Francis B. Pearson.

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School Efficiency Monographs

THE RECONSTRUCTED SCHOOL

by

FRANCIS B. PEARSON

Superintendent of Public Instruction for Ohio

Author of _The Evolution of the Teacher_, _The High School Problem_,
_Reveries Of A Schoolmaster_, and _The Vitalized School_

World Book Company

1921







PREFACE


In our school processes there are many constants which have general
recognition as such by thoughtful people. On the other hand, there are
many variables which should be subjected to close scrutiny to the end that
they may be made to yield forth the largest possible returns upon the
investment of time and effort. These phases of school procedure constitute
the real problem in the work of reconstruction, and the following pages
represent an effort to point the way toward larger and better results in
the realm of these variables. In general, the aims and purposes of the
worker determine the quality of the work done. If, therefore, this volume
succeeds in stimulating teachers to elevate the goals of their endeavors,
it will have accomplished its purpose. - F.B.P.




CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF THE TASK BEFORE THE SCHOOL
II. THE PAST AS RELATED TO THE PRESENT
III. THE FUTURE AS RELATED TO THE PRESENT
IV. INTEGRITY
V. APPRECIATION
VI. ASPIRATION
VII. INITIATIVE
VIII. IMAGINATION
IX. REVERENCE
X. SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY
XI. LOYALTY
XII. DEMOCRACY
XIII. SERENITY
XIV. LIFE
INDEX




THE RECONSTRUCTED SCHOOL




CHAPTER ONE

A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF THE TASK BEFORE THE SCHOOL


When people come to think alike, they tend to act alike; unison in
thinking begets unison in action. It is often said that the man and wife
who have spent years together have grown to resemble each other; but the
resemblance is probably in actions rather than in looks; the fact is that
they have had common goals of thinking throughout the many years they have
lived together and so have come to act in unison. The wise teacher often
adjusts difficult situations in her school by inducing the pupils to think
toward a common goal. In their zeal for a common enterprise the children
forget their differences and attain unison in action as the result of
their unison in thinking. The school superintendent knows full well that
if he can bring teachers, pupils, and parents to think toward a common
goal, he will soon have unity of action. When people catch step mentally,
they do the same physically, and as they move forward along the paths of
their common thinking, their ways converge until, in time, they find
themselves walking side by side in amiable and agreeable converse.

In the larger world outside the school, community enterprises help to
generate unity of thinking and consequent unity of action. The pastor
finds it one of his larger tasks to establish a focus for the thinking of
his people in order to induce concerted action. If the enterprise is one
of charity, the neighbors soon find themselves vying with one another in
zeal and good will. In the zest of a common purpose they see one another
with new eyes and find delight in working with people whose society they
once avoided. They can now do teamwork, because they are all thinking
toward the same high and worthy goal; lines of demarcation are obliterated
and spirits blend in a common purpose. Unity of action becomes inevitable
as soon as thinking becomes unified.

Coöperation follows close upon the heels of community thinking. In the
presence of a great calamity, rivalries, differences of creed and party,
and long-established animosities disappear in the zeal for beneficent
action. In the case of fire or flood people are at one in their actions
because they are thinking toward the common goal of rescue. They act
together only when they think together. Indeed, coöperation is an
impossibility apart from unified thinking. Herein lies the efficacy of
leadership. It is the province of the leader to induce unity of thinking,
to animate with a common purpose, knowing that united action will
certainly ensue. If he can cause the thinking of people to center upon a
focal point, he establishes his claim to leadership.

What is true of individuals is true, also, of nations. Before they can act
in concert, they must think in concert, and, to do this, they must acquire
the ability to think toward common goals. If, to illustrate, all nations
should come to think toward the goal of democracy, there would ensue a
closer sympathy among them, and, in time, modifications of their forms of
government would come about as a natural result of their unity of
thinking. Again, if all nations of the world should set up the quality of
courage as one of the objectives of their thinking they would be drawn
closer together in their feelings and in their conduct. If the parents and
teachers of all these nations should strive to exorcise fear in the
training of children, this purpose would constitute a bond of sympathy
among them and they would be encouraged by the reflection that this high
purpose was animating parents and teachers the world around. Courage, of
course, is of the spirit and typifies many spiritual qualities that
characterize civilization of high grade. It is quite conceivable that
these qualities of the spirit may become the goals of thinking in all
lands. Thus the nations would be brought into a relation of closer
harmony. Had a score of boys shared the experience of the lad who grew
into the likeness of the Great Stone Face, their differences and
disparities would have disappeared in the zeal of a common purpose and
they would have become a unified organization in thinking toward the same
goal.

