PRINCIPLES OF TEACHING
IN SECONDARY EDUCATION
HERBERT H. FOSTER, PH.D.
PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION IN THE UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
NEW YORK CHICAGO BOSTON
COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Printed in the United States of America
"The bane of high school science teaching is the notion
that it must be taught differently from other subjects." These
words, spoken to the author by a widely known science
teacher, are hi harmony with the statements of many promi-
nent and successful teachers in other branches of high school
study. Some years ago, having occasion to make a compara-
tive study of all the available books on the teaching of sec-
ondary school subjects, the author was impressed by the
striking parallel between the best of the books whenever
method of instruction was treated. The chief differences
were matters of omission, and the omissions in books in the
same field were far from being the same. The only possible
inference was that certain general principles of method are
valid in all of the studies of the high school curriculum, and
that the task of each teacher is not to construct his educa-
tional method regardless of these principles, but to adapt their
application to his particular field.
The present text is an attempt to assist the prospective
or untrained teacher in a study of the principles upon which
method in secondary instruction must be based. The book
is a protest against formalism and mechanism, on the one
hand, and unsystematic procedure on the other. The point
of view is functional, in that in each step there is a procedure
from discovery of aim to adaptation of process to aim. The
author is also governed by the conviction that a well-planned
lesson is more than a mere series of topics for study, but as
a whole possesses an organic unity. While at least the greater
part of the content of the book is applicable to all stages of
instruction, it is intended especially for the work of the sec-
ondary school, including the junior high school.
The book is designed to assist in the training of teachers.
Hence it must constantly be supplemented with intelligent,
sympathetic observation of actual secondary school instruc-
tion. The reader should throughout strive to trace the ap-
plication of the principles to the field in which he hopes to
teach. To the experienced teacher this practical applica-
tion and significance will be more immediately apparent. In
any case, this study of the principles of method in terms of
the schoolroom and of one's special subject will be the sine
qua non for the gaining of much practical benefit from the
The author takes the liberty to suggest to instructors and
students that a careful reading of the analysis of each chap-
ter or section, as given in the table of contents, precede the
study of the text. By this method one will doubtless gain a
better preliminary conception of the problems raised and of
their treatment. To the reader who is unfamiliar with the
principles of education and of educational psychology, it is
suggested that the supplementary readings be read before the
chapters of the text to which they are appended. It is the
aim of the author to mention only a few representative read-
ings rather than to give an extended bibliography.
A considerable part of the material of the text, and es-
pecially the attempt at organization of principles for the
teacher's use, is the product of the author's experience and
observation. Ten years of work in secondary education, in
administration and teaching, and in the supervision of prac-
tice teaching has been the laboratory in which the practical
test of these principles has been made. The principles are
not new, but are being applied to-day, though often uncon-
sciously, by the more progressive and successful teachers of our
The book, excepting the last four chapters, was written
several years ago, and has in manuscript form been used as
a text-book in several institutions. A number of changes have
resulted. In the meantime have appeared the excellent texts
by Professor Parker and Professor Colvin, but the author
feels that the difference in view point of the present text
justifies offering it to the educational public.
Acknowledgment must be made of obligation to a number
of educational writers, notably Professors Thorndike, Dewey,
and De Garmo. To a number of friends who have read the
manuscript, the author is indebted for helpful suggestions.
Students who have used the book as a text have been of great
assistance in rendering it usable as a classroom text. Pro-
fessor Alexander Inglis, of Harvard University, has contrib-
uted a wealth of extremely helpful criticism and suggestion.
Finally, the author renders grateful acknowledgment to his
wife, whose professional training and experience as well as
personal encouragement and assistance have done much to
give the book any merit it may possess.
1. MEANING OF METHOD i
Method is the way of doing anything, including teaching. The "born" teacher and
the trained teacher.
2. BASIS OF METHOD IN SECONDARY INSTRUCTION ... 5
The validity of the principles of educational psychology constitutes the basis for the
validity of the principles of teaching. The psychology of adolescence is the basis
for secondary method. General vs. special method. The native interests of the
student and their functioning in learning.
