Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/593

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585
TWO PROBLEMS IN EDUCATION.

TWO CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS IN EDUCATION.
By Professor PAUL H. HANUS,

HARVARD UNIVERSITY.

TWO of the important problems that the contemporary interest in education has brought prominently before the public are 1. What shall we do about the elective system of studies which is daily extending its sway over schools and colleges throughout the country? and II. How shall we bridge the gap between the high school and the lower grades; i. e, how shall we minimize the waste in the pupil's school education, and make his entire school career serve continuously and progressively—as it should—his gradually expanding interests, needs, powers, and duties?

 
I.

It is well known that even those secondary schools and colleges which do not recognize electives, as such, and cling to 'courses of study,' permit not merely a choice between different 'courses,' but they also, usually, permit substitutions of studies in one 'course' for studies in another; so that, really, if not nominally, a considerable range of choice, or election of studies, is permitted in most secondary schools and colleges nearly everywhere throughout the country.

Both experience and observation seem to justify this widespread adoption of the elective system, in some form, in secondary schools and colleges. During the years of secondary school and college education the pupil passes through the important stage of adolescence and youth. He emerges from childhood to manhood. During these years he may be, and should lie. led to self-revelation, and he should be aided to organize his mental life in accordance with his dominant interests and capacities, both for vocational and extra-vocational activities. After an individual's interests have emerged distinctly, all voluntary effort is reserved for his preferences; and that achievement is most productive when it is based on interests and capacity, need not be argued. Daily experience proves that an individual's dominant interests ultimately determine the extent of his private and public usefulness and the sources of his pleasures—that, in short, they determine the richness or the poverty of his life, in the broadest sense of those words.

If this be admitted, the importance of discovering and cultivating a youth's dominant interests is apparent. He should, therefore, choose