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If a pupil studies algebra or Latin he should study it in the same way and to the same extent during the time that he studies it, whether he is to enter Harvard or Yale, the Institute of Technology or the Rensselaer Polytechnic, or a merchant's office. On this point there is not a single dissenting voice. This one principle, if followed in the secondary schools, would immensely simplify their programmes and decrease the cost of their instruction.
The conferences agree again-excepting the Greek conference, the members of which had no reason for dealing with the subject—that much work now taken up for the first time in the secondary school should be begun in the elementary school. One foreign language, for instance, history, algebra, and geometry are all capable of excellent use in the upper grades of elementary schools, and are already to be found there in some of the more progressive cities of the country. The discussion on shortening and enriching the school curriculum begun so recently has already accomplished thus much.
The four conferences on language study and the three on natural science also agree among themselves as to the best methods of teaching. The former are a unit in desiring reading aloud in the language to be studied, the association of writing the language with translating from it, and the careful correction of trauslation in order to secure in it the use of accurate and idiomatic English. The three scientific conferences come to a like agreement. They all believe that laboratory teaching is better than text-book teaching, and that the inspection of laboratory notebooks should be combined with written examinations in testing a pupil's attainments.
The last and most important point of agreement among the conferences relates to the coordination of tho studies in the curriculum. Neither the committee of ten nor the conferences contained a single person who may bo classed as a follower of the Herbartian educational theory as exemplified by Ziller, Stoy, and Rein; yet by purely empirical methods the committee and the conferences arrive at a striking confirmation of one of the main doctrines of the Herbartians, the coordination and correlation of studies. The scientific conferences show how the practice of writing accurate descriptions of observations and experiments contributes to the requirement of a clear, simple, English style. The conference on history wish to have that subject always associated with the study of geography, and the conference on the latter subject agree with them. The English conference explicitly ask that the study of the mother tongue and its literature be supplemented by that of the history and geography of the English-speaking race.
Taking these points alone, and passing over the hundred and one questions of detail on which the conferences pronounce, we have a considerable body of educational doctrine that is sound to the core and that applies to one school and to one stage of encation as well as to another. Principals of schools, teachers of special subjects, and students of education will examine and weigh carefully every recommendation of the conferences, however minute; but the general reader and the intelligent parent wish most of all to gain an idea of what is unanimously or even generally agreed upon. That question is substantially answered in the foregoing summary of the conference reporte.
To study carefully the several conference reports, and to base upon them a general recommendation to the country, was the more difficult part of the task of the committee of ten. Any recommendation, to bo tangible, must, of course, includo a schedule showing how a school can arrange its programme so as to carry out the ideal of the committee. Four such schedules or tables are given by the committeo; and while not perfect-what school programme is ?-they are extremely suggestive. The first table is not a programme, but an ordered arrangement, by topics and school years, of all the recommendations of the nine conferences. It offers material for a thousand programmes. The second table is given to test the practical character of the conference recommendations. It includes them all in a four years' course, adding to each subject the number of weekly periods to be allotted to it. When this is done it is found that for three-fourths of the course much more is demanded than any one pupil can follow, but—and this is the important point-not moro than a school can teach. The necessary consequence is that there must be in the high school a choice or election of studies. In a small school this choice will be made by the principal, who will say: “With the staff at my command, I can teach only five subjects of those proposed by the conferences in the manner recommended. My school shall therefore be limited to those five.” Larger and richer schools can teach more, or perhaps all of the subjects, and then the choice among them will be made by the pupil. This choice is necessary, as the committee of ten is careful to point ont, to thoroughness and to the imparting of power as distinguished from mere information; for any large subject whatever, to yield its training value, must be pursued through several years from three to five times a week.
Tho committee's third table is based on the second, but uses four as the standard number of weekly periods of study for each subject, except in the first year of a new language. Further reference to this tablo is unnecessary.
The fourth table submitted is of great interest, for in it the committee, after due deliberation, makes its own selection out of all the material and suggestions supplied by the conferences and submits sample standard programmes of secondary school work. It would be a grave error to dismiss this question of a specific programme as one involving mere detail that might be left to any principal or superintendent of schools. The committee of ten itself dissents strongly from that view; for it believes that to establish just proportions between the several subjects, or groups of allied subjects, it is essential that each principal subject shall be taughtadequately and extensively, and therefore proper provision for it must be made in the programme.
