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“any teacher who fails more than 20% of her class stamps herself at once as inefficient and incompetent.” This, being interpreted, means that the mental pabulum must be so adapted to the flock. that the pupil four-fifths of the way down in mental capacity shall be able to master it and pass. That is probably a fair estimate of the usual standard on which pupils are graded, points allowed, diplomas granted, participation in athletics permitted. A pupil receiving this grade "gets by,” proudly shows his parents his report card, and is content. Why shouldn't he be? All that he is interested in depends on “getting by;" higher marks are nothing but empty honors, not essentials. If he passes, there is no application of whip or spur; he goes on without too much effort, enjoys the society of the school and the distinction of belonging to the class of 194. Thus he is allowed, if not encouraged, to develop habits of idleness, shiftless waste of time, carelessness and inaccuracy of work, and wrong ideals of a well-spent life, instead of diligence, steadiness, reliability and fidelity to his own best self. The motto “get by” has supplanted that better one, "do your best."
And this spirit permeates all activities where the pupil comes in contact with authority. Right for right's sake fails to enter into his calculations as it should. Some days ago I had occasion to stop a pupil coming up from the lunch room, food in hand and eating as he came.
"Don't you know that you are expected to eat only in the basement?” I asked. “Yes," was the reply, “but I thought I could get away with it."
The answer is typical. Boys frankly admit that they are not doing their best, yet show no sign of wishing to improve. Ambition, except in a minority of cases, seems lacking.
The trouble lies in the fact that the marking is on the wrong basis. Instead of contrasting each pupil's actual achievement with his own capabilities, the present plan is to contrast all with the performance of the weak and relatively incapable. The emphasis is turned away from making the best of self to outstripping or equalling somebody
any teacher who fails more than 20% of her class stamps erself at once as inefficient and incompetent." This, -ing interpreted, means that the mental pabulum must be
adapted to the flock that the pupil four-fifths of the way own in mental capacity shall be able to master it and pass. hat is probably a fair estimate of the usual standard on nich pupils are graded, points allowed, diplomas granted, rticipation in athletics permitted. A pupil receiving is grade "gets by," proudly shows his parents his report rd, and is content. Why shouldn't he be? All that he interested in depends on "getting by;" higher marks are thing but empty honors, not essentials. If he passes, ere is no application of whip or spur; he goes on without
much effort, enjoys the society of the school and the tinction of belonging to the class of 19–. Thus he is wed, if not encouraged, to develop habits of idleness, îtless waste of time, carelessness and inaccuracy of work, 1 wrong ideals of a well-spent life, instead of diligence, adiness, reliability and fidelity to his own best self. 2 motto “get by” has supplanted that better one,
to enter into his calculations as it should. Some days I had occasion to stop a pupil coming up from the lunch 1, food in hand and eating as he came. "Don't you v that you are expected to eat only in the basement?" ked. “Yes," was the reply, “but I thought I could away with it." The answer is typical. Boys frankly t that they are not doing their best, yet show no sign ishing to improve. Ambition, except in a minority ses, seems lacking. e trouble lies in the fact that the marking is on the
basis. Instead of contrasting each pupil's actual
the main concern. Substitute therefor a regular monthly statement in answer to only two questions:
(1) How nearly, in your opinion, is this pupil making the best of his abilities as a scholar?
(2) Is he, so far as you have observed this month, manly and straightforward in his dealings both with school officials and with his classmates?
This statement should be made out, in place of a mark, by each teacher to whom the pupil recites, and should contain, if possible, some suggestion for improvement, the whole then being sent home and signed in the customary way. In addition, from time to time, an estimate of the pupil's ability in the lines pursued should be made and sent to the parent, and discussion invited on the trend of education which would probably bring best results in each individual case, with a view to the best educational guidance possible. There would be no mistaking the meaning of such a report, and the competitive feature would be absolutely withdrawn. Sympathetic personal contact would take the place of much soulless machinery.
This need not complicate the matter of promotion, diploma credit, and the like. The only true criterion here, even at present, is the probable ability on the part of the pupil successfully to carry on work of a more advanced grade than that just finished, the benefit of any doubt of course being given him in all cases. That is virtually what a "passing mark” means now. But by abolishing the old machinery with its apparently fixt standard of passing, the emphasis is entirely shifted from the “getting by” idea, which involves comparison of the strong with the weak, to the view which confronts each boy with his own individual best, and that only.
If this seems too radical, and some sort of mark be insisted on, I should suggest a fraction, the denominator standing for relative ability, the numerator for achievement in comparison to that ability. Thus, marked on a scale of 10, Allen, with o/y, would be a boy of excellent ability and making good use of his talents, Baker, with 7/7, considerably
th, manly ol officials
f a mark
less able, yet conscientiously trying, Gray, with */8, a pupil of good power but far from doing his best. An added value to this fractional form lies in the fact that the sum of the two terms gives in a rough way an estimate of presumable total efficiency in the subject. This form, however, I should recommend for office record only, still insisting that what goes home should go as a plain statement. No mention of a standard "passing mark" should come to the ears of a pupil.
One of the greatest difficulties today lies in getting pupils to be honest, not with others, but with themselves. I, for one, feel that we, as school teachers, have either individually or collectively been in some measure to blame for this condition, and that it is we who as a body, by modifying our methods, must take the lead in remedying it and the other conditions mentioned, if not by the means here suggested, perhaps by others far superior. Certain it is that serious problems of this nature are before us and we must face them squarely. We can not complain justly if, placing before the pupil low moral ideals, we find developing the legitimate fruit of our sowing, in the form of young men and women lacking in ambition, shallow and without strength of character.
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CARLETON E. PRESTON ENGLISH HIGH SCHOOL
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ADAPTATION Of the three departments of education, elementary, secondary, and higher, the first has received altogether the most attention, and the latter are open to the most improvement as regards what the educational world can do to improve its own work. In what follows secondary education will be considered, but much of what is advanced will be applicable to higher education, at least to a certain extent.
The work in the high school is weak in three important particulars: First, it is liberal where it should be strict, and strict where it should be liberal; second, it is specialized where it should be broad, and then later admits of a low standard of specialization where it should require a much higher one; third, its course of study is not well adapted to the needs of pupils and it does not at all adapt pupils to the course of study.
The high school is altogether too liberal in allowing pupils to select their own courses, and then too strict in holding them to these courses once they are selected. haps, not too much to say that it has been the youth of America that have made the vital decision as regards the courses they took. Those in control have given options from the beginning of secondary education to the end of university courses and the young have chosen what they preferred. Whether it is wise to let them do this would seem to be a question admitting of and worthy of careful study. In these days of efficiency in business and manufactures it has been found that only investigation and tabulation of data secured can determine definitely what work a person should do. Is not the same probably true in education?
At the present time perhaps the greatest criticism that can be brought forward against secondary education is
It is, per