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entire school course. The subjects of instruction were those naturally growing out of the needs and the aspirations of a homogeneous community of simple ideals, of which each member looked forward to a life of industrial independence. The theory unconsciously adopted was that constant hammering would finally penetrate the thickest skull, and that formulas or principles learned by rote would sometime come to have meaning. I remember that I learned that the surface of many of our states was "undulating” and years afterwards I learned what "undulating?' meant. The great merit of the system was its freedom. When school was out work was done, both for teacher and pupil. Neither had occasion to think of school matters until the next morning. Those who had anything in them in an educational way read books. Happily the modern public library was unknown, and the trashy fiction which constitutes seven eighths of its circulation was not softening the intellectual fiber of the people. Before I was fourteen years old I presume I had read three hundred volumnes, of which nine tenths were of useful literature. That was not because I was priggish but because there was little other to be had. Thru my preparatory and college course more than half my time not devoted to deviltry was spent in reading standard books, and most that I knew of the authors of the world up to that time was the result of that reading. I do not think I could now translate three consecutive sentences of Livy or Horace or even Cæsar's Commentaries, and I doubt whether I could name half the Greek letters, but the impressions received from the English literature and history read remain, doubtless mostly wrong, for the higher criticism had not then come in, but such as were current at that time. And they were fixed, definite impressions - a real Pocahontas, a real Lycurgus, a wicked Nero, and a good William of Orange - about whose clear cut images were arranged those substantially correct pictures of social and political movements which the higher criticism does not materially change. If these were days of the scholastics, and this were the school of abstract discussion, I should unhesitatingly take the affirmative of the question whether definite impressions, even if wrong, are not more useful than the cloudiness of vision which results from attempting to teach philosophy to young ones, and I would defy Socrates himself to tangle me up.
And yet I recognize the value even of hazy mental pictures of agreeable things; for there have come down to me from the classical works of which I could not construe one word, delightful recollections of the marvelous beauty with which the noble and the touching was expressed in those sonorous and flexible languages which ancient civilizations have transmitted as exemplors of perfection, unattainable to us, of the expression of the human emotions. The impressions are delightful and will never be effaced, but I could but poorly afford the years of life which I paid for them, and of which they are the only remains. My home environment turned my activities in such directions. Other boys had different influences aud different inclinations, but they developed according to their nature and opportunity because they could. They were not weighted down with the burden of never ending school tasks, hopeless of accomplishment. They got fun out of life. And their teachers were not slaves. Some of them were inspiring and aroused their pupils to useful endeavor. Some were phlegmatic and did perfunctory work. It is just the same
Doubtless it is impossible to return to the educational conditions of fifty years ago. Probably it is undesirable. But we need not make fools of ourselves by running to opposite extremes. Thus far I have given you a little of ancient history, followed by something of my personal experience. It is now time to turn to present educational conditions with which we are all familiar, and which it will be best to look at with our own eyes, without regard to those of anybody else, or to books. What we ourselves see we can discuss with some assurance. We may not see everything, but we can see some things, and they should have their weight. The standpoint of the victim is, of course, different from that of the executioner, but in this case, I am sure, is entitled to more consideration than it has received. When we examine from that standpoint we see our school curriculums utterly overcrowded in an attempt to make the pupils conquer the entire realm of science before they are sixteen years old. Of course this is an exaggerated statement, but such statements are useful. They fix the mind on an underlying truth, which, in this case, is that our children are being driven to attempt more than they can possibly ac
complish and are prematurely breaking down as a result. Our courses of study are planned by enthusiasts in teaching, and not, as they should be, by intelligent fathers and mothers of families.