In framing the sample programmes the committee of ten proceeded mpon some general principles that are of great significance. In the first place, it endeavored to postpone to as late a period as possible the grave choice between a classical and what is generally known as a Latin-scientific course. Very frequently this choice determines a boy's suture career, and it is important that it be mado not only late in the school course but after excursions into all the principal fields of knowledge havo discovered the boy's tastes and exhibited his qualities. A second principle is that each year of tho secondary school course should be, so far as may be, complete in itself, and not made wholly dependent on what is to follow. This is essential, because thousands of pupils are obliged to leave the high school after one or two years, and during that time linguistic, historical, mathematical, and scientific subjects should all be presented to them in an adequate manner. It is also important that provision be made so that each subject may be treated in the same way for all pupils who take it; that time enough be given to each subject to gain from it the training it is able to give; that the different principal subjects bo put upon an approximate cquality in the matter of time allotment; that all short courses given for purposes of information only be excluded; anıl that the instruction in each of the main lines-namely, language, history, science, and mathematics—be continuous. With all of these principles in mind, the committee of ten framed the four sample programmes given herewith, the names by which they are designated being based on the amount and character of foreign language study in each.
In adopting twenty as the maximum number of weekly periods of school work, the committee had two qualifications in mind: First, that at least five of the twenty should be given to unprepared work; secondly, that laboratory subjects should have double periods whenever that prolongation is possible. Such subjects as music, drawing, and elocution, often found in secondary schools, are purposely omitted from the programmes, it being left to local authorities to determine low they shall be introduced.
Inspection will show how carefully the programmes have been framed with reference to being carried out economically in a single school. With few exceptions, the
several subjects occur simultaneously in at least three of the four programmes, and with the same number of weekly periods allotted to them. From a practical point of view this is a most important arrangement. Sumo minor difficulties were caused by adhering to the rule laid down by all of the languago conferences, namely, that two foreign languages should not be begun at tho same time, and by limiting the course to four years. A six years' programme would be far easier to construct.
Critical examination of the committee's programmes discloses grave defects in the most importaut of all, the classical. It does not provide continuous study in science, for that great department is not represented in the third year at all. History is similarly interfered with, and thero would also be a break in the mathematical course if the option given in the fourth year were exercised in favor of history. The difficulty lies, I believe, in trying to include history in a four years' classical course. Tho classics themselves teach history in an admirable way, if the instruction is good. A wealth of historical knowledge is grouped about the reading of Cæsar, Cicero, and Virgil, Xenophon and Homer, the usual secondary school authors; and in those which are themselves professedly historical, a great gain would follow from a more thorough study of the subject-matter. If history, then, were dropped entirely from this programme, a modern language could be begun in the first secondary school year, the English course extended in the second year, and no break in the science instruction would be necessary.
Defects in the other programmes exist, but they are not so glaring as those just pointed out in the classical. For instance, there is no continuity in the history course of the Latin-scientific or modern language programme; and in both of the last named there would be a break in the mathematics course also, should the pupil exercise his option in favor of history.
The following table discloses at a glance in what relation the four programmes stand to each of the four great divisions of secondary school study. The figures in the several columns represent the total number of weekly periods given during the entire four years, in each of the four programmes, to the main subjects. No scheme can be called radical that proposes to give 52.5 per cent of all secondary education whatBoever to language study, or, adding history, 62.8 per cent to the humanities. That this wonld be the result of following the committee's recommendations the table shows.
This table brings out other interesting facts. It shows how closely allied are the Latin-scientific and modern language courses, and how small a part natural science is to play in the revised scheme, after all. The ono quarter of the whole school timo that the scientific couferences asked to have given to natural science is not so given in any of the programmes, though it is closely approached in three of them.
Althongh the report itself contains no reference to European experience or practice, it will be interesting to compare the committee's recommendations with the programmes of European secondary schools. Take, for example, the Prussian gymnasium, the tertia and secunda of which nearly correspond to the American secondary school years, and the French lycée, where the classes known as cinquième, quatrième, troisième, and seconde are in about the same relation. There the division of time is as follows:
a Greek is not begun nntil the second half of the year. Previous to that time tea lours weekly are given to Latin, b This time is divided between observation lessons on rocks and plants and arithmetic.
