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movement goes on. Indicate some ways of squaring procedure
to these American demands. Is the child ever too young to
begin development along these lines?

7. Try the experiment of directing action in some subject
as described on pages 15-25. Write a diary of your experiences
in your experiment.

8. Set up a definite experiment designed to arouse curiosity.
Take any problem you will. Try to think of the environment
and the control of circumstances in which the pupil is stimulated
to becoming a reacting agent.


1. What is the business of the teacher in the lesson-hearing
school? Is order (obedience) or work heaven's first law? The
little fellow, on being asked what he was doing in school, replied,
that he was just waiting for the rest of them to catch up. Sug-
gest ways of meeting this child's dilemma. Is it essential that
a whole class should work in uniformity all moving along by
the clock? If so, why? If not, what then?

2. How long should the class period be in the Junior High
School? in the Senior High School? What would you suggest
as the most productive use to be made of a class period of 40


minutes? of 70 minutes? What are pupils doing when the
teacher and a single pupil are engaged in a recitation dialogue?

3. What is the value of the recitation, the reiteration of
lessons? Is there waste in the system? Can it be avoided?
Is there any value in having a pupil recite a thing he knows per-
fectly well? What is the value in it? Is there any value in
siphoning vacuums in class, compelling all to pay attention to
the process? If so, what? Do teachers ask pupils questions
which they know they cannot answer before they ask them?
Indicate all the ways of wasting time and energy in some class
you have examined.

4. How would you direct classroom procedure to more pro-
ductive outcomes than are usually secured in the conventional
school? Would it be profitable to have every pupil working
forward at his own best rate in a real challenge? What would
be the function of the teacher in such procedure?

5. What are the disadvantages in making the class the unit
of instruction? Can you make the pupil the educative unit?
If so, how would you secure unity? Study a given class group
as follows: assign a definite set task of 10 exercises or 5 pages.
Try to find out what each pupil accomplishes (as well as what
his father and mother accomplish in assisting in the preparation
of lessons). Place the pupils in some scale according to your
own devising. Then try another plan: have the same pupils
start, all on their marks, and work forward in similar material
for a whole class period (one or more) and compare results in
the two situations. Now work out ten significant questions to
put up to teachers in the lesson-hearing school. What is to be
done with the boy who solves 50 exercises in a single class period
under the stimulus of directed guidance? Also what is to be
done with a classmate who gets only 3 exercises in the same time ?
Is the school a practising ground for morality for either when 10
exercises are assigned for the next lesson, with a swift command,
Class excused?

6. What opportunity has the teacher to examine the habits
of work of pupils in the recitation and lecture systems? De-
vise some procedure in which habits of work may be studied.
Connect procedures with educational guidance.



Suggestion: The basis for appreciation of the learning proc-
ess is to be found in a controlled experiment in actual learning.
Teachers are urged to work out for themselves a heroic experi-
ment in mastering some problem of learning, keeping an accurate
check on the progress made and a diary of their experiences from
day to day. Chapter III is an attempt to create interest in
teacher study. Teachers need it in their efforts to gain adequate
notions about pupils at work; it is also a vital way of improving
teachers in service. Supervisors and all other pedagogical com-
mandants who go about advising teachers how to do it need to
study their own mental processes in a vital learning problem
of their own, in order that they may be everlastingly mindful of
backgrounds and difficulties in learning.

1. Work out a controlled experiment such as is suggested,
p. 96 ff.

2. Is capacity to recognize a simple element in a relatively
simple situation a guaranty of capacity to recognize that sim-
ple element in a relatively more complex situation (in a moving,
learning synthesis) ? Is there any experimental evidence to
support either an affirmative or a negative answer to this propo-
sition ?

3. Is inability to recognize (know) a simple element in a sim-
ple situation (out of context) a criterion of inability to recognize
or use that simple element in a moving, learning situation ?
Support the answer with any data possible.

