Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

documents and that wherever the documents are lacking there is no history. As soon as the student understands that there are gaps in the evidence, he has already taken a long step toward historical thinking. The next step is to show him how authorities often differ widely in the interpretation of evidence and that he himself is quite free to try his hand at the game. In this way the student is taught to approach facts in a historical spirit. He may soon forget ninety-nine and nine-tenths per cent. of all the facts he learns in his history courses, but he cannot so easily outlive this discipline in historical thinking. Now the text is invaluable to the teacher for the of imparting information. Our best texts are purpose written by ripe scholars who have taken pains to make the books accurate and to develop the subject systematically. But the best text is always inadequate for discipline in historical thinking. In the first place, the student invariably comes to the conclusion that all the history he needs to know is shut up between the covers of a single book; and in the second place, he has little occasion to form independent judgments or to interpret facts for himself. The information is realy for him in the form of sugared capsules and he never bothers to find out where the doctor got the ingredients. The student, therefore, should be led to consult many books and discover that his text is only a small unit in a great body of historical literature; he should also be encouraged to notice how much or how little is known about the past and understand how controversies might easily arise over the interpretation of the past. This intellectual awakening of the student will have more lasting results than a drill, however thorough it may be, in a text book.

Collateral reading, then, should be required of all high school students; but the question arises, how may it best be done? In the first place, books must be selected which a student may read with interest and with an understanding heart. In my opinion only a very small percentage of our historical literature is suitable for the purpose. Books in a foreign language, of course, must not be thought of in this connection. Even graduate students read French and German with great difficulty. Also books of a special or technical nature must be ruled out of court in a This elimination leaves on summary manner.

our

shelves the great standard books that look so formidable in their substantial covers and their many volumes, and the briefer handbooks. The wise teacher will, of course, encourage the student to handle the standard books, but he will not require the student to read much more than the titles. Even of the briefer books an elimination will need to be made, for many a handbook will prove a burden more than students can bear. What teacher, I wonder, can persuade students to read and relish Bury's "History of Greece," or Pelham's "Outlines of Roman History?" After books of this type have been laid aside, what do we have left? A small number of readable books, and these alone should be adopted for class purposes. If Greek history be taken as an illustration, there is a readable "History of Greece" by Oman, which,

[ocr errors]

though entirely military and political in character, is eminently fitted to supplement a good text. There is also for ancient history-incredible as it may seem -a readable source book available in two volumes by W. S. Davis. These two books alone will be well-nigh adequate for collateral reading in the subject. In a very short time the students will wake up to the fact that history is based on sources, for even the dullest will see that Oman has borrowed, cribbed" if you please, whole chapters from the writings of two old worthies who answered to the names of Herodotus and Thucydides. A fine exercise would then be to check up" a few pages of Oman with the source extracts published by Davis, and after a while it will surely occur to a student to ask where Herodotus and Thucydides got their information. When that question is asked the teacher should rejoice, for that is the beginning of historical thinking. After a while a readable biography of Pericles or Alexander the Great may be added to the two books mentioned, and then the list of collateral reading for Greek history will be complete. In exactly the same way select readings for the courses in medieval, modern, English, and American history can be made.

[ocr errors]

Having now selected the books, how shall the teacher proceed? He should ask the school authorities to buy the selected books by the dozen copies. If there are forty students in the class, there should be perhaps eighteen copies of the books on the library shelves ready for use. The small number of books will enable the teacher to make definite assignments and hold the students to a definite line of work. Inco

herence and confusion, so often the bane of library work, can be entirely avoided.

[ocr errors]

Where the

The next question is, "How can the teacher test the collateral reading? My answer is that it can be done best by the oral quiz. To require the students to make an abstract of their reading assignment sounds well in theory, but in actual practice it is unsatisfactory, if not indeed a farce. method is tried the teacher gives minute instructions, which he cannot follow himself, and the student, in the hope of pleasing teacher, labors assiduously for a few days on the task and then turns in a long list of proper names and unimportant dates interspersed with a few short sentences copied verbatim from the

printed page. The teacher becomes annoyed, of course, and talks incoherently about the necessity of omitting all the unimportant details, and the student becomes disgusted, concludes that history is a nuisance and resolves to avoid as much of it as possible in the future. The unmitigated drudgery incident to the taking of reading notes is the death of historic enthusiasm among young and immature historians. Likewise the written report on an assigned topic is unsatisfactory. Usually the student has not had sufficient training in English composition to make the game worth the candle. The teacher who criticises the report and points out the inaccurate expressions and loose constructions is really doing the work of the language department, which is an unfair division of labor. of labor. If, however, the oral quiz is adopted for

