A. S. (Andrew Sloan) Draper.

A Christmas address : science and the elementary schools : delivered at a general meeting of the teachers of the Cleveland Public Schools online

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Science and the Elementary Schools,




Cleveland Public Schools,



Superintendent of Instruction.





Science and the Elementary Schools,




Cleveland Public Schools,


Superintendent of Instruction.





A Christmas Address:


The modern, free elementary school has had a
growth and extension which is phenomenal. It reaches
out its kindly arms unceasingly and farther and farther
to the world's children, and year by year it gains in
strength and power and completeness. It is going to
be the world's universal civic institution.

The ancients maintained schools more than we are
accustomed to remember. In some cases they were
more elaborate, reached higher and had wider range
than we commonly recall. But they were for the pur-
poses of the king, not for the uplifting of the people.
The instances in which the purposes of the king coincided
with the interests of the people are so rare that they
hardly count. The kingly power under one name or
another was everywhere present. It was supreme. Its
foot was upon the neck of the people and it was inexor-
able. Its ambition was the perpetuation of the dynasty.
Ignorance and superstition were its instruments to that
end. Such schools as were set up were for the few as
against the many, for favored classes who were trained


to augment the power of the king and forge the chains
of the people. When the arts were cultivated it was
that they might adorn the crown. Brute force was the
power that controlled the race. The world sped on in
darkness because the people were slaves.


But light broke. It was heralded by a new star
above the hills of Bethlehem. The world will never fail
to commemorate that great event. In memory of it we
suspend all our ordinary work ; we give ourselves up to
mirth and gladness ; we give gifts and do what we can
to make our friends merry and carry happiness to all
who are about us. Upon this one anniversary, by com-
mon impulse, the world comes into harmonious accord ;
all minds dwell upon one historic scene ; all feelings are
in union ; all instruments of music are in one key ; all
the people sing, and all the silvery bells ring out the Te
Deum and the Gloria in Excelsis with a depth of feeling
and expression unequalled at any other time "Through
all the circle of the golden year."

It is the noblest way in which Vt^ could celebrate
the greatest of religious anniversaries. But Christmas
has a civic as well as a religious significance. If we
were to observe it with oration, and booming cannon,
and martial music, and marching column, it would not
be as appropriate an observance, but it would not be an
altogether inappropriate observance of the day, for the
birth of the Savior was the most momentous event in
civil as well as in religious history.

It brought a new force into human affairs which was
destined to overturn kingdoms and bring the plans
of kings to naught. It set up a King above kings,

whose mission was the uplifting of all mankind, whose
plan was to be made known in the uttermost parts of
the earth, for whose sake men and women were to go to
the rack and the scaffold and the block, in whose cause
vast armies were to fight and so prevail as to change the
whole current of human affairs. The missionaries of
the Cross, in the market places and in the wilderness,
stirred the minds as well as the hearts of men. Persecu-
tion by the kings only intensified devotion. . The blood
of the martyrs became the seed of the church. Thought
was set in motion. It was the plan of the Almighty,
and it was irresistible. Then came the moving of the
mighty hosts in the crusades for the reclamation of the
Holy Sepulchre. They failed in their specific object,
but they accomplished infinitely more. The tread of
their armies reverberated throughout Europe, set the
nations all in action, energized thought and opened the
way for a new civilization. Again, it was in the plan of
the Almighty, and it was irresistible.


In history events lead on to consequences with un-
erring and majestic tread. The movements of the na-
tions led right on to the discovery of America, another
mighty event in the marvelous plan for the uplifting of
the people. It became a practical necessity to find a
water route to the Indies. Reason told a great navi-
gator that it could be found by sailing westward. Let it
never be forgotten that Columbus sailed on the faith of
an idea. -He died in the confidence of success, but in a
delusion, for Cathay was still many thousand miles away.
But what a glorious delusion it was. If he had not
reached the eastern shores of the old world, he had come

upon the eastern outposts of a new world, and next to
the birth of Christ he had accomplished what was the
most momentous event in human history if it is to be
measured by its influence on the affairs of men.


The belief that the long-sought water route to
the Indies had been discovered and that the products of
the Empire of the Grand Kahn could be brought to
Europe in ships, sent a thrill of new life throughout the
land and gave a new energy to the thought of the people.
Marked results followed, for life and thought will have
expression. In the next twenty-five years Luther had
nailed his ninety-five theses on the church doors at


Wittemburg and fired the sunrise gun of the Reformation.
The opening epoch was to be a bloody one, but it was
to witness the birth of liberty. Nothing moves the
people like religious feeling, Nothing ever did move
the people like the feelings which had their expression
in the Reformation. A new religious and intellectual
development was everywhere apparent, but was most
marked in Germany and in Britain.