4. In a learning process (not in a social-practical world) when
is a response (answer) right or correct and when is it wrong or
incorrect, and how much or to what extent may it be either?
Illustrate. When handwriting is appraised does just ability
"to take pen in hand" and make a blot on paper have any sig-
nificance ? Where is just no ability in handwriting to be located
in a scale of differences representing results in handwriting?

5. When one tries in vain to recall a familiar name and sub-
sequently in walking along indifferently engaging in revery, it
comes "to mind," what is the explanation? Was the name for-
gotten? Study the problem in terms of the things that lie in
the focus of attention now and then out in the marginal areas
the things that are explicit at one time and implicit at another.


Do these wily facts we deal with in teaching play hide and seek
with each other in the mass meeting of the mind? When are
mistakes evidences of progress?

6. When pupils say, "I can't get the problem," "I don't
understand it," what is the real difficulty?

7. Set up some such controlled procedure as is indicated on
pp. 120-125, keep a record of progress noting experiences in di-
recting the work in hand, and present a brief summary of conclu-
sions and values derived from it. Do difficulties come to a group*
of working students by the clock ? Justify the -formal methods;
of having thirty pupils in any class attack the same thing, at
the same time, in the same way. When all are working forward
within a challenge indicate the results. Are they uniform?'
What is the justification of having the whole class pay attention
to an explanation, or to a review? What does it mean to direct
the pupil's activity at the point of difficulty? Do teachers,
talk too much?

8. Does each individual develop his own habits of work, his
own intellectual method? Is there some general "frame of
reference" within which each individual may develop his own
unique patterns of work and thinking? What is difficult for
one pupil may be perfectly easy for another. Illustrate, if
possible. 1 Is it a waste of time and energy to hold all members
of the class to a regimental uniformity? What are some ways
of making provision for individuality in a given class group?


1. What specific aims have been sought in the topic method ?
Is there any way to organize the topic procedure so that every
contribution and discussion would be an illumination of a com-
mon integrating idea or principle? Illustrate.

2. Select any course of instruction English, grammar,
American history, geometry, chemistry, drawing (or any other)
and work out a statement of organizing ideas and submit a few
sets of illustrative exercises in varying amounts to make clear
the practical significance of differentials.

3. Explain and illustrate the indeterminate assignment idea.
Use any material in which there is a fair degree of familiarity.


4. Present a statement of a specific preparation of the new
teacher in a directing-study procedure.

5. Is it possible to develop in students at work the habit of
working mainly for the " wages of going on " ? Does a minimum
essential (a set lesson) become the maximum necessity? What
is the effect upon both the teacher and the pupil in prescribing
daily set lessons under methods of uniformity?

6. Who in the game of contest feels the sting of defeat?
Is there not a vast amount of soft pedagogy in sentimental talk
about the boy, 5th or asth, in the race? Note the fact that all
pupik, those having the lowest score, were energizing far above
any minimum that would have been set. (Pp. 168-172.)


1. Collect information in a specific recitation from the pupils
on what each one is doing during the recitation. Try to find a
typical traditional recitation. It would be illuminating to find
out just what each individual is thinking about in a college class
under the lecture system.

2. Does the recitation system, or lecture system, promote
passivity, acceptance of belief, unchallenged opinion ? How can
the spectator (in class, before the film, in front of the book,
facing the lecturer) be converted into a participant? Devise
some procedure calculated to produce reacting agents out of our
passive students.

3. In what sense is a teacher's primary business that of
fashioning (shaping or building) an environment in which crea-
tive thinking may be promoted?

4. Indicate the teacher's task in directing activity in a defi-
nite example. Amplify, What am I to do next in this situation ?
Locate responsibility of teacher and pupil in a procedure in
which the interaction of teaching and learning prevails.

