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THE KINDERGARTEN PROBLEM IN NEW
CILES A. STUART, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, NEW
[EDITORIAL.] Mr. Stuart was chairman of a committee appointed by the New England Superintendents' Association, one year ago, to report on the Kindergarten. Associated with him were Miss McConkey of Springfield, Miss Brown of Bangor, and Miss Haywood of Brockton. The committee divided the work into :-Kindergarten from the Primary Teachers' Standpoint, Mothers' Meetings, New Material and New Work as Manual Training, Domestic Science, etc., Qualifications of Teachers, and Financial Question. Each sent from thirty to seventy-five letters to Kindergarten, Primary and Grammar School Teachers, Superintendents, High School and College Men, including College Presidents. The conclusions were as follows:
No one should be permitted to engage in Kingarten work unless she has the equivalent of a High School, regular four year course beyond the ninth grade, and a two years' training in Kindergarten work; still better if some of the College graduates would come in the same as they are doing in the grades.
2. There is too much conservatism, unwillingness to believe anything has been discovered since Froebel died-slavery to Froebelian system.
3. Too many physically weak are attracted to the Kindergarten because of its half-day of service.
4. Too little interest in education as a whole.
5. More independence is needed—not afraid to speak their minds against those who say "stand pat."
6. Kindergarten age from four to six. 7. There should be a Kindergarten in every school. 8. Interest educated people for more money.
9. Two sessions not same length as primary-onehalf children in the morning and the other half in the afternoon, thus giving more time to do real Kindergarten work.
10. Greater co-operation between Kindergarten and grades.
II. More attention given to hygiene, manual training and some of the advanced work.
12. It seems doubtful whether it is wise to try much basket weaving, raffia work or cooking.
DEPARTMENT OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.
ESSENTIALS OF AN ELEMENTARY COURSE
CHARLES H. DEMPSEY, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS,
ST. JOHNSBURY, VT. In dealing with the subject assigned me—the Elementary Course of Study-I beg to submit to you the consensus of opinion of a considerable number of educators, to whom I desire here to acknowledge my indebtedness.
As the course of study is simply an outline of the education of the child, it must stand the tests applied to the value of education itself. Hence the vital elements of our course of study are the vital elements of education. Here is a clear starting-point, and a common basis for discussion. With this conception more or less clearly in mind, I find a general agreement upon the following broad divisions.
I. The course of study must provide a usable body of knowledge. As education is "preparation for complete living,” it must be composed of those subjects and parts of subjects that the pupil can use for the development of his knowledge, his appreciation of good things, and his several powers. No non-essential fact, therefore, in any subject, no matter how interesting or curious it may be, can be called a vital element. Every subject, both in its own development and in its utility for life, shows certain essential and indispensable parts. These are the vital elements about which are clustered all the host of single facts, applications, principles and the like, which give life and interest to the outline.
II. A second essential is the provision for the discipline of the intellect and for the development of the powers of sense, thought and action.
From a pedagogical point of view this is perhaps the severest test of the value of a course of study. It demands, for example, that the arrangement, sequence and relation of topics in Geography, Grammar or Nature Study shall conform to the laws of thought and reason, that they shall furnish for the mind fresh material that will fall naturally into its proper place, that they shall compel original thinking and personal ac
tivity, and that they shall lead the child clearly and straight toward desirable ends.
Those subjects or parts of subjects must be emphasized which will open the eyes and ears, and lead teachers as well as pupils “to see and understand men and things as they are to-day."
Beyond the intellect and the senses other activities of the human being must be cared for in a well-constructed course of study, chief among which are the hand—through drawing, writing and such manual training as is possible--and the voice through music and proper oral reading and recitations.
In short, if the course fails to contain such features as shall make the student keen in observation and perception, methodical and masterful in intellectual habits, and capable in expression through physical activities, it lacks some most vital elements.
III. A third essential is adaptability to local needs and conditions. Manifestly an outline for a system of graded city schools with well paid and trained teachers would be a sad misfit for rural communities with limited equipment and means. It should, however, be remembered that the interpretation of this demand upon the course of study should be so broad, progressive and modern, that the school shall not suffer in its service to humanity nor in the value of its ideals.
IV. Another feature of a good outline is that it provides the means for producing culture and good expression in the use of language. These come as a matter of course, if the other vital elements are present; yet definite provision should be made to secure this end, and we may look for it chiefly in Reading
(including Literature), then in History, Geography and Language (Composition).
V. Closely connected with this essential is another that is perhaps more an aim of good teaching and school management,--the moral element. In the course of study it appears more as a subtle modifying influence acting upon the whole, rather than as a distinct part, save as it may appear under the heading of Moral Instruction and possibly Memory Gems.
The force of this element is to drive home the principles of right and truth, to belittle and discard the wrong and false, and more and more to train the heart.
VI. The last vital element to which I would call your attention is rational co-ordination of work to avoid waste of time and energy and to promote unity. The report of the Committee of Fifteen (1895) upon this subject still remains the best treatment of the subject we have. Dr. Balliet says in this connection, “What we need in most school systems more than a reduction in the number of subjects taught is a proper conception of their unity, and a rational co-ordination in the work of instruction. Nature Study should not be a study of each of the natural sciences as such, and it should be made to contribute largely to the fund of material for use in oral and written language work, which, also, includes not only composition and grammar, but reading, writing and spelling; civil government is but a sub-division of history, and history cannot be taught independently of its relation to geography; and the elements of book-keeping and something of geometry have long been taught as a part of the instruction given to advanced classes in arithmetic."