John Franklin Bobbitt.

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a single phase of the problem. To assert that a mastery
of Latin grammar and literature is not necessary for a thor-
ough understanding and appreciation of English is not
equivalent to saying that Latin should not be studied for
this purpose by those who are willing to employ this
method. Many of those who appreciate linguistic study
as recreational experience will be justified in taking Latin
for immediate and subsequent recreational uses. As it
then gives them a goodly portion of their etymological
background, it will have accomplished a double purpose.
It cannot serve as a substitute for the reality-method; but
it can substantially reinforce it. Latin will then be taken
only by those of linguistic appreciation, with the students
mainly moving under their own power. The Latinists
should then supply them with the wealth of interesting
readings needed for the imperceptible gradient of experi-
ence that will permit them to learn to read the language by
reading it. Under such circumstances those who want the
Latin can get all that they want without requiring too
much effort and expense on the part of teachers and school
systems. Under present teaching conditions, the cost,
especially in time and loss of other more important things,
is usually disproportionate to the returns.

Foreign languages needed for humanistic experience

It is generally supposed that there is an intimate, even
indissoluble, relation between the classical languages and
humanism. Before one can rightly note the relation, how-
ever, one must first define humanistic experiences in terms
of twentieth-century life; and in their particularized forms.,
This we have tried to do in some measure in previous chaj
ters. To look with wide and sympathetic vision over al
human affairs, near and remote, recent and ancient;
enter freely and sympathetically into all worthy kinds o(


human experience, directly through participation and ob-
servation, and indirectly through conversation and lecture
and wide reading; to range with quickened mind through
the rich and inspiring fields of science and art and phi-
losophy and religion; to feel a oneness with one's race, and
to be fired with its highest aspirations; to act with one's
fellows vigorously, joyously and whole-heartedly in the
cooperative provision of a full and rich life-opportunity
for every human being, such as these are humanistic
experiences. Those experiences in which man realizes his
full humanity constitute the substance of humanism.

This is not to give a new definition to humanism. It is
but to rescue its original one; and to state it in terms of
twentieth-century thought and life. It is to see that hu-
manism is not a thing of language alone; but rather of the
full texture of life. Any language in which one can live and
think can be the language of humanism.

In the day of the Renaissance, the classics provided
the languages and much of the thought of the wider hu-
manistic experience. But vernacular literatures have since
arisen which can not only provide the same experiences, but
the far wider ones of modern life; and which also can
serve the humanistic needs of all, a democratic require-
ment, and not merely those of a small leisure class.

The classicists of to-day are much concerned because of
an alleged attack upon humanism. As a matter of fact,
there is little discernible attack upon actual humanism.
The attack is only upon the conception that only the an-
cient languages can serve in a democratic age as the ve-
hicles of humanistic experience. One has but to look a
him to see that, in spite of the apparent contradictions of /
war, the world grows more humanistic in its conceptions,/
aspirations and practices. More and more we would bring
to all social classes the varied and essential humanistic


experiences that have hitherto fallen only to the lot of the
intellectual and social aristocratic few. To all we would
give fullness of vital contacts with men, with nature, with
literature and history and art and high religion. To all so
far as possible we would give the far vision outward and
backward and upward. There are aristocrats and Philis-
tines who are indifferent to this wide diffusion of human-
istic experience, or who are skeptical of its possibility. But
in general they are making no active attack upon it.

It is under the circumstances unfortunate that classicists
should have the erroneous idea that humanistic experiences
require the ancient vehicles of thought; that the world is a
decadent affair in which modern languages are so wretchedly
weak and shabby as not to be able to carry the ancient
experiences; and even that modern human experience is
inferior to that of the peoples of old. ^ There is attack and
justifiable attack upon such pessimism and puerility. The
attack however is not because of hostility to humanistic
experience. It is brought by the optimistic, forward-looking
friends of twentieth-century humanism. To them humane-
ness and richness and nobility of spirit seem so good for the
world that they would have these things for 'all men and
women; and therefore they would employ for the purpose
the language of our democracy rather than the ancient out-
worn languages of the intellectual aristocracy.