We cannot hope to achieve the brotherhood of man until the nations of the
world have directed their thinking toward the same goals. What these goals
shall be must be determined by competent leadership through the process of
education. When we think in unison we are taken out of ourselves and
become merged in the spirit of the goal toward which we are thinking. If
we were to agree upon courage as one of the spiritual qualities that
should characterize all nations and organize all educational forces for
the development of this quality, we should find the nations coming closer
to one another with this quality as a common possession. Courage gives
freedom, and in this freedom the nations would touch spiritual elbows and
would thus become spiritual confederates and comrades. By generating and
developing this and other spiritual qualities the nations would become
merged and unity of feeling and actions would surely ensue. Since love is
the greatest thing in the world, this quality may well be made the major
goal toward which the thinking of all nations shall be directed. When all
peoples come to think and yearn toward this goal, hatred and strife will
be banished and peace and righteousness will be enthroned in the hearts of
men. When there has been developed in all the nations of the earth an
ardent love for the true, the beautiful, and the good, civilization will
step up to a higher level and we shall see the dawn of unity.

We who are indulging in dreams of the brotherhood of man must enlarge our
concept of society before we can hope to have our dreams come true. It is
a far cry from society as a strictly American affair to society as a world
affair. The teaching of our schools has had a distinct tendency to
restrict our notion of society to that within our own national boundaries.
In this we convict ourselves of provincialism. Society is far larger than
America, or China, or Russia, or all the islands of the sea in
combination. It may entail some straining at the mental leash to win this
concept of society, but it must be won as a condition precedent to a fair
and just estimate of what the function of education really is and what it
is of which the schoolhouse must be an exponent. Society must be thought
of as including all nations, tribes, and tongues. In our thinking, the
word "society" must suggest the hut that nestles on the mountain-side as
well as the palace that fronts the stately boulevard. It must suggest the
cape that indents the sea as well as the vast plain that stretches out
from river to river. And it must suggest the toiler at his task, the
employer at his desk, the man of leisure in his home, the voyager on the
ocean, the soldier in the ranks, the child at his lessons, and the mother
crooning her baby to sleep.

We descant volubly upon the subjects of citizenship and civilization but,
as yet, have achieved no adequate definition of either of the terms upon
which we expatiate so fluently. Our books teem with admonitions to train
for citizenship in order that we may attain civilization of better
quality. But, in all this, we imply American citizenship and American
civilization, and here, again, we show forth our provincialism. But even
in this restricted field we arrive at our hazy concept of a good citizen
by the process of elimination. We aver that a good citizen does not do
this and does not do that; yet the teachers in our schools would find it
difficult to describe a good citizen adequately, in positive terms. Our
notions of good citizenship are more or less vague and misty and,
therefore, our concept of civilization is equally so.

Granting, however, that we may finally achieve satisfactory definitions of
citizenship and civilization as applying to our own country, it does not
follow that the same definitions will obtain in other lands. A good
citizen according to the Chinese conception may differ widely from a good
citizen in the United States. Topography, climate, associations,
occupations, traditions, and racial tendencies must all be taken into
account in formulating a definition. Before we can gain a right concept of
good citizenship as a world affair we must make a thoughtful study of
world conditions. In so doing, we may have occasion to modify and correct
some of our own preconceived notions and thus extend the horizon of our
education.

What society is and should be in the world at large; what good citizenship
is and ought to be in the whole world; and what civilization is, should
be, and may be as a world enterprise - these considerations are the
foundation stones upon which we must build the temple of education now in
the process of reconstruction. Otherwise the work will be narrow,
illiberal, spasmodic, and sporadic. It must be possible to arrive at a
common denominator of the concepts of society, citizenship, and
civilization as pertaining to all nations; it must be possible to contrive
a composite of all these concepts to which all nations will subscribe; and
it must be possible to discover some fundamental principles that will
constitute a focal point toward which the thinking of all nations can be
directed. Once this focal point is determined and the thinking of the
world focused upon it, the work of reconstruction has been inaugurated.

But the task is not a simple one by any means; quite the contrary, for it
is world-embracing in its scope. However difficult the task, it is, none
the less, altogether alluring and worthy. It is quite within the range of
possibilities for a book to be written, even a textbook, that would serve
a useful purpose and meet a distinct need in the schools of all lands. At
this point the question of languages obtrudes itself. When people think in
unison a common language is reduced to the plane of a mere convenience,
not a necessity. The buyer and the seller may not speak the same language
but, somehow, they contrive to effect a satisfactory adjustment because
their thinking is centered upon the same objective. When thinking becomes
cosmopolitan, conduct becomes equally so. If this be conceded, then it is
quite within the range of possibilities to formulate a course of study for
all the schools of the world, if only we set up as goals the qualities
that will make for the well-being of people in all lands. True, the means
may differ in different lands, but, even so, the ends will remain
constant. A thousand people may set out from their homes with Rome as
their destination. They will use all means of travel and speak many
languages as they journey forward, but their destination continues
constant and they will use the best means at their command to attain the
common goal. Similarly, if we set up the quality of loyalty as one of our
educational goals, the means may differ but the goal does not change and,
therefore, the nations will be actuated by a common purpose in their
educational endeavors.

