By JOHN F. CASEY,
MASTER IN ENGLISH HIGH SCHOOL, BOSTON, MASS.
THE times in which we live are in many respects unlike any which have preceded them. New professions have arisen, old ones have lost their prominence; we live more in the present and less in the past. Recent investigations and discoveries in pathology and bacteriology have done much to increase the respect for and confidence in the practitioners of modern medicine, and have made of modern surgery almost a new science. Quacks may be as numerous as ever, but they rely for patronage upon the ignorant and credulous. The legal profession has taken no backward steps. But with those who undertake the formation of opinions, both spiritual and temporal, the condition of affairs is in many respects different. All the great questions relating to the welfare of the modern intellectual, social, and political world are now being brought up for discussion, and the traditional answers to them are no longer convincing or satisfactory. In the lack of respect for authority, which is so marked a characteristic of the present time, no person's mere dictum is obeyed, or accepted as true, unless he has the power to enforce or the ability, through knowledge, to establish the truth of his statements.
Journalism to-day does much of what was wont to be done by the clergyman and the schoolmaster. While there is no diminution in the respect paid to the sacred office of the preacher, his teachings upon doctrinal points are received cum grano, and each one for himself modifies pulpit teachings according to his own views. The world has become more liberal and tolerant. Material of which martyrs were wont to be made is becoming less and less abundant. The parson is no longer the chief source of supply of ideas, social, moral, and political, and is no longer ex officio chief man of the parish.
So, while the teacher of secular learning holds as teacher a higher place than ever before, yet, when he undertakes to act as adviser and tries, to lay out a course of studies, his dictum does not obtain that confidence which it used to obtain. There arise doubts as to the soundness of the advice given, and suspicions that time and labor may be wasted through misdirection.
In elementary schools, and in technical and professional schools, the ends to be attained and the methods of attainment
- An address delivered before the Massachusetts Association of High and Classical School Teachers.