The University and the School of Education
In the two general types of Schools of Education in the country there is evident the same tendency to make closer the work of the School and of the University. These two types are that represented by the Teachers' College in Columbia University and that to be found in a number of State Universities in the West. The Teachers' College has had a quite separate existence from that of the University of which it has become a technical school. But the policy of the institution at present is to identify its work with that of the University us far as possible. There is a steady pressure brought to bear by the School of Education upon the University to introduce members of its faculty into the faculty of the University, in so far as they are not specifically teachers of pedagogy, theoretical and applied. In the other type, which is by no means so developed as that of the Teachers College in New York, the schools have been organized by the addition to the Department of Education of members from the other departments, who are a asked to give courses in the teaching of their respective subjects. It is clear that the trend in both Schools is to merge as largely as possible the work of the technical school and the University in so far as it has to do with the subject-matters that are taught in both. One can discover the same tendency in the development of technical schools of other sorts, especially in medicine and engineering. But in these cases the identification of work done in the technical school and in the University does not cover nearly as large a field, and does not seem to have as great importance for the definition of the work of the School as in the case of the Teachers College.
The difference lies in the fact that there is no clear and generally accepted theory of the teaching of teaching. The teaching of medicine and of engineering and law stand to-day upon very clearly defined and eminently successful methods. One cannot say as much for pedagogy. Pedagogy is to no small extent an application of psychology, and yet we find that dominant type of psychology among pedagogues is Herbartian. Herbart's (e.g., 1891, 1902) psychology could possibly be presented as the basis for work in psychology itself in any scientific institutions, and yet it is resurrected from the history of psychology to become the controlling theory is no insignificant part of our educational theory. The explanation for this may be found, I presume, in the present condition of psychology. So-called structural psychology, which has offered a convenient statement of the phenomena of consciousness for the purposes of experimentation, does not offer any workable doctrine of the development of consciousness which takes place in the child. It is easier to make use of the confessedly outworn doctrines of Herbart or that of Bain, than it is to adapt the doctrines of Wundt, of Külpe, of Titchener, or Münsterberg to educational theory. To tell the truth, their psychological doctrines are at bottom the statement of the as yet unsolved problems of psychology. On the other hand, the functional psychology which is represented by James, Dewey, and Professor Angell here has from the start offered new life to educational theory, but it has not itself so formulated its educational doctrine for publication that it can speak with final authority to what should be this applied science of psychology.
Apart from the work which has been done in the philosophy of education by Professor Dewey, and the scientific work which is being carried on in the history of education, and the study of specific problems in child-psychology by experimental methods, e.g., some of the work that is being done at Clarke under the direction of G. Stanley Hall, and at Columbia by Thorndike, there can hardly be said to be any work going on in the country in theoretical pedagogy which we can feel has any very vital importance for the control over the training of our teachers; and the pedagogy to which I have referred above is as yet too fragmentary in its published form, and in the type of problem that it attacks, to guide those who want to give the right direction to a School of Education.
It is because the prophets of education themselves, with a few exceptions, give such uncertain messages, that I want to call especial attention to the tendency mentioned at the opening of this letter. It seems to indicate that the training of teachers calls for control over subject-matter. If I am not mistaken, this is and is likely, for a long time to come, to remain the key to the pedagogical situation. For, while our pedagogical theory is by no means self-consistent and adequate, the abandonment of earlier pedagogical tradition, the advance to a new point of view, have made a rearrangement and enrichment of the subject-matter of the curriculum necessary not only in the Teachers College, but also in the elementary and secondary schools.
The new attitudes, to which reference is made, is, in general, that of taking the student's point of view. It means in the schoolroom stating the subject-matter in terms of the experience of the child, and making problems, which are his own problems, the medium of his education. A survey of our schools at present would show them pretty generally the battlefield between this point of view and the old formal education, which cared nothing for the meaning of the training to the immediate experience of the child, but was satisfied with his acquiring facilities in number and language, and certain facts, all of which he was expected to comprehend only when he had reached man's estate.
