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Bezopfte Pädagogik; Kritische Betrachtungen über Irrgänge der Volksschulpädagogik, von PAUL LANG, Würzburg. Verlag von ERNST WUNDERLICH. Leipzig, 1907. pp. 150.
As indicated by the title, this book is a vigorous attack upon certain pedagogical old fogyisms which still persist in the German elementary schools. The author speaks first of the increasing nervousness among German school children, an evil which we are accustomed to think of as chiefly American. But he does not lay the responsibility for this upon the schools, though doubtless they have their part in it. He considers that nervousness among school children is merely a symptom of the increasing nervousness of modern society in general, due to the strenuous life, especially in cities, the social misery of large classes, of the population, alcoholism, excesses of various kinds, heredity, etc.
Against the supposed efficacy of gymnastics as taught in German schools, as a remedy for nervous strain among school children, he brings a sharp arraignment. Two hours per week instruction are given in which a prescribed manual is followed. In schools which have a gymnasium hall the exercises are conducted there, in those which have not, any available room is used; in country schools this is often the dance hall of the village, reeking with odors of stale beer and tobacco. In large schools, the classes follow each other without interval during the entire school session with little or no ventilation of the room, because a thorough change of air would waste heat and take considerable time. There is little or no time for free exercise so that the gymnastic hour is frequently merely a continuation of the strain of school work, under hygienic conditions which are no improvement on those of the schoolroom.
The next question discussed is that of home work for school children. This is universally required in Germany and it is a pedagogical heresy to question its utility and necessity. Herr Lang is, however, as a result of his own investigation, very much of a heretic in this matter, and affirms that for the elementary schools, home work is neither necessary nor desirable and, under circumstances which are by no means infrequent, positively injurious to the children. In large cities, this home work must, in many cases, be done in a crowded and noisy room, with insufficient light, an entire family often having but one oil lamp about which the elder members of the families must sit to carry on their work. Conditions are no better if the work is done during daylight hours, for window space, especially in basement tenements of which there are 25,769 in Berlin, is precious and must be utilized by the bread winners of the family. Written work must often be done on a chair, the sewing machine, window sill, or even the stairs. Uuder such conditions, the value of home work, from either the hygienic or the disciplinary point of view may well be questioned, and the author quotes sufficient statistics to give foundation for his criticism on present requirements.
Two chapters are devoted to the discussion of arithmetical instruction. The author protests against the merely mechanical drill which indeed produces a readiness in performing operations, but which is easily lost because of insufficient practical application. The interest
of the pupil depends upon the degree in which the subject can be brought into his actual life, and abstract reckoning has no interest for him. The arrangement of arithmetical text-books is criticised because related problems are not put together but often widely separated. Two "old fogyisms" in arithmetic against which a vigorous protest is made, are the method of teaching multiplication and division of fractions and the undue emphasis laid upon formal rules. In regard to the former, pupils are taught that multiplication and division decreases a quantity and also that a multiplier or divisor can never be a denominate number. Then, to his confusion, he is required to multiply and divide by fractions, which are denominate numbers, and the result of the process is exactly the reverse of what he has previously been taught, for multiplying decreases and division increases the quantity operated upon. It is difficult to understand why so illogical an error has been allowed to persist, when a little reflection makes it evideut that the sign of multiplication or division in the case of fraction indicates not a single but a double operation i. e., 20 x 4 indicates not that 20 is to be multiplied by 4 but that it is to be divided into four parts and three of these parts put together to form a new number. Analogous application to division is evident.
The next point of attack is the lack of progress in methods of teaching religion, a subject to which much time is devoted in all German schools. But in what does this teaching consist? Chiefly in learning by heart three catechisms, and that by the concentric method. Not that mere memorizing is supposed to be all that is necessary, but in practice, the difficulty of the subject matter, which for the youngest children consists of such questions as "Can you name some of God's characteristics?" to which a seven-year-old child is expected to answer: "God is eternal, omnipresent, all-wise, almighty, holy, good, just and merciful," leaves little time for explanation. Moreover, having mastered the smaller catechism, the pupil must then learn the middle and higher catechisms, whose subject matter is the same, but the expansion of the material changes the wording so that the earlier form interferes with and adds to the difficulties of memorizing. In any other subject such procedure would be criticised as unpedagogical but religion stands far behind other subjects in its special pedagogy. Under such a system, the indifference in regard to religion is scarcely surprising. Herr Lang would entirely do away with the catechism for the first three school years, subsituting Bible stories in its stead and would further limit the mechanical learning in order to give time for teaching which would develop the spiritual nature of the pupil, a result hardly to be obtained by mechanical memorizing of a text-book.
