The author discusses and interprets several issues with elementary school eduction.
The purpose of this article is to describe certain improvements in American education which the writer believes to be both desirable and practicable.
Education needs to be more dynamically aware of the factors and forces which operate in our complex, industrial civilization. It needs to have a more definite program for developing that degree of social literacy which a modern industrial nation must possess if it is to take the democratic, rather than the dictatorial, route to the solution of its problems.
AMERICAN educators who make public addresses and write papers for popular journals seem still to be romantics rather than realists whenever they talk about teachers. As habitual promoters, they seldom think it expedient to face present-day realities in the teaching personnel as it now is, but prefer rather to idealize the "teaching profession" as it is hoped that it will yet be. As a consequence these philosophizing educators, speaking incessantly about a romanticized abstraction called the teacher, are rarely able or willing realistically to plan for or even consider a variety of relatively inescapable conditions determining the natural qualities and the working potentialities of the personnel available for service in our gigantic system of publicly supported education.
It is the author’s belief that a variety of social pressures have been developing in the United States in recent years which tend to have two effects: first, to discourage generally the early development of that class of workers whom the older economists called entrepreneurs, and who are in this paper referred to as enterprisers; and second, especially to quench the aspirations of those potential enterprisers who combine superior abilities for business leadership with sensitive desires for public approval—that is, the more altruistic kinds of leaders in large economic enterprises.
A discussion of topics of vocational education.
WE hear and read much these days about the increasing amounts of voluntary leisure time which are becoming available to Americans. On all hands, too, we encounter aspirations calling for more purposive educations designed to increase the "wise use of leisure." But comprehensive and carefully studied programs for such educations are as yet very few and very tentative.
THE great majority of the learnings acquired by human beings from birth to maturity are nearly costless, either to themselves, to their parents, or to the state.
These comments have been offered by Professor Snedden as a contribution to invited discussion of an address delivered by Professor Rexford G. Tugwell of Columbia University at Teachers College and since published in Teachers College Record for November, 1932.
If the republicanism of politic institutions is to function under our more involved social conditions, new and far more direct forms of civic education must be evolved to prepare citizens for their shares of the new responsibilities.
Present tendencies towards high-flown if not romantic interpretations of the purposes and possible scopes of education seem to be persuading increasing numbers of persons that "teaching” is a highly esoteric and difficult art, if not one of the "mysteries,” as conceived by mediaeval minds.
THREE major ideas are discussed in some detail in this paper: a) Mass-production methods are essential in efficient and economical education, as they are in economic production, in national defense production, in knowledge diffusion production, and in other fields where millions of utilizers urgently demand much of the goods of life.
HAS the American John Doe of 1931 "culture"? Opinions expressed by critics who specialize in the study of one or another phase of cultural output or appreciation—literary, musical, mannered, philosophical, and other varieties—seem to differ "widely.
Some recent writers on educational philosophy have made the fairly natural inferences, first, that as societies become increasingly complex the roles of the individuals composing such societies will also become proportionately involved and even bewildering; and, second, that in proportion as entire civilizations or at least certain vital divisions or factors within them become more dynamic the persons affected will find it necessary in scores of ways more strenuously to exert, and more self-consciously to allocate, themselves if they are to escape cruel maladjustment or destruction. It is the purpose of this paper to suggest that under many conditions these inferences may be completely wrong.
The adage "Be not the first by whom the new is tried" makes little appeal to progressive American educators. The last few years have witnessed mushroom-like growths of "the social studies." We even find programs of social studies for kindergarten schools. But the very wealth of materials available in the social studies makes it probable that most of them will at first be used sentimentally and fruitlessly in school educations.
Time was not many years ago when very few really poor pupils either reached the seventh grade or remained in school beyond their twelfth year. Now that situation is nearly completely changed. Our schools must provide best practicable learning accommodations for all the children of all the people up to at least fifteen years of age—and that will presently be seventeen or eighteen.
We all know well, and we readily appreciate the fact when reminded, that all persons, young and old, learn extensively, variously, and inevitably from other agencies than schools. We know well that these learnings, whether having their external sources in agencies purposing education or not, do result in many and varied skills, items of knowledge, ideals, attitudes, and all the other learning products which psychology can qualitatively distinguish.
