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Charles L. (Charles Leonidas) Robbins.

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THE SOCIALIZED
RECITATION



BY



CHARLES L. ROBBINS, PH.D.

PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION
STATE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA



ALLYN AND BACON

BOSTON NEW YORK CHICAGO

ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO



COPYRIGHT, 1920
BY CHARLES L. ROBBINS



Norfooofc $regs

J. S. Gushing Co. Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



PREFACE

WHILE the socialized recitation is no solution for
all the problems of teaching, much less a cure-all for
the evils of society in general, it offers such great
possibilities for the development of the individual
pupil and the realization of the social purpose of the
school that it deserves the attention of all progressive
teachers.

It is the purpose of this little volume to show the
place which the socialized recitation may have in the
modern school, to emphasize its possibilities in the
mastery of subject matter as well as in the cultivation
of social ideals and practices on the part of the chil-
dren in our schools, to present enough concrete material
to make the technique clear to the teacher who wishes
to use the method, to give a vivid view of the dangers
to be avoided, and to show in some detail the qualities
which need to be cultivated.

The thanks of the author are due especially to Dr.
Ernest Horn for helpful suggestions after reading the
manuscript and for supplying the stenographic report
of one of the lessons presented in Chapter IV; and
to Miss Bessie L. Pierce of the University (of Iowa)
High School for similar service.



454505
111



TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I
WEAKNESS OF THE INDIVIDUAL RECITATION

PAGE

MEANING OF RECITATION ...... 1

ORIGIN OF THE CLASS METHOD : AN INDIVIDUALISTIC

BACKGROUND ....... 2

DEVELOPMENT OF THE CLASS METHOD ... 2
Relation to free popular education
Social by-products

COMMON DEFECTS ' . . 6

Monopoly of activities by a few pupils : Dr. Horn's

study

Lack of cooperation
Wrong ideas of responsibility
Formalism or perfunctoriness

CHAPTER II

WHAT THE SOCIALIZED RECITATION TRIES TO
ACCOMPLISH

THE NATURE OF SOCIALIZATION . . . . . 13
The "we-feeling"
Common interests and purposes
Good-will
Common activities
Responsibility to the group

Socialization a process that exists on various planes

v



vi Table of Contents

PAGE

AIMS OF THE SOCIALIZED RECITATION ... 17
Providing a stimulating social setting
Finding satisfying activities

Providing the fundamentals of character development
Preparing for larger social participation
Encouraging initiative
Miscellaneous details

CHAPTER III

HOW TO ORGANIZE THE SOCIALIZED
RECITATION

. FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES . . . . .23

Adaptability to needs
Simplicity
Spontaneity
Opportunity for cooperation

FORMS OF ORGANIZATION . . . . . .29

The informal group

The institutionalized group

The self -directing group

Special problems : devising a form of organization
to insure progress ; equalization of opportunity ;
provision to facilitate mastery ; measurement of
achievement ; record of progress.

CHAPTER IV
ILLUSTRATIVE LESSONS

REPORT OF A LESSON CONDUCTED IN THE USUAL

MANNER 43

LESSON BY A SOCIALIZED CLASS IN HISTORY . . 48

LESSON BY A SOCIALIZED CLASS IN GEOGRAPHY . 53



Table of Contents vii

CHAPTER V
DANGERS TO AVOID

PAGE

INTEREST IN PROCESS RATHER THAN IN REAL PUR-
POSE 62

COUNTERFEIT SOCIALIZATION : SUBSTITUTING PUPIL

FOR TEACHER ....... 62

v THE OFFICIOUS AND DOMINEERING PUPIL ... 63

"/ SHIRKING INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY ... 64

INTELLECTUAL RAMBLING AND FUTILE DISCUSSION . 65

V/ LACK OF THOROUGHNESS ...... 66

/ANTI-SOCIAL FEELINGS AND CONDUCT ... 67

PERFUNCTORY ROUTINE ...... 68

EXCESSIVE SOCIAL PRESSURE 69

*" *

v FAILURE TO COMPREHEND THE REAL MEANING OF

THE SOCIALIZED RECITATION .... 70

CHAPTER VI
QUALITIES TO DEVELOP

WORK IDEAS, ATTITUDES, AND PRACTICES ... 73
Ideals of high class intellectual work
Willingness to assume class burdens
Finding or making means to carry on work
Active quest of materials
Taking up new work when old is finished
Sense of values

