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Relative Interest in Subjects for Composition in September, 1906,




Girls of 12 to 14. Sept. (19 girls).



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girls, who were all in the commercial classes, these two subjects fell considerably in their already low estimation.

Bible Characters and Novel and Story began and remained the two subjects most favored by the girls, Voyage of Discovery and Great Events the two most liked by the boys. But the girls' interest in their favorite subjects increased, while that of the boys diminished relatively to other subjects during the year. In the case of the science boys this decrease was very marked, the subjects Industry and Invention, and History of Science being both placed above them. The girls' interest in the boys' favorite subjects increased, in Great Events slightly, in Voyages of Discovery rather more. This increase was due to the younger girls, who approach the boys in both these boyish interests. On the other hand, the boys' interest in the favorite subjects of the girls increased markedly in one case, Bible Characters, and decreased as markedly in the other, Novel and Story; and this is true equally of the science and the commercial boys. I was much gratified by this result, as I had aimed at it very definitely, by making my talks about the Bible as interesting as I could to the various classes of pupils. The Bible talks consisted of a rapid survey of the whole political and religious history of the Hebrew people, and also the reading of the book of Jonah, with such comment as was necessary to reveal the sublime beauty of the story and of the truth which it embodies.

There were no other changes so marked in the boys' lists. Their interest in Foreign Customs fell off a little, while that in Myth and Legend advanced somewhat more. The same is true of the girls. In dealing with the first question, I read and talked about the Japanese, the Chinese, the negro children of South Africa (after Kidd), and the French Canadians. They were particularly interested in the Japanese, doubtless partly owing to my own interest, and partly owing to recent events. Of myths I read many Greek (of Atalanta, Halcyone, Echo, Hercules, etc.) and several Norse and Indian. In one of the commercial classes I read Bulfinch's account of the siege and capture of Troy and the wanderings and glad homecoming of Ulysses. The increase of interest in myth and legend is shared alike by the younger and older girls; while in the case of the boys it is only the younger that evince this increased interest. Here the younger boys incline to resemble the girls, just as in the case of Voyages of Discovery and Great Events it was the younger girls whose interests most resembled the boys'. This is further evidence that the interests of the younger boys and girls are more alike than those of the older boys and girls. The sexual difference in interest shows itself very plainly after puberty, and with increasing

clearness as the interests are developed. This marked difference in interest is almost entirely ignored by our educational systems and methods.

It is interesting to compare the older boys' decreased historical, biographical and literary interests (in Great Events, Great Men, Myth and Legend, and Modern Fiction) with the notable increase in their interest in Bible Characters. The same is true of the older girls, except that the interest in Myth and Legend increases, though it remains far behind the interest in the Bible, which, indeed, becomes the dominant interest in the older girls, surpassing even the interest in modern fiction. The reading of romances, as one might expect, is evidently one of the strongest interests of adolescence, especially in the case of girls. It, therefore, requires no stimulus, but only direction towards the best of the host of novel-writers that storm the young mind.

Speaking of fiction, it is interesting to note how clearly the essential vulgarity of a story, its lack of fidelity to nature or taste, hidden though it be by the art of the writer, is sometimes brought out by the direct and artless touch of the youthful paraphraser or summarizer. The facts in "A Humble Romance," for example, were stated by a girl of fifteen in so bald a style as to be almost unreadable before a class. Henty's impossible feats of boy heroes were unmasked in like manner. Even Tennyson did not escape. The vulgarity of the costly funeral with which the otherwise refined, if not ideal, Philip Ray seeks to honor the noble old sailor, Enoch Arden, was laid bare by the unskillful hand of the young writer. The pupil of refined sensibilities leaves the incident out altogether.

Another subject which, like modern fiction, suffered, and deservedly suffered, during the year is Sports and Outings. If it had not been understood that the subject included trips taken by the pupils themselves, it would have been placed still lower in June. Only among the boys of Science II did this interest grow; and this was, I think, largely due to the growth of class feeling, which found its chief expression in sport and which was stronger in this form than in any other. Young people are, as a rule, quite sufficiently interested in sport and need no added stimulus from the schools. As for prizes, whether for physical or intellectual endeavor, they are sheer confessions of failure. Scholarships for needy students of all ages are, of course, a very different thing and are bound to play a far larger rôle in popular education. There is no doubt that a reasonable amount of sport stores up energy and gives a unique occasion for the development of many admirable traits of character; but the over-indulgence which is so common is wasteful. If the energy thus wasted were employed in the

arts and crafts, it would result in a development of brain and brawn of far greater survival value for both the individual and the race than the big calves and biceps and the cunning tricks and knacks of the foot-baller and the gymnast. With all our athletics there is not in the government schools of Ontario any true physical education in the sense of the scientific application of gymnastic, calisthenic and athletic exercise to correct individual defects and induce a healthful development of the body.

