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"We read story books in childhood not for eloquence or character or thought, but for some quality of the brute incident Conduct is three parts of life, they say; but I think they put it high. There is a vast deal in life...... where the interest turns
...not on the passionate slips and hesitations of the conscience, but on the problems of the body and of the practical intelligence, in clean open air adventure, the shock of arms or the diplomacy of life. With such material as this, it is impossible to build a play, for the serious theatre exists solely on moral grounds, and it standing proof of the dissemination of the human conscience. But it is possible to build, upon this ground. ..... the most lively, beautiful, and buoyant tales.”
It is said that Stevenson made a study of the dime novel before he wrote Treasure Island. Be that as it may, he closely followed its style. The motion picture author should take Stevenson for his guide when making plays for the children. Satisfy their desire to see brute action, but let them see it in its truly heroic light, not so much battling with spiritual forces, sins of various kinds that are or should be quite beyond the child's actual experience,—but with the visible forces,-games and adventure of a wholesome kind. Put man to work upon big things, like digging mines, tunnelling, cattle ranching, mountain engineering, soldiery. When you would make the children laugh give them the grotesque, but save them from horse play, from the Sunday supplement kind cf humor. If they are to be shown educational films, accompany them by some kind of educational atmosphere.
If it appears here that the motion picture has been somewhat harshly criticised, the criticism has been chiefly that of the boy and girl who attend it. They are more severe than their elders.
So much for the moving pictures. In the moment left I shall make only the briefest comment on their probable relation to the study of English, merely enumerating my conclusions.
1. The subject affords an interesting study for sociologists,a study in the child and the power of environment,— but it has little to help us in teaching English. The problem involved is an ethical one, or possibly a problem in school administration, but it is not a legitimate English problem. It is apparently being handled skilfully by the Children's Motion Picture League of New York, a movement that is attaining national scope, but one primarily aiming to make the motion picture theatres of New York city fit places for the 1,000,000 children whom the league finds susceptible to its influence.
2. The pupils declare for the most part that they have never associated the motion pictures with their English. The student is not apparently conscious of any influence on his composition work.
3. The pictures do not stir the imagination so much as emotional fears. This is quite likely due to the child's inexperience and consequent inability to relate what he sees to what he knows.
4. The pictures of books and plays neither take the place of the reading itself, nor encourage especially subsequent reading of the works. The original book or play becomes in the hands of the film makers, merely the source of ready-made material with which to create a series of reels more or less trutḥfully depicted.
5. Attendance at the motion picture theatre has no appreciable effect on the attitude of the boy and girl toward the legitimate theatre. He usually goes to the motion picture theatre because it is much lower in price.
I suspect that it appears from what I have written that I think that much of everything I see in the motion picture theatre is debasing or on the wrong track. I mean to say no such thing, but it makes no great drain on imagination to see that the average performance is capable of much improvement. In fact it must be improved if the motion picture theatre hopes to draw to itself the more intelligent portion of the public, and especially if it is going to be a fit place to send the children.
Recent Educational Tendencies in Argentina
By EDGAR EWING BRANDON, VICE PRESIDENT MIAMI UNIVERSITY,
VER since the epoch making administration of Sarmiento public instruction has occupied a pre-eminent position in the history of Argentina. No statesman has dared to ignore it and more than one has achieved for himself a lasting reputation and political preferment by championing its cause. One result (and a most beneficent result it has been) of
this ceaseless agitation has been the steady progress of public instruction. Illiteracy has rapidly decreased in proportion to the population. The universities have grown in enrollment more rapidly even than those of North America. Secondary education has likewise felt the forward impulse. More important perhaps than the actual growth of the schools in number and efficiency is the enthusiasm of the Argentine republic for all that calls itself education, and the general conviction that education not only ennobles the state, but also that an educated citizenship is the greatest asset of the state. Those who know Spanish-American history can appreciate what an advance this is, and how much it augurs of good.