di testing the collateral reading, the drudgery so painful god to the student is avoided, the work of the teacher is made less burdensome, and there is a chance that life may be infused into the subject. Certain days in the week may be devoted exclusively to the collateral reading. Since the aggregate number of pages start will never be large for any assignment, the teacher can make a thorough preparation and plan his method k of approach before the class meets. During the recitation he ought to be able for once to drop the drill method of instruction and stimulate a taste for hisstory. This may be done in a number of ways. For instance, one day the students may examine the source material with open book in hand, and on another day

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ן עור

[ocr errors]

the teacher may ask questions or make statements calculated to bring out the human element in the story. In this way the teacher can give the student a pleasant introduction to a great literature and in the end the teacher may so vivify the subject that the student will go on reading without compulsion.

In conclusion, I would repeat that a teacher might do well to relieve his students of as much drudgery work as possible and cultivate among them a taste for reading; that the most satisfactory method of testing the reading is the oral quiz; and that the test is satisfactory when the students begin to read books on their own initiative.

Are History Libraries Used to Best Advantage ?

BY LEMUEL PITTS, JR., CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL, PUEBLO, COL.

The history teacher in the average high school with its scanty equipment for history reading faces in the work of collateral reading a discouraging problem. He is confronted with about three hundred pupils studying some phase of history. They are in groups the s ranging from 75 to 125, the members of each group being concerned with the same phase of history, and directed by teachers to the same references for topics at the same or nearly the same time. The problem is, how with the equipment to provide in sufficient numbers suitable books with proper treatment of topics. Rather perhaps it is to provide a workable scheme for using all the books to the best advantage. On the face of things the average high school library must be supplemented very largely by the city library. Even with the two together conditions are rarely ideal. There are antiquated books, scholarly books, local authors, few duplicates of our particular favorites, books placed on the shelves by some previous faddist, books of a poorer quality but useful in parts. Some of the books no doubt have available chapters, but we know them not. Some valuable works that do not circulate freely cause the librarian to distrust our further requests for what we would like. In the local library a certain book of that type, authoritative, interesting and readable left the library three times in five years.

Two of those three

times, arriving at a certain topic, the American history teacher used it and once directed a pupil to it. Considerable money was wrapped up in the set. Some volumes of Fiske had not moved as often as that, whereas his "Revolution and "Critical period" had

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

been rebound and duplicated. The same could be said of course of Grote's simpler Harrison's "Greece," one stagnating, the other circulating freely. The size, print, paper, and other qualities prevent the free use of some books. But certainly they should all be used in whole or in

Greece" and the somewhat

-part or else be cast out.

Most of us have our own pet schemes or lack of -scheme of library work which never entirely satisfy

us and which never quite reach perfection. There are certain salient reasons why many of our schemes fail to get the best use from the books in the library. We depend, often, for our references on syllabi and bibliographies prepared by others on plans not in accordance with ours. In our selection from these lists we eliminate those that on the face of them do not appeal to us, useful as they might prove to some pupil. Many syllabi pay little or no attention to socalled historical fiction. May not certain chapters of Hugo's "Les Miserables" on Waterloo, some chapters of Lytton's "Harold," some of Churchill's "Crisis," some of "Coward of Thermopylae" serve as well as the "Stories of the Nations series? At least they could be used to supply some pupil for whom there are not enough copies of the standard histories. Further, syllabi make little use of an available chapter here and there in economics and sociology

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

texts, and rare indeed do we find canned references to magazine literature. Surely files of "North American Review," "Century" or Atlantic in the fall of 1876 and early 1877 would be available for Hayes-Tilden controversy. They might be prejudiced to be sure, but is it not more a sign of thinking to have a prejudiced opinion to read than no opinion at all?

