Notes On School Life And Studies
( Originally Published 1907 )
THE crowding of the curriculum with a multiplicity of subjects had already begun away back in the old academy days. Even then the studies which had to do with useful information were much in demand, and it was with them that the crowding took place. After the middle of the nineteenth century the demand for subjects of this sort on account of their usefulness was mightily reinforced by a demand for the same subjects on account of their scientific value.
The physical sciences were becoming more scientific through application of the principle of the conservation of energy and its several corollaries. The biological sciences were just escaping from the stage of classification and becoming for the first time scientific through the doctrine of organic evolution. The word science was taking on new significance. With the progress of scientific discovery, new vistas were opening up in every direction. Men came to expect every conceivable good at the hand of this new scientific thought, and for themselves and for others they desired encyclopedic knowledge.
Schools of every grade were profoundly disturbed by the rapid changes going on in the larger world of ideas. In the seventies or thereabouts, the tendency to overload the curriculum with scientific studies was accelerated by the action of some state legislatures, requiring candidates for the teacher's certificate to pass an examination in several of the sciences. In some portions of the country it was regarded as no small part of the service of the public high schools that they prepared their students to pass the teachers' examination.
Statutory provisions relating to this examination had accordingly an indirect, but prompt and powerful, influence upon high school courses of study.
How many other influences were working in the same direction, it would be hard to say. But the result was that " multiplicity of short information courses," particularly in the natural sciences, against which the Committee of Ten pro-tested. A group of text-books bearing the titles Fourteen weeks in, chemistry, and Fourteen weeks in each of several other subjects, attained a wide popularity at this time, and was highly characteristic of the tendency referred to .
The more recent history of studies can be traced in a series of carefully prepared statistical tables. It appears from the reports of the Commissioner of Education that between the years 1894 and 1900 the percentage of pupils in our secondary schools studying Latin, French, German, algebra, geometry, physical geography, physiology, rhetoric, and general history, was on the increase, the advance being especially marked in the case of Latin, algebra, geometry, rhetoric, and history. In the same period the percentage of those studying Greek, trigonometry, astronomy, physics, geology, and psychology declined. For a portion of the studies a report is presented covering ten years, from 1889 to 1899. In that time the percentage studying Latin had advanced from 33.62 to 50.29, and the advance in algebra, geometry, and general history, though less marked, was very noteworthy. In these years the actual number of students attending our secondary schools had increased from 367,003 to 655,227.
It would seem that in spite of this enormous increase in attendance, the schools had been gravitating back toward concentration on a smaller number of studies, and those chiefly the central studies of the old humanistic curriculum with the omission of Greek. While Greek seems to have declined proportionately, the falling off was very slight, and the actual increase in the number of students studying that language was not far from twelve thousand. It is likely that physics, which shows the greatest retrogression in the ten-year period, had made greater advance than the most of the other subjects in methods of presentation. The percent-age of students studying physics by laboratory methods, if it could be determined, would probably show a substantial increase.
On the whole, then, we may safely conclude that in their actual working our secondary schools, at the same time that they are increasing enormously in attendance, are becoming more conservative in their schemes of instruction, are less given to " short information courses," are more humanistic, and on the scientific side are doing more in the direction of an improvement of instruction than in that of the extension of studies.
We may note in passing that in the same period, despite the tremendous increase in attendance at higher institutions, the number of students in our secondary schools who were not preparing for college increased more rapidly than those who were ; 18.66 per cent were preparing for college in 188990 and 14.05 per cent in 189899.
The report for the year 18991900 shows a reversal at several points of the tendency indicated in the preceding paragraphs. It is impossible to tell whether the change marks a new and opposite tendency or merely a temporary retrogression. The total number of secondary students advanced in the single year from 655,227 to 719,241; yet the percentage of these who were preparing for college rose at the same time from 14.05 to 14.53. The percentage of those studying German, rhetoric, English literature, and civics increased ; while a diminished percentage is recorded against all of the other subjects reported, namely, Latin, Greek, French, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, astronomy, physics, chemistry, physical geography, geology, physiology, psychology, and general history.
The actual courses of study in our secondary schools show considerable diversity. The determination of the curriculum is generally left, in our school laws, to the discretion of municipal or district boards of education, and private schools are limited only by the ends which they choose to serve. Yet the differences between neighboring schools or between the schools of different sections of the country are not so wide as one might expect. Owing to the extensive circulation of all sorts of educational literature, and the frequent meeting of teachers one with another in educational conventions, there is a surprising approach toward uniformity in the educational provisions found in all parts of the country. Even the poorer and more backward sections are often seen striving consciously and earnestly after the ideals proposed in more favored districts. High schools may be found having courses ranging all the way from one to six years in length ; but the four-year course is still the generally recognized standard. Private schools have commonly a four-year course, though six-year courses are now found in some of the great boarding schools for boys. A few recent courses are presented, by way of example, in the Appendix.