The one thing needful for the execution of this ambitious program of
securing concerted thinking is to have in our schools teachers who are
world-minded, who think in world units. Such teachers, and only such, can
plan for world education and world affairs, and bring their plans to a
successful issue. Some teachers seem able to think only of a schoolroom;
others of a building; others of a town or township; still others of a
state; some of a country; and fewer yet of the world as a single thing. A
person can be no larger than his unit of thinking. One who thinks in small
units convicts himself of provincialism and soon becomes intolerant. Such
a person arrogates to himself superiority and inclines to feel somewhat
contemptuous of people outside the narrow limits of his thinking. If he
thinks his restricted horizon bounds all that is worth knowing, he will
not exert himself to climb to a higher level in order that he may gain a
wider view. He is disdainful and intolerant of whatever lies beyond his
horizon, and his attitude, if not his words, repeats the question of the
culpable Cain, "Am I my brother's keeper?" He is encased in an armor that
is impervious to ordinary appeal. He is satisfied with himself and asks
merely to be let alone. He is quite content to be held fast bound in his
traditional moorings without any feeling of sympathy for the world as a
whole.

The reverse side of the picture reveals the teacher who is world-minded.
Such a teacher is never less than magnanimous; intolerance has no place in
his scheme of life; he is in sympathy with all nations in their progress
toward light and right; and he is interested in all world progress whether
in science, in art, in literature, in economics, in industry, or in
education. To this end he is careful to inform himself as to world
movements and notes with keen interest the trend and development of
civilization. Being a world-citizen himself, he strives, in his school
work, to develop in his pupils the capacity and the desire for
world-citizenship. With no abatement of thoroughness in the work of his
school, he still finds time to look up from his tasks to catch the view
beyond his own national boundaries. If the superintendent who is
world-minded has the hearty coöperation of teachers who are also
world-minded, together they will be able to develop a plan of education
that is world-wide. To produce teachers of this type may require a
readjustment and reconstruction of the work of colleges and training
schools to the end that the teachers they send forth may measure up to the
requirements of this world-wide concept of education. But these
institutions can hardly hope to be immune to the process of
reconstruction. They can hardly hope to cite the past as a guide for the
future, for traditional lines are being obliterated and new lines are
being marked out for civilization, including education in its larger and
newer import.




CHAPTER TWO

THE PAST AS RELATED TO THE PRESENT


In a significant degree the present is the heritage of the past, and any
critical appraisement of the present must take cognizance of the influence
of the past. That there are weak places in our present civilization, no
one will deny; nor will it be denied that the sources of some of these may
be found in the past. We have it on good authority that "the fathers have
eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge." Had the
eating of sour grapes in the past been more restricted, the present
generation would stand less in need of dentistry. When we take an
inventory of the people of the present who are defective in body, in mind,
or in spirit, it seems obvious that the consumption of sour grapes, in the
past, must have been quite extensive. If the blood of the grandfather was
tainted, it is probable that the blood of the grandchild is impure.

The defects of the present would seem to constitute a valid indictment
against the educational agencies of the past. These agencies are not
confined to the school but include law, medicine, civics, sociology,
government, hygiene, eugenics, home life, and physical training. Had all
these phases of education done their perfect work in the past, the present
would be in better case. It seems a great pity that it required a world
war to render us conscious of many of the defects of society. The draft
board made discoveries of facts that seem to have eluded the home, the
school, the family physician, and the boards of health. Many of these
discoveries are most disquieting and reflect unfavorably upon some of the
educational practices of the past. The many cases of physical unfitness
and the fewer cases of athletic hearts seem to have escaped the attention
of physical directors and athletic coaches, not to mention parents and
physicians. Seeing that one fourth of our young men have been pronounced
physically unsound, it behooves us to turn our gaze toward the past to
determine, if possible, wherein our educational processes have been at
fault.

The thoughtful person who stands on the street-corner watching the
promiscuous throng pass by and making a careful appraisement of their
physical, mental, and spiritual qualities, will not find the experience
particularly edifying. He will note many facts that will depress rather
than encourage and inspire. In the throng he will see many men and women,
young and old, who, as specimens of physical manhood and womanhood, are
far from perfect. He will see many who are young in years but who are old
in looks and physical bearing. They creep or shuffle along as if bowed
down with the weight of years, lacking the graces of buoyancy and
abounding youth. They are bent, gnarled, shriveled, faded, weak, and
wizened. Their faces reveal the absence of the looks that betoken hope,
courage, aspiration, and high purpose. Their lineaments and their gait
show forth a ghastly forlornness that excites pity and despair. They seem
the veriest derelicts, tossed to and fro by the currents of life without
hope of redemption.

