Infomotions, Inc.How to Study and Teaching How to Study / McMurry, Frank M. (Frank Morton), 1862-1936

Author: McMurry, Frank M. (Frank Morton), 1862-1936
Title: How to Study and Teaching How to Study
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): teacher; study; student; teachers
Contributor(s): Symons, Arthur, 1865-1945 [Contributor]
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Title: How To Study and Teaching How To Study

Author: F. M. McMurry

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Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading



Professor of Elementary Education in
Teachers College, Columbia University



Some seven or eight years ago the question, of how to teach children
to study happened to be included in a list of topics that I hastily
prepared for discussion with one of my classes. On my later
examination of this problem I was much surprised, both at its
difficulty and scope, and also at the extent to which it had been
neglected by teachers. Ever since that time the two questions, How
adults should study, and How children should be taught to study, have
together been my chief hobby.

The following ideas are partly the result of reading; but since there
is a meagre quantity of literature bearing on this general theme, they
are largely the result of observation, experiment, and discussion with
my students. Many of the latter will recognize their own contributions
in these pages, for I have endeavored to preserve and use every good
suggestion that came from them; and I am glad to acknowledge here my
indebtedness to them.

In addition I must express my thanks for valuable criticisms to my
colleague, Dr. George D. Strayer, and also to Dr. Lida B. Earhart,
whose suggestive monograph on the same general subject has just
preceded this publication.


_Teachers College_, May 6,1909.





















No doubt every one can recall peculiar methods of study that he or
some one else has at some time followed. During my attendance at high
school I often studied aloud at home, along with several other
temporary or permanent members of the family. I remember becoming
exasperated at times by one of my girl companions. She not only read
her history aloud, but as she read she stopped to repeat each sentence
five times with great vigor. Although the din interfered with my own
work, I could not help but admire her endurance; for the physical
labor of mastering a lesson was certainly equal to that of a good farm
hand, for the same period of time.

This way of studying history seemed extremely ridiculous. But the
method pursued by myself and several others in beginning algebra at
about the same time was not greatly superior. Our text-book contained
several long sets of problems which were the terror of the class, and
scarcely one of which we were able to solve alone. We had several
friends, however, who could solve them, and, by calling upon them for
help, we obtained the "statement" for each one. All these statements I
memorized, and in that way I was able to "pass off" the subject.

A few years later, when a school principal, I had a fifteen-year-old
boy in my school who was intolerably lazy. His ambition was
temporarily aroused, however, when he bought a new book and began the
study of history. He happened to be the first one called upon, in the
first recitation, and he started off finely. But soon he stopped, in
the middle of a sentence, and sat down. When I asked him what was the
matter, he simply replied that that was as far as he had got. Then, on
glancing at the book, I saw that he had been reproducing the text
_verbatim_, and the last word that he had uttered was the last word on
the first page.

These few examples suggest the extremes to which young people may go
in their methods of study. The first instance might illustrate the
muscular method of learning history; the second, the memoriter method
of reasoning in mathematics. I have never been able to imagine how the
boy, in the third case, went about his task; hence, I can suggest no
name for his method.

While these methods of study are ridiculous, I am not at all sure that
they are in a high degree exceptional.

_Collective examples of study_

The most extensive investigation of this subject has been made by Dr.
Lida B. Earhart,[Footnote: _Systematic Study in the Elementary
Schools._ A popular form of this thesis, entitled _Teaching Children
to Study_, is published in the Riverside Educational Monographs.] and
the facts that she has collected reveal a woeful ignorance of the
whole subject of study.

Among other tests, she assigned to eleven- and twelve-year-old
children a short selection from a text-book in geography, with the
following directions: "Here is a lesson from a book such as you use in
class. Do whatever you think you ought to do in studying this lesson
thoroughly, and then tell (write down) the different things you have
done in studying it. Do not write anything else." [Footnote:
_Ibid._, Chapter 4.]

Out of 842 children who took this test, only fourteen really found, or
stated that they had found, the subject of the lesson. Two others said
that they _would_ find it. Eighty-eight really found, or stated that
they had found, the most important parts of the lesson; twenty-one
others, that they _would_ find them. Four verified the statements in
the text, and three others said that they _would_ do that. Nine
children did nothing; 158 "did not understand the requirements"; 100
gave irrelevant answers; 119 merely "thought," or "tried to understand
the lesson," or "studied the lesson"; and 324 simply wrote the facts
of the lesson. In other words, 710 out of the 842 sixth- and seventh-
grade pupils who took the test gave indefinite and unsatisfactory
answers. This number showed that they had no clear knowledge of the
principal things to be done in mastering an ordinary text-book lesson
in geography. Yet the schools to which they belonged were, beyond
doubt, much above the average in the quality of their instruction.

In a later and different test, in which the children were asked to
find the subject of a certain lesson that was given to them, 301 out
of 828 stated the subject fairly well. The remaining 527 gave only
partial, or indefinite, or irrelevant answers. Only 317 out of the 828
were able to discover the most important fact in the lesson. Yet
determining the subject and the leading facts are among the main
things that any one must do in mastering a topic. How they could have
been intelligent in their study in the past, therefore, is difficult
to comprehend.

_Teachers' and parents complaints about methods of study._

It is, perhaps, unnecessary to collect proofs that young people do not
learn how to study, because teachers admit the fact very generally.
Indeed, it is one of the common subjects of complaint among teachers
in the elementary school, in the high school, and in the college. All
along the line teachers condole with one another over this evil,
college professors placing the blame on the instructors in the high
school, and the latter passing it down to teachers in the elementary
school. Parents who supervise their children's studies, or who
otherwise know about their habits of work, observe the same fact with
sorrow. It is at least refreshing to find one matter, in the much-
disputed field of education, on which teachers and parents are well

How about the methods of study among teachers themselves? Unless they
have learned to study properly, young people cannot, of course, be
expected to acquire proper habits from them. _Method of study among
teachers._ The most enlightening single experience I have ever had
on this question came several years ago in connection with a series of
lectures on Primary Education. A course of such lectures had been
arranged for me without my full knowledge, and I was unexpectedly
called upon to begin it before a class of some seventy-five teachers.
It was necessary to commence speaking without having definitely
determined my first point. I had, however, a few notes which I was
attempting to decipher and arrange, while talking as best I could,
when I became conscious of a slight clatter from all parts of the
room. On looking up I found that the noise came from the pencils of my
audience, and they were writing down my first pointless remarks.
Evidently discrimination in values was not in their program. They call
to mind a certain theological student who had been very unsuccessful
in taking notes from lectures. In order to prepare himself, he spent
one entire summer studying stenography. Even after that, however, he
was unsuccessful, because he could not write quite fast enough to take
down _all_ that was said.

Even more mature students often reveal very meager knowledge of
methods of study. I once had a class of some thirty persons, most of
whom were men twenty-five to thirty-five years of age, who were
college graduates and experienced teachers. One day I asked them,
"When has a book been read properly?" The first reply came from a
state university graduate and school superintendent, in the words,
"One has read a book properly when one understands what is in it."
Most of the others assented to this answer. But when they were asked,
"Is a person under any obligations to judge the worth of the thought?"
they divided, some saying yes, others no. Then other questions arose,
and the class as a whole soon appeared to be quite at sea as to the
proper method of reading books. Perhaps the most interesting thing was
the fact that they seemed never to have thought seriously about the
matter. Fortunately Dr. Earhart has not overlooked teachers' methods
of study in her investigations. In a _questionnaire_ that was filled
out by 165 teachers, the latter were requested to state the principal
things that ought to be done in "thinking about a lesson." This was
practically the same test as was given to the 842 children before
mentioned. While at least twenty different things were named by these
teachers, the most frequent one was, "Finding the most important
points." [Footnote: _Ibid._, Chapter 5.] Yet only fifty-five out
of the 165 included even this. Only twenty-five, as Dr. Earhart says,
"felt, keenly enough to mention it, the necessity of finding the main
thought or problem." Forty admitted that they memorized more often
than they did anything else in their studying. Strange to say, a
larger percentage of children than of teachers mentioned finding the
main thought, and finding the more important facts, as two factors in
mastering a lesson. Water sometimes appears to rise higher than its

About two-thirds of these 165 teachers [Footnote: _Ibid._, Chapter 5.]
declared that they had never received any systematic instruction about
how to study, and more than half of the remainder stated that they
were taught to memorize in studying. The number who had given any
careful instruction on proper methods of study to their own pupils was
insignificant. Yet these 165 teachers had had unusual training on the
whole, and most of them had taught several years in elementary
schools. If teachers are so poorly informed, and if they are doing so
little to instruct their pupils on this subject, how can the latter be
expected to know how to study?

_The prevailing definition of study._

The prevailing definition of study gives further proof of a very
meager notion in regard to it. Frequently during the last few years I
have obtained from students in college, as well as from teachers,
brief statements of their idea of study. Fully nine out of every ten
have given memorizing as its nearest synonym.

It is true that teachers now and then insist that studying should
consist of _thinking_. They even send children to their seats with the
direction to "think, think hard." But that does not usually signify
much. A certain college student, when urged to spend not less than an
hour and a half on each lesson, replied, "What would I do after the
first twenty minutes?" His idea evidently was that he could read each
lesson through and memorize its substance in that time. What more
remained to be done? Very few teachers, I find, are fluent in
answering his question. In practice, memorizing constitutes much the
greater part of study.

The very name recitation suggests this fact. If the school periods are
to be spent in reciting, or reproducing, what has been learned, the
work of preparation very naturally consists in storing the memory with
the facts that are to be required. _Thinking periods_, as a substitute
name for recitation periods, suggests a radical change, both in our
employment of school time and in our method of preparing lessons. We
are not yet prepared for any such change of name.

_The literature dealing with method of study._

Consider finally the literature treating of study. Certainly there has
never been a period when there was a more general interest in
education than during the last twenty years, and the progress that has
been made in that time is remarkable. Our study of the social view-
point, of child nature, of apperception, interest, induction,
deduction, correlation, etc., has been rapidly revolutionizing the
school, securing a much more sympathetic government of young people, a
new curriculum, and far more effective methods of instruction. In
consequence, the injuries inflicted by the school are fewer and less
often fatal than formerly, while the benefits are more numerous and
more vital. But, in the vast quantity of valuable educational
literature that has been published, careful searching reveals only two
books in English, and none in German, on the "Art of Study." Even
these two are ordinary books on teaching, with an extraordinary title.

The subject of memorizing has been well treated in some of our
psychologies, and has received attention in a few of the more recent
works on method. Various other problems pertaining to study have also,
of course, been considered more or less, in the past, in books on
method, in rhetorics, and in discussions of selection of reading
matter. In addition, there are a few short but notable essays on
study. There have been practically, however, only two books that treat
mainly of this subject,--the two small volumes by Dr. Earhart, already
mentioned, which have been very recently published. In the main, the
thoughts on this general subject that have got into print have found
expression merely as incidents in the treatment of other themes--coming,
strange to say, largely from men outside the teaching profession--and
are contained in scattered and forgotten sources.

Thus it is evident not only that children and teachers are little
acquainted with proper methods of study, but that even sources of
information on the subject are strangely lacking.

The seriousness of such neglect is not to be overestimated. Wrong
methods of study, involving much unnecessary friction, prevent
enjoyment of school. This want of enjoyment results in much dawdling
of time, a meager quantity of knowledge, and a desire to quit school
at the first opportunity. The girl who adopted the muscular method of
learning history was reasonably bright. But she had to study very
"hard"; the results achieved in the way of marks often brought tears;
and, although she attended the high school several years, she never
finished the course. It should not be forgotten that most of those who
stop school in the elementary grades leave simply because they want
to, not because they must.

Want of enjoyment of school is likely to result, further, in distaste
for intellectual employment in general. Yet we know that any person
who amounts to much must do considerable thinking, and must even take
pleasure in it. Bad methods of study, therefore, easily become a
serious factor in adult life, acting as a great barrier to one's
growth and general usefulness.



Our physical movements ordinarily take place in response to a need of
some sort. For instance, a person wishing to reach a certain point, to
play a certain game, or to lay the foundations for a house, makes such
movements as are necessary to accomplish the purpose desired. Even
mere physical exercise grows out of a more or less specific feeling of

The mental activity called study is likewise called forth in response
to specific needs. The Eskimo, for example, compelled to find shelter
and having only blocks of ice with which to build, ingeniously
contrives an ice hut. For the sake of obtaining raw materials he
studies the habits of the few wild animals about him, and out of these
materials he manages by much invention to secure food, clothing, and

We ourselves, having a vastly greater variety of materials at hand,
and also vastly more ideas and ideals, are much more dependent upon
thinking and study. But, as in the case of the Eskimo, this thinking
and study arises out of actual conditions, and from specific wants. It
may be that we must contrive ways of earning more money; or that the
arguments for protective tariff seem too inconsistent for comfort; or
that the reports about some of our friends alarm us. The occasions
that call forth thought are infinite in number and kind. But the
essential fact is that study does not normally take place except under
the stimulus or spur of particular conditions, and of conditions, too,
that are unsatisfactory.

It does not take place even then unless we become conscious of the
strained situation, of the want of harmony between what is and what
might be. For ages malarial fever was accepted as a visitation by
Divine Providence, or as a natural inconvenience, like bad weather.
People were not disturbed by lack of harmony between what actually was
and what might be, because they did not conceive the possibility of
preventing the disease. Accordingly they took it as a matter of
course, and made no study of its cause. Very recently, on the other
hand, people have become conscious of the possibility of exterminating
malaria. The imagined state has made the real one more and more
intolerable; and, as this feeling of dissatisfaction has grown more
acute, study of the cause of the disease has grown more intense, until
it has finally been discovered. Thus a lively consciousness of the
unsatisfactoriness of a situation is the necessary prerequisite to its
investigation; it furnishes the motive for it.

It has ever been so in the history of evolution. Study has not taken
place without stimulus or motive. It has always had the practical task
of lifting us out of our difficulties, either material or spiritual,
and placing us on our feet. In this way it has been merely an
instrument--though a most important one--in securing our proper
adjustment or adaptation to our environment.[Footnote: For discussion
of this subject, see _Studies in Logical Theory_, by John Dewey.
See, also, _Systematic Study in Elementary Schools_, by Dr. Lida
B. Earhart, Chapters 1 and 2.]

_The variety of response to the demand for study_

After we have become acutely conscious of a misfit somewhere in our
experience, the actual study done to right it varies indefinitely with
the individual. The savage follows a hit-and-miss method of
investigation, and really makes his advances by happy guesses rather
than by close application. Charles Lamb's _Dissertation on Roast
Pig_ furnishes a typical example of such accidents.

The average civilized man of the present does only a little better.
How seldom, for instance, is the diet prescribed for a dyspeptic--whether
by himself or by a physician--the result of any intelligent study!
The true scientist, however, goes at his task in a careful and systematic
way. Recall, for instance, how the cause of yellow fever has been
discovered. For years people had attributed the disease to invisible
particles which they called "fomites." These were supposed to be given
off by the sick, and spread by means of their clothing and other
articles used by them. Investigation caused this theory to be abandoned.
Then, since Dr. J. C. Nott of Mobile had suggested, in 1848, that the
fever might be carried by the mosquito, and Dr. C. J.  Finlay of
Havana had declared, in 1881, that a mosquito of a certain kind would
carry the fever from one patient to another, this variety of mosquito
was assumed by Dr. Walter Reed, in 1900, to be the source of the
disease, and was subjected to very close investigation by him.  Several
men voluntarily received its bite and contracted the fever.  Soon,
enough cases were collected to establish the probable correctness of
the assumption. The remedy suggested--the utter destruction of this
particular kind of mosquito, including its eggs and larvae--was so
efficacious in combating the disease in Havana in 1901, and in New
Orleans in 1905, that the theory is now considered established. Thus
systematic study has relieved us of one of the most dreaded diseases
to which mankind has been subject.

_The principal factors in study_

An extensive study, like this investigation, into the cause of yellow
fever employs induction very plainly. It also employs deduction
extensively, inasmuch as hypotheses that have been reached more or
less inductively have to be widely applied and tested, and further
conclusions have to be drawn from them. Such a study, therefore,
involving both induction and deduction and their numerous short cuts,
contains the essential factors common to the investigation of other
topics, or to study in general; for different subjects cannot vary
greatly when it comes to the general method of their attack. An
analysis, therefore, which reveals the principal factors in this study
is likely to bring to light the main factors of study in general.

_1. The finding of specific purposes, as one factor in study_

If the search for the cause of yellow fever were traced more fully,
one striking feature discovered would be the fact that the
investigation was never aimless. The need of unraveling the mystery
was often very pressing, for we have had three great epidemics of
yellow fever in our own country since 1790, and scientists have been
eager to apply themselves to the problem. Yet a specific purpose, in
the form of a definite hypothesis of some sort, was felt to be
necessary before the study could proceed intelligently.

Thus, during the epidemic of 1793, the contagiousness of the disease
was debated. Then the theory of "fomites" arose, and underwent
investigation. Finally, the spread of the disease through the mosquito
was proposed for the solution. And while books of reference were
examined and new observations were collected in great number, such
work was not undertaken by the investigators primarily for the sake of
increasing their general knowledge, but with reference to the
particular issue at hand.

The important question now is, Is this, in general, the way in which
the ordinary student should work? Of course, he is much less mature
than the scientist, and the results that he achieves may have no
social value, in comparison. Yet, should his method be the same? At
least, should his study likewise be under the guidance of specific
purposes, so that these would direct and limit his reading,
observation, and independent thinking? Or would that be too narrow,
indeed, exactly the wrong way? And, instead of limiting himself to a
collection of such facts as help to answer the few problems that he
might be able to set up, should he be unmindful of particular
problems? Should he rather be a collector of facts at large,
endeavoring to develop an interest in whatever is true, simply because
it is true? Here are two quite different methods of study suggested.
Probably the latter is by far the more common one among immature
students. Yet the former is the one that, in the main, will be
advocated in this book as a factor of serious study.

_2. The supplementing of thought as a second factor in study._

Dr. Reed in this case went far beyond the discoveries of previous
investigators. Not only did he conceive new tests for old hypotheses,
but he posited new hypotheses, as well as collected the data that
would prove or disprove them. Thus, while he no doubt made much use of
previous facts, he went far beyond that and succeeded in enlarging the
confines of knowledge. That is a task that can be accomplished only by
the most mature and gifted of men.

The ordinary scholar must also be a collector of facts. But he must be
content to be a receiver rather than a contributor of knowledge; that
is, he must occupy himself mainly with the ideas of other persons, as
presented in books or lectures or conversation. Even when he takes up
the study of nature, or any other field, at first hand, he is
generally under the guidance of a teacher or some text.

Now, how much, if anything, must he add to what is directly presented
to him by others? To what extent must he be a producer in that sense?
Are authors, at the best, capable only of suggesting their thought,
leaving much that is incomplete and even hidden from view? And must
the student do much supplementing, even much _digging_, or severe
thinking of his own, in order to get at their meaning? Or, do authors--at
least the greatest of them--say most, or all, that they wish, and
make their meaning plain? And is it, accordingly, the duty of the
student merely to _follow_ their presentation without enlarging
upon it greatly?

The view will hereafter be maintained that any good author leaves much
of such work for the student to do. Any poor author certainly leaves
much more.

_3. The organization of facts collected, as a third factor in

The scientist would easily lose his way among the many facts that he
gathers for examination, did he not carefully select and bring them
into order. He arranges them in groups according to their relations,
recognizing a few as having supreme importance, subordinating many
others to these, and casting aside many more because of their
insignificance. This all constitutes a large part of his study.

What duty has the less mature student in regard to organization?
Should the statements that he receives be put into order by him? Are
some to be selected as vital, others to be grouped under these, and
still others to be slighted or even entirely omitted from
consideration, because of their insignificance? And is he to determine
all this for himself, remembering that thorough study requires the
neglect of some things as well as the emphasis of others? Or do all
facts have much the same value, so that they should receive about
equal attention, as is the case with the multiplication tables? And,
instead of being grouped according to relations and relative values,
should they be studied, one at a time, in the order in which they are
presented, with the idea that a topic is mastered when each single
statement upon it is understood? Or, if not this, has the reliable
author at least already attended to this whole matter, making the
various relations of facts to one another and their relative values so
clear that the student has little work to do but to follow the printed
statement? Is it even highly unsafe for the latter to assume the
responsibility of judging relative values? And would the neglect or
skipping of many supposedly little things be more likely to result in
careless, slipshod work than in thoroughness?

_4. The judging of the worth of statements, as a fourth factor in

The scientist in charge of the above-mentioned investigation was, no
doubt, a modest man. Yet he saw fit to question the old assumption
that yellow fever was spread by invisible particles called "fomites."
Indeed, he had the boldness to disprove it. Then he disproved, also,
the assumption that the fever was contagious by contact. After that he
set out to test a hypothesis of his own. His attitude toward the
results of former investigations was thus skeptically critical. Every
proposition was to be questioned, and the evidence of facts, rather
than personal authority or the authority of time, was the sole final
test of validity.

What should be the attitude of the young student toward the
authorities that he studies? Certainly authors are, as a rule, more
mature and far better informed upon the subjects that they discuss
than he, otherwise he would not be pursuing them. Are they still so
prone to error that he should be critical toward them? At any rate,
should he set himself up as their judge; at times condemning some of
their statements outright, or accepting them only in part,--and thus
maintain independent views? Or would that be the height of presumption
on his part? While it is true that all authors are liable to error,
are they much less liable to it in their chosen fields than he, and
can he more safely trust them than himself? And should he, therefore,
being a learner, adopt a docile, passive attitude, and accept whatever
statements are presented? Or, finally, is neither of these attitudes
correct? Instead of either condemning or accepting authors, is it his
duty merely to understand and remember what they say?

