Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and imitate them. In this respect both of these teachers are ahead of most of the English classical scholars.

In selection of material for reading the Latin teacher should pay large attention to the cultural idea. It does make an immense difference what the pupil reads in Cæsar. It is unwise and indeed cruel to put the second-year pupil at the beginning of his second year through the elaborate indirect discourse of the last part of the first book; and other portions of the first four books are less stimulating than the account of the invasion of Britain in the fifth book, the customs of the Gauls and Germans in the sixth, and the heroic struggle of the gallant Vercingetorix for Gallic freedom in the seventh. If the teacher can read part of the last six books of Virgil he would better make judicious selection, picking out such episodes as the visit to Evander in the eighth book, the expedition of Nisus and Euryalus in the ninth, and the story of Camilla in the eleventh. The teacher himself needs to read different things from year to year both in order to keep himself alive and to be sympathetic with the effort in acquisition required of his pupils. Our college requirements have been fairly liberal as to latitude of choice. I found on looking up the matter a few months ago that I had actually read more than twenty different orations of Cicero with classes of pupils, besides doing selections from the letters.

Some years ago I secured the little book by Preston and Dodge on Roman Private Life and for several years used a few minutes on one day of the week, in two out of my four classes, in reading from this book, in order to give the pupils a livelier sense of the Romans as people who really lived.

Many years ago I prepared a stereoptical lecture on Virgil's Æneid, and have later added others on Cæsar's Gallic War, Roman History, Ancient Athletics, etc., and have, I trust, added something of human interest as they have been given to successive classes of students. Schreiber's School Atlas, a Dictionary of Antiquities, Wall Pictures and other illustrations

may be used.

During the last two years I have been giving special attention to the connection between ancient life and current history, preserving newspaper clippings and calling the attention of my only in

а

pupils to matters of this nature. For instance, the dominantly classical subjects chosen by Harriet Hosmer, who recently died, recent discoveries in the Roman Forum, and extended reference by the Governor of Illinois at the dedication of the Illinois monument at Vicksburg to the dedication of the Marathon Mound. Besides other cultural value of this sort of work, it ought to bring out into strong relief the fact of our indebtedness to the past and the further fact that Latin is a dead language

very

shallow sense. I have also made trips with my pupils to the Art Museum and the Field Columbian Museum of Chicago to see the ancient sculpture, the antiquities, the paintings and statuary upon classical subjects. The present head of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Professor Fairbanks, is a former classical teacher, and at the meeting of the Eastern Massachusetts Classical Association a few weeks ago he offered to provide expert guidance to any teacher from secondary schools who wishes to visit that institution with his pupils.

One of our teachers in the Cambridge Latin School was showing me a few days ago a set of papers written by her Xenophon class upon such topics as “The Life of Xenophon,” “The Persian Court,” “Sidelights upon Greek and Persian Life from the Anabasis.” These papers showed interest and research on the part of pupils, and certainly had much cultural value.

In English, after the careful presentation of the question yesterday, I shall venture on only a few suggestions. If we are to lift the uncultured we must find a point of contact, stooping a little at first, and expecting only a gradual movement. In the case of my own boys, when they were very young, and wanted everything all “blugy” (bloody), as they called it, I got an inexpensive edition of the Century War Book, showed them the pictures, and told them some of the stories, putting in some ethical touches on the sly. A little later came Sheridan's Ride, Horatius at the Bridge, and other poems in martial strain. A whole volume of such poems called “Heroic Ballads” is published by Ginn & Co.

The love of song to which I have already alluded in this paper may be used as a means of introducing boys to good poetry—a difficult task. At best the teacher's effort will come to naught if he is too ambitious at first. The poetry of Macaulay, of Sir Walter Scott and of Kipling is the best I have found. Declamation, too, is an excellent way to introduce boys to good literature in both prose and verse. It brings in the element of action, often dramatic action, in a way which appeals to boys.

To atone for saying anything about English after the excellent discussion of yesterday afternoon by expert English teachers, I should like to remind you on this page, left for the purpose, of some things then said which have a direct bearing on my theme. Such were the insistence of Miss Mumford on the use of English composition as a means of self-development in themes requiring the relation of personal experiences. The most suggestive remark of Principal Hoyt that it isn't simply English he wants of his English teachers but the culture of the individual pupil, because the proper teaching of English secures such individual culture; the confirmation of this statement by Mr. Ross, who said that he personally under the spell of a cultured teacher's voice was led at the age of fifteen to love the sound of poetry, and a little later to appreciate the substance even of the difficult Shelley. We also noted his appeal for the literary study of English as an antidote to the excessive scientific drift of the times.

