Слике страница

notion of what might have been avoided for the betterment of the people. This means that when one of these upheavals is studied the rest should be made to yield their particular points of contrast, to the end that the student may see the lessons they present.

Another contribution to the discussion is the following, by Prof. Robinson. A portion of this is italicized for future reference.

One of our chief troubles in teaching history comes from the old idea that history is a record of past events; whereas our real purpose nowadays is to present past conditions, explain them so far as we can, and compare them with our OWI1. . . .

While events can be dealt with chronologically, conditions have to be presented topically if they are to become clear. For example, we can select the salient events of the Crusades, and tell them in the form of a story; but the medieval church, castle, monastery, and farm have to be described in typical forms, as they lasted several centuries. The older textbooks told the events more or less dryly, gave the succession of kings, and the battles and treaties of their respective reigns. It was not deemed necessary to describe conditions and institutions with any care, and such terms as pope, king. bishop, church, baron, alchemy, astrology, witchcraft, were used as if every boy or girl of 14 knew exactly what they were.

A still unsolved problem is to determine what conditions and institutions shall be given the preference, considering the capacity of the student on the one hand and the limitations of time on the other. The committee should not undertake to pronounce on this matter, but should urge that teachers and textbook writers should be constantly asking themselves whether what they are teaching seems to them worth while. . . .

All instruction is, so to speak, the function of three variables—the pupils, the teacher, and the textbook. Every teacher is aware that pupils differ a good deal according to their environment, and, as we develop industrial and other forms of special education, it will be necessary to select our material to meet the special needs of the pupils. As for the teacher, no satisfactory results will be obtained until he learns to outrun the textbook and becomes really familiar, through judicious reading or university instruction, with the institutions which he proposes to deal with. Teachers should learn to deal with their subject topically, and should not be contented with reading historical manuals, which are usually poor places to go for information in regard to conditions and institutions. They should turn to the articles in the Encyclopedia Britannica and other similar works and to special treatments.

5. Two questions at issue.-There is general agreement that history, to be of value in the education of the boy or girl, must “function in the present.” Disagreement arises over two questions: (1) What is meant by “functioning in the present?” (2) How shall the material of history be organized to this end?

(1) What is meant by functioning in the present? —There are two interpretations of this phrase: (a) The sociological interpretation, according to which it is enough if history be made to explain present conditions and institutions; (b) the pedagogical interpretation, according to which history, to be of value educationally, must be related to the present interests of the pupil. Many present-day problems are as far removed from the interests and experience of youth as if they belonged to the most remote historical epoch. It is not that a past event has its results, or

its counterpart, or its analogy, or its contrast, in the present, that gives it its chief educational value, but that it “meets the needs of present growth '' in the pupil. We have learned to use hero stories and pioneer stories from any epoch of history in certain elementary grades because there is something in children that makes them want such stories as food for growth. Recent periods are doubtless richer in materials of present application than the more remote periods. But children have very little chronological perspective. As one star seems as far away as another, although millions of miles may intervene between them, so American colonization may seem as remote to the child as the period of Athenian supremacy. The relative educational value of the wars of 1775, 1812, and 1861 does not depend upon their remoteness or proximity. It does not necessarily follow from the fact that trusts are a live, present issue, and Negro slavery came to an end 50 years ago, that the slavery agitation preceding the Civil War is of less educational value than the agitation regarding the control of trusts at the present time.

Do not these considerations suggest a basis for a partial answer at least to Prof. Robinson’s “still unsolved problem,” stated above, viz, “to determine what conditions and institutions shall be given the preference,” and to his question, “What is worth while 2 " The principle may be stated thus: The selection of a topic in history and the amount of attention given to it should depend, not merely upon its relative provimity in time, nor yet upon its relative present importance from the adult or from a sociological point of view, but also and chiefly upon the degree to which such topic can be related to the present life interests of the pupil, or can be used by him in his present processes of growth.