3. SUMMARY 9
SOME FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES IN LEARNING
1. THE CHILD'S EQUIPMENT 10
Teaching must treat the child as a bundle of native and acquired tendencies to action.
2. INTEREST AND TEACHING n
The teacher must induce interest in the subject matter, even though the interest be
indirect. He must direct the student's interest into the most fruitful paths.
3. ATTENTION AND TEACHING 14
Attention is an essential in learning. Passive attention is the most favorable for learn-
ing, but is not always attainable. Active attention should lead to secondary passive
4. ASSOCIATIVE LEARNING 17
Rules for securing simple associations. Association after dissociation involves analysis
followed by synthesis. Rules for securing association after dissociation.
5. THE TRANSFER OF ACQUIRED EFFICIENCY .... 21
The doctrine of the transfer of acquired power is a prominent factor in curriculum
and instruction. What truth it possesses lies in the identity of the elements in the
thing learned and in that to be learned. The principle involved is association after
dissociation. In order to secure transfer of training, a variety of instances should
be made basal in deriving a concept, the meaning as well as the form of the thing
learned should be emphasized, and a variety of applications should be employed.
6. SUMMARY 25
AIMS IN INSTRUCTION
1. EDUCATIONAL AIMS 28
The seemingly disparate formulations of the aim of education are fundamentally agreed
upon five elements. These are in terms of knowledge, sympathy, thought-power,
ability to express and act, and permanence of character and attainment.
2. ESSENTIALS AND FACTORS OF INSTRUCTION .... 30
Relation of instruction to education. Teaching must produce knowledge, thought-
power, sentimental development, efficiency, and permanency. These suggest the
six fundamental factors of method in instruction: acquisition, reflection, expression-
application, appreciation, drill, and test.
3. IMPORTANCE AND CHARACTER OF THE LESSON AIM . 35
It facilitates definiteness and flexibility of procedure. Teacher's aim and student's
aim are to a considerable degree coincident, especially in secondary education. Com-
munity of aim facilitates co-operation. The aim may be expressed in terms of sub-
ject matter, as well as in terms of the various factors of method. The lesson unit.
4. THE FIVE MODES OF INSTRUCTION 39
"^The Recitation, Problematic, Appreciation, Expression-Application, and Laboratory
Modes. Relation between teaching modes and lesson types. The "formal steps"
of the lesson; tkeir suggestive value and their danger.
5. SUMMARY 41
THE CLASS EXERCISE
i. MEANING 43
The term is used for all forms of classroom activity, and means muck more than mere
recitation. The class exercise is the occasion for the employment of all the forms
2. PERSONALITY IN THE CLASS EXERCISE 45
The true method provides opportunity for the best development of personality of both
teacher and pupil. Whatever negates either is bad method.
3. THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE CLASS EXERCISE .... 47
Cheerfulness and enthusiasm are positive factors in instruction.
4. THE CLASSROOM ACTIVITY 48
Activity is fundamental in learning. Blackboard work. The mood of expectancy.
Distribution of activity between teacher and class; between members of the class.
The teacher's preparation as a means for increasing the efficiency of class work. The
"tempo" of the classroom.
5. SUMMARY 53
1. ITS FUNCTION 55
In teaching, the question serves not merely to obtain information but also to bring
the student to consciousness of a need and to stimulate thought.
2. KINDS OF QUESTIONS 56
Memory question. Analytic questions. Development questions. Comparison-con-
trast questions. Judgment questions.
3. THE ESSENTIALS OF GOOD QUESTIONING 59
The question must be thought-provoking, clear, brief, and adapted to the student.
4. THE MANNER OF QUESTIONING 63
i. Questions should be addressed to the class, although answered by one student. 2.
Questions should be distributed among the pupils, taking account of the students'
ability and special needs. 3. The teacher should manifest an interest in the question.
5. THE QUESTION AS AN INDEX OF EFFICIENCY IN TEACHING 67
The number of questions, and the distribution of activity between teacher and class.
6. THE ANSWER 68
The answer must be adequate and matured. The topical recitation. The form of ex-
pression in the answer.
7. THE PUPIL'S QUESTION 71
Its importance and treatment.
