Amazing articles on just about every subject...


Education Review

( Originally Published 1912 )



" In view of the growing dependence of modern states upon science and the arts for the attainment of their political ends, it has been suggested of late that the institutions of education, with the university at their head, may fairly be regarded as a fourth branch of government, coordinate with the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches. The service which these institutions have to render is so distinctive and so indispensable that this characterization is not wide of the mark." — BROWN, " Government by Influence," p. 20.

A GENERAL classification of schools into groups may readily be made, although more intimate study shows that despite general distinctions there is much variation, especially within the groups, in different countries, and in fact in different parts of the same country. The typical divisions, based chiefly upon the age of the pupils provided for, are : (I) Infant Schools, (2) Elementary Schools, (3) Secondary Schools, (4) Higher Institutions ; and as to the character rather than the grade of work done, (5) Vocational Institutions.

The Infant schools provide for children too young to be subjected to the stress of the more formal work of the elementary school. In many cases, the chief value, as indeed the chief purpose of these schools, is that they provide an alternative to the education of the street. Especially in congested city districts, the child of two to six whose days are spent in squalid tenements and noisy streets rapidly succumbs to influences sordid, not to say vicious. When he finally reaches the schoolroom, it is with an education of a sad sort already acquired and firmly fixed. Thus is the school seriously handicapped from the outset in its effort to give what it regards as true education. But if it can have at least a few of the daily hours of the child during this period of his infancy, the school obtains a strategic advantage. By this means it has an opportunity to make such an impress upon him as shall counteract the sinister influences of the street and to bring him to his more formal schooling with a valuable preliminary training. In Italy, for instance, the term applied to this grade of school is related to our word asylum, in its broader sense of shelter.

Another justification for the infant school is the fact that in many homes stress of industrial conditions prevents the mother from giving proper care to the young children of the family. She gratefully accepts the relief offered by the school, which is in fact a sort of day nursery. It is this form of infant school which prevails in France, where it is known as the maternal school.

The most modern and progressive form of infant education is the Kindergarten, which aims to be much more than a refuge or a nursery, though it has these values incidentally. The Kindergarten aims to make use of the natural instinct of the child for play and to divert this activity into more orderly and meaningful channels than it would have if left undirected. It aims to put before him certain ideals which he shall come to make his own and which shall become effective motives in his post-Kindergarten days. It aims, too, to create for the child a social environment which shall evoke his appreciation of a cultured social atmosphere. In the Kindergarten he is to learn that he is more than Ego. He is to realize that, however fondly his mother may regard him as the only important human unit, he is, as a matter of fact, but a single member of a large social group. Then his thought and his interests become less self-centered, and he learns something of the social arts and graces. Though of German origin, the greatest strength of the Kindergarten today is in the United States.

The Elementary school is the traditional vehicle of the " common school " education. It is the " people's school, found wherever the nation has been inspired with the ideal of popular education. Although it is possible, by diligent investigation, to trace the origin of our common schools back into the days of ancient Greece and Rome, it was not before the nineteenth century that the idea of universal education became a reality, first in certain of the states of Germany under the stress of the conquest by Napoleon, later in certain of the United States of America, in France, and in England."

The elementary school of the present day necessarily exists in two well-defined types, the rural and the urban. In rural communities, where population is scattered and a large area must be traversed in order to secure a score or two of pupils, it follows that the school unit can consist of but a single class. But where population centers develop, it is possible—indeed, necessary — to gather several hundreds of pupils into a single building. This permits the grouping of pupils into grades and the organization of the school into a number of classes.

Perhaps the more significant trend in regard to this grade of school is its tendency to extend its influence to all children. There are many unfortunates whose physical and mental short-comings preclude their proper instruction in classes of normal pupils. In the past these have been ignored by the schools, and whatever special attention they have received has been at the hands of charitable institutions or private benefaction. To-day there is an awakening to the responsibility of the State toward this group of children, and here and there specific and effective effort is being made in their behalf. Such of them as are admitted to regular school classes remain at a serious cost both to themselves and to the normal children. Their segregation in special classes is demanded, therefore, not only by their own interest, but by the interest of the school as a whole.

