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REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT, PROF. DANIEL PUTNAM, YPSILANTI.
The report of the Secretary has made you acquainted with the work of the Council during the past year, and with the progress and present condition of the Reading Circle work in the State.
It is believed that, on the whole, the work is in a better condition than it was a year ago. Progress, however, has been slow, and the results desired have not been attained. Something has been accomplished, but much more ought, in some way, to be done. The members of the Council have been seeking diligently to discover, if possible, reasons for the meager returns for the labor expended, and for the slow advance made. They believe the experience of two years has enabled them to reach one or two definite conclusions in relation to the organization of Reading Circles, and the direction in which efforts should be mainly turned during the next year. The organization, at first proposed and attempted, by counties, was too complex, too cumbersome, and too difficult to be successful in its working. This was consequently abandoned and a much easier and simpler mode of local organization was recommended and adopted. So far as can be learned this plan appears to be generally satisfactory. While preserving all necessary uniformity, it allows each local circle to adopt the details of its organization and its methods of management to its own peculiar needs and conditions. No reasons have been discovered for suggesting any essential modifications in this mode of organization.
The circular of general information for 1887 shows that several courses of reading were laid out for teachers of different degrees of attainment. These courses were arranged with considerable care, and are believed to be fairly well adapted to profit those for whom they were designed. We would allow these advanced courses to remain as suggestive of good reading for teachers in the large graded schools and high schools if they choose to adopt them. It is, however, the unanimous conclusion of the Council, based upon the observation and experience of the past, that the State organization does not need to make any special provision for teachers of these schools beyond the recommendation of valuable professional works. In connection with their principals and superintendents they are abundantly able to provide for their own literary and professional needs, and can usually obtain all necessary books through local agencies at very reasonable rates.
It is our conviction, therefore, that the managers of the Circle should direct their efforts during the next year pretty exclusively for the benefit of teachers in the ungraded and district schools. The needs of these teachers are greater and more obvious, and the means and facilities at their command for supplying such needs are very limited and unsatisfactory. Facts, gathered up during the last year especially, lead us to believe that a general and professional course of reading, elementary in its character, limited in extent, and definite in purpose, should be prepared and explained with considerable fullness of detail in respect to time and amount of work to be done, so that readers of but little acquaintance with books and of little acquaintance with the art of reading may readily understand just what work belongs to each month of the course. The views of members of the Council in respect to the necessity for such minute suggestions and directions have been somewhat modified by the teachings of experience. It has been discovered that they are more essential to the progress of the class of readers to which reference is here made than we had at first supposed. Guided by past experience a course of this kind can be readily prepared.
So much for the organization and direction of our efforts. The real, vital question re mains to be briefly considered.
The question is this: How can the teachers of the ungraded and district schools be reached and interested in this reading circle work? How can they be induced to form local circles, to provide themselves with the necessary books, and to pursue the course of reading and study regularly and systematically? This is the vital question. Hitherto these teachers have not generally been reached. In some localities good work has been done, but the great body has not been moved. Has this association any means by which an end so much to be desired can be reached ? Among the various methods which might be considered only two practically reduced to one, are sufficiently within the limits of the possible to be worthy of attention.
First, with the steady coöperation of the State department of education, the teachers of the ungraded and district schools can be effectively reached through the secretaries of the county boards of examiners and the chairman of the township boards of school inspectors. The success of any efforts to interest and move the teachers of the district schools depends almost entirely upon the secretaries. If their hearty coöperation can be secured a most excellent work can be accomplished. Without such co-operation very little can be done in most counties.
Can this co-ɔperation be had? To suppose otherwise would seem to be a cruel reflection upon the intelligence and good sense of the chosen official leaders of the educational work of our State. There can be no reasonable doubt that most of the secretaries will be ready and anxious to help and to lead in pushing forward the reading circle enterprise in their respective counties, as soon as fully informed in respect to its aims, plans and methods. The council will undoubtedly depend upon obtaining, in the coming year, the earnest co-operation of both the State department, and of the county officers.
President of Council.