The last third of the book is in the form of a correspondence between two teachers, which discusses chiefly the question of individuality in its different phases, including that most frequently ignored individuality, the teacher's.
The book is evidently an outcome of experience, is clearly and pleasantly written, and though it discusses conditions pertaining to German schools, has many suggestions for American teachers. THEODATE L. SMITH. London County Council. Annual Report of the Medical Officer of the late School Board for London for the Year Ended 25th March,
Report of the Education Committee of the London County Council, Submitting the Report of the Medical Officer (Education) for the Year Ended 31st March, 1905.
Report of the (Education) Committee of the London County Council, Submitting the Report of the Medical Officer (Education) for the Year Ended 31st March, 1906.
Report of the Education Committee of the London County Council, Submitting a Report of the Council's Officers on Bathing Arrangements in Schools in Germany and Holland. (Order of Council of 24th July, 1906.)
The reports of the London Medical Officer are very valuable contributions to school hygiene. Dr. Kerr, the efficient inspector, gives the results of important investigations of school diseases, especially infec tious diseases among London school children, and reports physical conditions. The results of weighing and measuring some 20,000 children, the results of studies of sight, hearing, and dental conditions, together with important results of investigations of ventilating, furniture, bathing, etc., are given.
Especially interesting are some inferences from the study of infectious diseases. Extended investigations of measles, diphtheria, and scarlatina have been made, and the results are given with many curves, diagrams, and tables. Many will be surprised at some of the results found. According to Dr. Kerr, "measles is the most fatal disease of childhood, and the one which plays the greatest havoc with school attendance." A record of the susceptibility of all children should be kept. It is found that, in towns, measles will spread in classes where 1/3 of the children are unprotected, and will recur until the unprotected are reduced to 1/5." School closure to be effective must occur when the first case of measles appears, but "school closure for measles can never take the place of teachers especially trained in school hygiene, imbued with the ideals that constitute a 'sanitary conscience,' and working in good hygienic surroundings." The ultimate solution in the face of an epidemic of measles will probably be the exclusion of non-protected individuals rather than the exclusion of unaffected children coming from affected households.
Dr. Kerr's study of diphtheria indicates that children should be excluded from the school until bacteriological tests show the absence of the Klebs Löffler bacillus. Where there is medical inspection, school closure for diphtheria is a confession of impotence. The danger is that the "carriers" are not discovered, and there is no guarantee that at the end of the period of closure the children who are the cause of the spread of the disease will be innocuous. W. H. B.
Vybrané state pedopsychologické a pedagogické. G. S. HALL. Se svolenim auktorovym prelozil, Mauer. Uvodem provázi Prof. Dr. Frant. Cáda, v Praze, 1906. pp. 199.
The above title is of interest to American readers because it is the title of a volume of child study papers selected from the work of G. Stanley Hall and translated into the Czech language. The translation of the title and table of contents is as follows. Selected paidopsychological Studies translated (into Czech) by Mauer with the permission author, G. Stanley Hall. Introduction by Dr. Frantisek Cáda, Prague, 1906.-Table of Contents: Introduction.
Dr. G. Stanley Hall and His Activities.
1. Notes on the Study of Infants.
(From Ped. Sem., June, '91, Vol. I, pp. 127-138.)
2. Some Aspects of the Early Sense of Self.
(From Am. Jour. of Psy., Apr., 1898, Vol. IX, pp. 351-395.) Contents of Children's Minds on Entering School.
(From Ped. Sem., June, 1891, Vol. I, pp. 139-173.) Moral and Religious Training of Children.
(From Ped. Sem., June, 1891, Vol. I, pp. 196-210.) The Love and Study of Nature a Part of Education.
(From Rep. of State Board of Ag. of Mass., 1898, pp. 134-154.)
6. Children's Lies.
(From Ped. Sem., June, 1891, Vol. I, pp. 211-218.) 7. The Ideal School as Based on Child Study.
(From Forum, Sept., 1901, Vol. XXXII, pp. 24-29.)
T. L. S.
Indian Story and Song from North America. BY ALICE C. FLETCHER. Small, Maynard & Co., Boston, 1906. pp. 126.
The stories and songs of this book have been gathered by the author directly from the people in their homes, and are close translations. The melodies are exactly as sung by the Indians, the transcription of these being a task for which Miss Fletcher's musical knowledge and her sympathy and understanding of the Indian have peculiarly fitted her. Though material of this sort has appeared in scientific publication, this is the first time that it has been given to the public in more popular form. The last two chapters on the place of music in Indian life and the relation of story and song, though brief, are a contribution to the psychology of music whose value is by no means to be measured by its brevity. T. L. S.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. First Annual Report of the President and Treasurer, 1906. pp. 84.
