Imagens da página

as regards learning English, it would be starting at the foundation, viz., the Latin tongue. This study should be continued until a considerable body of words is mastered and could well be followed by a study of the first declension of nouns and later by the first conjugation of verbs with a few words from other declensions and conjugations so as not to mislead the pupil into thinking there was only one of each. The object in this could be to develop the idea of agreement in different parts of sentences. The importance of this agreement is not appreciated enough by those who know English only, since there is so little of agreement required in the English language. This study of grammar naturally calls for a little reading of Latin in which among other things some idea of the order of words in sentences is learned. In this study, both English and Latin grammar should be carried on simultaneously, each language throwing light on the other. To this could be added for the first semester's work whatever work seemed wise and helpful to the teacher. The second semester's work would naturally grow more technical, and the third semester's more technical still and so on.

Considering next the course in mathematics it can be said that the first semester's work should include the four simple operations with simple integral quantities in algebra, simple fractions with numerical denominators, simple equations in one and perhaps two unknown quantities with appropriate problems and some study of the simpler equations of physics; also a course in geometry which would include the acquiring of an experimental knowledge of the truth of the simple propositions of geometry as used in physics. The second semester's work should include factoring and a more extended knowledge of the subjects mentioned in the first semester's work together with other more advanced topics as desired such as square root, radicals and quadratics.

The preceding paragraphs show that courses can be constructed in Latin and mathematics which fulfil the conditions already outlined; that is, pupils can either con

[blocks in formation]

tinue on in them or drop them without loss. Moreover, if this plan can be carried out in these branches, it can be carried out in other branches. Of course, if a pupil who has dropt mathematics determines later to become an engineer, he will have to go back and bring up his mathematics. With a motive and added years, he may be able to master matter that he would have failed in at the earlier stage.

There are one or two objections or seeming objections to this idea of adaptation that deserve careful consideration. It may be argued that a subject dropt just because it is hard for a pupil may contain and usually does contain elements in which the pupil needs to be strengthened and that in the dropping they will be lost. It may also be argued that repeated transfers to other lines of study will give the pupil the impression that he is naturally weak and inefficient, and it may be contended that weak pupils will gravitate naturally into poor and unsatisfactory classes. Then also it can be said that pupils may even sham inability in a subject they anticipated would be difficult in order to get out of it, thus deceiving inexperienced teachers. To these objections it may be replied that the value of an education consists largely in the acquiring of a capacity and ability to learn or master that which is needed to carry out one's plans; in the power of attention and application to whatever matter is in hand; in the acquiring of the ability to see things generally in their broad relations, and in the attaining of a kind of philosophy which may serve as a guide in directing its possessor in the conduct of his every-day affairs..

There can be absolutely no doubt that confidence and assurance in his ability to do whatever task is set before him plays a very large part in success of every kind both in school and out. This confidence is called courage or morale in an army, credit or faith in the future in the business world, “pep" in an athlete, and optimism in an individual. Without it, success along any line is difficult of attainment.

Now nothing quite so much takes away this confidence

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

in himself on the part of the pupil as being compelled to continue a study for which he has no liking, and in which he is getting deeper and deeper in the mire as he goes forward. If something might be lost occasionally by the adaptation plan, it is clear that far more frequently a great deal would be gained. It should be noted in this connection that the idea of transferring pupils is not to be left to their whim, but that the transfer would represent the judgment of trained experts after full consideration of all the elements of the particular cases in hand. It probably would not always be wise to enforce the decisions of the council, something being left to the wishes of the parent and child.

Returning to the matter of multiplicity of courses, it may be observed that with laggards and weaklings eliminated from advanced courses, classes and courses can be combined in a way that would not otherwise be feasible at all. With members of classes brought together on account of natural ability in the subject, juniors can be put with seniors or even sophomores with seniors without much loss of effectiveness. Then the effort to broaden the scope of work for pupils in the earlier years of the course would naturally have the effect of narrowing the ground covered in the several subjects and thus reducing the number of classes. In the ways suggested and others, the difficulty arising from a too great multiplying of classes can be avoided to a great extent.

To summarize the ground covered in the preceding it may be said that if to fit the person to the job, and the job to the person, is a matter of prime importance in the world's work, then it should likewise be a matter of prime importance in the school world. In America we resent the idea of putting men in classes and castes and keeping them there by the social and legal restrictions. In the same way we should resent the same thing in the school world. As far as one can see the thing aimed at can be attained only in some such way as already outlined.

JOSEPH V. COLLINS Stevens Point, Wis.


SCIENCE IN EDUCATION A dozen years ago a small pamphlet was published by the Public-School Publishing Company, at

at Bloomington, Illinois, entitled The danger of using biological analogies in reasoning on educational subjects. If this pamphlet bore no author's name it would be fairly easy from internal evidence to conclude that it was the work of an educational conservative. As it is, we are not at all surprized to find that the author was W. T. Harris who was then known and is still remembered as one who was suspicious of many new developments in education and exceedingly able in revealing his suspicions. “For many years," he says, “I have been attracted and afterwards repelled by one theory and another relating to education, which undertook to reason from the body to the mind-from the brain to the soul- from the events of animal life to the events of spiritual life--and to explain the latter thru the former.

The tendency which he here describes is by no means peculiar to his or to this generation. Indeed, in the field of education one may almost say that all of the great outstanding theories are based upon analogies drawn from one or other of the sciences, or at any rate from the sciences and arts. The process of education is one of molding, polishing, filling, drawing-out, digestion, growth. The teacher is a potter, a weaver, a storehouse of fact, a gardener. The pupil is clay, or a rough stone, or an empty tablet or a plant in a kindergarten. In the same manner successive generations have regarded their schools. Now they are factories, now storehouses, and now gardens. Here is food for thought. This excessive use of analogy does not appear in the field of science. Physics, mathematics, chemistry, and to an ever-increasing degree biology take pride in an

1 P. 2.

unmetaphorical or technical vocabulary. The word which the physicist uses must be a plain, unpoetic, descriptive symbol. Bodies move, expand, contract, approach other bodies, and weigh. In a similar manner biology persists in an attempt to reduce the phenomena with which it deals to terms of mathematics and mechanism.

If we suggest to the physicist that a given body moves in response to desire or that the stone loves the earth intensely in proportion to its size, we are clearly out of the realm of physics. Physics has no place for such poetic interpretation. Biologists seem best pleased to describe the action, let us say of a bee, in the same impersonal and objective manner. Maeterlink writes poetry about the bee but not science, they say. Psychology is apparently following the same ideal. A wellknown and exceedingly influential American psychologist writes, “Indeed, while little has been done in comparison with what still remains to do, there is no doubt that, in principle, every single problem that can now be set in psychology may be set in quantitative form. The psychological textbooks of the next century will be as full of formulas as the textbooks of physics are today.''? The program of the behaviorists seems to be tending in the same direction. Why should we explain even human actions in terms of consciousness when we can resort to biological formulas? Is it not clear upon reflection that a subject begins to be called a science just as soon as it ceases to use strictly human interpretation of any part of the world? Economics and sociology are sciences whenever they talk of capital, labor, the consumer, profit, the poor, and remain sciences until they introduce such terms as friendship, conscience, or moral ideal. We may go further -does not history rise to the rank of a science when it becomes an economic interpretation of history? Carlyle's History of the French Revolution, for example, is not scientific history. It is, we are told, more properly termed philosophy, which seems to some to be even less worthy of consideration than poetry and imagination.

2 Titchener, Textbook, p. 223.

« AnteriorContinuar »