The committee does not imagine, however, that by stating this principle it has solved the problem of the organization of the history course. It has only recognized a new and most important factor in the problem. By so doing, it has even made the problem more difficult, for there are now raised the new questions, What history does meet the needs of the child's growth 2 And how may a given topic be related to the child's interest? Acceptance of the principle throws the problem largely back upon the teacher, for the questions just stated are questions that she must answer for her particular group of pupils, and can not be disposed of once for all by a jury of historians or sociologists. The problem is only in part one of selection of topics; it is also one of method of approach. A topic that may be infused with vitality by a proper approach through the interests of the children may become perfectly barren of results through lack of such approach. (See discussion of the question of “Approach " in relation to the teaching of civics in this report.)

Illustrations of the principle.—The following type lessons illustrate, more or less perfectly, the application of this principle. The first is given by Miss Hannah M. Harris, of the State Normal School at Hyannis, Mass., and illustrates both the selection of topic and the method of approach with reference to the pupils’ immediate interest.

Ordinarily we have regarded the War of 1812 as not closely related to those interests (of the children) nor essential to the development of the central theme of the term, “The building of the Nation; ” hence we have passed over the subject rather lightly, and have saved time for the more intensive study of the Revolution and the making of the Constitution, topics which are necessary to the central theme, and which can be made real to the children by means of their activities in a school club. This club makes and amends its own constitution, earns money, votes its expenditures; in short, manages its own affairs on denocratic principles, and so brings home to its members the meaning of certain political terms and situations involved in these topics, such as taxation without representation, majority rule, compromises, etc. In 1915, however, the subject of the War of 1812 appeared to us in a different light. The children were reading headlines in the newspapers in which the word “neutrality " had a conspicuous place. They heard the word repeated at home and on every street corner, and were beginning to use it themselves, though with but vague notions of its meaning. Consequently the preceding topic in the history course was less fully treated than in ordinary years, and time was appropriated for a study of the War of 1812. The study was approached in the following way: What is meant by the expression “a neutral nation,” “belligerent nation ”? What nations are now belligerent? Which ones neutral? What are some of the ways in which the citizens of a neutral nation come into contact with the citizens or with the government of a belligerent nation? (Some of the answers: “Buy things of them ’’; “sell them goods”; “have our goods carried in their ships"; “travel in their countries.”) So long as any nation remains neutral, what rights have its citizens in these matters and others? (So far answers all came from previous knowledge, casually acquired information.) Now, with some suggestions from the children and explanations from the teacher, the following outline was put upon the blackboard: The main rights of neutrality: 1. To live peaceably at home; i. e., not to be forced to take sides in the war or to have life or property endangered by it. 2. To trade with any nation. Exceptions: blockaded ports; dealing in contraband goods. 3. To travel peaceably on the high seas or anywhere permitted by existing treaties. Exceptions: Places in which belligerents are actually engaged in warfare. The questioning was then resumed: Do neutral nations desire to keep up friendly relations with belligerents? What mistake on the part of a neutral nation may interfere with these friendly relations? (Showing more favor to one belligerent than to another.) Why does President Wilson ask us to be neutral (impartial, calm) in our talk and actions toward citizens of belligerent nations? What act on the part of a belligerent nation may interrupt these friendly relations? (The violation of any one of the rights of neutrality.) The members of the class were referred to the textbook to find out how the United States tried in 1812 to maintain its neutrality and how it failed. The account in the textbook was found all too brief to satisfy the pupils' inquiries, and the study of the war was neither dry nor out of touch with reality.

Entrance to

Miss Clara G. Dilks, of Philadelphia, furnishes the following plan for a series of lessons on “Athens— the City Beautiful.” Whatever we may eliminate from Greek history, it should not be Greek art, which has so profoundly influenced the world. But it is not merely that the influence of Greek art survives in modern architecture that gives this phase of Greek history its value; it is the additional fact that the aesthetic interest of children is strong and needs cultivation. We may assume that the following lessons had for a point of departure live interest on the part of the pupils in the beauty of their surroundings, perhaps specifically in a proposed city-planning movement or the erection of a new public building or, on the other hand, in the prevalence in the community of unsightly architecture.