_5. Memorizing, as a fifth factor in study_

The scientist is greatly dependent upon his memory. So is every one
else, including the young student. What suggestions, if any, can be
made about the retaining of facts?

In particular, how prominent in study should be the effort to
memorize? Should memorizing constitute the main part of study--as it
so often does--or only a minor part? It is often contrasted with
thinking. Is such a contrast justified? If so, should the effort to
memorize usually precede the thinking--as is often the order in
learning poetry and Bible verses--or should it follow the thinking?
And why? Can one greatly strengthen the memory by special exercises
for that purpose? Finally, since there are some astonishingly poor
ways of memorizing--as was shown in chapter one--there must be some
better ways. What, then, are the best, and why?

_6. The using of ideas, as a sixth factor in study_

Does all knowledge, like this of the scientist, require contact with the
world as its endpoint or goal? And is it the duty of the student to
pursue any topic, whether it be a principle of physics, or a moral idea,
or a simple story, until it proves of benefit to some one? In that
case, enough repetition might be necessary to approximate habits--habits
of mind and habits of action--for the skill necessary for the successful
use of some knowledge cannot otherwise be attained. How, then, can
habits become best established? Or is knowledge something apart from
the active world, ending rather in self?

Would it be narrowly utilitarian and even foolish to expect that one's
learning shall necessarily function in practical life? And should the
student rather rest content to acquire knowledge for its own sake, not
bothering--for the present, at any rate--about actually bringing it to
account in any way?

The use to which his ideas had to be put gave Dr. Reed an excellent
test of their reliability. No doubt he passed through many stages of
doubt as he investigated one theory after another. And he could not
feel reasonably sure that he was right and had mastered his problem
until his final hypothesis had been shown to hold good under varying
actual conditions.

What test has the ordinary student for knowing when he knows a thing
well enough to leave it? He may set up specific purposes to be
accomplished, as has been suggested. Yet even these may be only ideas;
what means has he for knowing when they have been attained? It is a
long distance from the first approach to an important thought, to its
final assimilation, and nothing is easier than to stop too soon. If
there are any waymarks along the road, indicating the different stages
reached; particularly, if there is a recognizable endpoint assuring
mastery, one might avoid many dangerous headers by knowing the fact.
Or is that particularly what recitations and marks are for? And
instead of expecting an independent way of determining when he has
mastered a subject, should the student simply rely upon his teacher to
acquaint him with that fact?

_7. The tentative attitude as a seventh factor in study_

Investigators of the source of yellow fever previous to Dr. Reed
reached conclusions as well as he. But, in the light of later
discovery, they appear hasty and foolish, to the extent that they were
insisted upon as correct. A large percentage of the so-called
discoveries that are made, even by laboratory experiment, are later
disproved. Even in regard to this very valuable work of Dr. Reed and
his associates, one may feel too sure. It is quite possible that
future study will materially supplement and modify our present
knowledge of the subject. The scientist, therefore, may well assume an
attitude of doubt toward all the results that he achieves.

Does the same hold for the young student? Is all our knowledge more or
less doubtful, so that we should hold ourselves ready to modify our
ideas at any time? And, remembering the common tendency to become
dogmatic and unprogressive on that account, should the young student,
in particular, regard some degree of uncertainty about his facts as
the ideal state of mind for him to reach? Or would such uncertainty
too easily undermine his self-confidence and render him vacillating in
action? And should firmly fixed ideas, rather than those that are
somewhat uncertain, be regarded as his goal, so that the extent to
which he feels sure of his knowledge may be taken as one measure of
his progress? Or can it be that there are two kinds of knowledge? That
some facts are true for all time, and can be learned as absolutely
true; and that others are only probabilities and must be treated as
such? In that case, which is of the former kind, and which is of the

_8. Provision for individuality as an eighth factor in study_

The scientific investigator must determine upon his own hypotheses; he
must collect and organize his data, must judge their soundness and
trace their consequences; and he must finally decide for himself when
he has finished a task. All this requires a high degree of
intellectual independence, which is possible only through a healthy
development of individuality, or of the native self.

A normal self giving a certain degree of independence and even a touch
of originality to all of his thoughts and actions is essential to the
student's proper advance, as to the work of the scientist. Should the
student, therefore, be taught to believe in and trust himself, holding
his own powers and tendencies in high esteem? Should he learn even to
ascribe whatever merit he may possess to the qualities that are peculiar
to him? And should he, accordingly, look upon the ideas and influences
of other persons merely as a means--though most valuable--for the
development of this self that he holds so sacred? Or should he
learn to depreciate himself, to deplore those qualities that
distinguish him from others? And should he, in consequence, regard the
ideas and influences of others as a valuable means of suppressing, or
escaping from, his native self and of making him like other persons?

Here are two very different directions in which one may develop. In
which direction does human nature most tend? In which direction do
educational institutions, in particular, exert their influence? Does
the average student, for example, subordinate his teachers and the
ideas he acquires to himself? Or does he become subordinated to these,
even submerged by them? This is the most important of all the problems
concerning study; indeed, it is the one in which all the others

_The ability of children to study_

The above constitute the principal factors in study. But two other
problems are of vital importance for the elementary school.

Studying is evidently a complex and taxing kind of work. Even though
the above discussions reveal the main factors in the study of adults,
what light does it throw upon the work of children? Is their study to
contain these factors also? The first of these two questions,
therefore, is, Can children from six to fourteen years of age really
be expected to study?

It is not the custom in German elementary schools to include
independent study periods in the daily program. More than that, the
German language does not even permit children to be spoken of as
studying. Children are recognized as being able to learn (_lernen_);
but the foreigner, who, in learning German, happens to use the word
_studiren_ (study) in reference to them, is corrected with a smile and
informed that "children can learn but they cannot study." _Studiren_
is a term applicable only to a more mature kind of mental work.

This may be only a peculiarity of language. But such suggestions
should at least lead us to consider this question seriously. If
children really cannot study, what an excuse their teachers have for
innumerable failures in this direction! And what sins they have
committed in demanding study! But, then, when is the proper age for
study reached? Certainly college students sometimes seem to have
failed to attain it. If, however, children can study, to what extent
can they do it, and at how early an age should they begin to try?

_The method of teaching children how to study_

The second of these two questions relates to the method of teaching
children how to study. Granted that there are numerous very important
factors in study, what should be done about them? Particularly,
assuming that children have some power to study, what definite
instruction can teachers give to them in regard to any one or all of
these factors?

Can it be that, on account of their youth, no direct instruction about
method of study would be advisable, that teachers should set a good
example of study by their treatment of lessons in class, and rely only
upon the imitative tendency of children for some effect on their
habits of work? Or should extensive instruction be imparted to them,
as well as to adults, on this subject?

The leading problems in study that have been mentioned will be
successively discussed in the chapters following. These two questions,
however, Can children study? and If so, how can they be taught to do
it? will not be treated in chapters separate from the others. Each
will be dealt with in connection with the above factors, their
consideration immediately following the discussion of each of those
factors. While the proper method of study for adults will lead, much
emphasis will fall, throughout, upon suggestions for teaching children
how to study.

_Some limitations of the term study_

The nature of study cannot be known in full until the character of its
component parts has been clearly shown. Yet a working definition of
the term and some further limitations of it may be in place here.

Study, in general, is the work that is necessary in the assimilation
of ideas. Much of this work consists in thinking. But study is not
synonymous with thinking, for it also includes other activities, as
mechanical drill, for example. Such drill is often necessary in the
mastery of thought.

Not just any thinking and any drill, however, may be counted as study.
At least only such thinking and such drill are here included within
the term as are integral parts of the mental work that is necessary in
the accomplishment of valuable purposes. Thinking that is done at
random, and drills that have no object beyond acquaintance with dead
facts, as those upon dates, lists of words, and location of places,
for instance, are unworthy of being considered a part of study.

Day-dreaming, giving way to reverie and to casual fancy, too, is not
to be regarded as study. Not because it is not well to indulge in such
activity at times, but because it is not serious enough to be called
work. Study is systematic work, and not play. Reading for recreation,
further, is not study. It is certainly very desirable and even
necessary, just as play is. It even partakes of many of the
characteristics of true study, and reaps many of its benefits. No
doubt, too, the extensive reading that children and youth now do might
well partake more fully of the nature of study. It would result in
more good and less harm; for, beyond a doubt, much careless reading is
injurious to habits of serious study. Yet it would be intolerable to
attempt to convert pleasure-reading fully into real study. That would
mean that we had become too serious.

On the whole, then, the term study as here used has largely the
meaning that is given to it in ordinary speech. Yet it is not entirely
the same; the term signifies a purposive and systematic, and therefore
a more limited, kind of work than much that goes under that name.





_The habit among eminent men of setting up specific purposes of

The scientific investigator habitually sets up hypotheses of some sort
as guides in his investigations. Many distinguished men who are not
scientists follow and recommend a somewhat similar method of study.

For example, John Morley, M.P., in his _Aspects of Modern Study_,
[Footnote: Page 71.] says, "Some great men,--Gibbon was one and Daniel
Webster was another and the great Lord Strafford was a third,--always,
before reading a book, made a short, rough analysis of the questions
which they expected to be answered in it, the additions to be made to
their knowledge, and whither it would take them. I have sometimes
tried that way of studying, and guiding attention; I have never done
so without advantage, and I commend it to you." Says Gibbon [Footnote:
Dr. Smith's Gibbon, p. 64.], "After glancing my eye over the design
and order of a new book, I suspended the perusal until I had finished
the task of self-examination; till I had resolved, in a solitary walk,
all that I knew or believed or had thought on the subject of the whole
work or of some particular chapter; I was then qualified to discern
how much the author added to my original stock; and, if I was
sometimes satisfied with the agreement, I was sometimes armed by the
opposition of our ideas."

President James Angell emphasizes a similar thought in the following

I would like to recommend to my young friends who desire to profit by
the use of this library, the habit of reading with some system, and of
making brief notes upon the contents of the books they read. If, for
instance, you are studying the history of some period, ascertain what
works you need to study, and find such parts of them as concern your
theme. Do not feel obliged to read the whole of a large treatise, but
select such chapters as touch on the subject in hand and omit the rest
for the time.

Young students often get swamped and lose their way in the Serbonian
bogs of learning, when they need to explore only a simple and plain
pathway to a specific destination. Have a purpose and a plan, and
adhere to it in spite of alluring temptations to turn aside into
attractive fields that are remote from your subject.[Footnote: Address
at Dedication of Ryerson Public Library Building, Grand Rapids, Mich.,
Oct. 5, 1904.]

Noah Porter expresses himself even more pointedly in these words:--

In reading we do well to propose to ourselves definite ends and
purposes. The distinct consciousness of some object at present before
us, imparts a manifold greater interest to the contents of any volume.
It imparts to the reader an appropriative power, a force of affinity,
by which he insensibly and unconsciously attracts to himself all that
has a near or even a remote relation to the end for which he reads.
Anyone is conscious of this who reads a story with the purpose of
repeating it to an absent friend; or an essay or a report, with the
design of using the facts or arguments in a debate; or a poem, with
the design of reviving its imagery and reciting its finest passages.
Indeed, one never learns to read effectively until he learns to read
in such a spirit--not always, indeed, for a definite end, yet always
with a mind attent to appropriate and retain and turn to the uses of
culture, if not to a more direct application. The private history of
every self-made man, from Franklin onwards, attests that they all were
uniformly, not only earnest but select, in their reading, and that
they selected their books with distinct reference to the purposes for
which they used them. Indeed, the reason why self-trained men so often
surpass men who are trained by others in the effectiveness and success
of their reading, is that they know for what they read and study, and
have definite aims and wishes in all their dealings with books.
[Footnote: Noah Porter, Books and Reading, pp. 41-42.]

_Examples of specific purposes_

It is evident from the above that the practice of setting up specific
aims for study is not uncommon. Some actual examples of such purposes,
however, may help to make their character plainer. Following are a
number of examples of a very simple kind: (1) To examine the
catalogues of several colleges to determine what college one will
attend; (2) to read a newspaper with the purpose of telling the news
of the day to some friend; (3) to study Norse myths in order to relate
them to children; (4) to investigate the English sparrow to find out
whether it is a nuisance, or a valuable friend, to man; (5) to
acquaint one's self with the art and geography of Italy, so as to
select the most desirable parts for a visit; (6) to learn about Paris
in order to find whether it is fitly called the most beautiful of
cities; (7) to study psychology with the object of discovering how to
improve one's memory, or how to overcome certain bad habits; (8) to
read Pestalozzi's biography for the sake of finding what were the main
factors that led to his greatness; (9) to examine Lincoln's Gettysburg
speech with the purpose of convincing others of its excellence.

_The character of these aims_

Well-selected ends of this sort have two characteristics that are
worthy of special note. The first pertains to their _source_. Their
possible variety is without limit. Some may be or an intellectual
nature, as numbers 6, 8, and 9 among those listed above; some may aim
at utility for the individual, as numbers 1 and 7; and some may
involve service to others, as numbers 2 and 3. But however much they
vary, they find their source _within_ the person concerned. They
spring out of his own experience and appeal to him for that reason.
One very important measure of their worth is the extent to which they
represent an individual desire.

The second characteristic pertains to their _narrowness_ and
consequent _definiteness_. They call in each case for an investigation
of a relatively small and definite topic. This can be further seen
from the following topics in Biology: What household plants are most
desirable? How can these plants be raised? What are their principal
enemies, and how can these best be overcome? Whether we be working on
one or more of such problems at a time, they are so specific that we
need never be confused as to what we are attempting.

The nature of these aims in study can be made still clearer by
contrasting them with others that are very common. The "harmonious
development of all the faculties," or mental discipline, for instance,
has long been lauded by educators as one chief purpose in study.
Agassiz was one such educator, and in his desire to cultivate the
power of observation, he is said to have set students at work upon the
study of fishes without directions, to struggle as they might. Many
teachers of science before and since his time have followed a similar
method. Truth for truth's sake, or the idea that one should study
merely for the sake of knowing, has often been associated with mental
discipline as a worthy end. Culture is a third common purpose.

Each of these aims, instead of originating in the particular interests
of the individual, is reached by consideration of life as a whole, and
of the final purposes of education. They are too general in nature to
recognize individual preferences, and they are also too general to
cause much discrimination in the selection of topics and of particular
facts within topics. Strange to say, however, they have discriminated
against the one kind of knowledge that the aforementioned specific
aims emphasize as especially desirable. Under their exclusive
influence, for example, students of biology have generally made an
extensive study of wild plants and have paid little attention to house
plants. Such subjects as physics, fine art, and biology cannot help
but impart much information that relates to man; but that relationship
has generally been the last part reached in the treatment of each
topic, and the part most neglected. Under the influence of these
general aims any useful purpose, whether involving service to the
individual or to society at large, has somehow been eschewed or
thought too sordid to be worthy of the scholar.

_The relation of specific purposes to those that are more

Nevertheless, these two kinds of aims are not necessarily opposed to
each other. If a person can increase his mental power, or his love of
knowledge, or his culture, at the same time that he is accomplishing
specific purposes, why should he not do so? The gain is so much the

Not only are the two kinds not mutually opposed, but they are really
necessary to each other. General purposes when rightly conceived are
of the greatest importance as the _final_ goals to be reached by
study. But they are too remote of attainment to act as immediate
guides. Others more detailed must perform that office and mark off the
minor steps to be taken in the accomplishment of the larger purposes.
Thus the narrower purposes are related to the larger ones as means to

_Ways in which specific purposes are valuable
1. As a source of motive power_

Specific purposes are necessary in the first place, because they help
to supply motive power both for study and for life in general. Proper
study requires abundant energy, for it is hard work; and young people
cannot be expected to engage in it heartily without good reason. In
particular, it requires very close and sustained attention, which it
is most difficult to give. Threats and punishments can, at the best,
secure it only in part; for young people who thus suffer habitually
reserve a portion of their energy to imagine the full meanness of
their persecutors and, not seldom, to devise ways of getting even.
Neither can direct exercise of will insure undivided attention. How
often have all of us, conscious that we _ought_ fully to concentrate
attention upon some task, determined to do so in vain.

The best single guarantee of close and continuous attention is a deep,
direct interest in the work in hand, an interest similar in kind to
that which children have in play. Such interest serves the same
purpose with man as steam does in manufacturing,--it is motive power,
and it is as necessary to provide for it in the one case as in the

Broad, general aims cannot generate this interest, for abstractions do
not arouse enthusiasm. It is the concrete, the detailed, that arouses
interest, particularly that detail that is closely related to life. We
all remember how, in the midst of listless reading, we have sometimes
awakened with a start, when we realized that what we were reading bore
directly upon some vital interest. Specific purposes of the kind
described insure the interest, and therefore the energy, necessary for
full and sustained attention. "For remember," says Lowell, "that there
is nothing less profitable than scholarship for the mere sake of
scholarship, nor anything more wearisome in the attainment. But the
moment you have a definite aim, attention is quickened, the mother of
memory, and all that you acquire groups and arranges itself in an
order that is lucid, because everywhere and always it is in
intelligent relation to a central object of constant and growing
interest." [Footnote: Lowell, Books and Libraries.] If eminent
scholars thus value and actually make use of concrete purposes,
certainly immature students, whose attention is much less "trained,"
can follow their example with profit.

Life in general, as well as study, requires motive power. Energy to do
many kinds of things is so important that one's worth depends as much
upon it as upon knowledge. Indeed, if there must be some lack in one
of these two, it were probably better that it be in knowledge.

A deep many-sided interest is a key also to this broader kind of
energy. Yet how often is such interest lacking! This lack of interest
is seen among high-school students in the selection of subjects for
commencement essays; good subjects are difficult to find because
interests are so rare. It is seen among college students in their
choice of elective courses; for they often seem to have no strong
interest beyond that of avoiding hard work. It is seen in many college
graduates who are roundly developed only in the sense that they are
about equally indifferent toward all things. And, finally, it is seen
in the great number of men and women who, without ambition, drift
aimlessly through life. Well-chosen specific purposes will help
materially to remedy these evils, for there is no dividing line
between good study-purposes and good life-purposes. The first must
continually merge into the second; and the interest aroused by the
former, with its consequent energy, gives assurance of interested and
energetic pursuance of the latter.

The importance of being rich in unsolved problems is not likely to be
overestimated. Most well-informed adults who have little "push" are
not lazy by nature; they have merely failed to fall in love with
worthy aims. That is often partly because education has been allowed
to mean to them little more than the collecting of facts. If it had
included the collection of interesting and valuable purposes as well,
their devotion to proper aims in life might have grown as have their
facts; then their energy might have kept pace with their knowledge.

If students, therefore, regularly occupy a portion of their study time
in thinking out live questions that they hope to have answered by
their further study, and interesting uses that they intend to make of
their knowledge, they are equipping themselves with motive power both
for study and for the broader work of life.

_2. As a basis for the selection and organization of facts_

One of the constant dangers in study is that facts will be collected
without reference either to their values, as previously stated, or to
their arrangement. Nature study frequently illustrates this danger.
For instance, I once witnessed a recitation in which each member of a
class of eleven-year-old children was supplied with a dead oak leaf
and asked to write a description of it in detail. The entire period
was occupied with the task, and following is a copy of one of the
papers, without its figures.

                 THE OAK LEAF.

Greatest length.........   Length of the stem....
Greatest breadth........   Color of the stem.....
Number of lobes.........   Color of the leaf.....
Number of indentations..   General shape.........

The other papers closely resembled this one. Consider the worth of
such knowledge! This is one way in which time is wasted in school and
college. Probably the main reason for the choice of this topic was the
fact that the leaves could be easily obtained. But if the teacher had
been in the habit of setting up specific aims, and therefore of asking
how such matter would prove valuable in life, she would have never
given this lesson--unless higher authorities had required it.

One of my classes of about seventy primary teachers in the study of
education once undertook to plan subject-matter in nature study for
six-year-old children in Brooklyn. They agreed that the common house
cat would be a fitting topic. And on being asked to state what facts
they might teach, they gave the following sub-topics in almost exactly
this order and wording: the ears; food and how obtained; the tongue;
paws, including cushions; whiskers; teeth; action of tail; sounds;
sharp hearing; sense of smell; cleanliness; eyes; looseness of the
skin; quick waking; size of mouth; manner of catching prey; claws;
care of young; locomotion; kinds of prey; enemies; protection by
society for the prevention of cruelty to animals,--twenty-two topics
in all. When I inquired if they would teach the length of the tail, or
the shape of the head and ears, or the length and shape of the legs,
or the number of claws or of teeth, most of them said "no" with some
hesitation, and some made no reply. When asked what more needed to be
done with this list before presenting the subject to the children,
some suggested that those facts pertaining to the head should be
grouped together, likewise those pertaining to the body and those in
regard to the extremities. Some rejected this suggestion, but offered
no substitute. No general agreement to omit some of the topics in the
list was reached, and most of the class saw no better plan than to
present the subject, cat, under the twenty-two headings given.

Although there were college graduates present, and many capable women,
it was evident that they carried no standard for judging the value of
facts or for organizing them. The setting up of specific purposes
seemed to offer them the aid that they needed. Since this was in
Brooklyn, where the main relation of cats to children is that of pets,
we took up the study of the animal with the purpose of finding to what
extent cats as pets can provide for themselves, and to what extent,
therefore, they need to be taken care of, and how.