ATTITUDES, IDEALS, AND CONDUCT CONCERNED WITH

OTHERS 81

Good-will
Courtesy



viii Table of Contents

PAGE

Cooperativeness

Feeling of obligation to contribute, to be helpful

Sacrifice of personal wishes for the good of the class

Freedom

Sense of the value of time

Cultivation of adequate expression

CHAPTER VII

THE PROBLEMS OF THE TEACHER

As SPECTATOR AND STUDENT OF CLASS AFFAIRS . 92

As GUIDE IN SUBJECT MATTER 94

As COUNSELOR IN MATTERS OF CONDUCT ... 95

As JUDGE OF PROGRESS ...... 97

As A SOCIALIZING FORCE 98

A LAST WORD 100



THE SOCIALIZED RECITATION



THE SOCIALIZED RECITATION

CHAPTER I
WEAKNESS OF THE INDIVIDUALISTIC RECITATION

Meaning of Recitation. The term recitation has
come to mean not merely the activity involved in
re-citing to a teacher facts which the pupil has gathered
by studying his textbook, but rather any and all ac-
tivities that take place in the class period. In ordinary
procedure the teacher assigns work, the pupil studies,
and then appears for a recitation in which he goes over
the material upon which he has been concentrating his
intellectual efforts. Where mere mastery of subject
matter is the aim of teacher and pupil, it would seem
that such a method of procedure would be not only
natural but adequate. However, in these days of
growing democracy and increasing effort toward social-
ization, there has grown up a feeling that studying and
reciting do not provide all that is desirable in an ade-
quate scheme of education.

For the sake of understanding the growing movement
toward some more adequate process of socialization,
such as is seen in the various forms of the socialized
recitation, it may be well to examine the origin and
nature of the process. which is now deemed less than
adequate.

1



2 The Socialized Recitation

Origin of the Class Method. The universal method
of imparting knowledge is from individual to individ-
ual. The mother instructs her child ; the master trains
his apprentice; the artist develops his pupil; the re-
ligious worker gives personal attention to the convert.
Yet the economy of handling students in groups for
the work of instruction is so obvious that it is not
strange that from very early times we find teachers
presenting materials of education to larger or smaller
groups. In contrast with this economy, however,
stands the loss of time when, in the process of re-
citing ', a dozen or a score of pupils stand or sit doing
nothing while some individual pours forth what has
been poured in or absorbed. In earlier times every
teacher believed firmly what few believe now: that
if mastery is to be gained, it is necessary that every
pupil recite all of every lesson. For this reason we
find that class instruction grew up before class reci-
tation.

We also find that when the device of the class reci-
tation was introduced, it had a background of the
individualistic idea. The social significance of group-
ing pupils seems to have had no connection with the
introduction of the class idea. Indeed, the class was
little more than an aggregation of individuals, each of
whom was expected to do the same work as every
other. " Each for himself " was the motto of the
individuals in the so-called class, just as truly as it
would have been had each been instructed by a tutor
at home.

Development of the Class Method. Whatever
may have been the origin of the idea of class recitation,



Weakness of the Individualistic Recitation 3

it seems that the spread of the monitorial school idea
had much to do with popularizing the practice in this
country. With its division into groups, with its ar-
rangement to have work for all done by various moni-
tors, but with its emphasis upon individualism in the
actual treatment of subject matter, it may be char-
acterized as having the form of social organization
" but denying the power thereof." Each pupil was
expected to fit into his little groove ; but that groove
was of the same character as that of every other pupil.
The success of the scheme depended more upon the
idea of non-interference with others than upon that
of actual cooperation in the accomplishment of work
of common interest.

As the free school idea spread and as attendance
grew, it became necessary to use the system of class
organization even where there was no desire to adopt
the monitorial idea. The solution of the problem of
popular education was to be found only in a form of
organization which made it possible for a single teacher
to give instruction to a large number of pupils. People
were not accustomed to spending much money for
education. Consequently the only kind of education
which it was possible to introduce was one which
showed a high degree of economy.