Object of lesson:
1. To visualize Athens.

2. To stimulate the pupils to observe their own surroundings in comparison. 3. To give knowledge of the possibility of combining beauty and utility in building. Method of assignment: 1. Give an outline that will fit the books available and the time of the pupils: (a) Topography of the Acropolis. Caution: Avoid affording pupils opportunity of making a mere catalogue of names. Let them imagine themselves visitors to the city. (b) Chief orders of Greek architecture. (c) Chief buildings—plan, material, decorations. 2. Assign problems, such as(a) Examination of a principal street in the pupils' own community for— (1) Kind of buildings. (2) Uniformity in architectural scheme. (3) Attempts to combine beauty with utility. (b) Study of municipal buildings for— (1) Grouping or isolation. (2) Location with reference to business and residence sections. Plan for teaching:

1. Question class as to characteristics of the Greeks that would influence their art. Compare characteristics of Americans and Greeks and draw conclusions. 2. Discuss orders of Greek architecture, compare them, and cite famous examples. Make use of pictures. 3. Application of orders to buildings. 4. Study of buildings. Use pictures. Note relative locations. Adaptation of form of buildings to geographical features. Decoration. Deduction as to whether architecture corresponds with the characteristics of the Greeks as noted. 5. Have pupils discover qualities in Greek architecture adaptable to all ages and countries. • 6. Experience meeting regarding results of investigations by pupils in their own community and conclusions as to— (a) Presence of Greek influence. (b) Evidence of definite policy for beautifying pupils' own city. Compare with other American cities and European cities.

7. Conclusion of lesson: Is it possible to adapt the idealistic Greek art to a modern commercial city? Consider modern bridges, street lamps, public buildings. What is the best means of attaining this end? Development of general knowledge of models and an artistic sense. Use of trained “city planners,” art juries, etc.

Miss Blanche E. Hazard, of the department of home economics in the New York State Agricultural College, describes some work done by her when in the High School of Practical Arts, Boston. Her pupils were girls chiefly representing the “working classes.” Neither they nor their parents looked with much favor upon an education that was not intensely “practical " from their point of view. Ancient and mediaeval history made little appeal to them until— The study of the medieval craft guilds and of the development of crafts and commerce was taken up in connection with a close-at-hand examination of the present industries or occupations of their parents or other members of their families. Each father initiated his own daughter into the special mysteries of his craft; if a hod carrier, he sometimes had her await his freedom on Sunday, and then took her over the building where he was at work. The history of the craft, its problems, advantages and disadvantages, technique and conditions, in early times and in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, were studied. Not only did the girls take the keenest interest in this work, but their fathers also became so interested to know that Greeks and Romans, Germans in the thirteenth century, and Englishmen for the past ten centuries had been tailors, shoemakers, masons, or greengrocers, and to learn of their wares, tools, and methods, that there was a happy interchange of facts of past and present between father and daughter. Six weeks were allowed for the work in this special industry and an oral report was made to the class. In some years, from 200 girls there would come reports on 75 differ. ent industries and occupations. Meanwhile instruction was given regarding general typical industries, such as weaving, printing, lumbering, etc. The students became keen observers and asked foremen and guides intelligent questions. They came to have decided ideas as to monotonous work and dangerous occupations. They had in hand the history of the industries before and after the introduction of machinery; with and without the protection of legislation. From the mediaeval craft guild to the present trade union faith and tenets, became an interesting mental road of travel for them, and linked their far-off history work in their vocational school with their fathers’ daily life and interests.


These three-type lessons illustrate the application to particular cases of the principle that history to function properly in the present must meet the needs of present growth in the pupils.

(2) How shall the course in history be organized for the purposes of secondary education?

Each new writer of a textbook is guided, consciously or unconsciously, in his choice of topics by earlier manuals which have established what teachers and the public at large are wont to expect under the caption “history.”