Under these headings the sub-topics given, with a few omissions and
additions, might be arranged as follows:

Under first aim:--

   I. _Food_ (chief thing necessary).

      1. Kinds of prey...{ Mice
                          \Moles, etc.
                          /Eyes, that see in dark;
      2. How found.....  {   structure.
                         { Sense of smell; keenness.
                          \Ears; keenness.

                         / Approach; use of whiskers.
                         | Quietness of movements;
                         |   how so quiet (padded feet,
                         |   loose joints, manner of
                         |   walking).
                         | Action of tail.
      3. How caught.....{  Catching and holding;
                         |   ability to spring; strength of
                         |   hind legs.
                         | Fore paws; used like hands.
                         |   Claws; shape, sharpness,
                         \   and sheaths.

   II. _Shelter._ Use of covering.
                       Finding of warm place in coldest weather.

Under second aim:--

   I. _Food_ (when prey is wanting).
                   Kinds and where obtained: milk; scraps
                     from table; biscuit; catnip.
                   Observe method of drinking.

  II. _Shelter_. How provide shelter.

 III. _Cleanliness_. Why washing unnecessary (cat's face
                            washing; aversion to getting wet).
                          Danger from dampness.
                          Need of combing and brushing;

  IV. _Enemies_. Kinds of insects; remedies.
                      Dogs; boys and men.
                        Proper treatment. Value of Society for
                          Prevention of Cruelty to Animals;
                       how to secure its aid.

Thus a definite purpose, that is simple, concrete, and close to the
learner's experience, can be valuable as a basis for selecting and
arranging subject-matter. Facts that bear no important relation to
this aim, such as the length of the cat's tail and the shape of its
ears, fall out; and those that are left, drop into a series in place
of a mere list.

_As a promise of some practical outcome of study in conduct_

A manufacturer must do more than supply himself with motive power and
manufacture a proper quality of goods; he must also provide for a
market. Again, if he makes money, he is under obligations not to let
it lie idle; if he hoards it, he is condemned as a miser. He is
responsible for turning whatever goods or money he collects to some

The student, likewise, should not be merely a collector of knowledge.
The object of study is not merely insight. As Frederick Harrison has
said, "Man's business here is to know for the sake of living, not to
live for the sake of knowing." "Religion that does not express itself
in conduct socially useful is not true religion"; and, we may add,
education that does not do the same is not true education.

It is part of one's work as a student, therefore, to plan to turn
one's knowledge to some account; to plan not alone to sell it for
money, but to _use_ it in various ways in daily life. If, instead
of this, one aims to do nothing but collect facts, no matter how
ardently, he has the spirit of a bookworm at best and stands on the
same plane as the miser. Or if, notwithstanding good intentions, he
leaves the effect of his knowledge on life mainly to accident, he is
grossly careless in regard to the chief object of study. Yet the
average student regards himself as mainly a collector of facts, a
storehouse of knowledge; and his teachers also regard him in that
light. Planning to turn knowledge to some account is not thought to be
essential to scholarship.

There are, no doubt, various reasons for this, but it is not because
an effect on life is not finally desired. The explanation seems to be
largely found in a very peculiar theory, namely, that the fewer
bearings on life a student now concerns himself with, the more he will
somehow ultimately realize; and if he aims at none in particular, he
will very likely hit most of them. Thus aimlessness, so far as
relations of study to life are concerned, is put at a premium, and
students are directly encouraged to be omnivorous absorbers without
further responsibility.

Meanwhile, sensible people are convinced of the unsoundness of this
theory. How often, after having read a book from no particular point
of view, one feels it necessary to reexamine it in order to know how
it treats some particular topic! The former reading was too defective
to meet a special need, because the very general aim caused the
attitude to be general or non-selective. How often do young people who
have been taught to have no particular aim in their reading, have no
aim at all, beyond intellectual dissipation, the momentary tickle of
the thought. Thus _all_ particular needs are in danger of being
left unsatisfied when no particular need is fixed upon as the object.
It is the growing consciousness of the great waste in such study that
has changed botany in many places into horticulture and agriculture,
chemistry into the chemistry of the kitchen, and that has caused
portions of many other studies to be approached from the human view-

This indicates the positive acceptance of specific purposes as guides
in study. They are not by any means full guarantees of an outcome of
knowledge in conduct, for they are only the plans by which the student
hopes that his knowledge will function. Since plans often fail of
accomplishment, these purposes may never be realized. But they give
promise of some outcome and form one important step in a series of
steps necessary for the fruition of knowledge.

_By whom and when such purposes should be conceived_

The aims set up by advanced scholars are necessarily an outgrowth of
their individual experience and interests. Such aims must, therefore,
vary greatly. For this reason such men must conceive their purposes
for themselves; there is no one who can do it for them.

Younger students are in much the same situation, for their aims should
also be individual to a large extent. Text-books might be of much help
if their authors attempted this task with skill. But authors seldom
attempt it at all; and, even if they do, they are under the
disadvantage of writing for great numbers of persons living in widely
different environments. Any aims that they propose must necessarily be
of a very general character. Teachers might again be of much help; but
many of them do not know how, and many more will not try. The task,
therefore, falls mainly to the student himself.

As to the time of forming in mind these aims, the experimental
scientist necessarily posits some sort of hypothesis in advance of his
experiments; the eminent men before mentioned conceive the questions
that they hope to have answered, in advance of their reading. It is
natural that one should fix an aim before doing the work that is
necessary for its accomplishment. If these aims are to furnish the
motive for close attention and the basis for the selection and
organization of facts, they certainly ought to be determined upon
early. The earlier they come, too, the greater the likelihood of some
practical outcome in conduct; for the want of such an outcome is very
often due to their postponement.

On the other hand, the setting up of desirable ends requires mental
vigor, as well as a wide and well-controlled experience. Gibbon's
"solitary walk" (p. 31) Would hardly be a pleasure walk for most young
people, even if they had his rich fund of knowledge to draw upon.
While it is desirable, therefore, to determine early upon one's
purposes, young students will often find it impossible to do this. In
such cases they will have to begin studying without such aids. They
can at least keep a sharp lookout for suitable purposes, and can
gradually fix upon them as they proceed. In general it should be
remembered that the sooner good aims are selected, the sooner their
benefits will be enjoyed.


According to custom, young people are expected to acquire knowledge
now and find its uses later. The preceding argument would reverse that
order by having them discover their wants first and then study to
satisfy them. This is the way in which man has progressed from the
beginning--outside of educational institutions--and it seems the
normal order.

To what extent shall this apply to children? If the fixing of aims is
difficult for adult students, it can be expected to be even more
difficult for children of the elementary school age. For their
experience, from which the suggestions for specific purposes must be
obtained, is narrow and their command of it slight. On the other hand,
they are expected to have done a large amount of studying before
entering the high school, much of it alone, too. And, after leaving
the elementary school, people will take it for granted that they have
already learned how to study. If, therefore, the finding of specific
purposes is an important factor in proper study, responsibility for
acquiring that ability will fall upon the elementary school.

_Do children need the help of specific aims?_

The first question to consider is, Do children seriously need the help
of such aims? They certainly do in one respect, for they resemble
their elders in being afflicted with inattention and unwillingness to
exert themselves in study. These are the offenses for which they are
most often scolded at school, and these are their chief faults when
they attempt to study alone. There is no doubt also but that the main
reason why children improve very little in oral reading during the
last three years in the elementary school is their lack of incentive
to improve. They feel no great need of enunciating distinctly and of
reading with pleasant tones loud enough to be heard by all, when all
present have the same text before them. Why should they?

Good aims make children alert, just as they do older persons. I
remember hearing a New York teacher in a private school say to her
thirteen-year-old children in composition, one spring day: "I expect
to spend my vacation at some summer resort; but I have not yet decided
what one it shall be. If you have a good place in mind, I should be
glad to have you tell me why you like it. It may influence my choice."
She was a very popular teacher, and each pupil longed to have her for
a companion during the summer. I never saw a class undertake a
composition with more eagerness. In a certain fifth-year class in
geography a contest between the boys and girls for the best collection
of articles manufactured out of flax resulted in the greatest
enthusiasm. The reading or committing to memory of stories with the
object of dramatizing them--such as _The Children's Hour_, in the
second or third grade--seldom fails to arouse lively interest.

For several years the members of the highest two classes in a certain
school have collected many of the best cartoons and witticisms. They
have also been in the habit of reading the magazines with the object
of selecting such articles as might be of special interest to their
own families at home, or to other classes in the school, or to their
classmates, often defending their selections before the class. Their
most valuable articles have been classified and catalogued for use in
the school; and their joke-books, formed out of humorous collections,
have circulated through the school. The effect of the plan in
interesting pupils in current literature has been excellent.

A certain settlement worker in New York City in charge of a club of
fourteen- to eighteen-year-old boys tried to arouse an interest in
literature, using one plan after another without success. Finally the
class undertook to read _Julius Caesar_ with the object of selecting
the best parts and acting them out in public. This plan succeeded; and
while the acting was grotesque, this purpose led to what was probably
the most earnest studying that those boys had ever done.

The value of definite aims for the conduct of the recitation is now
often discussed and much appreciated by teachers. If such aims are so
important in class, with the teacher present, they are surely not less
needed when the child is studying alone.

The worth of specific aims for children as a source of energy in
general is likewise great. It is a question whether children under
three years of age are ever lazy. But certainly within a few years
after that age--owing to the bad effect of civilization, Rousseau
might say--many of them make great progress toward laziness of both
body and mind.

The possibilities in this direction were once strikingly illustrated
in an orphan asylum in New York City. The two hundred children in this
asylum had been in the habit of marching to their meals in silence,
eating in silence, and marching out in silence. They had been trained
to the "lock step" discipline, until they were _quiet_ and _good_ to a
high degree. The old superintendent having resigned on account of age,
an experienced teacher, who was an enthusiast in education, succeeded
him in that office. Feeling depressed by the lack of life among the
children, the latter concluded, after a few weeks, to break the
routine by taking thirty of the older boys and girls to a circus. But
shortly before the appointed day one of these girls proved so
refractory that she was told that she could not be allowed to go.
To the new superintendent's astonishment, however, she did not seem
disappointed or angered; she merely remarked that she had never seen a
circus and did not care much to go anyway. Shortly afterward he fined
several of the children for misconduct. Many of them had a few dollars
of their own, received from relatives and other friends. But the fines
did not worry them. They were not in the habit of spending money,
having no occasion for it; all that they needed was food, clothing,
and shelter, and these the institution was bound to give. Then he
deprived certain unruly children of a share in the games. That again
failed to cause acute sorrow. In the great city they had little room
for play, and many had not become fond of games. It finally proved
difficult to discover anything that they cared for greatly. Their
discipline had accomplished its object, until they were usually "good"
simply because they were too dull, too wanting in ideas and interests
to be mischievous. Their energy in general was low. Here was a demand
for specific purposes without limit.

One of the first aims that the new superintendent set up, after making
this discovery, was to inculcate live interests in these children, a
capacity to enjoy the circus, a love even of money, a love of games,
of flowers, of reading, and of companionship. His means was the fixing
of definite and interesting objects to be accomplished from day to
day, and these gradually restored the children to their normal
condition. Thus all children need the help of specific aims, and some
need it sadly.

_Is it normal to expect children to learn to set up specific aims
for themselves?_

There remains the very important question, Are children themselves
capable of learning to set up such purposes? Or at least would such
attempts seem to be normal for them? This question cannot receive a
final answer at present, because children have not been sufficiently
tested in this respect. It has so long been the habit in school to
collect facts and leave their bearings on life to future accident,
that the force of habit makes it difficult to measure the
probabilities in regard to a very different procedure.

Yet there are some facts that are very encouraging. A large number of
the tasks that children undertake outside of school are self imposed,
many of these including much intellectual work. Largely as a result of
such tasks, too, they probably learn at least as much outside of
school as they learn in school, and they learn it better.

Further, when called upon in school to do this kind of thinking, they
readily respond. A teacher one day remarked to her class, "I have a
little girl friend living on the Hudson River, near Albany, who has
been ill for many weeks. It occurred to me that you might like to
write her some letters that would help her to pass the time more
pleasantly. Could you do it?" "Yes, by all means," was the response.
"Then what will you choose to write about?" said the teacher. One girl
soon inquired, "Do you think that she would like to know how I am
training my bird to sing?" Several other interesting topics were
suggested. The finding of desirable purposes is not beyond children's

Individual examples, however, can hardly furnish the best answer to
the question at present; the general nature of children must determine
it. If children are leading lives that are rich enough intellectually
and morally to furnish numerous occasions to turn their acquisitions
to account, then it would certainly be reasonable to expect them to
discover some of these occasions. If, on the other hand, their lives
are comparatively barren, it might be unnatural to make such a demand
upon them.

The feeling is rather common that human experience becomes rich only
as the adult period is reached; that childhood is comparatively barren
of needs, and valuable mainly as a period of storage of knowledge to
meet wants that will arise later. Yet is this true? By the time the
adult state is reached, one has passed through the principal kinds of
experience; the period of struggle is largely over, and the results
have registered themselves in habits. The adult is to a great extent a
bundle of habits.

The child, and the youth in the adolescent age, on the other hand, are
just going the round of experience for the first few times. They are
just forming their judgments as to the values of things about them.
Their intellectual life is abundant, as is shown by their innumerable
questions. Their temptations--such as to become angry, to fight, to
lie, to cheat, and to steal--are more numerous and probably more
severe than they will usually be later; their opportunities to please
and help others, or to offend and hinder, are without limit; and their
joys and sorrows, though of briefer duration than later, are more
numerous and often fully as acute. In other words, they are in the
midst of growth, of habit formation, both intellectually and morally.
Theirs is the time of life when, to a peculiar degree, they are
experimentally related to their environment. Why, then, should they be
taught to look past this period, to their distant future as the
harvest time for their knowledge and powers? The occasions are
abundant _now_ for turning facts and abilities to account, and it
is normal to expect them to see many of these opportunities. Proper
development requires that they be trained to look for them, instead of
looking past them.

Here is seen the need of one more reform in education. Children used
to be regarded as lacking value in themselves; their worth lay in
their promise of being men and women; and if, owing to ill health,
this promise was very doubtful, they were put aside. For education
they were given that mental pabulum that was considered valuable to
the adult; and their tastes, habits, and manners were judged from the
same viewpoint.

Very recently one radical improvement has been effected in this
program. As illustrated in the doctrine of apperception, we have grown
to respect the natures of children, even to accept their instincts,
their native tendencies, and their experiences as the proper _basis_
for their education. That is a wonderful advance. But we do not yet
regard their present experience as furnishing the _motive_ for their
education. We need to take one more step and recognize their present
lives as the field wherein the knowledge that they acquire shall
function. We do this to some extent; but we lack faith in the
abundance of their present experience, and are always impatiently
looking forward to a time when their lives will be rich.

In feeding children we have our eyes primarily on the present; food is
given them in order to be assimilated and used _now_ to satisfy
_present_ needs; that is the best way of guaranteeing health for
the future. Likewise in giving them mental and spiritual food, our
attention should be directed primarily to its present value. It should
be given with the purpose of present nourishment, of satisfying
present needs; other more distant needs will thereby be best served.

A few years ago, when I was discussing this topic with a class at
Teachers College, I happened to observe a recitation in the Horace
Mann school in which a class of children was reading _Silas Marner_.
They were frequently reproved for their unnaturally harsh voices, for
their monotones, indistinct enunciation, and poor grouping of words.
In the Speyer school, nine blocks north of this school, I had often
observed the same defects.

At about that time one of my students, interested in the early history
of New York, happened to call upon an old woman living in a shanty
midway between these two schools. She was an old inhabitant, and one
of the early roadways that the student was hunting had passed near her
house. In conversation with the woman he learned that she had had five
children, all of whom had been taken from her some years before,
within a fortnight, by scarlet fever; and that since then she had been
living alone. When he remarked that she must feel lonesome at times,
tears came to her eyes, and she replied, "Sometimes." As he was
leaving she thanked him for his call and remarked that she seldom had
any visitors; she added that, if some one would drop in now and then,
either to talk or to read to her, she would greatly appreciate it; her
eyes had so failed that she could no longer read for herself.

Here was an excellent chance to improve the children's reading by
enabling them to see that the better their reading the more pleasure
could they give to those about them. This seems typical of the present
relation between the school and its environing world. While the two
need each other sadly, the school is isolated somewhat like the old-
time monastery. The fixing of specific aims for study can aid
materially in establishing the normal relation, and children can
certainly contribute to this end by discovering some of these purposes
themselves. That is one of the things that they should _learn_ to do.


_1. Elimination of subject-matter that has little bearing on

The elimination from the curriculum of such subject-matter as has no
probable bearing on ordinary mortals is one important step to take in
giving children definite aims in their study. There is much of this
matter having little excuse for existence beyond the fact that it
"exercises the mind"; for example: in arithmetic, the finding of the
Greatest Common Divisor as a separate topic, the tables for
Apothecaries' weight and Troy measure, Complex and Compound
Fractions;[Footnote: For a more complete list of such topics, see
Teachers College Record, _Mathematics in the Elementary School_,
March, 1903, by David Eugene Smith and F. M. McMurry.] in geography,
the location of many unimportant capes, bays, capitals and other
towns, rivers and boundaries; in nature study, many classifications,
the detailed study of leaves, and the study of many uncommon wild
plants. The teaching of facts that cannot function in the lives of
pupils directly encourages the mere collecting habit, and thus tends
to defeat the purpose here proposed. Not that we do not wish children
to collect facts; but while acquiring them we want children to carry
the responsibility of discovering ways of turning them to account, and
mere collecting tends to dull this sense of responsibility.

_2. The example to be set by the teacher_

By her own method of instruction the teacher can set an example of
what she desires from her pupils in the way of concrete aims. For
instance: (a) during recitation she can occasionally suggest
opportunities for the application of knowledge and ability. "This is a
story that you might tell to other children," she might say; or, "Here
is something that you might dramatize." "You might talk with your
father or mother about this." "Could you read this aloud to your
family?" Again, (b) in the assignment of lessons she might set a
definite problem that would bring the school work into direct touch
with the outside world. In fine art, instead of having children make
designs for borders, without any particular use for the design, she
might suggest, "Find some object or wall surface that needs a border,
and see if you can design one that will be suitable." As a task in
arithmetic for a fifth-year class in a small town, she might assign
the problem, "To find out as accurately as possible whether or not it
pays to keep a cow." Finally, (c) as part of an examination, she can
ask the class to recall purposes that they have kept in mind in the
study of certain topics. By such means the teacher can make clear to a
class what is meant by interesting or useful aims of study, and also
impress them with the fact that she feels the need of studying under
the guidance of such aims.

_3. The responsibility the children should bear._

The teacher need not do a great amount of such work for her class. The
children should _learn to do it themselves_, and they will not acquire
the ability mainly by having some one else do it for them.

Therefore, after the children have come to understand the requirement
fairly well, the teacher might occasionally assign a lesson by
specifying only the quantity, as such and such pages, or such and such
topics, in the geography or history, with the understanding that the
class shall state in the next recitation one or more aims for the
lesson; for example, if it is the geography of Russia, How it happens
that we hear so often of famines in Russia, while we do not hear of
them in other parts of Europe; or, if it is the history of Columbus,
For what characteristic is Columbus to be most admired? Again, In what
ways has his discovery of America proved of benefit to the world? The
finding of such problems will then be a part of the study necessary in
mastering the lesson.

Likewise, during the recitation and without any hint from the teacher,
the children should show that they are carrying the responsibility of
establishing relations of the subject-matter with life, by mentioning
further bearings, or possible uses, that they discover.

Review lessons furnish excellent occasions for study of this kind. It
is narrow to review lessons only from the point of view of the author.
His view-point should be reviewed often enough to become well fixed,
but there should be other view-points taken also.

John Fiske has admirably presented the history of the period
immediately following the Revolution. The title of his book, _The
Critical Period of American History_, makes us curious from the
beginning to know how the period was so critical. This is a fine
example of a specific aim governing a whole book. But other aims in
review might be, Do we owe as much to Washington during this period as
during the war just preceding? Or were other men equally or more
prominent? How was the establishment of a firm Union made especially
difficult by the want of certain modern inventions? The pupils
themselves should develop the power to suggest such questions.

_4. The sources to which children should look for suggestions_

The teacher can teach the children _where to look for suggestions_ in
their search for specific purposes. During meals, three times a day,
interesting topics of conversation are welcome; indeed, the dearth of
conversation at such times, owing to lack of "something to say," is
often depressing. There is often need of something to unite the family
of evenings, such as a magazine article read aloud, or a good
narrative, or a discussion of some timely topic. There are social
gatherings where the people "don't know what to do"; there are
recesses at school where there is the same difficulty; there are
neighbors, brothers and sisters, and other friends who are more
than ready to be entertained, or instructed, or helped. Yet children
often dramatize stories at school, without ever thinking of doing the
same for the entertainment of their family at home. They read good
stories without expecting to tell them to any one. They collect good
ideas about judging pictures, without planning to beautify their homes
through them. Thus the children can be made conscious that there are
_wants_ on all sides of them, and by some study of their environment
they can find many aims that will give purpose to their school work.
Again, by a review of their past studies, their reading, and their
experience of various kinds, they can be reminded of objects that they
are desirous of accomplishing. It is, perhaps, needless to say that
the teacher herself must likewise make a careful study of the home,
street, and school life of her pupils, of their study and reading, if
she is to guide them most effectually in their own search for
desirable aims.

_5. Stocking up with specific aims in advance_

Finally, the teacher can lead her pupils to stock up with specific
aims _even in advance of their immediate needs_. A teacher who visits
another school with the desire of getting helpful suggestions would
better write down beforehand the various things that she wishes to
see. She can afford to spend considerable time and energy upon such
a list of points. Otherwise, she is likely to overlook half of the
things she was anxious to inquire about.

