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waste, we do not believe that we now get more than six efficient hours out of the ten during which men really do toil. It is safe to say that more than one-third of the time and strength of all who labor is spent in vain.
IS THERE SIMILAR WASTE IN THE WORK OF EDUCATION!
Does this same waste appear in our own work, the work of education, the object of which is to save all waste? In all honesty, we must say yes. Perhaps I might add, there is waste here from the same causes I have already mentioned: ignorance, carelessness, pride, and dishonesty. I might also add that there is waste oftentimes from the necessity of the case. It often happens, in ordinary work, that we have to labor at a disadvantage. The same is true in education.
DIFFERENT CAUSES OF WASTE STATED.
A portion of this waste from all these causes is due to failure on the part of the teacher, partly it is due to the student, and partly to the parent or guardian. We can only point out the conditions of the waste, and the share belonging to each delinquent will readily appear.
IMPERFECT TEACHING A SOURCE OF WASTE.
(1) The first source of waste I mention is imperfect teaching. I do not so much refer to the defective knowledge imparted in the schoolroom, although this is often painfully apparent to those who attend examinations, especially in the progressive natural sciences--I do not so much refer to this as to the wretched habits of study formed in some schools. There are schools without system, without any standard of accurate scholarship, and without any enthusiasm ; for a genuine enthusiasm for study is impossible under any false system of instruction.
The student labors, but it is as a man might labor piling stones together to form a wall without any reference to the nature of the work in hand, stones of all sorts going alike into foundation and top. Not only is much of the labor in such a school lost, but the habits there formed cling to the student; and it is only in rare cases that they are ever entirely corrected. Those who receive students from such preparatory schools sympathize with the old Greek musician, who charged double price to all students who had ever taken lessons before coming to him-one-half for correcting bad habits.
Much loss comes from the bungling recitations of those who might be trained to accuracy. It is too often the case that the student is allowed to stumble through the recitation, showing only here and there any proper understanding of the subject, so that he gains nothing in clearness of thought, accuracy of information, or precision in language. A little more careful labor on the part of the student, a little more pressure in the right direction, on the part of the instructor, would render the work of both of double worth.
TIME WASTED ON UNIMPORTANT MATTERS. (2) The second point I make is the teaching of unimportant things. In connection with some studies are found many things that either have no essential connection with them at all, a mere temporary connection, or one that is worthy the attention of professionals alone. It makes one shudder to think of the trash which scholars have been compelled to learn in connection with the simple studies of grammar, geography, and arithmetic, to say nothing of the waste of labor in connection with classical studies and the higher mathematics. Many grammars insist upon distinctions and definitions which confuse rather than enlighten the beginner. Perhaps no teachers are left who compel their students to commit long lists of prepositions and adverbs, so that they may know them to be such in parsing; but other things as absurd are required, not in common schools alone, but in colleges.
Poor text-books come in here for their share of blame. Small textbooks, containing only the essentials of the subjects treated of, only those parts that have life in them, that cannot be eliminated without leaving the subject imperfect, are rare. It takes a brave man, and one merciless towards himself, to make a small, simple, but thorough text-book. Such books we must have, if we use text-books at all. If one doubts the propriety of thus cutting down text-books, let him take his best scholar after completing an ordinary book and ask him to write out all he knows on the subject. The book he makes will be small; and, in general, the larger the text-book he has used, the smaller will be the book which represents his own knowledge of the subject. If this Institute of In.. struction would appoint a committee of five to select the best text-books on all the subjects taught in our schools, have this committee solemnly bound not to add a single line, but let each one be encouraged to strike out every rule, list, and problem that he thinks could be spared, my belief is that every author so treated would find his text-book vastly improved. He would probably think at first that the book was ruined, as students are apt to think their essays are ruined when the professor draws his pen through what they consider their finest sentences.
WANT OF THOROUGHNESS A PROLIFIC SOURCE OF WASTE. (3) In my opposition to the too common methed of loading down a subject with what is unimportant, do not understand me to recommend that we should teach but a little of the subject. I wish to throw aside all useless weights, that we may run the better; all non-essentials, that we may make thorough work with the essentials. One of the most prolific sources of waste in the work of education is that we content ourselves with a mere smattering of things that are of no use at all, unless they are learned thoroughly. Those things which we have neither the time nor talents to learn thoroughly should, as a general rule, be left untouched. There are exceptions to this rule, I am aware. How much time is wasted on French by those who never learn to speak or even read the language; on musical instruments by those who never can, or certainly never do, get beyond the point where all their performances are hard labor to themselves and torture to listeners. In languages and higher mathematics tbere are many things that some minds simply grasp for a moment, if at all, and they are gone, and so completely gone that they are of no use, directly or indirectly. Some claim here that, although the thing is forgotten at once, we have the benefit of the mental exercise in acquiring it, and this is worth all the labor. There is certainly good in mental exercise. The question is, Can it not be obtained on more advantageous terms than by learning a little of difficult studies to be forgotten ?
WASTE FROM MISAPPREHENSION OF THE REAL PURPOSE OF STUDY.
(4) And this brings me to the next statement, that there is waste of labor in making the studies too hard. There is somehow a notion, ingrained in many of us, that it is good for us and for the little ones to be afflicted; and so it is. But it is not good for us to afflict ourselves, or the children committed to us, except as a rare case of discipline. The whole structure of the world brings all the affliction we need, if we rightly improve it; and the road of learning, which old authority declared to be no royal road, is hard enongh to tax all the powers of every student to their full extent, even when his teacher is at hand to direct in every place of doubt and to lend his aid where the way is hard and the feet are weary It was an old notion that children must be toughened by exposure to cold and wet and be made healthy and energetic by calling them out of bed for hard labor when they ought to have been asleep. Children lived through such hardships, it is true-some of them did; and for a time those who had strength to live seemed to improve in health under the hard usage. But short lives, rheumatism, and broken constitutions in middle life were the general products of such a hardening process.
