« PreviousContinue »
nineteenth century, was much more far reaching and lasting in its effects. It was then that German literature, came to be known and studied in this country, while great numbers of American students, educated in German universities, returned home imbued with German ideas; also, the presence in the United States of many Germans of lofty character and profound scholarship, some of whom were political exiles, contributed to the enrichment of American education.
The colleges of the early period were under church control; subsequently, institutions began to be founded by individuals as such, and not as members of a church, such as Williams, Bowdoin, and Amherst. Finally, in recent decades, the State has more definitely entered the field of higher education and established colleges or universities as the crown of the public school system. These three forms of control, viz, church, private, and public, are not sharply defined in all cases, yet they serve to typify the forces at work. The three types of higher institution may-and in many States do-exist in harmony, side by side, each finding its sphere of usefulness and fulfilling its allotted functions.
The progressive development of the purpose, scope, and constitution of higher institutions in the United States is a noteworthy feature of recent decades. The changes in the character of the governing boards, the enrichment of the curriculum, the introduction of graduate courses, the addition of or affiliation with professional and technical schools, and changes in the methods of instruction, have marked the period of transition from the college to the university type in a great number of instances. The course of study has been broadened so as include the physical and sociological sciences, modern languages-all branches of learning, in fact, whether pursued for the acquisition of knowledge alone, for their disciplinary effect, or as a professional preparation. The elective system of study has steadily won its way, often in the face of strong opposition; indeed, it may now be seen that this system was the inevitable result of the expansion of the curriculum to correspond with the enlarged bounds of the field of knowledge and the necessity of training students for a multiplicity of diverse ends.
Doctor Thwing touches on the subject of the higher education of women, distinguishing briefly the three agencies made use of, viz, the coeducational college, the affiliated college (Radcliffe, Barnard, etc.), and the independent college (Wellesley, Vassar). About 70 per cent of the 500 colleges in the country are coeducational.
The growth of university endowment funds has kept pace with that of the wealth of the country at large. The productive funds of Yale College have increased from about $30,000 in 1830 to over $5,000,000 at the present time. The growth of libraries has also been significant in particular instances, yet the “libraries of most colleges are inade
quately furnished and inefficiently administered.” University architecture is traced through the stages of colonial, Greek, and Gothic; at present all types are met with, sometimes intermingled on the same campus.
Undergraduate life is highly organized. In such universities as Yale and Harvard there are as many as fifty clubs and societies, formed for purposes most diverse; athletic associations have attained a special degree of prominence. Student fraternities enroll more than 100,000 members, and university clubs are found in most of the great cities.
The functions of universities in American communities are considered by Doctor Thwing under various aspects. First, as conserving forces in the presence of a democracy inclined to make all things new; then, as inspiring with high moral ideals an age inclined to pursue mere material aims. The university promotes the conditions favorable to the creation and growth of literature. As an agency to promote systematic research, the seeking after truth as such, the university fulfills an increasingly useful function. It presents the materials for the study of all truth, in the world of nature and in the world of man.
Early English writers on education. ---In Chapter VI (pp. 319–350) are included notices of a number of early English writers on education, with extracts from their works, by Prof. Foster Watson, of University College, Wales. These notices cover the period from 1553 to 1574, including the reign of Mary and the earlier years of Elizabeth. The educational ideals and practice of that age have many side lights thrown upon them by the extracts given and the notes of Professor Watson. The whole forms an interesting contribution to the history of education. It gives the needed evidence of the state of education in England in the century preceding the English colonial settlement in America, setting at rest many questions as to the schools of the home country in which our forefathers were instructed.
Public school systems of the United Status.-In Chapter VII (pp. 351358) Supt. Aaron Gove, of Denver, Colo., has outlined some of the leading features of the schools of this country. Though each State has a school system of its own, distinguished from all the others by peculiarities whose origin must be sought in the history of the State, or is due to geographical, industrial, or other conditions, yet all the systems have the same broad statutory basis. That is to say, in each State legislative provision is made for a system of unsectarian schools, free to all children within given limits of age (commonly 6 to 21), and supported at the public expense. The law in each case also provides for their administration through an organization composed of State and local school boards and superintendents. While, as may be supposed, there is great diversity in the details of administration, there are certain features which are common to many State systems and
therefore may be considered as representative, while others, less common, represent ideals in the direction of which the trend of practice is rapidly setting.
While school buildings vary from the one-room house to those holding 2,000 or even 3,000 pupils, Superintendent Gove considers a building of 12 or 15 rooms the typical one for medium-sized cities. Eight years is the period commonly set apart for elementary instruction, though the brighter pupils may complete the work in seven or even in six years. In some States legal provision is made for a preliminary kindergarten course of one or two years. Secondary instruction occupies four years, during which the pupil comes under the influence of special teachers. Both sexes attend the usual high school, the girls preponderating in the ratio of about three girls to two boys. The curriculum is the same for both sexes; but the different courses that are given (classical, English, etc.) and the introduction of electives, permit a choice of studies to be made adapted to the sex and the future career of the pupil. Every course, however, must include three lines of training, viz, mathematics, science, and language. The enrollment of secondary schools ranges from 3 to 12 per cent of that of primary schools.