Especially in this country did school attendance
develop to an extent far beyond the dreams of early
advocates of popular education. The development
of the technique of class management (rather than
individual treatment) necessarily had to parallel the
expansion of the school population. But when the
small district school developed into the larger town



4 The Socialized Recitation

school, there still remained vestiges of the old days
when each pupil was a class unto himself, when the
chief virtue of the student (from the teacher's point of
view) was to let his neighbors work in peace and quiet.
A most obvious relic of the individualistic days is to be
seen in the unfortunate rural school in which there
are six pupils and about thirty classes !

Thus there developed an individualistic rather than a
social method, but one with social by-products. It is
not to be inferred that a group of active children could
be kept in hermetically sealed cells during a recitation
period. In so far as subject matter was concerned,
that state of isolation practically existed ; for each
student was concerned only with his own tasks
even though they were exactly the same as those of
other students. There were, however, certain social
by-products not connected directly with the material
of instruction. These grew out of the scholastic
warfare between teacher and taught, the pupils fre-
quently uniting in a common feeling of antagonism
toward the one person who was looked upon as the
natural enemy of all, the teacher.

Thus it often came about that pupils learned the
social virtue of cooperation through joining together
in order to practice a kind of intellectual sabotage at
the apparent expense of the teacher. In order to
" kill time " the crafty pupil learned to cooperate
with his fellows in getting through work with as little
speed as possible. Getting the teacher to talk on
some favorite topic was a frequent method of con-
cealing the fact that the members of the class were
not prepared on the material which had been assigned.



Weakness of the Individualistic Recitation 5

Rambling off into various bypaths was an obvious
method of filling in time without the drudgery of
mastering the day's tasks. Any method of " throwing
sand into the works " was esteemed commendable
from the point of view of the pupils. Thus on the
plane of the intellectual work of the school the students
were merely isolated individuals; but on the plane
of anti-teacher activities they were united by a common
bond.

So far as conscious recognition and planning by the
school were concerned, pupils were merely individuals ;
but human nature continually asserted itself in mani-
festations of the inborn capacity and desire to work
together. The figure of speech by which the school
was likened to a race course failed to apply, because
the children insisted on stopping to play by the wayside
instead of running each along his definitely marked
course.

From the preceding characterization it might appear
to one not familiar with our schools that there is in
the ordinary class no possibility of social activity
on the plane of subject matter. Such, however, is far
from being the case; for there has been a growing
recognition of the fact that wherever several persons
are gathered together for the pursuit of any common
object a certain amount of mutual help is not only
possible but desirable.

Where subject matter is relatively simple and me-
. chanical, as in spelling or in the fundamental processes
of arithmetic, the amount of cooperation is generally
slight. But in those more complex and more intellec-
tual subjects in which interpretation, forming of judg-



6 The Socialized Recitation

ments, and discussion are essential to mastery, the
pupil suffers an actual loss if he is not permitted to
receive the benefit of the intellectual struggles of his
fellow students. His own development is made much
more difficult and slow if he is not permitted to express
his ideas to others and receive the benefit of theirs.

Thus it has happened that without conscious recog-
nition of the principle of the socialized recitation many
thoughtful teachers of such subjects as history, geog-
raphy, literature, and composition have been tending
in the direction of increasing cooperation and intel-
lectual fellowship among pupils. It has been dis-
covered that the mastery of certain kinds of subject
matter by the individual is made easier and more
certain by a certain amount of activity that can be
characterized as social. It even seems to be true that
the mere physical presence of others is an aid to in-
dividual effort. Consequently we have seen in recent
years a growing socialization of school work cur-
riculum, methods, and organization even where the
ideal continues to be individualistic.

COMMON DEFECTS

The ordinary class recitation, however, is likely to have
certain defects, a knowledge of which may be helpful in
the development of the socialized recitation by serving
to prevent their being carried over from the old into the
new, or, if they are inherent in all forms of social activity,
by making it possible to minimize their evil results.

