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Extracts From Current Educational Articles.
TOP-HEAVY SCHOOLS. Professor Schoenrich, of Baltimore, read a paper before the National German-American Teachers' Association in Philadelphia, from which the following is an extract:
“A grave danger threatening the public school systems of our country is the tendency of making them top-heavy. Only too frequently the main energy is directed to the development of the high schools ; by their results the school systems of the different cities are frequently judged, and, consequently, the schedule of the lower schools points up to the high schools, and not out into actual life.”
This tendency has been observed elsewhere than in Philadelphia. There has for some years been a purpose manifested to complete a symmetrical system from the primary grade to the university. There would be no harm in a public school system of this.scope if it could be maintained without neglect of the lower grade schools. The original purpose of the public school system was to give all children a practical education. There was no limit to the scope of this system, except that the opportunities open to one should be open as well to all others. The public money was to be expended for the common benefit of all. This plan has been departed from to such an extent that, while schools are established to carry pupils through sixteen years, there are not school accommodations in any large American city for all, or nearly all, the applicants. If the pupils that now attend private schools should apply for admission to the public schools, thousands would be turned away. There is no doubt that many who attend private schools in this city would be enrolled in the public schools, if school buildings were made comfortable. In the last report of the United States Commissioner of Education the attendance in the elementary school grades and in the high schools is compared. Taking twenty-one cities as the basis of comparison, it was found that while 21 ,670 pupils were enrolled in the first grade, in the eighth there were but 38,943. These eight grades include primary and grammar schools. In the eight elementary grades 874,773 pupils were enrolled, and in the high schools only 47,251. The relatively small number of pupils able to attend high schools gives point to Professor Schoenrich's criticism that the public school system is top-heavy. The curriculum of the lower schools, he says, “points up to the high school, and not to actual life." Commenting upon this tendency, the “ Philadelphia Ledger” says:
" To overload the curriculum of these schools with fads which trench upon the time, the very precious time, which should be devoted to thorough drill in the fundamental branches of knowledge, is to deprive the vast majority of the school population of their rights. It is evident that there is good ground for Professor Schoenrich's criticism that the main energies of the school systems of the country are too often directed to the development of the high schools, at the cost of diminished opportunities for the very many thousands of boys and girls, who, for one reason or another, cannot grasp high school privileges.”
INDUSTRIAL EDUCATION IN GERMAN EMPIRE.
J. C. Monaghan, ex-United States Consul at Chemnitz, recently said of industrial education in Germany :
“It may be best to plunge right into the midst of the Germany industrial system, by saying it is excellent in its results. It is composed of industrial, art, commercial, high and techrical schools.
"Because we have built up the richest nation on earth without such a system, some are saying the talk of great need for technical education is nonsense. The question is not so much what we are, as what, with such schools, we might have been. I have no hesitation in saying, lacking these schools, Germany, instead of occupying her present proud position at the head of Continental Europe's industrial states, would be struggling to maintain the integrity of the empire.
“Germans are practically the only people on earth who have first-class tanning schools. They were wise enough to put the practical chemist side by side with the practical tanner. The reactions not understood by the one were understood by the other. The result is that Germany leads the world in many, if not all, leathers. It will interest American readers to learn, however, that the tanning school at Freidburg, Saxony,is fitted with machines invented in this country, while the head director was for fifteen years fore man of a famous Milwaukee tannery. Germans send their boys out to learn the languages and to study foreign markets, and Germans are better known in the modern world than the Romans were in the ancient world.
“Germany has had the schoolmaster abroad at every step of her progress. The schoolmaster was at Ludwighafen when Dr. Lear and his chemists took the refuse matter of the world's gas houses and converted it into a hundred different colors for the dyes of this and other countries. Dr. Caro told me twelve years ago that the dream of German chemists at that time was grander than that of any ancient alchemist or philosopher, being above book or alembic, for theirs was a hopeless task. Dr. Caro and his chemists made no effort to turn the baser metals to gold, but to find an artificial substitute for indigo. Twelve months ago they succeeded ; and so successful were their efforts that the United States Government appraisers put their product as high in the duty schedules as the natural product of India or Ceylon."
Mr. Monaghan spoke of the technical schools, their places in helping forward the empire and commercial education. In 1870 Germany had 64 per cent of its people on farms. Today it has only 33 per cent, and in this connection, he said, that it was hardly necessary to add that the empire's continued success is due to the marvelous methods of education. Then the speaker said:
“The German schoolmaster has done his work well. The broken fragments of an empire, once discordant states, were welded by his power into the most compact forces since Napoleon sank into his island grave. He has changed the empire from a slow-moving, hard-working, almost povertystricken agricultural state, to an industrial and commercial one, rich in material wealth beyond all that her best and most ambitious statesmen believed possible.”
WHY? Miss Marion Hill, a San Francisco school teacher, has written an article for “McClure's Magazine,” on music in the public schools. If the contribution be taken as a serious presentation of music in the public schools, then there is cause for alarm.
A CHILD'S IDEA OF
AMERICA.” A bright little ten-year-old girl, a remarkably good speller, helped her elders out by reciting all the verses, as it sounded, correctly. She then volunteered to write them down, with this result :
“My country, tissuf the
Of thee I sing.
Let fridmen ring.
Thy name I love.
