« السابقةمتابعة »
IN CONCLUSION. Would not better hygienic constructions and furnishings result if the State Board was required by law to issue a list of drawings and specifications of school houses, costing from $500 upward, epibracing the bestknown practical and economic hygienic features for the use of the various School Boards in selecting those suited to their necessities? Would not better hygienic management of schools prevail if trustees and patrons would take more interest in the healthful needs of their schools and advise with their teacher about these matters of such vital importance?
"The State Teachers' Association—Its Proper Functions and
BY PROF. EDWIN HEBDEN, OF BALTIMORE, MD. That the teacher makes the school is now accepted as a fundamental truth by all who make a study of the history of education and educational processes. Although this statement, when made before this body of educators, may seem somewhat of a platitude, nevertheless, for the development of my theme I must set forth not only the proposition itself, but also its corollary-to iniprove the school the teacher must be made more efficient.
The best school system imaginable, supplemented by a perfectly-balanced curriculum, will fail of its purpose in the hands of the weak or incompetent teacher. On the other hand, the real teacher will produce great good, and engender individuality and creative power in his pupils, even under the most adverse circumstances.
Dr. Russell, dean of the Teachers' College of the Columbia University, in a recent public discourse, declared that public education that is, the education of the masses by the State-is the greatest experiment that has ever been tried during all historic time, and it is still in the experimental state." Public education, or raiber let me say modern education, whether in public or private institutions, has not yet, and is not now, accomplishing all, nor nearly all, that is rightly expected of it, and very much less than what was hoped for. Not only are its short-comings negative in character, but an appreciable quantum of positive injury is undoubtedly present. From all sides come complaints of its failure to develop and lead forth our boys and girls into men and wonen able in themselves, prepared to do such work as economic and social conditions demand, fitted to live for the best interest of themselves and to the benefit of the community. The columns of the press, the pages of the magazines, teem with such charges.
We must not aver that this is pessimism, that the great benefit which has accrued from and the marked progression and advancement of modern nations by reason of more common education are not also cried out. This latter is recognized and accepted, but it is human nature to accept the good as a thing of course, while the bad alone receives its loud denunciation, and, although many of these complaints have doubtlessly been made without full investigation as to the real causes, and many of these charges have been based upon slight foundations, still the conditions giving rise to such complaints exists to-day as they have always existed, but of less extent.
It is wrong and unscientific not to recognize this state of affairs, and to refuse to take advantage of whatever points out weak places in our work. These charges are not disproved by inveighing against their makers as chronic grumblers and fault-finders. Honest criticism should be welcomed. It is not antagonistic, and by recognition, when just, it can be converted into powerful co-operation, tending to produce and obtain efficient remedial agencies.
The scientist evolves and elaborates his theory after profound and careful deliberation. He constructs and adjusts his apparatus more or less perfectly as he may be able, yet often absolute failure or but partial success is the result. The scrap-heap at Edison's laboratory contains hundreds of tons of most carefully constructed apparatus, at once the evidence of numerous failures and a monument to his success. To the real worker failure is but the preparation for further effort. There is no blame, no censure, no abandonment of theory except as shown to be imperfect. There remains for him a theory to be strengthened, a problem to be solved or a solution to be perfected. Further study and investigation is needed, and every criticism, every suggestion is applied in search of fal. lacies and to overcome weaknesses and all the elements entering thereinto.
There is no feeling of blame or censure for the great army of faithful, earnest, conscientious men and women engaged in the work of teaching in the statement. I believe the chief cause of and the most important element entering into the unsatisfactory results from public education is the teacher, and he who here makes this statement is himself a public school teacher. That other and potent forces have been, are and will continue to be, factors thereof we all know. It is not the purpose of this paper to discuss them. Since, however, the teacher is the greatest factor, not only entering into the success or failure of "the great experiment," but also in determining the character of the work done and the means for further progress, he deserves and should receive the greatest possible assistance, tending to enable him to increase his efficiency in his work.
A careful study as to the requirements necessary to the competent teacher reveals that, in addition to high moral and physical qualifications, he should be equipped with a broad academic education, supplemented by a thorough course iu at least one brauch of science. He should have special professional training preparatory to the work of teaching. He must be able to comprehend his work, which is meant to include ability not only to instruct the child, but also to cultivate, rear and mature his powers; a bility to investigate his own work, to observe and differentiate results, to discriminate, to originate; in a word, to make the schoolroom his scientific pedagogical laboratory. He must have tact, a knowledge of the nature of children, and, most requisite of all, unbounded and loving sympathy. The lack of any of these requirements lessens by so much his competency and weakens his power as a teacher.