Within the past half-century, methods of instruction, and to a less degree the choice of topics, in secondary school subjects generally, have been profoundly influenced by the changes which have appeared in the study of the natural sciences. Stephen Van Rensselaer, in founding the first polytechnic school in the United States (in 1824), gave directions that chemistry and experimental philosophy should not be taught in that institution "by seeing experiments and hearing lectures, according to the usual method." In-stead, the students should be required "to lecture and experiment by turn, under the immediate direction of a professor or competent assistant. Thus by a term of labor, like apprentices to a trade, they are to become operative chemists."
James C. Booth, an early student in the Rensselaer Institute, became professor of chemistry in the Franklin Institute at Philadelphia, in 1836, and opened a laboratory which is said to have been the first in the United States for instruction in chemical analysis and in the application of chemistry to the arts. Six years later he became an instructor in the Central High School of Philadelphia ; but the laboratory facilities of that school at the time, and for many years there-after, seem to have been insignificant. In 1862, however, a visitor to the school reported that the laboratory, such as it was, was of great use, the students being taught to perform the experiments in chemistry for themselves. In 1868 more complete provision was made for such laboratory work, and an assistant was regularly employed for this purpose.
In the seventies and early eighties the establishment of laboratories in which experiments and observations should be made by the pupils themselves became much more common. Within the past ten or fifteen years the requirement by some of our foremost colleges of laboratory work on the part of those who would offer one of the natural sciences as a part of their preparation for college matriculation, has given a great impetus to this movement. In 1897 it was reported that in Massachusetts 66 high schools were provided with good laboratory facilities, 80 had fair or limited facilities, and 98 had poor facilities or none. We have seen that in the state systems of New York and Minnesota particular attention is paid to the laboratory equipment of the schools. And the noble and extensive buildings which have been erected in recent years for the high schools of many of our great cities, have provided laboratories such as could hardly have been found in our best colleges a generation ago.
In these laboratories students perform representative experiments in the science they are pursuing, under the guidance and subject to the criticism of the instructor. These experiments are commonly regarded as illustrative of or preparatory to the statement of principles in a text-book, though some would go so far as to let the laboratory manual supersede the ordinary text-book altogether. The " method of rediscovery " has influenced the practice of the schools ; yet there are probably few school laboratories in which the students are expected to rediscover on their own account the laws of physics or chemistry or any other of the sciences. A fine blending of discovery, verification, and correction, seems to be the ideal of our best teachers of natural science. Much stress is laid on the accurate recording of observations and experiments. The students' note-books serve as one of the chief tests of the excellence of their work. Oral and written recitations by the students fill a large place in the work of each term. All this is vastly different from the prevailing method of a generation ago.
The lecture system, to be sure, has never occupied a large place in our secondary schools. Clearness of exposition has always been, and will doubtless always be, an important element in a teacher's equipment for teaching. Skilful instructors have at all times exercised themselves to help their pupils over difficulties in such manner as would prepare them to surmount future difficulties for themselves. And we read of old-time masters who were famous for their ability to ask searching and stimulating questions. But set lectures have never found favor here. The text-book was until recently the main reliance in school instruction, even for classes in the natural sciences.
The recent extension of laboratory exercises, together with the proportionate reduction of text-book study, represents a fundamental change of view as to the function of instruction. We find accordingly that a similar advance has been made in the treatment of other branches than the natural sciences. The attempt is made to put the student in touch with first-hand materials of knowledge; and to guide and stimulate him to the end of making over these crude facts into real knowledge for himself. This procedure seeks to give full recognition to both the ideal and the sensuous elements in knowledge, and it indicates some appreciation of the fact that the ideal element to be truly ideal must be supplied by the active agency of the student's own thought, exercised upon the products of his own experience.