Indeed, some go so far as to say that " it is the normal child who suffers most from contact with the special child who is unable to follow the work of the class. The special child takes more than his share of the attention of the teacher, and, as a matter of fact, the special child does not benefit sufficiently to entitle him to this extra attention. The special class must be a clearing house. To it will not only be sent the slightly blind and partially deaf, but also the incorrigibles, the mental deficients, the cripples."

It is necessary that sharp distinction shall be drawn between children whose defect is physical and those whose defect is mental. For the physically defective there is always the valid hope that he may be educated, despite his defect, to the point of becoming, for all practical purposes, a normal individual and a useful and influential citizen. There are so many instances of men and women totally blind or totally deaf or seriously crippled, who have risen to places of eminence as participants in the world's work, that there is no need to cite any one of them. The boy who, through partial deafness, is losing ground in a class of normal pupils ought in all justice to be withdrawn and given instruction more specially adapted to his needs. The boy who lacks the full use of his hands, so that he cannot be trained for the ordinary employments, must be trained in work fitted to his condition. The blind boy must be taught to read and interpret through the special instruments provided for those thus afflicted. But neither the blind nor the deaf nor the crippled are to be regarded in the same light as those suffering from mental defect, although we recognize that weak mentality is usually associated with abnormal physical characteristics of some sort. Although incurable, "the lesser forms of feeble-mindedness may be susceptible of amelioration and of modification, just in proportion as they have been superinduced by causes congenital or accidental."

The training given to the feeble-minded has a different purpose from that provided for the physically deficient. " As has been stated by many experts, the defective may often be trained so as to become self-supporting, but he seldom, if ever, becomes self-directing." It is to be remembered that the average man is not merely self-supporting ; he is family supporting. The present-day effort on behalf of the feeble-minded is not to attempt to cure him or, in the ordinary sense, to educate him, but to enable him, as a social unit, to carry, as near as may be, his own weight. This can be done only by making him industrially efficient, so that, under proper direction, he may yield an economic output equivalent to the expense of his maintenance.

Modern educational systems are hopefully meeting the problem of the training of defectives through segregation, establishing what are known as auxiliary schools or classes. Elementary education therefore is to be studied under two parallel subdivisions : general and auxiliary.

The secondary schools provide instruction advanced beyond that of the elementary curriculum and extending into the realm of what is regarded as a " liberal education." In most countries, how-ever, the secondary schools provide also a preliminary training parallel with that given in the elementary schools. Thus the distinction between the two forms of institution is more than cretinism and idiocy ; mental defectives ; surgery of idiocy; epilepsy.

Idiocy is to be distinguished from Imbecility in that the former is a defect of the mind, the latter a weakness of mind. Idiocy is con-genital or due to causes operating during the first few years of life. In the Elwyn (American) table, Dr. Barr finds the following percentages of causes : —

Acting before birth 64.85
Acting at birth 2.92
Acting after birth 32.23

one of grade; it is a distinction of purpose — a consequent of social cleavages. Thus, in France and Germany, where caste is of long standing, the children of the so-called " better class " do not attend the people's elementary school at all, or if they do so, do not complete the course, but transfer at an early age to the secondary school. Here they enter immediately upon the foundation work of secondary education and continue in the school until early manhood. One notable exception to this form of secondary school is found in the United States, where secondary education, under the impulse of democratic ideals, is a direct continuation of the work of the elementary school and is of comparatively short duration.' The average graduate of the American secondary school is some two years or more behind the French or German graduate of the corresponding institution.

Higher education, in most countries, is the work exclusively of the university. With its history of a thousand years, the university is the traditional institution for the conservation of the learning of the ages and the encouragement of that investigation which is the hope of the science and philosophy of the future. It is recognized everywhere as the capstone of the educational structure. President Low has defined it as " the highest organized exponent of the intellectual needs of man."

The United States, however, has developed an intermediate, rather indeterminate, institution called the college. The college gives opportunity to the graduates of the secondary schools to overcome the disadvantage at which they are held when compared with European graduates. It further carries them beyond, into what corresponds to university work abroad. Terminology is so loose that many American institutions calling themselves universities are doing work of but college grade. On the other hand, there are several strong colleges and universities which offer extended courses of superior grade to college graduates. They grant to postgraduate students advanced degrees which are, in every respect, on a par with foreign university degrees.