The development of the modern methods of instruction has been controlled by the necessities of the case. Modern methods are what they are because they could not be otherwise in view of the work laid out. In describing the country school of a half century since, I pointed out that the period of common school instruction, then ranging from the age of six years to the age of eighteen years or older, was devoted to the study of about five subjects, and that the method was constant iteration. The born student among the pupils forced his way to more rapid advancement, and the born teacher inspired then as he inspires now. Now the average period spent in the common school has been reduced by some years, and the average number of weeks of school per annum has been raised about fifty per cent. In place of five subjects to occupy the attention of the pupil from six years of age to the age of eighteen, the course of study of the schools of this city calls for the study of seventeen subjects between the age of six and graduation from the grades. The presentation of all these topics but three — manual training, cooking, and sewing is begun in the first year of school life, and, for the most part, continued thru the course, the intent being that all pupils on leaving the grammar school shall be fitted to enter upon still more intensive study in the high school. It is evident that with the old method of instruction any attempt to deal with a modern course of study would be absolutely hopeless. No progress whatever could be made. In the attempt to grasp so much, almost nothing would be got. But one after another these new topics have pushed their way into the curriculum. It has been assumed that they were essential and that ways must be found to include them. Not only must the subjects be studied but it is the theory that they must be learned. The child must be so trained in the lower grades as to be intellectually advanced beyond his years. As such development is not a natural growth, the impetus must come from some source outside the child. That source is the teacher: Formerly when an occasional born teacher came in contact with an occasional born student the process of inspiration and response was a mutual delight. When President Garfield said that when Horace Mann was on one end of a log and himself on the other, there was a university, he expressed the spirit of the old education. Now every teacher is expected to do the work of the born teacher and every pupil to attain the accomplishment of a born student. Neither succeeds. It is attempting the impossible. Of course there is the old proverb that if you shoot at the sun your arrow will rise ner than if yon shoot at a bush. That is true, but it is also true that an arrow thus pointed is unlikely to hit anything. A child can pick up an orange, and possibly two oranges, but if he attempts three he will lose all. There is something of this in our modern education, I see no evidence of better trained minds in the young people whom I meet than I remember as existing in those with whom I studied. Those who have it in them come to their intellectual kingdom, those who have it not remain as they were created. But all alike they pass thru the school curriculum, and the attempt to make silk purses out of all the sow's ears in the world has resulted in the invention, development, and employment of the most tremendous intellectual sausage-stuffing engine that the imagination can conceive. Behind it is the omnipotent power of the wil of society, its instruments are the wretched teachers whose hope of bread and butter lies in the number of pupils whom they can promote," and its victims are the unfortunate boys and girls whom it forces into the desperate and relentless struggle of life from the moment they leave their mother's
I have much confidence in the ability of the boy of the period to take care of himself, and some observation of school boys and their work convinces me that, in their struggle for survival, they instinctively realize that their chief effort for self-protection must be directed against the machine which is grinding them. And they do very well. Examination of most boy graduates of the grammar schools will disclose that they know as little as could be desired of most matters with which they have been tormented, and are the restless, mischievous, and blood-thirsty little animals who give most promise of a sturdy and useful citizenship. The girls, unfortunately, are not endowed with such powers of resistance, and are endowed with the rudiments of a conscience which impels them to attempt the impossible when driven to it. The result is seen in the grammar schools, and more especially in the high schools, in a prodigious number of pale, listless, anemic, exhausted, half broken down girls whose type is familiar to every mother as existing in her own or some other family. It is not necessary to attribute all this to the public school system. There is other foolishness in abundance. But school requirements must bear their share of responsibility. It is true, I believe, that there are more girls than boys in the world, and possibly it may be claimed that we can profitably spare a sufficient number to equalize the census returns, but it does not seem to me proper to kill them off in that way. It is no euthanasia. The worst thing of all, except that the number of victims is not so large, is the result of the strain upon teachers. They cannot shirk unless, happily, protected by a life tenure of office. Then they can, and some of them do. I know no strain so severe as the continuous effort to inspire other people to endeavor. Try it with your own children. See if you can make them think when they want to play. See if you are not tired when you have tried it for an hour. But the teacher who attempts what is demanded of her must do this all day. She must awaken interest by lucid or graphic oral presentations of her subject, which it has cost her hours to prepare. She must follow this up by every device known to the psychological art for sustaining the interest thus aroused and inspiring to personal effort. She must expend this effort, not on mature and responsive minds, but'on those of whom the majority are unresponsive, and in regard to subjects always a little beyond their years, but which she must so simplify as to bring them within their comprehension. If she does not succeed, they will not retain what she imparts even long enough to pass the examination — they will in no case remember it much longer-and, if they do not pass the examination, the teacher is held responsible. The vitality of the