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PART III.-THE GENERAL OUTLOOK, AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NORMAL WORK IN THE COLLEGES OF AGRICULTURE.
We have now taken a general look at the demand that is arising for teachers in agriculture of a public school grade, and we have reviewed the main types of agencies that promise to aid us in supplying these teachers. We may now throw these normal agencies into something like a classified system, and indicate the main lines of a rational procedure.
1. The elementary schools demand general teaching. Not much that is named agriculture is possible with the pupils of elementary school age, but nature study and the industrial spirit should constitute the foundation of their work. The, district rural schools are elementary schools. They pay small wages and offer few attractions to teachers. For the most part they are able to secure the services only of those persons who are on the way to other employment. Their teachers are mostly women. Until these conditions change, the rural schools must draw their teachers chiefly from the region of the high schools. Whenever good science work is an important part of the high school course of study, and particularly when good agriculture teaching is also introduced as a regular part of the curriculum, a training class in connection therewith and requiring a high school diploma for the completion of the work should be able to make great progress in preparing teachers for the elementary grades. Some of the teachers for the grades will be recruited from the ranks of those who do not complete normal school courses, and some States or counties may provide special means of training such teachers by organizing normal school work below the regular normal school grade. In the end special local means or institutions must be provided for the training of these teachers, and it is time that this were recognized. At present, however, it may be repeated, it is incumbent on the secondary school region to train the teachers for the elementary region.
2. The teachers who are to train these elementary teachers must themselves be trained. . They must have real preparation, if the agriculture teaching is to be of permanent value; they can not be trained in the common teachers' institutes or by other mere short cuts. The teachers of this secondary normal work must be trained in institutions where genuine agriculture is established; some of the State normal schools may provide this work; some of the special separate schools of agriculture may provide it; some of the education departments or teachers' colleges in association with agricultural departments of higher institutions may provide it; the agricultural colleges will be obliged to provide it. The best trained and best adapted of the graduates of the colleges of agriculture, however, will find better openings than most schools of the secondary region are at present willing to pay. The preparation of such teachers should include general scholarship and training in the principles of education, as well as specialized scholarship in agriculture and other industrial work, and also sufficient hand practice outdoors and indoors to give them command of the technique of instruction.
3. If the regular agriculture teachers of secondary schools and the teachers of secondary training classes are to be prepared in the State normal schools, then these normal school teachers must themselves be trained in agriculture. Their training must be more than can be secured in the normal school itself. They may be trained in education departments of universities and in teachers' colleges, provided always that these institutions are associated with real agricultural work, such as is possible in an agricultural college; or they may be trained in the agricultural college itself.
4. The agricultural college necessarily stands at the head of the system. It holds the key to the situation. It must provide the leaders.
The body of knowledge and philosophy that is comprised under the modern word “ agriculture” is of such vast range, the subjects are so numerous and so difficult, the equipment required to teach it is so large and so expensive, that only such institutions as are specially devoted to the subject can understand it or properly represent it. These institutions express a great phase of our national life. More than any other institutions they stand for the very democracy and nativeness of education, for their purpose is nothing less than to reach the last man on the last farm by means of the very things by which that man lives.
It is good to have seen these colleges of agriculture gradually emerge and then enlarge their territory, quietly annexing this subject and that, until they have come to be one of the great social and spiritual forces of the day. . They have not yet developed a pride of education, and they have not reached the limit of the territory that they will annex. It may be found, in good time, that they have forced new standards of education. These colleges will now add normal departments and they will attract the teaching type of mind. The graduates of these departments will supply some of the normal schools; some of the high schools; some of the training classes and special normal organizations; and what they give will be passed on from school to school and grade to grade, until it fertilizes the whole enterprise. This is not at all a mere visionary outlook, and for the very good reason that the agricultural colleges are the only teaching institutions that are in possession, at first hand, of the essential facts of rational agriculture.
A number of the colleges of agriculture have already undertaken to develop teachers' courses, either on their own account, or in association with the education departments of the universities with which they are connected. Congress has also given them a direct opportunity to establish such work in a provision of the Nelson amendment to the agricultural appropriation bill for 1907–8:“Said colleges may use a portion of this money for providing courses for the special preparation of instructors for teaching the elements of agriculture and the mechanic arts."
The Nelson amendment provides, when it shall have matured, for the appropriation of $25,000 annually to the land-grant colleges of each State. This is the only national appropriation that specifically recognizes this particular kind of college work. This fund will afford an unexcelled opportunity for some of the stronger institutions to establish a department or school in which persons shall be trained directly for the teaching of agriculture and the mechanic arts in the public schools.
