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American Education


Vol. IX.


No. 4



'T'HERE are so many good things to be
* said about modern university courses
and the students who pursue them that it
may seem, at first, unpardonable to sug-
gest any improvements. One feature, how-
ever, I think may be mentioned which is
not just as it should be.

One does not need to be a student of
zoology to know that a sponge remains
in one place during its life and takes in,
as food, what comes to it. There is danger,
of students becoming intellectual sponges,
sitting in the lecture room and absorbing
the knowledge which is given them and
yet never going out to learn things for

When such a student finishes his course,
whether in a professional school or in col-
lege, he has stored up in his mind a great
many facts. But before long a good part
of this group of facts will be forgotten.
Then what has he to show for his years
of study? Only his diploma.

I believe that thinking people will agree
that the mere acquisition of knowledge is
not the aim of higher education. It should
be only a part of such an education. Far
more important than to have a horde of
facts stored up in the mind is to have that
mind trained in reasonable habits of
thought. Accuracy in judgment, ability to
distinguish between truth and error, men-
tal alertness — these are the things which
should distinguish the educated man and

How may the student gain the scholarly

♦An address to the students oi the University of Colorado,
Oct. 23, IQ05-

mind ? Not by mere study of lecture notes
and assignments in books. This may help
or it may not. The real way is for him
to look things up on his own account.
Perhaps a student has assigned to him
some special subject for study. Will he
gain much thereby if he only consults cer-
tain authorities cited by the professor?
No, he will gain knowledge, but will add
little to his mental ability.

Suppose he finds in his reading various
side branches of the subject mentioned.
He says : " Well, maybe those things would
be interesting to look up, but I don't be-
lieve they are required." And that ends
it. Let me tell you that this sort of thing
long continued is mental suicide — nothing

The true student studies for the sake of
finding out. He should find many a refer-
ence every day, which he will look up just
for his own satisfaction. Such a habit
formed now means • much in after years.
It is not enough to inquire from the pro-
fessor about some obscure point. Let him
find it out for himself. Once away from
the university, there will be no professors
to ask.

It does not suffice to know how men
have acted in the past when a certain diffi-
culty has confronted them. Your trials
and difficulties are going to be different
from these. No two people live the same
life. New situations are always arising.
When a crisis comes you must act and
act quickly. To do this you will need, not
only a store-house of facts, but you will
need mental agility — and this is not the

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property of him who sits languidly in his
chair and memorizes what the professor
tells him. Active thinking and self-
directed study, not passive absorption of
knowledge — these train us to cope with the
difficulties of life.

He who would wish to be a power among
his fellows must put his mind in training
by his own individual study, sometimes of
things related to his university work,
sometimes of things far afield. There
should be more use of reference books,
more use of current magazines, especially
the solid ones, more consultation of origi-
nal sources and less dependence on text-
books and lecture-notes.

The instructors are busy men. They
have their time fully occupied in giving

the best they can to their classes. They
can not take the students separately and
say to this one : " You need to do this," and
to that one : " Your mind should be trained
in that way." But each student can do
much for himself. Let him get the habit
of studying things out alone, whether in
the library or in the laboratory; whether
this be required by the instructors or not.
The really able man or woman has a
mind trained through years of active exer-
cise in real thinking — not mere remember-
ing. To be of scholarly mind is to be
mentally alert, quick to see, quick to think,
quick to distinguish truth and error, to
be accurate in judgment — therefore, to lead
a life governed by right reason.



"THE library is a silent school of learn-
ing and helps to complete that edu-
cation which the schools fail to accomplish.
This subject of reading for the young has
of late years come into unprecedented
prominence, and I take it, this is the rea-
son we hear such nonsensical objections
raised against the library movement by
the older generation. Reading is the store-
house of intellectual wealth and the basis
of all education. We fail in a large
measure in the teaching of reading in that
we teach the text-book instead of teaching
the child to use books. It has never yet
occurred to some of our teachers of the
rural schools that the end of reading is to
learn to appreciate the beauties of litera-
ture. An applicant for a teacher's certifi-
cate a month or more ago, in answer to
the question, " What is reading ?" wrote
that " Reading is pronouncing the words of
a piece correctly." Now that answer con-
veys the conception that a great many of
our teachers have of the art of reading,

consequently libraries amount to nothing
in the hands of such teachers.

