Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

STATEMENT OF Miss CORNELIA S. ADAIR, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL EDUCA

TION ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON, D. C. Other supporters of the education bill have already expressed themselves in favor of a department of education to undertake research in school problems. The need for a national agency to collect such information is widely recognized, but I want to speak of the need for research in higher education.

Although my field as a teacher has been along the lines of elementary and high-school education, I have a particular reason for presenting this phase of the subject. During the past year I have traveled from coast to coast, speaking before many groups of young people, and conferring with those who have charge of the education of youth. Everywhere I have found need for study of the problems involved in higher education.

When I returned to college a few years ago to complete work for my degree, my attention was forcibly brought to the problems of adjustment which confront modern youth and the institutions of higher education. These questions are constantly under discussion in the leading magazines of the country. This fact emphasizes the need for some cooperative effort that will help us to chart the course in higher education more wisely. Personally, I believe creation of a department of education with a secretary in the President's Cabinet offers the greatest promise of solving the problem.

Although there has been considerable modification in educational procedure as well as change in the content and method of instruction, only a very small beginning has been made in the way of studying higher education on a national scale. In the past, discussion of the fundamental objectives of higher education has been carried on principally from the standpoint of theory rather than scientific fact. Problems have been settled by compromise and majority vote, without the support of scientific evidence.

You will find educators in agreement regarding the necessity for reorganization of our system of higher education. Very little, however, has been accomplished along this line because of the almost total absence of exact information regarding present practices and a corresponding lack of definition of the objectives of gher education.

We are constantly being reminded of the need for changes in our colleges which will serve to reduce the great number of failures among first-year students. Even more serious are the failures of college-trained men and women when called upon to meet life's economic and social problems.

We have come to think of education as a life process, not something to be completed in a given number of years during our youth.

Higher education must be adapted to this idea; our students must be prepared to meet life in a wholesome, efficient manner.

Outlining the various aspects of the college curriculum to-day, Dr. Frederick J. Kelly, dean of administration in the University of Minnesota, has included the following fields among those requiring special research:

1. Admission requirements.
2. Dovetailing college requirements with entrance subjects.
3. Courses required for graduation.
4. Methods of securing breadth of training.
5. Methods of securing specification.
6. Variations in requirements for students of varying abilities.

The increased interest in high-school study of the so-called practical subjects, such as stenography, mechanical training, drawing, cooking, and agriculture, has brought a new problem to the college. More and more educators are beginning to realize that these subjects are as valuable, in their place, as mathematics, history, and language. Their importance, of course, depends upon the natural ability and inclinations of the individual. Just how the college should deal with these subjects in giving recognition for entrance requirements is a matter for careful consideration such as could be undertaken satisfactorily only by an unprejudiced agency of national scope, like the proposed department of education.

The great numbers of students now seeking to enter college provide another very real problem. Should everyone who seeks to enroll be admitted? It is difficult to say whether or not a college education is desirable for everyone who thinks he wants it, or for every boy or girl whose parents have decided to give John or Mary the advantages of a higher education. At any rate, it is very true that many of our colleges are unable to take in all of those who seek admittance. Some fair means of restricting enrollment seems absolutely necessary. This, of course, can be worked out more or less satisfactorily by the individual school, but a nation-wide study of the question is becoming increasingly necessary as each year finds greater numbers being turned away from the doors of our colleges,

Once admitted to college, first-year students often find that their college courses are & duplication of work they have already had in languages, history, English, science or mathematics. As a result, they lose interest in their studies. In other cases, the method of instruction in college is so different from that followed in high school that the student has difficulty with his work.

It has been suggested that failures in college indicate an unfitness for a college education, and that the early elimination of a large number of students is wholly desirable. To a certain extent, of course, this is true, but frequently the failure of the student is due to a lack of understanding or adjustment to his new surroundings. Failure at any stage in life is a most discouraging thing, and inability to complete the work in college may have a detrimental effect upon an individual's entire career.

1 Some method of cooperation should be worked out between the high school and the college in order that those conditions shall be corrected. Perhaps the solution lies in the junior college, perhaps in some other plan. At any rate, this is a most important matter if we hope to keep an increasingly larger percentage of our freshman students in college.

The purpose of all education, of course, is to prepare young people to participate in the duties and privileges of citizens-to enjoy life and at the same time to make the greatest possible contribution to it. Just what courses will best fit youth for such a life depends to a large extent upon the individual. There is much disagreement regarding the value of intelligence tests in determining individual capacities, and more should be known about this system. Some people claim that the same objection applies to these tests as to ordinary examinations, since many students become excited at the idea of any sort of examination and fail to do their best work. Probably the strongest objection to intelligence tests is that they inquire into the student's store of information rather than into his native ability. Sociological tests have been suggested as a substitute or correlative type of examination. Both methods are being tried out with varying success, but we need to have the results collected in some form which would provide valuable reference for educators throughout the nation.

If a student is to be well prepared to meet life's problems we say he must have a "broad” educational background; or, if we belong to the other school of thought we argue that he must specialize in “practical” courses. Little agreement has been reached between these two conflicting ideas. Probably there is need for & compromise, but this should not be a mere agreement based upon concession but one reached after serious study of the results of the two methods of training. We have long been told that the study of foreign language aids us in the use of English, or that mathematics provides excellent training in exactness, logical thought, and habits of application. Now the adherents of the newer system claim that all this is bosh, and that a foreign language is of value only in so far as it can be applied in later life to the actual reading or speaking of the language, Investigation is sorely needed in this field, as it is in the matter of vocational guidance, to determine whether the student should attempt only to specialize while in college, or should lay a good foundation of general education. No adequate study of this problem has yet been made, and doubtless none of wide reaching importance will be made until the department of education shall be created and shall undertake to help solve the questions involved.

To-day we hear much about the need for personal interviews and student conferences, yet we have comparatively little information to substantiate the theory that this plan is more successful than the older method of lecture and quiz. Again we are speaking of theory rather than fact. While there is very general agreement as to the desirability of the more individual method of teaching, not every instructor has the time for it, and probably it is unnecessary in teaching some subjects. Facts are needed, but we do not yet have any great national agency devoted to collecting such facts.

Libraries and laboratory equipment also require much greater study than has been given to them. The faculty itself might well be given more attention, Especially in so far as its training and character is concerned.

Investigation and experimentation is going on along all these lines, and much more will follow in the next few years, but unless we have some agency, operating on a national scale, to collect and disseminate the results, the work will be largely without effect.

Of great promise is the work that has been undertaken in an attempt to ascertain the kind and amount of higber education needed in various fields and the degree to which existing institutions appear to be meeting the demands. The medical profession has attempted to determine these facts for medicine; much the same type of inquiry has been undertaken for dentistry; and the National Education Association is constantly pointing to the need for such a survey of the supply and demand for teachers. For the most part, such studies have been carried on for certain institutions and States, but the constant migration from State to State makes anything but a national study inadequate. This would, of course, be subject to constant revision, and would thus present an enormous task, which could only be satisfactorily handled by a Federal department.

The Bureau of Education has made a good beginning in the way of encouraging research in the problems of higher education. Since 1910 it has had a specialist in higher education who has conducted surveys in such fields as the junior college, the negro institutions, and the land-grant colleges.

Private educational foundations and other organizations have also carried or interesting inquiries. For instance, the American Council on Education, an organization supported by membership fees and by grants for special projects from educational foundations, has undertaken studies of educational finance, modern language study, psychological tests, industrial cooperation, personnel procedure and international educational relations. Such groups as the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education and the Modern and the Classical Language Associations have made important contributions to our knowledge of the means of solving problems of higher education. Rather than completing all the necessary investigations, however, these organizations have only pointed to the great good that may be hoped for from more thorough studies of higher education undertaken on a nation-wide scale.

The National Committee on Research in Secondary Education has secured results which indicate the need for some agency to study higher education. But it is unfair to depend upon teachers to finance all the necessary studies. Such matters are of national importance and require nation-wide study. In my opinion only a Department of Education can carry on the work adequately, correlating the results of independent agencies and conducting new investigations which are greatly needed. To-day when such great numbers of young people are eager to obtain the advantages of a higher education, providing them with a means for wise guidance in their college life becomes a matter of importance to our country-a new duty for the Nation to sssume.

Mr. FENN. Will the writer of this paper be present before the committee?

Doctor DAVIDSON. She will be here later.

Mr. FENN. I would like to have an opportunity to ask questions of the writer of that paper. The mere filing of a paper with no opportunity to ask questions has no bearing with me as a member of the committee. It is very excellent as an essay, but I think the committee are entitled to obtain information by asking questions, and be given an opportunity to go into the matter. These are just expressions of opinion. I would like to know the source of the information and where the writer obtains the idea that the course of instruction in colleges to-day is breaking down. I would like to ask questions on that. The colleges are overcrowded, it is said. In the section of the country where I am, when the college is overcrowded they will cut down the number themselves. Admirable as this essay is there is no opportunity for the committee to question the authority of it. It is simply a splendid address on the advantages of education. I think the people who submit these papers should come before the committee and allow us to extract from them the reasons for their opinions.

Mr. LEATHERWOOD. May I ask whether Doctor Blair will appear before the committee?

Doctor DAVIDSON. He has been before the committee at previous times but will not be present at this hearing.

Mr. LEATHERWOOD. The gentleman from Connecticut expresses my views with reference to Doctor Blair's statement.