Likewise, children can be taught to jot down in a notebook various
problems that they hope to solve, various wants observed in their
environment that they may help to satisfy. Children who are much
interested in reading, sometimes without outside suggestion make lists
of good books that they have heard of and hope to read. And as they
read some, they add others to their list. Keeping this list in mind,
they are on the lookout for any of these books, and improve the
opportunity to read one of them whenever it offers. A similar habit in
regard to things one would like to know and do can be cultivated, so
that one will have a rich stock of aims on hand in advance, and these
will help greatly to give purpose to the work later required in the

_6. The importance of moderation in demands made upon children._

In conclusion, it may be of importance to add that this kind of
instruction can be easily overdone, and it is better to proceed too
slowly than too rapidly. It is a healthy and permanent development
that is wanted, and the teacher should rest satisfied if it is slow.
It is by no means feasible to attempt to subordinate all study to
specific aims; we cannot see our way to accomplish that now. But we
can do something in that direction. Only occasional attempts with the
younger children will be in place; more conscious efforts will be
fitting among older pupils. By the time the elementary school is
finished, a fair degree of success in discovering specific aims can be

Yet, even if little more than a willingness to _take time to try_
is established, the gain will be appreciable. When children become
interested in a topic, they are impatient to "go on" and "to keep
going on." This continual hurrying forward crowds out reflection. If
they learn no more than to pause now and then in order to find some
bearings on life, and thus do some independent _thinking_, they are
paving the way for the invaluable habit of reflection.



_The question here at issue_

In the preceding chapter the importance of studying under the
influence of specific purposes was urged. These are such purposes as
the student really desires to accomplish by the study of text or of
other matter placed before him. Since they are not usually included in
such matter, but must be conceived by the student himself, they
constitute a very important kind of supplement to whatever statements
may be offered for study. The questions now arise, Are other kinds of
supplementing also generally necessary? If so, what is their nature?
Should they be prominent, or only a minor part of study? And is there
any explanation of the fact that authors are not able to express
themselves more fully and plainly?

_Answers to these questions--1. As suggested by Bible study._

For answers to these questions, turn first to Bible study. Take for
instance a minister's treatment of a Bible text. Selecting a verse or
two as his Answers to theme for a sermon, he recalls the conditions
that called forth the words; builds the concrete picture by the
addition of reasonable detail; makes comparisons with corresponding
views or customs of the present time; states and answers queries that
may arise; calls attention to the peculiar beauty or force of certain
expressions; draws inferences or corollaries suggested in the text;
and, finally, interprets the thought or draws the practical lessons.
The words in his text may number less than a dozen, while those that
he utters reach thousands; and the thoughts that he expresses may be a
hundred times the number directly visible in the text.

Leaving the minister, take the layman's study of the parable of the
Prodigal Son. This is the story as related in Luke 15:11-32:

11. And he said, A certain man had two sons:

12. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the
portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his

13. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and
took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance
with riotous living.

14. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that
land; and he began to be in want.

15. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and
he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the
swine did eat; and no man gave unto him

17. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of
my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18. I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I
have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

19. And am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy
hired servants.

20. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great
way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on
his neck, and kissed him.

21. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven,
and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

22. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe,
and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.

23. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and
be merry.

24. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is
found. And they began to be merry.

25. Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew nigh
to the house, he heard music and dancing.

26. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things

27. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath
killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

28. And he was angry, and would not go in; therefore came his father
out, and intreated him.

29. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I
serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and
yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my

30. But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy
living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

81. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I
have is thine.

32. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad; for this thy
brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

How simple the story! Even a child can tell it after very few
readings, and one could soon learn the words by heart. Is one then
through with it? Or has the study then hardly begun?

Note some of the questions that need to be considered:--

1. What various thoughts probably induced the young man to leave home?

2. What pictures of his former life does he call to mind when
starving? Why did he hesitate about returning?

3. What were his thoughts and actions as he approached his father;
those also of his father?

4. What indication of the father's character is given in the fact that
he saw his son while yet "a great way off"?

5. Which is perhaps the most interesting scene? Which is least

6. How would the older son have had the father act?

7. Did the father argue at length with the older son? Was it in place
to argue much about such a matter?

8. Describe the character of the elder son. Which of the two is the

9. Is the father shown to be at fault in any respect in the training
of his sons? If so, how?

10. How do people about us often resemble the elder son?

11. Is this story told as a warning or as a comfort? How?

These are only a few of the many questions that might well be
considered. Indeed, whole books could be, and probably have been,
written upon this one parable. Yet neither such questions nor their
answers are included in the text. It seems strange that almost none of
the great thoughts that should be gathered from the story are
themselves included with the narrative. But the same is true in regard
to other parts of the Bible. The conversation between Jesus and the
Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) is, perhaps, the greatest
conversation that was ever held. Yet one must discover this fact
"between the lines"; there is no such statement included in the

Evidently both to the minister and to the layman the Bible contains
only the raw materials for thought. It must be supplemented without
limit, if one is to comprehend it and to be nourished by it properly.

_2. As suggested by the study of other literature_

Does this same hold with regard to other literature? For answer,
recall to what extent Shakespeare's dramas are "talked over" in class,
both in high schools and colleges. But as a type--somewhat extreme,
perhaps--take Browning's


That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will't please you sit and look at her? I said
"Fra Pandolf" by design, for never read
Stranger like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 't was not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say, "Her mantle laps
Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat": such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart--how shall I say--too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 't was all one! My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace--all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,--good! but thanked
Somehow--I know not how--as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech--(which I have not)--to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark"--and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
--E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

How much the word last in the title of this poem suggests! Note how
many, and how different, are the topics in the last dozen lines. Yet
there is no paragraphing throughout. The page should show things as
they exist in the Duke's mind, and he runs from one thought to another
as if they were all on the same plane, and closely related.

Was there ever a more vain, heartless, haughty, selfish, bartering
gentleman-wretch? Note how single short sentences even surprise one by
the extent to which they reveal character. Whole volumes are included
between sentences. One can scarcely read the poem through rapidly; for
it seems necessary to pause here and there to reflect upon and
interject statements.

There is no doubt about the need of extensive supplementing in the
case of adult literature. Is that true, however, of literature for
children? Is not this, on account of the immaturity of children,
necessarily so written as to make such supplementing unnecessary?
For a test let us examine Longfellow's The Children's Hour, which is
so popular with seven- and eight-year-old boys and girls.


Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes,
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old moustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon,
In the round tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, for ever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And molder in dust away!

1. How would we plan to dramatize this poem? In answering this
question, we must consider how many persons are needed, what
arrangement of rooms and doors, etc., will be fitting; are the last
three stanzas to be spoken? etc.

2. It seems that here is a family in which an hour is set aside for
play. What kind of home must that be?

3. Was this the custom each day? Or did it happen only once?

4. Does the father seem to enjoy it? Or was it rather an unpleasant
time for him?

5. Is there any proof that these were especially attractive children?
("Voices soft and sweet.")

6. Which is the best part of the last three stanzas, in which he tells
how much he loves them? (Meaning of "for ever and a day.")

7. Do you know any other families that have a time set apart each day
for playing together? Why are there not more?

8. Does such an arrangement depend on the parents wholly? Or could the
children help much to bring it about? How?

9. Have you heard the story about the Bishop of Bingen in his Mouse-
Tower on the Rhine River?

10. Meaning of strange words may be explained in various ways, perhaps
some of them scarcely explained at all.

These are some of the questions that could well be considered in this
poem. It is true that this selection, like most adult literature, is
capable of being enjoyed without much addition. But it is not mere
enjoyment that is wanted. We are discussing what study is necessary in
order to get the full profit. In the case of Hawthorne's _Wonder-Book_
and _Tanglewood Tales_, numerous questions and suggestions need
likewise to be interjected. One of the best books for five- to eight-
year-old children on the life of Christ bears the title _Jesus the
Carpenter of Nazareth_. It is an illustrated volume of five hundred
pages, which makes it clear that the original Bible text has been
greatly supplemented. Yet it is a pity to read even this book without
frequent pausing for additional detail.

Thus literature, including even that for young children, fails to show
on the surface all that the reader is expected to see. Much of it
states only a very small part of this. A piece of literature resembles
a painting in this respect. Corot's well-known painting, "Dance of the
Wood Nymphs," presents only a few objects, including a landscape with
some trees and some dancing women. Yet people love to sit and look at
it, perhaps to examine its detail and enjoy its author's skill, but
also to recall countless memories of the past, of beautiful woods and
pastures, of happy parties, of joys, hopes, and resolves, and
possibly, too, to renew resolves for the future. The very simple scene
is thus a source of inspiration, a stimulus to think or study. A poem
accomplishes the same thing.

_3. As stated by Ruskin_

A warning of the amount of hard work that the student of literature
must expect is given by Ruskin in the following forcible words: "And
be sure, also, if the author is worth anything, that you will not get
at his meaning all at once,--nay, that at his whole meaning you will
not for a long time arrive in any wise. Not that he does not say what
he means, and in strong words, too; but he cannot say it all, and what
is more strange, will not, but in a hidden way, and in parables, in
order that he may be sure you want it. I cannot quite see the reason
of this, nor analyze the cruel reticence in the breasts of wise men
which makes them always hide their deeper thought.

"They do not give it you by way of help, but of reward, and will make
themselves sure that you deserve it, before they allow you to reach

"But it is the same with the physical type of wisdom, gold. There
seems, to you and me, no reason why the electric forces of the earth
should not carry whatever there is of gold within it at once to the
mountain tops, so that kings and people might know that all the gold
they could get was there, and without any trouble of digging, or
anxiety, or chance, or waste of time, cut it away, and coin as much as
they needed. But Nature does not manage it so. She puts it in little
fissures in the earth, nobody knows where. You may dig long and find
none; you must dig painfully to find any.

"And it is just the same with men's best wisdom. When you come to a
good book, you must ask yourself, 'Am I inclined to work as an
Australian miner would? Are my pickaxes and shovels in good order, and
am I in good trim myself, my sleeves well up to the elbow, and my
breath good, and my temper?' And keeping the figure a little longer...
the metal you are in search of being the author's mind or meaning, his
words are as the rock which you have to crush and smelt in order to
get at it. And your pickaxes are your own care, wit, and learning;
your smelting furnace is your own thoughtful soul. Do not hope to get
at any good author's meaning without those tools, and that fire; often
you will need sharpest, finest chiseling and patientest fussing before
you can gather one grain of the metal."[Footnote: _Sesame and Lilies_]

_4. As suggested by an examination of text-books_

When we turn from literature to the text-books used in schools and
colleges, we find the need of supplementing greatly increased. Writers
of literature are at liberty to choose any topic they please, and to
treat it as fully as they will. But writers of text-books are free in
neither of these respects. Their subjects are determined for them; it
is the history, for example, of a given period, the grammar of the
English language, the geography of the earth. And these must be
presented briefly enough to be covered by classes within a prescribed
time. For these reasons text-books contain far less detail than
literature, and in that sense are much more condensed. They are only
the outlines of subjects, as their titles often directly acknowledge.
Green's _History of England_, for instance, which has been extensively
used as a college text, barely touches many topics that are treated at
great length elsewhere. It is natural, therefore, that in our more
advanced schools the word text in connection with such books is used
in much the same sense as in connection with the Bible; a text is that
which merely introduces topics by giving the bare outline of facts, or
very condensed statements; it must be supplemented extensively, if the
facts or thoughts are to be appreciated.

How about the texts used in the elementary school? Those used in the
highest two grades need, perhaps, somewhat more supplementing than
those in the high school. But in the middle grades this need is still
greater. In the more prominent studies calling for text-books, such as
history, geography, and English language or grammar, nearly the same
topics are treated as in the higher grades, and in substantially the
same manner. But since the younger children are not expected to take
as long lessons,--and perhaps, too, because they cannot carry as large
books,--their texts are made briefer. This is mainly accomplished by
leaving out much of the detail that is necessary to make the facts
clear and interesting. Consequently, supplementing is an especially
important factor of study in these grades. In general, the briefer the
text, the more "filling in" is needed.

As an illustration, take the following extract from the first page of
McMaster's _Child's History of the United States_, often used with
ten-year-old pupils.

Four hundred and fifty years ago the people of western Europe were
getting silks, perfumes, shawls, ivory, spices, and jewels from
southeastern Asia, then called the Indies. But the Turks were
conquering the countries across which these goods were carried, and it
seemed so likely that the trade would be stopped, that the merchants
began to ask if somebody could not find a new way to the Indies.

The king of Portugal thought he could, and began sending his sailors
in search of a way around Africa, which extended southward, nobody
knew how far. Year after year his ships sailed down the west coast,
the last captain going further south than the one before him, till one
of them at last reached the southern end of the continent and entered
the Indian Ocean.

Observe a few of the thoughts "between the lines" that need to be

1. Six things are here mentioned as brought from the East Indies. It
seems odd that some of these should receive mention as among the most
important imports. Which are they? Could any of them have been more
important then than now? Why?

2. What were the routes of travel, by land, to the Indies? (Map.)

3. Where did the Turks live; and what reasons had they for preventing
this trade?

4. Why could not the first Portuguese captain sail directly to the
southern end of Africa?

Again, take the topic _desert_ in geography. The texts usually define
a desert as a sandy waste, often a plain, that receives too little
rain to support much vegetable or animal life. Pictures are given
showing the character of the plants, and perhaps the appearance
of such a region. Beyond that little is usually attempted. In the
larger books the danger from sand storms and some other things are
included. Such treatment needs to be supplemented by numerous
questions, such as the following:--

1. What animals that are common here are seldom found there, or not at
all? (Horses, cows, etc., also birds, flies, bugs, etc.)

2. What plants that are common here are not found there? (Trees,
flowers, weeds, etc.)

3. Is the weather particularly enjoyable there, or not? Is it
desirable to have sunshine all the time?

4. What about noises of various kinds? (Silence so oppressive to some
people that it becomes intolerable.)

5. What would be some of the pleasures of a walk in the desert?
(Coloring, change of seasons, trees along streams, appearance of any

6. What about the effect of strong winds on the sand?

7. Imagining that some one has just crossed a desert, what dangers do
you think he has encountered, and how may he have escaped from them?

_The extent to which the supplementing should be carried_

From the preceding discussion it is clear not only that no important
topic is ever completely presented, but also that there is scarcely
any limit to the extent to which it may be supplemented. Men get new
thoughts from the same Bible texts year after year, and even century
after century. How far, then, should the supplementing be carried?

The maximum limit cannot be fixed, and there is no need of attempting
it. But there is great need of knowing and keeping in mind the minimum
limit; for in the pressure to hurry forward there is grave danger that
even this limit will not be reached.

What is this minimum limit? Briefly stated, it is this: There should
be enough supplementing to render the thought really nourishing,
_quickening_, to the learner. In the case of literature that will
involve some supplementing; and in the case of ordinary text-books it
will require a good deal more.

Is this standard met when the child understands and can reproduce in
substance the definition of desert? Far from it! That definition is as
dry and barren as the desert itself; it tends to deaden rather than
quicken. The pupil must go far beyond the mere cold understanding and
reproduction of a topic. He must see the thing talked about, as though
in its presence; he must not only see this vividly, but he must enter
into its spirit, or _feel_ it; he must experience or live it.
Otherwise the desired effect is wanting. This standard furnishes the
reason for such detailed questions as are suggested above. The
frequency with which stirring events, grand scenery, and great
thoughts are talked about in class with fair understanding, but
without the least excitement, is a measure of the failure of the so-
called better instruction to come up to this standard. No really good
instruction, any more than good story books, will leave one cold
toward the theme in hand.

_Reasons why authors fail to express their thought more

It must be confessed that this standard calls for a large amount of
supplementing. There are meanings of words and phrases to be studied,
references to be looked up, details to be filled in for the sake of
vivid pictures, illustrations to be furnished out of one's own
experience, inferences or corollaries to be drawn, questions to be
raised and answered, and finally the bearings on life to be traced. It
might seem that authors could do their work better, and thereby
relieve their readers of work.

Yet these omissions are not to be ascribed to the evil natures of
authors, nor to the superabundance of their thought, alone. Readers
would be dissatisfied if all this work were done for them. Any one has
observed that small children are disappointed if they are not allowed
to perform necessary little tasks that lie within their power. Also,
they enjoy those toys most that are not too complete, and that,
therefore, leave some work for their own imaginations. This quality of
childhood is characteristic of youth and of adults. An author would
not be forgiven if he stopped in the midst of his discourse to explain
a reference. Eminent writers, like Longfellow, for example, are even
blamed for attaching the morals to their productions; and terseness is
one of the qualities of literature that is most praised. In other
words, older people, like children, love activity. Although they at
times hate to work, they do not want authors to presuppose that they
are lazy or helpless; and they resent too much assistance. Since,
therefore, the many omissions in the presentation of thought are in
accordance with our own desires, we would do well to undertake the
necessary supplementing without complaint.


There are several facts indicating that children have the ability to
undertake this kind of studying.

_Reasons for assuming that children have this kind of ability
1. Their vivid imaginations_

One of the chief powers necessary is a vivid imagination by which
concrete situations can be clearly pictured, and children possess such
power to an unusual degree. They see so vividly that they become
frightened by the products of their own imaginations. Their dolls are
so truly personified that mishaps to them easily cause tears, and
their mistreatment by strangers is resented as though personal. Adults
hardly equal them in this imaginative quality.

_2. Their ability to imitate and think, as shown in conversation_

When children are left alone together they do not lack things to do
and say. Their minds are active enough to entertain one another as
well as adults do, and not seldom better. In fact, if they remain
natural, they are often more interesting to adults than other adults
are. They reach even profound thoughts with peculiar directness. When
I was attempting, one day, to throw a toy boomerang for some children,
one of the little girls, observing my want of success, remarked, "I
saw a picture of a man throwing one of these things. He stood at the
door of his house, and the boomerang went clear around the house. But
I suppose that people sometimes make pictures of things that they
can't do; don't they?"

_3. The success of development instruction_

The method of teaching called _development instruction_ is based on
the desire and ability of children to contribute ideas. That
instruction could not succeed as it has succeeded, if children did not
readily conceive thoughts of their own. Not only do they answer
questions that teachers put in such teaching, but they also propose
many of the questions that should be considered. That method
flourishes even in the kindergarten. In the kindergarten circle
children often interrupt the leader with germane remarks; and
sometimes it is difficult even to suppress such self-expression. One
reason the kindergartner tells her stories, rather than reads them, is
that she may have her eyes on the children and thus take advantage of
their desire to make contributions of thought. The same tendency is
shown in the home, when children want to "talk over" what their
parents or other persons read to them. They fail to respond in this
way only when they are afraid, or when they have attended school long
enough to have this tendency partly suppressed.

_4. The character of children's literature_

Finally, the fact that children's literature, like that for adults,
presupposes much supplementing, is strong reason for presupposing that
ability on their part. Any moral lessons that belong to fairy tales
must be reached by the children's own thought; the same usually
applies to fables also. Hawthorne understood the child mind as few
persons have. Yet it is astonishing how much ability to supplement
seems to have been expected by him. It would be surprising if such
experts were mistaken in their estimate of children.


_1. Importance of using text-books_

Teachers can make use of text-books at least enough to give much
practice in supplementing text. Text-books are so uncommon in some
schools that one might conclude that they had gone out of fashion
among good teachers. Yet there is certainly nothing in modern
educational theory that advises the neglect of books. Some teachers
may have imagined that development instruction, to which reference has
just been made, leans that way. But development instruction is of
importance rather in the first presentation of some topics. After a
topic has been thus developed, it can well be reviewed and further
studied in connection with books. Many teachers are neglecting to use
texts both to their own detriment and to the serious disadvantage of
their pupils.

_2. Kind of text to be preferred_

Teachers who have liberty in choosing their text-books should select
those that contain abundant detail. That means a thick book, to be
sure; and many teachers are afraid of such books on the ground that
they mean long lessons. A thick book may be a poor text; but a thin
one is almost bound to be. The reason is that books are usually made
thin at the expense of detail; and detail is necessary in order to
establish the relations between facts, by which the story form can be
secured and a subject be made interesting. Without plenty of detail
the facts have to be run together, or listed, merely as so many things
that are true; they then form only a skeleton, with all the
repulsiveness of a skeleton. Such a barren text is barren of
suggestions to children for supplementing, because the ideas are too
far apart to indicate what ought to fit in between.

The understanding ought to be more common that long lessons are by no
means synonymous with hard lessons. The hardest lessons to master are
those brief, colorless presentations that fail to stimulate one to see
vividly and to think. Many a child who carries a geography text about
with him learns most of his geography from his geographical readers,
simply because the writer does not squeeze all the juice out of what
he has to say in order to save space. A child can often master five
pages in such a book more easily than he can one from the ordinary
geography, and he will remember it longer.

_3. Character of the questions to be put_

Whatever the text chosen, the recitation should be so conducted that
the emphasis will fall on reflection rather than on mere reproduction.
To this end one should avoid putting mainly memory questions, such as,
Who was it--? When was it--? Why was it--? What is said about--? Even
the usual request, "Close the books," at the beginning of the
recitation can often be omitted to advantage. Why should not the text-
book in history and geography lie open in class, just as that in
literature, if _thinking_ is the principal object?

Questions that require supplementing can be proposed by both teacher
and pupils. Now and then some topic can be assigned for review, with
the understanding that the class, instead of reproducing the facts,
shall occupy the time in "talking them over." The teacher can then
listen, or act as critic. It is a harsh commentary on the quality of
instruction if a lesson on Italy, or on a presidential administration,
or on a story, suggests no interesting conversation to a class.

