Page images

in holding pupils when once in school, but also in directing their destinies for all future time. In this the spirit of kindness is all powerful.

4. The foregoing will do well for truancy, but there is a class of children which does not attend school, because they positively cannot; they are too poor; they have not the necessary clothing to mingle with other children, or even to attend school. To reach this class, what may be known as the missionary plan is well adapted. The plan is as follows:

The school forces of a district organize, and in a quiet way make a canvass as to the number of children not in school, and the causes of such absence. This work must be done quietly, and the children at school can do the most efficient work. After having ascertained the number and causes of absence, the next step is to gather clothing and to have proper parties visit the families in question, in order that the parents may become interested and willing to accept the assistance provided for them. This plan is certainly the very best to do good in a community, and the writer of this report knows from private experience that it is feasible, and through it a large number of our nonattending children can be brought to school.

5. Mrs. H. E. Monroe, of Philadelphia, a lady much interested in education, has organized what is known as the Patriotic League, one feature of which is to bring all the children of school age into school. I will not take up the time to discuss this question here, but regard it too important to pass it by altogether, therefore take this opportunity to say, I endorse the plan and recommend it to the serious consideration of every teacher and superintendent of our own state and nation.

Industrial Schools.-There is not the least doubt, if proper efforts are made, the attendance of our schools can be largely increased and many a child be saved in this manner for time and eternity. Every superintendent and teacher owes it to humanity to do his utmost, not so much for the sake of showing a good record as for the good which may be accomplished. However, in spite of all efforts that can and will be made for the good of our children, we all know there will still be a large number that cannot be gotten into school.

Our best efforts will not bring the millennium. Besides, there are many who if they could be gotten into the schools, could not stay, and let me add further, that in hundreds of cases, if they could be reached and made to stay in school, they would not be helped much by simply learning the branches of study. What this class wants as much as knowledge is habits of industry. I am a firm believer that education without morality is a curse rather than a blessing. I believe also that any parent who allows his children to grow up in ignorance and crime forfeits the right to exercise control

over them; and our government ought to provide schools and compel them to attend, to learn, not simply the branches of study, but also habits of industry in the line of mechanical pursuits; in other words, I believe that our State authorities should establish industrial schools in every city, and compel every child found growing up in ignorance and crime to attend them. You may call this adverse to our free institutions. This may be true, but there is where compulsory education should begin-not with children who are properly cared for, but with those who are neglected. It is proper to state that 95 per cent. of all truants are boys; and that they mainly belong to the intermediate grades.

It is true, also, that by proper effort the great majority can be cured of their bad habits. I would say from what I know by investigation and experience that at least 75 per cent. of all truants can be reformed and absolutely reclaimed to good habits and reliable conduct. But the class of pupils who are irregular on account of the weakness or perverseness of their parents is much harder to deal with.

It is difficult enough to deal with perverse children, but when we have to deal with the weakness, carelessness and general cussedness of some parents, our task becomes really great. Not only is the burden greater, butthe result by no means as satisfactory; and if a teacher succeeds in reclaiming 50 per cent. of irregular pupils of this class, he or she does very well.

If we consider that we have in our State about 10,000 truants and about 30,000 more who are irregular on account of negligence and wickedness, and that of the former class only about 75 per cent. can be saved and of the latter about 50 per cent., this still leaves us an array of from 15,000 to 18,000 children who grow up without the blessings of an education. In other words they grow up in ignorance and crime and are a menace to society.

It is the duty of every educator, whether teacher or superintendent, to make every effort to reclaim from a wayward life as many of these children as possible. I am very sure that we have not done all that can be done in this direction, but feel certain also, that if the best is done there will still remain a large number who cannot be reached by all the best effort that may be put forth under existing laws; and therefore, firmly believe that for this class of children a compulsory system of industrial eduation will be the most efficient remedy.