Vocational schools are those whose aim is to give specific training for vocational work. The traditional purpose and atmosphere of the schools which we have grouped above into four grades are general and cultural rather than specific and practical. In a sense, of course, all schooling is a preparation for life work, and we note today a strong sentiment in favor of placing greater emphasis upon the vocational phase of the work of all grades of institutions.

" Among all the purposes that education may be expected to serve, it is perfectly clear that individual and community efficiency is paramount, and, moreover, that this efficiency is general, having equal application to the industrial and to the nonindustrial, to the vocational and to the nonvocational." — E. Davenport, " Education for Efficiency," Heath, 1909, p. iii.

" It would be safe to say, then, that a very large percentage of poverty is caused, directly or in the second stage removed, by a lack of useful training. We should not be warranted in attempting to state it as a definite percentage. To establish the fact that there is a connection between much of the existing poverty and the untrained, unskilled condition of the impoverished persons, is all we might hope to do." — John M. Gillette, "Vocational Education," American Book Co., 1910, p. 143.

" It is because it is believed that the individual training of the young holds in solution the essential ideas that underlie the various activities of society, and that this substratum of experience in industrial processes is as necessary a condition for the normal development of the individual as racial industry has been for the maintenance and advance of society itself, that the question is beginning to command the attention of thoughtful people." —Katherine Elizabeth Dopp, "The Place of Indus-tries in Elementary Education," Chicago, 1909.

Purely technical training, however, is to be found in institutions entirely distinct from those we have been considering, or in independent departments of such institutions. Vocational education is of all grades, from the training of pupils of elementary school age in simple industries to the advanced technical and professional research work of students of university rank. " One of the vital elements of the problem is the question of the relation of school training to shop practice or apprenticeship." " Trades which can be carried forward with special effectiveness in certain neighborhoods should be taught in the schools of those neighborhoods." 1 The directions taken by vocational education are manifold and not readily classifiable, but for our purpose this group of schools may be subdivided into four types : professional, commercial, industrial, agricultural.

In School Administration, no less than else-where, is the distinction of sex to be recognized. Few nations have yet come to the point of declaring for coordinate education of men and women ; almost everywhere is there disproportionate provision made for boys. Hence, in any systematic study of the schools of a country it becomes necessary to note the degree of educational opportunity offered to women. One of the problems incidental to the general enlargement of this degree of opportunity is that of coeducation. Shall male and female students be taught in the same classes or within the same school ? Different countries with their differing ideals and traditions give divergent answers. It would seem that neither the proponents nor the opponents of coeducation have the better of the theoretical discussion of the subject. Valid arguments are advanced both pro and con, but except for a mere summary of these arguments at this point, we shall content ourselves with noting the actual practice as we take up the more detailed study of each country.

It is pretty generally admitted that the question of coeducation is not the same for the various grades, although some extremists would not tolerrate it in any grade.' Other educators would have coeducation in the elementary schools but no farther ; others would carry it through the secondary institutions ; still others would extend it throughout the entire educational course. There is, too, a large and probably growing number who would segregate the sexes during secondary education, but would coeducate before and after that stage.

To provide separate elementary schools for each sex would increase educational expenditure by a very large percentage, and no nation, what-ever its desire, has yet had the wealth with which to incur this additional expense. In rural districts, pupils must travel quite far enough as it is to reach the schoolhouse with its single coeducational class. To organize such a school into separate classes for boys and for girls would be to place a prohibitive burden upon the taxpayer; to require either all the boys or all the girls to travel on to the next school in order to secure segregation would be either a cruel or impossible exaction. Hence coeducation in rural schools of elementary grade is common practice the world over. In the cities, segregation is a more simple matter, and practice follows local opinion. Secondary and higher education applies to but a small percentage of students and is given, almost universally, in schools comprising several classes. Thus, whether such schools shall be organized as " mixed " or not is less dependent upon financial consideration.

It may be well to sketch the chief arguments advanced for and against coeducation in schools of secondary grade.

For coeducation

(1) Free intermingling of boys and girls is the natural condition, the condition prevailing in the home and in the community.

(2) Segregation encourages artificial and clandestine relations.

(3) There is a reciprocal influence both intellectual and moral, of boys upon girls and of girls upon boys, which should not be lost to either.

(4) The morbid tendencies induced by adolescence are diverted and corrected by coeducation.