Occasionally, as one feature of a lesson, a class might propose new
points of view for the review of some subject. For example, if the
Western states have been studied in geography, some of the various
ways in which they are of interest to man might be indicated by
questions, thus: What about the Indians in that region? What pleasure
might a sportsman expect there? What sections would be of most
interest to the sight-seer? How is the United States Government
reclaiming the arid lands, and in what sections? What classes of
invalids resort to the West, and to what parts? How do the fruits
raised there compare with those further east in quality and
appearance? How is farming differently conducted there? In what
respects, if any, is the West more promising than the East to a young
man starting in life?

These are such questions about the West as large classes of
individuals must put to themselves in practical life; they are, then,
fair questions for the pupil in school to put to himself and to
answer. By thus considering the various phases of human interest in a
subject, children can get many suggestions for supplementing the text.

_4. Different types of reproduction_

The habit of reproducing thought in different ways will also throw
different lights on the subject-matter, and thus offer many
supplementary ideas. For example, dramatizing is valuable in this way.
The description, in the first person, of one's experiences in crossing
the desert is an illustration. I once visited a Sunday-school class
that was studying the life of John Paton, the noted missionary to the
New Hebrides Islands. The text stated that one of the cannibal chiefs
had been converted, and had asked permission to preach on Sunday to
the other savages. This permission was granted; but the text did not
reproduce the sermon. Thereupon several members of the class
undertook, as a part of the next Sunday's lesson, to deliver such a
sermon as they thought the savage might have given. Two of the boys
brought hatchets on that Sunday to represent tomahawks, which they
used as aids in making gestures, and their five-minute speeches showed
a careful study of the whole situation. Likewise the experiences of
Columbus might be dramatized, as, when asking for help from the king,
or when reasoning with the wise men of Spain, or when conversing with
his sailors on his first voyage to America.[Footnote: See the story of
Columbus in Stevenson's _Children's Classics in Dramatic Form_, A
Reader for the Fourth Grade.]

Additional suggestions will often be obtained by inquiring, "What part
of this lesson, if any, would you like to represent by drawings? Or by
paintings? Or by constructive work? Also, How would you do it?"

_5. The danger of the three R's and spelling to habits of reflection_

Much of what has been said about supplementing ideas finds only slight
application to beginning reading, writing, spelling, and number work.
The reason is that these subjects, aiming so largely at mastery of
symbols, call for memory and skill rather than reflection. For this
very reason these subjects are in many ways dangerous to proper habits
of study, and the teacher needs to be on her guard against their bad
influence. They are so prominent during the first few years of school
that children may form their idea of study from them alone, which they
may retain and carry over to other branches. To avoid this danger,
other subjects, such as literature and nature study, deserve prominent
places in the curriculum from the beginning, and special care should
be exercised to treat them in such a way that this easy kind of
reflection is strongly encouraged.



_A. The different values of facts, and their grouping into "points"_

_Extent to which teachers treat facts as equal in value_

In several branches of knowledge in the primary school it is customary
for teachers to attach practically the same importance to different
facts. This is the case, for instance, in spelling, where a mistake
counts the same, no matter what word be misspelled. It is largely the
case in writing. In beginning reading one word is treated as equal in
value to any other, since in any review list every one is required. In
beginning arithmetic this equality of values is emphasized by
insistence upon the complete mastery of every one of the combinations
in the four fundamental operations. Throughout arithmetic, moreover,
failure to solve any problem is the same as the failure to solve any
other, judged in the light of the marking systems in use.

The same tendency is less marked, but still evident, in many other
subjects, some of them more advanced. In geography, teachers seldom
recognize any inequality of value in the map questions, even though a
question on the general directions of the principal mountain systems
in North America be followed by a request to locate Iceland. The
facts, too, are very often strung along in the text in such a manner
that it is next to impossible to distinguish values. Here is an
example from a well-known text: "Worcester is a great railroad center,
and is noted for the manufacture of engines and machinery. At
Cambridge is located Harvard University, the oldest and one of the
largest in the country. Pall River, Lowell, and New Bedford are the
great centers of cotton manufacture; Lawrence, of both cotton and
wool; Lynn, Brockton, and Haverhill make millions of boots and shoes;
and at Springfield is a United States arsenal, where firearms are
made. Holyoke has large paper mills. Gloucester is a great fishing
port. Salem has large tanneries." How does this differ from a spelling
list, so far as equality of values is concerned?

In nature study all have witnessed the typical lesson where some
object, such as a flowering twig, for example, is placed in the hands
of every pupil and each one is requested to tell something that he
sees. Anything that is offered is gratefully accepted. While this
particular kind of study is fortunately disappearing, the common
tendency to regard all facts alike is still clearly shown in the case
of the topic, cat, discussed on page 40.

In literature, failures are very often condemned alike, whether they
pertain to the meanings of words, of sentences, of references, or of
whole chapters.

Until very recently at least, even in universities, it has been common
to assign lessons in history textbooks by pages, and to require that
they be recited in the order of the text. The teacher, or professor
even, in such cases has shown admirable ability to place the burden of
the work upon the students by assigning to himself the single onerous
task of announcing who shall "begin" and who shall "go on." What
recognition is there of varying values of facts in such teaching?

_The effect of such teaching on method of study_

Not all of such instruction is avoidable or even undesirable; but it
is so common that it has a very important effect on method of study.

So long as facts are treated as approximately equal in worth, the
learner is bound to picture the field of knowledge as a comparatively
level plain composed of a vast aggregation of independent bits. In
spelling, writing, and beginning reading it is so many hundreds or
thousands of words; in beginning arithmetic it is the various
combinations in the four fundamental operations; in geography it is a
long list of statements; in history it is an endless lot of facts as
they happen to come on the page; in literature it is sentence after

One can get possession of this field, not by taking the strategic
positions,--for under the assumption of equality there are none,--but
rather by advancing over it slowly, mastering one bit at a time. Thus
the words in beginning reading, writing, and spelling are learned and
reproduced in all orders, proving them to be independent little
entities. In geography and history, when the facts are not wormed out
of the pupil by questions, he sees the page before him by his mind's
eye,--a fact frequently revealed by the movement of his eyes while
reciting,--and attempts to recall each paragraph or statement in its
order. In literature he masters his difficulties sentence by sentence,
a method most clearly shown in the case of our greatest classic, the
Bible, which is almost universally studied and quoted by verses.

Thus the _unit of progress_ in study is made the single fact; the
whole of any subject becomes the sum of its details; and a subject has
been supposedly mastered when all these bits have been learned. This
might well be called the method of study by driblets. It is probably
safe to say that a majority of the young people in the United States,
including college students, study largely in this way.

While this method of study is bad in numerous ways, there are three of
its faults in particular which need to be considered here.

_Respects in which this method of study is wrong
1. Facts, as a rule, vary greatly in value_

In the first place, facts vary indefinitely in value. In parts of a
few subjects they do have practically the same worth, which is, no
doubt, a source of much misconception about proper methods of study.
In spelling, for instance, _which_ is probably as important a word as
_when_, and _sea_ as important as _flood_. In a list of three hundred
carefully selected words for spelling for third-year pupils, any one
word might properly be regarded as equal to any other in worth. This
may be said also in regard to a list for writing. Much the same is
true in regard to a possible list of four hundred words for reading in
the first year of school. In arithmetic one would scarcely assert that
4X7 was more or less important than 9X8, or 8/2, or 6-3, or 4+2. In
other words, the various combinations in the four fundamental
operations are, again, all of them essential to every person's
knowledge, and therefore stand on the same plane of worth.

To some extent, therefore, the three R's and spelling are exceptions
to an important general rule. Yet even in spelling and beginning
reading not all words by any means have the same value. Children in
the third year of school who are reading Whittier's _Barefoot Boy_
ought to be able to recognize and spell the word _robin;_ perhaps,
also, _woodchuck_ and _tortoise;_ but _eschewing_ is not a part of
their vocabulary and will not soon be, and probably the less said
about that word by the teacher the better.

The moment we turn to other subjects, facts are found to vary almost
infinitely in value, just as metals do. Judged by the space they
occupy, they may appear to be equally important; but they are not to
be judged in this way, any more than men are. According to their
nature, thoughts or statements are large and small, or broad and
narrow, or far-reaching and insignificant. A general of an army may be
of more consequence to the welfare of a nation than a thousand common
soldiers; so one idea like that of evolution may be worth a full ten
thousand like the fact that "our neighbor's cat kittened yesterday."

_2. They are dependent upon one another for their worth_

In the second place, facts can by no means be regarded as independent.
As before, to be sure, the three R's and spelling afford some
exception to this rule. In spelling, writing, and beginning reading it
is important that any one of a large number of words be recognized or
reproduced at any time, without reference to any others. All of these,
together with the combinations in the fundamental operations in
arithmetic, are often called for singly, and they must, therefore, be
isolated from any possible series into which they might fall, and
mastered separately.

Aside from these subjects, facts are generally dependent upon their
relations to one another for their value. Taken alone, they are
ineffective fragments of knowledge, just as a common soldier or an
officer in an army is ineffective in battle without definite relations
to a multitude of other men.

If the first sentences on twenty successive pages in a book were
brought together, they would tell no story. They would be mere
scattered fractions of thoughts, lacking that relation to one another
that would give them significance and make them a unit. Twenty closely
related sentences might, however, express a very valuable thought.

James Anthony Froude, impressed with this truth and at the same time
recalling the prevalent tendency to ignore it, declares: "Detached
facts on miscellaneous subjects, as they are taught at a modern
school, are like separate letters of endless alphabets. You may load
the mechanical memory with them, till it becomes a marvel of
retentiveness. Your young prodigy may amaze examiners and delight
inspectors. His achievements may be emblazoned in blue books, and
furnish matter for flattering reports on the excellence of our
educational system. And all this while you have been feeding him with
chips of granite. But arrange your letters into words, and each word
becomes a thought, a symbol waking in the mind an image of a real
thing. Group your words into sentences, and thought is married to
thought, and the chips of granite become soft bread, wholesome,
nutritious, and invigorating." [Footnote: James Anthony Froude,
_Handwork before Headwork._]

A very simple illustration is found in the study of the dates for the
entrance of our states into the Union. Taken one at a time, the list
is dead. But interest is awakened the moment one discovers that for a
long period each Northern state was matched by one in the South, so
that they entered in pairs.

_3. The sum of the details does not equal the whole._

Finally, the whole of a subject is not merely the sum of its little
facts. You may study each day's history lesson faithfully, and may
retain everything in memory till the book is "finished," and still not
know the main things in the book. You may understand and memorize each
verse of a chapter in the Bible until you can almost reproduce the
chapter in your sleep, and still fail to know what the chapter is
about. Probably some readers of this text who have repeated the Lord's
Prayer from infancy, would still need to do some studying before they
could tell the two or three leading thoughts in that prayer.

An especially good illustration of this fact in my own experience as a
teacher has been furnished in connection with the following paragraph,
taken from Dr. John Dewey's _Ethical Principles underlying Education._
"Information is genuine or educative only in so far as it effects
definite images and conceptions of material placed in social life.
Discipline is genuine and educative only as it represents a reaction
of the information into the individual's own powers, so that he can
bring them under control for social ends. Culture, if it is to be
genuine and educative, and not an external polish or factitious
varnish, represents the vital union of information and discipline. It
designates the socialization of the individual in his whole outlook
upon life and mode of dealing with it." I have had a large number of
graduate students who found it very difficult to state the point of
this paragraph, although every sentence is reasonably clear and they
are in close sequence.

Thus the larger thoughts, instead of being the sum of the details, are
an outgrowth from them, an interpretation of them; they are separate
and new ideas conceived through insight into the relations that the
individual statements bear to one another.

_The proper unit of progress in study_

From the foregoing we see that some facts are very large, while others
are of little importance, and that any one statement, taken
separately, lacks significance.

The field of thought, therefore, instead of being pictured as a plain,
is to be conceived as a very irregular surface, with elevations of
various heights scattered over it. And just as hills and mountains
rest upon and are approached by the lower land about them, so the
larger thoughts are supported and approached by the details that
relate to them.

A general of an army, desiring to get possession of a disputed region,
does not plan to take and hold the lower land without the higher
points, nor the higher points without the lower land. On the contrary,
each vantage point with its approaches constitutes, in his mind, one
division of the field, one strategic section, which is to be seized
and held. And these divisions or units all taken together constitute
the region.

So any portion of knowledge that is to be acquired should be divided
into suitable units of attack; one large thought together with its
supporting details should constitute one section, another large
thought together with its associated details a second, etc.; all of
these together composing the whole field. In other words, the student,
instead of making progress in knowledge fact by fact, should advance
by _groups of facts_. His smallest unit of progress should be a
considerable number of ideas so related to one another that they make
a whole; those that are alike in their support of some valuable
thought making up a bundle, and the farther-reaching, controlling idea
itself constituting the band that ties these bits together and
preserves their unity. Such a unit or, "point," as it is most often
called, is the basal element in thinking, just as the family is the
basal element in society.

_The size of such units of advance._

Such units of advance may vary indefinitely in size; but the danger is
that they will be too small. A minister who reaches his thirteenthly
is not likely to be a means of converting many sinners. A debater who
makes fifteen points will hardly find his judges enthusiastic in his
favor, no matter how weak his opponents may be. A chapter that
contains twenty or thirty paragraphs should not be remembered as
having an equal number of points. What is wanted is that the student
shall _feel the force_ of the ideas presented, and a great lot of
little points strung together cannot produce a forceful impression.

Any thought that is worth much must be supported by numerous facts and
will require considerable time or space for presentation. A minister
can hardly establish a half dozen valuable ideas in one sermon; he
does well if he presents two or three with force; and he is most
likely to make a lasting impression if he confines himself to one.
Drummond's _The Greatest Thing in the World_ is an example of the
possibilities in this direction.

Accordingly the student, in reading a chapter or listening to a
lecture, should find the relationships among the smaller portions of
the thought that will unify the subject-matter under a very few heads.
If several pages or a whole lecture can be reduced to a single point,
it should be done. He should always remember that to the extent that
the supporting details are numerous they will have a cumulative
effect, thereby rendering the central thought strong enough to have a
permanent influence.

_The meaning of organization of knowledge, and its value._

Such grouping of ideas as has thus far been considered, although of
the greatest importance, is only the beginning of the organization of
knowledge. For thus far only the minimum unit of advance has been
under discussion. Asone proceeds in the study of a subject these
smaller units collect in large numbers, and they must themselves be
subordinated to still broader central thoughts, according to their
nature. This grouping of details, according to their relationships,
into points, and of such points under still higher heads, and so on
until a whole subject and even the whole field of knowledge is
carefully ordered according to the relationships of its parts, is what
is meant by organization of knowledge.

Sometimes an entire book is thus organized under a single idea,
Fiske's _Critical Period of American History_ being an excellent
example. In this volume the conditions at the close of the
Revolutionary War are vividly described. It is shown that great debts
remained unpaid, that different systems of money caused confusion, and
that civil war was seriously threatened in various quarters. These and
other dangers convinced sober men that a firm central government was
indispensable. But then, it was no easy matter to bring such a
government into existence; and it is shown how numerous heroic
attempts in this direction barely escaped failure before the
constitution was finally adopted. On the whole, it is safe to say that
each paragraph or small number of paragraphs, while constituting a
unit, is at the same time a necessary part of the chapter to which it
belongs; likewise, each chapter, while constituting a unit, is an
integral part of the book as a whole; and all these parts are so
interrelated and complete that the whole book constitutes a unit.

Observe the advantage of such organization. The period of our history
immediately following the Revolution used to be one of the least
interesting of topics. Under the title "The Period following the
Treaty of Paris," or "The Period from the Close of the Revolutionary
War to the Adoption of the Constitution," the textbooks attempted
nothing more than an enumeration or history of the chief difficulties
and struggles of our youthful nation. In some cases, if I remember
correctly, this was designated "The Period of Confusion," and its
description left the reader in a thoroughly confused state of mind.

Fiske's book was a revelation. What had seemed very complex and
confused became here extremely simple; what had been especially dull
became here perhaps the most exciting topic in all our history. And
the secret of the advance is found to a large extent in the
organization. Thus organization is a means of effectiveness in the
presentation of knowledge, as in the use of a library or the conduct
of a business.

_The basis for the organization of knowledge in general._

All the facts in Mr. Fiske's book are organized about the stirring
question expressed in his title, _i. e._, how our ship of state barely
escaped being wrecked. Because this idea is of intense interest to us,
and the entire book bears upon it continually, the story is read with
bated breath. Drummond's _Greatest Thing in the World_ is another
excellent example on a smaller scale of ideas centered about a vital
human question. Thus specific problems of various degrees of breadth,
_that are intimately related to man_, can well be taken as the basis
for the organization of knowledge in general. Classical literature is
organized on this basis, which is called the pedagogical or
_psychological_ basis, and it seems desirable that other fields should
also be.

Yet there are other kinds of organization in which the relation to man
is not so plainly, or not at all, taken as the controlling idea. For
example, biology is often organized on the basis of the growing
complexity of the organism, the student beginning with the simple,
microscopic cell, and advancing to the more and more complex forms.
Formerly, after the Linnaean system, plants were classified according
to their similarity of structure. Now both plants and animals are
often classified on the basis of their manner of adaptation to their
environment. Thus within the field of science there is what is called
the _scientific_ basis of organization.

There is also the _logical_ basis of organization of thought,
according to which some most fundamental idea is taken as the
beginning of a system, or the premise, and other ideas are evolved
from this first principle. Rousseau attempted to develop his
educational doctrine in this way, starting with the assertion that
everything was good as it came from the Creator, but that everything
degenerated in the hands of man. John Calvin did the same in his
system of theology; and he reasoned so succinctly from his few
premises that any one granting these was almost compelled to accept
his entire doctrine.

Attention is called to these facts here in order to suggest that,
while the scientific and the logical bases of organization are in
common use, neither of them is adequate as the main basis of
organization for a young student who is studying a subject for the
first time. The reason is that each of them secures a careful ordering
of facts only with reference to the relations that those facts bear to
one another, and not with reference to the relation that they bear to
man; and in thus ignoring man they show grave faults. They are
indifferent to interest on the part of the learner; they offer no
standard for judging the relative worths of facts to man; and instead
of exerting an influence in the direction of applying knowledge, they
exert some influence in the opposite direction by their indifference
to man's view-point. It must be admitted that they are of great
assistance in securing thoroughness of comprehension by their
revelation of the relations existing among facts, and also that they
classify facts in a convenient way for finding them later; but they
are of greatest use to the advanced student, who is already supplied
with motive and with standards for judging worth, and who has proper
habits of study already formed; they can well follow but they should
not supplant the psychological basis.

_The student's double task in the organization of ideas._

An author's organization of subject-matter is frequently poor. But
whether it be poor or good, some hard work on the part of the student
is necessary before the proper grouping of ideas can take place in his
own mind. The danger is that there will be practically no arrangement
of his thoughts, as is well illustrated in the following letter from
an eight-year-old boy.


Will you please buy some of my 24 package of my Bluine, if you will
please buy one package it will help me a lot. One Saturday we played
ball against the east side and beat twelve to 1. I will get a baseball
suit if I can sell 24 packages of Bluine. We had quite a blizzard here
to-day. For one package it costs ten cents. When we played ball
against the east side we only had 6 boys and they had twelve. We have
a base ball team, and I am Captain, so you see I need a suit. Gretchen
and Mother are playing backgammon with one dice. I catch sometimes
when our real catcher is not there. When he is there I play first
          Your loving nephew,    JAMES.

There is one prominent idea in this letter, touching the sale of
Bluine, with reasons; and parts of two others, concerning the weather
and the occupation of mother and sister. The first is the most fully
treated; but, as might be expected from an eight-year-old child, no
one idea is supported by sufficient detail to round it out and make it

In avoiding such defects two things are necessary: First, the student
must decide what points he desires to make. They should be so
definitely conceived that they can be easily distinguished from one
another and can even be _counted_. Then, in the second place, all
the details that bear upon a central idea should be collected and
presented together in sequence under the point concerned. By this
massing of all supporting statements under their proper heads,
overlapping or duplicating is avoided, and clearness is gained. Also,
force is secured by the cumulative effect of intimately related facts,
just as it is secured by the concerted attack by the divisions of an

Even the better students often stop with finding the main thoughts
alone. And the temptation to do no more is strong, since teachers
seldom require a forceful presentation of ideas in recitation; they
are thankful to get a halting statement of the principal facts. But
the student should remember that he is studying for his own good, not
merely to keep teachers contented; and he should not deceive himself
by his own fluency of speech. He should form the habit of often asking
himself, "What is my point?" also, "What facts have I offered for its
support, and have I massed them all as I should?" He must thus form
the habit of arranging his ideas into points if he wishes to be

_Precautions against inaccuracy in the grouping of facts into points._

The dangers of inaccuracy in this kind of study are numerous. First
the individual statements must be carefully interpreted. A certain
very intelligent ten-year-old girl studying arithmetic read the
problem, "What is the interest on $500 at six per cent for one year?"
Then, probably under the influence of some preceding problem, she
found four per cent of the principal, and added the amount to the
principal for her answer, thus showing two mistakes in reading.
Perhaps half of the mistakes that children make in the solution of
problems is due to such careless reading. A certain fifth-year class
in history read a very short paragraph about the three ships that were
secured for Columbus's first voyage, the paragraph ending with the
statement, "On board the three [ships] were exactly ninety men." When
they were asked later how many men accompanied Columbus the common
answer was, "Two hundred and seventy, since there were ninety men on
each ship."

