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The papers included in this first Year Book of the Herbart Society for the Scientific Study of Teaching, bring to a fuller treatment two of the questions that have already attracted the serious attention of teachers, and in the future are likely still more to call for thoughtful study and tests. The problem of Concentration involves the whole school course in its influence upon child character, and treats the selection and arrangement of topics in the studies and the method of instruction that will establish the relations needed.
The Culture Epochs' theory raises one of the most interesting and profound problems in education and one, too, whose practical effects are quickly seen and felt.
The introduction gives a graphic account of the problems pressing for solution today, and touches in a lively way the questions which are more fully discussed in the other papers.
The course of study for first and second grades illustrates an attempt to select and arrange the materials of instruction, paying heed to the requirements of concentration.
Those interested in these papers will do well to read them carefully before going to Denver. The papers will not be read at the meeting, but the full time given to discussion. Those wishing to purchase copies at 50 apply to the secretary.
MOST PRESSING PROBLEMS
CONCERNING THE ELEMENTARY COURSE OF STUDY.
PRESIDENT CHARLES DEGARMO, OF SWARTHMORE COLLEGE.
URING the past forty or fifty years we have had enough to do in the effort to extend the benefits of education to all the people. Public opinion for universal education had to be developed and formulated into laws. The establishment and perfection of the external machinery for such a system was a work of great magnitude. Houses and implements were to be provided; teachers were to be certificated and paid, and to some extent trained for their specific duties.
It is no small task to universalize an idea that affects all the people, especially when that idea is an initial effort of a great nation to determine its welfare and even destiny from within. In all ages men have been governed, for the most part, however, from forces that did not represent their own outflowing thought. But now we have undertaken to determine from the heart of the people, not only our destiny, but also the methods and means whereby we propose to work it out. The greatest agency for this selfevolution of a people is universal education.
Having undertaken, therefore, for the first time in history, this vast enterprise, it is not to be wondered at that our chief efforts in the past have been directed mostly to the perfection of the external machinery necessary for its successful prosecution.
When this pioneer work for the race was being inaugurated, it chanced that it'was undertaken by a nation that was still essentially in its pioneer stages of development.
We began with the primitive ideas of education that were. developed when there were few things to study and but few people to study them. Learning had been confined for the most part to languages, logic, and philosophy, and learners had been restricted to literati, gentlemen, clergymen, and a few professionals. But now a double difficulty confronts us-vast increase in available knowledge and multiplication of learners. Knowledge has been advanced so rapidly, enriched so immensely, and extended in so many directions, that he who still adheres to the ancient course of study, whose strength was its poverty, does so against many urgent protests arising from this growth in knowledge and this extension of education to all children of all classes of men. It is found that the mental food so palatable to gentlemen and literati, and so valuable for professionals, has proved to be neither palatable nor valuable to many of the sons of toil, to whom educational traditions are like mythological tales--good enough for idle hours, but of small account in the modern struggle for existence.
One of the problems that has already forced itself upon us, is, therefore, What shall the public school teach? That this problem is already being vigorously attacked, witness. the efforts of New England to shorten and enrich the grammar school curriculum, the report of the committee of ten, and the report of the committee of fifteen on elementary education, presented last February before the Department of Superintendence at Cleveland.
Many and various are the schemes for solving the problem. Some would rigorously exclude all the new and cling desperately to the old. Others would discard the old and cling to the new. This is what Prof. Stoy used to call surgical pedagogy. To reduce weight it amputates limbs. Some advocate the application of the elective system of the university to the elementary and secondary schools. If there is such a wealth of good material, why not let the child choose what he fancies? To such a course many serious objections might be urged. The idea of election in lower schools is apparently based on the doctrine that study
of any kind has a disciplinary value for the mind, without much regard to its content. The old idea was that grammar and mathematics are the indispensable disciplines in school training. The new insight appears to be that geography and history, or other studies, will serve the purpose equally well. The validity of this theory is discussed in a very able article by Prof. Hinsdale, of the University of Michigan, in a recent number of the Educational Review. That article, perhaps, better than anything else of recent origin, brings us down to date on the question of the worth and worthlessness of the idea of formal discipline of the mind by any restricted group of studies.
Some try to meet the new difficulty concerning the curriculum by taking into the course of study all good things; but such efforts defeat themselves so quickly that they may be dismissed at once.
Col. Parker's most recent and most notable book seeks a solution by basing all concrete study on the central sciences of mineralogy, geology, geography, astronomy, meteorology, biology, zoology, anthropology, ethnology, and history, or, in other words, upon a hierarchy of sciences.
We have, on the other hand, equally earnest attempts to subordinate science studies to the humanities. The monumental work of the late Prof. Ziller, of Leipsic, a disciple of Herbart, must ever stand as the prototype for all efforts of this kind.
Finally, men are trying to solve the problem of the curriculum by a rational selection of typical studies in all important departments of learning to the end that a fairly balanced development of mind may be secured for all children and that each individual may find himself in touch with the forces that will determine his destiny, and to the end that he may wake at the beginning of active life to find himself an adherent of the dust-covered ideals of the past, and quite out of touch with his own most potent environ
Before discussing in detail the various problems pertaining to the selection, sequence, and articulation of the studies of the curriculum, however, there is an antecedent