DO SCHOOLS exist to teach children—or to teach the particularized kinds and amounts of skill, knowledge, and ideal which we call "subjects"?
SOME weeks ago the present writer had occasion to criticize adversely the use of the term "education" in Everett Dean Martin's The Meaning of Liberal Education.
ARE Americans a cultured people?1 Are even those Americans who have had the advantages of high school education a cultured people? What evidence of the culture of the American people can we derive by studying the circulation of library books, the sale of newsstand magazines, the patronage of moving pictures, the reading of comic strips in newspapers, our use of English, and our persistent interests in "high and noble thinking"? Finally, we may ask, are our teachers as a professional class genuinely cultured folk?
THE "new aims" discussed in this address are not proposals for new subjects, but for new adaptations of all subjects.1 Can we, should we, have high schools for low I. Q.'s? Should we have colleges for morons? Can manual workers have "culture"? Can farmers learn from the social sciences? Can "common people" share in liberal education? Can we really democratize vocational education ?
IN the construction of curricula, the general problems of using the natural sciences are: 1. What useful functions to societies or to the members composing them can be served by natural science studies in schools from kindergarten through high school?
FOR convenience let us use the term "home economics" to cover all the knowledge, arts, and appreciations which, deriving from the maintenance of homes, the domestic rearing of children, the conduct of home-centered productive processes, and the relation of homes to other social agencies, can or should be taught in schools.
UNFORTUNATELY, scientific investigation of what is going on during this educable period (in cases of children two to four years of age) has proved that the children of all the people—not alone the child of the slums, the child of foreign parentage, the orphan—suffer the consequences of home training inadequate for the educational needs of the nursery period."
IF courses and curricula for various types of schools are to be derived scientifically rather than intuitively and empirically, they must rest upon validated objectives—that is, defined and tested educational values.
AS used here, industrial arts does not include any ordinary topics from the household arts, gardening, commercial work, or the professions.
It will readily be agreed that a science of education must have not only scientific methods and means—it must have scientific aims as well. Scientific aims must not only be accurately defined and well organized, they must be scientifically validated as well.
There is as yet no system of vocational industrial schools in the United States. Here and there are found experimental all-day schools, touching, as it were, the fringes of this great field of work. A bare half-dozen of these are dealing with trades entered by girls and women. A score or more are giving partial vocational training to prospective machinists, carpenters, electricians, printers, automobile repair men, sheet metal workers, and the like. So far as the present writer is aware, rio one of these incipient trade schools has yet reached the point where its training can be substituted in lieu of a complete apprenticeship training; if that has been standardized for the vocation. The best that has been accomplished is to have a year or two years on apprenticeship allowed for two or more years of training in the industrial school.
The direction and support of education constitute the largest and most costly public function now exercised by civilized states, barring only the function of public defence.
In contemporary efforts to substitute scientific for faith values in secondary education, early consideration should be given to the modern languages.
Teachers of art2 and the arts have never balked at inquiry. All their subjects are still in frontier stages of development in America.1
The education of women and girls for the homemaking vocations has evolved to a point where many specific problems can be diagnosed. It is the purpose of this article to state a few of these problems, to suggest some methods for their further study, and to submit certain tentative proposals for criticism.
The following proposed shop for boys from twelve to fourteen years of age with a tentative program of activities is here described in order to give a measure of concrete exemplification to the pedagogical findings set forth in the present paper.
The following contribution contains a series of proposals for the reorganization of the theory of industrial, commercial, agricultural, and household arts with especial reference to their employment as means of general education for pupils from twelve to sixteen years of age.
The origins of the Boy Scout Movement can best be described in the words of General Baden-Powell, its originator, as found in the Fifth Annual Report of the English Boy Scouts (dated January, 1914): "It has been suggested to me that a few notes to show how the Boy Scout Movement originated might be of interest.
David Snedden - 1915
Sirs:—In response to the request of Dean Russell that I look over certain divisions of the work of Teachers College and report observations to you as to how this work appears to an "outsider," I am submitting herewith such observations and suggestions as I have been able to prepare on the basis of a very brief examination made on October 19th and 20th, 1914.