Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/311

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
307
THE AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOL

themselves, make the new education succeed—it will be the teachers; and if this vast responsibility rests upon them, with them must rest also power and initiative, in them must appear professional pride far beyond what they possess to-day.

These fine, great schoolhouses, with all modern devices—provided their ventilating systems work, their floors are kept clean and their rooms are not overcrowded—are admirable; but they do not in themselves educate. The complicated apparatus, the works of art, the libraries, with which many of those schoolhouses are filled, again are admirable; but in themselves they are mere sticks and stones. The subdivision of labor among teachers, the calling in of specialists, the elaboration of methods of teaching are—sometimes—excellent; but they are but the husks of real education. Psychological laboratories, child-study, the heaping up of great masses of pedagogical data are also, when backed by real knowledge, excellent: but they are only minor helps to a real education. Pile buildings, apparatus, methods, psychological subtleties high as Pelion on Ossa and there will result no better education than was given in the ancient district school unless behind this complexity of educational machinery are real teachers knowing how to teach and with time to do true, individual teaching. The more we elaborate education, the more time we spend on pedagogical minutiæ, the more we load ourselves down with apparatus, the more plainly it appears that the sole essential for real education is the educated teacher who knows how to teach. Upon his, or her, personal fitness rests the future of the country; with him, or with her, not in systems and apparatus, lies the solution of this vexed question of the public school. The regeneration of mankind will be brought about, so far as the common school can effect it, by the direct, human influence of the individual teacher upon the individual pupil.

Such teachers, however, will not appear in numbers sufficient to make their influence felt until they are assured of decent remuneration, of tenure of office during real efficiency, of small classes, and of a professional standing regulated, as is that of physicians and lawyers, by the profession itself. And only when the great public gives that assurance, by its individual and corporate support of those who are trying to foster the new education, will it prove that it really believes now, any more than it did in 1841, in the actual "power of physical, intellectual and moral training."