Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/827

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803
CHILDREN'S QUESTIONING.

in educating them. Even Froebel seems to have overlooked its great value as a means of developing reason, judgment, the relation of things, and everything that makes for real knowledge. Out of school it has room. A man may question everything, past, present, and future, but a child's inalienable right to say "Why?" out loud in a schoolroom is hardly recognized. He is to take instruction without question. Traditions in education are almost unchangeable.

Children, as a rule, do not like to be held to a definite line of questioning by a teacher, unless the subject is very interesting by nature. The impressive, commanding, magnetic teacher may have no apparent difficulty in holding the pupils to her questions; but pride in that feat partakes strongly of vainglory. What will they do when left to themselves? What can they do without her? How far can they go alone? To what degree are they self-controlled. Fine instruction has value, but teaching pupils to teach themselves, and simply and skillfully directing their self-activities to that end, is a great deal better. Herbert Spencer says, "Bear constantly in mind the truth that the aim of your discipline should be to produce a self governing being, not to produce a being to be governed by others."

President Eliot says: "All teachers who deserve the name now recognize that self-control is the ultimate moral object of training in youth—a self-control independent of temporary artificial restraints, exclusions, or pressures, as also of the physical presence of a dominating person. To cultivate in the young this self-control should be the steady object of parents and teachers all the way from babyhood to full maturity."

There are a few schools in which the pupils feel free to ask questions, when it is necessary, in school time. In many schools there is a standing invitation to ask and answer questions before and after school. Such an invitation amounts to a prohibition of questioning. In many schools the pupils are trained to talk; but the substance of the talk is along the old line, reproduction, or a new form of recitation, better than the old, because in the pupils' own language. Nevertheless, training children to question in school time as a means of developing reason, power of comprehension, and self-control is scarcely appreciated anywhere. Even suggestions of children's questioning are exceedingly few in literature on education; but records of its actual practice are unknown. Two lines in Tate's Philosophy of Education and a few lines concerning the Jesuits' methods of teaching in Quick's Educational Reformers are all the suggestions that have come to my notice. The Jesuits divided their boys into two camps and had them question each other, to stimulate rivalry and emulation.

It will be readily conceded that teachers like to question