Some schemes fail because they are spasmodic results of a temporary enthusiasm, and therefore lack permanency. The excellent reference of last year is lost or forgotten this year. Man's memory is not infallible, and housecleaning occurs in most regulated homes. To attempt to carry these references in one's head is not only useless but it is impossible of achievement. It is surely a waste of time and effort for the teacher to go over each succeeding year the same old work of preparing a list of available references, similar to the list prepared previously. It destroys interest and takes time that he should be spending in finding new references, or familiarizing himself with a few of the old ones. We use to-day an article in a current magazine. If good, it is surely just as use

[graphic]

ful a year from to-day for the same topic, but what was it? We have forgotten. Our work lacked permanency. We have to do over again the mechanical details which when once done properly, like the filing of a letter, ought not to tax again our memories or our thoughts. Moreover what of the new teacher coming into our midst? Is he to waste his time and energy doing work which should have been the property of the school?

Our reading system is meagre and discouraging because there is a lack of definite knowledge of the resources at our doors. The librarian cannot be expected to know all the material at hand on every conceivable subject. He has some other fields that demand some familiarity with certain books. We as history teachers often do not know and have no permanent record of all available material actually present in the library. This lack of information is what causes stagnation of certain costly formidable sets. They do not move unless attention is called to them, and use is demanded by the teacher. Needless to say that too many references from some books are as irritating as too few from others.

What can we do to get the fullest and most satisfactory use of our local libraries? How can our work be made more practical even at the loss of the profound attitude? We can make a list containing We can make a list containing every available book in the local library; a list containing history, biography, sociology, political economy, orations, great debates, magazine articles. We can by the printed lists of historical fiction learn exactly what books of such type the library possesses. From indexes to current literature under appropriate heads select for our use such articles as treat of historical matters, being sure of course that the magazine referred to is the property of the library. Having made such lists the work of examining for exact references can be divided among the history teachers each according to his special lines, ancient, medieval, modern, English or American. Then the group should decide on what would be a reasonable assignment for pupil according to his progress. Each book can then be examined through table of contents, index or whatever scheme seems best adapted to the conditions for reasonable, readable and practical references, perhaps finding only one usable reference in a particular book. A bibliography reference to Grote might be suitable for a college student, but the same reference would hardly be adapted to high school freshmen.

The next task, when each of these individual references is tabulated on library card, stating topic, author, book and exact pages, will be to sort the cards, not alphabetically but by chronology or periods of historical development. The surprise will be at the number of references thus found and adapted to use. For instance, in American history in the libraries at the writer's disposal over 1200 different available reference topics, without any great amount of duplication of books, were found. For medieval and modern history the number was over 1500. In order that the pupils may use the card system thus evolved, cards should be numbered in some way best adapted,

presumably consecutively, leaving spaces here and there for references as the library grows.

Here then is a working basis and if the work is divided properly will not entail too much working. The next step is the matter of assigning the work. Before assigning, it would be well to take an inventory through your class of available books in private libraries, so that in assigning, special work can be assigned to those pupils who have access to private libraries, thus widening the possibilities of library work. By assigning work for several weeks ahead and giving each pupil enough references so that he may have some latitude of choice and by assigning to groups who naturally associate frequently references as far as possible from the same books a greater use of the library, a greater circulation of books, a greater amount of honest careful reading can be attained.

The plan has many advantages, one of which is, that it is not a figment of an active imagination; it actually works without the everlasting bugbear, "I was unable to get a book." It saves time of pupil by giving him a definite thing to do. Library hunting is hardly a suitable game for a youth who doesn't know his game when he sees it, and therefore fails to bag it. It acquaints him with many books whose titles even he would otherwise never learn. It teaches him to use the library, where the open shelf system is employed, without fretting the librarian. Besides, but I hesitate to mention it, it puts an end to many corrupt practices so well known to every teacher demanding reports, because very rarely will it be necessary duplicate references enough to encourage dishonesty. Through increased circulation of "dead heads" and past acquisitions to the library it will be easier to convince the library board of the necessity of additional books.

[ocr errors]

to

It is, of course, at best a 'scheme." Perhaps once in a while, though, a thought to schemes" or methods is as essential as constant thought and discussion as the presentation of content, schemes may sometimes be as useful as subject matter without scheme or method. It is not millennium-it is by no means entirely new-it is a combination of several useful things, and is a substitution of permanency for ever varying chaos.

The first American Conference on Immigration and Americanization was held in Philadelphia, January 20 to 21. The formal meetings were addressed by publicists of national importance. A number of special conferences were held to discuss the best way of teaching English and Civics to immigrants. The subject of preparedness and of hyphenated Americans was interjected into the discussion during the course of the meeting. Strong support for the Conference came not only from prominent citizens, but also from the United States Bureau of Education, the United States Department of Labor, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, and many other associations. A discordant note was introduced in a letter from Mr. Frank P. Walsh, chairman of the Federal Committee on Industrial Relations condemning the purpose of the Conference as attempting to set up a pernicious paternalism."