A like notion has too often prevailed in regard to intellectual training. The charm of "thoroughness” and “independent work,” both excellent–indispensable in their places-induces many ambitious teachers to make drudges of their students, till all ambition and enthusiasm are utterly gone from them. By giving such students work only apportioned to their strength, keeping them for a time from all contact with the knotty points, or lending them a helping hand by showing the method of untying such knots, they might have gone on with courage till they could grapple successfully and joyfully with the hardest problems of any science. Many a teacher has seen such discouraged, disheartened boys, who utterly loathed all study, simply because it had always been demanded of them in a kind beyond the mastery of their unaided strength. And some of us have seen learned and faithful teachers who tormented themselves and disheartened their students, because these teachers could not understand the difference between thoroughness and indiscriminate cramming with non-essentials.
STUDY MERELY FOR DISCIPLINE A WASTE.
It seems to be the aim of some text-book-makers, and some teachers too, to make every study as difficult as possible, for the sake of the discipline. No doctrine is more fallacious. Get your discipline by doing a greater amount of work and doing it in a better style. What sensible man would turn aside to ride over quagmires and stone heaps for the sake of more exercise for himself or horse ? An oak tree might be felled with a stone hatchet, and one would get a deal of exercise in doing the
but the same time and strength with a good steel ax would give as much exercise and leave something to show for the labor. Leave stone hatchets to savages ; let civilized men use the sharpest steel axes they can find. They will thus do the most work and do it in the best manner. This principle of dealing with essentials mainly should prevail in all the work of education. We bave too much to do to spend time fooling over complicated arithmetical puzzles which abound in some books—questions which no one should undertake to solve till well versed in algebra and geometry. At the proper stage of education, such puzzles, wbich are a discouragement to the young scholar because he thinks them essential to the subject, will be solved in the natural progress of his work. They are an annoyance and discouragement simply because they are introduced before their time, before the study of the principles on which their solution depends.
MENTAL DEVELOPMENT GRADUAL AND RETARDED BY PREMATURE
In this connection I ought to speak, not only of the attempts to teach the child before he is prepared for the subject by previous study conditional for it, but also of that forcing-system by which things are taught, or the attempt is made to teach them, before the pupil's mind is mature enough to grapple with them. I speak here of the natural maturity of mind through age. In the first place, there is a great difference in children as to the age at which they can profitably engage in the same studies. There is a difference in children belonging to different families, as to the time of the development of their mental powers as a whole and also as to the order of their development. This is plain enough to those who have compared successive classes from year to year and have studied the history of families. Parents ought to understand this, but the majority of them do not. Teachers should study the mental condition of their pupils as carefully, to say the least, as they do the subjects they are to teach. The successful husbandman knows when the ground is ready for the seed, that germination may be sure and the plant become a vigorous grower. The inexperienced farmer or gardener, ambitious for an early crop, puts his seed, at the earliest moment, into the soil, only to find the seed wasted or his plants weakly in growth and failing in quantity and quality of fruit. Some whole schools are samples of this forcing-system. Parents and teachers both join in the work, and rejoice together over the precocious scholars who learn by rote and explain beautifully without ever comprehending what they explain. Such unfortunate prodigies of learning lose by this cramming system all the pleasure and healthful stimulus to vigorous growth that come to the one who, with powers fitted for the work, incorporates the studies of each day into his intellectual life, because he is able to comprehend them fully without weariness to mind or over-draft upon the body. The growth of every day is to the latter healthful; and thus it happens that so many who commence study late in life soon outstrip those who have been delving for years.
TO PREVENT WASTE, STUDIES MUST BE ADAPTED TO AGE AND DEVEL
OPMENT OF PUPILS.
Do not charge me with undervaluing early education. It is a great thing for the child from the first to breathe a literary atmosphere, and in rare instances the crowding I have spoken of makes real prodigies of learning, of which John Stuart Mill was an example—"afine example," some would say; a sad warning, I should suggest.
In all the early years, say to the age of 14, the studies should be light-just enough to keep the appetite for learning keen-while the physical system has no strain brought upon it by over-confinement or hard mental labor. In these early years, the simple studies of spelling and reading and the simple forms of mathematics, in which the large majority of students who apply for admission to college are wofully deficient, should occupy the chief attention as studies in the class-room. The outlines of geography and history should be so fully given that the reading of the newspaper shall be intelligent work, because the scholar knows where events transpire; and such training in natural history should be secured that the senses may be on the alert for every new form and phenomenon in the natural world. By those who have the opportunity, French or German might be learned orally, without the details of grammar. If this is done, with no more labor than is often wasted in teaching grammar and some parts of mathematics, when the scholar is utterly unprepared for the work; if this is done, and a taste for choice reading secured, at the age of 14 or 15 you are ready to begin the continuous work of education in earnest, so that the student shall not only acquire knowledge rapidly, but shall remember the processes by which he acquires it. And this remembrance of the processes is hardly less valuable than the knowledge itself, especially to one who is to engage in the work of instructing.
WASTE FROM WANT OF PROPERLY GRADING SCHOOLS.
The waste of labor that comes from imperfect classification of schools is so apparent that all understand and deplore it. This evil in country schools cannot be completely remedied, although much can be done by