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FRANK J. BROWNE, BERKELEY. MANY courses of study have come under my observation, courses for states, for cities, and for counties. There is usually to be found in them some indication that the authorities are trying to keep up with the latest educational thought. They direct attention to the newest methods for teaching reading, and recommend the latest books on the market. Spelling is “ reformed,” and one would think that the present generation of pupils are to vie with the dictionary in correct orthography. Writing, too, has been "reformed,” and from the old Spencerian slant we now have the “roundhand,” “semi-slant,” or some natural ” or national” system of vertical penmanship which saves nervous energy and stimulates niental alacrity. All sorts of “richness” has been injected into the course of study, with all degrees of success and failure. Latin has been brought down into the grammar grades, and algebra and geometry has taken part of the time once given to arithmetic. Only here and there has the subject of history received adequate atteniion. A few good books have been published on history in the grades, but no universal awakening has been set on foot.
Wherever children are observed, whether on the playground, on the streets, or in any public place, never is their conversation upon grammar, writing, or arithmetic. The parsing of a verb does not appeal to the life interest of a child. It is interested in what med have done, what they are now doing. Action is eloquence. The abstract theory of anarchy attracts no attention — the DOING of anarchy arouses the civilized world. There is surely a call for more history, more heroism, more bravery, more adventure, in the school course. The deeds of humanity in the past, the conditions of life in the present, should have greater emphasis in the schools. School life should deal more with life outside the school.
History serves several purposes in the process of education.
First. It provides material out of which the imagination may construct historical pictures, conditions of home life in the past, the deeds of patriots and heroes. It improves the imagination.
Second. It cultivates the babit of noting men's actions, of discerning the environment of men, and of judging of motives and feelings. It assists in social adjustment.
Third. It fixes the general desire to search for truth, and to base conclusions upon facts. It leads to logical thought.
Fourth. It reveals the origin and nature of present conditions and institutions, and leads to a more rational patriotism.
The gradual development of the mind calls for the “spiral” method in history, just as in arithmetic and in science. Herbert Spencer gives this principle: “There can be no correct idea of a part without a corresponding idea of the correlative whole." If this be correct, the usual custom of teaching the history of the United States in the grammar grades, and no other history, is not logical, nor is it psychological. The child may get from the history of his country the necessary stories for imagination, patriotism, and heroism; but it cannot get the logical relation of this country to the past, nor can he form adequate judgmert on its importance in the present and future. History should be taught in accord with the psychological demand for unities. The glance at the whole is essential to an appreciation of any part. In the development of civilization, the United States is but the fruit of a long period of growth. The childhood of the race prepares for its manhood. The conditions of the past, tbe beginnings of thought, the primitive industries, the growth of ideas concerning liberty and property, all these enable a better understanding of the history of our country, which is but the fruitage of centuries gone before.
If it be true that the child lives over the history of the race, which theory we all are able to accept in part, there is a time in childhood to cultivate the imagination; and the stories of the mythical period of the race, if used at all, should be used in childhood. The traditions of nations, in the twilight of history, follow close upon the myth. Then come the authentic heroes, about whom cluster the great actions which determine social conditions and which constitute real history.
History should be presented from the child's point of view. Concrete and realistic presentation of such facts that come within the experiences of childhood, will fix impressions and arouse interest more readily than will a
discussion of the ethical or economic principles involved. A child cannot experience the impulses of a man. “Taxation without representation is tyranny" is an everlasting principle of our government; but the discussion of that principle does not appeal to the average pupil in the grades with so much interest as does the story of Bunker Hill, or the boy hood of Benjamin Franklin. It is easy to make a mistake, not only by presenting the history of our country as a' cross-section of civilization, but by presenting it in a method too abstract. There is danger of “foundering" a pupil's mind by attempting to give him the food fit for a statesman. The teacher may feel intensely upon certain lines of thought which the pupils cannot assimilate, and the text-books may deal too exclusively with features on the level with the voter and law-maker. Children form their ideals from deeds and doers, more than from sermons and moral advice. Men of all ages have been moved by the same emotions and passions. Strength has ever tried to encroach upon weakness, tyranny has ever tried to limit human liberty. story of the race, from the dawn of civilization to the present time, illustrates the growth of liberty and prepares for the consideration of our own country with wider and more definite views of its worth and destiny. Tho children cannot understand the logic of history, they can feel the impulses of men who make history, if the deeds of men are presented in such a manner as will permit a comparison with child life.
THE COMMON SCHOOL AND THE COMMONER SCHOOL.
From Life as a School Study. It is a well-known fact that children love to go to school not to what we call “the Common School,” but to the commoner school which we call “Life.” Before he can talk a child begins to ask questions— by tasting everything. As he gets the rest of his five senses he spends them all for information about life and the machinery of life. What the child wants most and needs most is something which will tell what it is to be a man, a woman; wbat it is for which Nature and his other teachers the teacher in the home and the teacher in the school - wish to get him ready; which will attract him to the school knowledge by showing him what it is good for.
Young men are disposed to be in a hurry. They are in haste to be rich; to be educated; to be honored and applauded; to reach some high official position. Their fathers toiled up the stairs, but they want to take the elevator. A student proposed to President Dwight to take a short cut to education. “Well,” said the president, "when God makes a squash he takes six weeks; a mushroom matures in a night; but when he makes an oak he takes 100 years." The law of progress is patience, plodding, getting up early in the morning and keeping at it all day and day after day. Character cannot be extemporized; there are no hot-house methods for developing stalwart manhood.
Current Educational Thought.
A CLEAN LIFE.
DAVID STARR JORDAN
Stanford University. At the University chapel Saturday, September 23, President Jordan gave his address on a “A Clean Life.” He characterized it as a plea for a sound and sober life, in which to be clean is to be strong. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are, in essence, the same thing. The law of life is that everything we get has its cost. No action is without an expenditure of energy.
Temptation,” said Dr. Jordan, “plays a part in the development of character. Exercise of self-denial makes the self-made man. He who has learned to resist temptation has learned to say no. Some day self-denial will be taught more severely to children. The strength of the Pilgrims lay not in their creed, but in their hatred of all that was evil. The broad road and the flowery path lead to weakness and misery. There is no happiness without denial. There is no pleasure equal to that of conquering a vicious babit.
“No sinner starts out to be evil. Decay goes on step by step. Bad men are not all bad, and good men are not all good. The gamblers and drunkards of Bret Harte's stories are capable of noble sentiments. The cause of sin is the desire for short cuts to happiness. The happiness of sin leaves a different taste in the morning, while to true happiness there is no reaction."
The speaker pointed out and described the five roads that are followed under the delusion that they supply these short cuts.
First is Indolence, the attempt to secure the pleasure of rest without effort. All the vices have been attributed to idleness. The second is gambling in all its forms, the desire to get something for nothing. The thief may even be a respected member of society, if he is the right kind of a thief, for money is power. The appeal to chance is adverse to happiness.
Licentiousness, third road, the desire to secure the pleasures of unearned love, is most insidious. Equal marriage demands equal purity of heart. Love's arch foe is lust. Open vice brings with it degradation. Secret vice brings to this end most surely, for the man who leads a double life cannot permanently conceal his nature. Much that passes under other names is only veiled licentiousness.
Fourth is precocity. Precocious fruit is not good fruit. The precocious apple is always bad at the core. To guard the future is the greatest duty of the young man. Nature guards against precocity in animals, but the precocious boy is thrown into the midst of the hotbed of the temptations to vice. The examples upon every hand of obscene suggestion in our cities corrupt the youth. Vulgarity breeds precocity. It is vulgar to wear dirty