Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

The method of installation which puts each individual township by itself has little merit in itself, but when combmed with the exhibit by subject, as may easily be done, it has certain advantages. Those exhibits of written work and drawing of pupils were best which combined the method by subjects and the inethod by grades. It should be said that this double method of installation was not common, but it was used by one city at least, and in several States there was a partial use of this scheme. The educator, as a rule, wishes to see in an exposition the development of a subject in accordance with a fixed course of study. He desires to learn how the child takes the various steps necessary to his work and the order in which he takes them. For him an exhibit is most convenient, therefore, which puts the work shown in one subject by itself, where he can follow it from its beginnings in the first grade to its conclusion in the high school. The grade teacher, on the other hand, wishes to see the work of her grade. Often, also, a superintendent of schools wishes to see the work of a grade in all subjects placed together, for in his visits to his schools he is accustomed to inspect the entire work of a grade at once. An exhibit, therefore, that meets the wants of both classes of visitors has the best form, and this form is as easily secured as any other. If thought desirable, the two representations may be side by side in cabinets or they may be separated in different parts of the booth, or they may be of different forms, school work by grades being shown in cabinets, for example, and the development of subjects in albums or portfolios or bound volumes. The city of New York, in part at least, adopted the last method with great advantage to its visitors.

Those exhibits were most visited and most useful which had competent attendants in charge. Indeed, the matter of a “ demonstrator is so important that there is little danger of giving it too much prominence. Exhibits like those of New York, St. Louis, and Missouri had their importance increased several fold by the number and character of those whose duty it was to answer questions and explain the exhibits. An exhibit without an attendant was practically without value to anyone. All intelligent visitors in an educational exhibit have many questions to ask which are not answered by the exhibit itself--questions pertaining to school organization, management, methods of instruction, etc. These questions can be answered only by skilled educationists, familiar with educational history, methods, and means of instruction as represented in their exhibit, and the personnel of the supervisory and teaching forces. Far better for a State or city to leave its exhibit at home than to send it to an exposition without a competent attendant.

Books and pamphlets for distribution formed one of the most valuable portions of the exhibits. It would seem from the frequent calls for them that no other feature of several exhibits was so valuable. A series of pamphlets like that supplied by the city of Milwaukee forms a permanent exhibit that one may easily take with him to his home.

Certain criticisms on the exhibits seem pertinent in this paper. Some of them have already been indicated in preceding paragraphs.

A common criticism of most of the exhibits was that the written work did not represent tlie daily work of the schools. Visitors often remarked of written work that it had been corrected and copied by pupils, or had been corrected by teachers before copying. In general, I think, it may be said that the written work of the pupils as shown in the cabinets and in the bound volumes was, to many people, the least satisfactory part of American exhibits. The remedy for this is, of course, at hand. If written work is designed to show the ordinary written work of school pupils, it must be collected day by day throughout a school year without any knowledge on the part of pupils or teachers that the work is to be placed on exhibition. Whether such work would have any special

value I do not know. It seems to me that the value of written work lies almost wholly in the suggestions wbich it gives for methods of instruction and courses of study, in showing what superintendents and teachers believe it worth while for school children to undertake. Whether the work has been corrected by pupils and copied, whether it is “regular” or “ special," seems to me to be of little consequence. But if I were again to prepare an exhibit of school work for an exposition, I should endeavor to secure the work of each day of a school year taken from the usual exercises-good, bad, and indifferent-without the knowledge of pupils or teacher that it was to be preserved. It is this kind of work which is always shown by Germany and France, and it has great interest always for visitors.

Another criticism which may be fairly made touches the superabundance of manual training exhibits. Some of the exhibits seemed to say: “ The schools of this city or State are devoting themselves almost wholly to instruction in manual training.” Properly, I think, the amount of the various kinds of instruction displayed should correspond to the time given to the several subjects in the daily programme of school exercises. Thus would the exhibit be a correct picture of the school.

Another criticism lies, as indicated above, in the lack of suitable attendants. One great country left its exhibit, for the most of the time of the exposition, in charge of a janitor without special knowledge of schools; and more than one of the exhibits from America were left for a large portion of the time in the hands of incompetent persons. By this means the reputation of the country and the States was injured. In one instance an exhibit that had cost some fifteen thousand dollars to prepare was left for months in charge of a person who had no acquaintance whatever with any department of school work above the primary grades. In some States there was a frequent change of attendants, whereby a person was discharged as soon as he became skillful in his work.

