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immediate aid by teachers who desire to reorganize their work in civics.
I. Government and public welfare.
Fully two-thirds of the time should be devoted to this topic. Here the pupil studies those activities of the Government which influence his life more frequently than those ordinarily classified under the next topic—Government machinery. Here he learns how broad is the work of the Government and how intimately it influences the life of the individual. The real meaning of government dawns upon the pupil when he learns of the roads, of the weather, of mineral resources, of labor and commercial conditions, and of many other things too numerous to mention. Nongovernmental organizations engaged in work for social improvement should be discussed in connection with the governmental functions to which their efforts are most closely related.
The following topics are suggested: (1) Health and sanitation: Housing, pure food and milk, sewerage, waste disposal, contagious diseases, statistics, medical inspection of school children, health crusades. (2) Education. (3) Recreation. (4) Charities. (5) Correction, juvenile courts, reform schools, etc. (6) Public utilities: Transportation, light, telephone, telegraph, postal system, water, etc. (7) City planning: Sanitation and beauty.
II. Government machinery.
Local, State, National; legislative, executive, judicial; courts and legal processes; election and political activities, including such topics as initiative and referendum.
III. The development of government.
Social psychology, democracy, the family, and other social organizations.
Thomas Jesse Jones,
United States Bureau Of Education,
Washington, D. 0.
The other members of the committee on social studies are as follows:
William Anthony Aery, secretary of the committee, Hampton, Va.
E. C. Branson, State normal school, Athens, Ga.
Henry R. Burch, Manual Training High School, Philadelphia, Pa.
F. P. Goodwin, Woodward High School, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Miss Blanche Hazard, High School of Practical Arts, Boston, Mass.
J. Herbert Low, Manual Training High School, Brooklyn, N. Y.
STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL SCIENCE.
THE OPPORTUNITY OF THE COMMITTEE.
Existing conditions in the teaching of science in secondary schools appear to be favorable for the work of the committee on natural science. Notable progress has been made in determining the sciences which should find place in the program of the high school. Adequate standards of scope and of thoroughness have been established. Progress has been made in the methods and in providing equipment and teaching force. With the recognition of the sciences as essential parts of the high-school program have come ample equipment and adequate teaching force. No high school to-day is considered worthy the name unless it has laboratory facilities. From this vantage ground teachers of science in secondary schools are in a position to study their opportunities and to outline programs for realizing them.
Certain defects of science courses in content and in methods are becoming increasingly apparent. In some respects science teaching is not as closely related to the environment and experience of the pupil to-day as it was a quarter century ago. With the elaboration of apparatus and the increased attention to quantitative methods there has come an aloofness from the experience of everyday life, so that the pupil may secure a high standing in physics, chemistry, or biology without necessarily gaining an understanding of their applications. Moreover, teachers in science in some instances overemphasize the importance of formal and fixed procedure and, as a result, are not alert to utilize new opportunities.
The failure to adapt science instruction to the real needs of boys and girls has resulted in lack of interest on the part of the pupils and, in many schools, altogether too small a percentage of the pupils elect science courses. It is obvious that science teaching will profit greatly when the experience of instructors in many high schools becomes common property. Interesting and fruitful experiments are being conducted, the results of which are full of suggestion, and one function of this committee is to present a statement of such experiments.
THE ORGANIZATION OF THE COMMITTEE.
In organizing this committee it seemed desirable to recognize the following courses in science and to assign the consideration of each of these to a special committee: (1) Introductory or first-year science. This is also known as general or elementary science. (2) Physics. (3) Chemistry. (4) Geography. (5) Biology, including botany, zoology, and physiology.
The following persons have agreed to act as chairmen: Introductory science—Prof. J. F. Woodhull, Teachers' College, Columbia University, New York. Physics—Prof. C. R. Mann, University of Chicago, Chicago, 111. Chemistry—Prof. C. R. Elliot, Normal School, Carbondale, 111. Geography—Prof. Richard E. Dodge, Teachers' College, New York. Biology—James E. Peabody, Morris High School, New York City.
Some doubt exists as to whether the committee on science should include within its study the application of science in such practical arts as agriculture and household arts. Possibly this field of science instruction in the high school may be considered by the committees charged with reporting on these two subjects.
THE PLAN OF WORK.
At the meeting of the committee held in Philadelphia on March 1, 1913, the following plan was adopted:
Each committee is, in the first instance, to define the aims of its particular science as a high-school study. These aims are to be stated primarily in terms of what each individual pupil should secure in appreciation and in power, and secondarily in terms of knowledge and information.