In the practice of the schools, we find these principles applied, for example, to the teaching of English. In the long endeavor to make English a substantial subject of instruction, there was an advance on the grammatical and rhetorical teaching to which reference has already been made. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Dr. John Seely Hart, a Princeton graduate, was setting an unusually high standard in the teaching of this subject at the Central High School of Philadelphia. Dr. Hart put into practical operation a proposal which has, been made repeatedly, both before and since his day : That Anglo-Saxon be taught as one of the chief foundation stones of the English course. The study, however, did not meet with favor in Philadelphia, and was soon dropped from the programme of the school. At the same time, Dr. Hart laid strong emphasis upon a study of the history of the English language and literature, and this subject soon came to be the dominant branch of instruction in English. Dr. Hart prepared text-books for use in this study, and other works of a similar sort appeared about this time, and within the years next following.
In some of these books selections from the authors studied constituted the bulk of the text, and the historical matter was subsidiary. But as the historical portion attracted more interest, the selections became subsidiary, or were relegated to a separate volume, to be referred to for illustration of the narrative. Shaw's Manual, as edited for use in the schools, is fairly representative of this stage of the movement.
As early as the seventies, some teachers saw the weakness of a course of instruction in which pupils were taught the history of the literature while the literature itself remained unknown. It was not, however, until the colleges began to make definite requirements in this field that the literary study of English masterpieces became at all general in the schools or took on a definite scholastic character. In the eighties, the entrance requirements of Harvard College began to exert a large influence in this direction. The New England Association and the Association of the Middle States and Maryland followed with their proposed improvements. And now we find the students in our secondary schools getting some measure of that immediate acquaintance with English literature which Daniel Defoe and Benjamin Franklin looked for from afar. It may even be questioned whether the systematic study of rhetoric and of the history of English literature has not been unduly disregarded in this striving after an acquaintance with the veritable masterpieces.
The same general tendency has appeared in the teaching of history. This subject has been, perhaps, the most sadly neglected of all the main lines of study in our secondary schools. Even after Greek and Roman history came to be required for admission to the classical course in college, the subject was commonly treated as merely incidental to the main lines of school instruction. The history of the United States was still more seriously neglected. The high schools too commonly expected the grammar schools to give all needed instruction in that subject. The colleges have not given it serious attention as a matriculation subject till within the past few years.
But this state of things is rapidly changing. Within a decade several serious works have been put forth looking to the improvement of historical instruction. The question of method most earnestly discussed of late among teachers of history is that relating to the place and use of the original materials, "sources," of history. And while opinions and practices differ widely, such materials are much more largely employed in the schools than they were in former years.
The tendencies of method in other subjects show some connection with those in the subjects already referred to. In the study of modern languages, facility in conversation is not commonly sought ; though there are schools here and there which lay great stress upon this acquisition. The ability to read the languages readily and with understanding, and to enter into an appreciation of their literatures, are the ends chiefly striven for. To these ends grammatical study is of course necessary. But the grammar is studied, on the whole, less abstractly than formerly, and more in its actual embodiment in literature.
Greater effort is made now than a generation ago to gain a reading knowledge of the ancient classics. More hope is held out to classes in Latin and Greek, that they may, with attention, attain to such mastery. There is much difference of opinion among leading teachers as to the proportionate attention to be paid to " sight reading; " and as to the value of the "inductive method " in the mastery of grammatical principles : but actual practice seems to be tending slowly toward a middle course, which retains much of the old-time thorough discipline in Latin and Greek grammar, but brings this training into more vital connection with the study of classic literature. The writing of Latin verse is generally discarded. Prose composition is receiving increased attention, and is now more imitative in its character than formerly, being commonly based on the Latin or Greek masterpiece which the class is studying at the same time. Emphasis, possibly too great, is laid on exact pronunciation and expressive reading. The question of approaching Attic through modern Greek has been warmly discussed, but the proposed change finds little if any acceptance in actual practice.
In mathematics, much stress is laid upon the original demonstration of theorems, particularly in plane and solid geometry. It appears from time to time that instruction in mathematics is weakened by a failure to insist upon the use of accurate language in demonstrations ; and from time to time fresh efforts are put forth to strengthen the work on this side. At the present time especial stress is laid in some quarters upon the need of more careful and accurate English expression in all school exercises. The attempt to teach English expression, oral and written, simply through the medium of instruction in other branches does not promise well; but there is, fortunately, a growing recognition of the fact that all teachers must have at least some share in the responsibility for such instruction.
The improvement of method in teaching, and the betterment of secondary instruction with reference to the choice and arrangement of materials, have been quickened by the growth of a literature of secondary education. Except for school text-books we have had nothing to correspond even remotely with the Gymnasial-pddagogik of the Germans, until a very recent day. The annual reports of a few associations and two or three special periodicals prepared the way for such a literature, but its beginning may fairly be dated from the publication of the Report of the Committee of Ten, in 1893. Other important reports have followed; and the earlier volumes of two important series of special hand-books, give promise of better things in this pedagogic field.
