclucational public. Whenever I speak of the report I intend to include the reports of the conferences as well as the proper report of the committee of ten, for the chief value of the total report lies in the conference reports.
The objectiun to the report which I shall discuss is contained in the question, “What do college men know about schools ?” Those who uirgo this objection say in substanco, “díore than half the members of the conferences were at the moment in the service of colleges and universities, and the samo was true of the committee of teu. The wise management of schools for children of from 6 to 18 years of age is a different business from tho wise management of colleges and universities. Not only is the age of the pupils different, but their mode of lifo and the discipline they need are also different. The mental capacity of young children is low compared with that of college students; their wills are weaker, and their moral qualities undeveloped. Ilow can men who teach and govern young people from 18 to 24 years of ago know anything about schools for children? Let them attend to the higher education and not atiempt to teach experts iu elementary and secondary education how to conduct their very different business. That a man has succeeded in conducting a college or a university makes it altogether probable that his advice will be worthless as to the best mode of conducting a school or a system of schools. We school superintendents and principals have to handle masses of average material; your college and university teacher has only a small number of exceptional individuals to deal with."
To meet this objection I wish to affirm and illustrate the proposition that the chief principles and objects of modern educational reform are quite the same from beginning to end of that long course of education which extends from the fifth or sixth to tho twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth year of life. The plıraso "educational construction” would perhaps be better than the phrase “educational reform;" for in our day and country we are really constructing all the methods of universal democratic education. We selilom realize low very recent and novel an undertaking this educational construction is. As a force in the world universal education does not go behind this century in any land. It does not go back more than twenty years in Buch a civilized country as France. It dates from 1871 in England. Plato maiutained that the producing or industrial classes needed no education; and it is hardly more than a lundred years since this Platonic doctrine began to be seriously qnestioned by social philosophers. It is not true yet that elucation is universal even in our own land; and in all lands educational practice lags far behind educational theory. In this process of educational construction, so new, so strange, so hopeful, I believe that the chief principles and objects are the same from tho kindergarten through the university, and therefore I maintain that school teachers ought to understand and sympathize with university reform and progress, and that college and university teachers ought to comprehend and aid school reform and progress. Let us review together those chief principles and objects, although in so doing I shall necessarily repeat some things I have often said before.
I. The first of these objects is the promotion of individual instruction--that is, the addressing of instruction to the individual pupil rather than to groups or classes. At prescut tho kindergarten and the university best illustrate thie progress of this
A paper read before the American Institute of Instruction at Bethlehem, N. I., July 11, 1894. Reprinted from the Educational Review, October, 1894.
reform; but the beneficent tendency is clearly exhibited all along the line. In elomentary and secondary schools the effort is constantly made to diminish the number of pupils assigned to one teacher; and in some fortunate secondary schools the proportion of pupils to teachers has already been intentionally made as favorable as it has incidentally become in the most prosperous universities which have been adding rapidly to their advanced courses of instruction. In urban school systems the number of pupils assigned to a teacher is recognized as the fundamental fact which determines better than any other single fact the quality and rank of each system among those with which it may be properly compared. Into tho curricula of schools and colleges alike certain now matters have of lato years been introduced for teaching which the older methods of instruction-namely, the lecture and the recitationproved to be inadequate or even totally inapplicable. These new matters are chiefly object lessons in color and form, drawing and modeling, natural sciences like botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, and geology, and various kinds of manual training. In school and college alike tho really effective teaching in all these subjects is that which is addressed to each individual pupil. All laboratory and machine-shop teaching has this character, no matter what the subject. The old-fashioned method of teaching science by means of illustrated books and demonstrativo lectures has been superseded from the kindergarten through the university by the laboratory metliod, in which cach pupil, no matter whether he be 3 years old or 23, works with his own hands and is taught to use his own senses. General explanations and directions may be given a class; but in the laboratory each individual's work must be separately supervised and criticised. There is nothing more individual than a laboratory notebook. In all laboratory and machine-shop work the rates of progress of different pupils vary widely. Quicker eyes, defter hands, greater zeal, and better judgment will tell, and the teacher has overy opportunity to discover the natural gifts or defects of the different pupils and to develop the peculiar capacity of each mind. All the artistic subjects, as well as all the scientific, require individual instruction. In drawing, painting, and modeling the instruction is, of necessity, individualized. It is one of the best results of the introduction of manual training that cach pupil must receive individual criticism and guidance. The instructor is compelled to deal with each pupil by himself and to carry each forward at his own rate of speed. In short, manual training breaks up class-room routine and introduces diversity of achievement in place of uniform attainment. I say that this principle applies all the way from the kindergarten to the professional school. It applies conspicuously in medical instruction; and within twenty-five years it has been there applied so successfully that it is no exaggeration to say that within this period the whole method of teaching medicine has been revolutionized throughout the United States. It is now universally recognized that it is impossible to teach malicine and surgery to large numbers of persons simultanoously by general descriptions, or by the 180 of diagrams, pictures, or lantern slides which many can see at once. Not that illustrated lectures and general demonstrations are wholly useless; but they hold only a subordinate place. The really important thing is individual personal instruction under circumstances which permit the student to see and touch for himself, and then to make bis own record and draw his own inferences. Finally, the highest type of university teaching--the so-called seminary or conference method-is emphatically individual instruction.