These mistakes are typical of those that are common, even among
adults, as in the reading of examination questions, for instance. I
have more than once asked graduate students in a university to state
the _one principal_ thought obtained from the extended study of an
article on education, and have received a paper with a threefold
answer, (_a_), (_b_), (_c_). Such responses are due to extreme
carelessness in reading the questions asked, as well as to a desire to
be obliging and allow an instructor some freedom of choice. Thus the
meaning of the individual statements that constitute the material out
of which larger truths are derived, must be carefully watched if the
final interpretation of an author's thought is to be accurate.

The tendency toward error is greater still when it comes to finding
the central thought for a portion of text. This was once amusingly
illustrated by a class composed only of the principals and high-school
teachers in a county institute, some seventy-five persons in all. The
text under discussion was the first chapter of Professor James's well-
known book, _Talks to Teachers_. The title of the chapter is
"Psychology and the Teaching Art"; and Professor James, fearing that
teachers might be expecting too much from his field, sets to work to
discourage the idea that psychology can be a panacea for all of a
teacher's ills. The larger portion of the twelve pages is devoted to
this object, although the explicit statement is made, on the third
page, that "psychology ought certainly to give the teacher radical
help." But so little space is given to this declaration that, in spite
of its definiteness and positive character, the class as a whole
reached the conclusion that he was advising teachers not to study
psychology at all. In other words, they had failed to balance up one
part of the chapter against the other; and their failure left them in
the ridiculous position of assuming that an author of a book for
teachers was dissuading teachers from reading his book.

A third and perhaps the most common source of error is found in the
particular wording given to the central thought. In order to be
perfectly definite and accurate any thought should be expressed in the
form of a full statement. It ordinarily takes at least a whole
sentence to express a whole thought. But it is very common for
students even, who have formed the habit of thinking by points, to
allow brief headings, consisting of single words or short phrases, to
represent entire thoughts. Although such headings, on account of their
brevity, may be useful, they are merely names for the thought, not
statements of the thought itself; and it means the loosest kind of
thinking to stop with them. A mere title, as a lecture "About Russia,"
for instance, designates only the outside limits to which a person
confines himself--provided he sticks to his theme. It often tells no
more about the substance of the thought within those limits than a
man's name tells about his character. It is usually easy to tell "what
a page is about"; but it usually requires keen thinking to word its
principal idea sharply in a full sentence. Many students are
inaccurate in the interpretation of authors and in their own thinking,
not so much because they lack mental ability as because they lack the
energy to continue their thinking to this point of wording the central
idea accurately in a full sentence.


The grouping of facts into points requires ability to perceive that
some statements are more valuable than others, without reference to
the space that they happen to occupy on the printed page; it
presupposes, also, the power to rearrange a stranger's ideas. It is,
therefore, an aggressive kind of work, in which even adults often fail
to distinguish themselves. Can children be expected to assume such

_Proofs of such ability.
1. As shown by children ten years old and younger._

Proof that any ten-year-old child has already assumed it in a simple
way for some years is contained in the following facts:--

1. Long before the school age is reached a child has had much practice
in picking out the logical subjects of sentences, inasmuch as he has
learned to comprehend statements made to him. Distinguishing the
subject of a sentence is the same kind of work as distinguishing the
subject of a paragraph or chapter, only it is simpler.

2. Any six-year-old child has, likewise, had much practice in
detecting the subject of short conversations, especially of those of
interest to him. If he happens to overhear a conversation between his
parent and teacher touching a possible punishment for himself, he can
be trusted to sum it up and get the gist of it all, even though some
of the words do not reach him. That is exactly the kind of thinking
required in getting the point of a lecture.

3. In relating fairy tales and other stories, during the first years
at school, children easily fall into the habit of relating a part, or
a point, at a time. And, if the memory or the courage fails, the
teacher gives help by asking, "What will you tell about first? And
then? And then?" thus setting them right, and keeping them so, by
having them divide the story into its principal sections.

4. In composition, in the lower and middle grades, the paragraphing of
thought, first as presented on the printed page, then as called for in
oral recitation and in conversation, and finally in the child's
written form, is a prominent subject of instruction. No one maintains
that such work is unnatural, or too difficult, for such young

5. Development instruction, which has already been mentioned as
peculiarly successful with young children, would be impossible if
children were unable to appreciate the character of a principal
thought, as the topic or point for discussion, and of other thoughts
as subordinate to it.

_2. As shown in the use of different texts and of reference books._

The use of several texts in one subject, as history, by one child, and
the use of reference books,--both of which are common above the fifth
year of school,--presuppose the ability to study by topics, and to
bring together from various sources the facts that support a principal

_3. As shown by the rapid improvement they can make in such study._

Finally, the progress that children can make, when direct instruction
in this matter is given to them, is good proof of their ability in
this direction. For example, in a geography class composed of ten-
year-old children, I once assigned for a lesson the following section
from the text-book:--

POLITICAL DIVISIONS.--You will remember that Spain was the nation that
helped Columbus make his discovery of America. The Spaniards afterward
settled in the southern part of the continent, and introduced the
Spanish language there. That is still the chief language spoken in
Mexico, in the southern part of North America. Mexico became
independent of Spain many years ago.

Other nations also sent explorers and made settlements. Among these
were the English, who settled chiefly along the Atlantic coast, and
finally came to own the greater part of the continent north of Mexico.

In time the English, who lived in the central portion of eastern North
America, waged war against England, and chose George Washington as
their leader. On the 4th of July, 1776, they declared their
independence of England, and finally won it completely. This part
became known as the United States; but the region to the north, which
England was able to keep, and which she still possesses, is called
Canada. Find each of these countries on the map (Fig. 123). Point
toward Canada and Mexico.

Besides these three large nations, several smaller ones occupy Central
America, which lies south of Mexico.

After the children had had time to study it somewhat carefully, I
requested them to tell briefly what the section was about. The first
three replies were as follows, in the following order, and these were
not improved on later, without suggestion: "It tells about discovery."
"It tells about the language in Mexico." "It tells about what are
nations." This was their first attempt at such work, and it met with
meager success. The heading in the text seemed to give them no aid
whatever, which was sufficient proof of its unfitness for children.

Yet within one month, with some attention given to this matter every
day, I found half of the class of twenty to be reasonably safe in
picking out the central thought in a page of their text.

From all these facts it seems that children are reasonably capable of
receiving instruction in regard to the grouping of facts into points.
It is evident, also, that they need such instruction badly, if they
are to study properly the lessons that are assigned to them.


_1. The teacher's example._

In the first place, the example of the teacher can be of great
influence. Any good teacher should do more than ask questions and
explain difficult topics. She should now and then talk to her
children. Particularly general exercises she should give expression to
other ideas than those immediately involved in instruction. If at such
times her ideas are carefully grouped about one or more central
thoughts, her pupils are likely to feel the roundness and the
consequent clearness and force of her points, and to be ambitious to
imitate her style. Many an adult, no doubt, can recall both the
pleasure he experienced in early youth when listening to some speaker
who possessed this merit, and early attempts that he made to imitate
such a style.

_2. Use of written outlines in development instruction._

In development instruction, in the lower and middle grades in
particular, brief headings representing the main facts reached might
be placed on the blackboard, or written down by each pupil as the
facts are established. Such writing is of great assistance in keeping
the outline in mind. Frequently, even in the lower grades, review
outlines might be required without such visual help.

_3. In connection with the use of text.
(a) Finding of the principal thought in paragraphs._

A terse statement of the principal thought in each paragraph of some
story or other well-organized text is a valuable exercise in
determining the relation that the different sentences in a paragraph
bear to one another, and the gist of the whole.

_(b) Finding where a point begins and ends._

Pupils might point to the place on the page where the treatment of a
certain point begins; also where it ends. Thus they would receive
exercise in distinguishing not only the principal thought, but also
the _turns_ in the thought, and therefore the most suitable stopping
places for reflection.

_(c) The making of marks, to indicate relative values._

The most valuable statements might well be _marked_ in the text,
some system of marks--as, for instance, one, two, or three short
vertical lines in the margin--being agreed upon to indicate different
degrees of worth. It is very common for adults, particularly very
careful students, thus to mark books that they read. Unless one does
so, it is difficult to find again, or review quickly, the main ideas.
Yet one of the especially important things to teach young people in
the handling of a book is some way of reviewing quickly the most
valuable parts. Many persons who would gladly review the few most
interesting portions of a book have no way of doing so except by
reading the volume through again. That takes so much time that they
omit the review altogether.

In case the books belong to the school or library, all such marks may
be objectionable. Certainly the aimless marking of any book is to be
condemned. But thoughtful marking, with the view of showing relative
values, is likely to increase the amount of reflection on the part of
the one who makes the marks. It is likely, also, to increase the
amount of reflection on the part of the later reader, for he, seeing
the marks, is inclined to weigh the thought long enough to decide
whether he agrees or disagrees with the previous reader.

If, however, the objections to such markings are insuperable, children
can at least be encouraged to own some of the books that they use.
They ought to be developing a pride in a library of their own, anyway.
"If a book is worth reading, it is worth buying," says Ruskin. "No
book is worth anything which is not worth much; nor is it serviceable
until it has been read and reread, and loved and loved again, and
_marked_, so that you can refer to the passages you want in it, as a
soldier can seize the weapon he needs in an armory, or a housewife
bring the spice she needs from her store." [Footnote: Ruskin's _Sesame
and Lilies._]

It might be added, also, that all the writing thus suggested could be
kept on note paper or in note books, if forbidden to appear in printed

It should be borne in mind, however, that one important object in
using books in school is to teach their proper use outside of school.
To this end, books should be used in school in substantially the same
way in which they are expected to be used outside. There is often a
lack of correspondence between these two methods in various ways.

Wherever the markings indicating relative values happen to be placed,
they can well be compared in class and the disagreements discussed.
This would throw a class into the heart of the subject-matter of a
text on their own initiative. If it resulted in spending a whole
recitation in a discussion of relative values, as it frequently would,
it should be remembered that that is the most valuable kind of study.

_(d) The selection of marginal headings._

If the books used contain no marginal headings, the pupils might
propose some. And if marginal headings are found in some, proposals
for their improvement would be in place, since such headings are
rarely good. For example, the heading "Political Divisions," quoted
above, would be much more definite and significant if changed to "The
Countries in North America," and children could soon learn to make
such improvements. Headings of chapters, likewise, often need
rewording in a simpler, more definite and restrictive way.

_(e) The collecting of supports for leading thoughts._

Choosing some one of the principal thoughts, the children should have
practice in finding the data that support it, and in presenting such
data in good sequence and in an otherwise forceful manner.

_(f) Stating the leading thoughts in close sequence._

As one way of summarizing review lessons the children might enumerate
the leading thoughts in close sequence, giving a careful wording for
each in a full statement.

_4. As a preparation for the taking of notes._

Pupils in the higher grades having to consult reference books
frequently, and to take notes also from discussions and lectures,
should receive careful instruction in note-taking. As preparation for
such work, the teacher might read to the class, while the latter
listen with the object of telling how many and what are the main
points. Sometimes they might call "halt" as they realize that a turn
is being made and another point is beginning. They should be reminded
that the relationships of ideas, which are indicated by punctuation
and paragraphing on the printed page, are revealed by a reader's or
speaker's manner, as when he makes short pauses between sentences, or
emphasizes an idea by voice or gesture, or allows his voice to fall at
the end of some minor thought, or turns around, stops to get a drink,
walks across the floor, or waits for applause at the close of one of
his principal flights. Teacher and pupils might all take notes
together, sometimes on principal points, sometimes only on the
supporting data for one such point. Then the results might be
compared, and the small amount of writing necessary might be

_B. The neglect of relatively unimportant facts or statements_

We have seen that the organization of ideas requires the recognition
of some thoughts as central, and the grouping of various details about
them. While it places peculiar emphasis on these controlling facts, it
also recognizes details as an essential part of knowledge.

_Neglect as well as emphasis involved in relative values._

A question now arises about the relative values among these details.
While they are an essential part of knowledge, do they themselves vary
indefinitely in worth? And while many deserve much attention, are
there many others that may be slighted and even ignored?

The first part of this chapter has really dealt with the emphasis that
is necessary for some ideas. But emphasis at one point suggests
neglect at another point, for the two terms are correlative. Some
persons would even assert that neglect is as important an element in
proper study as emphasis, and that the two terms should be in equally
good repute. This part of the chapter deals with the neglect that is
due in proper study. It is, perhaps, a more difficult topic to treat
than the preceding. Certainly many teachers are afraid to advise young
people to neglect parts of their lessons, lest such suggestion might
seem a direct recommendation to be careless.

_Why neglect is scarcely allowable in some subjects._

We have seen that, to a certain extent, the facts in the three R's and
spelling have practically the same worth. All of the combinations of
simple numbers must be mastered; likewise all the words in a well-
selected list in spelling, etc. Since differences in value are wanting
here, there is no occasion for slighting any part. Any neglect in such
cases signifies an oversight or a mistake.

_Why neglect is necessary in most subjects._

But, as before, these subjects to some extent form an exception to the
general rule. In most studies neglect of some parts is positively

It has been already shown that no exact number of facts needs to be
brought together in order to make up any particular topic or study.
Besides those directly expressed in print, there are others
immediately suggested; and the number of possible ideas bearing on a
given matter is legion. Neglect, therefore, becomes not only
necessary, but even prominent, as a factor in study. One might ask,
"Are not all the statements in a valuable book that one happens to be
reading worthy of careful consideration?" Not necessarily, by any
means. The production of thought parallels the production of grain. An
acre of ground, that yields thirty bushels or eighteen hundred pounds
of wheat, may easily grow two whole tons of straw and chaff. These
latter are absolutely necessary to the formation of the wheat kernel;
yet the consumer usually has little use for them; he gets past them to
the grain with the least possible delay, often throwing these other
materials away.

Likewise, many things that are necessary in the production of thought
are of little use to the consumer. For example, there are often
introductory remarks that have lost their original significance; there
are asides and pleasantries; there are careful transitions from one
thought to another, to avoid abruptness; there are usually more or
less irrelevant remarks due to the fact that even authors' minds
wander now and then; and there are often some things that seemed
important to the author which in no possible way can be of value to
the reader.

For these reasons, some things are to be omitted, if possible, without
being read, because they are worthless. Many details are unworthy of a
second thought. Many other statements should be cast aside after
having been carefully enough examined to make sure that they will not
be further needed. Not only should some statements and paragraphs be
slighted, but whole chapters as well. Similar practice is familiar to
all in connection with conversations and discussions; and books are of
the same nature as these, having the same faults, though perhaps to a
less degree. What the student wants to carry away is valuable thought,
with the details that vitally concern it; and the space occupied by
such thought and its supporting details, as in the case of the wheat,
is small as compared with the space occupied by the chaff that
accompanies them. "Some books are to be tasted," says Bacon, "others
to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some
books are to be read only in part; others to be read, but not
curiously [attentively]; and some few to be read wholly and with
diligence and attention." [Footnote: Bacon's Essays, _Of Studies._] If
he had added that very many books should not be read at all, he would
have covered the field.

As a rule, therefore, it is a serious error for a student to
distribute his time and energy somewhat equally over a lesson or a
chapter or a book. There are times when he should advance rapidly and
even skip, as well as other times when he should ponder carefully and
review much.

_How safety and skill in neglect may be developed.
1. By proceeding from principal thoughts to details._

How can one become safe and skillful in this phase of study? The
student must, of course, read or listen to statements largely in the
order of the author's presentation; but two opposite courses of
procedure are possible, and much depends upon the choice that is made
between them.

On the one hand, one can proceed sentence by sentence, examining each
statement carefully, looking up new words and references,
supplementing, tracing the bearings on one's own life, and doing
whatever else is necessary to assimilate each thought. The single
sentences can be put together so as to reveal the thoughts of
paragraphs; and the central ideas of paragraphs and chapters can
likewise be brought together, so as to reveal the main thoughts of the
work as a whole. Thus the general movement may be from the details to
the larger features, and the controlling ideas may be the last to be

The Bible is very commonly studied in this manner, the verses of a
chapter and the chapters of a book being taken one by one in the order
given and thoroughly mastered, and the outline of the whole being the
last thing considered. Geography and history are also frequently
studied in the same way.

On the other hand, while the reader is still obliged to follow the
author's order, he may at the start be mainly on the outlook for the
general trend of the thought, for the principal issues that are
raised, with the principal answers that are offered; and, if the work
is at all difficult, he may for the time pass over many obscure little
matters, such as new words, strange references, and meaningless
statements, in the sole quest for these larger elements. Then, having
determined these tentatively, he can set to work to examine the
details on which they depend, making the investigation as thorough as
he wishes. Thus the general movement may be from the principal to the
minor thoughts, and the details may be carefully considered last of
all. In accordance with this plan we hear it recommended that the book
of Job be read "at a sitting," or, in case one's spirit of devotion
lacks that degree of endurance, at two or three sittings. Likewise,
Gray's _Elegy_ might be read through without pause, even several
times, before any part is studied in detail; so, also, the drama of
_William Tell_; one act, and perhaps the whole of the drama, of
_Julius Caesar;_ any one of Browning's shorter poems; and ordinary
lessons or chapters in history and geography.

While these two courses may finally bring about the same result, the
latter is much the more economical plan, for the following reason: The
individual statements vary greatly in value, as we have seen, some
requiring only slight attention, while others must be closely
scrutinized. What determines their value is their relation to the
leading ideas. The latter are the sole standards of worth, the sole
guides, in discriminating among them. If, then, the student has not
found out what the leading ideas are, what basis of selection has he?
How, then, is he to know what are the important details and what are
the unimportant? What can he do, then, more than merely to distribute
his energies somewhat equally and blindly over the various statements
offered, until the principal thoughts come to light? Only after that
will he be in a position to measure relative values and thus to deal
with the details intelligently. The first plan, therefore, involves a
great waste of time. For the same reason that it is economical to go
sight-seeing with a guide, or at least to examine a guidebook before
setting out, it is economical to determine the gist of the thought,
the spirit and substance of the whole, before giving careful attention
to the minor parts.

_2. By keeping the standard of values ever in mind._

The student must not only find the central idea as early as possible,
but he must hold it with a firm grip. Both of these things require
much tenacity of purpose. In following the order of an author's
presentation, considerable detail may have to be traversed before the
main thought begins to dawn in the student's mind, and temptations to
forget about the main issue and to become absorbed in these details
are ever present. It is on this account that teachers attending
teachers' gatherings frequently fail to reach those topics for
discussion that have been advertised; they even fail when printed
reports are the avowed subject for conference. After having arrived at
their destination with much sacrifice, they seem often to forget
exactly what they came for, or to be diverted from it with surprising
ease. However, they are not inferior to other adults in this respect.

Again, after having settled upon the main idea tentatively, one must
_hold_ it with determination and _use_ it. Children often fail to hold
a question in mind long enough to give a relevant answer. I once asked
a fifth-year class in history, "Who discovered America?" when almost
immediately came the response, "Vespucci sailed along the coast of
South America and named the whole country!" Or they hold it in mind a
moment, and then confuse it with other things, or let it go entirely.
I asked the class, "What is the color of the Indians?" and received an
answer telling about their color and their clothing. At another time I
inquired, "How long has it been since America was discovered?" One boy
replied, "Two hundred and fifty years," remembering, I suppose, that
that number had recently been used in class. But the example in
subtraction was solved on the blackboard before the class, and the
correct answer, 413, was obtained. Once more I said, "Four hundred
and thirteen years since what?" All were silent for a moment, having
quite forgotten the original question. Then came the reply,
"Since--since--Columbus sailed the deep."

Such carelessness among children sometimes arouses the ire of
teachers; but adults are little better. When a body of them meets for
the discussion of a certain question, the probability is that, if the
first speaker speaks directly to the point, the second will digress
somewhat, the third will touch the subject only slightly, and the
fourth will talk about a different matter. Many a discussion that has
started off well leads to much excitement without any one's knowing
definitely what the subject of dispute is. It is rarely the case that
every page of a paper that is read before teachers bears plainly upon
the subject announced.

Only in parliamentary discussions, where there is always a definite
"question before the house," is it customary for participants to
remember the topic and stick to it. This happens then only because it
is understood that any one may be "called to order" at any time, and
for the sake of self-protection each person makes a special effort not
to forget.

This exceptional caution must become habitual with the student if he
is to study effectively. He must look for the principal thought until
he finds it; and, having found it, he must _nurse_ it by recalling it
every few minutes, while using it as a basis for determination of

_Rapid reading and its method among scholars._

That various rates of reading are desirable, even to the point of
skipping over much matter, is indicated by the way in which some
eminent men have studied. For instance, Joseph Cook in his _Hints
for Home Reading_ remarks, "It is said that Carlyle reads on an
average a dozen books a day. Of course he examines them chiefly with
his fingers, and after long practice is able to find at once the
jugular vein and carotid artery of any author." Likewise, "John Quincy
Adams was said to have 'a carnivorous instinct for the jugular vein'
of an argument." [Footnote: Page 80.] "Rapid reading," says Koopman,
[Footnote: Koopman, _The Mastery of Books_, p. 47.] "is the...
difficult art of skipping needless words and sentences. To recognize
them as needless without reading them, is a feat that would be thought
impossible, if scholars everywhere did not daily perform it. With the
turning of a few leaves to pluck out the heart of a book's mystery--this
is the high art of reading, the crowning proof that the reader has
attained the mastery of books." The fact that the first and last parts
of both paragraphs and chapters very often reveal their leading thought,
is of course a great aid in such rapid reading.

