« AnteriorContinuar »
Monthly percentage increment
6.4 5.3 4.4 3.6 3.0 2.8
In like manner it is shown that in the yearly growth of boys : there is a gain of 209 per cent. during the first year, of 29 per cent. during the second, and 20 per cent. during the third. Omitting intermediate years, in which there are slight fluctuations, it is found that during the tenth year the gain is per cent., and for the twentieth year 2.3 per cent. At the age of twenty-three no growth occurs and the increment is o per cent.
The explanation of decrease in growth power is found by Dr. Minot in the relative increase in cytoplasm of the body cells. In the young embryo all cells have large nuclei and comparatively small cell bodies, and all cells appear much alike. With differentiation of cells and a growth of the cytoplasm, but not of the nucleus, the cells lose their youthful character and approach the condition recognized in adult life and in old age. It is the large nuclei of the infant and child with which are correlated the growth ability, wonderful muscular activity, and rapid mental development so prominent in the earliest years of life. Altho the adult may have greater mental power because of his wider experience, yet in the ability to do new things the infant greatly excels. A steady decline in mental vigor continues thru childhood, youth, maturity, and age.
Is any one of us capable of beginning at the moment we wake to carry on a new line of thought, a new series of studies, and to keep it up full swing, with unabated pace all day long till we drop asleep? Every baby does that every day.
When we turn to the child who goes to school, behold how much that child has lost! It has difficulties with learning the alphabet. It struggles
· Figures of Professor H. H. Donaldson of the Wistar Institute of Anatomy.
slowly through the Latin grammar, painfully with the subject of geometry, and the older it gets the more difficult becomes the achievement of its study.-Problems of age, growth, and death, page 243.
Dr. Minot does not attempt to draw a moral to adorn his tale. He refers, merely incidentally, to the desirability of students entering college early and getting into the professions as soon as possible. The experienced teacher will, however, see a perfectly definite application which can be made of the facts and theories which Dr. Minot presents. If it is difficult to learn things in late life, it is surely important to begin early with the various kinds of knowledge. To the present writer no more striking argument of the value of kindergarten, nature study, and manual training has been brought forth. The ordinary school curriculum of the first four grades is such that the child is introduced to the subjects of language, mathematics, and history, while a little later comes geography, but manual dexterity is not cultivated and the great world of science is a terra incognita. When we think that the amazing progress of the world during the past two hundred years has been largely in the sciences and their application to everyday life, can we afford to put off until highschool age the study which should make our children excel in these lines?
It is a commonplace of physiology that hand training is really mental training, that the pianist, for example, is one whose cerebellum has been educated. Certainly this particular kind of mental training can be best started with children. No more striking picture has been given of the loss of power to acquire manual dexterity than that of Dr. Minot (pages 243-244):
When golf first came in it was considered an excellent game for the middle-aged; and you have all watched the middle-aged man play. ... Day after day, the man of forty, fifty, or even older, would go to the golf field hoping each time to acquire a sure stroke, but never really acquiring it. The young men learned better but the good golf players are those who begin as children, twelve and fourteen years of age, and in a few months become as expert and sure as their fathers wisht to become but could not. In bicycling it was the same. Eight lessons was considered the number necessary to teach the intelligent adult to ride a wheel; three for a child of eight; an indefinite number of lessons, ending in failure, for a person of seventy.
The more one considers the foregoing statements the more certain does he become that they speak truths of vital significance to the educational world. If regular school work is to be made most effective it must begin early and must introduce the pupil to as many lines of study as possible. Particularly in the early years must the danger of a one-sided education be avoided. It is then that new ideas are introduced with which the child builds the mental furniture of later life. The present writer would certainly not suggest a cramming process by which Paul Dombeys should be made, but he would submit it as essential that in the early grades there be an attempt to enlarge the world of the child, not to cramp it—to offer at least a glimpse of the things which will be met in everyday life in the years to come.
It is a serious question how to offer those things which the child can best learn in the age period from five to ten. We can not overlook the dangers to eyesight from the reading and writing of modern school life, nor the dangers to general health from confinement in ill-ventilated rooms. But these difficulties can be overcome. Much of manual training can be accomplished out of doors without close use of the eyes. Hours spent in nature study in the meadows or groves, or excursions with the teacher to factories, stores, and mills have an educational value for the very young that is not measured by whole days of book work. To relieve danger of eye strain in the schoolroom large charts may be employed in place of some of the books, and copying from the blackboard may be reduced to a minimum.
For children of the well-to-do nothing is likely to be gained by entering school at the age of six or seven, except in small families where the companionship of other children in school is greatly needed. Wealthy parents can provide their children at home with enough that is new. Most useful will be travel, with summers spent in the country and, if possible, private tutors to give a small amount of formal instruction. Better still would be some study under the direction of the father or mother.
But if formal instruction is omitted from the years when most children are beginning their school work it will not do to postpone it too long. The ability of the child to acquire regular habits of study must be kept in mind. No desultory pursuit of even the most useful subjects will suffice to give that accuracy of perception and clearness of statement which are fostered by thoro work in some line, as mathematics. It is the business of the educational expert to study fully and sympathetically this subject. There can be no doubt of the great ability in childhood to learn new things. This ability must not be wasted. Those in charge of education should aim to make the most of it.
The idea of the quickness of the child in learning is, of course, not new, but the statement of the case as a part of a report on physiological experiments of growth for many different kinds of animals is highly important. Dr. Minot catalogs mental activity along with physical growth, and he has undoubtedly placed it where it belongs. The rate of bodily growth is highest in infancy, decreasing rapidly at first
-more slowly in later life. Nuclei of the body cells are at first large in proportion to the amount of cytoplasm; their relative bulk decreases quickly in the first years, less quickly in after years. But there is no return to the original condition. Bodily activity and mental activity as well, being related to the size of nuclei, show a like decline.
This view of the progress of senescence is most thoughtcompelling. It is seen that truly “there is no time like the present.” At the earliest possible moment consonant with health the child should begin his education, and this should be of such a nature as continually to open up new lines of thought and action. Just when formal schooling should begin is a matter for further study by physiologist and psychologist, but that education in some form should commence very early there seems no doubt.
FRANCIS RAMALEY UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO
THE CALL TO CITIZENSHIP 1
Fourteen years ago this Association met for the first time in the city of Denver. It was then my privilege to address the members of the Association as their president, and I chose as my subject a question which was then, and perhaps is still, perplexing the minds of thoughtful teachers everywhereWhat knowledge is of most worth? In answer to that farreaching query I attempted to point out where, in my judgment, standards were to be found with which to make sure test of the relative worth of the knowledges which compete for the attention and the patronage of intelligent men.
Tonight, at the kindly instance of the distinguished gentleman who occupies the chair, I am again permitted to address this great Association, as broad in its sympathies as in its scope, assembled once more in the city of Denver. In the interval much has happened. Many familiar faces have dropt from our ranks, and their spirits have past over to the shores of the undiscovered country. Education has everywhere advanced with giant strides. Schools of every kind have multiplied and important new educational agencies have come into existence. The College Entrance Examination Board and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching have demonstrated their capacity and effectiveness as standardizing agencies for institutions of secondary and higher education. Vext problems of the program of studies have advanced toward solution. Some dogmas eagerly taught fourteen years ago have lost their power, and new centers of educational interest have been developed. Our nation as a whole has past thru important and quite unexpected developments. Economic distress and economic prosperity have trod upon each other's
* An address delivered before the National Education Association at Denver, Colo., July 6, 1909.