Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

pupils of schools in sparsely settled districts find varied and vigorous exercises out of school, to counteract the harm wrought by sedentary habits within doors, though a wellplanned gymnasial course would improve the physique even of country boys. But the city boy is hampered by his wealth of neighbors and poverty of green grass from pursuing the natural bent of his boyhood, and, unless the schools aid him, he will miss much of manly vigor which properly is his due. The laborious sports of his English cousin are beyond his reach; and the tame walk, in pairs, under the oversight of a tutor, which delights the French student, has no attraction for him. The best remedy seems to be that which has been sug-. gested by the Boston School Board in its request to the City Council, that in every new school building provision shall be made for a gymnasium.

NEGLECTED TOPICS.

The limits of the present paper will not permit an adequate treatment of certain other topics that easily suggest themselves at this point; only the merest allusion can be made to them.

The first is manual training. Readers of this REVIEW do . not need to be reminded that in the larger cities a tendency is manifest to specialize the High School still further, resulting in the Manual Training High School. Institutions of this kind, remarkable for their completeness of equipment and thoroughness of instruction, have been established as a part of the public school system at Philadelphia and Balti

In other cities, as at Omaha, Neb., Toledo, O., and Fall River, Mass., the manual work forms a department in the regular High School course. At certain points, as at St. Louis and Chicago, the manual training schools are not connected with the system of public schools. The course at Springfield may, perhaps, be taken as typical. There the academic studies are the higher mathematics, physics, a foreign language, English, and history. Drawing begins in the first year with the use of instruments and closes in the

more.

3.11

The

third year with brush-shading, pen and ink sketching, and finished drawings with full details. In the shop the first year is in wood-working, for which the pupil has been prepared in the grammar grade; forging, molding, etc., follow in the second year, and chipping and filing, planing and drilling, with machine construction, complete the course.

This phase of High School development is yet in the stage of experiment. It seems to have large possibilities within it, but serious difficulties of adjustment are to be met, and the evidence from existing experiments is somewhat conflicting. The plan appears to prove successful where numbers and means permit a separate High School to be equipped for manual work, but the union of manual with academic work in | the same school has not so happy a promise. The theory of manual training is a sound one, if by this term we are to understand “thought-expression by other means than gesture or verbal language in such a carefully graded course of study as shall also provide adequate training for the judgment and the executive faculty"; and if the theory is sound, its application to High School education is only a question of time and of the adjustment of details.

Another question which will not down is that of coeduca. ' tion of boys and girls in High Schools. Here it can only be said that a vast number of High Schools find the plan economi. cal, beneficial to mental and moral work, and entirely satisfactory. The smaller number of schools in which the sexes are separated consists mainly of the older institutions, which have maintained the traditions of an earlier period.

Still a third topic on which much might be said, but must not, is that of High School buildings. In general they are the best buildings existing in America for school purposes. But they are of all varieties, from the wooden house with its one large school-room and two or three recitation-rooms, to the palace of brick or granite, furnished with luxurious appointments of every description. It usually happens that the High School is the favorite school of the community, and that upon the externals of its home popular sentiment permits

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

generous expenditures. Recent years have witnessed a tend-
ency toward less devotion to showy exteriors and greater
care for ventilation, sanitation, and proper equipment for suc-
cessful work, which tendency ought everywhere to be encour-
aged and fostered. Now and then, also, some possessor of
wealth manifests at the same time an appreciation of the in-
stitution and a love for the community by building, equipping,
and presenting to the local authorities an edifice of royal mag-
nificence, as in the case of the B. M. C. Durfee High School at
Fall River. Perhaps no better evidence of the hold this in-
stitution has upon the hearts of the American people can be
given than a series of photographs of the High School build-
ings of our cities.