The monopoly of activities by a few is one of
the commonest defects. In almost every class, no
matter how conscientious and skillful the teacher,



Weakness of the Individualistic Recitation 7

it is likely to happen that a few brighter and more
energetic pupils will monopolize most .of the time of
the class period. The result is that the duller, slower,
or more diffident pupils fail to receive the benefit
which comes from activity in reciting, discussing, and
questioning. If the teacher attempts to remedy
this defect by giving attention to the weak in propor-
tion to their need, the stronger pupils are likely to
feel that they are paying a penalty for the presence
of those who are not their equals, or, more likely, to
welcome the retarded pace of the class as an oppor-
tunity to take a short vacation.

The defect here lies in human nature ; and no scheme
of organization can render all pupils equally intelligent,
industrious, conscientious, or skillful. In the ordinary
recitation, however, there is often considerable loss
because of a failure to do so much as recognize the
existence of such difficulties as have been mentioned.

Dr. Ernest Horn has published a monograph in
which he gives the results of a study of " The Distribu-
tion of Opportunity for Participation among the
Various Pupils in Class-room Recitations," based upon
an investigation of " the classes of 229 teachers in
twenty-two different schools in nineteen different
systems, in eleven different states." He found that
" the fourth of the class doing most reciting participate
about four times as much as the fourth of the class
doing least reciting." In addition to the element
of differences in ability he believes that other factors
contribute to bring about this increase, among them
being initiative, aggressiveness, talkativeness, and
attractiveness of personality.



8 The Socialized Recitation

Although the inequality between the highest fourth
and the lowest fourth (measured in terms of any given
quality) is less than is commonly supposed, the amount
of reciting done by the fourth of the class ranking
highest in the quality is greater than that done by the
lowest fourth. He further found that pupils who
are ranked highest in all-round ability by the teacher
participate more in the activities of the school than do
those who are ranked lower, the best fourth doing
about 40 per cent more reciting than the poorest fourth.

Dr. Horn explains such inequality as exists by the
following factors : " 1. Pupils who are most compe-
tent, in general, desire most to participate. 2. Those
who most wish to participate tend to get to do it.
3. The teacher feels the necessity of getting things
done and so accepts the more ready and satisfac-
tory answers of the bright pupils. 4. Human nature
avoids error if possible, i.e. it is more pleasant to
receive adequate contributions from pupils than those
which are inadequate or incorrect."

Another interesting conclusion presented in this
study is that there is an increase of inequality with
advance in grade, a condition which may be due
to the fact that the teacher is more interested in subject
matter and less in method of class procedure than is
the teacher in lower grades, and to the further fact
that pupils, being more mature, are more able to
control class procedure.

Lack of cooperation is another common defect of
the ordinary recitation. It is largely the outgrowth
of the feeling that each pupil is pitted against every
other in a more or less friendly race. To a certain



Weakness of the Individualistic Recitation 9

extent this is true ; but if it is carried very far it results
in a group of Ishmaelites, with every pupil's " hand
raised against " his fellows. If this attitude should
be carried from the school into later life it would mean
such a condition of extreme individualism as would
make cooperation in community or nation exceedingly
difficult. Fortunately it does not seem that such
transfer of characteristics from one field to another
takes place with any degree of certainty. But whether
or not the attitude of the Ishmaelite may be carried
over from the school to later relationships, it is cer-
tainly true that a class itself suffers if there is a very
large amount of the spirit that regards every pupil as
a rival rather than as a possible neighbor.

The defect of lack of cooperation is often the result
of the attitude taken by the teacher, especially if he
takes literally the figure of speech which likens school
work to a race. If that be the case he is certain to
frown on any tendency toward cooperation, his frown
possibly representing his disapproval of what he con-
siders fundamentally immoral. If he has had proper
religious training he is likely to fall back upon the
suggestion of St. Paul that the runner is " not crowned
unless he strive lawfully/' lawfully being interpreted
as meaning without assistance from others. When the
teacher assumes such an attitude the whole process of
socialization is likely to be hindered in his classes, as it
always is among those whose philosophy of life is
" Each for himself. Devil take the hindmost ! "

Possibly the greatest defect in the ordinary recita-
tion is the distorted sense of responsibility felt alike
by teacher and pupils. It is to the teacher that pupils



10 The Socialized Recitation

are responsible in all matters. The teacher is respons-
ible to some one else ; and so on to the top of the hier-
archy. In a certain sense there is some truth in the
conception that the teacher is a servant of society,
responsible indirectly to society through the medium
of some person chosen to assist in the administration of
education. It is also true that in the same sense the
pupils are responsible to the teacher for the accomplish-
ment of work which is to be done.

