Page images

matics (plane geometry and algebra), three units in English, and one and one-half units in general history. This is evidently a minimum in a very literal sense of the word, for clearly no graduate of a high school, whatever may be his plans for the future, should be given a training which does not involve these units.

In addition to these absolute requirements for entrance, additional units to the number of six ( or five and one-half if Latin is included) may be presented at entrance, or if not so presented must be made up in the University.

It is clear that the freshman that presents the minimum number of units enters the University at a disadvantage, for if he hopes to graduate in four years he must do work for which he gets no degree credit, since beginners' courses merely absolve entrance requirements. Thus the effect of injecting into the University work that is looked upon as of high school rank, is to force the student to do extra work, and in the case of a modern language to compel him to begin at the age of sixteen or older a subject that should have been begun at a considerably earlier period.

Granting that all high-school graduates should present English, mathematics, and history, this question presents itself: Is it to the interest of these schools so to shape their schemes of study that every graduate would be able to present on entrance at the university a greater number of units? Would this involve a differentiation prejudicial to the main function of the high school as a place where young men and women are given their training for the varied duties of life?

While it is hazardous to enter upon the much-vexed question of educational values, I think that all, even partisans, will admit that the educational value of any subject is primarily conditioned on the facilities for teaching it, and that the effective handling of the subject requires two things, of which the most important is a good teacher. and the second a well-organized plan of instruction and carefully graded and arranged text-books and other apparatus.

Notwithstanding the great activities of text-book writers and pedagogues. I think it can fairly be said that the scheme of instruction of most of the rewer subjects has not been brought to the degree of effectiveness that should be desired. It is partly for this reason that the training in English-one of the newer subjects, and of all the most important-is so ineffectual over the whole country. If on the other hand we consider the natural sciences, the situa

tion is in some respects better and in some respects worse than in English. The teacher of a science aims primarily at imparting a knowledge of his science, and he always hopes to lead his pupils to see however dimly the significance of what is called the scientific theory, just as the teacher of English strives to develop in his pupils a style which if not elegant should at least be natural, clear, and grammatical.

In the high school in which three teachers must do all the teaching and there are many such in Texas-the problem of how to get the best results with a slender equipment becomes most acute. All of these schools meet or try to meet the minimum requirements for entrance to the university, and it is pretty clear that with intensive work in other units they could more than meet these requirements. What we wish to consider at this meeting is the question whether this could not be done in such a manner as to strengthen the curricula of all our high schools. In this connection there are various possibilities. A school could, for example, present three additional units in a foreign language or in a science. The choice would depend upon the personnel of the teaching force. The result would be that the weaker units which cannot be used to absolve entrance requirements would be reduced to a very feeble percentage of the whole.

It seems to the writer that cultural courses so-called are of little use in the high school, because of the immaturity of the students and because such students need mainly instruction that will inculcate habits of industry and of voluntary attention. Indeed, it has always seemed to me that a misunderstanding of the Herbartian doctrine of interest has done our educational institutions much harm. For while it is certainly the duty of the teacher to make his subject as interesting as possible, he should at the same time deliberately give his students tasks that are hard and repellant, and where an effort of voluntary attention is necessary he should clothe them with the element of interest.

In conclusion, the question that I should like to call to your attention is the desirability of so arranging the work of our high schools as to offer a minimum of eleven entrance units, each unit at least a full year's work. Cannot this be done so as to strengthen in every way the programs of our high schools? Even limiting our attention to the three-teacher school, would not this be perfectly feasible and contribute to their greater efficiency? Several questions

must be discussed in this connection: the possibility of getting suitably equipped teachers and the ability of the schools to pay them, and finally popular sentiment concerning the inclusion of cultural courses in the high school.



It is proper that school and college authorities should take counsel together with reference to entrance requirements. Both are affected by the decision. Colleges desire to secure students prepared to profit by their training: schools desire to establish curricula as beneficial as possible to their pupils.

