Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font


    SERIOUS complaint is made and for years has been made of the failures of the whole system of education as conducted, from the primary grades to the university and the theological seminary. These complaints are not made by mere carping critics, but by the leading and most responsible educators of the whole country. One of the leading magazines—the Cosmopolitan—published a series of articles extending through a whole year, pointing out the serious defects in the system, under the significant inquiry, “Does a College Education Educate?” The articles were written by acknowledged masters in education. The Outlook, one of the leading religious weeklies of the country, has had much to say in the same direction. The Ladies’ Home Journal, in the delightfully plain and winning style of its editor, has not spared to declare whole and wholesome counsel in the matter. President Eliot, of Harvard University, one of the leading educators not only of the United States, but of the world, being in position to speak with authority on the subject, has done so in no uncertain terms: in set addresses to educators pointing out that “the shortcomings and failures in American education, and the disappointments concerning its results, have been many and grievous.”PBE 223.1

    Even the United States Senate was obliged to take cognizance of this subject; and with disappointing results.PBE 224.1

    A few illustrative extracts are here presented. At the annual meeting of the Connecticut State Teachers’ Association in New Haven, Oct. 17, 1902, President Eliot, of Harvard, delivered an address “advocating the expenditure of more money for education in the United States on the ground that the shortcomings and failures in American education have been many and grievous.” The following is a summary in his own words of the evidences of the failure of popular education:—PBE 224.2

    1. Drunkenness.—“For more than two generations we have been struggling with the barbarous vice of drunkenness, but have not yet discovered a successful method of dealing with it. The legislation of the states has been variable and in moral significance uncertain.PBE 224.3

    “In some of the states of the Union we have been depending on prohibitory legislation, but the intelligence of the people has been insufficient either to enforce such legislation or to substitute better.”PBE 224.4

    2. Gambling.—“The persistence of gambling in the United States is another disappointing thing to the advocates of popular education, for gambling is an extraordinarily unintelligent form of pleasurable excitement. It is a prevalent vice among all savage people, but one which a moderate cultivation of the intelligence, a very little foresight, and the least sense of responsibility should be sufficient to eradicate.”PBE 224.5

    3. Bad Government.—“It must be confessed that the results of universal suffrage are not in all respects what we should have expected from a people supposed to be prepared at school for an intelligent exercise of suffrage. We have discovered from actual observation that universal suffrage often produces bad government, especially in large cities.”PBE 224.6

    4. Crime, Mob, and Riot.—“It is a reproach to popular education that the gravest crimes of violence are committed in great number all over the United States, in the older states as well as in the new, by individuals and by mobs, and with a large measure of impunity. The population produces a considerable number of burglars, robbers, rioters, lynchers, and murderers, and is not intelligent enough either to suppress or to exterminate these criminals.”PBE 225.1

    5. Bad Reading.—“The nature of the daily reading supplied to the American public affords much ground for discouragement.” “Since one invaluable result of education is a taste for good reading, the purchase by the people of thousands of tons of ephemeral reading matter, which is not good in either form or substance, shows that one great end of popular education has not been attained.”PBE 225.2

    6. The Popular Theater.—“The popular taste is for trivial spectacles, burlesque, vulgar vaudeville, extravaganza, and melodrama, and the stage often presents to unmoved audiences scenes and situations of an unwholesome sort..”PBE 225.3

    7. Medical Delusions.—“Americans .... are the greatest consumers of patent medicines in the known world, and the most credulous patrons of all sorts of ‘medicine men’ and women, and of novel healing arts.”PBE 225.4

    8. Labor Strikes.—“That labor strikes should occur more and more frequently, and be more and more widespread, has been another serious disappointment in regard to the outcome of popular education. As we have all seen lately, the strike is often resorted to for reasons not made public, or, at least, not made public until after the strike has taken place.”PBE 225.5

    On “the educational processes of our time”—the prevailing “skeptical, analytical, critical process of inquiry and investigation;” the process in which “Doubt is the pedagogue which leads the pupil to knowledge;” the The Central Union Outlook, April 21, 1900, remarks:—PBE 226.1

    “Does he study the human body?—Dissection and anatomy are the foundations of his study.PBE 226.2

    “Chemistry?—The laboratory furnishes him the means of analysis and inquiry into physical substances.PBE 226.3