Principal Weber (Middletown): I find that sometimes an inferior teacher, in the poorest section on the outskirts of the town, will have a better percentage of attendance than any other. People in good circumstances give us most trouble, by allowing their children to absent them

selves for trifling causes. This year we resolved to promote none whose percentage is below seventy-perhaps that will help us.

On motion of Supt. Keith, the Association adjourned to 1:30 p. m., with the expectation of concluding the programme in one more session.



N the absence of the Committee on Officers, the next order was taken up, being the resolution offered by Supt. Transeau (see page 400), in reference to colleges admitting graduates of high schools without examination.

The resolution being read by the Secretary, Supt. Baer moved its adoption, as he said, in the interest of harmony, which was seconded.

Supt. Patterson: What is the use of it? If they are prepared, they will go in at any rate.

Supt. McGinnes: After this pointed and profitable discussion, we should formulate our conclusions into black and white in some shape, and have them presented to the college people for consideration.

Supt. Baer: The resolution does not go far enough, in my opinion; but it may set in motion some influence that will work in the right direction, leaving the details to the discretion of the Department and others who may interest themselves. I would vote for it if it went much farther.

Supt. Hotchkiss: At the recent Columbia College meeting a committee was appointed to work on this line, and it might be well to express approval of that action. We want uniform requirements, but what matters it whether they examine or not-if prepared, the students will pass. I should prefer to strike out all that refers to entrance "without examination"—or better still, simply endorse the action of the College Association of the Middle States.

Principal A. J. Harbaugh, (Waynesboro): That is right; give us a uniform standard, and we will stand or fall in a proper examination.

Supt. Boger: The situation in Pennsylvania needs nothing more than unification. There is great diversity in requirements for graduation from high schools, for entrance to college, and for teaching.

In this respect we are behind some of our sister States. This proposition is right in asking for a uniform course to be proposed to high schools; of course it could not be forced upon them, but an authorized course, especially if recognized by special appropriation, would be sure to bring many up to the mark.

Supt. Baer: The resolution is intended to bridge the gap between high school and college. Of course we can only request them to admit us; it is their business to say whether they will examine or not, and they will settle that.

Supt. Mackey: I am opposed to asking admission without examination. We would gain something by having a com mittee to cooperate with others and present our case before the Committee of the Middle States Association.

Supt Baer: I will offer this substitute for the pending resolution:

Resolved, That it is the sentiment of this Association that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction confer with the Col

lege and University Presidents of the State' with a view of preparing a mininum course for our high schools; which course, if accepted and completed, should admit the graduates of such high schools to such colleges and universities without futher preparation.

Supt. Colegrove: That is an improvement, in giving the framing of the course to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, instead of leaving it entirely to the College Presidents. Of course it will avail nothing unless we can provide for securing a high degree of excellence in the work, after the course is fixed. I think it a weakness in our Pennsylvania system that it leaves so much to the discretion of each locality. Any district. may organize whatever it chooses to call a high school, and the diplomas may mean much, or little, or nothing. I wish the State Department could have charge of the examinations.

On motion, the substitute was adopted.


The committee on nomination of officers for the session next year at Harrisburg reported the following list, which was, on motion of Supt. Boger, adopted unanimously:

President-Supt. B. F. Patterson, Potts


[blocks in formation]

Executive Committee-Supts. L. E. McGinnes, Steelton; Atreus Wanner, York; W. W. Rupert, Pottstown.

Supt. S. O. Gоно, Milton, then read the following paper on


In the immense multiplication of the objects of knowledge, the school-master's field, retaining the old and embracing the new, has gone on broadening and broadening, until it includes the greatest diversity of subjects and until to grasp even the elements of all of them the school-master and his pupil must be superficially omniscient. As science advances, as the investigation into the past and present of our planet and its inhabitants is continued, new branches and objects of knowledge must be developed. In view of the absolute impossibility of one mind's grasping all this knowledge, it is of the utmost importance to determine what of the old and what of the new a man must know in order to be entitled to call himself an educated man. From a mass of learning so vast as to be beyond the powers of the strongest intellect, it is not possible to build wisely without careful selection.

What knowledge is of most worth is the great question, in the attempt to answer which courses of study have been arranged and re-arranged, and the battle of the ancients versus the moderns still is on.

Without any endeavor to decide what else is valuable and what else is not, one may venture to direct attention to a branch of instruction which has not received and is not now receiving the attention it merits in our public schools, our colleges or our universities - the systematic study of the mother tongue.

In this respect, however, our schools are in the midst of a revolution, and there has been in recent years no token of progress in education more gratifying than the deeper and yet deeper interest which scholars and people are manifesting in the study of our noble English.

President Eliot voices a general and growing sentiment when he says: "I may avow as the result of my reading and observation in the matter of education, that I recognize but one mental acquisition as an essential part of a lady or a gentleman, namely, an accurate and refined use of the mother tongue." It is not necessary in the least to depreciate the classical languages and literature as a means of culture, but all who appreciate knowledge, that is both practical and liberal must feel deeply the wisdom of a careful and thorough study of our own language the language of one hundred and fifty millions of the best educated, most refined, most progressive people on the face of the globe;-the language not only of our own country, but also of the British Islands, of Canada, of Australia, and of India.

Surely that language is worthy of study which at the very beginning of its full organization could produce the linked sweetness of Sidney and the mighty line of Marlow, the voluptuous beauty of Spenser, and the oceanic melody of Shakespeare, and which at a riper age could show itself an adequate instrument for the organ-like harmonies of Milton and the matchless symphonies of Sir Thomas Browne; which could give full and fit expression to the fiery energy of Dryden and the epigrammatic point of Pope, to the forest-like gloom of Young and the passionate outpourings of Burns; which sustained and supported the tremulous elegance and husbanded strength of Campbell, the broad-winged sweep of Coleridge, the deep sentiment and all-embracing humanities of Wordsworth, and the gorgeous emblazonry of Moore, and which today in the plentitude of its powers has given voice to the beautiful creations of Longfellow, Irving and Tennyson. Surely a language such as this is worthy the deepest and most persistent study. Were it a dead language, instead of a very live and vigorously growing one, there is not a college among civilized nations which would not assign it a leading place in the course of study, as being the key to the grandest, noblest, purest and best literature the world has ever known.

Our language, in flexibility, precision, strength and copiousness, is suited for every purpose of poetry, philosophy, science and art, as well as for the street and the shop. For its structure the ends of the earth have been laid under contribution. Built upon the manly straight-forward, incisive AngloSaxon, it is adorned by the graceful, courtier-like Norman-French, and supplemented by the best gifts of every nation under the sun. China and Japan, the Esquimaux and the Hottentot, the Choctaw Indian and the Australian Bushman, in common with the civilized nations of the globe send their best gifts to our tongue. Here is "fossil poetry" and fossil history as well-the accumulated experience, wisdom and genius of our race. What a legacy then is ours, forever associated as it is with liberty, courage, progress and civilization. It is often said that we should study Latin and Greek for the history and literature they represent. Very true, and not one jot should be taken from what is required in those languages; but we should not forget that the English is the representative of a history and a literature far grander. Why differs the boasted Greece or Rome from the despised Persia? The former have produced some few names which the latter cannot equal. But what are a few great names to the happiness of the mass of the people? Are not the Greek and Latin writers and sages, above all others, filled with contempt for the mass around them? Is not the favorite subject of satire among them the meanness and misery of their fellows? Plutarch says that the good citizens

of Athens were the best in the world, but that her bad citizens were unparalleled for their atrocities, their impiety, their perfidy. We have then the two sides of the picturea few wise and learned men make the side we usually see; and a herd of ignorant, brutish people make the side we do not look at so often, but none the less real for that. No, no, we should not neglect the lessons that Greece and Rome have to teach, but we should ever remember, when we come to compare them with our own country, as far as history, literature and institutions go, that America, in its education, its government, its religious liberty, its elevation of the masses, is as superior to ancient Greece or Rome, as the good of the many is superior to the good of the few.

And then the culture-worth of the English-how broad and generous and enriching it is! It is largely for the sake of mental discipline that we study Latin and Greek, but I believe with Professor Whitney, that there is more real culture obtained by the analysis of an ordinarily difficult English sentence than there is in the reading of the Commentaries of Cæsar as it is usually done. The lack of paradigmatic inflection, the absence of a complicated grammar, which should make the acquisition of good English easy, and which is a source of untold strength, has been made the excuse for a neglect that has made correct English exceedingly rare. Economy in speech is the force by which this lack of inflection has been developed. All paradigmatic inflection involves unnecessary thought, and when these are greatly multiplied the speaker is compelled to think of very many things having no connection with the thought he wishes to express.

Voltaire said that the English gained two hours a day by clipping their words, and he might well have added that they save even more by having done away with a complicated grammar.

"Words are the soul's ambassadors, which go Abroad upon her errands to and fro." -Howells.

By means of words the thoughts and emotions of one mind are projected upon another. Language and thought are inseparable. "Words without thought are dead sounds; thoughts without words are nothing. To think is to speak low; to speak is to think aloud."-Muller. So close is the relation between the two that many have held thought without language impossible. However that may be, certain it is, that as the language of a man is perfect, so is his thought clear and distinct; and as his language is imperfect, so is his thought dim and obscure. We do not lay enough stress upon the worth of exact language as the golden key with which, and with which alone, we may unlock the doors to the treasure-house of knowledge.

The great art which those must learn who

wish to teach in the school or the pulpit, at the bar or through the press, is not only to think in words, but also to think in the best words. Hence a student cannot be too diligent in acquiring the habit of expressing himself with that combination of lucid order, graceful ease, pregnant significance, and rich variety, which makes a good style. Good language promotes not only exact thought, but also pure thought. Words lead to things, a scale is more precise, Coarse speech, bad grammar, swearing, drinking, vice. -Holmes.

"As a man is known by his company, so a man's company may be known by his manner of expressing himself," says Swift. Descending by easy stages this ladder of coarse speech, bad grammar, swearing, drinking, vice, thousands of our young men are throwing away the fairest opportunities. "America' says Emerson, "spells opportunity;" and the men who have taken the tide of fortune at its flood have moved and are moving our country on to the achievement of her glorious destiny. They are men who have come up from every rank in life. Any man in a free country may be called upon to express an opinion in public, and the man that has formed early the habit of thinking and speaking forcibly, at once comes into notice. Practice brings dexterity and confidence and he is on the highway to success. Clear thought clearly expressed is the open sesame which causes to fly open the doors of society on their gilded hinges, and causes to drop the ponderous bars that hedge all the avenues to success to admit the new Aladdin with his wonderful lamp. How many are there who stand like Cassim in the cave of the Forty Thieves, crying "open wheat, "open barley," to the doors that respond only to "open sesame."

The worth of English, then, makes it a study of the first rank, whether it be regarded from the standpoint of literature, mental discipline, historic interest, commercial value, or civic and moral influence. Is there not something radically wrong in a scheme of education which fails to provide the student with the widest facilities to master his mother-tongue in its full scope as a means of expression, and as an aid to thought, in its history and principles as a language, and in its completeness as a literature? Should we not teach English with as much system, persistence and enthusiasm we give to the classics of Greece and Rome, or to mathematics?


In consequence of the neglect with which our language has been visited in the schools, the ignorance of its usages is widespread, even among those who should know them best.

Sacred interpreter of human thought,
How few respect or use thee as they ought!

What a curious infelicity of explanation, what an astonishing inelegance of conver

sation, what a lack of finish, of happy unpremeditated choice of language. Bad Engfish is ubiquitous. It meets us in the newspaper press, with which fire is the "devouring element," a kitchen a "culinary department," a coffin a "burial casket," to marry is "to be led to the hymeneal altar," and one euphuist recently went so far as to call our Saviour "that eminent individual." Bad English is hurled at us from the pulpit; it is with us in our homes; it greets us upon the street; and a single session of the average school might furnish all the material, were such material needed, for the chapters on false syntax in all the "English grammars" ever printed.