5. When does a question come in front of the answer? Do
students who give correct answers necessarily know the correct
answers ?


i. Work out a distinction between a mechanical theory of
society (or education) and the social theory of society (or edu-


2. Explain the social principle in relation to a shared life.

3. Is it possible to lay down definite laws or rules to be fol-
lowed in developing or teaching all subjects? Is it probable
that any such laws are applicable to the mind's way of operating
before a challenge or problem? When the emphasis is shifted
from the primacy of subject-matter and mechanical methods to
the primacy of boys and girls working forward in a challenge,
what becomes of such devices as the five formal steps?

4. Envisage an ideal school; describe the teacher in it; paint
a vivid word picture of the pupil with inhibitions removed and
at work under a responsible freedom.

5. Distinguish between art and science. Is prediction possi-
ble or essential in a human situation? Can we know what to
do next in dealing with human behavior ? What does it mean to
take the moral hazard ? A rule is laid down in September to the
effect that if a boy plays truant in March he will be required to
stay after school five consecutive days and to walk 217 parasangs
round and round the building each day. What's wrong with
such rules? A boy misses his school seven times in a hundred
and repeats this practice often enough to warrant stating it as
a law. Then the delinquent boy is apprised of the regularity
of his absences. He proceeds at once to correct the matter.
In the next hundred days there are no absences. What be-
comes of the law? A rule is made that teachers shall not use
tobacco. (Not that they should be encouraged to do so.)
Anybody, however incompetent, could live up to such rules.

6. Does the scientific method, or rather the method of the
experimental scientist, apply in the moral realm and in the art
of teaching? (See definition of scientific method, p. 372.)


1. Define freedom as capacity and relate it to self -discipline
with a working distinction between a real freedom and a mass of
loose ideas such as general indulgence, "personal liberty,"
rights, license, anarchy of tolerance, spurious relinquishments
of idleness and asceticism, honest opinions, and neurotic crav-
ings to paddle one's own canoe irrespective of social restraints.

2. Study a half-dozen successful persons whom you know,
and try to account for their development. Is genius or talent


or power self-created out of opportunity to grow in the direction
of successful experimentation ? What is the effect of encouragers
in the first expressions of the child in language, music, art, use
of tools, etc. ? Are there dispositions or impulses to grow and
habits of life common to all normally constituted human beings
out of which potential powers may be realized?

3. Set up a problem in which initiative may be developed.
(See chapter I and pp. 125-126.) Cite a clear-cut example of the
exercise of initiative either in or out of school.

4. Establish the relation between mechanical, formal, super-
imposed methods and the growth of initiative.


1. Indicate the task of education in terms of the transmission
of our social heredity. Make a clear distinction between physio-
logical heredity and social heredity.

2. In considering diversification of capacities and powers as
a dominant characteristic of American life is it essential to try
to establish upper limits for any individual? Instead of think-
ing of the equality of persons or of differences in original nature,
would it not be a wholesome philosophy to start with each indi-
vidual as a developing personality with measureless capacity
for growth and self-realization? Is it true that teaching is
concerned with the thesis that success is a junction of effort and
opportunity ?

3. About 150 years ago it was quite generally held that it
would be fatal to teach all children to read. "Who will do the
unpleasant types of work if everybody is taught to read?" said
the called and chosen. "Besides," they said, "there are large
numbers born short, who have not sufficient mentality to learn
to read and compute." Is long division the most difficult stage,
relatively speaking, in mathematics from mere counting to cal-
culus? Nobody any longer seriously questions the ability of
children to master long division. Teachers face the task with
determination and confidence that it shall be done. Public
opinion supports the general proposition of the educability of all
children up through the four fundamental social arts the 3 R's
and drawing in our elementary schools. Is a girl in the high
school biologically unfit for the study and mastery of algebra?