In dealing with Earthquakes and Volcanoes I read thein, from Shaler's Aspects of the Earth, the letters to the historian Tacitus, written by the nephew of the naturalist Pliny, describing the celebrated eruption of Vesuvius, in which Pliny lost his life. Then I described to them some of the most famous volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. We noted the situation of these disturbed regions in or near the sea-floor and in lines of primordial weakness in the earth's crust. From these considerations we were led to an examination of the causes of these disturbances. The subject, however, is to the young pupil a comparatively narrow one and offers little range for his own initiative. One might, therefore, as readily exhaust as stimulate young people's interest in it. This is, perhaps, evidenced by the varying reaction of the different classes of pupils. On the whole the girls' interest, which at the beginning was at a low ebb, was raised, especially that of the younger girls; while the boys' interest, which began higher, fell off slightly, owing, however, to the decreased interest of the younger boys. Thus the interest of the younger boys and girls became almost the same.

Great Men maintained their high place fairly well in the estimation of the pupils, especially of the boys, in spite of the enhanced interest in many other subjects. I tried to interest the pupils particularly in Livingstone, Lincoln, Gordon, and Gladstone, but while a few chose to speak on these, the lives of all sorts and conditions of men were narrated, from Buddha to Daniel Boone and from Hannibal to Houdini. In this, as in the other subjects, the pupils roamed over all space and time, so that altogether some hundreds of topics were discussed during the year. Forty-five great men were chosen as themes by seventy-eight pupils (fifty-seven boys and twenty-one girls), of whose speeches and essays I have a record. In their relative choice of men of action and of thought the boys were little changed by the year's work; 88% chose men of action and 12% men of thought, while the figures for all the boys in the school at the beginning of the year were 86% and 14% respectively. But the girls gave evidence of a remarkable change. Instead of 59% choosing men of action and 41% men of thought, the figures were now 76% and 24%. Was this change

due to the fact that while the literature was taught by a woman, the history and composition were taught by men to all these pupils? Doubtless it was partly accidental, due to their natural choice of familiar material. Not a single girl, however, chose to speak or write about a woman. The few leaders of thought and sentiment were all poets except Ruskin and Buddha (chosen by boys), and Knox (by a girl). The men of action most favored by these pupils at the close of the year, however, were superior to the favorites of the school at the beginning of the year. Their favorites now were Alfred (3 girls and 3 boys), Gordon (6 boys), Livingstone (1 girl and 3 boys), Shakespeare, Nelson, and Napoleon (2 girls and 2 boys each). At the beginning of the year Nelson and Napoleon had outdistanced all the others, receiving 28%% of all the Though I said not a word about these men, but contented myself with speaking of others whom I thought more worthy the pupils' regard than even the brave Nelson, they were now chosen as themes by only 10%, while the great and good Saxon king and the noble Gordon were chosen by 15%. Livingstone, also, a prince among men, who had received but three votes out of 232 given at the beginning of the year, was now chosen by four out of one-third as many pupils. There is here seen an altruistic development proper to adolescence.


The position of Plants and Animals on the list is far lower than one would expect. If these High School pupils may be regarded as typical, it is evident that the interest in plants and animals is very little cultivated in the young people of Toronto at least. That the subject should have been placed higher in June by the majority of the pupils was possibly partly due to the increase in intellectual curiosity wrought by the work of the year (of which I saw evidence in the utterances of pupils), for it was not taken up in any class. If there had been time to talk with them about the important part played by fungi in the economy of nature, about the marvellous instincts of ants, bees and wasps, the social instincts of the mammals, the origin and history of domesticated plants and animals, the wonderful experiments of that plant wizard, Luther Burbank, the infinite adaptation of life to environment, the long enmity between man and the lower animals, and Isaiah's beautiful vision of the peace of all nature, I have not the least doubt that the subject Plants and Animals, now lifeless and unmeaning to them, would have aroused the deepest interest, and have been placed much higher in the list. It is, indeed, a question whether such humanly interesting and practical questions, along with appropriate observations, might not form the best sort of High School training in biology. At all events if the teacher of any science, or any other subject, would endeavor thus to arouse

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