Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

shirk; but it must not be so simple as to permit the loss of self-respect nor so difficult or dangerous as to incite fear, for in either case the tendency to shirk will be overcome with difficulty. Furthermore the laboratory work must be followed up by searching questions, for if the pupil once gets the idea that the mere performance of experiments is the sole end, then you have opened for him a broad avenue for shirking. Each pupil should be taught at the outset that any reasonable question may be asked on any experiment. If such a regulation prevails, pupils soon learn to get from laboratory work profitable mental results, not the least valuable of which is power and willingness to perform work accurately, quietly, and quickly.

Second, laboratory work is suited to relieve mental fatigue. It is restful, if rightly performed, because it affords numerous opportunities for harmonious activity. But if the laboratory period is too long or too short, if confusion reigns, if there is no opportunity for pupils, especially girls, to sit down while writing notes, consulting reference books, or performing long experiments, if the directions for performing experiments are brief, long or vague, then mental fatigue will be increased, not relieved. Laboratory work under these unfavorable circumstances cannot afford the mental rest it is designed to provide. So also if the temperature of the laboratory is too high owing to the heat from the Bunsen burners or if the air is vitiated from imperfect ventilation or by the presence of noxious gases, the body will soon react unfavorably on the mind and thereby increase the mental fatigue. It is obvious that by regulating a few simple things, pupils may leave the laboratory mentally rested, or at least

As one

they can be provided with an environment conducive to the harmonious operation of mind and body.

Third, teachers must not be satisfied because pupils are curious or inquisitive. Curiosity is a good sign, but it is only a means to an end. It should be encouraged at first, but once active it should be rationalized. Pupils must be led from mere desire to know indiscriminate facts to an intelligent craving for systematic knowledge. Pupils do not realize the fundamental importance of voluntary attention, hence they need to be taught the superior value of learning to complete an experiment skilfully, patiently, and confidently. The necessity of teaching voluntary attention is a good argument for incorporating simple quantitive experiments into science courses. watches a class perform experiments involving accurate weighing and measuring he is forced to conclude that such work contributes most effectively to voluntary attention.

Curiosity, interest, and voluntary attention are intimately connected with inhibition or mental arrest. In plain Anglo-Saxon inhibition means "breaking into, "upsetting,” though its psychological import is more specific.

Provision should be made in all laboratory work for compelling the pupil's mind to travel without needless inhibitions from the object of the experiment through the manipulation to the conclusion. The work should be so supervised that pupils will see the whole field of consciousness and not yield to reckless impulse or foolish inhibition. Experiments to be mentally profitable should be so expressed and arranged that the average pupil cannot fail to grasp the title, the exact method

of procedure, the essential observations to be made, and the probable conclusion which the observations will permit. The title of each experiment should be known so that the pupil may have an initial idea, a mental start, a guiding star. Unless he begins correctly, he may not, probable will not, end correctly. A knowledge of the exact method of procedure is essential, otherwise he will not know how or where to begin his work, nor can he carry it on intelligently, confidently, profitably. A great deal of time is wasted in a laboratory because pupils do not know how to work, and in many cases they are not to blame for the aimless, fruitless labor, because they were not at some time told or shown how to work. They yield to some foolish inhibition simply because they see no other path. Again, the desired observations should be indicated in some way. Pupils are learning how to observe; one object of experimental work is to teach observation. Surely we ought not to assume what we are trying to teach. Beginners do not know the difference between the trivial and the important, the scientific and the unscientific. They must be pointed toward the path having the fewest inhibitions, even though such direction reveals some truth which they might possibly discover if sufficient time were taken. Finally each experiment should lead to some definite result. Otherwise the pupil is left suspended, is actually robbed of the inestimable privilege of drawing a conclusion. Experience shows, however, that this conclusion must be indicated. It need not be deliberately told, but it can be suggested by appropriate questions. Such questions eliminate inhibi

tions, they conduct the mind along a logical path, they extend a helping hand to a halting thought, they train the mind to pass from cause to effect.

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND CIVIC SPIRIT.

WILLIAM ORR, PRINCIPAL HIGH SCHOOL,

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.

New York City, until 1897, had no high school system. Now the districts of Manhattan and Bronx which comprise the territory of the former city, maintain three general secondary schools, a high school of commerce, a girls' technical high school, and plans are being carried forward to provide a manual training school in the immediate future. Already over a million dollars has been spent in buildings for these schools and the total outlay will amount to over three millions. By the reports of 1902, there were in attendance 6,415 pupils, instructed by 270 teachers. Greater New York had a total high school population of 15,185. Public opinion supported the Board of Education in placing these schools on a basis of highest efficiency, and that despite the fact that social leaders and men of wealth in New York do not send their children to the public schools. There is a significant connection between the establishment of the public secondary schools and the awakening of the citizens to the need of a better tone of municipal and civic life. Though Tammany has since come into power

the high schools continue to prosper and are now so strong that no political party dare attack or injure them.

A like development of the public high school is the rule throughout the country. Its growth as an institution suggests latent possibilities of service on which the people are sure to make large demands. Only as it meets new responsibilities will it justify public confidence and continue to receive public support. A most important function, as yet only partially exercised is that of promoting a strong, vigorous civic spirit among its pupils. As the public library, under the insistent demands of the community has been transferred in its activities in the last twenty-five years, so the high school is to grow in scope and variety of influence and become a potent factor in shaping the plastic popular mind and conscience.

The secondary school holds a strategic position in the present struggle for better municipal conditions, since its pupils are peculiarly susceptible to ideals of community service, and are ready for instruction and inspiration in civic duties.

Formal instruction should be given in history, civics, economics and in local institutions, the various departments of the city, problems of taxation, sanitation, care of streets, schools, parks and city betterment should be discussed. The intellectual powers and interests of young people are ready for such knowledge.

A large understanding of the duties of life is necessary to proper development. Best results are had when the facts are studied at first hand by direct personal observation. Attention should be called as occasion offers to plans for social improvement. Let

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »