« PreviousContinue »
teachers, as revealed in the results achieved, will have preponderance over all else. Then the pay of teachers will no longer be a subject of complaint.
Several of the commissioners seem to have been converted to coeducation in the high-schools by their observations in the United States, . or have as a result of their visit reiterated former preferences for the system. Prof. Armstrong is almost the only member who is opposed to it. And he is, to judge from the general tenor of his report, a man of strong likes and dislikes, with pronounced notions. Perhaps his having talked to teachers upon educational topics may have given him an undue faith in the finality of his views. He believes that coeducation, excepting for the earlier years of school life, is "bad in itself." Over against this snap judgment stands the careful analysis of the pros and contras made by Dr. Gray, who says that the evidence of his observation has convinced him that "the camaraderie between the sexes by the system of coeducation is, on the whole, vastly beneficial to the American boy and girl alike." The ever-witty Prof. Rhys remarks that, on the whole, he is "inclined to regard coeducation as offering young men and young women useful opportunities of sounding one another's character and temper." The "comparatively few premature engagements to which it may lead are," he imagines, "far more than counterbalanced by the number of unwise marriages which it prevents.'
The discipline in the common schools Dr. Gray calls "essentially a compromise." That is the right name for it. It depends, he finds, 'almost entirely on the interest exerted by the teacher and the teaching." Prof. Armstrong, seeing in this condition another argument for his preference for male teachers, asserts that the system "imposes a fearful strain upon the teachers, especially as they are mostly women.” Herbart and all the great leaders in education since his day have pleaded for just such an atmosphere in school work, with interest as the ruling principle. There is no doubt that interesting teaching makes heavier demands upon the energies of both teacher and pupils than dull grind. For this very reason, enlightened public opinion favors the shortening of the school day, the increase of vacations, and better pay for teachers.
The bureaucratic tendencies in the New York City school system did not escape the notice of the visitors. One commissioner, remarking upon the marvellous length to which organizing is carried, suggests that there is danger lest too much stress be laid on the machine to the detriment of more human considerations. Mr. Coward, the president of the
English National Union of Teachers, tells how organization in detail is reduced to a fine art, and says that the schools of New York City are, at least, "not burdened with too little system in their management."
Mr. Mosely declares that we neglect musical talent among the school children. He has nowhere found instrumental music made a part of the regular programme of instruction, and "in the few cases where vocal music was included it was but poorly taught." Great Britain, Germany, and France, particularly the last-named, may well serve as models, as to how to discover and develop latent musical talent. We have been exceedingly indifferent in this important matter. But when we consider that, not so very long since, the Puritan fathers regarded musical instruments as squeaking abominations invented by the evil one, we need not be altogether discouraged at our lack of agencies for the promotion of a universal taste for good music.
In this connection I am reminded of Mr. Rowley's opinion concerning music and the other fine arts in America. Mr. Rowley is the chairman of the Manchester School of Art, and his special interest crops out very prominently in his report. He says that he is "inclined, or rather forced, to believe, with all the best feeling possible, that the plantation melodies of the colored people are the finest and most original art product" which our great continent has to show so far, and that "there is little else that is original, truly of the soil, to the manner born." The efforts of American artists in sculpture and painting, Mr. Rowley finds, "with few notable exceptions," lacking in original power. His opinion, after twenty-five years' study of the question, is that "the prevailing French influence has not been salutary." He adds this comment:
French genius and American genius are surely anti-racial, and all true art, great or small, must grow out of its own soil or the result is artificial, not genuine. No sane person would dream, for example, of teaching an Anglo-Saxon art craftsman Japanese methods, or of imposing our methods of teaching on such distinguished Orientals as this greatly gifted people. Pending the rise of a school of their own, all true Americans will find English influences better for them than French — they are more in the line of their own thought and feeling, just as our literature is, and must be. The fascination of studying and living in Paris, so obvious in American production, has had the one result of producing work which is imitative in sculpture, painting, and the domestic and decorative crafts.
Mr. Rowley says he had the greatest difficulty in finding pottery, glass, textiles, or even printed books, which he ought to take home with him as American "attainments for students to see and learn from."
For one other word of friendly criticism we are indebted to Mr. Rathbone, of Liverpool. He expresses keen disappointment at finding
that "despite the completeness of the buildings and equipment in every other particular, there is in nearly every instance a lamentable want of playground accommodation." Here the United States has much to learn of Europe. The prohibitive price of land in the larger cities offers no excuse, for land was not always so high. Even in the younger States of the West, Mr. Rathbone points out, hardly anything is being done to supply school playgrounds. Public opinion is not yet fully awake to "the opportunities for educational work which the playgrounds and playing fields afford." Physical culture will not supply the deficiency. Here is a real want which public-spirited endeavor should seek to fill. In New York City the matter is receiving serious attention, and, in spite of the large financial sacrifices involved, the progress of the movement is most encouraging.