In contrast with this incomplete view of the situation
is the fact that the teacher is also responsible to the
pupils as a guide in their social development ; that the
pupils are responsible to one another and to their group
for the accomplishment of the most and the best
possible ; that they are also responsible to the people
who maintain the school and thus make it possible
for them to come into close contact with the means of
individual development. Any view which makes it
seem that the teacher is the chief or only source of
responsibility is hopelessly distorted. Such a concep-
tion places the teacher on the throne as a little autocrat
who is monarch of all he surveys.

Where the ideal of education is merely to " pound
in " a certain amount of subject matter, where the
pupil is considered clay in the hands of the potter,
where society is regarded as a mass of individuals
reduced or elevated to a certain uniform level, the idea
of the teacher as autocrat may not seem discordant
with the generally accepted social views. But where
the ideal of education is individual development, where
pupils are regarded as personalities on their way to
increasing freedom and responsibility, where the social



Weakness of the Individualistic Recitation 11

ideal is genuine cooperation among individuals varied
in capacity but equal in rights, the autocrat must give
place to the guide.

The tendency toward formalism or perfunctoriness
is frequently characteristic of the ordinary recitation.
Pupils often go through the motions of intellectual
work without any very great attention to the signifi-
cance of what they are doing the natural conse-
quence of a situation from which the social element is
eliminated as much as possible. Where all the pupils
are reciting the same thing to the teacher, where repeti-
tion often occurs simply to see that different individuals
have mastered the same subject matter, it is not
strange that both the pupils who know and those who
do not know shall come to regard the process of hearing
the recitation as a rather formal matter. The pupil
knows that he is making no contribution to the teacher's
knowledge ; he also realizes that he is making as little
to the members of his class. Consequently the tend-
ency is often toward the formal vital social stimulus
being lacking.

Plenty of ridicule has been heaped upon the oral read-
ing lesson in which the pupils read paragraph by para-
graph a selection with which all are familiar and in which
the sole motive for staying awake is to discover mis-
takes, the reward being the pleasure of saying, " He
said pin for pen." But high school work in literature,
mathematics, and foreign language may be just as
deadly when the formal presentation of material by
individuals takes the place of vital effort to satisfy a
social motive.

The ordinary class recitation is a mixture of strength



12 The Socialized Recitation

and weakness. It is probably never without some of
the aspects of social activity, although the amount
may often be very small. In reality we find that the
degree of socialization ranges between two limits :
zero as a minimum and 100 per cent as a maximum.
To the extent that the recitation secures individual
activity and development it is good ; but to the extent
that it fails to secure social (that is, group) activity and
the development of the social aspects of individuality
it is weak.



CHAPTER II

WHAT THE SOCIALIZED RECITATION TRIES TO
ACCOMPLISH

It is of course obvious that the purpose back of the
socialized recitation lies deeper than the mere surface
activities of a group of pupils composing a class. The
fundamental aim goes to the very depths of the spirit
of the age, the desire for a more adequate democracy.
Consequently we may take it for granted that the
socialization sought in this modified form of the recita-
tion is not the type which might be acceptable under
an autocracy, but rather that which the more liberal
countries are now trying to realize completely in gov-
ernment and partly at least in industry.

What then is meant by socialization?

THE NATURE OF SOCIALIZATION

In the first place it means the creation and develop-
ment of a feeling which binds the members of a group
in such a way as to make them a unit. It is the

feeling which makes the individual regard himself a
real part o'f the group and which causes him to identify
his interest with group interests while he looks upon
the common motives, purposes, and activities as ours
rather than as mine. Its presence makes the boy gang,
the baseball club, the basket-ball team, the fraternity,
the family, the church, and even the state. Its

13



14 The Socialized Recitation

absence means the failure of any kind of athletic team,
the disruption of the family, the weakening of the
church and the downfall of the state. The lack of this


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Online LibraryCharles L. (Charles Leonidas) RobbinsThe socialized recitation → online text (page 1 of 7)