teacher – that is, of the conscientious and enthusiastic teacher - is eapped for the benefit of her pupils, and she crawls home, exhausted; at night, to correct written papers in the evening. Eight hours is a day's intellectual work, and if by reason of strength some fellow can work eighteen hours, yet are his days labor and sorrow which he has no right to inflict upon other folks. Why there is not a trade union of teachers I cannot imagine, with a strike for reasonable working hours, the banishment of specialists, and the repression of task-masters. The teacher is as much entitled to an eight hour law as a bod carrier. From the beginning to the end of the school course the main reliance for securing the results now demanded must be on the oral work of the teacher, and the younger the pupils the better qualified must be the teacher. To meet the demands of the advanced education, the teacher must be acquainted with all literature, a born story-teller, so familiar with history as to be able to interest boys in the evolution of society, when their only normal interest in history is the fights which it describes, but which modern education rather carefully suppresses as incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial; they must be informed as to the ebb and flow of the human tide thru the ages, and be ready to connect migration and development with the physiographic phenomena which have so largely controlled them; she must be familiar with the physiology both of plants and animals, and an accomplished biologist - if she is not, Heaven pity the unfortunates whom she instructs in "Nature Study''; she must know how mankind has been and is governed, and so interest those in her charge that they shall know better than their fathers which candidate would make the best governor; she must have an eye so well trained, and a hand so well skilled that she can draw on the blackboard as she talks illustrations suited to any grade of advancement; she must be a dressmaker and a cook, and the science of cookery, in the language of the San Francisco Course of Study, must be “gupplemented by experiments in physics and chemistry” and include the relative cost and the nutritive ratios of new food materials; her trained mind must be competent to analyze the knotiest problems of arithmetic and the most intricate expressions of thought, and her expositions of science and art must be as lucid as distilled water, while the Eng
lish as spoken by her must be a marvel of grace and a comfort to the listener; she must be able to instruct persuasively in hygiene and morals, and withal be a driving and moving intellectual pump to ram all this stuff into her pupils' noddles. Do I hear you say that this is an unseemly burlesque on modern education? It is pot. Have you read the three hundred page course of study now in force in this city? I have - a good deal of it -- and solemnly declare that no person less accomplished than I have described could carry it out. More than that, while perhaps no single educational authority would have the face, in cold blood, to demand all these qualifications in a teacher, the aggregate demands of the recognized specialists in education would greatly exceed them. Of course teachers do not possess such qualifications, and of course the work is not done as laid out. But it is tried, and when the pupils get into the high schools the pressure is tremendous. There the work is done by specialists, each concentrating all thought on one class of subjects, each prodded by university specialists above him upon whose approval depends his own reputation, each fighting to control the student's time and thought, and the unhappy pupils are in the focus of all these forces.
The modern normal school-or abnormal school--is the place where once innocent girls are trained to the performance of this deadly work. Raw graduates from the high school are set to work on the theory and practice of education which involves problems which tax the most vigorous and maturest intellects, and the basis of all their work is a study of the laws of the development of the human mind. As a rule they can do nothing whatever with it. They are not old enough for one thing. The most of them shed their instruction on this subject as a duck's back sheds water. All good psychological instruction has a physical basis, and no one is competent to deal with it who has not, in the language of Rabelais, “ by frequent dissections acquired a knowledge of the other world, which is man." The girls do not usually dissect even the lower animals in normal schools. Such ideas as they have of the nervous system, which is the basis of the study of psychology, they get from books and from lectures. It takes a remarkably bright mind and considerable maturity to obtain such knowledge in that way. The theory is, that having thus obtained knowledge of the development of the child's mind, the teacher will become so skilled that in all periods of its growth she can so adapt her instructions to the child's capacity for the time being as to get out of him the last possible ounce of effort. It is felt that this is necessary if the desired work is to be accomplished or any approach made to it, and my admiration is unbounded for the skill with which the theory is worked out. The trouble is that the normal girls are not prepared for it, por have they the analytical power or the judgment to apply such knowledge if they had it. To the mass of them it is very dreary work. Through all their course they teach for an hour or two a day under the eye of a critic. But when one class of restless untrained boys, many wholly beyond parental control, has its teacher changed three or four times a day, you can imagine the strain on each student teacher. The strain of that hour and a half of discipline, coupled with a conscientious eff to give instruction and inspire to study, would alone send half their mothers to bed for a week. But simultaneously they must carry on their own studies in many new lines, upon each of which is expected accurate thought and clear-cut reports and recitations. Those who can do it and live through it do make wellequipped teachers, and if they have it in them make good teachers; but what of the rest ? I have known girls in normal schools to rise mornings at four or five, and work till they dropped from sheer weariness at night, and to keep it up day after day and week after week so far as their physical strength would possibly permit, and they did it because they could not otherwise do what was required of them. Why their mothers did not and do not raise a riot is beyond my comprehension.