Their whole bearing indicates that they are languid, morbid, misanthropic,
and nerveless. They seem ill-nourished as well as mentally and spiritually
starved. They seem the victims of inherited or acquired weaknesses that
stamp them as belonging among the physically unfit. If the farmer should
discover among his animals as large a percentage of unfitness and
imperfection, he would reach the conclusion at once that something was
radically wrong and would immediately set on foot well-thought-out plans
to rectify the situation. But, seeing that these derelicts are human
beings and not farm stock, we bestow upon them a sneer, or possibly a
pittance by way of alms, and pass on our complacent ways. Looking upon the
imperfect passersby, the observer is reminded of the tens of thousands of
children who are defective in mind and body and are hidden away from
public gaze, a charge upon the resources of the state.

Such a setting forth of the less agreeable side of present conditions
would seem out of place, if not actually impertinent, were we inclined to
ignore the fact that diagnosis must precede treatment. The surgeon knows
full well that there will be pain, but he is comforted by the reflection
that restoration to health will succeed the pain. We need to look squarely
at the facts as they are in order to determine what must be done to avert
a repetition in the future. We have seen the sins of the fathers visited
upon the children to the third and fourth generation and still retained
our complacency. We preach temperance to the young men of our day, but
fail to set forth the fact that right living on their part will make for
the well-being of their grandchildren. We exhibit our thoroughbred live
stock at our fairs and plume ourselves upon our ability to produce stock
of such quality. In the case of live stock we know that the present is the
product of the past, but seem less ready to acknowledge the same fact as
touching human animals. We may know that our ancestors planted thorns and
yet we seem surprised that we cannot gather a harvest of grapes, and we
would fain gather figs from a planting of thistles. But this may not be.
We harvest according to the planting of our ancestors, and, with equal
certainty, if we eat sour grapes the teeth of our descendants will surely
be put on edge.

If we are to reconstruct our educational processes we must make a critical
survey of the entire situation that we may be fully advised of the
magnitude of the problem to which we are to address ourselves. We may not
blink the facts but must face them squarely; otherwise we shall not get
on. We may take unction to ourselves for our philanthropic zeal in caring
for our unfortunates in penal and eleemosynary institutions, but that will
not suffice. We must frankly consider by what means the number of these
unfortunates may be reduced. If we fail to do this we convict ourselves of
cowardice or impotence. We pile up our millions in buildings for the
insane, the feeble-minded, the vicious, the epileptic, and plume ourselves
upon our munificence. But if all these unfortunates could be redeemed from
their thralldom, and these countless millions turned back into the
channels of trade, civilization would take on a new meaning. Here is one
of the problems that calls aloud to education for a solution and will not
be denied.

One of the avowed purposes of education is to lift society to a higher
plane of thinking and acting, and it is always and altogether pertinent to
make an inventory to discover if this laudable purpose is being
accomplished. Such an inventory can be made only by an analyst; the work
cannot be delegated either to a pessimist or to an optimist. In his
efforts to determine whether society is advancing or receding, the analyst
often makes disquieting discoveries.

It must be admitted by the most devoted and patriotic American that our
civilization includes many elements that can truly be denominated
frivolous, superficial, artificial, and inconsequential. As a people, we
seek to be entertained, but fail to make a nice distinction between
entertainment and amusement. War, it is true, has caused us to think more
soberly and feel more deeply; but the bizarre, the gaudy, and the
superficial still make a strong appeal to us. We are quite happy to wear
paste diamonds, provided only that they sparkle. So long have we been
substituting the fictitious for the genuine that we have contracted the
habit of loose, fictitious thinking. So much does the show element appeal
to us that we incline to parade even our troubles. Simplicity and
sincerity, whether in dress, in speech, or in conduct, have so long been
foreign to our daily living and thinking that we incline to style these
qualities as old-fogyish.

A hundred or more young men came to a certain city to enlist for the war.
As they marched out through the railway station they rent the air with
whooping and yells and other manifestations of boisterous conduct. These
young fellows may have hearts of gold, but their real manhood was overlaid
with a veneer of rudeness that could not commend them to the admiration of
cultivated persons. Inside the station was another group of young men in
khaki who were quiet, dignified, and decorous. The contrast between the
two groups was most striking, and the bystanders were led to wonder
whether it requires a world-war to teach our young men manners and whether
the schools and homes have abdicated in favor of the cantonment in the
teaching of deportment. In the schools and the homes that are to be in our
good land we may well hope that decorum will be emphasized and magnified;
for decorum is evermore the fruitage of intellectuality and genuine
culture.

As a nation, we have been prodigal of our resources and, especially, of
our time. We have failed to regard our leisure hours as a liability but,
like the lotus eaters, have dallied in the realm of pleasure. Like


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