8. SUMMARY 72
THE RECITATION MODE
1. MEANING OF RECITATION 74
The recitation as mechanical reciting. The opposite extreme. True function of reci-
2. THE RECITATION AS TESTING 75
Its aim is to insure progress: by determining faithfulness, adequacy of preparation and
instruction, and appropriateness of material, and by providing opportunity for ex-
pression and correction. When is a lesson adequately prepared? The enforcing of
preparation. The oral quiz, and its functions. The examination, its aim and re-
3. THE RECITATION AS DRILL 83
Drill is to render processes or memories stereotyped and automatic. Applicability of
drill. Its dangers: excess and insufficiency. Relation of attention to drill. Drill
as habit-forming: initiation and fixation. Drill as memory-forming: learning, re-
tention, recall, and recognition. Memory content must be deeply impressed, and
widely and strongly associated. Repetition in drill: its degree and distribution.
Drill must be intelligent, applied, and sufficient. The meaning and criticism of
4. PROPAEDEUTIC FUNCTION OF THE RECITATION ... 94
Learning as apperception. The recitation as a preparation step. The recitation as a
sole mode in instruction.
5. SUMMARY 98
1. LEARNING AND FEELING 100
The curriculum is a system of situations for'the student. His meeting of the situation;
knowledge of it, its appeal to him, his response and expression. The response is as
intellectual or as sentimental, as learning or as feeling. Learning as informational
or as problematic.
2. DEVELOPMENT IN TEACHING 102
Nature of development. Student activity is fundamental in development. Difficulty
in its use.
3. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF DEVELOPMENT INSTRUCTION . 106
From known to unknown. Analogy: its character and essentials. From simple to
complex; limitations of the principle. From concrete to abstract; must end in
further concrete. Illustration, as a form of the concrete. Its place and use in in-
struction. Essentials of good illustration: familiarity, accuracy, simplicity, sig-
nificance. Student's contribution in development. Over-instruction.
4. TYPICAL FORMS or DEVELOPMENT 118
Socratic, heuristic, lecture. Applicability of each.
5. THE PLACE OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE CLASS EXERCISE 123
Following the recitation. Relation to lesson assignment.
6. SUMMARY . . . 126
THE PROBLEMATIC MODE
1. CHARACTER AND FUNCTION 129
A problem is any situation stimulating to knowledge or thought. Informational and
thought problems. Thought problems as inductive and deductive.
2. SOURCES OF INFORMATION 132
Telling, reading, and discovery. Advantages and dangers of telling. Advantages ad
dangers in use of text-book. Value of discovery as source of information. Require-
ments of good telling, of good text-book use, and of student's observation. The
information problem as simple association.
3. COMPOSITION OF AN ACT OF THOUGHT 139
Recognition and formulation of problem, hypothetical solution, reasoning out the im-
plications, and verification. The thought problem is a form of association after dis-
sociation. Induction vs. deduction in teacning.
4. PROCEDURE IN THE THOUGHT TYPE OF THE PROBLEMATIC
i. Recognition and formulation of the problem. Problem must be definitely under-
stood by both teacher and pupil. Inductive and deductive problems. Problems
must be real, arising out of the student's experience and needs. Meaning of " reality "
of problem. The project method. 2. Tentative solution of the problem. Its form.
Hypothesis must be a definite one for the student and a real solution to the prob-
lem. 3. Reasoning out the implications of the problem. The student must be the
real thinker, rather than adopt another's thought. The reasoning must be sound.
4. Verification of the hypothesis. The concrete of the original problem and that
of the verification. Relation of verification to application. Decree of rigor in veri-
fication, and attitude of student toward proof. Verification should be definitely
formulated, since it encourages dearer thinking and offers opportunity for convic-
tion. Explanation: its character, function, and essentials. Meaning of demon-
stration. The teacher's place in the problematic mode.
5. APPLICATION or THE PROBLEMATIC MODE IN TEACHING . 163
Its application and forms in various studies. The transfer of training in the problem-
atic mode. The place of problematic procedure in the class exercise.
6. SUMMARY 170
THE APPRECIATION MODE
1. CHARACTER AND FUNCTION 173
Appreciation as the sentimental response to a situation. Aim of appreciation instruc-
tion, to lead to the most adequate and helpful response.
2. TYPES AND FORMS OF APPRECIATION 176
Intellectual, aesthetic, and ethical; based upon the three types of sentiment. The
place of the different types in the various studies of the curriculum.
3. PROCEDURE IN THE APPRECIATION MODE 177
Based on creating the right type of situation, i. The teacher must catch the spirit of
the situation. 2. The situation must be made as real and vivid as possible, by sug-
gestive imagery, both sensory and idealized. 3. The student must understand the
medium of expression of the material studied. The securing of this understanding;
its method and limitations. 4. An analysis of the content is necessary, yet if over-
done will prevent appreciation. 5. The appreciation situation must be such as to
arouse the activity of the student. He must feel it as one which has a personal sig-
nificance for him. Pettiness and artificiality in appreciation instruction. 6. Atmos-
phere of the classroom in appreciation instruction; its importance and control.
The tempo of appreciation.
4. SUMMARY 186
THE EXPRESSION-APPLICATION MODE
i. CHARACTER AND FUNCTION 188
Expression and application are the student's extension of the learned and felt to further
persons and objects. Value of the expression-application mode: it tests the instruc-
tion, readers impressions definite and permanent, and provides skill in the use of
2. FORMS OF EXPRESSION AND APPLICATION 190
Opportunity occurs in almost all instruction. Expression in English composition.
Application in laboratory, translation, and exercises.
3. HOME STUDY AS APPLICATION 194
Not an independent preparation for recitation. Essentially an extension and ampli-
fication of the classroom application.
4. ESSENTIALS OF EXPRESSION AND APPLICATION . . . 196
Determined by function. Expression shall be: i, adequate; 2, general. Application
shall: 3, immediately follow the development; 4, be typical; 5, intelligent; 6, general.
5. THE LESSON ASSIGNMENT 201
Relation to classroom application. Should come at close of class hour. Denniteness
of assignment. Stimulating to thought.
6. SUMMARY 205
THE LABORATORY MODE
1. CHARACTER AND FUNCTION 207
Relation to home study, to the development mode, to the application mode. Five-
fold function: acquisition of knowledge or sentimental experience, application of
methods of study, training in observation and induction, technic and manual skill,
2. TYPES OF LABORATORY WORK 211
Experimental, observational, appreciation, and application. Meaning of experiment,
and its use in the secondary school. School laboratory and field excursion. De-
scription of results in observation; by language, by drawings. Inference from the
observations. The appreciation laboratory exercise. The application laboratory.
3. ESSENTIALS OF LABORATORY INSTRUCTION 216
i. Problem must be real; originating in the classroom work. Definiteness of problem;
in aim and in instructions. 2. Threefold function of the teacher in the laboratory:
to provoke thought, prevent waste of time and material, direct to sources. 3. Use
made of results in the laboratory. Results should be definitely thought through,
adequately described, correlated with the classroom work.
4. SUMMARY 220
STUDY AS SELF-TEACHING
1. SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY 222
It develops initiative and self-control. The wisdom of home study.
2. TEACHING TO STUDY 223
Study is self-teaching, and follows the methods of class teaching. Securing the problem
attitude. Getting one's bearings. Use of sources of information. Habit-forming
and memory-forming in study. Training pupils to recognize problems, to formulate
hypotheses, to reason out the implications, and to verify. Appreciation study through
understanding of medium of expression, vividness of imagery, and judgment forming.
Home study as application. Physical and mental conditions for effective study.
3. SUPERVISED STUDY 241
Meaning and need of supervision. Forms of its administration.
4. SUMMARY 244
1. SIGNIFICANCE OF ORGANIZATION 247
The modes are not methods but the components of methods. Lesson organization as
a synthesis of modes.
2. THE LESSON PLAN 248
The planning of the lesson, involving determining of aim, selection of content, organiza-
tion of thought, formulation of pivotal questions, and provision for expression-applica-
tion. Importance of the assignment. The recitation mode as the completion of the
cycle. Use of laboratory mode.
3. SUMMARIES IN THE LESSON 254
Character and function of the summary. It should be developed, rather than dictated
4. REVIEW AND THE REVIEW LESSON
Character of review, involving essentials only, for p
quency and forms.