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

T

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

FEB 3 1910

Standards For Community Civics

BY D. W. HORTON, PRINCIPAL OF HIGH SCHOOL, MISHAWAKA, INDIANA.

Civics as the science of civil government is persona non grata at present in live municipalities with fully socialized high schools. Governmental anatomy, constitutional dissection, abstract generalizations about unrelated and distant facts, dry dissertations upon the exclusive powers of the Senate, the revenueoriginating powers of the House, the executive check on the legislature, the interpretation of the Federal Constitution according to the aristocratic purpose of its founders-this sort of civics is soon to become an heirloom alongside its colleague, the history of dynasties, military campaigns, and constitutions. We are done with this abominable rubbish. Why? Because (1) we no longer believe in the study of civics for the exclusive purposes of mental discipline; (2) dry, abstract, foreign, unrelated facts will not produce the qualities of good citizenship; (3) the complex social, economic, and industrial urban life of to-day demands a new emphasis in civics teaching. What is this new emphasis to be? Here is what various men who have studied the problem think about it. Wilcox in a recent book, says, Progress has been made in many places toward vital instruction in civics in the schools, but the work is just begun. School civics still tends to instruction in forms of governmental organization, not to a vital understanding of the activities of government and its relation to life." 1

[ocr errors]

57

reaching out into the wider problems of government, would put an end to boss rule in city, state, and nation." 4 Paul H. Hanus states that public education should train efficient citizens-men and women who recognize and appreciate the common interests of our democratic society.5 For this purpose he recommends a course in civics and vocational guidance. Such a course, he says, should comprise a survey of the industrial and commercial life of the city, with especial reference to types of vocations, and should deal also in a nonpolitical and concrete way with the problems of good city government."

An excellent statement of this position is made by the chairman of the Committee on Social Studies, of the commission of the N. E. A. on the reorganization of secondary education: "Good citizenship should be the aim of the social studies of the high school. Facts, conditions, theories, and activities that do not contribute rather directly to the appreciation of methods of human betterment have no claim. Under this test the old civics, almost exclusively a study of government machinery, must give way to the new civics, a study of all manner of social efforts to improve mankind. It is not so important that the pupil know how the President is elected as that he shall understand the duties of the health officer in his community. The time formerly spent in the effort to understand the process of passing a law over the President's veto is now to be more profitably used in the observation of the vocational resources of the community. In line with this emphasis the committee recommends that social studies in the high school shall include such topics as the following: community health, housing and homes, public recreation, good roads, community education, poverty and the care of the poor, crime and reform, family income, savings banks and life insurance, human rights versus property rights, impulsive action of mobs, the selfish conservatism of tradition, and public utilities." "

Dunn in the preface of his admirable little text on community civics says, "The function of the public school is to produce a good type of citizenship. There is no other sanction for the existence of the public school." Charles DeGarmo declares, "It is not so much a training in the technical machinery of government that the youth needs, as general intelligence and public spirit."2 Municipal misrule is at once the shame and despair of democracy. It looks as if the people were permanently condemned to be the victims of chronic exploitive groups of political bandits. The remedy is a training in citizenship that fits the young by social intelligence, social disposition, and social efficiency to participate freely and effectively in political co-operation in all its manifold aspects. J. Lynn Barnard of the School of Pedagogy, Philadelphia, makes this statement, "Civics is itself a life- -a growth—a point of view-democracy in the making."3 Again he says, The need for such training was never more urgent. One decade of rational civics teaching in our public schools, beginning with the home environment and

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

We get still another angle on the question from Walter Weyl, who says, in essence, that the framework of our national, state, and local government is but a shadow democracy, a high-hung Utopia. Futhermore, he says that the Constitution is the political wisdom of dead America; it was in intention and in essence undemocratic. The greatest merit and the greatest defect of the Constitution is that it survived. It should have been recast every generation. Moreover, Weyl says, the real civic problems of to-day are denoted by the shrill political cries which fill the air. Men speak of sensational inequalities of wealth,