The classicists have not defined humanism in terms of the
essential realities. They have defined it only in terms of the
symbols of thought: of the verbal associates of the older
humanistic experience of centuries ago.

As a matter of fact, reading the ancient literatures in the
originals is not an essential factor in developing humane-
ness, or gentleness, or richness and elevation and nobility
of thought and feeling, or high appreciation of aesthetic art,
or of any of the other essentials of high character. The


cynical disbelief on the part of the classicists of the possibil-
ity or desirability of democratic diffusion of humanistic
experience to all makes them unsafe defenders of actual
humanism in our democratic age. Their major effort is not
to find means of the greatest possible amount of such diffu-
sion; but rather to retain an impossible vehicle of diffusion.
It is the social-minded men and women of to-day who
are the real leaders of modern humanism. A few are lin-
guists; most are not. Some are in the educational profes-
sion; most are in other fields of labor. But it is those whose
primary interest is in their fellow-men rather than in lan-
guages, and whose fundamental faith is in mankind rather
than in symbols, who are to-day leading and guiding hu-
manity toward fullness of self-realization.



IN this volume *we have tried to look at the curriculum
problems from the point of view of social needs; and there-
by to develop, in some measure at least, the social point
of view as regards education. In a single volume, one can
present but glimpses of a limited number of the detailed
tasks. Others of similar type stretch out apparently end-
lessly before us. Our profession is confronted with the huge
practical task of defining innumerable specific objectives;
and then of determining the countless pupil-experiences
that must be induced by way of bringing the children to
attain the objectives. We have lacked space for discussion
here of the administrative problems. But let us refer briefly
to a few of them.

The first necessary thing is for our whole educational
profession to acquire a social, rather than a merely academic,
point of view. The writer fully appreciates the difficulties
in the way, as may be illustrated by a personal reference.
Soon after the American occupation of the Philippine Islands,
the writer was a member of a committee of seven appointed
to draw up an elementary-school curriculum for the islands.
The members had all taught or supervised within the islands
for two or three years and were reasonably familiar with
their peculiar conditions. It was a virgin field in which we
were free to recommend almost anything by way of meeting
the needs of the population. We had an opportunity to do
a magnificent and original constructive piece of work.

And what did we do? We assembled upon a table in the
committee-room copies of the American textbooks in read-


ing, arithmetic, geography, United States history, and the
other subjects with which we had been familiar in American
schools. We also assembled such American courses of study
as we could find; and without being conscious of it, we mo-
bilized our American prejudices and preconceptions as to
what an elementary-school course ought to be. On the basis
of these things we made out a course of study for the tra-
ditional eight elementary-school grades. We provided the
traditional amount of each subject for each grade, distrib-
uted them as in American schools, and recommended Ameri-
can textbooks for the work.

The thing was not adapted to the conditions within the
islands. As a matter of fact, we did not try to adapt it to
those conditions though we honestly thought that we were
doing the thing needed. The difficulty was that our minds
ran so completely in the grooves of traditional thought
that we did not realize the possibility of anything else. We
greatly needed something to shatter our self-complacency
and bring us to see education in terms of the society that
was to be educated. We needed principles of curriculum-
making. We did not know that we should first determine
objectives from a study of social needs. We supposed that
education consisted only of teaching the familiar subjects.
We had not come to see that it is essentially a process of
unfolding the potential abilities of a population, and in
particularized relation to the social conditions. We had
not learned that studies are means, not ends. We did not
realize that any instrument or experience which is effective
in such unfoldment is the right instrument and right experi-
ence; and that anything which is not effective is wrong,
however time-honored and widely used it may be. Fortu-
nately for the people, the Director of Education was better
able to look at essential realities; he cut the course down to
six grades, unceremoniously threw out irrelevant materials,


and without regard for the time-hallowed sanctities brought
bodily into the course a number of things then far more than
now regarded as superficial and plebeian, such as shop-
work, cooking, sewing, weaving, rug-making, etc. We were
properly horrified.