The Harvard report for 1891 says:



half of the total number of candidates for admission to the Harvard Freshman class who presented themselves in June of the current year were unprepared in the department of Elementary English for admission to the college. They could not write their mother-tongue with ease or correctness. On the other hand, out of 414 applicants, but nine, or two per cent. were marked as passing the examination with credit,' as against twenty per cent. who failed wholly." The reports adds: "The present system therefore is radically defective. The difficulty also, so far as your committee is advised, is by no means confined to the advanced schools which fit for college. permeates, in another form, the whole American grammar-school system." The voice from Harvard is the voice of all who have given the subject attention-colleges, business men, educators. Admitting the evil, how may we cure it? You have heard how the preacher expounded the text, "And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness." "Yes, brethren, without controversy great is the mystery of godliness,--but controversy clears it all up.' It is in the hope that "controversy" may bring us to some bit of firm ground that a few suggestions are made touching this most important "how" question.

Experience has taught us to have little confidence in the "let-alone" plan, once held quite widely, that to write good English it only necessary to get something to say. "To learn how to write you have only to write; when you have something to say, you will be able to say it well enough."

This "do-nothing" method would have high educational value if our pupils were surrounded by safe exemplars. As one may acquire good manners by associating with ladies and gentlemen, so from a master of good English one may get much by a process of unconscious absorption. But in the absence of such exemplars it would be the height of folly to permit so important a subject to suffer for want of systematic attention. That such exemplars are not common is shown by the universal testimony of leaders in education that almost everything else is taught better than English. There

is a striking lack of good teachers in Eng→ lish.

On the other hand, the deductive, "textbook" method has been equally barren of satisfactory results. Is it at all surprising that it should be so with the teacher who takes his pupils through the book, page after page, without regard to the needs or abilities of his class? What exhilaration the average school-boy must experience in the study of a book whose first page introduces him to "orthography," "etymology, "syntax," "prosody" and "orthoepy," the definitions of which he must learn, but need not necessarily understand! And how his interest must grow when at almost the next lesson he makes the acquaintance of the "surds," sonants," " labials,' dentals," "gutturals, nasals," and "sibilants." Is it any wonder that to escape this dread night-mare of rattling sounds he turns back to the preface and makes it read "Peter Reilly eats fishes and catches eels?"-a bit of necromancy of his own which he can understand and which appears to be quite as valuable as that he fled.

[ocr errors]

99 66

The text-book is a good thing as a book of texts, but a slavish following of the book has crushed the life out of many a school. For many years scientific teachers have condemned the practice of compelling children to memorize lessons from text-books; none the less it is the method most commonly employed in our schools to-day. Unless teachers do something to remove this reproach, there must inevitably come action of some sort from outside, action which, in all probability, will swing to the other extreme and do away with text-books entirely, as has been done in the schools of Munich in the study of the natural sciences, geography and history. In our schools today we are studying books about English, but giving very little attention to English itself. It is hard to understand why the language and its principles, its grammar and its literature, should not be studied in the concrete. Less than a quarter of a century ago, even our best schools taught the natural sciences after the memoriter method. The laboratory method came like a revelation, and its application to the natural sciences made them at once the most popular and best-taught branches in the curriculum. English to-day is where science teaching was a quarter of a century ago. It is searching for a method, and until that method is found and applied we have no right to expect other than superficial and unsatisfactory results in the teaching of the mother-tongue.

We must teach the subject both as an art and as a science, including grammar, literature, rhetoric and logic. The art must be learned as are all other arts, by constant and systematic practice under the direction of a competent instructor. The definition of Lily, Lowth and Murray, of grammar as the art of speaking and writing correctly,'

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »