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interest at the outset, he would be rewarded by a much more active and intelligent response to his efforts than he is otherwise likely to obtain. Once the feelings are aroused and the imagination stimulated by the presentation of a subject in a large way from its human side, or in its interesting relationships, the pupils can be got to apply themselves to its details or to a more logically systematic presentation of it with energy and enthusiasm. The increased interest in both science and religion, which, as has been noted above, ensued upon such a treatment of these matters, affords illustrations of the truth of this view. If this were done for each subject by its teacher, and the pupils encouraged to write and speak about it from time to time, explaining and describing to the class, with the aid, where helpful, of the black board, there would be little need for a special teacher of composition.
The plasticity of the mind of the pupil of High School age was a revelation to me. Of course we are all supposed to know that the youthful mind is highly suggestible and susceptible to influences, but it is one thing to state an "of course" platitude and another to establish a truth by experiment with mathematical exactness. Such a result was hardly to be expected with so small a number of pupils; but the records show the working of psychological laws with remarkable clearness. Psychology, like meteorology, is not an exact science, but the fault evidently lies in the inadequate powers of the observer to grasp all the factors. The time will come when we shall have a body of psychological and pedagogical facts upon which the educationist may build with confidence. It is the duty of every teacher to hasten the advent of that happy day by thinking critically about his work with his pupils, and giving others the results of his observation and reflection. And it is the duty of governments to cease to hamper the teacher with detailed regulations and impersonal examinations, which set up false and narrowing ideals, discourage initiative, individuality, and originality, and make it next to impossible for the teacher really to educate. The classes I had the pleasure of teaching in the manner I have attempted to describe were not "examination" classes. I did have one examination class, the previous year, but I was hardly fairly launched upon a similar course in composition to that I have here outlined, when the class was promptly taken from me by the principal, who feared the effect of such experiments upon results in the matriculation examination. From his point of view he was possibly right, though I fancy the greater aim would have included the less. But the responsibility for the creation of such dilemmas lies with the people who tolerate the so systematized and regulated, so methodized and examinated machines as the so-called "edu
cational" systems of many of the states and provinces of this continent, of which Ontario is one of the chief offenders.
In teaching, as in other arts, it is the man behind the method that matters. A well-educated man, with a knowledge of genetic psychology such as his university should give him, and an enthusiasm for youth, may be safely left to evolve-and be -his own method. Any other method is artificial and mechanical, deadening to the teacher and ineffective to the pupil. One's method is the expression of one's personality. Let the universities see to it that teachers are well trained, and let governments and boards see to it that they are well environed and rewarded with adequate salaries and just promotion-and then leave them alone.
There is in this investigation much to encourage the earnest teacher; inasmuch as it brings home to him a clear realization of his influence, but likewise of the grave responsibility of his position in the community. The young mind does respond to the teacher's touch as the violin to the player. And it depends largely upon the teacher what music he draws forth from the marvellous living instruments placed in his hands.
ERRATUM. In the writer's Study in Interests, Ped. Sem., Sept., 1907, p. 323, the following clause was omitted: 36 girls and 43 boys of fifteen.
AN UNSTAKED CLAIM IN PSYCHOLOGY.
By HARRIET A. MARSH, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Any one interested in child nature knows that boys' games do not follow one another in the apparent haphazard confusion suggested to the unsympathetic observer; for instance, on some certain day in spring one or two adventurous spirits will be seen playing marbles, and at once the boys of an entire city are busy. In doorways, on the pavement, up alleys and courts, the game is plied with an industry and energy that precludes the thought of any other amusement; pockets rattle as the forbidden plaything is smuggled into the schoolroom by owners too daring or too much belated to effect their removal, while grimy knuckles and dusty trousers are the theme of lament by many a long-suffering mother or aunt; and then, just as the situation seems almost unbearable, the scene is changed. The fiat of an invisible monarch has gone forth and the marble disappears as suddenly and mysteriously as it came, only to be supplanted by some new amusement which shall appear just as suddenly and mysteriously, to run, in time, its brief course, and then make way for the game next in order on the unknown dial plate. Boys, themselves, when questioned, are generally unable to give the reason or the cause of this order. Marbles, or is it tops? appear on a certain Saturday in March. Thus far the boy vouchsafes as answer; but all other questions are met with "I don't know" or "All the other boys do so," or still further, "We always play this game at this time of year," and the would-be investigator tip-toes softly back to his own domain, puzzled and rebuked, to observe in silence the old, familiar routine which, year after year, pursues the same undeviating course.
Thus far we have stood in the very centre of the arena, facing a generally acknowledged mystery, but lurking in the corners and by-ways of this debatable territory, other forms, more shadowy and less familiar, are occasionally seen in profile as they glide from one turning to another, or beckon with illusive hand until the fascinated student wonders whether he is on the verge of discovery, or merely the victim of his own bewildered brain; and it is a few of these later problems I wish to suggest in this article, with the hope that some one of larger experience may offer a clue to their existence and influence, or relegate them to the oblivion they possibly deserve.
When the first warm days of March bring their general relaxation from closed doors and heavy wraps, children may be observed standing singly, or in little knots, before a doorway or fence, absorbed in the apparent discussion of some subject deeply important; as they move away, writing in chalk or pencil will be observed upon the plane surfaces presented. Generally quite crude, it often consists of nothing more than one name, as "Johnnie" or "Mary," but sometimes two or more names will be connected, and again there will be a number of statements, frequently quite immoral, and unaccompanied by any name. Then, too, there are the rude attempts at drawing the human figure which always appear at this season, and which often seem to resemble faintly the very faulty, old Egyptian mural decorations with which we are all familiar. At first, this tendency may be observable in only one or two districts, but at the end of a week or ten days it has spread over barns, fences, sidewalks, and the entire town. In fact, much less than ten days is required to accomplish this end. The tendency is spread or communicated with inconceivable rapidity from street to street or school to school until the whole city is infected.
In the classroom at this time, the children write notes with much greater frequency than at other seasons. From the first grade up to the sixth or seventh, this inclination is manifest and it is difficult to decide whether it arises from the mere muscular impulse to write, or from a desire to communicate thoughts and desires in the ascendant at this time of year. Material is afforded for both theories; as warmer weather advances the wave gradually recedes, leaving scarcely a water line by the latter part of April or the beginning of May, to return, however, with very much less force in November unless an unusually warm autumn delays its coming until the next month.
Why do children show this tendency most strongly at the seasons indicated, and what are the conditions which induce or favor its rapid communication? Or is it largely indigenous to each child and therefore not entirely dependent upon communication for its growth? How far is the weather responsible?
Then there are other tendencies which spread as rapidly; some morning an inclination to drum with the fingers, to whistle softly, to pick the face, or to do one of a thousand other things will manifest itself in a certain room, within week it has spread over the entire city, even touching classes in which the strictest discipline is maintained, then it gradually dies down possibly to be supplanted by something else. Of course, every teacher knows the tremendous power of suggestion, and one can easily see how children in the same room
or even in the same building may imitate one another; but how do these waves or tendencies spread over an entire school population in a few days? A special teacher or supervisor in a large city, one who covers an area of forty schools every twenty days, informs me that these eruptions (if I may so call them) seem to travel faster than she can, particularly the inclination to write.
Then, too, certain teachers seem to be hindered by certain forms of disorder, which, apparently, cling to them wherever they go, while other forms equally flagrant and difficult to eradicate are lacking. For instance, Miss A. is a prey to spitballs, while in other respects her order is moderately good. Miss M. is beset with a tendency on the part of pupils to mark or disfigure desks. Occasionally some one habit will become traditional to a room or building, and generations of children may render it a sort of permanent institution. Here it seems probable that the tendency is simply communicated, term after term, from one set of pupils to another, but how did the habit first gain a footing? And why is it that a teacher who seems moderately capable of treating other troublesome habits cannot, or does not eradicate this? What is there in her personality that allows (or suggests) this habit to become permanent?
These instances are taken from personal observation, and may be multiplied almost indefinitely. Miss G., now married, taught a third grade room for years; her work was neither better nor worse than that of many another teacher in the State, but her regimè was sullied by a fatal tendency on the part of her pupils to write immoral notes. I was at that time an associate teacher in the next room and thus enjoyed greater facilities for learning the true state of affairs than any principal or supervisor could possibly do. We all respected Miss G., and nothing in her speech or manner ever suggested anything of the nature just indicated; yet this habit flourished in her classes term after term in a frightful degree. In the fourth grade these same children showed only the average normal tendency toward such expression. Did anything in Miss G.'s personality suggest this writing to the pupils? If so, it was certainly unconscious on her part; no one of her associate teachers ever seemed to believe differently.
Miss J., a music teacher of excellent standing, has a large number of pupils; her work is much hindered by a tendency on their part to go visiting out of the city just as they reach a certain degree of proficiency in their music. At least two June recitals have been broken up by this tendency on the part of young people who seem to enjoy their work and never exhibited an inclination to leave in this manner earlier. Does this condition just happen so, or does something in her suggest it to them?