A further criticism may justly be made respecting the baste with which many of the American exhibits were prepared. In some instances it was January 1 or later before the first steps were taken toward the preparation of an exhibit. This was most unfortunate. The proper preparation of a large exhibit requires a long time. First of all, the general scheme of arrangement has to be decided upon. Then comes the preparation and selection of the materials of which it is to be composed. Here no one person's thought is sufficient. The combined wisdom of all who contribute to the exhibit is necessary. To secure this wisdom means time and travel on the part of the director. The ideal method for preparing the school exhibit of 1904 would require the beginning of preparations to have been made in September, 1902. A whole year could then have been devoted to thought and selection of material; an interval of six or eight monthis would have intervened, and then the final arrangement of material would have been begun. All the larger exhibits required from one to two months for installation and arrangement, and the largest required even longer time.

A further criticism may be made of those exhibits in which there were not sufficient printed directions and labels for the articles exhibited. In an educational exhibit the meaning and value of everything depends upon the circumstances under which it was prepared, and these circumstances should be fully shown. In the case of written exercises, whether exposed singly in cabinets or bound together in volumes, a full statement from the teacher should always be placed beside the work shown, a statement including all the conditions connected with the work and making the same general explanations which she would make to a visitor who saw her pupils engaged upon similar work in her room. Some exhibits were apparently displayed in any manner which would fill the space at command. If a picture or case or book fitted into a vacant place,

it was fastened there without reference to the work which adjoined. A logical arrangement, whereby the whole is seen in relation to its parts, and the parts are seen as components of a unified whole, is, of course, absolutely essential to any installation worthy of the name.

Some exhibits were open to the criticism that they showel other things than school systems and school work. This criticism applies to comparatively few of the exhibits, however, and is perhaps not likely to be repeated in future expositions.

The lessons of this exposition have been carefully drawn by Dr. Howard J. Rogers, chief of the department of education, in a paper read before the National Educational Association at its meeting last July, and reprinted from the proceedings of this association as il part of this chapter. Several minor les. sons not drawn by Doctor Rogers seem to be worthy of record, as follows:

First, the business ability of the American schoolmaster was very much in evidence in the Palace of Education. It is customary for school men to be told that they lack the supreme excellence of business ability, and many of us have accepted the statement as necessarily true. We shall accept it no longer. The whole history of the work done in and for the Palace of Education goes to show that no exhibits were more skillfully planned or better displayed or better managed than were the exhibits in this building.

Second, the exhibit showed, both by the prominence given to it by the exposition authorities and by the large attendance throughout the entire season, the importance which the American people attach to the subject of popular education. Perhaps no other building received more careful and intelligent attention or excited greater permanent interest than did the Palace of Education.

Third, we were all impressed with the value assigned to manual training and industrial education by our visitors. It may be said that much of the admiration expressed was irrational and based upon very slight knowledge of the subject; but a large portion of it was certainly the expression of the honest opinion of intelligent citizens anxious only for the well-being of their cbildren and of the schools. Iland work and head work are henceforth to be united in all American schools.

Fourth, the prominence given to the exhibition of the bonds that unite home and school is evidence of one of the best features in the newer education, and was manifested in all the educational exhibits. Perhaps it was in part the natural reaction of the home which manifested itself in the great interest shown by parents in the school work of their children as displayed.

Fifth, the doctrine that school is the preparation for life was emphasized and enforced everywhere. The great exhibit of Belgium, in the Belgian building, proclaimed this principle most emphatically, perhaps, of all the exhibits, writing it in large letters upon its very door posts. But it was manifested everywhere, except in those exhibits which represented the scholasticism of previous centuries, and even these seem to have been modified to some extent by the theory which has taken such firm hold upon modern school life. China itself showed side by side the old and the new. We could not understand the old, but the new spoke a universal language.

Sixth, the exhibit showed most clearly that the educational cauldron is seething in every country. Experimentation of the most serious kind in the education of the youth is going on all over the world, and the end is not yet. The monographs which form this compilation will prove interesting to students of education in part because of the experiments which they relate.

Seventh, interesting lessons may be drawn from comparisons which naturally arise respecting American and European views of education and the methods by which public education is promoted in different countries. The limits of

this essay do not admit of an extended discussion of this subject; but I can not forbear to raise the question, whether our common, lazy statement that European education is best for the Europeans and American education is best for the Americans, is as true as we think it is. For my own part, I am convinced that we have much to learn from Europe and that Europe has much to learn from us. Great expositions are forceful teachers, not alone of the differences in practice between ourselves and others, but also of the principles which underlie practice.

The supreme object of an educational exposition is not comparison of school exercises, or school curricula, or school methods, or even manifestations of school spirit. Indeed, such comparisons may be harmful. The supreme benefit of an exposition like the one described in this volume is in its suggestiveness. What is my neighbor doing? What is he doing better than I am doing the same? Why is his work better than mine? These are the questions which the visitor should ask.