The relation of the public high schools to instruction in religion is suggestive of that great movement toward the secularization of education which has been going on in many lands. The old academies had pretty generally taken their stand on the ground of non-sectarian religious instruction. The earlier high schools occupied a similar position. But the great educational awakening, with the new development of public schools which it fostered, the rapid increase of our Roman Catholic citizenship with the resulting educational controversies, and other influences arising from our national expansion and internal development, tended to drive the schools from this ground toward a more distinct religious neutrality.
Back of those influences which have been enumerated has undoubtedly been that profound movement of modern thought which is seen in the shifting of emphasis from the doctrinal (dogmatic or metaphysical) to the ethical side of our world-view. Countless forces and tendencies have been at work bringing about this change. It has affected theology as well as education, and is bound up with many movements in other departments of human affairs. One significant aspect of the general tendency has appeared in the formation of the Society for Ethical Culture, established by Dr. Felix Adler in our Centennial Year, which is both symptom and contributory cause of the change we are considering. And apart from any religious or other organized school of thought, the leaven of this manner of thinking has been working among our people.
In different portions of this wide land the educational outcome of this tendency is various in kind and degree. There is not uncommonly found in our public schools, both elementary and higher, a prevalent and pervasive religious atmosphere, an influence emanating from the personal character of the instructors. In many of these schools it is still customary to open the daily session with the reading of a passage from the Bible or the repetition of the Lord's Prayer; or with the singing of a devotional or patriotic hymn. But whatever there may be of religious tone and spirit in these schools is of a very general and unobtrusive sort, and far removed from ecclesiasticism. Teachers wholly indifferent to dogmatic religion or in known opposition thereto are freely employed in the schools ; but would probably be found to constitute but a small minority of the teaching force of the country. In some high schools elementary ethics is taught, along with elementary psychology, or perhaps economics. But this is unusual. The moral force of the high school depends, then, mainly on the personal influence of the teachers in their instruction in the ordinary school subjects ; on the government of the school ; and on the relations of the students one with another.
Some subjects of instruction offer especial advantages as regards the formation of high ideals of conduct. The teaching of literature, and particularly the literature of the mother tongue, is found to be of great value in this respect the more so, perhaps, when untimely moralizing is dispensed with, and noble sentiments are permitted to make their appeal through the charm of their artistic presentation. Choice works of plastic and pictorial art are rapidly finding their way into our schoolrooms. There is hardly any systematic study of Lesthetics in the programmes of the schools. These works are expected to accomplish their mission by their mere presence, supplemented sometimes by an informal discussion of their merits ; or they serve to reinforce the aesthetic side of instruction in literature and in drawing. In some schools music is steadily cultivated, and holds an honored place. The study of history at the hands of teachers who treat it as a record of real human activities not reading into it impossible moralities nor making it a mere play of physical forces nor, worse yet, deadening it down into technical erudition - is full of ethical vitality. So it has shown itself to many students in recent years.
But skilful teachers make instruction in all subjects moral by arousing a pure desire for truth, a spirit of intellectual honesty, a will to work and to overcome difficulties, and a long line of modest and everyday virtues.
It is a little difficult to get any comprehensive survey of our middle school teachers. They belong to a profession that is slowly and painfully shaping itself into a real profession. Even yet the professional standards which obtain in the teaching bodies of different states and even of different communities in the same state are various and variable.
A Massachusetts report for the year 1897 shows that one per cent of the high school teachers then employed in that state were graduates of scientific schools, 13 per cent of normal schools, 66 per cent of colleges, and the remaining 20 per cent unclassified.
In the state of New York, in 1898, 32 per cent of the teachers in secondary schools not including principals were college graduates, 39 per cent were normal school graduates, 19 per cent were high school graduates, and 10 per cent had had other training. These figures include private academies as well as public high schools. They include, moreover, one-year, two-year, and three-year schools, as well as fully developed high schools and academies. At the same time and in the same schools, of the principals, 51 per cent were college graduates, 35 per cent were normal school graduates, 8 per cent were high school graduates, and 6 per cent had had other training.
An inquiry into the preparation of teachers in the secondary schools of California, made in the fall of 1897, showed that of 522 teachers then employed in the public high schools of the state, 308, or 59 per cent, were college graduates. An incomplete list prepared three years later showed, among other things, that over one per cent of the high school teachers of the state at that time held the doctorate in philosophy.