This report presents many features of peculiar interest. There are now fifty accepted institutions in the United States and two in Canada. Thirty-four professors in these have accepted retiring pensions, as have four widows and seven individuals, mostly in colleges not on the accepted list. Among the accepted institutions, Massachusetts and New York lead with eleven each, Ohio and Pennsylvania have four each, Wisconsin three, Connecticut, New Jersey and Vermont two each, and the rest, one each. The institution has found it necessary to make estimates of those likely to retire within another year. It has held various conferences to establish its methods and has an educational standard based upon admission requirements, and those institutions which fall below this standard will forfeit membership. The funds now at the disposition of the institution are $10,272,740. An appendix gives the act of incorporation and the rules and by-laws so far adopted.
Carnegie Institution of Washington Year Book No. 5, 1906. Published by the Institution, Washington, 1907. pp. 266.
This is the fifth year book of the Carnegie Institution and shows on the whole commendable progress. It would seem that in the number of investigators now employed by the institution workers in biology or zoology led, with those in physics, chemistry, archæology and astronomy following in this order. One looks with interest, but with 'disappointment, for the report of the work of Luther Burbank to whom $10,000 annually has been granted for a term of years. We are only told that the earthquake did no damage and that the work of collection and crossing is going on. This report is made interesting by a number of full page photographic illustrations of the various plants in which the institution is interested.
The Broadening Path. A treasure book for boys and girls, together with firelight and children's faces. A book of help for fathers and mothers. By WILLIAM BYRON FORBUSH. Bowen & Co., Indianapolis, 1907. 2 vols., pp. 1556.
Dr. Forbush has here brought together, after a long experience of work with boys, a vast and well chosen body of material in the form of stories, literary extracts, historic incidents and myths, graded to fit the different stages of life in boyhood. Some are to be read, others
to be memorized, some address the physical and psychical individual, some attempt to broaden social life and all seek to develop even broader answers to the question what we should become, how, when and where. The writer has a scheme of virtues, many in number, of the home, school, country, business and social life. They are directed to increase cleanliness of life, speech, to broaden concentration, courtesy, daring, energy, enthusiasm, efficiency, fairness, firmness, hospitality, justice, kindness, moderation, patriotism, pluck, prudence, general self-control, thrift, sympathy, tact, etc. The volume contains many interesting full-page illustrations, and a very wide range of literature and history has been culled to make these selections.
The Profit of Love; studies in altruism. By A. A. MCGINLEY. With preface by Rev. George Tyrrell. Longmans, Green & Co., New York, 1907. pp. 291.
It has a biblical and often a theological tang to it. Its illustrations and sentiments are also often clerical. It is, nevertheless, a work of erudition, good sense, and is permeated with a strong desire to improve not only individuals, but the race. It is an excellent expression of the social endeavors of the church and those that coincide with it outside. The author insists that we need men and women rather than schemes or systems, that remedies against current evils are to be sought in character rather than legislation, that we must work at the roots rather than at the branches and that the overwhelming trend of the present day toward selfishness and utilitarianism must absolutely be fairly and squarely met and overcome by a spirit of altruism. The author would have the mother do more in teaching her child, would emphasize the spirit of human sympathy, of unselfish devotion in the school, and appeals to woman to make the spirit of her self-sacrificing life more potent in the world where it was never so much needed as
Essays on English Studies. By HENRY H. HUDSON.
preface, introduction and notes by A. J. George. Ginn & Co., Boston, 1906. pp. 206.
The editor has done well to give us in a tasteful volume the essays of this noted school Shakspere editor who did pioneer work in making the study of English literature popular in private classes as well as in high schools and college. He was an enthusiastic humanist and dreaded nothing so much as lest methods which prevailed in teaching classics should prevail in the study of literature. His fears, alas, were only too well grounded, for the minute, exegetical, philological style he abhorred has, despite his efforts, grown rank in the schoolroom. His paper on How to use Shakspere in Schools, his discourse on Daniel Webster, his characterization of the Value of Shakspere as a Textbook and his general theories on English in Schools are even yet most timely.
Die Experimentelle Pädagogik, Organ der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für experimentelle Pädagogik mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der experimentellen Didaktik und der Erziehung schwachbegabten und abnormer Kinder. Herausgegeben von DR. E. MEUMANN. Nemnich, Leipzig, 1906. pp. 128.
We regret to learn that Professor Lay has been obliged, on account of family matters and certain criticisms on his mode of making use of the work of other people, to withdraw. This number contains four valuable articles. The first, by Lobsien, demonstrates the variations of memory which are ascribed respectively to fatigue, practice, different individual developments of mental power, acuteness of attention,