And it is well, in discussing the question, to bear in mind the fact that high-school pupils fall into two classes, whose interests may not appear entirely to coincide: the majority, who are receiving the highest preparation schools are to give them for life; the minority, who are being prepared for college. In establishing entrance requirements school men and college men should at the outset ask themselves what the real divergences of interest of the two classes


As the question frames itself in my mind, its answer depends upon the answer to the prior question as to the practical purpose of schooling, or rather of high-school training. If the purpose were trade training, for aptness in the technique of some mechanical or clerical pursuit, the divergence would indeed be great. But this is the purpose of the trade school, not of the high school. The latter has, I think, two aims: the imparting of information or knowledge, and the training of mind and character. And which of the two is more fundamental has never for any length of time been in doubt. Better than any knowledge is the trained mind's habit of making an intelligent search for information when it needs it-this is the hen that lays the golden egg-and of judging it sanely when it finds it. Without training, moreover, the small smatterings of information that can be secured in the school room are likely to make for conceit and to blind to the wealth of our ignorance. Information

is far from negligible; without it the trained mind and character miss their aims; but it is secondary to training.

And yet the thoughtful observer of recent educational tendencies soon discovers that the new learning, so bountifully supplied in modern times, has imperiled the rightful supremacy of training. With so goodly a supply of the many varieties of brand new information at hand, the temptation to give to each child at least a sample of each, has been too strong for our saner sense, and this is true in colleges even more than in schools. We have tended to chop up our curricula into morsels as various, as tempting, as frivolous, and as indigestible and dulling, in their combination, as the multiple courses of the old-fashioned dinner.

When training of mind and character is restored to its rightful primacy, divergence of aim practically disappears from the highschool course. The course that tends to give a mind edge, substance, and suppleness, and a character firmness, considerateness, and balance, will prepare quite as well for college as for life, and quite as well for life as for college.

` With training of character and mind placed first, quality is ranked above quantity. Of first importance is the conduct of the school. This justifies the demand of many parents and trustees that a teacher shall be above all a good disciplinarian, provided always they do not accept instead a rigid and dulling martinet. Next comes from our point of view thoroughness, and, in general, quality in teaching. Better a three-years' course, with only four subjectsif economy requires it-taught by well-trained, adequately paid, and competent teachers, than inferior teaching and a curriculum richer in subjects and scope. And sustained development of a subject through the three or four years of the course is important also, leading the child's mind from the simple to the complex, and allowing it to broaden and deepen in the process, which it cannot do if subjects are dropped and others taken up every six months of every year. And finally comes the selection of subjects, in so far as different ones are unequal in training value.

Assuming twenty forty-five minute periods a week as the wise form for high schools, it becomes plain, I think, that three out of the four daily periods can best be devoted to English, mathematics, and a foreign language, each continuing throughout the three or four high-school years. With regard to English and mathematics, there is no difference of opinion, and I think there is as little doubt,

in case of the large majority of pupils, with regard to the propriety of a foreign language, so efficient a tool is a foreign language in broadening and otherwise training the mind, and so helpful to the study of English.

And personally, I am inclined to go further. Latin, I should say, disciplines the mind better than any modern language. Offering a great contrast with English, it is more broadening. Being the language of one of the two most remarkable peoples we know of, the English with its offshoots being the other, it embodies an especially helpful message. It is a tongue more virile and rugged than the Greek, with which it shares the quality of yielding training to the reasoning powers unexcelled even by mathematics. The processes of the rational mind, its supporting and substantial skeleton are crystalized and embodied in the grammar and syntax of Latin and Greek. The boy who thinks in terms of these forms is compelled to marshal his thoughts in rational relations to one another: he receives a high order of logical training, not in mere theory, but through the practice of rational thought.

The conclusion so far is, that in Texas at all events at least three units should be required in each of the subjects mentioned, with some encouragement to the study of Latin. I should like to see more than three units required in a foreign language, as it is reasonably plain that the average boy can begin a language more profitably in the sixth than in the eighth grade; but that is a matter for the future.

Coming to the fourth daily subject, all would agree that history should occupy something over a year: some of us would say that, in many cases, it should occupy as much as three years; for we are training citizens and they need the subject. If it occupy the minimum suggested, five hours a week for nearly two years are to be provided for, and can be taken up either with a second foreign language or with science work.

As there is room for a second foreign language, two units in a foreign language, restricted probably to Greek and modern Inguages, should be an alternative requirement to two units in science. And in view of the usual pressure to add more subjects than the teaching force should be asked to handle, and of the cost of equipping a science course, I am inclined to think that, in affiliating schools, the university should not recognize more than one science in any one school; at least for the present, till one science gets

« PreviousContinue »