A committee of the National Educational Association known as the " Committee of Fifteen " reported in 1895, among other topics, on the training of teachers for secondary schools. This committee declared that "The degree of scholarship required for secondary teachers is by common consent fixed at a collegiate education." They proposed a course of special training for such teachers, consisting of instruction during the senior year of the college course in psychology, methodology, school systems, and the history, philosophy, and art of education ; and a graduate year of practice in teaching, under close supervision, supplemented by advanced studies in educational theory.
This proposal is far in advance of common practice or requirement. Very few of the American states make any specific requirement for the high school teacher's certificate beyond that for a license to teach in the elementary schools. There are, on the other hand, many secondary schools in which teachers rarely obtain employment, if at all, unless they are college graduates ; and there are large sections of the country in which common usage is rapidly tending in this direction. In many of our leading universities a teacher's recommendation or certificate is granted only to such graduates as have taken a substantial course of studies in the history, theory, and practice of education. And the Teachers College at Columbia University is setting a high standard of requirements for prospective teachers in secondary schools.
The latter half of the nineteenth century gave us a goodly number of schoolmasters, in both public and private schools, who are worthy to rank with the best in our history. The career of some of those mentioned in the chapter on teachers in the academies overlaps this period. Others, among the best of that half century, are still among us, and many of them in the full vigor of active life. It will be a pleasant undertaking of some future historian to tell of their work and influence. Still others have fallen, whose memory is cherished by their pupils and fellow laborers.
John S. Hart, who was principal of the Central High School of Philadelphia during the middle years of the century, is one of the most marked figures in our early high school history. Through hard struggles, he had gained a college education. His breadth of scholastic training was united with a clear perception of the needs of the " common people." He understood the mission of his school, and by wisely directed efforts he drew to it the attention and the support of the community. It was a fortunate thing for that institution that it had Alexander Dallas Bache to clear the ground and Principal Hart to lay the foundations for its great undertaking.
Phillips Brooks made Francis Gardner his representative schoolmaster of the nineteenth century. A man in whom radical and conservative elements were strangely mixed, a man who suffered and who often made those about him suffer, his unsparing truthfulness left a lasting impression on the character of the better-endowed of his students. The established routine of the school had a strong hold upon him ; and when the diverse popular aspirations and strivings which have been the life of the high school movement, jostled roughly against the Boston Latin School in the early seventies, he was disturbed and distressed, and in all likelihood did not fully comprehend the changes which were taking place.
Another early high school principal, Cyrus Knowlton, holds an honored place in the history of the Hughes High School of Cincinnati.l Among the great number of women employed in our public high schools have been many who have taken a high place, because of the excellence of their instruction and the ennobling influence of their personal character. It is a notable fact that not only in English literature, in which they are commonly supposed to do their most effective teaching, but in mathematics, not a few of them have achieved a marked success ; and there is probably no department in which some of their number have not risen to a high grade of excellence. Among the masters of privately managed institutions, a high place must be given to Henry Augustus Coit, whose name is closely connected with the parental type of boarding-school management. The prompting to individual experiment has brought forth private schools even more plentifully within the past half-century than in the preceding period. The moving to teach has turned many men, and women too, in this direction, and worthy achievements have been wrought out in such undertakings, which cannot, however, receive separate notice here.
The government of our best secondary schools, and even of many of the smaller schools, which are comparatively unknown, presents much which may be regarded with genuine satisfaction. The relations of teachers and students are comparatively informal. There is little consciousness of official or artificial barriers between them. While strict disciplinary measures are often found necessary and are often enforced with vigor, the prevalent type of high school and academy government is that which treats the students as if they were already ladies and gentlemen, and throws them as far as possible on their own resources. Some interesting and successful experiments have been made in the organization of regular systems of self-government among students. It would seem, however, that only a principal who has the strength and skill to govern well is capable of making a school into a truly self-governing body.
Under any system of government, the social life of the school is the chief teacher of morals. The social organization of secondary school students is for that reason, and for others as well, of very great importance. Public high schools, private schools, and academies are much alike in this respect, and distinctively ecclesiastical establishments are not far different. The instinct of association is strong in our youth, and it finds expression in all sorts of clubs, leagues, societies, and fraternities. The example of the colleges has been influential in the schools in this particular. The several classes are commonly organized, with class officers, and have occasional gatherings of a social character. The offices of the highest class in school are sought for with keen competition. Athletic associations, football and baseball clubs, and the like, are usually maintained. Several schools are often joined in an athletic league; and the annual field days are great occasions in the school year. The athletic records and trophies of a school are very highly prized. Debating clubs and other literary societies are maintained with much interest. Contests in debate with neighboring schools call forth a spirit of emulation like that displayed in athletic struggles. Musical organizations are perhaps less common, but are among the most pleasing of school societies. Annual publications by successive classes present a record of the varied interests of the larger schools, and afford a field for budding literary and artistic genius to show its quality. Secret, Greek-letter societies are sometimes formed after the fashion of the colleges. Not unfrequently, too, voluntary associations for religious culture and observance are maintained by the students. All of these organizations are commonly under the immediate control of the students themselves ; teachers frequently attend the various meetings, but more as friendly advisers than as governors.
Those who have completed the course of study in a flourishing secondary school will usually be found organized in an alumni association. The monthly or annual meetings of such an association become of increasing significance as the years pass and its numbers and influence are enlarged.
An account of the development of student activities in the past half-century would throw much light on the inner educational tendencies of our secondary schools. In the published histories of individual schools and in the occasional chapters of reminiscence by old-time masters and pupils, there is slowly accumulating a deal of information which will enable some historian of school life to tell the story and declare its meaning.
For the Phillips Exeter Academy, the story has been well told by Mr. Cunningham. Boating was introduced into that institution in 1864. The four-oared boat, Winona, was the pioneer craft, and it explored a new realm of sport which the boys were happy to enter and possess. Cricket and baseball appeared the following year. This was about the time when baseball was first winning its way into public favor and recognition as the national game. It soon drove cricket from the Exeter field.
In 1871 the trustees bought new athletic grounds and the school sports assumed a new importance. The first recorded game of baseball with an outside nine was in 1875, when the Academy boys defeated the Eagle Club of Exeter by a score of 28 to 12 ! The interest in baseball still centred in games between nines representing the several classes. But in 1878 Exeter defeated Andover in their first inter-academy game, and in the return game Andover defeated Exeter.
Football in the sixties was still the old-fashioned game. But in the seventies it took on a more modern form, and the football struggle with Andover began the same year as that in baseball. The lengthening record of this never-ending contest is preserved with care in both institution, and whatever their scholastic announcements may say, it is a noteworthy part of their educational equipment. Track athletics have been added, and here the " record " has a new meaning, of no small significance.
The Exonian, a paper managed by a close group of students, made its appearance along with inter-academy athletics. It was not easy for either teachers or pupils to understand at first how the freedom of the press in school could be compatible with good order and student subordination. But a better understanding came with experience, and now at Exeter as elsewhere student publications are very much a matter of course.
Mr. Edmonds has given a more extended account of student activities in the Central High School of Philadelphia. This school has had a strong journalistic bent, and has sent out such effective writers as George Alfred Townsend and Henry George, with many others well known in newspaper circles. A surprising list of student publications issued before the Civil War, is preserved. One of these, The Minute Book, was issued as early as 1849, and it is said to have had " contemporaries and rivals." During this same period the school abounded in literary societies ; and there was a " Literary Congress," in which each society was represented by three delegates.
Journalism languished in the school during the Civil War, but after that struggle it was revived. Many ventures ran each a brief career; but with the setting up of The Mirror, in 1885, the literary activity of the students found a well-ordered and well-established means, of expression.
The centre of student interest, which in the days of President Hart was found in the various literary and debating societies, seems to have shifted within the past generation to athletics. Before the war, there was but little organized sport in the school, though the playground was the scene of some lively games, and town-ball, a forerunner of baseball, aroused considerable interest. The change has come gradually. It had hardly begun until the seventies. In the Centennial year an athletic association was formed. Football was then played, somewhat after the manner of the Harrow game. There were a few games with neighboring institutions. The next year the team set about mastering the Rugby rules. A regular field day was held in 1876, the records of which have been preserved.
Baseball was still the favorite game, and so continued well on into the eighties. The formation of the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1884 quickened the interest in football in the schools as well as the colleges. The great development of active student life in recent days is dated from the school year of 1888-89. A school yell was adopted, and prodigious interest in football was aroused. At the present time there are six regular forms of athletic activity in full progress. They are football, baseball, rowing, track athletics, basket-ball, and cricket.
In this school, as in many others, the athletic interest is found to serve good ends. At the same time that this fact is recognized, there is much regret expressed that debating clubs and other literary societies do not flourish as in former years. The best school men are generally interested, sincerely and deeply, in the athletic activities of their students, but would be glad to see other wholesome forms of student activity as well sustained.