It is hard to say at what stage of odlucation from the primary grade to the final university grade the individualization of instruction is most important. The truth is that the principlo applies with equal force all along the line. For the university president, tho school superintendent, and the kindergartner alike it should be the stearly aim and the central principlo of educational policy; and whoever understands the principle and its applications at any ono grade understands them for all grades.
II. Secondly, let me ask your attention to six essential constituents of all worthy education-constituents which in my opinion make part of the educational process from first to last, in every year and at every stage-and let me ask you particularly to consider which of these constituents belong to schools but not to colleges, or to colleges, but not to schools.
The first constituent is the careful training of the organs of sense, through which we get incessant and infinitely diversified communications with the external world, including in that phrase the whole inanimate and animate creation with all human monuments and records. Through the gate of accurate observation come all kinds of knowledge and experience. The little child must learn to see with precision the forms of letters, to hear exactly the sounds of words and phrases, and by touch to discriminate between wet and dry, hot and cold, smooth and rough. The organs of sense are not for scientific uses chiefly; all ordinary knowledge for practical purposes comes through them, and language, too, with all which language implies and renders possible. Then comes practice in grouping and comparing different sensations or contacts, and in drawing inferences from such comparisons-practice which is indispensable in every field of knowledge. Next comes training in making a record of the observation, the comparison, or the grouping. This record may obviously be made either in the memory or in written form; but practice in making accurate records there must be in all offective education. Fourthly comes training of the memory, or, in other words, practice in holding in the mind the records of observations, groupings, and comparisons. Fifthly comes training in the power of expression-in clear, concise exposition, and in argument or the logical setting forth of a process of reasoning. This training in the logical development of a reasoning process is almost the consummation of education; but there is one other essential constituent, namely, the steady inculcation of those snpreme ideals through which the human race is uplifted and ennobled—the ideas of beauty, honor, duty, and love.
These six I believe to be essential constituents of education in the highest sense. We must learn to see straight and clear; to compare and infer; to make an accurate record; to remember; to express our thought with precision; and to hold fast lofty ideals. The processes I have described as separate often take place in the mind so rapidly that they, or some of them, seem to us simultaneous. Thus, intelligent conversation involves observation, comparison, record, memory, and expression, all in a flash. But if these bo constituents of education, is not education a continuous process of one nature from beginning to end? Are not these six constituents to be simultaneously and continuously developed from earliest childhood to maturity? The child of 5 years should begin to think clearly and justly, and he should begin to know what love and duty mean; and the mature man of 25 should still be training his powers of observing, comparing, recording, and expressing. The aims and the fundamental methods at all stages of education should therefore be essentially the same; because the essential constituents of education are the same at all stages. The grammar school pupil is trying to do the same kinds of things which the high school pupil is trying to do, though, of course, with less developed powers. The high school pupil has the same intellectual needs which the university student feels. The development of a mind may be compared with the development of a plant--it proceeils simultaneously and continuously through all its parts without break or convulsion. If at any stage there seems to be a sudden leating or blooming, the suddenness is only apparent. Leaf and bloom had long been prepared—both were enfolded in last year's bud. From first to last, it is the teacher's more important function to make the pupil think accurately and express his thought with precision and force; and in this respect the function of the primary school teacher is not different in essence from that of the teacher of law, medicine, theology, or engineering.
III. A considerable change in the methods of education has been determined during the past twenty-five years by the general recognition of the principle that effective power in action is the true end of education, rather than the storing up of information or the cultivation of faculties which are mainly receptive, discriminating, or critical. We are no longer content in either school or college with imparting a variety of useful and ornamental information, or with cultivating wsthetic tasto or critical faculty in literature or art. We are not content with simply increasing our pupils' capacity for intellectual or sentimental enjoyment. All these good things we seek, to be sure; but they are no longer our main ends. The main object of eclucation, nowadays, is to give the pupil the power of himself doing an endless variety of things which, uneducated, he could not do. An education wbich does not produce in the pupil the power of applying theory or putting acqnisitions into practice, and of personally using for productive ends his disciplined faculties, is an education which has missed its main end. One humble illustration of the influence of this principle is the wide adoption of reading foreign languages at sight as a suitable test of fitness for admission to colleges. Another similar illu18tration is the use of question papers in geometry containing a large proportion of problems which do not appear in explicit form in the ordinary manuals, but which can bo answerell or solved by making a simple application of the geometrical principles developed in those manuals. These are tests of acquired power. We think it reasonable to test a student of chemistry by giving him an unknown substance to analyze. Can be find ont what it is and prove his discovery correct? In other words, can he apply his information and knowledge of methods to a problem which is to him wholly unknown? Has he acquired not only information, but power? The whole field of natural science is available for that kind of training in power getting which it is the main object of modern education to supply. It is not what the student of medicine has heard about, or seen others do, but what he can do himself with his own eyes and hands and with his own powers of comparing and judging, which will give him preeminence as a physician or surgeon. To give personal power in action under responsibility is the prime object of all medical education. This same principle, however, applies just as well in the primary school as in the professional school. Education should be power getting all the time from the beginning to the end of its course. Its fundamental purpose is to produce a mental and moral fiber which can carry weight, bear strain, and endure the hardest kinds of labor.