It was more than half a century after the discovery
of America before the fact became known that the land
upon which the great navigator had come was not China,
but a new and independent continent. This new dis-
covery was not a disappointment. It made the achieve-
ment of Columbus of v much greater consequence than
had been thought. The possibilities of this new fact
had no limit. In its turn it gave added activity to the
life and thought of Europe. Spain, under whose patron-
age this great achievement had been accomplished, at
once gained great importance and became the most ag-

gressive and warlike nation of the world. She had
found a new world, and it impelled her to attempt the
subjugation of the old one. Her government was, of
course, the will of the king, and her policy was against
liberty of thought and the independence of the people.
She very naturally directed her power against the na-
tions where development was most marked and intel-
lectual emancipation was most promising. She pushed
her armies into the Netherlands and set up the Inquisi-
tion that she might bring to her feet the most progress-
ive people of Continental Europe; at the same time the
granddaughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, one of the
accidents upon the English throne, and the doting wife
of the Spanish king who both controlled and hated her,
the weak and bloody Mary, began the horrible work
of Spanishizing Britain with flame and fagot.

The world-wide battle of the people against the
king was now on, and it was to continue to a finish.
Moreover, a change in the program was at hand. Kings
and queens, as well as subjects, were to lose their heads.
There could be but one result. Thought is all powerful.
The truth will work its way out. An overruling power
was behind it all. William the Silent and the Nether-
land Republic, Cromwell and the English Common-
wealth were inevitable. So were the American Revolu-
tion and the French Revolution and all the other
struggles which have been waged and all the triumphs
which have been gained for the liberty of the common
people and for intellectual independence.


I surmise we should have difficulty in finding a task
more fascinating than a closer study of these mighty

events and all the innumerable array of other events
which cluster about them, and also of their relations to
the conditions of our modern life, and particularly to the
rise and growth of our civil institutions. And I surmise,
moreover, that the more we study the more we will
value the beneficent institutions under which we live and
the more closely we shall see their relations to the great
event we celebrate at Christmastide.

The life must be long, and the scholarship thorough,
and the labor uninterrupted and assiduous if one person
is. even measurably, to accomplish this great work.
Men and women who do it but partially, though thor-
oughly, gain great prominence in the field of historic

We may for the hour, however, take one of these
institutions and consider a single phase of that. It is
the institution with which teachers are most familiar ; it
is a phase suggested by the Christmas season and is the
natural sequence of the reflections in which we have al-
ready indulged.

No fact is clearer in history than that common
schools followed upon the overthrow of the kings. In
some lands the king was dead before the king knew it.
In some lands he is dead for all practical purposes long-
before the people understand it. But in no land have
ffee schools for all the people preceded the practical
overthrow of the kingly power ; in no land have free
schools been long deferred after the power of the king
has been broken or has been surrendered, or has become
obsolete by disuse. The extent and the character of the
elementary free schools of a people measure, with con-
siderable nicety, their preparation for civil liberty and
the extent to which they possess and exercise it.

In Germany free elementary schools followed im-
mediately the Reformation; in France they have had a
most phenomenal and scientific growth since the over
throw of the third empire; in England they have fol-
lowed upon the growth of that spirit of independent
liberalism which is well represented in the progress of
the Liberal party; in America they came first from the
Dutch in the Old Netherlands with the Dutch at the
mouth of the Hudson in the New Netherlands, then with
the English in New England as those colonists came
more and more to oppose the power of the king, and
they spurted into being everywhere when independence
was gained and self-government was completely estab-


In all countries, and particularly so in this, the im-
provement of the schools has been gauged by the intel-
lectual strength of the masses, and the power of the
people to obtain that which they are able to see that they
need. And in turn the schools have helped the masses
in all lands where they have been established, but the
extent and effectiveness of the schools has been in exact
proportion to their advance along scientific lines.


What is science? Some of the old writers called it
" God's sight," and the characterization was not at all inap-
propriate. Science is the truth of the Almighty over-
coming obstacles, working its way out through difficul-
ties and marching on to its final triumph. Science and
nature and Deity are very nearly the same. They are
in full and harmonious accord. They constitute a power
which is everywhere present and always active. No

matter about any peculiarities af our personal beliefs, no
matter in what kind of a church we worship, or, indeed,
whether we worship at all, there is not one of us that
does not realize the existence of such a Power in the
world and does not know that it is everywhere present
in the universe and that it is always active. We know
that it controls both mind and matter; that flowers
bloom and the electric current flows, and minds unfold,
and planets revolve and keep to their courses under its

Frequently we are unable to understand its pro-
cesses. Names are cumbersome. The language of
science is discouraging, for it seems unduly involved and
unnecessarily mysterious. But learning and research
are continually helping us. How much has been re-
vealed to this generation which has been withheld from
all that have gone before it! And as one difficulty after
another is removed and one achievement after another
is accomplished, how mysteries are explained, how re-
mote facts come into relationship, how the harmonies of
the universe are established and how we stand in the
presence of the mighty Power that is behind it all !