I was pleased, also, to hear in the discussion that the presence of a debating society in school greatly helps the study of argument in the English class; that the personal, sympathetic conference is invaluable both for development in English and in personality, and ought to be used even in examining pupils in English for admission to college.

The history teacher should remember that culture comes most largely from enthusiastic admiration for noble men, and hence the history course should largely be given to promoting such enthusiasm. History should be enlivened by reference to living men, and men who live in the same town or city with the pupils. They should not have the idea that only men remote in time or place are deserving of admiration. Occasionally a man of high character and noble aims may be found who has the capacity and the willingness to address the school -a means of culture which should by no means be neglected.

A teacher of science should impart a love of nature. No devotion to technical detail, or to processes of weighing and measuring, can atone for a failure to bring the pupil into relation with nature in her varied and attractive forms. Stanley Hall has pointed out with emphasis that, as it is now taught in many schools, physics, with all its cunning elaboration, and with all the technical skill displayed by high school pupils, is really less cultural than the old-fashioned natural philosophy. Physiography, with its wide scope, its discussion and explanation of every-day phenomena, and its frequent out-door excursions, certainly has cultural value. As to mathematics, there is an appeal to the imagination in geometry and astronomy which may be useful for later cultural work. As a whole mathematical studies seem less likely to appeal to cultural motives than others; but mathematical genius inspires admiration, and many mathematicians are most interesting personalities. References to such men, their ways and works, would, I fancy, be found very attractive by boy pupils of mathematics.

Now for a few concluding words. In the endeavor to carry out such suggestions as these, every teacher is bound to meet difficulty, embarrassment and occasional failure; and what is hardest to bear of all, failure arising from a lack of sympathy and co-operation on the part of colleagues or even superiors who ought to have higher ideals and more courage. But each teacher for himself should do his best as courageously and persistently as possible, remembering that “not failure, but low aim, is crime.”

It is perfectly evident that any secondary school ideally organized for purposes of culture must have fewer class-room hours and a larger corps of teachers than is now customary, in order to allow time for personal conference, for meeting with parents, and for the guidance of the pupils in their voluntary literary, athletic and social associations. There are encouraging signs that changes may be made in this direction. The universities are giving to the graduate work an amount of money and a number of teachers which would have seemed

incredible thirty years ago. We have the wonderful expansion indicated by the preceptorial system at Princeton, intended primarily for pupils just about high school age. If it is good to do such things to develop teachers in the graduate school and to put freshmen on the road to cultural effort, we need not despair of a gradually increasing effort to solve the “boy problem” in the secondary school-one of the most acute problems that the American public has to meet to-day. Indeed, the large expenditure for laboratories and gymnasiums, with the special teachers for small groups in the laboratories and the special teachers of physical culture in many high schools, may indicate what the people will do when they really get their eyes open. But something can be done even as things are. If a teacher would make up his mind to meet with pupils in their voluntary associations, he might find that the extra interest cultivated both in himself and in the pupils would make a smaller amount of written work adequate, and he would find the association with pupils a much more stimulating and restful exercise than the correction of school papers.

If our discussion has accomplished anything, it has shown that the highest cultural value is to be attached to those things which are naturally most attractive to youth—that we secure culture from those things which arouse love and enthusiasm. Such are the story, the drama, the song, athletic exercise and association, other voluntary association for intellectual and moral stimulus; from the most natural and unconventional and human ! relation; from the study of the human mind and human action, and above all from the contact with living, active, beneficent personality. If we can translate these things into the vernacular of the secondary school there will be no difficulty in holding the boys and girls, and there is pressing need of something that will hold them—especially the boys. If I understood Commissioner Goodwin at the Harvard Teachers' Association two weeks ago, he said that there were eighty-seven thousand pupils in the high schools of New York State, but that last year the number of boy graduates was only about twenty-five hundred. A good deal has been done in commercial and manual training high schools by appeal to the vocational motive; but is it not

« AnteriorContinuar »