The work which the schools are doing is, of course, not writing exercises or inaking models or drawing pictures; but the work of the school is the development of power, the increase of knowledge, the evolution of character. If the exhibits here described have promoted these ends, the time and labor and treasure bestowed upon them have not been so bestowed in vain, but will bring rich returns in every schoolroom in which their influence is felt.

TIIE LESSONS OF THIE EXPOSITION.

BY HOWARD J. ROGERS, CHIEF OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND DIRECTOR OF

THE CONGRESSES OF THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION,

In an exposition the directorate proposes, but the exhibitor disposes. The classification may be perfect in its logic and comprehension, the space for installation and time of preparation ample in extent, the plan of arrangement thoroughly approved and appreciated; and yet the right-hand member of the equation, composed as it is of a great number of factors varying in time, money, capacity, and interest, and all involved with that variable quantity, human nature, renders its solution extremely difficult. Probably the perfect educational exhibit will never be made till some benevolent person provides at least a half million or more for the purpose, so that material may be collected and installed about a well-defined plan and under the guidance of a single mind. This would be an educational museum. It is doubtful, after all, whether that would have the popular attraction and human interest of an exposition, where variety rules and where the limitations of one exhibit bring into bolder relief the excellencies of another.

In this brief discussion of the St. Louis educational exhibit I am estopped officially from drawing comparisons, inasmuch as the jury of awards has yet to pass upon the exhibits, and the States and nations here assembled are still in a sense our guests. Some general observations may, however, be of interest.

First, at the risk of some repetition of former statements, I must sketch the object of the exhibit. Not everything can be shown in an educational exhibit. It is a common expression that you can not exhibit the finer parts of educationthat you lose the spirit and personality of the class room. It is true that you can not exhibit this. I sometimes wonder, in the present days of ticktack routine, if our teachers would recognize it if we could. But neither in an agricul

a Reprinted from the Proceedings of the National Educational Association, meeting of

tural exhibit can you exhibit the rural peace and environment of field and forest which mold the nature and the labor of the farmer. In education, as in agriculture, we can exhibit the course of study as well as the rotation of crops, the methods of instruction as well as the methods of planting, the machinery and the equipment for the work, the products of the laborer and the comparative results of his labor. We can exhibit enough to be of interest and value to the student and establish a clearing house for suggestive ideas whose influence will be carried to every quarter of the world.

The great results which have followed educational exhibits in England, in France, and in America are the best demonstration of their value. In the preparation of the educational exhibit at St. Louis there were two points made prominent—the participation of foreign nations, in order that a comparison might be instituted between the educational systems of the various countries of the world noted for educational progress, and the thorough presentation of every phase of education in the United States, as exemplified in our public schools, our colleges and universities, our technical and professional schools, art, agriculture, defectives, and special forms of education.

In the preparation of the classification, made with the advice of a special committee consisting of Doctor Ilarris, Doctor Butler, and Superintendent Jones, of the National Educational Association, the field of education was divided into eight groups, as follows: Group 1 -- Elementary education. Group 2-Secondary education. Group 3-Higher education. Group 4-Special education in fine arts. Group 5-Special education in agriculture. Group 6--Special education in commerce and industry. Group 7—Education of defectives. Group 8 -Special forms of education : Text-books, school furniture, school appliances.

In its comprehensiveness the participation in the exhibit fully reaches our expectations. Thirty-three States and Territories, four cities, and fifteen forcign nations have contributed to the elementary and secondary groups. Twentyeight colleges and universities and eight professional and technical schools are exhibitors in Group 3. Seven of the best art schools of the country have, for the first time, made a classified exhibit. The agricultural and mechanical colleges, under a special grant of $100,000 from Congress, have made a collective exhibit, which you are invited to examine carefully as upholding in every detail the higlı grade of special instruction given in our farm laboratories. In Group (7“ Commercial and industrial education ”--the business college and commercial high schools and industrial and trade schools have contributed many exhibits. In Group 7—“ Education of defectives "—the Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf and the American Association of Instructors of the Blind have combined to maintain a working exhibit, in order to demonstrate to the general public the thorough work which is being done for children deprived of all their normal fa(-ulties, and further to demonstrate the fact that the results of this instruction are so beneficial as to warrant the same care and maintenance on the part of the state as for normal children. In Group &“ Special forms of education: Publishers and school equipment”—the exhibits are many and instructive. We feel, therefore, that we have gathered here a basis for comparisons and generalization from which inferences and truths of value may be derived.

We regret to say that the strenuous life of the preparatory days of an exposition has not permitted us to make a careful study of the exhibits, but in the examinations we have made two things seem to us to stand forth so prominently

« AnteriorContinuar »