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nation will be the general lot; while a few,- a very few,
— will develop amid their untoward surroundings, either by accident or by natural aptitude, individual methods of special excellence. Suppose, on the other hand, that this great majority of teachers, while learning from daily experience the details of instruction and management, (which can be learned in no other way), apply themselves to the reading of the principles of teaching as developed by the experience of others, and of the methods which others have found useful. Then their daily round of duties will be viewed in altogether a stronger light, and each successive autumn will find their daily practice beginning upon a higher plane and tending toward a more valuable result. It is, therefore, with the purpose of urging you to such reading of educational works that I address you now.
I confess to a feeling of shame as I assume that many of my hearers — New England teachers — are in need of such urging. I should like to believe that you are all in the habit of reading the books of your profession as carefully and as eagerly as the young lawyer seizes the latest volume on contracts, or the young physician a new treatise upon the cholera germ ; but a little observation and much inquiry has taught me that I cannot honestly take for granted the fact of a general desire among teachers for educational reading. The rank and file find discussions of principles tedious and elucidations of methods “too dry.” And so, they turn to lighter literature. If I am to comply with the suggestion of the honored president of this body, to make my address “practical for the average teachers,” I must proceed upon the supposition that many of you are not aware what you are losing in neglecting this department of literature, and that still more do not know what books are available for the purpose. There are, doubtless, a few before me to whom all that I have to say will be a twice-told tale. Let me ask these few to bear with me, — with me who might well sit at their feet for suggestions on all points in our work, — while, as a young teacher who has read a little, I offer aid to the many who have read still less.
I will assume that most of you read quite habitually some educational journal, for you are here, at this meeting. Those who do not read teachers' papers stay at home from teachers' meetings. I might, however, crr, should I assert that you take much genuine delight in such reading. Very well. Let us hope that the skill of our journalists may soon be so developed that useful topics shall be invested with the interest with which writers of fiction surround the veriest trifles of social life. See how charming the English scientists have made the facts of biology, of astronomy, and even of physics, when a Huxley, a Proctor or a Tyndall has wielded the pen. But whether the discussion of pedagogical facts be “dry” or fascinating, one consideration remains in force: we who are teachers must read them or stagnate. For selfpreservation, then, for the sake of that growth which is indispensable to the attainment of any satisfactory ideal of success in our work, I call upon you to begin and resolutely to continue a course of educational reading.
There are, to be sure, some real difficulties in the way. The greatest is the disinclination toward “solid” reading which, in these days of ill-directed browsing among books young people quite generally have, as most of them readily confess. Better days are in store for the coming generation, I verily believe. But the teachers of to-day when growing to maturity were allowed, with little restraint, to revel in imagination and trivial literature till few of the younger of us find real pleasure in anything more abstract than a book of travels. For those who acknowledge this difficulty I have a hearty sympathy springing from parity of experience; but I assure them that a resolute determination to master every art demanded by the conditions of good teaching, will overcome all hinderances of this sort in a single year of persistent effort. The end is worthy of the means.
Another difficulty which seems real, is a lack of the necessary time. Young doctors and young lawyers, by a merciful neglect on the part of the wished-for patients and clients, are bountifully provided with time for professional reading. But young teachers find their waking hours so closely occupied by in-school and out-ofschool duties, and by the various social demands which come to them in common with other men and women, that time for the systematic reading of subjects demanding thought seems very hard to obtain. Yet it must be obtained; and if you grant that such reading is necessary, as necessary as, say, a new bonnet, time to secure the means of filling the head, as well as that of covering it, can and will be provided. But how? By a systematic apportionment of the fragments of the day. Littré is said to have prepared a large part of his enormous dictionary in the intervals of waiting for his wife to complete her morning toilet. Prof. Barker, the electrical expert of Philadelphia, a very busy man, tells me that no day passes in his working terms in which he does not read a hundred pages about physics. So in our humbler spheres of action, if we choose to plan our work with care, and have the grit to follow our plan with regularity, a hundred pages a week concerning our work can
easily be mastered by most of us. This means ten or a dozen books of value within the year, not to speak of periodicals. The difficulty, then, is not in reality one of time, but simply another manifestation of that Protean evil which is the main cause of inefficient work in the school-room, – aimless and ill-planned effort.
The third difficulty in the way of educational reading is no more formidable than the two just considered. I speak of ignorance of suitable books. A very slight effort, a single letter to one of many educators in whom you have confidence, will elicit more titles than you can use in a twelvemonth to come. Scarcely any book thus brought to your notice would fail of being useful. There is, however, some choice among them, and I propose to use the remainder of my time in rendering the choice easier by mentioning a dozen or more works, large and small, in which I have found particular interest and considerable value.
The aim of such a course of reading should be to acquaint the teacher with three groups of facts : (1) The laws of mental, moral and physical growth; (2) The methods found effectual in securing such growth in children and young people; and (3) The history of past successes and failures in education.
Books upon physiology need not be mentioned here, nor ought I to delay you to name treatises on morals. The necessity that a teacher should be furnished with a correct and definite knowledge of the mental faculties and the laws of their growth, is so imperative that I ought to speak positively about some works on mental science. The best, I think, is President Porter's Intellectual Philosophy. It is not easy reading, and it is not written from the point of view of a teacher só much as
from that of an investigator and philosopher There is need of an intellectual philosophy which shall present the facts of this subject so plainly that young teachers may easily apprehend them, and which shall show, also, their application to the work of instruction. Such a work is already begun, I learn, by a leading Normal teacher of Massachusetts, and is looked for with much interest.* The prize essay of forty pages, read before this Institute a year ago by W. N. Hailmann, entitled The Application of the Principles of Psychology to the Work of Teaching, is a valuable contribution to this branch of the subject, and should be widely read. It is published in the American Institute volume for 1883, and also separately in pamphlet form. A very suggestive book is a larger one by Francis Galton, called Inquiries into Human Faculty and Development. Some of the theories advanced therein still await adequate proof, but no one can read the book without stimulation to personal study and observation in similar lines. The portions relating to number-forms and color-associations, and that about composite portraiture are especially full of interest.
Most books treating of the principles of education also deal largely with methods of instruction, and a few combive with these, brief historical sketches. Some of the authors treat their subject philosophically and are not careful to render their pages easy to read. Yet if the reading is to make us better teachers, we can endure faults of style, just as we strive to be charitable about
* Since this paper was read, a work fairly answering the need here mentioned, has been published, viz. : UUTLINES OF PsychoLOGY, with special reference to the THEORY OF EDUCATION, by James Sully, A. M., Examiner in the University of Cambridge, (Eng.) New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1884, crown 8vo, pp. 712, $2 40.