_Is the spirit of induction here opposed?_

It is pertinent to ask whether this method of study does not oppose
the spirit of induction. Men like Carlyle seem to ignore that spirit
when they turn quickly to the central ideas or a book and, after
reading these, cast the work aside. It should be remembered, however,
that the minds of such men are so well stocked with information that
most, and sometimes all, of the author's details may be unnecessary to
them; they are already prepared for the generalization.

The ordinary student, proceeding more slowly, can also be on the watch
at the start for the main issues, without offending against induction.
In so doing he is not necessarily attempting to master the
abstractions first; he may be merely trying to find out what the main
questions are, in order to supply himself with a guide.

Many an author states his principal problem near the beginning of his
treatment, and then it is easy for the reader or listener to view all
the details in its light. But when this is not the case, the student
must go in quest of it in order to _get the setting_ for all the
statements, rather than in order to assimilate it. He must see the
whole in some perspective before he can study the parts intelligently.
The worth of specific purposes as discussed in pp. 31-60 is clearly
seen in this connection.

_Relation of such neglect to thoroughness.
1. A common conception of thoroughness and its influence on practice._

It is of vital importance further to inquire what relation such
neglect bears to thoroughness in study.

The answer depends upon the meaning attached to the word _thorough_.
We often hear it said that "Trifles make perfection, and perfection is
no trifle"; also that "thoroughness has to do with details." Again, as
a warning against carelessness in little matters, we are told that--

     For the want of a nail the shoe was lost.
     For the want of a shoe the horse was lost.
     For the want of the horse the rider was lost.
     For the want of the rider the battle was lost.
     For the loss of the battle the kingdom was lost.

There is certainly a valuable truth in these maxims, and some people,
therefore, accept them at their face value. Calling to mind that many
of the greatest discoveries have hinged on seemingly insignificant
facts, and that the world-renowned German scientists are distinguished
by infinite pains in regard to details, they conceive that the student
is primarily concerned with trifles. Knowing that the dollars will
take care of themselves if the dimes are carefully saved, they reason
that knowledge is properly mastered if the little things receive close
attention. It becomes their ambition, therefore, to let nothing that
is little escape them. In this spirit the conscientious student,
largely identifying conscientiousness with thoroughness, keeps a
special watch for little things, feeling that the smaller an item is
the more fully it tests his thoroughness, and the more meritorious he
is if he attends to it.

The influence of this notion of thoroughness upon practice has been
marked in some schools. And since spelling furnishes excellent
material for testing care for details, that subject has often been
given high rank partly for that special reason. I have known one large
training school for teachers in which for twenty years and more
probably more time and energy on the part of both faculty and students
were expended on spelling than on any other single subject. It was
unpardonable not to cross the _t_ or dot the _i_, not to insert the
hyphen or the period. Having written a word in spelling, it was a
heinous offense to change it after second thought, and a dozen
misspelled words per term seriously endangered one's diploma at the
end of the three-year course.

No one can deny great merit to such strenuousness. So definite an aim,
applied to all subjects and relentlessly pursued by a whole faculty,--as
was the case in this school,--compelled students to work till they
overworked, and the school was therefore regarded as excellent. Yet
this conception makes thoroughness a purely _quantitative_ matter; it
accepts _thoroughness_ as meaning _throughness_ or completeness,
signifying the inclusion of everything from "beginning to end," or
from "cover to cover."

_2. The correct notion of thoroughness._

This notion of thoroughness, however, is certainly wrong in opposing
all neglect; and the above-quoted maxims show themselves, in their
disregard for relative values, to be only half truths, In the school
just mentioned there was small emphasis of relative worths and of the
use of judgment in the choice of objects to receive one's attention.
As thoroughness consisted in attention to details, little things
became _per se_ worthy of study, and comparative worth was on that
account overlooked.

But, as we have seen, there is no hope of mastering _all_ the ideas
connected with any topic, so that the student must be reconciled
to the exercise of judgment in making selection. This choice must be
exercised, too, among the details themselves; it is not confined to a
selection of the large thoughts in distinction from the details.
Details vary infinitely among themselves in value; some, like the
horseshoe nail, easily bear a vital relation to large results; others,
like the use of a hyphen in a word, in all probability bear no
important relation to anything. Those that have this vital relation
are essential and need careful attention; the others are non-essential
and deserve for that reason to be neglected. In other words,
thoroughness is a _qualitative_ rather than a quantitative matter; it
is qualitative because it involves careful selection in accordance
with the nature and relation of the details. The student, to whom
thoroughness is a question of _allness_ needs mental endurance as a
chief virtue; the real student, on the other hand, requires constant
exercise of judgment. In brief, the proper kind of thoroughness calls
for a good degree of good sense.

The thoroughness that is here advocated implies no underestimate of
little things; it only condemns want of discrimination among them.
Even the painstaking German scientist is no devotee to all things that
are little. Carrying on his investigation with reference to some
definite problem, he is concerned only with such details as are
closely related to it. If he is uncertain just what so-called little
things do relate to it,--as has been the case, for instance, in the
investigation of the cause of yellow fever,--he carefully investigates
one thing after another. But in so doing he discriminates very sharply
among details, throwing many aside without hesitation, briefly
examining some, and finally settling on certain ones for exhaustive

It is only those little things that are thus related to something of
real value that deserve attention. The mathematician is a stickler for
little things. He insists that figures should be plainly made, and
that 1 + 1 should never be allowed to equal 3. He is wholly in the
right, because the slightest error in reading a number, in placing a
decimal point, or in finding a sum must vitiate the whole result.
Little things of that sort are called little, but they are in reality

It is unfortunate that such matters are often called trifles, for a
trifle is usually supposed to be something that is of very little
account; the name thus misleads. Such details are essential; other
details are non-essential. It would be well if people would more
generally divide details into these two classes, and apply the term
trifles only to the latter sort. By neglecting non-essentials one
could find more time for the details that are essential. Neglect of
some things, therefore, instead of being opposed to thoroughness, is a
direct and necessary means to it.

One cannot deny that this notion of thoroughness has its dangers, for
it places the responsibility upon the student of using his own
judgment. That is always dangerous. If the student lacks earnestness,
or insight, or balance, he is bound to make mistakes. He is likely to
make them anyway; and he may merely pick and choose according to
comfort or whim, and do the most desultory, careless studying. It
would be easier for him to "look out for all the little things" than
to discriminate among them, for intelligent selection requires more
real thinking.

_The dangers in these conceptions, and the conclusion.
1. The danger in this conception of thoroughness._

On the other hand, it should be remembered that neglect of details in
general has not been advocated; it is only a judicious selection among
them. And such selection calls for no more energy or ability than
selection among larger facts. If we can trust students at all to
distinguish values among the larger thoughts--as every one knows that
we must--there is the same reason for trusting them to distinguish the
relative worths of details.

_2. The danger in the alternative plan._

The dangers of the alternative plan should also be borne in mind.
Suppose that a capable student is taught to let no trifles escape him.
The danger then is that, to the extent that he is earnest, he will
fall in love with little things, until his vision for larger things
becomes clouded. He may always be intending to pass beyond these to
the larger issues; but he is in danger of failing so regularly that he
will come in time to value details in themselves, not for what they
lead to; the details become the large things, and the really large
matters are forgotten.

A former professor in a large normal school illustrated this tendency
exactly. At sixty years of age he was an unusually well-informed,
cultured man, but he had developed a mania for little things. He had
charge of the practice department, and each fall term it was customary
to receive applications from about two hundred students for the
practice teaching for that term. Each applicant filled out a blank,
giving his name, age, preferred study to teach, preferred age of
children, and experience in teaching. These papers had to be briefly
examined; then at four o'clock in the afternoon of the same first day
all these applicants were to be called together in one group for
instructions about their teaching. By this arrangement the practice
teaching could be started off very promptly.

On one occasion in the writer's knowledge, however, this gentleman
could not resist the temptation to blue-pencil every mistake in
spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc., that he could find in this
entire set of papers, which must have occupied nearly two hours.
Meanwhile, this task was so hugely absorbing, he entirely forgot to
notify the two hundred applicants that they were wanted at four
o'clock, and thus one day out of a year of less than two hundred was
largely lost for the practice teaching.

The main fault of half of the good teachers in the elementary schools
to-day is over-conscientiousness about little things. Believing that
every mistake in written work should be corrected, that the blackboard
should be kept thoroughly clean, that each day's lessons should be
carefully planned, that, in short, every little duty should be well
performed, they putter away at such tasks until there is no time left
for much larger duties, such as physical exercise, sociability, and
general reading. As a result they become habitually tired,
unsympathetic, and narrow, and therefore _schoolish_. It is a
strange commentary on education when conscientiousness means
particular care for little things, as it very often does among
teachers. It is desirable that a teacher prepare each day's lessons in
full, and that she do a hundred other things each day, as well. But
when she cannot do all these--and she never can--it is highly
important that she apportion her time according to relative values;
for instance, it is far better that she omit some of her preparation
of lessons for the sake of recreation, if recreation would otherwise
be omitted. People are unfitted for the work of life until they view
it in fair perspective. One of the important objects of abundant and
broad educational theory for teachers is to help them preserve the
proper balance between large and small things; and, owing to the
common tendency to neglect the larger things for the smaller, one of
the prominent duties of school principals and supervisors is to remind
both teachers and students of the larger values in life in general and
in study in particular.

_3. The conclusion._

It is evident that grave dangers are at hand, whether one slights some
details or attempts to master them all. But no matter what the dangers
are, there is one right thing for the student to do, that is, to
develop the habit of weighing worths, of sensing the relative values
of the facts that he meets. Good judgment consists largely in the
proper appreciation of relative values; and since that is one of the
very prominent factors in successful living, as well as in study, it
is one of the most important abilities for the student to cultivate.

Not only the equal valuation of all details, but the treatment of
various rules and virtues as absolute, is likewise directly hostile to
this habit of mind. Young people who are taught to be always
economical, or always punctual, or always regular, are thereby tempted
to substitute thoughtless obedience for exercise of judgment. It is
not always wise to be saving. A certain college boy owned three pairs
of gloves; one pair was so old and soiled that it was suitable only
for use in the care of the furnace; the other two pairs were quite
new. However, having been taught to be always saving, he wore the old
pair to college during much of his senior year, and saved the other
two. He was true to his early teaching at the expense of good sense.

There are few circumstances in life that can be properly treated by
rule of thumb. Good judgment is called for at every turn; and the
habit of considering relative values in regard to all affairs is one
that the student should constantly cultivate, no matter what dangers
have to be encountered.


This ability is so intimately related to the ability that is necessary
in grouping related facts that the one can hardly exist without the
other. Yet it is well to observe what a demand there is for neglect in
ordinary school work, and how this demand is met by children. Mistakes
in beginning reading are very common, such as saying _a_ for _an_,
_the_ for _thu_, not pausing for a comma, leaving out a word, putting
in a word, etc. When fairy tales are related, slight omissions,
mistakes in grammar, too frequent use of _and_, etc. are to be
expected. In the pupil's board work, penmanship, and written
composition minor errors are innumerable. What is to be done with all
these? Certainly many of them must be entirely passed over, or more
important things will never be reached.

In their literature and in their reference books many little
difficulties are met with that must likewise be overlooked. Take for
instance the following typical paragraph from Hawthorne's _Gorgon's

"Well, then," continued the king, still with a _cunning_ smile on
his lips, "I have a little _adventure_ to propose to you; and, as
you are a brave and _enterprising_ youth, you will doubtless look
upon it as a great piece of good luck to have so rare an opportunity
of _distinguishing_ yourself. You must know, my good Perseus, I think
of getting married to the beautiful Princess Hippodamia; and it is
_customary_, on these occasions, to make the bride a present of some
_far-fetched_ and _elegant curiosity_. I have been a little
_perplexed_, I must honestly confess, where to obtain anything likely
to please a princess of her _exquisite_ taste. But, this morning, I
_flatter_ myself, I have thought of _precisely_ the article."

Here is an adult's vocabulary, as well as an adult's ideas, with
perhaps a dozen new words, and anything like mathematical thoroughness
in the study of this paragraph would destroy its attractiveness. It is
well for teachers to consider what would be a thorough treatment of
such a section. Encyclopedias and other reference works also present
many strange words and difficult paragraphs that children cannot stop
to examine with care. In their ordinary school work, therefore,
children find many details that must be overlooked; the more important
things cannot be accomplished unless these less important ones are

It would be strange if children were quite incapable of doing what is
so plainly required of them. It is true that they can be taught to
reach the extreme of foolishness in the insignificance of the details
that they mention. But it is also true that a fair amount of wise
guidance will lead them to exercise good judgment in their selection.
In other words, thoroughness as a relative and qualitative matter,
rather than only quantitative, can be appreciated by them. Any teacher
who has tested them carefully in this respect is likely to agree to
this assertion. It is as natural for a lot of children to condemn the
mention of useless detail, because of its waste of time, as it is for
them to condemn selfish or immoral conduct.


_1. Placing responsibility upon children._

The responsibility of deciding what shall be neglected should very
often be left with the children, no matter how many mistakes and how
much loss of time it may temporarily cause. Criticisms and suggestions
from the teacher would be in place later. Many parents as well as
teachers refuse to place this responsibility upon children for fear of
the mistakes that they will make. On account of this fear they make it
as nearly as possible unnecessary for children to judge freely, by
giving them arbitrary rules to follow, or by directing them exactly
what they shall do each moment. This cultivates poor judgment by
depriving children of the very practice that will make their judgments
reliable; it prevents the school requirements from corresponding to
those in life outside.

Confidence in the general and growing good sense of children is a
presupposition in the sensible parent and teacher. Having such
confidence, their mission is to let these young people alone much of
the time; to direct, not to control the selections that they make,
assuming the role of advisers and critics but not dictators.

This training toward independent judgment should begin even in the
first year of school. If Johnny raises his hand in beginning reading
to state that Mary said _a_ for _the_, the teacher need not either
accept or reject the criticism. She may merely turn to the whole class
and ask whether that is a helpful correction to make. A similar course
may be pursued with many corrections and suggestions in later years.
In this way a class sense of what is fitting or valuable in the way of
neglect can be developed.

It should be remembered, however, that children cannot judge the worth
of details without a basis of some sort. Unless, therefore, they
helplessly rely upon the direction of the teacher in each case, they
must be taught what the reading or other subject is for. They must
gradually get a fair idea, for instance, of what good reading is, and
realize that it includes pleasant tones, a careful grouping of words,
much inflection of voice, and clear enunciation of final consonants.
As they become acquainted with this standard in reading, they will
readily learn to overlook such details as have little to do with its

It is true that it saves much time for the teacher herself to
determine what shall or shall not receive attention, or at least for
her to accept or reject a child's suggestion dogmatically, rather than
to allow him or the whole class to pass upon its worth. Also, the
constant demand for "more facts" tempts teachers to save time in this
way. But again, it behooves the teacher as well as the pupil to use
judgment, and not sacrifice one of the main objects of an education in
order to save some time.

_2. Class study of printed articles._

Children who use reference works might now and then study an
encyclopedic article together merely to see what parts should be
slighted. When looking for a certain fact they will discover, from the
way the paragraphs begin, that one paragraph after another can be
discarded without being read in full. In the same spirit newspapers
might be studied by the older children, to determine from the headings
what articles need not be read at all, what ones in a cursory manner,
and what ones carefully, if any. Similar study of some magazines might
be in place. It is a duty of the school thus to accustom pupils to
proper methods of reading common kinds of printed matter.

_3. Reduction of reproductions._

Pupils might occasionally be asked to reproduce a story or any other
line of thought as fully as they wish. Suppose that it occupies six
pages. Then they might be requested to reduce it to three pages, and
perhaps, finally, to one page, eliminating each time what is of least
importance. Such an exercise compels a very careful study of relative

_4. Holding and carrying a point._

Having decided upon a definite problem for consideration, all grades
of learners might be held responsible for detecting beginning
wanderings of thought. They might accustom themselves to the
responsibility of rising to a point of order at such times, stating
the main question and asking the suspected person to show the
relevancy of his remarks. There is no reason why the teacher should
carry this responsibility alone; indeed, it is an imposition on the
children, checking their growth in judgment and power of initiative.

Again, at times students in all grades might be allowed full freedom,
in order to show how quickly they will engage in discussion, and even
become excited, with no definite question before them. They may not
realize their error, however, until asked to state what they are
considering. It should be remembered that the question at issue may be
as much neglected in the reading of books as in participation in
discussion; on this account the method of reading might be tested in a
similar manner.

_5. Encouragement of different rates of reading._

Finally, varying rates of reading should be encouraged, according to
the nature of the subject matter. While some books should be perused
very slowly and thoughtfully, others should be covered as rapidly as
possible. In the case of many novels, for instance, the ideas are so
simple that they can be comprehended as rapidly as the words can be

Many persons, however, can read only as fast as they can pronounce the
words. They follow an established series of associations: first, the
word is observed; this image calls up its sound; the sound then
recalls the meaning. Thus the order is _sight, sound, meaning._
That is a roundabout way of arriving at the meaning of a page and is
usually learned in childhood. It explains why many an educated adult
can read very little faster silently than aloud.

Some adults read fast simply by skimming over the less important
parts, which is often justified. Some, however, save time by
associating the form of a word directly with its meaning, leaving the
sound out of consideration. Then by running the eye along rapidly they
double and treble the ordinary rate of advance. It is said that Lord
Macaulay read silently about as rapidly as a person ordinarily thumbs
the pages; and he must have seen the individual words, because his
remarkable memory often enabled him to reproduce the text verbatim.
The slow-reading adult can, by practice, learn to take in a whole line
or more almost at a glance, in place of three or four words, and can
thus increase his rate of advance. But habit is so powerful that the
rapid eye-movement necessary in rapid reading, together with the
direct association of the form of a word with its meaning, should be
learned in childhood. To this end, children should often be timed in
their reading, being allowed only a few seconds or minutes to cover a
certain amount. Some exercises might be given them, too, so as to
accustom them to taking in a considerable number of words at a glance.

Meanwhile, however, pains should be taken to avoid the impression that
rapid reading is always in place. Matter that requires much
reflection, like the Bible for example, may well be read slowly. It is
not merely rapid reading, but varying rates according to need, that
the teacher should encourage.

There is no expectation that children will learn to handle books as
Carlyle did. But they should be guided by the same general principles,
and should form practical acquaintance with these principles while in
school. Ordinarily there is a striking contrast between the use of
books in school and outside, and the different rates of reading in the
two places afford a striking illustration. Text in school is taken up
in a gingerly fashion, scarcely enough of it being assigned for one
lesson to get the child interested. Then this is reviewed over and
over until any interest that may originally have been excited is long
since destroyed. Thoroughness is aimed at, at the expense of life. In
independent reading outside of school the opposite course is pursued.
In the reaction from the school influence children revel in their
freedom to do the things that their teachers forbid, and they
accordingly go racing through their volumes.

Both methods are at fault. The school handling of books is intolerably
slow; that outside is likely to be too rapid. In general, the method
of using books in school should more closely resemble that desired
elsewhere. The school method is the first to be reformed. It is seldom
wise to be so thorough in the treatment of a text as to kill it for
the learner. As a rule longer textbook lessons should be assigned in
the elementary school, and less attention should be given to the minor
facts. Then, if necessary, the same general field should be covered
from another point of view, through another text. This change of
method is already largely realized in our beginning reading, and
partly realized in several other subjects.



We have already seen that proper study places much responsibility upon
the student. Instead of allowing him to be an aimless collector of
facts, it requires him to discover specific purposes that the facts
may serve. With such purposes in mind he must supplement authors'
statements in numerous ways, and also pass judgment on their relative
values. This all requires much aggressiveness.

_The problem here._

A problem now confronts us that suggests even greater aggressiveness.
The statements that one hears or finds in print are often somewhat
exaggerated, or distorted, or grossly incorrect, or they may be
entirely true. Who is to pass judgment upon their quality? Has the
young student any proper basis for carrying that responsibility?

_Pressing nature of this problem.
1. In reading newspapers and magazines._

This problem is forced upon one when reading newspapers, particularly
during political campaigns. One paper lauds a candidate as a great
administrator, while another condemns him as a doctrinaire. One
advocates protective tariff and the gold standard, while another urges
revenue tariff only and free silver. Among the news columns one
article predicts war, while another discerns signs of peace. Russia is
at one time pictured as moving fast toward complete anarchy, while at
another time she is shown to be making important political advances.
The Japanese are praised for their high standards of life, and are
again condemned for their immorality. Magazine articles show
disagreements just as striking. Public men, political policies,
corporations, and religious beliefs are approved or condemned
according to the individual writer. What, then, is the proper attitude
for the reader? Is he to regard one authority as about as good as
another, or is he himself to distinguish among them and judge each
according to the evidence that is offered?

_2. In the use of books._

D'Aubigne's _History of the Reformation_ is an extremely interesting
work; but it treats the Reformation from the Protestant view-point,
and is on that account unacceptable to Catholics. The history of our
Civil War presents one series of facts when written by a northerner; a
very different series when written by a southerner; and a still
different one when written by an Englishman. Shall the student of
either of these periods adopt the views of the author that he happens
to be reading? Or shall he assume a view-point of his own? Or shall he
do neither?

Carlyle and Ruskin indulge in much exaggeration, relying on striking
statements for increased effect. Shakespeare possibly intended to
present an exaggerated type of the Jew in the character of Shylock.
Shall the student recognize exaggeration as such? Or shall he take all
statements literally? Or shall he avoid doing either, preserving an
inactive mind?

