Editorial Notes : Policy Statement of the Elementary School Teacher
The Loss of Professor Jackman
The loss of to this journal of Professor Wilbur S. Jackman has brought with it the problem of responsibility for the further conduct of the Elementary School Teacher and its policy. Professor Jackman's editorials represented very vividly not only his own reactions to the problems of elementary education, but also that liberating movement in pedagogy for which Mr. Jackman and Colonel Parker before him have stood. The numbers which have appeared since Mr. Jackman's death have sought to continue the spirit and form with which he had invested the publication. It was however characteristic of its former editor's direction that the Elementary School Teacher reflected not only an educational movement but also an embodiment of this movement in a personality.
The Present Editorial Board
Such a direction cannont be long successfully continued when the personality has gone. While, therefore, the journal continues to represent the liberalizing movement in education with which Mr. Jackman identified himself, the responsibility for its presentation has been divided among those who we hope will be competent to represent its many sides. The editing of the Elementary School Teacher has passed, then, into the hands of a committee, made up from the department of Philosophy and Education in the University of Chicago, and from the staffs of the University's College of Education and the Elementary School. We have sought safety in numbers, recognizing the bewilderingly numberous phases of elementary-school teaching, and the importance of the specialist in representing these to the public whom we seek to reach. The editorial committee is a part of a larger one including that which conducts the School Review. The conduct of the
(282) Elementary School Teacher will therefore have the benefit of association with an organ representing secondary education. There should result from this association broader views of problems which are common to both the elementary and high schools, and an increased confidence in presenting to those interested in elementary teaching the course which modern pedagogy should steer among its perplexing problems.
There is little difficulty in formulating the programme of the modern pedagogy. It calls for a school so organized socially that the child may live there his own life. The experiences of school life are to be justified by their immediate value to the children as well as by their import for the activities of adults. This sort of education tkes place at ome -- it is the only education among more primitive peoples. Its results justify the method. The character-building, the unfolding of balanced intelligence which a well-ordered home achieves, present an educational ideal which perhaps no elementary schools have ever reached. What is more natural than to demand that family life be domesticated in the schoolhouse? But in the average schoolhouse we find a régime organized with an eye single to the acquirements demanded by the after life of the man and the woman. The pupil is looked at under the perspective of the adult. It is easy to react against this unnatural attitude, by substituting for the adult interest, which are over-represented in typical curriculums, the interests of the the child: to find in the spontaneous activities of childhood the subject-matter for the child's curriculum.
The Loss of Family Morale
This reaction, however, overlooks the morale of family life. It is the dominant activity of the parents that constitutes the control, that determines times and seasons, and gives the proper perspective to the child's interests. When the child helps in the labors of the home, or bears his part in the industries that used to center there, an educational ideal arises, which could only be realized in the school, if its activities had the same compelling power. To make the school life entirely out of the child's spontaneous processess is to quite upset the natural order of the family or community life which
(283) we are seeking to copy. Education in these its natural habitats consists in relating the child's spontaneous activities to the dominant, controlling activities of the community. It is the presence of this relation in trade and professional schools that gives a morale to their pupils which is indeed purchased at the price of a certain unfortunate narrowness.
Education Reform, Its Development, and the Reaction against it
The doors by which educational reform entered the school were those of history, the sciences and nature-study. Today we see both a development of this reform and a reaction against it. The industrial arts have come to take the strategic position which history and nature-study earlier occupied. The reason for this is evident. The arts give a powerful motive to the child for acquiring technique, by means of which it is hoped that the desired control over languagne and number may be gained. The reaction is represented by the demand for drill as ath pivotal element of school teaching. It appears in the guise of modern psychology, in the demand for habits which will operate without conscious attention, of for the education of the spinal column with its reflexes and automatisms. On the one hand this reaction demand the old methods of instruction in language and numbe, and has no confidence in the motives that spring from the child's desire to gain skill, and to acquire techniques. On the other hand the movement has behind it the feeling that a schoold which follows simply the creative and outgoing impulses of the children lacks the compulsion which the child's activities at home, on the farm, and in the ship, meet in adjusting themselves to the adult processes to which they contribute.
Isolation in the School Life Where Advanced Methods Obtain
The school which merely drills is hopelessly isolated from the real life of the child. And we must make the same criticism upon a school life which is organized entirely about outgoing and creative impulses. A child who criticizes the results of his work with the severity of the artist and skilled mechanic is no longer a child. The child, because he is a child, is more interested in the process than in the result.
(284) The Real Educational Problem
Here lies the crux of the problem in elementary education: How to use the child's own impulses, his native interests, material which is worthy because it has meaning for him, and the motive for getting technique which springs from interest in what he does, and yet to make felt the authoritative discipline and criticism of adult human achievements, which is a real part of the child's normal life as it is of the adult's, though the incidence is not the same.
While this journal has not fixed programme to proclaim, it will continue to stand for
modern education reform in both phases above stated, regarding with especial interest the
movement toward social organization of the school as a means to the attainment of the
disciplinary element in the child's development.