Still another phase of my general subject finds exemplifica-
tion in the evening High Schools. For these, provision has
been made in a few of the large cities on a generous: scale.
They are held for two hours an evening during the fall and
winter months, commonly in buildings occupied in the day
time by the regular schools. Fitness for advanced work is
determined by a simple examination, and classes are formed
in whatever High School subjects are demanded by pupils in
considerable numbers. In Boston, where the evening high
school has been maintained some thirty years, the service of
some of the best teachers in the day schools has been enlisted
for the evening classes, and the results have been most satis-
factory.

THE ARGUMENT FOR THE HIGH SCHOOL.
I have now traced the genesis of the American High
School from its germ in the wise forethought of the Puritan
settlers to its realization in the present century. I have
viewed the institution and observed its work upon the intellect,
the moral nature, and the physical frame of its pupils. Let me
now turn to another train of thought, and consider for a little
whether the free public High School-so peculiar to our
American civilization--really has a right to exist at all.

The High School, as an educational institution, has not
lived seventy years without meeting with criticism and op-

[ocr errors]

position. Some of this has been salutary, helping to improve the schools and to cultivate public opinion, rendering the great careless mass of the community discriminative for the time and in the end increasing its willingness to pay for excellence in instruction and equipment, which could not be obtained without generous expenditure. In general, criticism as to organization, methods, instruction, and results is to be desired, whenever it is not simply destructive but contains positive suggestions of improvement. But there has been opposition which was fundamental, and, so far as it had force, utterly destructive in tendency. Some of it was plainly selfish, and, therefore, unworthy of serious attention. There is, how. ever, an element of opposition which is entirely honest. This ought to be met, for its adherents are reasonable and open to conviction.

Scarcely anywhere in the Union is there a State in which it is now an open question that elementary education should be provided for in public schools, supported by equal taxation, or by a permanent fund supplied by the State, or in part by both. The only exception lies in the case of those who for sectarian reasons desire private control of schools, and many of these are not averse to the application of public funds to the support of the schools, provided the control be in sectarian hands. But when we pass beyond elementary education we come at once upon what some regard as debatable ground. For there are men of prominence, who profess friendship to popular education, but deny the right to maintain by general taxation, or other appropriations of public funds, High Schools, academies, technical schools, colleges, or universities, which, though open to all alike, are entered but by comparatively few. Still others would have the expense of such institutions shared by the State and the parents directly benefited.

The following extract from a published letter, written some few years since by one of the most eminent scholars of the country, is an excellent presentation of this latter view :

"I am not in favor of supporting schools above the gram

mar-school grade completely by taxation. I hold that the parents of children who go to High Schools should contribute a part of the cost of maintaining such schools. Suppose, for example, that the High School in a city of 40,000 inhabitants costs $30,000 a year, besides the interest upon the city's investment in land, buildings, and equipment for the school, and that there are 500 children in the school, I think it more just and expedient that the parents of each child should pay $40 or $50 a year for their child's great privilege, than that the city should bear the whole charge, provided the city maintain a certain number of free places for the promising children of persons too poor to pay a tuition fee. ...

" Elementary education is of direct and universal benefit, and is not only a legitimate, but the most legitimate public charge. . . . . Diffused elementary education is one of the essential conditions of the formation of that sound national character upon which the safety of our political institutions does absolutely depend. But the secondary and superior education seem to me to stand upon a different basis. They, too, are necessary to the State; but the selected individuals who receive such prolonged training profit so much personally that they or their parents should pay part of the cost. Let the great majority of parents who can afford it pay a part of the cost of their children's education, and let the meritorious scholars, whose friends are too poor to pay for them, have help from the public purse proportioned to their needs."

In reply to all who urge that State education should confine itself strictly to elementary instruction, or, in case it provides higher education, should demand repayment in part, the following considerations are submitted :

In the first place it is not difficult, but from the abundance of evidence would be tedious, to show that it has been the settled and prevalent policy of these States, as well as of the general government, to grant State and national support to schools of every grade from the primary to and including the university; and also that this was the accepted theory and

« AnteriorContinuar »