    “History?—He questions the statements which have been unquestioned heretofore, ransacks libraries for authorities in ancient volumes and more ancient documents.PBE 226.4

    “Literature?—The poem which he read only to enjoy he now subjects to the scalpel, inquires whether it really is beautiful, why it is beautiful, how its meter should be classified, how its figures have been constructed.PBE 226.5

    “Philosophy?—He subjects his own consciousness to a process of vivisection in an endeavor to ascertain the physiology and anatomy of the human spirit, brings his should into the laboratory that he may learn its chemical constituents.PBE 226.6

    “Meanwhile the constructive and synthetic process is relegated to a second place, or lost sight of altogether.PBE 226.7

    “Does he study medicine?—He gives more attention to diagnosis than to therapeutics, to the analysis of disease than to the problem how to overcome it.PBE 226.8

    “Law?—He spends more time in analyzing cases than in developing power to grasp great principles and apply them in the administration of justice to varying conditions.PBE 226.9

    “The classics?—It is strange if he has not at graduation spent more weeks in the syntax and grammar of the language than he has spent hours in acquiring and appreciating the thought and the spirit of the great classic authors. It has been well and truly said of the modern student that he does not study, grammar to understand Homer, he reads Homer to get the Greek grammar.PBE 227.1

    “His historical study has given him dates, events, a mental historical chart; perhaps, too, it has given him a scholar’s power to discriminate between the true and the false, the historical and the mythical in ancient legends; but not to many has it given an understanding of the significance of events, a comprehension of, or even any new light upon the real meaning of the life of man on the earth.PBE 227.2

    “Has he been studying philosophy?—Happy is he if, as a result of his analysis of self-consciousness, he has not become morbid respecting his own inner life, or cynically skeptical concerning the inner life of others.PBE 227.3

    “It is doubtless in the realm of ethics and religion that the disastrous results of a too exclusive analytical process and a too exclusive critical spirit are seen.PBE 227.4

    “Carrying the same spirit, applying the same methods, to the investigation of religion, the Bible becomes to him simply a collection of ancient literature, whose sources, structure, and forms he studies, whose spirit he, at least for the time, forgets; worship is a ritual whose origin, rise, and development he investigates; whose real significance as an expression of penitence, gratitude, and consecration he loses sight of altogether. Faith is a series of tenets whose biological development he traces; or a form of consciousness whose relation to brain action he inquires into; or whose growth by evolutionary processes out of earlier states he endeavors to retrace: forgetting meanwhile what is the meaning of the experience itself as a present fact in human life, what vital force and significance it possesses:PBE 227.5

    “Vivisection is almost sure sooner or later to become a post-mortem; and the subject of it, whether it be a flower, a body, an author, or an experience, generally dies under the scalpel. It is for this reason that so many students in school, academy, and college lose, not merely their theology, which is perhaps no great loss, but their religion, which is an irreparable loss, while they are acquiring an education.”PBE 228.1

    The city of Washington is credited with having the best schools and the best school system in the United States. But there came to the United States Senate Committee on District of Columbia so many complaints concerning the work done in those schools that the Senate appointed a committee to investigate the whole subject. What this committee found will be suggested by the following notice of their report to the Senate, published in the literary supplement of the New York Times, June 23, 1900, under the heading “Queer School Work“:—PBE 228.2

    “There was an investigation to find about what was the condition of the pupils on their entrance into the high schools at the average age of fourteen. At that point they had had all the schooling they were expected to get in arithmetic; they had been studying the history of their country for five years; and they were, in the words of the trustees, believed to be ‘able to dispose correctly of almost any English sentence.’ Practically they had reached the limit of the advantages that the great body of the children in any large city can get from the public schools, and were supposed to be ready for that ‘higher’ teaching which only a small fraction of those children can afford to take.PBE 228.3

    “It seems that in Washington the methods of teaching are supposed to be of a peculiarly advanced character, and ‘the one best adapted to train the minds of children and youth, and to teach them to think and to express themselves clearly.’ As early as in the fifth grade, when the children are about ten years old, emphasis is ‘laid upon powers and roots, square measure, cubic measure, cube rood.’ History was taught so that ‘the child possessed a clear, connected, sequential view of the whole subject selected.’ In the teaching of English the process is thus described:—PBE 229.1