Is any boy in the high school by nature incapacitated for the
mastery of grammar? May not high school education now in
the 2oth century be regarded as the essential basis for a broad-
casted intelligence a common background upon which to focus
every person's life? All boys and girls in the high school can,
if they will, succeed in any study in the curriculum. What is
your reaction? The boy is tagged as failing in Latin early in
the year. The teacher says he can't learn it and asks to have
him transferred to some other course. The boy goes into stenog-
raphy and masters it. May not stenography be as difficult as
Latin? Account for failure in one and success in the other.


1. Is a philosophy of teaching essential? Is there a danger
in pretending not to have a philosophy about human nature
and at the same time being a victim of a most pernicious variety
of thinking and practice in dealing with a human situation?

2. Explain the purpose of a scientific principle or a formula
in working in the field of human behavior. Is the practice of
medicine made simpler and easier by the introduction of our
modern scientific technic? Was it not much easier in the days
of magic, pills, and nostrums? A proper use of the surgeon's
instruments requires years of training, high skill, and technical
ability. Can anybody teach? Teachers are now required to
analyze, diagnose, study the "patients" or "cases," prescribe
treatment, and it the "cases" do not respond further diagnosis,
analysis, and study must follow and a change in treatment be
provided. Has this suggestion any bearing on directing study ?

3. Is the dominant purpose of the high school the training
of leaders ? Are leaders born, *'. e., do their powers depend upon
native gifts or are they made in the stream of life ? The ques-
tion of the "fitness" of children used to be raised in connection
with elementary education. That is ancient history now. It
is contended that only 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the adolescent
population of the United States have sufficient mentality to
profit by a high-school education. What is your reaction to this
assumption? Public elementary and secondary education is
concerned mainly with the task of making the "common man"
an efficient participant in the social, moral, intellectual, material,


and civic life of the community and the nation and also to teach
people how to live together in a democracy. Is leadership an
emerging quality out of the try-out of all in a system of educa-
tion in which resources are tapped from every level of society?
Is not the responsibility of the school very definitely centred in
the proposition that the fullest development of every individual
is imperative? In what procedure will it be possible for each
individual to go forward at his own best rate? Keep in mind
the call for individualism and the need of developing the genius
for co-operation. It is being seriously proposed that, beginning
as early as the junior high school, the probable "fitness" of
little boys and girls shall be ascertained (five levels of intelli-
gence have been suggested) , and that, since there are five levels
of occupations requiring corresponding levels of intelligence, the
pupils shall be classified so as to match levels of intelligence with
levels of occupations. The pupils of highest intelligence should
be channelled into a curriculum (and classification) that would
fit them for the "work of life" requiring the highest intelligence,
etc. What do you think about it?

4. Thinking is a function of habit. Explain this proposition.

5. Without a problem there is no (creative) thinking. To
what extent is it possible to develop classroom procedures in
the direction of this statement? A study of definitions, ap-
pended, may prove suggestive in attacking the problem.


Alternate leaderships a recognition of technical and trained
ability in a theory of society based upon diversification of merits;
a new basis of intelligent co-operation in which every individual
counts; each individual retains self-respect by his unique con-
tribution in a shared life; the teacher is appreciated, not for
erudition, but for expert capacity in directing activity, in be-
coming a consulting expert, in stimulating curiosity, in arousing

Americanism a social theory of life in which persons are price-
less, measureless in capacity, and free never regarded as things,
tools, or servants to be fashioned to mechanical ends; each per-
son finds (realizes) the purpose of his life by living it; authentic
Americanism is a developing synthesis made by withdrawing
from each element (race or individual) the best qualities and re-
composing them in a symphony of ideals and practices; the
spirit of give-and-take and the policy of live-and-lel-live charac-
terize a true democratic society; in it all are true sportsmen and
equal in that sense; no two persons are ever equal in attainment;
uniformity is not the essence of Americanism; e pluribus unum
(one from many) and the converse, many from one (ideal),* will
help teachers to see education in a truer light.