Physical training is given in all first-class schools, frequently by specially trained instructors. School hours range from five to six daily. In the buildings erected in recent years increased attention has been given to architectural design, hygienic appointments, etc., especially in the case of high schools. Adjustable seats and desks have been in some cases provided for pupils, though Superintendent Gove considers the ordinary desk and seat sufficient for the 90 per cent of pupils who are of normal stature. The custom of providing free textbooks seems to be on the increase. A recent and characteristic innovation is the concentration of rural schools and the free transportation of pupils living at a distance from the central school.
The typical American child, who enters the primary school at 6 years of age and graduates from the high school at 18, in many of the States may continue his education at the public expense for another period of three or four year at the State university or agricultural college, at the end of which he receives a college degree.
The uncertain tenure of school-teachers and the lack of men teachers are two sources of weakness. The average term of service of women teachers does not perhaps exceed four years. Normal schools and the training of teachers receive some notice from Superintendent Gove, who emphasizes the fact that the accommodation for normal students in this country is very limited, compared with the number of teachers required. The chapter closes with an account of the scope and character of the instruction given in manual training for both sexes, music and drawing.
The educational movement in the South.-In Chapter VIII (pp. 359390) Prof. Wyckliffe Rose, of the University of Tennessee, has given an account of the origin, development, and present work of the conference for education in the South, using that term to include the whole educational movement which has found expression in the Southern Education Board, the General Education Board, and the many subordinate agencies cooperating in the work of improving the schools of the South. The rapid development of the conference, the constantly broadening scope of its activities, and the unexpected forces it has called into play during the six years of its existence have surprised its originators and have not been fully understood by the public. The statement, therefore, of Professor Rose will serve to give a better understanding of the nature, aims, methods, etc., of this new educational propaganda.
Originating, in 1898, in the association for more effective work of a few devoted men whose primary interest was centered in the educational features of missionary work among the colored people, the conference at its first three sessions (at Capon Springs, W. Va.) attracted hardly any attention, even in the South. At its Winston-Salem meeting, in 1901, however, it entered upon a career of rapid expansion, which has continued until it now embraces within the range of its work all the interests and agencies which relate to the education of the child. It has formed a rallying point for earnest workers who have heretofore been isolated from each other. The rapidity of its development has been due to the conditions which it found prevailing in the South. The need which was felt of completing the radical readjustment of the economical and political life of the Southern States, to meet the changed order of things brought about by the civil war, gave mpetus to a movement so directly contributing to that end; for the people of the South have come to consider the public free school as the principal agency in the work of building up the new régime. Traditional prejudices and the spirit of conservatism, still holding to the old system of the education of the few, inherited from England, long delayed the growth of a preponderant sentiment in favor of a comprehensive and efficient system of public free schools, as did also the impoverished condition of the South, which especially induced hesitation, on the part of the white taxpayers, over taking up the burden of educating the colored people. But the new material prosperity, the desire of the South to regain its former ascendancy in the councils of the nation, the growing sense of the solidarity of national life that has resulted from the development of the United States as a world power, have all contributed to create a public opinion in the South in favor of universal education. Under such conditions the southern conference entered upon its work in 1898. The ready response accorded to its
efforts increased the enthusiasm of those engaged in the work; new fields of activity were entered upon in succession, and methods of procedure suggested. Through the meetings and discussions which it initiated, the literature it disseminated, and the judicious financial aid given in typical cases, it has come to be one of the chief educational forces of the South, organizing, stimulating, directing, and giving effect to the ever-growing sentiment in favor of free public schools for the children of all the people.
At the third meeting of the conference Mr. Robert C. Ogden, of New York, a business man, presented the subject of popular education to the business men of the South as a purely business proposition. That he had voiced the aspirations of the conference aright was indicated by his election to the presidency, a position he has held ever since.
The fourth year the place of meeting was changed to Winston-Salem, N. C., in which State a vigorous and aggressive campaign for popular education had been carried on for several years, and a governor (C. B. Aycock) had just been elected on a platform of free schools for all and a longer term. A fruitful address at that meeting was made by President Charles W. Dabney, of the University of Tennessee, on “The public school problem in the South.” Popular education became thenceforward the dominating interest of the conference, and an active campaign was organized in its behalf. The “ logic of its own development” had brought the conference thus far, and public sentiment was so ripe for the movement that it immediately found numerous agencies for carrying on the work waiting to be organized and directed. The whole machinery of the public schools was virtually placed at its disposal College and university men lent their cooperation in the field of elementary education and gave of their time and thought and energy. The public press was extensively utilized. Women's clubs and associations promoted the work effectively in various ways. In some States the public school was made a political issue, and to-day, Professor Rose remarks, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Louisiana boast their “educational governors,” the influence of whose support can not be overestimated. Governor Montague, of Virginia, made a journey to Alabama to meet the public school officers of that State and discuss with them the relation of the child to the State.
It will be noticed that the conference started out to utilize existing educational agencies rather than create new ones, and this has continued to be its policy.
The history of the origin and development of the conference, which has been here briefly outlined, is narrated by Professor Rose with many instructive and significant details. He then goes on to give an account (with numerous extracts from writings and discussions bearing upon the subject) of the origin, composition, functions, and work of the two