    “The work of the fourth grade, of finding the base of the sentence, was continued, more and more difficult sentences being mastered; the idea asserted was differentiated as to identity, condition, place, time, size, etc., and action; and finally the idea was analyzed for its elements. Here the child began the study of the parts of speech, in addition to being required to know the sentence—as a whole, its parts, bases, modifiers, asserters—whether emphatic, potential, absolute, etc., and what is asserted.’PBE 229.2

    “The result of the examinations, which were framed by the Civil Service Commission, was distinctly discouraging. In arithmetic, where nothing was required but a knowledge of the four fundamental rules and fractions, the pupils of only one school, some 350 out of 1,300, attained the average of 70 per cent, the lowest that would admit to the eligible list for common clerical work, while less than 30 per cent in all the schools reached that average, and only 7 per cent attained a marking of 90 per cent, which is the average of those who succeed in entering the service. As the schooling in arithmetic was completed, this is a bad showing.PBE 229.3

    “In history it was worse yet. Only 3.6 per cent made 90, only 19 per cent made 70, and the total average was but 53.1 per cent. One of the questions asked was as follows:—PBE 230.1

    “‘Give a brief account of the Puritans, or of the Pilgrims, stating why so called, the country from which they came, their reasons for emigrating, where they settled, and some of their characteristics, habits, and customs.”PBE 230.2

    “Some of the answers throw light on the ‘clear, connected, sequential view of the whole subject,’ which the pupils are supposed by the fond trustees to get. For instance:—PBE 230.3

    “‘Pilgrims were called pilgrims because they pilgrimed and journed.’PBE 230.4

    “‘The pilgrims prayed for providence which was at times granted to them.’PBE 230.5

    “‘The exiles from england were called Pilgrims after the rocky coast of Plymouth upon which they landed.’PBE 230.6

    “‘The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth rock early in the spring in a small boat called the May-Flower. When they landed they were few in number. Being opposed to the weather many died. Their clothing was not very thick for winter and their shelter did not protect the cold, wind, rain, and snow from coming in.’PBE 230.7

    “These answers also give some idea of the ability acquired by the pupils to ‘dispose quickly of almost any English sentence,’ as do the varied modes of spelling the names of states. Florida appears as Florda. Florido, Florada, Floridy, and floriday. Massachusetts becomes in succession Massachusettes, Massachuesettes, Masschusetts, Masschusettes, masschsuetts, Massachtusettes, and Massachewsettes.PBE 230.8

    “We have no wish to condemn the entire system of teaching in Washington from this report: it does not reveal enough about it. And we are well aware of the diabolic ingenuity of stupidity of which even well-taught children are sometimes capable; but we submit that children in the state disclosed by the facts we have cited are not fit subjects for ‘higher’ tuition, and that until the results of effort below the grade they have reached are very much better, the money and energy expended on that higher tuition are wasted—and worse.”PBE 231.1

    When such is the record as to the educational work in the supposedly best school system in the United States, what must it be in the worst! And that this is most probably a fair showing is confirmed by the fact that, in 1900, Columbia University found itself compelled to make the common spelling-book a fixture in its curriculum, because of the barbarous inability to spell that was revealed in the matriculation papers of college graduates who applied for admission.PBE 231.2

    On the need of “a better system of education” in this country a contributor to the Outlook, in 1899, said:—PBE 231.3

    “There must be in this country a better system of education, a system that is in closer touch with life, and that fits rather than unfits for life. There must be something in our common schools that will make for self-respect, and for that respect for others that is a part of true self-respect; something that will develop faithfulness and intelligence and pride in work; something that will link head and hands by indissoluble bonds. Domestic science and manual training in schools will gradually give a greater respect for manual labor; and with this respect should go a greater diffusion of manual labor; for the lack in our present system is quite as much on the side of employers as of employed.PBE 231.4

    “An intelligent and many-sided woman recently remarked to me that Queen Victoria would be a better woman if she made her own bed daily. While it may not be practicable for queens to make their own beds, or for the President of the United States to chop his own wood, there never will be faithfulness, respect, and intelligence on the side of the workers unless the same attitude toward work is found in the employers.”PBE 232.1

    This same thought and the need of industrial education was emphasized in 1901 by the introduction in the House of Representatives in Congress the following:—PBE 232.2

    Larger font
    Smaller font