Challenge any body of materials or principles presented as a
basis of study for a class group; substituted for lesson, project,
problem, topic methods; time, indeterminate (i. e., it may be a
day's work, two or three days' work, a week or six weeks or
even longer); in it no upper limit is set for any pupil at any
time; the circle is described big enough to give profitable work
for every one; principles (organizing ideas) are common elements
of unity exercises (indeterminate but definite) furnish a basis
for recognizing individual differences. See Chap. I.

Co-operative learning any form of self-teaching or partner-
ship and group activities developed by the teacher in guiding

* Plures ex uno.


pupils in their work; an application of the social principle in
classroom procedure; a whole class may work in partnerships
(two in each) or in groups with a leader, one pupil hearing another
recite, or one acting as chairman in a group, or two or more work-
ing forward under productive conversational practices; a means
of curing some pupils of work-shyness produced by a lesion of
social sense; in such procedures teachers become directors of
action, consulting experts, and general managers.

Corporate spirit opposed to group mediocrity and uniformity
and regimentation of all kinds; some highest common multiple
is sought in which to express a community of interests; up out
of individual activity (each on his mark) toward consensus and
unity is the direction of a responsible freedom; under the chal-
lenge each strives for self-mastery in his own best way the
movement is toward co-operations out of directed self-activity;
the pupil, not the class, is the educative unit ; the ideal of organi-
zation (the majesty of plan and precision) is regarded, not as an
end, but a means in the development of a self-active, responsible

Creativeness a purposeful activity in which raw materials
from brute facts to pigments, from passions to ideals are being
fashioned toward some goal not for the "sake of the loaves
and fishes"; building a tangible project cabinet, cake, picture,
blue print fabricating a story, constructing a chapter, working
out a problem in history or what not in short, using materials
of any sort in the realization of some worthy purpose or ideal
suggests creativeness; teachers cannot rely on old movie films
stored up in the rag-bag of memory a new movie film must be
created in a free reconstruction of the past at the fork of the road.

Determinism any philosophy or practice that hinders a free
and continuous revaluation of persons; a belief that man by
original nature is doomed. The branding of children as incom-
petent, "no good," tends to cut the nerve of effort-making
capacity; initiative drops out of sight.

Education interpreted as a process of creativeness in which
we make the individual, in which we seek to build a mind tolerant,
fearlessly honest, expectant of change, inventive, alert, and re-

Educative unit instead of the class, the pupil in any group is
the educative unit; individual achievement is focal; materials of


instruction are to be gripped in challenges in which there is pro-
vision for both free individual energizing and co-operations.

Fork-of-the-road education vital education (not training) be-
gins at the point of crisis; new situations call for creative think-
ing; exact copies are not used at the point of difficulty; playing
the game (chess or football) illustrates action at the fork of the
road: the new set of circumstances and combinations must be
met by creating a new movie film at the point of deciding what
to do next in this situation a situation which never occurred on
land or sea. The past (experience, history, knowledge, facts)
as well as temperament, sentiments, passions, beliefs, ideas
all experience up to this crisis (new situation) is the raw material
upon which intelligence works to furnish the will a point of de-
parture from which to embark.

Heredity a distinction between physiological heredity and
social heredity; arguments in the former may not apply in lat-
ter; educative process is concerned essentially with transmission
of evolutionary products; man's powers are born out of the
loins of humanity; humanity is an organism including language
customs, beliefs, technics, institutions, every aspect of the so-
cial organization civilization in brief; for the teacher every man
is born wholly uncivilized, susceptible of becoming a savage,
a fifth-century mind, or a twentieth-century mind; endless vari-
ation ought to be expected; it is not the task of education to
produce uniformity.

Heredity and classification two theories: (i) disclose levels of
native mentality (educability or basic intelligence) , find out what
the individual is good for, educate him accordingly, work out
groupings for homogeneous ability; (2) dwell on social heredity

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Online LibraryHarry Lloyd MillerDirecting study; educating for mastery through creative thinking → online text (page 27 of 28)