Since the above was written the meeting of the County Examiners has been held, and they have unanimously and very cordially endorsed the work of the Reading Circle. They have also made the proposition embodied in the report of the Secretary. After informal consideration I feel authorized, on behalf of the Council, to recommend the acceptance and adoption of that proposition, believing such coöperation will greatly advance the Reading Circle work.
A proposition was received some time since from the Superintendent of the Bay View Assembly suggesting a partial union of the Reading Circle with that body. Upon consultation it has been thought best by the Superintendent to withdraw the proposition for such formal union.
It is recommended, however, that the Council be authorized to provide for a Reading Circle day in connection with the meeting of the Bay View Assembly's teachers' department, if they shall deem it advisable to do so.)
SHOULD THE STUDY OF MIND HAVE A LARGER
PLACE IN OUR HIGH SCHOOLS?
BY PRESIDENT G. F. MOSHER, HILLSDALE COLLEGE.
Why should the study of the mind have a place anywhere?
The study of arithmetic, for example, is made prominent, to teach us about the laws of numbers, and the study of astronomy to teach us about the laws of the heavenly bodies, and the study of chemistry to teach us about the laws by which different elements combine or separate.
Why should not the study of mind have a place along with these others to teach us about the laws of mental action ? H Each of these sciences is the creation of mind. You do not find the multiplication table ready made anywhere in nature, nor the table of chemical equivalents, nor the table of conjunctions and eclipses. Mind has produced them all. To study them and neglect to study the mind, would be as if the engineer should observe the scenery through which he might be passing, without knowing anything about the machine that was carrying him, or as if the telegraph operator should diligently study the handwriting in the messages he was sending, while remaining ignorant of the instrument with which he was transmitting them.
But it is not alone in making sciences that the mind acts. It is with the mind that we read and spell, write and cipher, love and hate, say our prayers, play progressive euchre, and invent baking powders. It is mind that made Lincoln and Washington as well as Booth and Arnold; it is mind that made Jesse Pomeroy a brute as well as Casabianca a hero; and it is mind that made August Spies an anarchist and Nina Van Zandt bent on marrying him. Sir Wm. Hamilton has included it all in his favorite aphorism when he says that “ on earth there is nothing great but man; in man there is nothing great but mind.” He might have added that whatever is base in man is also in the mind ; for, as Milton states it,
"The mind is its own place, and in itself,
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Now the question is, “Should the study of mind have a larger place in our high schools?” Should it have a larger place? How large a place does it already have? I cannot find that it is officially recognized as having any place at all. The report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction does not mention it. Of the fairly large number of high schools in that report that include algebra, geometry, physiology, natural philosophy, and botany, in their courses, and of the very small number that teach Latin, Greek, French and German, not one includes the study of that power which has alone created both language and philosophy, both art and science. But it has a place, nevertheless. The principal of one of our city high schools reports a 20 weeks' course in mental philosophy, and it also appears in the course of several other high schools.
What is the verdict where it is taught?
One teacher says: “I took the study prejudiced against it as a high school study and have had that prejudice removed.” Another says: “ The results have been good.” Another questions the propriety of employing time on mental philosophy on account of “the immaturity of mind of the average high school student." Another includes mental philosophy among the studies recently eliminated when it was decided to reduce the number of studies. Another says: “We do not include it because we cannot give it the time its importance demands.” Another says: “We believe it is the thing, but the results have not yet been satisfactory in our case, owing mainly to text-books used.”
So it appears that the place which this study has in our high schools is small, and the opinions of its value differ. Should it have a larger place? Before you say yes, listen to the complaint that comes up from many places in the State to the effect that the school children are too severely taxed. You hear it in the East as well as in the West. Charge three-fourths of it to a constitutional tendency to grumble, and there is still left a residue that ought to be heeded.