Mr. Fenn. This mode of procedure is ex parte entirely. We should have an opportunity to ask questions when a paper is submitted from somebody who can explain the reasons for the statements made in the paper. This is an ex parte way of proceeding.

The CHAIRMAN. That will be true on both sides of this question. Mr. FENN. You might as well read a magazine article.

Doctor DAVIDSON. I will present also a short resolution, which is the latest resolution passed by the Department of Superintendence of the National Education Association at Boston last February. This association is the largest and, perhaps, one of the most influential educational associations, not only in America, but the world. It is said that this association had an attendance of some 20,000 school people at its recent meeting in Boston, Mass.

Mr. DOUGLASS. What is this association that is called the American Federation of Teachers?

Doctor DAVIDSON. That is a body of teachers different from the National Education Assocaition, which has attempted to federate State groups into one national body, and is not in any way part of the National Education Association.

Mr. DOUGLASS. That is to say, this federation of teachers does not belong to the National Education Association?

Doctor DAVIDSON. No, not as a federation. Mr. DOUGLASS. How large a body is it? Doctor DAVIDSON. I understand it has about 10,000 members. Mr. LEATHERWOOD. Is it affiliated with any other association? Doctor DAVIDSON. With the American Federation fof Labor, I believe.

Mr. DOUGLASS. It is allied with the American Federation of Labor?

Miss WILLIAMS. Yes.

Mr. Douglass. Why does it not associate with the National Education Association?

Doctor DAVIDSON. I am unable to answer that question. The two groups are in no way unfriendly.

Mr. FENN. How was this resolution arrived at that you are about to read? By what process was that submitted to us? Was it through a questionnaire to the members of the association or is it by the governing board?

Doctor Davidson. It has been the custom of the department of superintendence to appoint a committee on resolutions each year.

Mr. FENN. Was it adopted at a meeting of the general society?

Doctor DAVIDSON. Yes, by the department of superintendence, of the National Education Association at one of its general sessions, at its recent Boston meeting.

Mr. FENN. Was that referred by them to their organization? Was it passed by vote of the organization or simply a vote of the governing board)

Doctor DAVIDSON. It was passed by vote of the organization itself at an open meeting after free discussion. The resolution referred to reads as follows:

RESOLUTION ON THE CURTIS-REED BILL PASSED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF SUPER

INTENDENCE OF THE NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION IN BOSTON, FEBRUARY, 1928

The welfare of the children now enrolled in the schools of the United States is dependent upon our ability to make available to boards of education, to superintendents of schools, and to teachers throughout the Nation the results of current practice, of experiments wherever they are conducted, and of the results of scientific investigation.

The Federal Government has long accepted responsibility for conducting inquiries and disseminating information concerning the public schools.

We hold that economy and efficiency demand that the activities of the Federal Government dealing with education be consolidated in a Department of Education under the leadership of a secretary with a seat in the President's Cabinet. We urge that adequate support be provided for this department in order that it may conduct such inquires and disseminate such information as will make for the highest degree of efficiency in all of our schools. We know that this service can be rendered without in any way interfering with the constitutional right of the several States to control, administer, and supervise their own schools.

We therefore urge the Congress to pass the Curtis-Reed bill, which embodies the program which this association has consistently advocated throughout its history.

Mr. FENN. In that do you find criticism of the present Bureau of Education by inference?

Doctor DAVIDSON. Not so much criticism as an expression by implication that the bureau has not been in its development adequate to meet the demands of the situation.

Mr. FENN. There is that implication there?
Doctor DAVIDSON. Yes.
Mr. FENN. You concede there is that implication in that resolution?
Doctor DAVIDSON. Yes.

Mr. FENN. Do they give any reasons why the Bureau of Education needs amplification by creation of a department of education, except to make it a more dignified body?

Doctor DAVIDSON. The supporters of this bill who will appear here will answer questions in regard to that.

Mr. FENN. You have submitted it?
Doctor DAVIDSON. If you wish me to answer it I will.
Mr. FENN. I certainly do.

Doctor DAVIDSON. The advocates of a department of education have always assumed that the Bureau of Education in its development has not been adequate to meet the growing demands of education as a fact-gathering body. We recognize that it has done valuable service in the cause of education. We in no way stand as its unfriendly critics—indeed we have earnestly supported the bureau through all its history. But we feel that the Bureau of Education buried, as it is, in the big Department of the Interior has not up to the present time, become that big, vital, important fact-gathering educational agency in this country that it would have become had it from its very beginning been raised to the dignity of a department of education in the President's Cabinet.

Mr. Black. How will attendance at Cabinet sessions help the department to be a fact-gathering agency?

Doctor DAVIDSON. The mere fact that this great Nation shall have thus recognized education in terms of its great importance and its

а

« AnteriorContinuar »