(5) There is opportunity for the teaching of social amenities and of respect of each sex for the ability of the other.

(6) Discipline is easier through the stimulus of emulation and the refining influence of girls and the steadying influence of boys.

Against coeducation : -

(1) The natural innate differences in temperament due to sex demand separate training for boys and girls.

(2) The natural differences arising at adolescence should be regarded as instructive, and should be respected by not forcing boys and girls into companionship in the schoolroom.

(3) "Too much association at the period, with a strong spirit of camaraderie, takes away much of the real charm and freshness which ought to characterize the attitude of youth toward the opposite sex."

(4) The moral dangers arising from too easy a relationship between the sexes.

(5) The physical danger for girls, with the further possibility of the work being too easy for the boys if it is modified to meet the needs of the girls.

(6) The administrative difficulties, especially in small schools, such as

(a) The need of modifying instruction in its method and atmosphere to reach both boys and girls.

(b) Equipment and program as to physical and manual training.

(c) Scarcity of teachers peculiarly adapted to mixed classes.

It is evident that nearly all the arguments against coeducation fail to apply to early elementary schooling. It is only with the adolescent education that the discussion assumes serious importance. With the development of students into manhood and womanhood, and the passing of the acute stage of adolescence, many of the arguments again become irrelevant, and the case of coeducation in the college or university rests on a somewhat different foundation.

On one side, we may note the recent abandonment of coeducation on the part of Tufts College through the establishment of a separate institution for women.

The committee charged with investigating the matter set forth the facts and their conclusions in a report,' a brief excerpt from which reads as follows :

" We have held personal conversation upon the matter with a large number of the members of the Faculty of Liberal Arts. Each and every one so consulted gave it as his opinion, formed carefully and deliberately after several years' teaching and observation, that the interests of both men and women would be best served by a segregation of the sexes. Some of the professors admitted this to be a reversal of their earlier opinions and judgment. We could not learn that there is, at present, any professor who now feels that coeducation at Tufts has proven so satisfactory in its results that it should be continued."

Some of the reasons given for these conclusions are, briefly :

" In a few studies, the delicacy of treating fully a subject where both men and women were present in the same class. This was not, however, by any one considered a sufficient cause in itself to justify a change.

" The invariably different viewpoint (due to the difference in sex) from which men and women approached nearly all of the subjects, and the difficulty, in the hour of the recitation, of properly presenting the subject to the comprehension of both sexes.

"A natural reluctance on the part of both sexes to enter, during a recitation, into any argument with the other sex over any subject under consideration.

" The tendency of women to select courses in which from the nature of the subject and their natural aptitude and ability they will secure high marks, coupled with the general desire of women for high marks. This secures to the women students a higher average standing than the men, and consequently a rather disproportionate part of the awards, prizes, and prestige, which, under coeducation, are always awarded in common for both men and women. If the women took more of the courses ordinarily taken by the men, it is probable that the results would be somewhat different ; but as it is, it appears, rightly or wrongly, that the incentive on the part of the men to work for honors, and awards is very much weakened by the approximate certainty of non-success, due to the peculiar competition above referred to.

" If this were the only ground, it is probable that the condition could be met by a plan which would secure a setting apart of honors, prizes, and awards for men and women on the basis of the scholarship in each sex, although this would be contrary to one of the fundamental principles of coeducation.

" It was admitted that the presence of women served slightly as a stimulus to the men, and the sentiment was quite generally expressed that their presence on the Hill had served to help the tone of the community—had exercised a sort of refining influence on the men.

" Outside of the causes already mentioned and the clear-cut opinion, as already stated, of each and every one of the Faculty consulted, namely, that in his particular subject he was firmly convinced that better results for both men and women could be secured if he were to teach them separately, the professors advised us that in their dealings with the students they found : —

" A feeling or sentiment pervading the whole student body, both men and women (there being but very few individual exceptions), that each sex would be better off in their work were the other absent."

On the other side we have the testimony of many leaders of educational thought, among them, to cite but one, the President of Leland Stanford Junior University, who sums up the case in these words : " Other things being equal, the young men are more earnest, better in manners and morals, and in all ways more civilized than under monastic conditions. The women do more work in a more natural way, with better perspective and saner incentives, than when isolated from the influence and society of men."



Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com