Human Relations in School Administration
reviewed by B. J. Chandler - 1957
Relationships of human beings to one another are of vital concern to administrators in industry, government, education, and other enterprises. There are countless exemplifications of this concern. A newspaper story quoted this advice from the National Association of Manufacturers to members: "Find out how your employees really feel about their jobs and the company. ... In the typical American plant the employees look to management for leadership, fair dealing, and information." The president of a well-known life insurance company recently told me: "My job description card states that my sole responsibility as president is that of morale."
Ironically, it could be said that industry and perhaps some other fields are ahead of education in the matter of human relationsat least in talking about human relations. Space devoted to human relations in business management literature exceeds that given to the same subject in educational publications. Daniel Griffiths' Human Relations in School Administration makes the preceding statement less true. This book reflects a maturity and a viewpoint that are refreshing and encouraging. Griffiths has exhibited depth of understanding and courage in avoiding an all too frequently encountered "human relations panacea in ten easy steps" approach. He demonstrates with clarity the axiom that students of school administrationpractitioner and professor alikemust look to all behavioral sciences if they are to understand and improve education, because social institutions and beliefs, ideals, ideas, emotions, and aspirations of people govern conduct. The author skillfully draws upon research and practices in psychology, sociology, political science, anthropology, business management, and other fields. Then, too, the theoretical orientation in this book is profound but readily discernible throughout the material.
The organization of the book is good. A theoretical framework of human relations established in Part 1 encompasses important subjects: Content of Human Relations, Human Relations and Motives of Man, Perception, Communication, Power, Authority, Morale, Structure of Groups, Group Dynamics Techniques, Decision-making, and Leadership. In Part 2 an application of human relations theory is made to several major topics in school administration, including Faculty Meetings, Working with the Community, and Working with the Board of Education. Thirty true cases are presented in Part 3, and the Appendix provides a discussion of case method teaching in school administration. The bibliography at the end of each chapter contains well-chosen and timely books. Helpful exercises are suggested at the end of each chapter.
In attempting to deal with the basic concepts of human relations from the vantage points of so many different specialistspsychologist, sociologist, anthropologist, political scientist, and executiveoccasional omissions and blind spots are inevitable. A writer is faced with numerous terminologies, theories, and variables in number and complexity sufficient to preclude definitive treatment of topics. For example, in his discussion of Human Relations and Power, the author relies upon the writings of Warner, Havighurst, and Hollingshead. His treatment of power structure might have been strengthened by including research and writings of men such as David Riesman and Robert A. Brady.
It could also be said that for younger and less experienced readers a greater emphasis upon constructive self-expression might be of value. This is a facet of human relations that minimizes guilt feelings and anxiety which may develop when one is not always successful in resolving human conflict, or is not able to answer completely and satisfactorily typical questions posed by the author, such as: Why do I, as a principal, feel the way I do toward teachers in my building? The administrator should be watchful lest, in his efforts to be an expert in human relations, he may pervert basic concepts in such a way that he becomes an impotent conformist. I hasten to add that there is no inference of "human relations as chameleon behavior" in the book under discussion. The point is that explicit treatment of the constructive self-expression facet of human relations should be kept in mind as one studies this book.
Human Relations in School Administration is a major contribution to educational literature. The concept of the school administrator as a building and budget specialist only is supplanted by the concept of the administrator as an official who contributes to an atmosphere in which the highest and best powers of human beings thrive. The material in this book is thought-provoking and comprehensive. One of its aims is to stimulate the reader to "develop a theory of how people behave in the social institution which is the American public school." Although it is designed and written as a textbook, a copy should be owned and studied by each school administrator, professor of education, teacher, school board members, and, in fact, by each person who is interested in school administration. It is likely that the impact of Griffiths' book will be significant and lasting.
B. J. CHANDLER
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS IN THE SECONDARY SCHOOL
(A Publication of the National Council of Teachers of English)
New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1956.
