Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

DEPARTMENT OF SECONDARY EDUCATION,

SECRETARY'S MINUTES.

FIRST SESSION. McKENDREE CHURCH, NASHVILLE, TENN., July 18, 1889. The Department was called to order at 3 P. M.; President A. F. Nightingale in the chair.

After a few words of welcome, Mr. Nightingale read a paper on “The High School.”

H. C. Missimer, of Pennsylvania, then read a paper on “The High School and the Citizen.”

Miss Laura Donnan, of Indiana, had a paper on the same subject.

A discussion followed, participated in by the following gentlemen: Bryant, of Texas; Wm. Jenkins, of Illinois; - Brennan, of Tennessee ; Miss Donnan, of Indiana; and E. W. Coy, of Ohio.

The Department then adjourned.

SECOND SESSION.-JULY 19. The second session was called to order by the President, A. F. Nightingale, at 3 o'clock P. M., in the lecture-room of the McKendree church.

The Secretary being absent, W. P. Cope, of Hamilton, Ohio, was elected

Secretary pro tem.

The competitive paper, “Methods of Study in English,” by M. W. Smith, deceased, of Bond Hill, Ohio, was read by E. W. Coy, Cincinnati.

At the close of the reading of this paper, the President announced the following Committee on Nominations: J. M. Dewberry, Montgomery, Ala.; E. A. Steere, Butte, Montana ; and Miss M. Swanson, Springfield, Tenn. E. W. Coy then presented the report on “Uniform Course of Study for

The discussion which followed was led by Henry C. King, of Ohio, and was continued by F. M. Fultz, Burlington, Iowa; Mr. Brennan, Nashville, Tenn.; George G. Ryan, Leavenworth, Kan.; S. D. Wall, Franklin, Tenn. Miss Minnie C. Clark, Kansas City, Mo.; Mr. Coy, Cincinnati; Mr. Cope,

High Schools."

Hamilton, Ohio; Mr. Lampson, Tennessee; Mr. King, Ohio; Mr. Bryant,
Texas; E. E. White, Cincinnati; and Mr. Nightingale, Chicago.

The report was received and adopted.
The Committee on Nomination of Officers made the following report:
President-H. E. Chambers, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Vice-President, William Jenkins, Mendota, Illinois.
SecretaryMinnie C. Clark, Kansas City, Missouri.
The report was received and adopted.
The Department then adjourned.

W. P. COPE, Secretary pro tem.

PAPERS AND DISCUSSIONS.

THE HIGH SCHOOL.

A. F. NIGHTINGALE, LAKE VIEW, ILLINOIS.

The history of secondary education, in common with all great movements whose ultimate sequence is progress, although marked with conflicting opinions, radical changes, and constant evolution in methods, is interesting in the fact that it shows the indubitable growth of public opinion in favor of a better scholastic preparation for the duties of citizenship and the responsibilities of a business career.

To the high school has latterly been relegated not only those courses of instruction which lead the student to the college and university, to whose graduates we must always look for men and women who become eminent in art, science, politics, and jurisprudence, but also that training which furnishes those desiring to teach with an approximate preparation for their profession, and which is the minimum of intellectual culture essential to business men who would unite contentment and an appreciation of life with financial success. The first grand purpose of the high school is to educate our children up to the age of eighteen under the benign influence of home.

If the question is settled that the education of the child at the age of fourteen, under the pressing demands of our present civilization, is too limited, then it is settled also, beyond the power of argument to contravene the logic, that high schools are a necessity.

Whatever is essential for successful citizenship in the intellectual culture of the rich, the children of the poor have a right to demand at the hands of government. In neither the written nor the unwritten charter of our liberties is there a recognition of class distinctions founded upon the inheritance of wealth in blood or money. Since, therefore, the rights of the rich and the poor are coëxtensive; since all carry unsheathed the sword of our destiny - a free, untrammeled ballot; since the perpetuity of a republican form of government is dependent upon the contentment of the majority; since the majority will never be able to educate their children at expensive institutions beyond the pale of their own neighborhood, the claims of necessity and duty, as well as of charity and good-will, make it incumbent upon us to furnish at the public expense the privileges of higher culture to all the children, and to be instant in season and out of season in directing and encouraging all to take advantage of these privileges, without which life would be only half a life, and the government founded and fostered upon the consent of the governed constantly threatened with revolution and disintegration.

32-N. E. A.

