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The report summarizes the contents of the annual reports of the Association of American Universities, of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Kahn Foundation for the Foreign Travel of American Teachers, as also the proceedings of the Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools of the Middle States and Maryland, and of the Association of Colleges in the State of New York. A chapter is devoted to the Rhodes Scholarships, which gives the complete history of their award in New York for the decade since their beginning, in 1904, and the interesting personal experiences of some of the scholars in Oxford. The chapter containing statistics of higher institutions is a timely record of educational conditions and events at home and abroad, the details of which are not equally accessible in any other source whatever.
The report is, as it always is, a year-book invaluable for a comprehensive knowledge of the activities of the state, not alone in the restricted field of the higher education with which it is immediately concerned, but in the whole larger educational territory of which this is a related part.
Division of Reference
and The Semi-Annual Report of the Division Research in the New York City school system of Reference and Research, submitted to the Department of Education of the City of New York, July 1, 1915, is, from the nature of the case, largely concerned with suggestion rather than with direct educational result. The division according to its statement of its various functions is a bureau of routine information; for the investigation of complaints; for ascertaining the general population and the school attendance of the city; and for collecting and filing reports from newspapers, educational periodicals and school and college publications concerning the progress of education. The present report is not concerned with the queries and troubles that are a part of the work of the division, but confines its attention to the latter two of its activities.
The report calls attention to a study of the ratings of teachers with the result that a grave doubt is raised as to
the value of the method now in use. Many questions affecting the welfare of the school are dependent for their answer upon the judgment by supervisory officers of a teacher's efficiency, and upon this are based such important matters as appointments, promotions and increase of stipend. In New York City teachers are rated, each term by the principal and once a year by the district superintendent, in five classes, in "instruction"—which includes "teaching ability," "scholarship,” and “effort,”--and in "discipline”_which includes “personality,” control of class,” and “self-control.” Dissatisfaction has frequently been exprest, says the report, not only with this system of ratings, but with all ratings, on the ground that definite standards of measurement have never been devised, and that without uniformity ratings are relatively worthless. It has further been urged that even if such standards were formulated, they could not be applied with justice, since the conditions under which teachers work are by no means identical. The suggestion has also been made to use, instead of the five mark system, only a two mark system of "satisfactory” and “unsatisfactory.” An attempt is made by the division to throw some light upon the question by preparing and submitting to various principals a number of hypothetical cases, as typical as possible, of men and women teachers. The whole matter is given in detail with the result of showing definitely that the present ratings do have a varied significance, that the two mark rating suggested would not insure the desired uniformity, and that to arrive at a conclusion in the premises a more extended analysis is demanded of the whole matter of the function of the teacher.
The report further contains an inquiry of the results of instruction in summer opportunity classes in which the value of these classes is affirmed on the basis of subsequent school record. It also considers, with abundant statistics, the important question of time waste in elementary schools, and sets up as the first step toward a solution of the problem, “the determination of a minimum standard curriculum so constituted and so organized as to accomplish fully the purposes of elementary education.” The report, however, makes no suggestion as to the actual content of such a curriculum. A chapter of the report discusses the matter, again with statistics, of the elimination and survival in the case of 14,000 pupils in the first three terms of New York City high schools. It also gives a summarization of the various printed considerations of the New York School Inquiry Reports. The latter half of the pamphlet consists of compilations and references to a great variety of reports on educational happenings in the several fields of school instruction. The report as a whole contains a great amount of valuable material, and some of no great discernible value, either present or prospective.
Foreign students in Bulletin Number 654 of the United States American universities Bureau of Education contains, under the title Opportunities for Foreign Students at Colleges and Universities in the United States, a comprehensive description by Samuel Paul Capen, specialist of the bureau, of the organization and conditions of the American higher education that is the very best in a small compass that has yet been written. The author, in point of fact, has included in the 216 pages of his pamphlet an admirable account, not only of the facts of education in the universities, colleges and professional schools of the country as they respond to the needs of foreign students among us, as the title implies, but as they present the cause of the higher education in its present-day aspects to all, at home and abroad, who are interested in its realizations.
In detail, the author considers the evolution and organization of the typical university in the United States, with the position and intention of the various schools that compose it in their relation to each other and to the university as a whole; the summer session; the independent and denominational professional schools and colleges; and the higher education of women. Chapters are devoted to a description of living conditions, and to the significant activities of college life; to the important educational centres of the country and their educational facilities; and to college entrance requirements and the school curriculums upon which they are based. A particularly useful list is given of the departments or schools devoted to the various branches of liberal, scientific, and professional study in sixty-two of the principal educational institutions arranged under subjects of instruction. A still more suggestive list describes in greater detail the sixty-two institutions themselves which have either already been frequented by foreign students, or which notably give courses of instruction that are likely to prove of special interest to them. A concluding section gives abundant statistical tables with regard to the size of faculties, the number of students, the working income and endowment of state universities; agricultural and mechanical colleges not connected with state universities; schools of mines and technological schools independent of university organization; and colleges and universities not included in the preceding categories that have the standardized entrance requirements. A final table gives a list with statistics of the medical schools that are accorded the highest standard rating by the national Council on Medical Education. The pamphlet contains, furthermore, illustrations of characteristic buildings at Columbia University, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell, and the University of California, the Yale “Bowl," and interior views of laboratories at the Institute of Technology and Stevens Institute.
The whole is a thoroly lucid and informing record of facts of education as they, at least outwardly and objectively, exist in the higher institutions of learning in the United States. The statements that are made of the opportunities that are offered in the various fields of study with which the pamphlet is concerned and of the conditions that accompany them are given plainly, without bias or exaggeration, and could scarcely have been bettered in content for the purpose for which they are primarily intended. That this is not their only usefulness should again be intimated, for there has been need of such a summarization of these particular phases of the educational activities of the nation for our own orientation.
The showing as a whole is one to be viewed with considerable satisfaction and pride. It is doubtless true that in many cases, and in many places, the conditions of the higher education in the United States still fall far short of what is desired or what will ultimately be realized, but prodigious steps have been made toward a goal of organization and accomplishment that is now reasonably apprehended. Not more than a generation ago many of the subjects of instruction liberally located in the pamphlet were not taught in any institution in the United States and it was necessary to go abroad to learn them. Today, such a positive necessity no longer exists in any one of them, and altho it is conceivable that some things are better taught, or further taught with more liberal facilities for teaching than are at hand in our home institutions, it is quite fair to suppose that even this is a diminishing condition. It will, no doubt, always be desirable for the advanced student in a closely specialized subject to study abroad under a great teacher who has made his subject particularly his own, and to view it in the light of a new environment, but the pilgrimage to such foreign shrines, which was once a matter of course to American students, with every year becomes smaller. It is altogether likely the turn of the tide will presently set in from the other direction, and that the foreign student will look, more and more, to us for the opportunities of the higher education that are so well set forth in the present pamphlet.
With the issue of the EDUCATIONAL REVIEW for December, 1915, the fiftieth volume of the REVIEW was completed. It is hoped to be able to furnish to subscribers and readers of the REVIEW and to libraries, in the near future, an analytical index to the contents of volumes 26-50 which will make those volumes quickly available for the use of readers and students. Copies of the index to volumes 1-25, inclusive (January, 1891-May, 1903), bound in buckram may still be obtained for $3.12.