It is hardly necessary to point out that the advance in the pedagogical point of view is due fully as much to the dominance of scientific method in all of our intellectual processes as to the application of a more modern psychology to process of [the] process of teaching. It is an invasion of the lower schools not simply by University standards of results, but the invasion by University methods. We can hardly shirk the responsibility which our own successful research, and the inspiration of its example and methods, has put upon us. A second very evident result of this change of point of view is that an indefinitely greater control over the subject-matter is required of the teacher than was necessary under the older system. Just because the child gets at the world in a different manner from that of the adult, and because different children will approach it from different points of view, the teacher must have such a comprehension of the subject that he can select and present what is adapted to the specific problem with which he is concerned. It is furthermore,
I think, a mistake that we all recognize at present, to suppose that the child's problem is a superficial one which can be dealt with by a teacher who is superficially trained. Many of the problems which arise on all subjects in children's minds and which are very real to them, and which can therefore be made the media of the most successful education, can be dealt with only by the very competently trained teachers in their own fields.
Again, it is evident that the use of what is at bottom scientific method in the education of children is bound to involve as great a change in methods of teaching, in the apparatus used, in the opportunities offered out of the schoolroom as well as within it, as has taken place within our colleges during the past generation.
While there is a contest going on between the old and new point of view in teaching children, it would be a mistake to assume that the modern attitude is regarded with a considerable hostility. The opposition is that which arises from the difficulties in the way of the change, and the uncertainty as to what can be done if a change is made. It is a problem of subject-matter and the control over it, not a problem of methods.
Every step that is made in the adequate training of our teachers is a step in advance in the solution of this educational problem. The specific problems that arise as to methods of instruction are, to a great extent, those involved in the handling of material, and the solution of these problems will come through wide acquaintance with the material itself.
It would be possible to multiply examples. I will simply refer to a few. Professor W.G. Hale has constructed an ideal beginning book in Latin because he has taken the most advanced stand-point in the theory of Latin syntax, and worked it out with beginning classes himself and through his own students. Ostwald has made use of his revolutionary conceptions in chemistry to present the most comprehensive statement of chemical phenomena for children that I have seen. Professor E. H. Moore has pointed out the possibility of introducing children at the earliest periods of instruction to the parallel expression of discrete and continuous quality, and the employment of the concept of the function.
In these instances, and many more that might be adduced, it has been the comprehensive grasp of the subject, that belongs to a mind that has mastered the subject and its treatment, that has made possible the presentation of new and immensely valuable material for the child, and the discovery of the channels through which it could be got to him.
It seems, then, highly important that a School of Education should take advantage of this position of affairs and make the adequate training of teachers in subject-matter its specialty, and that the departments whose subject-matter is taught in elementary and secondary schools should face the responsibility for them which the presence of a School of Education here carries with it. This responsibility cannot be questioned when we recognize that methods in teaching depend, and are going to depend principally, upon the matter presented and the control over it which the student gains.
Finally, it appears most important that the dominant influences in the School of Education, in shaping its policy, in inspiring its work, in informing its students, should be university influences rather than those of the technical Normal School.
I would not, of course, belittle the importance of educational theory and practice considered by themselves. They have to state first of all what has already been accomplished, and to generalize and bring to consciousness methods which are already in existence.
But I would suggest that it follows logically from the educational situation sketched above that educational progress in the School of Education is more likely to come from a faculty of teachers who would have the thorough training in their own subject-matter, which a member of a University faculty must have, as well as a profound interest in the problems of teaching, than from the direction of a professional pedagogue taken among those we could find and se-cure at the present time.
Present advance in education must come from the side of the con-tent, not from the formal side, and it is safer to trust the development of the School to men interested in teaching and scientifically trained in their departments than to the so-called educational expert, who would be apt to be formal in his attitude, and to subordinate the real problems in education to problems of administration.
There appears to be here a unique opportunity before the University of Chicago, which made use of with comprehension would make her the most important educational center in the country.