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when sickness comes into the family. He does not like to look into my face and ask, Mr. Cook, how often does your boy take a bath? And yet that bath is worth more physically and morally than all the prescriptions the physician will give in all the weeks he will attend that boy. He don't like to look me in the face and say, you don't properly dress your little girl, yet there she is duly clothed and the temperature is twenty-five degrees below zero. It is because he thinks me fully alive to those needs of the child. He presumes we have knowledge of the children and their habits. Yet nine-tenths of the parents know very little about the habits of their children and their physical necessities, and the hours of sleep they should have and what they should eat and wear. When we solve that problem we shall be asking the question, not whether the courses in the schools are overcrowded, but whether we can not do more.
REMARKS OF PROFESSOR OREN Root. MR. CHANCELLOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CONVOCATION.— It must be noted that the paper distinctly disclaims having listened to the complaints of either parent or physician. I noticed what would be the apprehension of the principal of the State Normal School at Potsdam. He thinks that the schools are overcrowded with bad air. Very well. But it seems to me that this does not meet the question at all. There are two ways of overcrowding. We have dealt with the overcrowding side ; but there is an overcrowding endwise that needs to be dealt with as well as the overcrowding sidewise. It is not altogether that a boy or girl has to study too much in one day, but that a boy or girl has to take so many subjects that little by little the educational processes are chopped off into a kind of a ragout or small hash. There are two hours of this and three hours of something else, and by and by they have gone through an immensely named curriculum. I believe this difficulty is not altogether in the lower schools; it is not altogether where they study primary arithmetic, grammar and geography; the difficulty obtains even more in the colleges, if not in the universities. Some years ago I was at the head of a nondescript western institution. The board of trustees having received a magnificent endowment of $50,000, prepared a course of study. They elaborated it in their meeting and presented it to me. The course covered seventeen years. There were nineteen different courses. It would have required 190 odd professors, and they proposed to pack that whole course on to that little institute there in the center of Missouri. It would have crushed the institute, teachers and scholars and all. I found in one of our colleges at the close of this last term a bright-eyed sophomore who said he had eight examinations to be crowded into four days. So much of this, that and the 'other. A little German, a little French, a little of something else. It seems that this term had been so overcrowded with topics, so little opportunity for digestion, that the good of the term had been largely wasted. I tried it myself. I divided my four hours between two subjects, two hours to the calculus and two hours to determinants instead of four hours to the calculus. I did not teach either
much. I came out at the end of that term with the conviction that I had made a mistake, that the class had suffered and that I should never do it again. I had undertaken to crowd two subjects in. The boys made fair recitations. They were ready, but they did not have the benefit of four hours on these mathematics at all. It should have been calculus or determinants all the time. This makes trouble for the higher as well as for the lower schools. I don't believe that any amount of ventilation, that any amount of "early to bed and early to rise,” will do away with the difficulty of this overcrowding in our academies and universities.
REMARKS OF SUPERINTENDENT A. S. DRAPER. MR. CHANCELLOR, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF THE CONVOCATION.surprised at being called upon so suddenly and unexpectedly, and yet I think I have some ideas upon this subject, as it is one to which I have given a great deal of thought during the last year. I should be inclined to say that there is in this, as in most other matters, a golden mean between the two extreme views which have here been given expression to — the one in the paper by Dr. Bacon, and the other in the criticism of Professor Cook. I am of the opinion, unreservedly, that our courses of study are overcrowded with non-essentials to the detriment of the essentials of an education. I think we are undertaking to do too much, in our common school work particularly. We are living in a time of marked activity and unrest in the world's affairs. It is popular nowadays to be progressive. Teachers, to the end that they may meet the approval of the world's sentiment, labor under constant and urgent temptation to take into the schools all new things, some wise and some otherwise, which are brought to the doors of the school-house. I think there never was so much necessity for discrimination in what should be taught in the schools as in our day and generation. I cannot avoid the feeling that the tendency of the times is towards superficiality rather than thoroughness. I think it is of more importance that our children should be thoroughly instructed in fundamentals, than given a smattering of everything within the world's knowledge. I quite agree in the view of Professor Cook
that more of evils entailed upon childhood are in popular assumption attributed to overcrowding of the courses of study, than legitimately should be charged to that evil. In addition to the
which he has specified being injurious or detrimental to the health and vigor of the child, there occurred to me while he was speaking, another, and one somewhat akin to those which he enumerated. There is probably no class of children upon the face of the globe who are so little subject to discipline as our American children are. They seem to come into the world with the idea that they are created “free and equal,” that they are free to do as they please from the moment they begin to move about, and that they are equal to teachers and parents, and grandparents particularly, at once and for all time. If our children were subject to a more uniform and systematic discipline in their homes, there would be less of the breaking down and of the inability to cope with the duties of school life than there is to-day. I could scarcely think out the consistency of the different portions of Dr. Bacon's paper, and yet I have so much esteem for the man and such an appreciation of his capabilities, that I should not like to pass an unreserved criticism upon
until I should have an opportunity to read it myself. I will say this, however, I can scarcely agree with that portion of his paper in which he speaks against arithmetic being given so large a part in the work as it is. We have almost driven the spelling-book out of the schools, under our new education. We have almost discontinued penmanship; we pay little attention nowadays to parsing the language which our mothers spoke. If we are going to cut down arithmetic in our common-school work, it is difficult to tell what will be left of the old essentials.
I will close my, perhaps, disconnected remarks by saying this in general, I do not think that our school children are given too much to do; I do not think that they are overworked, or broken down by overwork. I think they are given too many things which are of small practical importance, or which are only ornamental accomplishments at the most, or at the best. I think it would be better if they were drilled more thoroughly and fully in the fundamentals, which are essential, and are the foundation of all substantial education. I am speaking of the ninety-five per cent who do not go into the high schools at all. They are left after leaving the primary or grammar grades, to attain such degree of success in the world's affairs as their education in fundamentals, coupled with their own natural attainments, will secure for them. I am of the opinion unreservedly, that we are undertaking, in many of our schools, to do too many things which are not vital, and
that we are not doing them as well as we ought, when we ought to undertake fewer things and such as are vital, and we ought to undertake to do them more thoroughly and well. Every day's experience in the administration of the office of State Superintendent impresses this upon me with added force, and it is certainly a subject to which the attention of so distinguished a gathering of educators as this may be directed with the best result.