I am more and more convinced — not because my profession leads me to selfishly foster the opinion, but because its duties naturally enforce this trend of thought — that parents do not sufficiently exercise their God-given and lawenforced authority over their children during the years of their minority. Whether the greed for a better sustenance, the fear of poverty, the shortsightedness of reason, or the intractability and restlessness of children superinduce this lamentable state of things, it is not in the line of my present thought to discover; but it is painfully true that ignorance increases, while the opportunities for culture are enlarged. Less than one-third of the children who enter the first year of school are found there at the age

of ten; another third leave before they are twelve years old; less than three per cent. finish the common-school course, and less than one per cent. receive a high-school diploma; and yet among this one per cent., at the age of thirty, will be found those who own their homes, who are in constant communion with the beauties of nature, who extract contentment from literature, who found public libraries, who organize associations for the advancement of art or science, who are leaders in church and state, who, in fine, constitute those great moral forces which discountenance lawlessness and license, and encourage every movement which tends to lift the body politic to a higher plane of purity, philanthropy, and patriotism. The duty of the high school is then three-fold. First, to give a broader discipline of mind to the masses who will occupy the fields of agriculture, manufacture and commerce, who will enter into the minor activities of life and constitute the bone and sinew of influence in all the varied departments of government; secondly, to furnish a commendable preparation for teaching in the common schools of our country; thirdly, to encourage our boys and girls to secure that scholastic culture which opens to them the inestimable privileges of the college and university curriculum.

Are these three-fold purposes in any sense antagonistic, the one to the other? May they be so dove-tailed into a course of study as to make an harmonious unit? or are three distinct courses necessary for the accomplishment of three distinct ends? I do not propose to anticipate the report which we are to have to-morrow on "A Uniform Course of Study for High Schools," but only to present a few general thoughts on the special lines of work relegated to the secondary department of our national school system. I see no vital reason why pupils may not pass out of the same door, whether they are to enter into the activities of life, into the academical or scientific department of a college, or into the work of the teacher of the common school. The great end of all study is not bread and butter, but power— moral and intellectual power— by which one's horizon is widened, one's appreciation of nature enlarged, one's ideals of life broadened and brightened, one's abil. ity to extract contentment, satisfaction, and success out of life, strengthened ; indeed, that power which will enable a man to exemplify the truth that “A man’s a man for a' that, and a' that.”

Every stable superstructure demands firm foundations. It matters not whether a dwelling-house, an office, a store, a church, or a school-house is to, be erected, the foundation-stones must be the same — deep laid, safely laid beyond quicksand and frost, and the ravages of time. To be sure, one may build a temporary structure upon the sand; but when the winds blow and the floods come, that house will not stand. The parallel is an old one, but I believe a true one. The intimate connection between, indeed, the indissoluble interlacing of the material and the mental are such that the development and durability of the one are dependent upon the same causes as those of the other. I therefore believe with Lord Macaulay, “that men who have been engaged up to one or two-and-twenty in studies which have immediate connection with the business of any profession, and of which the effect is merely to open, invigorate and to strengthen the mind, will generally be found in the business of every profession, superior to men who have at eighteen or nineteen devoted themselves to the especial studies of their calling.” If this be true or even partially true of the man up to the age

of two-and-twenty, which includes a college course, how much more approximately true it is of the child under eighteen.

I am therefore convinced that in every good high school there should be one broad, elastic, and in many respects elective course of study, which shall be best adapted to the natural unfolding of the mental faculties of a child from fourteen to eighteen years of age, with all proper regard for a Mill or a Milton, an Edison or a Stephenson, who may be endowed with some rare gift of genius, which is above and beyond all acquirements resulting from the plodding, daily-routine toil of school-life.

In that course of study should be two or three foreign languages, ancient and modern, from which a choice of one should be made. There should be systematic work in the study of English, from the beginning to the end of the curriculum. Mathematics should hold their time-honored place; history, especially English history, and the study of citizenship, should not be neglected; and lastly, the natural and physical sciences, if instruction can be given in accordance with the laws laid down in the great book of nature, demand a large and prominent place. We are to listen to-day to a paper upon “The High School and the Citizen.” I shall, therefore, waive all discussion of that topic. We shall also have some remarks upon Manual Training; and to-morrow the unfolding of a subject which is vitalizing to all our secondary instruction, viz., "The Study of English."

But there is one topic which I regret is not upon our program a topic receiving universal attention, and whose claims demand universal recognition. I refer to the sciences, and the methods of their presentation. My own individual instruction has always been along the line of the ancient classics. My contributions to educational literature have mainly been an

« ForrigeFortsett »