But in heeding the complaint ought the formal study of mind to be left out? This is for the wisdom and experience of teachers to determine. My own belief is that the study of mind should have a larger place in our high schools, but that it should be so conducted as to avoid overtaxing the mind itself. It need not necessarily be a formal text-book study. So far as my observation has extended, the unsatisfactory results with this study have been partly due to text-books and partly to the manner of teaching it. The aver. age youth of seventeen or eighteen can hardly be interested in a dry philosophical text, nor in a merely perfunctory recitation of it. The proper high school text-book in mental philosophy is yet to appear. It should abound in illustration and anecdote. It should give us less of Aristotle and his time and more of Smith and Jones and their time. Over and over again we are told in the average text-book that mental philosophy is the science of mind, which we already knew, and are asked to consider that whereas man is mor.
tal, and that whereas Socrates was a man, therefore, who doubts that man is * mortal, or that Socrates was a man, and therefore mortal? In reality who
cares whether he was a man or a woman, and whether he was mortal or immortal? His work is immortal, and that is enough. The difficulty with the average boy and girl is that we will not let Socrates be mortal, and therefore presumably dead, but that we keep him everlastingly alive to perplex and confuse them with.
Let this science be alive with the matured thought of the 19th century, and not so musty as to suggest that it may have gathered mould in the ark, and there will be less difficulty either in adapting it to the boy's capacity or in awakening his interest in it. We may teach him a whole term, in the language of the text-book, that animals do not reason and that man alone thinks, and one day with his pet dog or pony will make a skeptic of him in spite of all the philosophers. It is not so much in the mind of Plato and Aristotle that the boy may be interested, as in his own mind-what it is, how it thinks and knows and feels, and why it is that he can get only 7 for a term's standing, when his companion with half the effort gets 10. We allow him to say in the physiology class that it is the function of the stomach to digest food, and of the liver to secrete bile, and call him orthodox and give him 10; but if he follows the analogy and says it is the function of the brain to secrete thought we call him a materialist and, perhaps, give him zero. Our characterization would doubtless be correct, but the boy fails to see why, and when he goes to his text-book for an explanation he is led through the mazes of a disquisition on the characteristics and tendencies of nominalism, materialism and conceptualism, with as little satisfaction as came to John Peterson and Peter Johnson in the famous attempt of the schoolmen to explain to them in what consisted their personal identity; or, in other words, why John was John and not Peter, and why Peter was Peter and not John. After days of discussion, it was explained that John's identity consisted in his Johnity, and Peter's identity consisted in his Petricity or his Peterness.
Now if text-books must be duli and dry, the teacher at least should try to put point and freshness into the subject. With proper attention to his mental activity and reflection upon his own consciousness, and observation of others, why should he not be able to make the study of mind as interesting as the study of matter, or phychology as attractive a physiology? Mere recitations will kill any subject. Somebody says “there is as much difference between teaching, and hearing recitations, as there is between praying and preyiny. The mere hearer of recitations is usually a scientific and pedagogical hunbug.” The study of mind, above all other studies, can not be sustained in a class of parrots. With skillful questioning, illustrative anecdotes, brief but famillar lectures and diligent turning of the thought inward to its own. sources and action, the study of mental philosophy may be made as interest. ing and profitable in our high schools as any study that is pursued there. Certainly none is more important. There is no art or science but is dependent on it. The dullest mind can see some use in chemistry because it aids, for example, in the analysis of soils, and in natural philosphy because it aids in the comprehension of the laws of mechanical forces, and in botany because it aids in classifying and explaining plants. But it is alleged that no such practical benefits flow from the study of mind. And yet the orator, the physician, the preacher, the teacher, -each succeeds in his profession in proportion as he knows the mind and its laws. No young man or woman is prepared to succeed in life until self, that is, the mind, is known. What questions underlie it? “What and whither going? What is my history and my destiny? This mysterious soul which animates me, and is the presiding divinity over all my actions, what is it, with all its wondrou faculties of sense, imagination, reason, will?... Am I free, or am I subject to inevitable necessity? If free, then how are all my actions controlled, and predetermined by a divine Providence? If not free, then how am I responsible?” Who shall solve these problems, who shall read this strange and preplexing riddle of human life? They confront every boy and girl, before the high school age is passed. On their proper answer depends much of the character and destiny of the individual.
It is the peculiar office of mental science to aid in answering 'these ques