Another result of the constant educational agitation in Argentina has been the lack of continuity in school legislation and educational policy. Argentina is not the only portion of the globe that has suffered much from hasty reforms, ill-advised educational importations and sandwiched scholastic systems, but in Argentina the temptation to innovate and readjust has been particularly strong. Especially has this been true in secondary education. The public primary school, as the term is used today, was an entirely new thing in Argentina sixty years ago, as in fact it was in many older countries. Consequently it has experienced a relatively steady evolution. In the case of the high school, however, the situation was different. Such a school had existed from the earliest days of the colony, either as a part of the university, or as an independent institution under clerical patronage and direction. This institution had well established traditions. It was either classical and cultural or was avowedly a preparation for one or another of the learned professions. The founders of the public high school in modern Argentina, — the political seers of their day,— felt that its tendency should be modern and practical. However, educational tradition could not be annihilated by legislative enactment. Hence the struggle that has endured a half century, with alternating successes. One
One year, the cultural, pre-university high school has been the model; the next, the practical people's school, complementary to the elementary school, providing general instruction, or adapted to local needs, has been the object of the educational authorities. It is not inadvisedly that the word "year" has been used in describing these changes of policy. In the last sixty years there have been sixty ministers of public instruction. Some few, really great men and profound students of education, have held office for a number of years in succession, and put into operation well organized systems of public instruction, but many were elevated to the important position by political exigencies and without any marked qualifications for the duties they were called to assume. This, however, did not deter them from attempting to signalize their ephemeral administration by some revolutionary changes in the educational policy of the nation. The secondary school was an easy mark, since it is national in distinction from the elementary school, which is primarily (and until recently wholly) the concern of the individual provinces.
A frequent matter of change has been the length of the high school course. The traditional length was six years, but years ago it was reduced to five, at the same time that the curriculum was made less classical. The national universities, which are autonomous in their internal affairs, replied by lengthening by one year their requirements for degrees. Some two years ago the curriculum of the secondary schools was extended again to six years.
Another subject that caused a great amount of argument pro and con, and about which there have been many changes of policy is the matter of Latin. The most natural supposition would be that a people of a Neo-Latin tongue would be firmly wedded to the study of this classical language, but the great majority of Spanish American countries have long since eliminated it from the high school curriculum. In Argentina the policy has vacillated more than in any other country of South America. A few years ago the cause of Latin in Argentina seemed hopelessly lost, but within the past two years, it has been reinstated, at least in the university towns. A coincidence that contributed to its restoration was the transference to the University of Buenos Aires of the boys' central high school of the city as a preparatory school for the University. The conservative element of the University chapter fought for the restoration of the classic tongue in the newly organized curriculum. and it ultimately won the day. The outcome was, however, something of a compromise. Contrary to the usual order in which a new subject in the curriculum is intensified in the earlier stages of its study, Latin in the new course of study is allotted but two hours per week in the first years, and the time is increased gradually in the later years. The student who remains in the high school only two or three years,—and there are many who fail to complete the entire course,— will not have so large a proportion of his time absorbed by the classics, while those who aspire to university training will have the bulk of their preparation in Latin during the years immediately preceding their entrance upon professional study. The meager course of but two hours in the first years would be utterly futile in an English or German speaking community, but in a Neo-Latin country it may accomplish something notwithstanding its pedagogic unsoundness.
Still another question that has aroused much debate in Argentina is the character of the secondary school. Shall its instruction be general, encyclopedic and cultural, destined for the ordinary citizen, or shall it be technical, preparing for special vocations and varying according to the particular demands of the region in which it is located ? It cannot be said that there has been frequent change of policy in this respect. The agitation in this instance has been limited to the expression of opinion on the platform and in the press, and to the pronouncements of educational congresses. Tradition has so far maintained itself, and the high school has remained a general culture school with a strong bent toward university preparation, with practically the same course for all, - a course that does not contain enough science to satisfy the views of the colleges of medicine, agriculture and engineering, not enough social science for the college of law, and not enough language and