Until recently the main thread selected was political. Almost everything was classified under kings' reigns, and the policy of their government, and the wars in which they became involved were the favorite subjects of discussion. . . . Political history is the easiest kind of history to write;

it lends itself to accurate chronological arrangement just because it deals mainly with events rather than with conditions. (Prof. Robinson, in The New History, chapter on “History for the Common Man,” p. 136.)

The substitution of a sociological point of view for that of the mere analyst has led to the introduction of new threads of human progress and the subordination of wars and political policies. It has also led to a partial, but only partial, breaking down of the purely chronological basis of organization. But no substitute for the chronological organization of history has been found that adequately meets the conditions and needs of secondary education. It is not meant to suggest that chronology can be disregarded. The gradual and orderly evolution, step by step, of institutions and conditions is of the very essence of history. It would be impossible, were it thought desirable, to eliminate this element from historical study. But the principle of organization is antiquated which results in what some one has called the “what-came-next " plan of treatment, a mere succession of events; in the building of United States history on the framework of “administrations,” and of English or Roman history on that of “reigns;” and in the organization of the entire history course in such a way that the pupil studies “ancient" history this year, “medieval" history next year, and “modern " history the year following—provided, indeed, that he happens to begin his history this year and continue it consecutively next year and the year following, which is by no means invariably true. If, now, we accept the “pedagogical ’’ interpretation of the principle that history must function in the present, namely, that history to be of educational value must relate to the present interests of the pupil, or meet the needs of present growth, in addition to explaining present-day conditions and institutions according to the sociological interpretation, what effect may this have upon the organization of the history course? A statement by Miss Hannah M. Harris, of the State Normal School, at Hyannis, Mass., bears directly upon this question: The moment we cut loose from the old method of trying to teach all the historical facts which may happen to be found between the covers of the textbook, the question of how to organize the material of history becomes an urgent one. The student of sociology desires to organize the subject matter primarily to exhibit some important phase or phases of the social evolution of the race or nation or of some smaller group. The student of children and their needs desires to start with their present interests and to select from the story of the past only such fragments as bear so close a relation to these interests that they are capable of being in some real sense understood by the children, and of proving incentives to further profitable interests and activities on their part. This second plan, if logically carried out, would leave the entire record of the past open as a field for selection at any stage of the child's education, and would thus impose upon the teacher a task immensely difficult if not impossible. These two plans have a common purpose to make the study of history yield the help it should give in the social education of children and young people. Is it not possible to combine successfully certain features of both proposals?

Can we not heed the suggestions of modern pedagogy by starting with those contemporaneous matters in which the children have already some interest, and from this study of present-day community affairs be led naturally back into the past to find related material which is significant to the children because of this relationship, and valuable to them because it serves to make clearer or more interesting the present situation ?

At the same time, can we not limit the field of history from which selection of material is to be made for any one year of school work to some one historical epoch, permitting the teacher free choice within these limits, the choice to be guided both by the present interests of the children and by the general rule that any historical facts considered must have some bearing upon the main lines of growth which are characteristic of the period being studied?

Plan of the University of Missouri elementary school.—One of the most radical experiments in the reorganization of history instruction to “meet the needs of present growth '' is that of Prof. J. L. Meriam in the university elementary school of the University of Missouri. So far this experiment has been limited to the elementary school, but Dr. Meriam considers it a sufficient success to warrant its adaptation to the secondary school. He believes that “the present four units of history" in the secondary school are “quite out of date.” To quote from Dr. Meriam: The university elementary school gives no instruction in history as such, although a great deal of historical material is very carefully studied. This policy is in accord with our policy in other subjects. We teach no arithmetic as such, but we do a great deal of arithmetical calculation in connection with special topics. We teach no geography as such, but we become acquainted with a great deal of geographical material in our study of various industrial and social activities. We teach no language as such, but language is in constant use in our efforts to express to the best of our ability the ideas we have in various other subjects. History as usually taught is looked upon as a method of approach to the study of present-day problems. It is also used as a means of interpreting present-day problems. Thus history is usually studied before present-day problems. Further, history is usually studied by showing events in their chronological order. In the university elementary school no such purpose is present. For us historical material is studied merely to satisfy interests and to further interests in present-day problems. Such study also provides at times inspiration and suggestion for the further study of problems that are of immediate interest. Such historical material frequently excites interest in reading and thus incidentally furnishes the pupil with certain information that may be of value later. This, however, must be looked upon a mere by-product. Thus, with us the study of historical material follows, rather than precedes, the study of similar events in the present, and there is no occasion for taking up these events in chronological order. The immature pupil is not yet prepared to understand and appreciate development of institutions merly because he has not yet had sufficient experience with details. He is, however, interested in isolated events, here and there, especially those which are similar in character to events taking place in the present time that are of interest to him. Thus we need no textbook as a guide, but we use many textbooks as mere reference books. Thus we have no course in history to follow and no given amount of historical study to complete. Within the elementary school field the pupil is not ready to summarize and organize this historical study.