5. SUMMARY .............. 257
Character of review, involving essentials only, for purpose of organization. Its fre-
quency and forms.
STANDARDS AND MEASUREMENTS IN INSTRUCTION
1. EFFICIENCY IN TEACHING 259
Importance of measurement of results; for the determination of students' progress, the
comparison of the work of various classes and schools, the investigation of methods
of instruction, and the discovery of individual differences and needs.
2. ESSENTIALS OF STANDARDIZATION 263
Objectivity, definiteness, absoluteness, inclusiveness, practicability. Exact measure-
ment is possible only when there is an available standard, when the thing measured
is definitely known, and when the zero degree of the quality investigated for can be
determined. The aims of instruction are basal in the evaluation of educational
3. TYPICAL STANDARDS AND FORMS OF MEASUREMENT . . 271
Absolute vs. comparative measurements. Various scales and tests for elementary and
secondary school subjects. The principle of the normal distribution of abilities, and
its use as the basis for grading of students' work. The advantages and limitations
of "scientific grading."
4. THE PRACTICAL VALUE OF STANDARDIZATION AND MEA-
SUREMENT IN SECONDARY INSTRUCTION .... 292
Use of the standard tests in secondary education. The improvising of further tests.
Suggestions for testing: isolation of factor tested, adaptation of tests, importance of
uniformity and clarity in testing. The grading of classes other than normal; by
seeking to distribute the grades of several successive classes viewed as one, and
taking account of the grades of other teachers. Significance of grade distribution
for classes not normal.
5. SUMMARY 306
INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL ELEMENTS IN SECONDARY INSTRUCTION
i. INDIVIDUAL INSTRUCTION 309
Its meaning. It is based on individual differences. Differences of environment and
their utilization. Differences due to heredity: of thought, of disposition, of action.
Both idea-thinkers and thing-thinkers must be recognized in instruction. Treatmenl
of temperamental differences. Following-up instruction; the classroom application,
the laboratory, the study hour, the personal conference.
2. SOCIAL INSTRUCTION ........... 319
Its meaning. Its aims: social intelligence, social disposition, social efficiency, social
habit. Social intelligence includes knowledge of the curriculum, of society, of the
self. Social disposition is determined somewhat by content, but more by the sp : rit
and form of instruction. Social efficiency requires that opportunity for social action
be provided in instruction. Social habit, secured by motivated repetition. The
agencies for social instruction: the class exercise, the laboratory, the study hour.
Student co-operation and teacher leadership in the 'class exercise. Students' part in
socialized instruction: co-operation, direction, participation. The laboratory as an
opportunity for social instruction. The study hour.
3. THE RELATION BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL IN-
STRUCTION ..... ........ 336
Not antagonistic, but as phases of a unity. Socialization of the individual, and its
meaning for instruction. Individual and social instruction as differentiation and
Lesson plans; in physical geography, algebra, United States History, English, Spanish,
and Home Economics.
E TFAcrEfrs COL EGE
SA TA ?. Aft DAP, A, CALIFORNIA
PRINCIPLES OF TEACHING
i. MEANING OF METHOD
Methods as Ways of Doing Things. The modern busi-
ness world, in its quest for efficiency, is devoting more and
more attention to method. The test of business methods is
being applied to educational administration, and the ques-
tion, "How are you teaching?" must be faced by the in-
structor as squarely and as frankly as by the administrator.
In its h'teral meaning the term "method" refers simply to
a way or mode of doing anything. Our ways of holding the
book in reading, of describing an event which we have wit-
nessed, or of persuading a customer to purchase our wares
all these are methods. Thus we have methods of walking,
of speaking, of studying, and of instructing. One can no
more teach without method than he can walk or speak with-
out muscular activity. In Professor Dewey's words: "The
teacher needs to recognize that method covers not only what
he intentionally devises and employs for the purpose of
mental training, but also what he does without any conscious
reference to it anything in the atmosphere and conduct of
the school which reacts in any way upon the curiosity, the
responsiveness, and orderly activity of children." 1 The
skilled educator teaching a "demonstration lesson" in the