We needed something that would shake us out of the
grooves and which at the same time was violent enough to
obliterate them, and set thought free. Attention is called
to this personal experience because of a belief that it is an
example of a wide-spread obstructive influence in American
education to-day. A large portion of our profession appears
to need something that will lift them out of the grooves
of routine traditional thinking or rather out of an imita-
tion that is not thought and which will so obliterate the
grooves that their minds will be free to think out new prob-
lems. For in the field 'of the curriculum, the whole world
to-day is presented with a magnificent opportunity for origi-
nal constructive work. The present social debdcle demon-
strates the inadequacy of types of education upon which we
have relied in the past.

Some of the things necessary for the liberation of thought
have been attempted in these chapters. They are written
with the assumption that we must establish fundamental
principles and employ scientific methods, in formulating
systems of training. All of the advance in the curriculum
field at present and there is much in all progressive school
systems is pioneer, experimental, suggestive. In these
chapters we have tried to formulate some of the curriculum-
thought that is in a state of ferment throughout the field.
There is nothing recommended here but what is actually
being done somewhere and in some measure by practical and
progressive school men and women.

At the present stage of developing courses of training it
is more important that our profession agree upon a method


of curriculum-discovery than that we agree upon the de-
tails of curriculum-content. 'The writer has been chiefly
interested in this volume in suggesting a method, and fun-
damental points of view. The reader may or may not agree
with the conclusions. That is of little consequence. The
main thing at present is that each find scientific principles -
and methods of curriculum-formulation which he can him-
self accept; and which will make thought the basis of cur-
riculum-making rather than imitation. Without such prin-
ciples at the present moment, one is like a ship in the wide
seas without chart, compass, or stars.
* Our professional vision must be greatly in advance of our
practice. We shall move forward only step by step with feet
on solid earth; but we must be able to see far beyond our
immediate next steps in order that they be taken in the
right direction. The work of our profession, more than that
of any other, requires foresight and far sight. For this rea-
son, in our discussion of ends and means, we have not looked
merely to what is practicable next year, or even five years
hence. Often we have discussed matters that are to be de-
veloped only through a slow-moving program covering a
long series of years.

A superintendent who recently listened to the suggestions
made in this volume presented this question: "What should
a superintendent actually do by way of improving the cur-
riculum hi his schools?"

To begin with, he should accept the situation in his city
as it is. He should look upon it as the normal, and therefore
proper, result of the institutional growth-influences that
have been operative in that city. He should therefore ac-
cept the conditions as right and good in the sense that they
represent a growth-stage, conditions being what they are,
through which the city must pass before it can arrive at its
next normal stage of healthy growth. He should expect the


, curriculum to change and grow from year to year, rapidly

* or slowly. Naturally he would like to have rapid growth ; but

he would have to accept conditions as they are. The only

/ normal thing is for the growth to continue with a rapidity

that is determined by the conditions within the city. This

would mean in one city rapid growth; in another, slow

at least until this could be normally accelerated.

Even if given a free hand, he should attempt no abrupt
reorganization of the work, nor any sudden reformulation
of the studies. In other words, he should not attempt to
accelerate the growth beyond that which can be normal and
healthy; and permanent after it is once accomplished. The
details of the work have to be carried out by teachers who
have been trained both in their academic courses and in
their professional experience to certain types of work. He
could expect teachers to assimilate only those suggestions
for improvement which do not mean radical departure from
what they have been accustomed to. But after having taken
these first steps, he could expect them then to be prepared
to go a little farther; and then later, to take other steps in
advance. The readjustments in the teacher's thought and
practice must be gradual. This is true also of school board
and community. They are not prepared for any type of re-
organization that greatly differs from that with which they
are familiar. Like the teachers they can shift only gradually.
'All must be a growth-process. And what is more, the super-
intendent would find that his own ideas were insufficiently
worked out in detail for directing reformulative procedure
which broke in any sudden manner from the old. He would
have to think out innumerable details and try them out in
practice. While this was being done, he would want the
best that has been accumulated in the years past to continue
until he was reasonably certain as to the exact details of the
next steps that are to be taken. If he is to make mistakes, it


is better for him to continue the old mistakes than to in-
vent a new series.