It is of the utmost importance that the pupil should gain power to apply the facts and principles of science and to interpret natural phenomena. For this reason the teacher of science should draw largely from material found in the environment and should by no means confine attention to the statements in the textbook or to the laboratory exercises. The work in science should be so organized as to lead the pupil to acquire skill in manipulating apparatus and in dealing intelligently with facts and phenomena.
As one result of the high-school work in any science, the pupil should increase his store of general information and become interested in reading books on science and in studying phenomena and almost instinctively approach the facts of nature and of industry from the scientific standpoint. It is obvious that in organizing science courses careful attention must be paid to the maturity of the pupil. Work that appeals to the boy or girl of 13 or 14 is not of a nature likely to interest a pupil in the upper classes of the high school, and the converse is equally true.
In addition to the results of science teaching upon the development of the individual, the committee should consider in what ways science instruction may contribute to the well-being and progress of the community. By selecting material for study from the industries of the town or city and by acquainting the pupil with local application of physics, chemistry, and biology the science teacher can develop interest in and promote intelligence regarding community activities. A pupil thus trained should be a better citizen because his habit of mind will lead him to apply the criteria of science to community affairs.
When each committee has determined the aims of science teaching in terms of the gain to the individual pupil and of community progress and welfare, then it should next select the material to be utilized. Each committee should determine what facts and generalizations should be memorized by every pupil. Each committee should also indicate main lines of general reading and of observation, so that the pupil shall be informed in a large way on the scope of any given science and shall show an intelligent interest in current reading relating to science, particularly in its applications to industry and community welfare, including the safeguarding of public health.
Inasmuch as a most valuable part of science work consists in experiments and exercises conducted by the pupil, each committee should prepare a list of projects and exercises. Such projects and exercises may be classified in two divisions:
(1) Those so essential to an understanding and comprehension of the science that they should be performed by every pupil in the class.
(2) Those that may properly be performed by individual pupils by reason of personal aptitude and special interests.
The distinction between project and exercise may be stated as follows: An exercise is a piece of work done in the laboratory, while a project is the study of some phenomenon or contrivance outside the classroom and where the pupil, as a rule, in connection with this study constructs some useful device. In addition to projects and exercises set by the teacher, pupils should be asked to bring to class problems gathered from their own experience. All work in every science should be closely related to the experience of the pupil.
Each committee should further keep in mind both the limitations and the special opportunities of the small high school. The work in the high school may review, but should not duplicate, that done in the elementary school. Each committee should also prepare lists of reference books and other lines of reading to be used in high schools.
Inasmuch as the aims of science teaching are to be stated in the first place io terms of the growth of the pupil in power and in appreciation, correct methods are of vital importance. It is much easier to assign lessons from a text or to follow a prescribed program of laboratory exercises than to constantly and continually adapt and apply both material and methods to the real needs of pupils and to utilize illustrations found in the environment. The methods should be described with sufficient definition and in such detail as to aid a comparatively inexperienced teacher, while at the same time the teacher should be encouraged to think for himself and to initiate methods of his own. When one breaks away from a textbook or from a definite list of laboratory exercises there is danger that the instruction may fail in thoroughness, with resultant lack of respect and regard by pupils for the subject. It is probable that each committee will find it desirable to outline a number of model lessons, each illustrating some method. These model lessons may well illustrate how each of the various aims of science instruction may be attained.
The consensus of opinion of the committee at the conference in Philadelphia was that a survey should be made of existing conditions and practices. Apart from the value of the information thus secured the committee will at the outset come into cooperative relations with science teachers throughout the country. Continued progress in teaching science in our high schools is to be determined very largely by the extent to which teachers in this subject cooperate, in order that conclusions gained as the result of experience and experiment may become known to all.
The committee can also be a means of communication between highschool teachers in science and those who are engaged in the practice of training such teachers. Departments of education in colleges may be informed on the aims and methods of science teaching and thus be enabled to adapt their courses to the real needs of the high schools in their field. By this service the committee can indirectly exercise a most effective influence in advancing the standards of science instruction.
Tentative conclusions should be submitted to the actual test of schoolroom conditions; here, again, an opportunity for cooperation on a large scale will be afforded. As a corollary to this statement it may be said that the work of this committee will not be completed for several years; in fact, it will probably be desirable that, when a given membership of the committee has achieved certain results, the personnel should change in order that those who are qualified to proceed with other phases of the work may be called into service.
William Orr, Chairman.
Ford Building, Boston.
The organization of the committee on natural sciences is not yet completed.