Suppose such a girl is paying her own way or lives at home and needs to help her mother. How shall she do it? She does not do it. Her education comes out of her mother's back. Shall the profession of teaching be confined to the well to do ? They are a wearied lot. They are attempting the impossible. Singing is no longer taught for the noise it makes and the fun there is in it, but for the conscious and directed cultivation, development, and control of the emotions. “What are you doing now ?!! was said to one of these neophytes who had set her class singing in despair of keeping them so quiet in any other way. “Arousing emotions," was the answer. “ But what emotions ?-joy, sorrow, fear, hope, endeavor ? What ?” “Oh, I dunno," said the tired girl, "just emotions." The subject was all out of her reach. Ten years hence she would be prepared for it.
I shall not go further into this. You who have children in the schools as pupils or teachers will know whether my description of conditions is correct. It will be more agreeable to consider what we might do.
I suppose that all will agree that the work of the school should fit the children for life. But for what life ? Not for the life of the gutter, of course, but for a life which will keep them out of the gutter. For the life of Nob Hill and Pacific Heights ? That is an attractive life certainly, but very few ever live it. It would seem absurd for the State to expend great sums of money to fit children for a career upon which they will never enter; but it is my indictment of modern public education that it attempts that very thing. All the work of the grade schools is planned to lay the foundation for high school study, regardless of the fact that but a very small number ever enter the high school. All the work of the high school is based on the entrance requirements of the university, regardless of the fact that very few high school graduates ever enter the university. The university is manned by specialists who virtually fix the entrance requirements for their departments. These specialists and their universities are competing among themselves for the reputation of turning out the most thoroughly equipped graduates. Let there be no mistake about this. There is just as much competition in education as in dry goods. Year by year the entrance requirements of the universities are raised, and as there is a prejudice against keeping them in undergraduate courses until they are gray-beaded, each rise in the demands of the university means another jab of the spurs into the reeking sides of the jaded high schools, which in turn relieve themselves by requiring still more of those below them, who are already worked beyond the limit of their strength. If the results justified all this torture of the helpless, something might be said for it. They do not. The average boy does not read any better, spell any better, write any better, cipher any better, think any better, or develop any better than the average boy of fifty years ago. He does learn to draw a little, which is good for him, and he does learn to see a little if his teacher happens to have learned it before him; he may get some koowledge of tools and their uses. At the cost of the vitality of his teacher he does get rammed into him, with his language study and word analysis, some trifling knowledge of the physical world about him; but so long as the novel shelves of the public libraries are him, he will mostly revert to their unprofitable pages for his intellectual diet so far as he reads at all. Two persons of the same age and mental capacity will know about the same number of things. The modern theory of education assumes that the things learned from schoolmasters are more desirable than the things learned from observation and experience. That is certainly so in some cases. I do not think it is so in all cases. Nobody more appreciates the value of a trained mind than I, but I believe the mental training which the artisan gets from his trade and his intercourse with men is sadly underestimated. One such man-a printer-testifying before the United States Industrial Commission on the conditions of labor, said:
We have set a mark for all the world, and that is the reason for our standard