We all know that the present teacher does not measure up to this ideal. "Well, what are you going to do about it?” Turn him out ? Will his successor, under present conditions, be any better, or as good, even ? Is there a stock of trained doctors of the Science of Teaching to draw from ? None. Then the best to be done, and it becomes imperative, therefore, is to make the teacher of today as much a real teacher as pos. sible. The duty is mutual-teacher, school officials, the State-all are concerned; and over and above all, the child,
I take it as axiomatic that he who is without high moral character and good bodily health is thereby disqualified from becoming a teacher.
It is iucumbent upon him who knocks at the door of the school to: bring with him a broad culture and strongly-developed mental powers.
Of professional training there is but little which can be accepted as such. This is necessarily true, for the days of Ichabod Crane are as but yesterday-indeed, the schoolmuster is still abroad in the land and must abide with us until sufficient scientific investigation shall have been made to give us the foundation to build upon. If we examine the history of public education we find that there has been but little real work in this field. A sporadic effort, or a fad heralded-a bubble burst. Careful and critical study of the work of teaching has never been general, and is still limited to the very few. The field covered has been too circumscribed, the investigation has not been sufficiently broad or continuing to establish well-recognized precedents or general laws. Some few have studied a child, or, at most, a few
children under conditions largely abnormal, having been made in most cases by the investigator himself. Froebel and Pestalozzi have rendered themselves immortal by endowing the child with a soul and their work of humanizing the schoolmaster. Herbert Spencer and Compayré have given him a philosophy by means of which he may construct theories worthy of the niost careful consideration and application. These have given us something and of great worth, but their fields were limited, or they pursued and explored some special path, or their environments were narrow and peculiar to their specially-created and not general conditions. It has only been within the last few years that the work of educating the masses has received broad and systematic attention and study in such associations as our National Educational Association, and by such men as G. Stanley Hall, J. M. Rice, Superintendent Philbrick, and a few others. Even these were and are hampered by the need of more complete and more satisfactory data, which can only be obtained in the school room and from the school teacher-not one but many, very many.
I have stated that he who would enter this profession in the future should bring with bim sufficient and thorough academic knowledge, and the standard should be made high enough to be fully protective without being prohibitive. To the teacher more than to any other does this apply. But this is the function of the college.
It has too often happened that he who has failed elsewhere has found a haven of refuge at the head of the school room. Quacks and demagogues have always existed and have thrust their way into all professions. It was, in part, to protect theniselves against these parasites that special training and preparatory schools were instituted, and certificated proficiency in the fundamentals pecessary as an equipment for the actual work in the profession was made obligatory upon those who would enter into its practice.
I hope to see the day when the Normal School shall have grown into a School of Teaching, a purely professional school, founded on a basis and doing work that shall place it in the same category as the Schools of Medicine, Law, History, and all other schools now embraced in and forming integral parts of "The University.” The time is ripening, our needs demand it, and the work of our National Educational Association, augmented and supplemented by such work as we shall endeavor to accomplish in our reconstructed State Educational Association and others, will, make it possible.
But even if such a professional school were established it could not give all that is required. Are you willing to entrust the entire and final treatment of your seriously ill and suffering child to the newly graduated physician? The young bachelor-at-law, fresh from his moot court, must, indeed, become the wise and learned judge who will decide your rights and privileges, but only after years of deeper study and careful, critical and wide observation of his own experience as well as that of his brothers in the profession.
The teacher who shall in the future be worthy of the name can become prepared and skilled in his profession only in a similar manner. His professional apprenticeship and preliminary training should be had, not in the school room where its acquisition at best must be slow, in haphazard manner, and at the expense of the mental dwarfing of multitudes of pupils, but in the school of teaching. Skill and wisdom in his profession must come very largely from association and interchange of professional investigation and experience with his fellows. The teacher of the present must prepare the way and should make the journey himself as far as it may be. He alone can and must provide the means, the data whereby the next and succeeding generations may approach nearly and more nearly to the perfect teacher. They must build upon his work and attain success by reason of his failure. If, however, we of today make no study of our work nor leave any record thereof, we deprive the State of the greatest benefit and deny to posterity its rightful inheritance. Herein lie the two most important professional functions of Teachers' Associations at the present time
It is the function of the State Teachers' Association to bring before all the teachers in the State, through the investigation and instrumentality of committees selecied for their fitness, conditions, methods, processes now existing their effects good or bad; the character of our work and its relation to the pupil and to the community, whether it conduces to give him creative power as well as to strengthen his receptive and reproductive faculties; to bring together this vast body of workers and make out of a heterogeneous conglomeration a harmonious whole; to engender professional spirit-that self-consciousness which is begotten of active co-operative interest that uplifts and dignifies both the individual and the entire body. It is the function of the State Teachers' Association to contribute to other similar organizations, through publication of minutes and reports of committees, all trustworthy data collected and all well-founded conclusions, thereby broadening the field of research and at the same time giving our best efforts to the common cause; especially is it incumbent upon every such local association to co-operate with and enter into the work of the National Educational Association, and it would be wise and of great service to send capable delegates to this great central body, where data from all sections could be studied, conditions examined and needs intelligently determined, for it is my conviction that we must give to our American boys and girls that peculiar education which is the outgrowth of our republican institutions and which is absolutely necessary for their perpetuation. American education is necessary to the American Republic, and what shall constitute this can be best determined from a study of all that pertains to the whole country. This can only be accomplished when all parts of the country bring together their best efforts and wisest judgment.
