Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/133

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129
SCHOOL ORGANIZATION AND INSTRUCTION

esting and pertinent to inquire why they do not give corresponding results in the school. People generally seem to understand that the school should reflect the interests of the community, but the traditions of the school are such that the instant an industry or an art is introduced into the schoolroom the tendency is to erect it at once into a 'subject of study.' This means to the average person that it must have its special teacher, its arbitrary place on the program, and in other ways take a definite setting in the curriculum. Now, there is a vast and an essential difference between this kind of so-called organization attempted by the school, and the actual organization which takes place in true community life. If, for example, under normal conditions, in the latter, a wagon is to be made, the various activities that contribute to that particular end are so correlated as to combine efficiency and economy. Everybody's efforts are directed to that result. There is just so much wood needed and no more. A premium is placed upon the endeavor to use as little as may be consistent with the character of the wagon desired. The same is true of the iron work—no more bolts or bands are made than are actually needed. So, also, it is with the paint; what the wood needs for its preservation and adornment is used, and nothing beyond. But bring these industries into school as 'handwork,' and we find only so many more 'subjects of study' that in some way must be juggled into an already overcrowded program; only so many more teachers that are to increase the wear and tear in already overwrought children. It is no longer a question of doing just as little as is needed, but as much as possible! It is as though the wagon-maker were to go ahead blindly and make a dozen wheels where only four can possibly be used; as though the blacksmith should forge a hundred pieces of iron where but twenty are needed; and as if the painter should demand forty hours for his work when five would be altogether adequate. We are in an incipient stage of development, where there is insufficient attention given to the relation between demand and supply. The work generally in any particular subject represents the strength and the personal push of the teachers, or the reverse. If by superior wit, or by greater cunning, or by sharpness of tooth or strength of claw the ambitious teacher is able to get a lion's share of the program, his particular subject may be correspondingly magnified, even to the detriment of all others.

If the school is to approximate still further the ideals of community life it is necessary that there should be a more flexible adjustment of the workers to each other and to the thing to be done. The grouping and distribution of the pupils should be based upon the nature of their work. The school grade as now generally constituted is a pure fiction in philosophy but it is a stubborn and unreasonable fact in practise. Under the domination of the grading system, the school reverses or