IV. The next educational principle which I believe to apply to two-thirds of the entire cuncational course between 5 and 25 years of age is the principle of the selection or election of studies. In the first three or four years of a child's elucationbay from 5 or 6 years of age to 9 years--there aro not so many possible subjects of equal value and necessity but that the child may pursue them all to some adequate extent; but by the ninth or tenth year of age more subjects will claim the child's attention than he will have time for, thereupon arises the necessity for a selection of studies. As tho child advances from the elementary school to the secondary school, and from the secondary school to the college, the number and variety of subjects from which to choose will rapiilly increase, until in the department of arts and sciences of the university he will find that he can not attempt to follow the twentieth part of the instruction offered him. Table I and II, in the report of the committee of ten, demonstrate abun lantly the absolute necessity for selection or election of studies in secondary schools, and even in the later years of the elementary course. Who shall make the selection, is really the only practical question. The moment we adopt the maxim that no subject shall be attacked at all, unless it is to be pursuel far enough to get from it the training it is fit to supply, we make the election or selection of studies a necessity. This principle has now been adopted by all colleges and universities worthy of the name, and by the greater part of the leading high schools, academies, endowed schools, and private schools; but in these secondary institutions the principle is commonly applied rather to groups of subjects than to single subjects. The result is an inperfect application of the elective principle, but it is much better than any single uniform prescribed course. Finally, this principle has within a few years penetrated the grades, or the grammar schools, and has earned its way to a frank recognition at that stage of education.
It is no objection to the principle, and it establishes no significant distinction between college experience and school experience, that there must obviously be limitations of diversity in studies during school life. School programmes should always contain fair representations of the four main divisions of knowledge-langnage, history, natural science, and mathematics—but this does not mean that every child up to 14 must study the same things in the same proportions and to the samo oxtent. On the contrary, representation of the different kinds of knowledge and mental action having been secured, tho utmost possible provision should be made for the different tastes, capacities, and rates of progress of different children. Moroover, a main object in securing this representation of language, history, science, and mathematiis in the carlier years of education is to give the teacher opportunity to discover each pupil's capacities and powers. There is, however, no ground of distinction between school teaching and university teaching in respect to these special limitations; for if we turn to the very last stage of education-professional training-we fin thero a serious limitation on the principle of election, a limitation imposed by the necessity of giving all young lawyers, physicians, ministers, teachers, engineers, biologists, or chemists the considerable quantity of strictly professional information and practice which every future member of these several professions absolutely needs. Again, for the same reason, scientific or technological schools must for the present use a gronp system rather than a free election of studies. They must adjust their present instruction to current professional needs. The freest fielıl for the principlo of selection or election of studies lies between the ages of 13 and 23, including five or six years of school life and all of college life. School men and college men alike should rejoice in this free field.
V. The next rule of elucational reform, which applies at every stage of the long course of education that civilized society provides, relates to what is called discipline. Down to times quite within my memory the method of discipline both in school and college was extremely simple, for it relied chiefly, first, on a highly stimulated emulation, and secondly, on the fear of penalty. It had not been clearly perceived that an immediate, incessant, and intenso emulation does not tend to develop independent strength of will and character, good in either solitude or society, and that fear of penaly should be the last resort in education. It is now an accepted doctrine that the discipline of childhood should vot be so different from that of adolescence as to cause at any point of the way a full stop and a fresh start. A method of discipline which must be inevitably abandoned as the child grows up was not the most expedient method at the earlier age; for the reason that in education the developinent and training of motives should be consecutive and progressive, not broken and disjointed. Herein lies one of the objections to whipping, or other violence to the boily, and to all methods which rely on the fear of pain or of artificial penalties or deprivations. There comes an age when theso methods are no longer applicable. At 18 there are no methods of disciplino analogous to whipping, or to the deprivation of butter, sweetmeats, supper or recreation, or to the imposition of verses to learn, or of pages of Latin or English to copy. If this sort of motive has been relied on up to 18, there will then be need of a whole new set of motives. For these reasons among others the judicious teacher, like the judicious parent, will not rely in childhood, if le can help it, on a set of motives which he knows innst inevitably cease to operate long before the period of education is ended. By preference, permanent motives should be relied on from beginning to end of education, and this for the simple reason that the formation of babits is a great part of education, and in that formativn of habits is inextricably involved the play of those recurrent emotions, sentiments, and passions which lead to habitual volitions. Among the permanent motives which act all through life are prudence, caution, emulation, love of