This volume has been awaited with eagerness by English teachers old and new from Maine to California. From it they expected answers to their persistent and increasingly complex problems: increased size of classes, deficiency in written language skills, poor patterns of written expression, slow rates of reading and comprehension, inadequate materials for classroom instruction, and indifference to or active dislike for the subject called English. Have these teachers been served bread or a stone? Let us see.
The Commission on the English Curriculum of the National Council of Teachers of English brought together teachers with skill and imagination, with long experience in varied situations and leadership in the profession. The Commission then proceeded to enlist the services of many other successful classroom teachers and to report their progress in a program of the Language Arts. The result of this collaboration is a rich harvest of suggestion, experiment, and method in all areas of the Language Arts.
The editors begin with an examination of the cultural environment of present-day adolescents and of the cultural influences at work upon them. They move to a pictorial story of their interests, achievements, affiliation, and goals. They illustrate in picture and text the adolescent's progress toward physical and emotional maturity. They urge understanding of varied rates of such development as a cause of slow progress in skills as well as understanding. They set the stage well for the presentation of ways and means to ensure steady even though slow progress toward significant achievement in Language Arts.
The decision to place "Designing the Program" at the beginning of Part II must have aroused considerable discussion among Commission members. However, in a time of recognized need for curriculum revision, the decision may be an important one, and the care with which the significant steps of curriculum changes are described should make it easier for the advocates of revision to bring reluctant and indifferent staff members into the process of revision.
The chapter on building instructional units is rich in suggestion, especially for the inexperienced teacher. Where a fusion of subject matters is to be attempted, the path is charted. One needs only to extend the scope of materials suggested here to ensure the presence of activities growing out of allied subjects, and to secure the cooperation of like-minded teachers to attempt what many schools are seeking with teachers untrained for such educational ventures.
Chapter 6, "Developing Competence in Reading," contains forty pages which summarize the research and experience of the past fifteen years. It offers suggestions for identifying retarded readers, for grouping the class for reading instruction, for building vocabulary skills and silent reading skills, and moves beyond the confines of the developmental program into the areas of literature taught as "types" in most secondary schools.
"Competence in Speaking and Listening" receives equally detailed attention, and "Writing" is approached as a need of modern youth, whose reaction to proper stimulation is justly recorded in Chapter 9. The section devoted to "The Problem of Handling Papers" is brieftoo brief perhaps for teachers with the usual load of one hundred fifty students, but the extensive bibliography at the conclusion of Chapter 9 may aid those desiring more precise instructions.
Chapter 10 may be very vexing to the reconstructed but unregenerate teachers of Latin and French who still seek to make English usage conform with classic inflections. Here the authority is the linguist, the philologist, the historian rather than the derivative grammarian. There are no "diagrams" of difficult sentences illustrating correct usage of troublesome constructions. This is an evolving language described here, an American language too, the result of a culture unlike any other in present or world history.
"Meeting College Entrance Requirements" gets out of the period of myth and personal recollection and describes the nature of the present-day policy of college admission, the relative importance of the College Entrance Examination Board's annual examination in English, and the nature of the research being conducted to determine the validity of the Examination now in use. This chapter may be a shocking expose to teachers who still use the collected questions of the archaic Comprehensive Examination in English to prepare for the English examination.
This is, then, a record of how the Language Arts are being successfully taught in typical high schools at present. It offers advice, suggestion, and encouragement to the dedicated and devoted teachers who try so vigorously to make more literate and understanding the youth of America.
One could wish, however, that the picture editor had one day forsaken the football stadium for the wide green fields across the campus. Then he would have recognized the American Indian game of Lacrosse as quite different from hockey. And had he been so brash as to attend a track and field meet instead of a baseball game, he would have remembered that boys in jumping strive for distance as well as height, and that one of the jumps is rightfully called the broad jump.
Despite these amusing lapses, this volume will go into immediate use in the Curriculum classes of the Graduate Division of English at the New Jersey State Teachers College at Montclair.
EDWIN S. FULCOMER
Montclair (N. J.) State Teachers College