Until teachers have a higher conception
of reading than the teacher mentioned who
had regarded reading as the art of pro-
nouncing words, the library will be of little
force. Teachers have heretofore put too
much confidence in the ability of children
to read when they have shown themselves
able to repeat every word in a given selec-
tion, or when they can glide sing-song
through a beautiful poem without the
faintest conception of the meaning of the
lines and the sentiment contained therein.
Others imagine the pupil has reached a
state of perfection in reading when he is
able to read a whole paragraph without a
mistake, never failing to count one for
every comma and four for every period.

Have you not seen teachers following
religiously that pernicious practice of al-
lowing a pupil to read only as far as he
can without making a mistake? To be
sure this sort of work teaches carefulness

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on the part of the pupil, which no one
will deny is a good thing to teach, but the
pupil in his eagerness. to read further than
his fellow loses sight of everything else
save the mere words, thus failing to grasp
the thought of the selection, which should
be the end of all reading. This sort of
teaching leads the pupil to regard reading
not as a luxury but as drudgery. He has
acquired mechanical reading, the calling of
words, but has not had a taste of the beauti-
ful in literature.

Drawing, nature study and arithmetic
are all valuable and have their place in
the curriculum of our rural schools, but
the teaching of reading, not in the narrow
sense, but in the sense of creating within
the pupil a desire for the pure and whole-
some in books, is the most profitable part
of any education.

One writer says " no man having tasted
good food or good wine or even good to-
bacco ever voluntarily turns to an inferior
article." So with our reading habits, a
taste for good reading once acquired be-
comes a joy forever. Now this taste for
good reading must be cultivated under the
wise direction of the teacher, for statistics
show that children do not naturally possess
9 fondness for the best class of literature.
It is admitted that many teachers are not
capable of directing the reading habit of
pupils, having received little or no train-
ing of this sort; then it remains for the
superintendent to come to the rescue and
provide means for the benefit of the teacher.
A course of practical and informing lec-
tures delivered before the county institute
would be a source of pleasure, inspiration
and profit for the teachers. If this spirit
of the use of books for the good of the
soul can be instilled into the hearts of
boys and girls, the habit thus formed and
the taste thus acquired will be of infinitely
more value to them than the information
gained. The latter may soon be forgotten,
but the former will remain with them
through life. It is impossible that such a

spirit and love for the good and the true
should be implanted in the hearts of the
children of even an ignorant and uncouth
family without exerting an elevating and
refining influence. When this spirit shall
have worked its way into the hearts of the
teacher, the pupil and the patron, then will
the library have been established as a liv-
ing force in the land, and your bread cast
upon the waters shall return unto you after
many days in the consciousness of a hap-
pier and a better civilization.



i. Scholarship as shown:

1. By her general culture and knowl-


2. By her special knowledge of

branches taught.

3. By her continued growth in intel-

lectual power.

4. By her accuracy in subject matter,

language, reports, written work,

2. Personality as shown:

1. By her neatness and taste in dress.

2. By her neatness and order in care

of desk, blackboards, etc.

3. By her tact in meeting patrons, as-

sociates and pupils.

4. By her correctness of conduct in

and out of school.

5. By her ability to win the confidence

and arouse the better motives of
her pupils.

3. Disciplinary Ability as shown :

1. By her ideal of order.

2. By her success in attaining proper


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3. By her success in promoting growth

of pupils in self-control.

4. By the apparently permanent results

in character.

4. Teaching Power as shown;

1. By her skill and rapidity in ques-


2. By her aptness and skill in the use

of illustrations.

3. By her success in holding attention

during recitation.

4. By her success in arousing interest

in the subject studied.

5. By the intellectual growth and de-

velopment of pupils.

6. By the amount of special prepara-

tion for each recitation

a. Made by the teacher.

b. Made by the pupil.