MASSACHUSETTS AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE.
The Massachusetts Agricultural College established in 1907 a department of agricultural education, with a professorship. W. R. Hart, formerly of the State Normal School at Peru, Nebr., has been chosen to head the department. This department is organized under a State law that makes an annual appropriation of $5,000. This law originated from a recommendation of the Massachusetts commission on industrial and technical education, in 1906. (The report of this commission is a most valuable contribution to the subject of industrial education.) The first move was the organizing of a summer school of agriculture of four weeks, which had an attendance of considerably more than two hundred. Following is a course of instruction for the year 1908–9:
1. The meaning of education, dealing with the biological and psychological aspects of the processes of learning.
2. Vocational education, being chiefly historical. This is given in 1907–8. 3. Methods in agricultural education. 4. Seminar, a study of problems in agricultural education.
COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS.
The College of Agriculture of the University of Illinois has an instructor in secondary school agriculture, D. O. Barto, an experienced school-teacher and a graduate of the college, who for two years has been employed to give his entire time to the question of teaching agriculture in the public schools. He visits farmers' institutes and teachers' institutes, freely discussing these questions, and offers two courses of instruction during the university year. One of these courses is designed to train teachers for the secondary schools, and the other to train them for the grades. These courses are repeated in the summer session.
The particular courses offered in 1907–8 are as follows:
1. Principles and methods of high school agriculture.—This course, designed for students who have had not less than two years' work in agriculture, will be devoted mainly to considering what features of agricultural science are best adapted to high school conditions, the best order and methods of their presentation, how to suit the course and instruction to the special interests and needs of each school community, what laboratory work shall be given, what apparatus may be used, what field experiments can be planned and executed.
2. Elementary agriculture. This course is for those students who are preparing to teach in secondary schools, especially for teachers of science, but who have had no work in agriculture. A study of the soil, its origin, nature, functions, properties, and classification; problems of temperature, aeration, control of moisture; enrichment and impoverishment of the soil; the plant, how it feeds and grows, its modes of reproduction, factors in crop production, rotation, value and use of legumes, selection and testing of seed, their types and breeds, care and management; dairying, production of milk, testing and care of milk; farm plans, farm machinery ; economics of agriculture.
3. Farmers' institute management.-A study of the farmers' institutes as a factor in our system of public education. This course is designed to set forth principles underlying the organization and conduct of farmers' institutes and agricultural associations and to systematize into definite lines the knowledge acquired in college to the end that the student may render more distinct service in institute and agricultural associations. Lectures; assigned readings and parliamentary practice.
NEW YORK STATE COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE.
In the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell University a two-years' normal course in nature study, leading to regular academic credits, was organized in 1903, and this is now known as a normal department, with six persons giving instruction. This organization is the natural outgrowth of the nature study and other extension enterprise that has been under way in the institution for many years. Summer schools of nature study were held in 1899 and 1900. A regular summer session is in process of organization. A rural schoolhouse, accommodating thirty pupils and provided with workroom and located in a school garden, is part of the equipment. Following is the course of study for 1907–8:
This course is organized to help persons who expect to teach nature study and country-life subjects in the public schools. Persons actually engaged in teaching and also all persons in the university who signify their intention to teach are eligible. A certificate will be given on the completion of sixty hours in the courses prescribed below, together with such other work in the College of Agriculture as may be approved by the director. Designed to prepare students to teach elementary agriculture. Practice work is given in the public schools of Ithaca.
91. Nature study.—Lectures and discussion of methods. First half year. Credit, three hours. M., W., F., 12.
92. Home naturc-study work.-Work in the training classes in the Ithaca schools in which students are also to take part. Second half year. Credit, one hour. By appointment.
93. Practice work in nature study in the public schools of Ithaca, comprising schoolroom work, excursions, and other exercises with children. First half year. Credit, two hours. By appointment.
94. School gardens, comprising actual garden making with children on school grounds and in the university school gardens. In winter the work will be conducted in the forcing houses where plant-growing subjects will be taken up in such a way as to adapt them to elementary school conditions. Second half year. Credit, two hours.
98. Seminary in nature study and elementary agriculture.—Devoted to the study of the methods of teaching nature study and elementary agriculture, and to the review and criticism of courses now offered in our elementary and secondary schools. Credit, one or two hours. F., 12.
99. Nature study.-Advanced course. Individual work on special problems. Registration only after consultation.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI.
In the Teachers College of the University of Missouri provision is made for pedagogical work in agriculture. In this college John C. Whitten is “professor of the teaching of horticulture," and Frederick