That is sometimes called science which is not science.
In reaching from the known into the unknown there is
danger of letting go of the known and falling into the
unfathomable unknown. There is intellectual dissipa-
tion for some in contentions which no one can establish
and no one can overturn. True science holds on to
what is known and keeps in touch with what is material.
It is intensely practical. Its mission is not to involve
in mystery, but to clear up the sight and unlock the



We have lived long enough to know how vital it is
to our happiness and our usefulness that we keep in
accord with the Power that rules the universe, and that
we act in harmony with scientific knowledge. We have,
all of us, experimented enough to see how dangerous it
is to attempt to cross the boundaries which nature sets
against human action. We are surely experienced
enough to understand both the fascination of scientific
study and the vital relation of its results to the uplifting
of the human race. Human laws, which merely regu-
late the social organization, must necessarily differ ac-
cording to the circumstances and experiences of nations
and change with their changing conditions, but the laws
of nature are universal and unchangeable. The human
life which measurably expands to its possibilities must
read the book of nature and act upon its precepts. The
life which does this is enriched, gains capacity for enjoy-
ment here and will find itself in harmonious relations
with whatever there may be in the hereafter.


If this knowledge is of consequence to the indivi-
dual so it is to the school. If it has lifted up the indivi-
dual so it has the school. If it has brought a new light
into the life of the individual so it has into the life of
the school. If it is a stairway to the high ends of human
existence, it is, of course, a vital element in the curricu-
lum of the schools. Let us try to see what it has already
done and how much more it may do for the schools.

Science is evolving a scientific house for the use of


the schools. Science and art are both telling us things
that our fathers never thought of. The one is showing
us how cultivated taste and skill can make a building
which will please the eye and train the aesthetic taste
for the same money that was expended upon the un-
sightly structure of the last generation, and experience
has shown that even the sense of the child is strong
enough to respect and care for it if it is pleasing to the
eye and is worthy of being cared for. Art has shown
that no school authority can afford to ignore its entrea-
ties. But science is more imperious. By consequences
and results it has shown that no school authority dare
disregard its injunctions, for its mission is to conserve
the health of the pupils and promote the effectiveness
of the school.

It concerns itself with the character of the ground
upon which the building is to stand and the conditions
with which it is to be surrounded. It locates the build-
ing with reference to the points of the compass and the
advantages of sun-light. It discriminates in material; it
puts the basement floor above the water line ; it regulates
the height of stairs; it asks for sheltering porches and
demands that outer doors shall swing outward. Above
all, it looks to the size, and shape, and temperature, and
ventilation, and lighting of rooms. It says that the good
health of each child requires at least twenty square feet
of floor space and two hundred and forty cubic feet of
air space; that fresh air, right from the outside, is even
more important than warm air, and that every child must
have at least two thousand cubic feet of it per hour, if
the necessity of re-breathing the same air and the con-
sequent likelihood of disease is to be avoided. Science
prescribes the methods for getting warm and fresh air

into the room and for taking dead air and foul gases out
of the room, and provides the instruments for determin-
ing the extent to which it is accomplished. Science
looks to the tinting of the walls and takes light from the
ceiling or the left side for the purpose of protecting the
eyesight of pupils. Thus sanitation, hygiene, and also
seats, blackboards and innumerable other points receive
scientific attention ; these serve to indicate the extent to
which knowledge is evolving a healthful and pleasurable
school room. Of course, the perfect building has not
yet come, and the schools have many old buildings on
their hands which they have inherited, and some people
are slow to see the value of scientific knowledge, but
when we compare the new school-house with the old one
and know that no intelligent parent will longer be indif-
ferent, and no intelligent official dare be indifferent to
these things, we see with what rapid strides the light and
truth have been advancing.