It is seen at once that the German boy is called upon for far more work, measured in terms of time, than the American boy; though the differenee is not so great as it seems, for “learning lessous” ont of school is not so prominent a feature in German as it is in American education. The French boy, under the existing revised programme, does about what is to be expected of the American, but his timo is differently distributed. The French device for preventing "scrappy” courses from bocoming intolerable is to assign them few but long periods. For example, history, in the lycée, is taught but once a week, but that once it occupies an hour and a half consecutively, so that much more is accomplished than in two periods of forty-five minutes each. As a rule, the recitation or lesson periods in France are considerably longer than those usually found elsewhere.
In spite of the differences between them, liowever, it is clear that the proposed American classical programme is not rery unlike those in vogue on the continent. Wero the comparison extended to the other programmes—tho Latin-scientific, the modern language, and the English-a similar relation to the French and German programmes of like character would be found to exist. The higher classes of the gymnasium and lycéo have still a great advantage over the American secondary school in tho fact that the work leading up to them is carefully organized and developed, and may be depended upon. The American grammar school, or better, the upper grades of the elementary school, on the contrary, is only here and there efficient. For two generations the so-called grammar school has conspired with the lower or primary grades to retard the intellectnal progress of the pupil in the interest of “thoroughness." The arithmetic of many puzzles, the formal grammar, and the spelling book with its long lists of child-frightening words have been its weapons. Slowly and with a strnggle these are being wrested from it. New knowledge is being introduced to illustrate and illuminate the old and higher processes to explain and make easier the lower. All this promotes trno thoroughness, and also allows the child's mind to grow and develop as nature intended it should, and as it often does in spite of the elementary school, not because of it. Thereforo, every year pupils are reaching the ligh school better prepared for its peculiar work; and it is not unreasonable to hopo that in tea years the secondary school may assume, in the ease of its youvgest pupils, an ability to use simplo English correctly, a knowledge of the elements of algebra and geometry, and of some epoch or movement in history. Perhaps even the study of a foreign language will have been begun.
From the standpoint of the elementary school, therefore, the committee of ten is not unreasonable in its ideal, nor have the conferences proposed anything that is impracticable. The same is truo when the report is viewed from the standpoint of the colleges, though here, too, reform and improvement are necessary. As is well known, college admission examinations not only differ widely among themselves, but vary from year to year. Perhaps no one of them is too high to admit of a welltaught boy entering collego at seventeen, but many are so low that the same boy ought to pass them successfully at fourteen or even carlier. The colleges have been injuring higher education in America by giving their own idiosyncrasies as to admis. sion examination free scope, instead of agreeing together upon a policy.
I do not mean that tho admission examinations of all colleges should be uniform; that is not necessary. But, to quote from tho report, “it is obviously desirable that the colleges and scientific schools should be accessible to all boys or girls who have completed creditably the secondary school course.” If the recommendations of the committee of ten are carried out-and there is every reason to hope that they will be—the “completion of a secondary school course" will have a definite meaning, and the colleges can deal with it accordingly. The graduate of a secondary school will havo had four years of strong and effective mental training, no matter which of the four school programmes ho has followed, and tho collego can safely admit him to its courses. This single step will bring about the articulation of the colleges and scientific schools on the one hand with the secondary schools on the other—an articulation that has long been recognized as desirable for both classes of institutions and for the conntry.
The question will naturally arise-it arose in the minds of the committee of tenCan the improvements suggested be successfully carried out without a very considerable improvement in the training of the teachers who are to do the work? To this question but one answer, a negative one, can be given. But, on the other hand, the opportunities now available for the higher training of secondary school teachers are many times as numerous and as valuable as they were a decade ago. It is true that the hundreds of normal schools are accomplishing very little in this direction, even the best of them; but the colleges and universities, where the mass of secondary teachers will always be educated and trained, have now awakened to a sense of the reponsibility that rests upon them. Harvard and Yale, Columbia and Cornell, Michigan and Minois, Colorado and Stanford, and many others have organized special deparments for the study of education, and one or two of them are manned and equipped more thoroughly than any similar departments in Europe. The effect of this great expansion of activity in the study of education can not fail to be widely felt within tho next few years. The colleges have nceded, and some of them still need, an enlargement of sympathies, as do the normal schools. Tho colleges lave focused their attention and energy too largely upon their own special work, and have paid no heed to what was going on about and beneath them. The normal schools have thought it suflicient to study more or less psychology, and to expound more or less dubious “methods” of teaching, and have neglected the larger field of genuino culture and the relative values of studies. Better apparatus and more teachers will not of themselves lift the college or the normal school out of its rut. Only a full appreciation of the relations of these institutions to the work of education as a whole can do that.