One special illustration may be sufficient. In our sixth grade the subject of transportation is considered in so far as it is a present-day problem. Some eight weeks are spent on such topics as railways, steamship lines, public highways and animal power, use of electricity in travel, the automobile, the aeroplane. In the seventh or eighth grade the same topic is considered, but in certain historical aspects. For example, the growth of railways in the United States and elsewhere. Here would be considered change in the extent of mileage, change in location of roads as affected by needs in various parts of the country, change in the character of engines and cars as influenced by inventions, improvement made in roads, bridges, railway stations, and the like.

Such study calls for: (1) much reading; (2) geographical study concerning the trunk lines and lines of travel; (3) arithmetical calculations, especially in the change of mileage and the cost of construction of roads and trains; (4) some very elementary physics in the study of the steam engine, air brakes, and the like; (5) drawing as a means of illustration; (6) composition, spelling, and writing as a means of expression; (7) “history for the common boy and girl.” (See Robinson’s “The New History,” chapter on “History for the Common Man.”)

“History for the common man.”—The chapter in Prof. Robinson's book to which Dr. Meriam alludes in the last clause constituted an address before a meeting of school superintendents at which the subject of discussion was industrial education. Prof. Robinson introduced his address as follows:

Should the student of the past be asked what he regarded as the most original and far-reaching discovery of modern times he might reply with some assurance that it is our growing realization of the fundamental importance, and absorbing interest of common men and common things. Our democracy, with all its hopes and aspirations, is based on an appreciation of common men; our science, with all its achievements and prospects, is based on the appreciation of common things. . . . We have come together with a view of adjusting our education to this great discovery. It is our present business to see what can be done for that very large class of boys and girls who must take up the burden of life prematurely and who must look forward to earning their livelihood by the work of their hands. But education has not been wont, until recently, to reckon seriously with the common man, who must do common things. It has presupposed leisure and freedom from the pressing cares of life. . . . It is high time that we set to work boldly and without any timid reservation to bring our education into the closest possible relation with the actual life and future duties of the great majority of those who fill our public schools. . . . History is what we know of the past. We may question it as we question our memory of our own personal acts and experiences. But those things that we recall in our own past vary continually with our moods and preoccupations. We adjust our recollection to our needs and aspirations, and ask from it light on the particular problems that face us. History, too, is not fixed and immutable, but ever changing. Each age has a perfect right to select from the annals of mankind those facts that seem to have a particular bearing on the matters it has at heart. . . . So, in considering the place to be assigned to history in industrial education, I have no intention . . . of advocating what has hitherto commonly passed for an outline of history. On the contrary, I suggest that we take up the whole problem afresh, freed for the moment from our impressions of “history,” vulgarly so called.

What Prof. Robinson suggests is that, given a group of boys and girls whose economic and social position is preordained to the ranks of the great majority of men and women “who do common things,” the history instruction should be organized, not on the traditional basis of chronology and politics, but on that of their own immediate interests.

This is what Miss Hazard did in the case cited above (see p. 21). This is also what Dr. Meriam is doing—only he goes further. He maintains that, whether or not we know in advance that the pupils are to be “common men and women,” they are at least “common boys and girls' with interests in the present. He would therefore organize all history instruction on the basis of these interests, selecting from any part of the past those facts that “meet the needs of present growth;” and he would utilize these facts at the time when the pupil has need for them in connection with any subject under discussion or any activity in progress.