If science has been potent in the improvement of
the school-house so it has surely been in the prepara-
tion of the teacher. Fifty years is a brief period in the
history of education, but the last fifty years constitute a
period which will be memorable, for that period has wit-
nessed the rapid and mature development of the science
of teaching, and that development has worked a com-
pkte revolution in the conduct of the schools. Our
fathers were accustomed to think that any one who
knew a thing could teach it. They were far from the
truth. Investigation and experience has shown the truth
to be that the bare possession of knowledge is but one
element in the equipment of a teacher. He must know

human nature; he must understand the particular mind
to be taught and be able to come into harmonious rela-
tions with it; he must engage its attention, arouse its
enthusiasm, and make it not only receptive of knowledge
but eager for knowledge before it can gain knowledge
which will give it strength. A mere imitator cannot do
this; much less can one who knows nothing of scientific
processes and is not even an imitator. Pestalozzi de-
clared that " Education is the generation of power."
The elements of power must exist for the generation
of power. The teacher must understand principles and
be able to employ the best methods at the right time
and in the right way, with a trained and discriminating
judgment. The force of these scientific facts has but
recently come to be apparent. When New York first,
and Massachusetts a little later, commenced to train
teachers for the common schools some fifty years ago,
it would be supposed that it was pursuant to these scien-
tific truths; but quite the contrary is the tact. There
was even then no recognition of them whatever. But
the light broke at last. To-day there is no movement
in progress which is more rapid and forceful than that
towards the professional preparation of the teacher. It
is true that the general public scarcely understand it yet.
But the teachers do. The entire army of teachers is
under its influence and on the advance. The ones who
do not catch the spirit will have to go upon the retired
list without a pension. The new recruits will have to
meet larger exactions. The whole force is moving to a
higher, because a more scientific, position. The world
will not long fail to respect expert knowledge and it will
not fail to honor artistic work.



Very recent years have witnessed the rise of a new
study the scientific study of child-life. The World's
Educational Congresses of the Columbian Exposition
afforded the opportunity of organizing a national society
for securing to this end the co-operative efforts of physi-
cians, ethnologists, anthropologists, psychologists, par-
ents and teachers, all who are interested in children and
who have regard for scientific truth. The work has
been divided for convenience into four classes: First,
the embryo; second, infancy; third, school life; fourth,
youth to maturity. The field is a broad and fruitful one.
Teachers should be ruminating in that part of it relating
to school life. Considerable progress has already been
made. Measurements of the bodies of 25,000 children
in Boston, of 10,000 in Milwaukee, of 30,000 in St.
Louis, and of many other thousands in other cities have
been taken, and from these measurements many inter-
esting physiological facts have been deduced. For in-
stance, it was found that until the age of eleven or
twelve boys are taller and heavier than girls, then girls
begin to grow rapidly and for the next few years surpass
boys both in height and weight, then again the boys
overtake them and remain taller and heavier ever after.
Rural life produces larger bodies than urban life. Chil-
dren of American born parents average larger than
those of foreign born parents. It>seems to be the fact
that there are three distinct periods of growth, viz. : a
moderate increase in the sixth and seventh years, a
weaker growth from the ninth to the thirteenth years,
and a much greater one from the fourteenth to the six-
teenth years. The fact seemed to appear that children
grow little from the end of November to the end of


March, and much between August and November. The
fact seems also to develop that growth focuses first upon
one set of organs and functions and then upon another.
The head, eye, hand, arm, chest, voice, have periods of
decided development, which are not coincident in the
same person. All this calls for corresponding recogni-
tion in making up the curriculum and determining the
policy of the school. But this is only one phase of the
subject. It extends to muscular control, and the nerv-
ous system, to the hearing and the sight, and to all the
organs and functions of the body.

\t extends also to the study of the mind and to con-
ditions and influences which affect the opening and
growth of the same. We are too prone to forget how
many things which are very common to us are sealed to
others and how things which they understand perfectly
are a mystery to us. Surely one half of the world does
not know how the other half lives. In 1880, Dr. G.
Stanley Hall, the accomplished president of Clark Uni-
versity, studied a large number of children who had
just entered the beginners' grade of the Boston schools.
His scientific intelligence is established and the reliabil-
ity of his statements cannot be doubted. He says that
fourteen per cent, of these six-year-olds had no idea of
the stars, thirty- five per cent, had never been in the
country, twenty per cent, did not know that milk came
from cows, fifty-five per cent, did not know that
wood came from trees, thirteen to fifteen per cent, did
not know the colors, green, blue and yellow, by name,
and three-fourths of all had never seen any of the com-
mon cereals or vegetables growing. Other children
would know all about these things but would be ignor-
ant of matters with which these children would be


familiar. All this emphasizes the importance of the
proper treatment and suggests methods for meeting the
conditions which are presented.

But this is not all. The span of the memory, the
influence of the imagination, the force of reason all of
the processes of the child-mind; the trend of the feel-
ings, the strength of the attachments all the natural
likes and dislikes of children, have been studied with
scientific care in order to know how to make the work
of the schools most prolific of good.

Of course, this thing may be overdone. There is
great possibility of error. Facts may be apparent rather


Online LibraryA. S. (Andrew Sloan) DraperA Christmas address : science and the elementary schools : delivered at a general meeting of the teachers of the Cleveland Public Schools → online text (page 1 of 2)