Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/439

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421
Immigrants

our customs and institutions, including the school, into all of which the native so gradually grows that he never becomes reflectively conscious of them. This conscious reaction to the new environment by one foreign to it and acute enough to observe, constitutes in fact the real educative influence of a society. More recently a Syrian, Abraham M. Rihbany, has given an account from a new angle; while the latest, and from the formal educational point of view the fullest, account is An American in the Making, by M. E. Ravage, of Rumanian origin. This latter gives quite the best description of the life and spirit of a Mid-Western university that is to be found. No other part of the recent educational literature of America deserves greater attention than the volumes of this group or possesses any thing like their charm, originality, or significance.

With the increasingly technical character and appeal of scientific and philosophical literature—particularly the former—has gone a similar technical development of the literature of education. This has been of profound significance, for a sort of cross-fertilization has taken place, resulting in two new species—a genuinely scientific and a genuinely philosophical type of educational writings. Both groups sprang originally from the new science of psychology and the less accurate one of sociology, or more specifically from the methods of measurement, whether experimental or statistical, developed in connection with psychology and sociology. Even though the results obtained are, as some maintain, "the vociferous reiteration of the obvious," yet there is much to be gained through a scientific interpretation of the obvious. The application of the same methods to problems where conclusions are not obvious results in profoundly important, if gradual, advance. The two-volume Principles of Psychology (1890) of William James,[1] probably the most fascinating presentation of scientific material in literature, is the most important, though not the earliest manifestation of this progress. His brief popular application of these principles to the problems of education, Talks to Teachers, is yet the most widely circulated of books for teachers. Since those days, the literature of psychology in its application to education has become most voluminous. Numerous university departments have perfected the technique of such work; several scientific

  1. See Book III, Chap. XVII.