The superintendent will remember that inertia is as much
a factor in the general human economy as dynamic forces;
that the conservation of gains is as important as making
further gains. He will be content with neither without the

Along with principals and teachers on the one hand and
school board and community upon the other for he should
insist not only upon democracy of opportunity, but also of
responsibility he should look over the work in every sub-
ject within the system, elementary school and high school, in
the attempt to find those places where further growth is
demanded by community needs; especially those where
teachers, school board, and community are prepared to take
the natural next steps of progress; and where they are in a
mood to accept leadership in that direction.

For example, he will find manual activities going on as a
portion of the course. He will try to find the dozen or so
relatively small ways in which the work can be improved;
and he will try to get those relatively small things done. In
locating them, he will consider the educational principles
relative to making work real, making it pleasurable, intellec-
tualizing it through mathematics, science, and design; social-
izing the activities by introducing the history, geography,
and economics of the field; the introduction of observational
activities, practical participation, reading for vision and so-
cial appreciations. Making no changes except where there is
a clear guiding principle, moving by short steps, trying out
everything before going far, it is possible to make progress
that is relatively sure in direction and relatively certain to
be permanent. This small amount of progress accomplished,
the stage is set for taking another short step. This step can
lead to a third; and so the process may continue indefinitely.


He will then turn to another subject, history, let us say.
He will find many good results being secured. But he can
find, on the basis of curriculum principles, a dozen ways or
more in which it may in some measure be improved without
confusing the thought or practice of teachers or community.
He doubtless can take some reasonably long steps in advance
provided he can secure the necessary reading materials.

In the same way through making a multitude of little
changes in each subject he can with assurance arrive by
t the stages of normal growth and with reasonable speed at
a curriculum that is better adapted to social needs. By
enlisting the active cooperation of all concerned, all can
move forward together.

To keep from getting lost among the innumerable de-
tails of many subjects, distributed over many grades, super-
intendent and staff should cooperatively draw up a con-
cise summary of the curriculum principles to be kept in
mind in connection with each subject. In some of the sub-
jects there should probably be different lists for different
grade levels. These should be printed so that they could be
continually used in checking and rechecking the situation
as regards each subject. They, too, should be subjected
to continual revision.

The superintendent will not try to advance more rapidly
than teachers, school board, and community are prepared
for. He will consider his position to be not educator for
the community; but rather only a specialized leader of the
community in its labors of educating its children. In other
words, he will conceive the responsibility of education to be
not his primarily, but rather one that rests squarely upon the
1 total community. He is but a specialized helper and leader
in the work. If he goes faster than they can or will go and
leaves them behind, by so doing he abdicates the responsi-
bility that they have delegated to him. As a leader he must


take the community with him; or he is no longer its leader.
If they are backward and slow, his pace must be determined
by then- pace; except as he can normally accelerate it. If
they are awake and progressive and eager and able to pro-
ceed rapidly, he must lead in progress of that character.
It is not inconceivable that his task of seeing that work is
substantial and permanent may sometimes require restraint
upon an over-eager community.

He will assume that not all progress is to be made in this
generation; that something is to be left for those that come
after us. And yet, he will attempt all of the progress for
which conditions are ripe, and for which he can without
forcing make them ripe.



Aims of education, in general, 3-7,
41-52; vocational, 56-57, 63-70,
71, 87-88, 94-95; civic, 117, 130,
131, 160; moral, 163-64, 166;
health, 173-79, 185, 189-90; rec-
reational, 209, 212, 224-26, 229;
language, 255-56; double-aim of
work-activities, 20; vague aims of
the past, 41; need of specific aims,

Antecedent aspects of work-experi-
ence, in general, 26-33; relation to
extra-mural activities, 39; admin-
istrative aspect, 40.

Apprenticeship training, 24.

Capital and labor, education for mu-
tual understanding, 76-86.

Citizenship training, general, 117-
62; major objective, 117-30;
training for large-group conscious-
ness, 131-62; on play-level, 13; on
work-level, 22, 37; relation of
physical education to, 176; foreign
languages needed for, 262-64.

Civics. See Citizenship training,
Social studies.

Classics, the, 5, 272-81.

Concrete experience. See Shop-
work, Observation, Reading, Prac-
tical activities.

Cooking, introduction of responsi-
bility, 34-35; as general training,

Cooperative part-time work, 21-24,
39-40, 83, 144, 155, 190, 202-04.

Culture advocates vs. utilitarians,

Curiosity, as educational motive,

Deficiency as symptom of training
need, 44-46, 50-52, 56-57; in occu-
pational matters, 63-70; English,

248-19; foreign languages, 255-
56, 272-73.

Double aim of work-activities in
schools, 20.

English language training, general
discussion, 247-54; motivation of
responsibility, 22-23; assistance
of foreign languages, 272-78. See
Reading, Grammar, Composition,

Exercise in relation to function, 212-

Extra-mural activities necessary for
finding responsibility, 20-22; gen-
eral theory, 34-40; occupational,
21-24, 105-08; civic, 149-57; sani-
tational, 185-88, 202-04.

Foreign languages, general discus-
sion, 255-81; utility vs. culture,
5-6; method of discovering pur-
poses, 255-56; needed for occupa-
tional efficiency, 256-62; needed
for citizenship, 262-64; for family
life, 264-66; for leisure occupa-
tions, 266-71; for proficiency in
English, 272-78; for humanism,

French, 271.

Gardening, 34, 35, 102.

Generalist, education of the, 78-

Geography, reading, 12, 231-37;
occupational, 112; for civic pur-
poses, 146-48, 160.

Grammar, errors as indices of train-
ing needs, 45-46, 248-49; motiva-
tion of training, 249; general dis-
cussion, 247-54.

Health training, in general, 171-204;
major purpose, 171-79; physical



up-building, 180-88; social aspects,
189-204; through responsible ac-
tivities, 22, 37; through play, 8,
15-16, 181-85, 212-13, 219.

History, utility vs. culture, 4-5;
readings, 13, 231; occupational
history, 109-12; for nationalistic
training, 134-41; for international
attitudes, 160-62; of sanitation,

Household occupations, on play-
level, 15; on work-level, 21, 34-35;
as general training, 102.

Hygiene. See Health training.

Ideational aspects of work-activity,
26-33, 36, 40, 71-75.

Industrial education. See Occupa-
tional training.

Interest, as motive, 9-10, 17, 20, 195,
208-09, 221-22, 227-29, 267.

Large-group consciousness, the devel-
opment of, 13, 128-30, 131-67.

Latin, 271, 272-78.

Leisure occupations, general discus-
sion, 207-^43; function of, 207-26;
8-9; reading as leisure occupation,
227-43; foreign languages as lei-
sure occupation, 266-71.

Levels of educational experience,
two, 3-7.

Liberalizing studies, 3-6, 11-16,
208, 224, 229-31. See Reading,
History, Science, Leisure occupa-

Literature, utility vs. culture, 4-5;
as intellectual play, 12, 231, 238-
43; English vs. foreign literatures,

Manual training. See Shop-work.
Moral training, in general, 163-67;

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Online LibraryJohn Franklin BobbittThe curriculum → online text (page 21 of 22)