Thy woods and temper pills,
Like that above." She was a bright child and wrote the verses down as she had learned them by ear. She had puzzled out a meaning of her own for some of the phrases. She was asked, for instance, to explain,“ pried,” and answered, “Why, pry means to come where you are not asked to come.” " Then the Pilgrims pried into America ?” “Yes, I think so. Nobody invited them." “Temper pills," she thought, were pills for temper, and though she had never seen any she thought she'd like to have some. Her ideas about poetry open up possibilities for an objective study of poetry, as seen from the child's standpoint. She did not know what "tissuf” was, but thought "May be it is to fill out the line. Poetry has something that is called metre; maybe tissuf' makes the right metre.” Further cross-examination brought out this: “Why do you love 'rots and chills ?'" “I don't.” “But you say here that you do.” “Oh, I don't say it; it's the poetry says it. I think it means that we must forgive a great many unpleasant things about our country, and say we like them just out of politeness.” A sound little patriot ten-year-old, even if all is not quite clear in her small noddle. Her idea of "ratcher was that it sounded like a disease, because “It says, 'like that above '—and there are chills a few lines above ; and thrills are a sort of chills anyhow. I looked it up in my dictionary.” An intelligent child who tries to find out, and has read Jabberwocky, and has learned that “poetry" may be without meaning.
AN EXAMINATION OF PATRIOTISM. A class of fifty bright-eyed boys and girls was inspected, whose average age was a trifle over ten years, and whose last percentage in spelling had been 88. The exercises were very satisfactory; there were speaking of pieces, and singing of war songs, and saluting the flag, and excitement and enthusiasm. Then came the examiner's prying questions like a wet blanket on scholars and teacher alike. For the oral cross-examination allowance must be made, of course, for the confusion arising in children's minds when an answer that had been previously satisfactory is inquired into more closely. Many of their elders would be put out if cross-examined on conventions they accept every day. There was no doubt that their hearts were in the right place, and that they were boiling over with patriotism, but they had given little heed to the words with which they had expressed it, nor had they been trained to inquire into and define their own ideas. They thought that liberty meant being out of jail, and that you got protection if you could find a policeman, and that self-government was doing as you pleased, which, it will be admitted, are only partial truths. One little girl answered the question, “What has your country ever done for you that you should love it?” by declaring that it had given her an “exquisition," putting her head down upon her desk and refusing to explain herself or to receive comfort. Her patriotic day had been spoiled for her.
The examiner carried his inquisition to the point of securing documentary evidence. He made the children write a verse or two of their favorite patriotic songs with dire results. “The Star Spangled Banner" seemed a general favorite, but every line was distorted. “The dawn's early light,” for example, became “don selery eye” and “durn surly lie ;” “blest with victory and peace” was turned into “less the fig trees and peas," and "bless with big trees apiece," and the appeals at the end of the stanzas were transformed into “Oh, say does the Star Spangled Banner get weighed ? or the home of the free? or the land of the brave?” and “Does the Star Spangled Banner yet wade ?” Other songs met with like maltreatment. Columbia, "the yam of the ocean," instead of being "the shrine of each patriot's devotion," was "swine of each pastry Arctic Ocean," in one little gastronomer's mind, while “trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,'' from the “Battle Hymn of the Republic," became “He is tramping round the village where the grapes arrive from shore."
CHILD-STUDY AND ITS RELATION TO EDUCATION.
[Extract from article by G. Stanley Hall in Forum.] Let us consider a single representative point. Every one recognizes the importance of interest, how it quickens attention, short-circuits slower processes, and eases the strain of acquisition, and now the teacher who is well informed on the favorite out-of-school amusements and occupations of his pupils, and on the life led by them, and who knows his classes individually and collectively, can shorten the road of learning. To determine and group these interests more fully than ever, occurred to Herbart, is one of the quests of child study. One of its goals now near at hand, and which will involve considerable change, both in regard to the methods of teaching every subject in the curriculum, and the age at which the different subjects can be most profitably taught, is the determination of nascent periods for both mental and muscular work. We shall very soon have curves of the years when many of the chief culture interests begin to culminate and decliue. This will enable us to say definitely which are the premature and which are the belated subjects; i. e., when the matter of school training can be taught without forcing, and without sinning away the sacred hour of maximal receptivity and capacity.
Among the more incidental advantages of the study of children is the new bond which it often establishes between the home and the school. The teacher who no longer regards his pupils as marionettes, to be treated as groups or classes, but as free units, with a bond of sympathy between each of their hearts and his own, desires to know at least something of the home life of each child, and to come to an understanding with parents. Hence, many very different organizations have arisen, from Superintendent Dutton's educational club in Brookline, Massachusetts, to the circles of mothers who meet the teachers weekly after school at Detroit, Michigan. Again, women teachers are increasing, and the method by which they do their best work is to consider individuals, and to adapt themselves to personal differences. Child study gives sanction to this method, reinforces it, and tends to make the teacher's service of even greater pecuniary value.
Another advantage of interest in child study is that it helps to break down, to some extent, the partitions between grades of work, so that the kindergartner and university professor can coöperate in the same task. Best of all, perhaps, it tends to make family life, with plenty of children in it, more interesting and desirable. Indeed, it is a part of a great culture movement, marked by a new love of the naïve, the spontaneous, and the unsophisticated, by a desire to get at what is primitive and original in human nature, as it comes fresh from its primal sources. A prevalent theory of art insists that the greatest defect of all art products is a sign of conscious design, and that the acme of æsthetic enjoyment is reached when it is realized that the poem or picture is a product of unconscious creative force, more or less irresistible, and, as with the greatest geniuses, with no thought of effect. Just so in childhood, we are coming again to realize that in its fresh thoughts,