Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/596

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see things in such a perspective that he may speedily become a competent adviser.

5. If after two years of teaching, the student-teacher shall have convinced the professors of his department that he has mastered his subject satisfactorily and has developed sufficient teaching ability and has shown a character suitable for the calling, he shall be awarded the degree of Ph.D. The degree shall be given in whatever subject the recipient has taught. The method of determining ability may vary considerably, no doubt; but some combination of examination ratings and "general impression" should be struck, in any case. The student-teacher receiving such a degree shall be placed upon a preferred list of candidates for recommendation to college appointments.

What, now, are the advantages of this system?

1. It will provide the best possible young teachers. Under any system the young teacher is a necessary evil; but he is the least troublesome when wholly devoted to his class-work. And he is most completely devoted to it when in it he finds the way to a higher degree and to advancement, and when he knows his success or failure as a teacher is being checked up on his score-card.

2. It will permit the nearest practicable approach to individual teaching. The supreme difficulty in the way of individual teaching is the cost. Some day one or two of our richer colleges may hope to have a staff of mature men large enough to give every student a faculty adviser and a private tutor; but most schools must resign that prospect. The next best thing, however, is the small class with closely supervised instructors who are teaching without pay (or on small scholarships) in the hope of an advanced degree and preferment.

Let us see how nearly the goal may be approached. Imagine a very large college whose freshman class is, say, 1,000. Suppose one course of English is required in each semester of the first year. The English department will then have all these 1,000 students to deal with. Suppose there are in this department altogether, 12 professors and instructors (Harvard has at least 5 more, not counting her assistants). And let us assume the purely ideal condition of having a student-teacher manage only 2 sections of 15 students each. Suppose, on the other hand, that neither of the required freshman courses could be partly or wholly given by lecture. We should then have the ideal arrangement fulfilled, if each of the 12 instructors took only one freshman section and were assisted by 27 student-teachers. By increasing the class unit to 20 students, only 19 student-teachers would be called for. Does anybody imagine that a university with a college entering class of 1,000 would have much difficulty in securing nearly that number of student-teachers for at least each of the five chief departments under the terms of the system we have sketched?[1] Needless to say.

  1. As closely as I can estimate from the Harvard catalogue, individual training in English could be given at Cambridge, if the present staff were augmented by only 25 student-teachers, and the 11 assistants now employed dispensed with. Were the latter converted into student-teachers, the department would have to find only 14 more graduate students, in order to fulfil the very severe conditions named.