Practical difficulties of radical reorganization.—It may be plausibly objected that, while such radical reorganization as that suggested by Dr. Meriam may succeed in a special experimental school under the direction of a Dr. Meriam and a well-trained, sympathetic staff, it could not succeed at present under the conditions of the ordinary school. Miss Harris refers to the difficulty (see p. 21, above) and proposes to meet it by a compromise between the “chronological " and “pedagogical" methods, restricting the field from which the teacher shall draw her materials in any given year to a particular historical epoch.

The limitation of the ground to be covered makes it practicable for the average grammar-school teacher, who, of course, is not a specialist in history, to become very familiar with the possibilities of the history of the period in question, as a mine of valuable material. And it is only this familiarity on the teachers' part that will make this sort of teaching a success.

The difficulty to which Miss Harris here refers— unpreparedness in history on the part of the teacher —is perhaps not so much of a factor in the secondary school, especially in cities, as in the elementary school. Unpreparedness of the high-school teacher is likely to be of another kind, namely, unpreparedness in the art of teaching. The college-trained highschool teacher may be a specialist in his subject, but have no training whatever as a teacher.

This unpreparedness of teachers, the lack of suitable textbooks, natural conservatism, and the opposition of those whose chief apparent interest is to maintain the supremacy of a “subject,” or who see in the traditional methods of history instruction a means of “culture " that the schools can not dispense with, cause school authorities and teachers to hesitate “to work boldly and without timid reservation,” or to “take up the whole matter afresh, freed . . . from the impression of ‘history ' . . . so called,” and to seek rather to modify the existing course of study, incorporating in it as much as possible of the new ideas in the hope that as they prove their worth they

will gain favor and open the way for further improvement. The committee has taken account of this fact in arriving at its conclusions, and has made its recommendations (pp. 15-17) in the hope that they will stimulate initiative and experiment rather than discourage effort at immediate improvement. (C) PROBLEMS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY-ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, POLITICAL.

It is generally agreed that there should be a culminating course of social study in the last year of the high school, with the purpose of giving a more definite, comprehensive, and deeper knowledge of some of the vital problems of social life, and thus of securing a more intelligent and active citizenship. Like preceding courses, it should provide for the pupils’ “needs of present growth,” and should be founded upon what has preceded in the pupils’ education, especially through the subjects of civics and history. 1. Conflicting claims for the twelfth year.—One fact stands out clearly in the present status of the twelfth-year problem, namely, the variety of opinion as to the nature of the work that should be offered in this year. Not to mention the claims of history, the principal claimants for position are political science (government, “advanced civics "), economics, and sociology in some more or less practical form. A profitable course could be given in any one of these fields, provided only it be adapted to secondaryschool purposes. Three alternatives seem to present themselves: 1. To agree upon some one of the three fields. 2. To suggest a type course in each of the three fields, leaving the choice optional with the local school. 3. To recommend a new course involving the principles and materials of all three fields, but adapted directly to the immediate needs of secondary education.

The traditional courses in civil government are almost as inadequate for the last as for the first year of the high school. Efforts to improve them have usually consisted of only slight modifications of the traditional course or of an attempted simplification of political science. The results have not met the needs of highschool pupils nor satisfied the demands of economists and sociologists.

A justifiable opinion prevails that the principles of economics are of such fundamental importance that they should find a more definite place in high-school instruction than is customary. Courses in economics are accordingly appearing in high-school curriculums with increasing frequency. To a somewhat less degree, and with even less unanimity as to nature of content, the claims of sociology are being pressed. A practical difficulty is presented by the resulting complexity of the course of study. The advocates of none of the social sciences are willing to yield wholly to the others, nor is it justifiable from the standpoint of the pupil's social education to limit his instruction to one field of social science to the exclusion of others. The most serious difficulty, however, is that none of the social sciences, as developed and organized by the

« ПретходнаНастави »