It is the function of the State Teachers' Association to give all possible assistance and recognition to the county associations, inviting and seeking their aid, thereby obtaining through their delegates (if in any way these may be provided for) the actual detail of work and conditions in all parts of the State.
It is the function of the State Teachers' Association at the present time to offer to all its members by means of special lectures or otherwise, a broader view and knowledge of natural science, mathematics, history and other branches of study than the opportunities of the great majority of us have afforded. It is right that the teacher shall be kept in touch with the results of modern investigation and thought. The well-digested and carefully-arranged lecture of the special workers in their several departments, in connection with selected, pertinent illustrations will condense into an hour the hard word of many months, and in this brief time there will be given an increased appreciation of such subject and an increased power therein in our work in the school room. Since the zones of influence and work of school teachers and school officials overlap and run together, it is the function of the State Teachers' Association to make such provision as will secure the active interest and participation of school officials and all others in any way connected with the work of education, and to give in return the results of trial and experience and so aid in inteiligent and comprehensive school supervision and legislation. This union of interests enlarges the scope of a teachers' association and merges it into a State Educational Association-its proper and natural sphere.
It is not only its function, but also an imperative duty to do all this in the most inte esting, instructive and pleasing manner, that by its attractiveness, as well as for any other reason, the attendance and active participation of the greatest number may be secured, and the greatest amount of good accomplished-this on the same principle that it is eminently proper and right to make the work of the school a pleasure and a happiness to the pupil.
There is a place and a welcome here even for the much-abused bookagent. Here, indeed, should his wares be considered and criticised by those committees or persons having their subjects under consideration. Books! those best of servants and worst of masters! How much good; yet, how much harm they have done? At no other place can school appliances be exhibited and the opportunity afforded to present their claims to so great advantage to all concerned, and provision should be made to this end.
While it is right and beneficial to relieve and vary its proceedings with pleasing, entertaining and refined social functions, it is neither the duty nor the privilege of an educational association to make amusement or mere pleasure a leading incentive to attract numbers to its meetings. Such a course changes its entire character. When the educational is subordinated to the social function, it either becomes perfunctory or is lost sight of entirely. The foundation is destroyed and the structure falls in ruins. As well make the school a place for the pupils to have fun.
It is the purpose of the Maryland State Teachers' Association to strive towards this reality of work, and to that end a plan of reorganization is now in preparation. In order, however, that it may be even partly successful, it has three great needs-recognition, encouragement, aid.
Recognition-official recognition by the State as an integral part of its educational system, official recognition by county and municipal school boards by making such provision that their respective teachers' associations as well as their own body shall be fully represented by delegates to the association and by referring to its coinmittees interrogatories and matters requiring professional investigation and opinion. Recognition by the teachers themselves, as a place to which each may bring the results of his observation in his own limited surroundings, with the assurance that they will be used according to their reality and merit; as a place where he may get not only similar contributions from his co-workers, thereby enlarging his range of vision, but also the carefully studied and well-digested conclusions based on special study of all such data from committees appointed for their special fitness to consider the matters referred to them.
Encouragement-of State and school officials by giving to the reports of our committees and their conclusions concerning professional matters due respect and weight according to their merits; by honoring and rewarding with such preferments and emoluments as may be those who, by their work in connection with the association, strive to advance the work of education; and by denying official favor and countenance to those who do not endeavor to improve either their own work or the work of others. Encouragement from the press by resonable notice in its columns of our proceedings, acts, reports, accompanied by just and kind criticism, whether favorable or adverse, all tending to give us such standing and repute in the community as we may merit.
Aid-by advice, counsel, judgment from other spheres of activity. And most necessary to make our broader work possible and effective, we need financial aid.
The small salaries of teachers do not enable them to provide for the necessary working expenses of the association and its committees, the printing of circulars, proceedings and reports of committees, so as to have them in usable form. We cannot hope to obtain our ends without assistance in the sbape of a small annual appropriation. We shall pray the State to give us this aid, and we earnestly seek your kind offices to that end.