5. Professional Spirit as shown:

1. By her enthusiasm in the work of


2. By her sympathy with her pupils.

3. By her co-operation and sympathy

with associates.

4. By her helpfulness and loyalty to

official superiors.

5. By her discretion in discussing

school matters.

6. By her willingness to receive criti-


7. By her ability to improve as a re-

sult of criticisms and suggestions.

8. By her punctuality and promptness

in attending regular and special
meetings, closing recitations, ex-
cusing classes, making reports,

9. By her attendance and interest in

educational meetings.

10. By her interest in pedagogical

periodicals and books.

11. By her general attitude toward edu-

cational matters.



JT # was not many years ago when the
1 prevailing ideal for the discipline of
a school was something like this : Promul-
gate at the beginning a set of rules for
the conduct of the pupils and from the
opening day exact from one and all an
unwilling obedience to these rules by a
free use of brawn and rawhide, regardless
of the child's innate peculiarities and of
his state of development mental or phy-

According to this plan of government,
each pupil was to perform his school
duties like a lifeless piece of machinery
or perhaps more like a soldier in a regi-
ment. The underlying 'principle of this
old manner of discipline was a laudable
firmness, to be sure, but it was the baldest
kind of firmness without modification or

Modern pedagogy teaches, with the old,
that school children should be governed
with a firm hand, but it recognizes that
disciplinary methods must be greatly modi-
fied and adapted to fit the individual con-
ditions and temperaments of many very
unlike children, throbbing with life and
filled with feelings as delicate and sensi-
tive as those of the teacher. The old
pedagogy emphasized only the firmness;
we give equal emphasis to both the firm-
ness and the adaptation.

A strong school principal with whom
I once worked used often to say : " The
only way I know for managing a school
room is with an iron grip. It may be
padded as much as you please, but the
hand itself must be iron."

And with him I heartily agree, although
I strongly insist upon the padding, pre-
ferring it thick usually and often soft; for
a teacher's success in discipline is

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measured, not wholly by the quiet and or-
derliness of her room and her ability to
command and receive prompt obedience
from every pupil. That is the successful
discipline which is unmistakably firm, but
still keeps the pupils well disposed and
leads them to do willingly whatever their
teacher requires.

How, then, shall we pad the iron hand
of discipline; how shall we adapt our
methods of government to different chil-
dren's needs ? This paper proposes to treat
of only a few points out of many that
might be raised.

Most of us find among our pupils the
headstrong, self-willed boy who has been
spoiled by too much pampering and cod-
dling at home. What are we to do with
him? Coddle him still more in school and
complete the ruin begun? Certainly not.
In my judgment the best thing for this
sort of child is to feel the iron pressure
of the teacher's authority, steadily and
firmly applied, until the girl or boy learns —
what his parents have failed to teach
him — that there is such a thing as obedi-
ence to higher authority. After this
fundamental lesson has been thoroughly
impressed, and only then, will this child
be. of any benefit to himself or to anyone

Another perplexing jand common type
of pupil is the one of inborn or inbred ob-
duracy — the boy who so quickly, grows
sulky and sullen when you attempt to
drive him. This boy is one of the aver-
age teacher's hardest problems in discipline
as well as the source of many of her worst
failures. How many of you have sent
boys home at night bitter and resentful
after an unwilling obedience, still less in-
clined to obey you the next time. To be
sure, after you face, the bald question
whether the child will obey you or not,
there is no alternative — he must obey,
willingly or unwillingly. But is it not
wiser in dealing with your obstinate boy
to avoid raising this issue undisguised, but

by a kind, straightforward manner keep
him working harmoniously with you just
because your whole manner makes this
natural for him and you say and do noth-
ing to ruffle him ?

What are we to do with that excitable,
restless child who seems a personifica-
tion of perpetual motion? You will not
keep him entirely quiet probably, and
doubtlessly you ought hot to, for the
teacher's work is not to repress activity,
but to direct and guide it wisely. So keep
your fidgety child well employed. He is

Online LibraryBoston University. School of EducationAmerican education → online text (page 30 of 99)