Of opinions concerning the finished product of the American common school, the Mosely reports contain but very little. There are recorded, however, two significant observations, one by Mr. Rathbone, barrister-at-law in Liverpool, and one by Dr. Barclay, late president of the Paris Chamber of Commerce. The former writes that, after extensive inquiries, he finds English and American business men who have offices or works on both sides of the Atlantic, "nearly all agreed that as a general rule the American boy on leaving school, even if he does not know more, which he often does, is more intelligent, resourceful, adaptable, harder working, and more anxious to continue to improve his education, than is the English boy of a corresponding age." Dr. Barclay, a scholarly, broad-minded, and keen-eyed judge of men and affairs, relates how, on getting closer to Americans, one finds that "in spite of all their apparent superficiality, their schools are turning out more active, business-like, hard-working, enterprising young men than either the English or the German schools-young men with greater ambition and self-reliance, and a greater capacity for development, equally courageous in work, and more sober in their lives, with a higher sense of industrial integrity, an all-round greater pleasure in effort, and better humor in adversity."
Dr. Barclay believes that this "higher social tone in America" is one important cause of the prosperity of the United States. His report is an exceedingly interesting one. Although it occupies itself less than the others with the actual work of the schools, it is replete with thoughtful comments on American character and ways of doing things. Dr. Barclay finds that one great object of American policy is "adaptability," the want of which in Great Britain he regards as one of the
causes of the pauperism existing there. He points with highest commendation to the American attitude, which insists that whoever asks for help shall also help himself. This rule, he avers, is directly aimed at "pauperism and the maudlin public charity which engenders it."
Being a business man, Dr. Barclay has the highest respect for "the handy man and handy woman who can turn themselves to anything," and are constantly striving to improve their condition. That education must benefit by the attitude of a people composed of such men and women is self-evident. Mr. Rathbone expresses the effect thus:
I cannot help feeling that the American people, as a whole, do not consider their education at an end when they leave school or the university, but realize that they must go on learning all their lives; or to put the point in another way, the American does not regard the period he spends at school or university as something separate from the rest of his life, but as part of his life. The English boy, on the other hand, too often thinks that he is only beginning his life when he leaves school, the time spent at school is something that has to be gone through, and the sooner it is over and he has completed his education, the better.
The passion for self-improvement in its various aspects which characterizes the American people has given rise to many new educational agencies carried on at public expense and under the auspices of the common school; among them free evening and vacation schools, parents' meetings, art exhibits, concerts, and popular lectures. Each one comes in for a word of praise by one commissioner or another. is much impressed with the general support given to these various endeavors in school extension. "The attendance," he exclaims, "at public lectures, evening classes, summer courses at universities, and other similar educational institutions, is enormous." Mr. Jephson singles out for special commendation the popular lecture course conducted in New York. "These lectures," he found, "are attended by thousands, and form one of the best educational efforts of the public-spirited board of education."
These popular lectures are worthy of every good word that has been said in their behalf. The people of New York City firmly believe in their value, and thus far have frustrated every penny-wise official attempt at the curtailment of their support. Under the wise leadership and unswerving devotion of Dr. Henry M. Leipziger, the lectures have been organized into a system of adult education which may well serve as a pattern to the other cities of the world. Incidentally, his success. furnishes another evidence of the wonderful power which one man's unselfish persistency in a noble endeavor may acquire in a democratic republic which thoroughly believes in education.
OSSIAN H. LANG.
WHY OUR IMPROVED EDUCATIONAL MACHINERY FAILS
TO YIELD A BETTER PRODUCT.
DURING the course of the present series of articles on educational results, the initial paper of which appeared in the issue for July-September, 1902, there have come to my notice numerous comments indorsing my belief that the line of research that I have been following must eventually lead to a very much more definite conception than we have heretofore had in regard to the character of the educational product which the citizens have a right to demand in return for the vast sums of money annually expended in support of the public schools. But, on the other hand, there have also come to my notice many comments to the effect that a study of educational results, however scientifically and exhaustively it may be pursued, is incapable of leading to conclusions of any intrinsic or permanent value, not because it is impossible to obtain reliable data, but because tangible results at their best are not of any material importance. The latter argument is based on the idea that the intrinsic value of the education which a child receives in school is not represented by the actual amount of knowledge and skill that he may happen to possess, or by the degree of intelligence and efficiency that he may manifest, at any time during his school course, but by the extent to which his faculties are developed and desirable habits are formed through the act of acquiring knowledge and skill.
Such criticism means, in substance, that tests applied to school children are tests of their mastery of subjects, and, therefore, of the superficial and temporary phases of education, while whatever is of permanent value lies not only beyond the subjects themselves, but even far beyond the school period, and, therefore, beyond the reach of school tests, and does not become manifest until the child plays his part as an independent citizen. And to this may be added the assertion that by the time the child has reached maturity, the influence that was exerted upon him by his particular school will have become blended with so many other influences that it can no longer be definitely traced.
If those who stand for this view are right, if it is true that it lies beyond the power of human ingenuity to devise any positive means of