[blocks in formation]
[graphic]

insane extravagances, strident ostentation; and, in the same breath, of vast, boss-riden cities, with wretched slums peopled by all the world, with pauperism, vice, crime, insanity, and degeneration rampant. We disregard, it is claimed, the life of our workmen. We muster women into dangerous factories. We enroll in our industrial army the anæmic children of the poor. We create hosts of unemployed men, whose sullen tramp ominously echoes through the streets of our cities. Daily we read of the premature death of American babies; of the ravages of consumption and other diseases; of the jostling of blindly competing races in factory towns; of the breakdown of municipal government; of the collusion of politicians, petty thieves, and malefactors of great wealth; of the sharpening of class conflict; of the spread of hungerborn degeneration, voicing itself in unpunished crimes of violence; of the spread of social vice; and again he speaks of the stealing of governorships and legislatures; of the distributing of patronage; of all the frauds and tricks that go to make up practical politics.8 William D. Lewis, principal of the William Penn High School, Philadelphia, champion of the socialized high school, says our high schools should be developing an intelligent understanding of the meaning of our democratic government and social order, and an aggressive and efficient loyalty to public

welfare."

From these quotations, representing widely differing points of view, it is not difficult to reach the conclusion that the new emphasis demanded in civics

teaching to-day is the subordination of the analysis of national and state government to a study of the real civic problems of the community. Community civics is the keynote in civics teaching to-day. Just what is implied by the term community civics? By community civics is meant the civic problems which directly affect the community, the matters which touch us vitally as individuals of a group from which we derive certain benefits and to which we owe definite allegiance. For some questions, the community may be the precinct, ward, or city group; for other matters the community may be the county group, the state group, or the national or even international group. If it be a question of a petition against a saloon, or the election of an honest alderman it is the ward group; if it be a question of pure and efficient water supply it is the city group; if a question of working prisoners with short-time sentences on the roads, the county is the community; if it be a problem of workingmen's compensation, the state would be the community; if a problem of the control of patent medicines, food adulterations, or the importation and sale of opiates, the nation is the group; and if it be the question of laying mines in neutral waters we share concern and responsibility with the international group.

Take war, for instance. Is there any doubt that

s Walter Weyl, "The New Democracy," chaps. I-III. 9 William D. Lewis, "Proceedings of Indiana State Teachers' Association," 1914, p. 49.

war is a civic problem? War should be taught as a civic problem. But it should be taught in its reality. Our histories do not put war in the right light. The ghastly cost in life and money; the enormous economic destruction; the misery, famine, and poverty; where the burden falls; the awful after-results, the crime and graft-these are neglected and the glories and virtues of it praised.

Returning to community civics, it is clear from the foregoing illustrations that for some civic problems the nation may act for us as a community, just as in other instances the city acts as a group. It is perfectly obvious, therefore, that many civic problems which derive their importance to us from their local interest may reach through county, state, and national government. Where this is true, the problem should be studied in its various governmental relationships; nevertheless, if efficient citizenship is the test of civics teaching, any civic topic is of value solely because of its local and vital importance to the community.

What are the fundamental civic problems of most American cities? Without going into detail, these can be pretty well stated under four main heads..

James Bryce says, in essence, that people in a free government have failed to respond to the good of the whole, to the general interest. He advances the three following reasons for the failure of democratic gov

There

(1) Lack of civic intelligence of issues and men. People are ignorant of civic problems, they do not know what good paving is, a clean street, good city planning, proper and safe sewerage, garbage disposal, city forestry, public sanitation. People do not understand the civic values of recreation through playgrounds, parks, gymnasiums, and pools as contrasted to the commercialization of city amusements. are no definite standards in the public mind for efficient police, fire, and health protection. People elect their public servants and tell them to go to it." They have not the ability to check up, supervise, or direct them. As a consequence a public officer must be almost a chronic thief or "scalawag" before public opinion is aroused against him.

[ocr errors]

(2) Indolence and slackness in civic duty. There is the business man who would rather turn a dollar than go to the polls. Then there is the man who considers his civic duty performed when he has been to the polls. Some men just vegetate and cause problems. Mr. A., a good man in a city of ten thousand voters, decides he will stay at home on election day because of pressing business and because his vote amounts to only one ten-thousandth anyway; but suppose Mr. B, and Mr. C, and five hundred other good men do the same thing. There is the good man who runs up against the slick-oiled political machine, becomes apathetic, decides the whole thing is based on pull and too rotten to be trifled with. The remedy is to energize people by the formation of civic habits, organize clubs and societies, and instill civic interest. The fourth reason for the failure of democratic gov

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »