« ForrigeFortsett »
value in limiting the spread of contagious diseases. A few realize disease is apt to be more prevalent in crowded than in less densely populated districts. To elucidate, we find one writing “In the country schools which I have attended they do not have medical inspection as the children in the city do, they have more room, for inspection is not needed as much as in a crowded city where disease is more prevalent.” Thus taking a comprehensive view of all the papers we see that the children have a rather clear conception of the value of medical inspection, that its worth is to be counted both in the immediate benefit and in the good which will appear in the future.
To summarize: These compositions indicate that the children are heartily in favor of inspection, and appreciate that it is designed for their benefit. I close with two quotations:-“The only way that I can think of to improve it is to carry it out more extently which probably only can be done by getting more money.” “My parents think that there ought to be more school doctors and medical inspection encouraged.”
The College Entrance Examination in
BY HELENA E. HARTSHORN,
FORMERLY HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH,
ENGLEWOOD High School, ENGLEWOOD, N. J. mm. Denne HE aim of a high school course in English is to give
command of correct and clear expression, written and spoken, and to develop ability to read with
accuracy, intelligence, and appreciation, or as the Florin MUINHUIS
National Education Association states it-"the aim of the high school course in grammar and composition is to develop the power of the pupil to ex
press the ideas that come to him from the whole range of experience. The aim of the high school course in literature is to develop in the pupil (1) a liking for good reading and (2) the power to understand and appreciate it.” If then, this aim can be realized by establishing college entrance requirements and by asking questions in a college entrance examination, we must submit with docility to the requirements, and put forth our efforts to pass the examination. But I believe that this is all wrong. I do not approve of the college entrance examination in English.
In the brief space at my disposal I shall endeavor to make plain two things: (1) Why I do not approve of it (2) What I would substitute if this obnoxious torment could be removed.
Concerning the first point, as to why I do not approve of it, No examination is a fair test of a pupil's ability. "In theory,” says Professor Angell of University of Chicago, "the college entrance examination has been designed primarily to sort out the scholarly sheep from the ignorant goats. In practice, the untit student has, by hook or by crook, crowded under, or over, or through the examination bars, frequently staggering under a burden of conditions, while the fit student has occasionally fallen by the way.”
We are all familiar with the professional coach and his efficient work. How diligently he toils with "Mr. Young Ambition" during those remaining days before the dreaded ordeal. How faithfully he crams the last few bits of necessary knowledge into that struggling youth's already overworked and bemuddled brain. But the desired result is gained. The lad has achieved a noble victory—he has passed his college entrance examination in English. And now since the victory is won, it matters not how rapidly he proceeds to forget that valuable store of information that he has so rapidly acquired.
Then there is still another type who, like the Godfrey Cass of Geo. Eliot's creation, that worships at the shrine of "Blessed Chance” and on that scheduled day, as luck has it and fate decrees it, in some unaccountable way, wins the race while his more competent fellow-companion fails.
If these illustrations do not suffice to prove the unfairness of the entrance examination, consider the many pupils who cannot do justice to themselves or to the school from which they come under the present trying conditions. The nervous strain is too great and the fevered application too long and exhausting. Any argument raised in its behalf on the ground that it teaches self-reliance and self-control, I believe is fallacious. To be sure, it may allure a certain type. To the chivalrous boy who craves adventure, it may mean the accomplishment of a great feat with a crown of glory as a reward for his successful issue, but what can we say as to the effect on the timid girl or the unsuccessful boy? For these reasons and for others that I might mention, I believe that the college entrance examination in English is an unfair test.
Another reason for my reluctance in commending the college entrance examination in English is the fact that in order to be well prepared for the examination we must follow exactly and in detail the requirements set by the college entrance board. Because of this requirement we are greatly handicapped in our work. For the one-fifth who are going to college we are obliged to prepare the five-fifths. For the one-fifth who are going to college we are obliged to teach the other four-fifths many things which are of no value to them and what is worse distasteful to them. Our schools should not be standardized by the demands of the select few, rather than by the vital needs of the great majority,—nor is this consistent with the doctrine of utilitarianism, which teaches the greatest good for the greatest number.
We must read Burke's Speech, we must analyze Carlyle's "Essay on Burns”, we must complete our Milton in so many lessons, for above the cry of the present comes the warning note of the future, “the college entrance examination.” Is this instilling a love for literature? We are dulling our own individuality as well as that of our pupils. We are recasting ourselves into veritable machines for the manufacture of select material demanded by the college. Professor Thomas of the University of California says, "So far as arranging of course to meet various needs is concerned, the English teacher should consider last the boy or girl who goes to college.”
Graduates look back on their senior year, bounded by the exact limits set by the entrance requirements and hedged in by those awful words "Classics for Study and Practice” with feelings of deliverance at last from the clutches of the college inflicted torture. Even to this day I look back with many misgivings to my own senior year in the high school when I was compelled to read (as I termed it then) that horrible oration of Burke's. If I had to depend upon my final high school impressions for my love of English and English literature I am absolutely confident that I never could have been driven, even to a consideration of the thought of ever teaching it. Not until I had added three or four years to my high school age did I begin to realize that there was something of power in those awesome words “My proposition is peace.” Why not give L'Allegro and Il Penseroso to the student of English literature who of his own volution delights in the charm of the great Puritan poet, not to the growing boy or girl who finds more pleasure in the stories of action of Sir Walter Scott or the chivalrous deeds of Tennyson's Knights.
The present course does not meet the needs of all since the education which best fits for college is not best for the boy or girl who does not go to college. Our present course crowds out many things that are of greater importance to the majority of boys and girls. Some of the classics are too remote from the present age of spirit—some are too difficult for the average high school pupil to comprehend. He lacks interest in them (under the average teacher) and as a result we work against our own chief aim-a development of the love of good literature. We must modernize our literature as we modernize our way of living. We must keep alive to the interests and needs of the day. I would rather have a boy study and learn Kipling's "If" than to struggle over Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner.” I would rather let a class study the “Outlook” or “The World's Work” as a text book than write a treatise on Wordsworth's "Love for Nature.” A class organized as a city council could discuss the needs of its school and its city, and learn more than it could by analyzing the dramatic art of Shakespeare. Let our classes write editorials for our school paper, newspaper accounts of our various school activities for our city paper, and see if the interest aroused and the benefit derived are not of far greater worth to him than a minute study of some of our prescribed classics. Let each member of a certain section choose a career that he thinks he may like to pursue some day, let him collect material on the subject from all sources observation-books-magazines—let this material form the basis of part of his written and oral work at various times. Again, I would rather a boy would study modern and more vital literature, know something of our own good American writers and their works, study the English of some of our reputable newspapers and periodicals than to know the countless classical allusions in Milton's poetry. What benefit does the youth who has to peddle papers in the early morning hours and work in a store in the afternoon derive from this tyrannical rule of our entrance requirements ? Is it going to make him want to read more and better things or make him a more valuable citizen? We must come down from our lofty pinnacle. We must not try to introduce the finished culture of the college into the immature minds of our junior and senior pupils. The hard and fast rules of our senior English are to be deplored. Literature is narrowed to a science. It is literature for examination's sake and not literature for the sake of culture, development, and creation of power. And where have our fine aims with which we so nobly started fled to ?