In his work on _Education_, Herbert Spencer states that "acquirement
of every kind has two values--value as knowledge and value as
discipline. Besides its use for guidance in conduct, the acquisition
of each order of facts has also its use as mental exercise." Many
students of education would assert that one very important value of
knowledge is here overlooked, _i. e._, its power to inspire and
energize, a value that literature possesses to a high degree. Assuming
that they are correct, dare the young student pass such a criticism?
Or would such a critical attitude on his part toward a high authority
be impertinent?

The first paragraph in Rousseau's _Emile_ runs as follows: "Coming
from the hand of the Author of all things, everything is good;
in the hands of man everything degenerates. Man obliges one soil to
nourish the productions of another, one tree to bear the fruits of
another; he mingles and confounds climates, elements, seasons; he
mutilates his dog, his horse, his slave. He overturns everything,
disfigures everything; he loves deformity, monsters; he desires that
nothing should be as Nature made it, not even man himself. To please
him man must be broken in like a horse; man must be adapted to man's
own fashion, like a tree in his garden."

At the bottom of the first page of the translation of _Emile_ by
Miss Worthington is a note by Jules Steeg, Depute, Paris, bearing on
the above first paragraph and running as follows: "It is useless to
enlarge upon the absurdity of this theory, and upon the flagrant
contradiction into which Rousseau allows himself to fall. If he is
right, man ought to be left without education, and the earth without
cultivation. This would not be even the savage state. But want of
space forbids us to pause at each like statement of our author, who at
once busies himself in nullifying it." Opposing statements like these
are certainly enough to place the student in a dilemma.

_Proper attitude of the student toward authorities._

Here are contradictions in political and religious beliefs and news
items; very different interpretations of historical events;
exaggerations bordering on misrepresentations; and evident omissions
and absurdities on the part of educational philosophers. The weather
bureau represents Old Reliability herself, in comparison with authors.
What attitude shall the adult student assume toward such contradictory
and faulty statements? Shall he regard himself as only a follower,
taking each presentation of thought at its face value, sitting humbly
at the feet of supposed specialists, and carefully preserving in
memory as many of their principal opinions and conclusions as
possible? Shall he assume the position of a mere receiver and

That is manifestly impossible, for that would mean an ego divided a
thousand times. It would prevent the final using of knowledge by the
learner, instead of directing its use wisely; for the many opposing
ideas and cross purposes would nullify one another. Besides that, wise
application requires far more than a good memory as a guide, since
memory takes no account of the adaptations always required by new

Whether he likes it or not, the student cannot escape the
responsibility of determining for himself the fairness and general
reliability of the newspapers and magazines that he reads; he must
expect bias in historians, and must measure the extent of it as well
as he can by studying their biographies and by observing their care in
regard to data and logic; he must scrutinize very critically the ideas
of the world's greatest essayists and dramatists. If a philosopher,
like Rousseau, offers brilliant truths on one page, and equally
brilliant perversions of truth on the next page, the student must
ponder often and long in order to keep his bearings; and if footnotes
attempt to point out some of these absurdities, he must decide for
himself whether Rousseau or the commentator shows the superior wisdom.
"Above all," says Koopman, "he [the student] must make sure how far he
can trust the author." [Footnote: Koopman, _The Mastery of Books_, p.

"Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for
granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to _weigh_ and
_consider_," says Bacon. [Footnote: Bacon's _Essays Of Studies_.]

Every book we read may be made a round in the ever-lengthening ladder
by which we climb to knowledge and to that temperance and serenity of
mind which, as it is the ripest fruit of wisdom, is also the sweetest.
But this can only be if we read such books as make us think, and read
them in such a way as helps them to do so, that is, _by endeavoring
to judge them_, and thus to make them an exercise rather than a
relaxation of the mind. Desultory reading except as conscious pastime,
hebetates the brain and slackens the bow string of Will. [Footnote:
Lowell, _Books and Libraries._]

The student, therefore, must set himself up as judge of whatever ideas
appear before him. They are up for trial on their soundness and worth;
he must uncover their merits and defects, and pass judgment on their
general value. If he is hasty and careless, he suffers the penalty of
bad judgment; and if he refrains from judging at all, he becomes one
who "does not know his own mind," a weakling.

                            Who reads
     Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
     A spirit and judgment equal or superior
     Uncertain and unsettled still remains,
     Deep versed in books and shallow in himself.
  [Footnote: Milton, _Paradise Regained_, Book 4, line 322.]

_The necessity of this attitude in the acceptance as well as in the
rejection of ideas._

The need of such an attitude may be granted when the rejection of
ideas is necessary. But there are many works that have been tried for
ages and found undoubtedly excellent. There are many men, also, who
are acknowledged authorities in their specialties. In the case of such
books and men, where little if any negative criticism is to be
expected, cannot the student set out merely to enjoy the merits and
not bother about the defects? Can he not, therefore, abandon the
critical attitude and accept outright what is offered?

That depends on how much is involved in real acceptance. A wise young
woman who rejects a suitor does so for reasons of some sort; her
reasons should certainly not be less clear if she accepts him; on the
contrary, they are more likely to have been investigated with care.
The rejection of a lover is, then, no more positive thing, involves no
more intelligence and emotion, than his acceptance.

Again, a competent supervisor of instruction who accepts as good some
recitation that he has observed, does so on the basis of specific
points of merit that he has seen. Otherwise his acceptance is only
flattery and is unacceptable to an earnest teacher. So, in general,
the acceptance of any line of thought or action presupposes a
consciousness of certain merits. Intelligent acceptance is thoughtful
or critical.

There is a common idea that acceptance is far more easy and far less
aggressive than negative criticism. The contrary, however, is probably
true. The former idea is due to the fact that much acceptance, as of
political and religious doctrine, for example, is only nominal or
verbal; it is not intelligent or critical enough to be genuine. Any
one can find fault, it is often declared; but the recognition of merit
requires special insight. Rejection, therefore, is no more aggressive
or positive than acceptance; and if one of these calls for a more
critical attitude and more mental energy than the other, it is
probably the latter.

_Relation of the critical attitude to sympathy and respect._

What is the relation of this critical attitude to sympathy for an
author? One of the essential conditions in the proper study of a book
is that it be approached with an open, sympathetic mind. One must look
at the world through the author's eyes in order to understand and
appreciate what he says, and that is possible only when one feels high
respect for him and is in close sympathy with him. To this end, it may
be well at times for the student to annihilate his own personality, as
Ruskin advises, so as to lose himself in another's thought.

If the critical attitude were incompatible with such respect and
sympathy, its value might well be questioned. But that is not the
case. A sensible parent who is in closest sympathy with a child finds
no great difficulty in seeing its defects and even in administering
punishment for them. There are parents and teachers who cannot thus
combine real sympathy with the critical attitude; but they are too
weak and foolish to rear children. Helpful friendships among adults,
also, are not based upon blind admiration; they presuppose ability to
discern faults and even courage now and then to mention them.

One cannot be a true scholar without making a similar combination. The
unquestioning frame of mind that allows a sympathetic approach to an
author marks one stage in study; but this must be followed by the
critical attitude before the study is complete. That the two attitudes
are not incompatible is well stated by Porter in the following words:
"We should read with an independent judgment and a critical spirit. It
does not follow, because we should treat an author with confidence and
respect, that we are to accept all his opinions and may not revise his
conclusions and arguments by our own. Indeed, we shall best evince our
respect for his thoughts by subjecting them to our own revision."
[Footnote: Noah Porter, _Books and Reading_, p. 52.]

_How daily life requires similar independence of judgment._

While the demand thus made upon the scholar seems great, there is
nothing surprising about it; for the scholar's relation to an author
is substantially the same as that of any adult to other persons with
whom he has dealings. If you go to a store to purchase a pair of
rubbers, you cannot surrender yourself complacently to any clerk who
happens to wait upon you. He is very likely to be satisfied to sell
you rubbers that are too long or too short, too wide or too narrow, or
at least not of the shape of your shoes. Or he may want to sell you
storm rubbers when you prefer low ones. Unless, therefore, you carry a
standard in mind and reject whatever fails to meet it, you are very
likely to buy rubbers that won't be satisfactory. The same is true if
you go to a tailor for clothing; unless you know him to be unusually
reliable, it is not enough for him to tell you that a coat fits; you
must test the statement by your own observation.

Some years ago a house that I occupied in New York City became
infested with rats, and, wanting to reach the kitchen from the cellar,
they gnawed an inch hole through a lead drain pipe from the laundry
tubs, that lay in their way. The hole was behind a cupboard in the
kitchen, very close to the wall, and not easy to reach. If clean
clothing was to be had, the pipe had to be fixed; but when a plumber
was called in, he stated that a carpenter would be needed to remove
the cupboard, and again to replace it after the work was completed.
The pipe having the hole, he added, would need to be taken out, and,
as it was one arm of a larger pipe that had two other branches, the
pipe with the three arms would have to be removed and another put in
its place. The entire work was estimated to cost about fifteen

As that seemed a large amount to invest in a rat hole, another plumber
was consulted; but he made substantially the same report. Still not
being satisfied, I went to a hardware store and asked, "Have you a man
who can solder a thin metal plate over a small hole in a lead pipe?
The hole is about an inch in diameter and somewhat difficult to reach;
but the work can be done by any one who knows his business." The
merchant said that he had such a man. The man was sent over; he did
the work in a few minutes, and the bill was seventy-five cents.

Plumbers are probably as honest and capable in their lines as most
classes of workmen; but many persons have learned to their sorrow not
to place themselves as clay in their hands.

A man who builds a house should keep more than half an eye on his
architect, otherwise the house is likely to cause numerous lifelong
regrets. Even one's physician is not to be implicitly obeyed on all
occasions. If a patient knows that quinine acts as a poison upon him,
as it does upon some persons, he must refuse to take it. Also, if a
physician gives too much medicine, as physicians have been known to
do, one must discover the fact for himself, or his alimentary canal
may suffer. Such men are merely types of the many persons who surround
us and help us to live; we must be judges of the conduct of each of
them toward us, if we wish to be healthy and happy.

Must we, then, pass upon everything; and is no person to be fully
trusted? How can any one find time for the exercise of so much wisdom?
And what are specialists for?

Certainly many, many things must be taken for granted. When you board
a train, you cannot make sure that the trainmen are all qualified for
their positions and that all parts of the train and of the track are
in proper condition. If, however, you choose a poorly managed road, in
place of a well-managed one, you are more likely to be killed on the
journey. In other words, while many things must be assumed, the
responsibility of determining what they shall be rests with you, and
you suffer the penalty of any bad selection. Your own judgment is
still your guide.

Many persons must likewise be trusted. But who shall they be, and to
what extent? The objects of choice have now been merely shifted from
things to human beings, and independent judgment must still be
exercised the same as before. The difficulty is fully as great, too.
Says Holmes, "We have all to assume a standard of judgment in our own
minds, either of things or persons. A man who is willing to take
another's opinion has to exercise his judgment in the choice of whom
to follow, which is often as nice a matter as to judge of things for
one's self." [Footnote: Holmes, _Autocrat of the Breakfast Table._]

Reasons for the use of independent judgment may be found in lack of
knowledge on the part of others, or of skill, or of judgment, or of
energy, or of honesty. But there is a more fundamental reason than
either incompetence or dishonesty, and it is found in the peculiar
circumstances of each person. The point of view of an architect is not
the same as that of the owner of a house. Every one hundred dollars
added to the cost of a building rejoices the architect's heart because
it increases his income. On the other hand, every hundred dollars thus
added tends to produce depression in the owner's mind. Similarly, the
point of view of any specialist or friend is different from yours; it
can never be fully your own. Just because no one can look at your
affairs from your own point of view, no one is fully qualified to
judge them for you, and you must rely upon yourself.

The people with whom we trade, therefore, the specialists and friends
to whom we go, like the authors that the student consults, are all
related to us merely as advisers. No one of them is fitted to tell us
exactly what to do, and the proper attitude toward them all is that of
friendly suspicion.

_Greatness of each person's responsibility for judging._

This conception of each person's relation to ideas and to the world at
large places his judgment on a high plane. Whether he will or not,
every man is intellectually a sovereign whose own judgment in the
decision of all his affairs is his court of last resort. This is a
grave responsibility, indeed; and it is no wonder that many shrink
from it. Yet what better state can be conceived? This responsibility
proves the dignity of manhood; it is the price of being a man. Fairly
good judgment, exercised independently of everybody, is one essential
condition of self-direction and of leadership of others. The
importance of good judgment is often emphasized; and the reason for it
is here evident, since it must guide us at every turn. The reason for
education of judgment is also evident. Every person is bound to make
many mistakes; but he will make far fewer when his ability to judge
has been properly trained. The utter inadequacy of instruction that
aims mainly at acquisition of facts is likewise evident; for the
exercise of judgment involves the use or adaptation of knowledge to
particular conditions, and the mere possession of facts bears little
relation to this ability.

_The basis that every student has for judging worth._

It may seem presumptuous for a young student of education to pass
judgment upon the greatest writers on education that the world has
produced, such as Spencer and Rousseau. Certainly the opinions of such
great men are far more valuable and reliable, on the whole, than those
of an immature student. The architect's knowledge of building,
likewise, is superior to that or a novice in that line. Granted,
therefore, that no one person is in a position to judge for another,
what right, what basis has this other, particularly the inexperienced
person, to judge any and every sort of affairs for himself? He has
basis enough. Speaking of the value of expert knowledge, Aristotle
says: "Moreover, there are some artists whose works are judged of
solely, or in the best manner, not by themselves but by those who do
not possess the art; for example, the knowledge of the house is not
limited to the builder; the user, or, in other words, the master of
the house will even be a better judge than the builder, just as the
pilot will judge better of a rudder than the carpenter, and the guest
will judge better of a feast than the cook." [Footnote: Aristotle,
_Politics_ (Jowett), p. 88.] The reason that the non-expert can thus
sometimes even surpass the expert himself in judging of the latter's
work is found in the fact that the non-expert as well as the
specialist has had much valuable experience bearing on the
specialist's line.

A very important truth is here suggested concerning the student.
Nothing that one is fitted to study is wholly new or strange to him.
Any person must have had experiences that parallel an author's thought
in order to understand that author. For, according to the principle of
apperception, intimately related past experience is the sole basis for
the comprehension of new facts.

Values are no newer or stranger to the student than other phases of
experience. The student's related past, therefore, furnishes as good a
basis for judging soundness or worth as it does for getting at
meanings. When, for instance, he reads Spencer's statement that
"acquisition of every kind has two values,--value as knowledge and
value as discipline"--he can verify each use out of his own life. He
can determine for himself that the assertion holds. On the other hand,
he can quite likely recall how he has sometimes been aroused and
stirred to new effort by things that he has read; and he may, in
consequence, question whether Spencer has not here overlooked one
great value of knowledge. Again, when the student is told by Rousseau
that "in the hands of man everything degenerates," he can, no doubt,
justify the assertion to some extent by recalling observed instances
of such degeneration. But, in addition, when he recalls what he has
observed and read about the wonderful advance made by man toward a
higher civilization, and realizes that Rousseau is denying that there
has been an advance, he is in a position to consider whether Rousseau
is mainly in the right or mainly in the wrong.

It is true that the student may be wrong in his conclusions; also
that, even though he be often right, he may become a confirmed fault-
finder. But that is not discouraging, for he is surrounded with
dangers. The essential fact remains that, just as his past related
experience furnishes a fair basis for understanding the meaning of
what he hears and reads, so, also, it furnishes a fair basis for
estimating its value.


_A conception of child nature that denies such ability._

Many persons who agree to the necessity of independent judgment on the
part of adults may demur at the idea of placing similar responsibility
upon children. Are not children normally uncritical and imitative or
passive? they say. And if we teach them to judge and criticise freely,
are they not very likely to develop priggishness that will result in
immodesty and disrespect for others? "Memory," says John Henry Newman,
"is one of the first developed of the mental faculties; a boy's
business, when he goes to school, is to _learn_, that is, to store up
things in his memory. For some years his intellect is little more than
an instrument for taking in facts, or a receptacle for storing them;
he welcomes them as fast as they come to him; he lives on what is
without; he has his eyes ever about him; he has a lively
susceptibility of impressions; he imbibes information of every kind;
and little does he make his own in the true sense of the word, living
rather upon his neighbors all around him. He has opinions, religious,
political, literary, and, for a boy, is very positive in them and sure
about them; but he gets them from his schoolfellows, or his masters,
or his parents, as the case may be. Such as he is in his other
relations, such also is he in his school exercises; his mind is
observant, sharp, ready, retentive; he is almost _passive_ in the
acquisition of knowledge. I say this is no disparagement of the idea
of a clever boy. Geography, chronology, history, language, natural
history, he heaps up the matter of these studies as treasures for a
future day. It is the seven years of plenty with him; he gathers in by
handfuls, like the Egyptians, without counting; and though, as time
goes on, there is exercise for his argumentative powers in the
elements of mathematics, and for his taste in the poets and orators,
still while at school, or at least till quite the last years of his
time, he _acquires and little more;_ and when he is leaving for
the university he is mainly the creature of foreign influences and
circumstances, and made up of accidents, homogeneous or not as the
case may be." [Footnote: John Henry Newman, _Scope and Nature of
University Education,_ Discourse V.]

This view of childhood is somewhat common; and according to it
children are almost exclusively _receptive,_ any active exercise
of judgment scarcely beginning before college entrance.

_Extent of such ability.
1. as evidenced by individual examples of children's judgments._

Let us see to what extent this view holds when examined in the light
of children's actual conduct. A first-grade pupil who had attended the
kindergarten the previous year remarked to his former kindergarten
teacher, "I wish I was back in the kindergarten." "Why?" said the
kindergartner. "Because," said he, "we did _hard_ things in the
kindergarten last year." Then he added confidentially, "You know our
teacher was in the fourth grade last year. She used to come in to see
us when we were playing, and she thinks we can't do anything else.
Why, the things she gives us to do are _dead easy._" His teacher
herself afterward admitted that his criticism was just.

A small boy, being asked if he went to Sunday school, replied "Yes."
"Have you a good teacher?" was the next question; to which came the
response, "Yes, pretty good; good for a Sunday school. She would not
be much good for day school." Wasn't he probably right?

A five-year-old boy was taken to Sunday school for the first time by
his nurse. There the chief topic of instruction happened to be eternal
punishment. On the way home he was not altogether good, and the nurse,
in the spirit of the day's lesson, assured him that he would go to the
bad place when he died, and would burn there always. When he entered
the house he hurried, sobbing, to his mother and declared vehemently:
"Nurse says I'll go to the bad place when I die, and that I'll burn
there always. I _won't_ burn always; I know I won't! I may burn a
little bit. But I'm bad only part of the time; I am good part of the
time; and I _know_ I won't burn always." His reasoning on theology was
as sound as that of many a preacher.

I was standing near a second-year class in reading one day when I
overheard a boy say "Nonsense!" to himself, after reading a section. I
agreed with him too fully to offer any reproof.

An eight-year-old girl said to her mother, "May I iron my apron? I
ironed a pillowcase." "Did Sarah [the maid] say that you ironed it
well?" asked the mother. "No, she didn't say anything," was the
response. "But I know that I ironed it well." Is that an entirely
passive attitude?

Rebecca had spent six years in the public schools of two large cities
when she entered the seventh grade of the State Normal School. She had
been called a "quiet child," "nervous" and "timid," by different
teachers. After a very few days in the new school, however, she
volunteered this expression of her thoughts: "I didn't think the
Normal School would be anything like that. It's very different from
the public schools. There only the teacher has opinions and she does
all the talking; but in the Normal School the children can have
opinions, and they can express them, and I like it."

Any one who has had close contact with children knows that they have a
remarkably keen sense of the justice or injustice of punishments
inflicted upon them. As a rule, I would rather trust their judgment of
their teachers than their parents' judgment, although it is true that
parents form such judgment largely from hearing remarks from their
children. Children are reasonably reliable, also, in judging one
another's conduct, which they are prone to do.

Such facts as these indicate that it is quite natural for children--even
very young ones--to pass judgment of some kind on things about them,
and that their judgments are fairly sound. They are hardly to be
called merely passive receivers of ideas, mildly agreeing with the
people about them.

_2. As evidenced by the requirements of the school._

The school plainly assumes the presence of this ability by the
requirements that it makes of children. One of the common questions in
the combination of forms and colors, even in the kindergarten, is,
"How do you like that?" In instruction in fine art throughout the
grades their judgment as to what is most beautiful is continually
appealed to.

The judging of one another's compositions and other school products is
a common task for pupils. In connection with fairy tales six-year-olds
are frequently asked what they think of the story. Many say, "It is
beautiful"; but now and then a bold spirit declares, "I don't like

Children are expected to judge the quality of literature,
distinguishing with ease between what is literal and what is
imaginative, or figurative, or humorous. When they read that the rope
with which the powerful Fenris-Wolf was bound was "made out of such
things as the sound of a cat's footsteps, the roots of the mountains,
the breath of a fish and the sinews of a bear, and nothing could break
it," [Footnote: Hamilton Mabie's _Norse Myths,_ p. 166.] they are
not deceived; they only smile. Now and then they make mistakes; but in
general such stories as _Through the Looking-Glass_ and the "Uncle
Remus" stories do not overtax their power to interpret conditions.

What literature or history is there for children that omits the
passing of moral judgments? Cinderella is approved of for her
goodness, William Tell for his independence, Columbus for his
boldness; Cinderella's sisters are condemned for their selfishness,
and Gessler for his meanness. Without such exercise of judgment these
two studies would miss one of their main benefits. The data that must
be collected in nature study and history for the proof of statements
give much practice in the weighing of evidence; and the self-
government that is now so common, in various degrees, in good schools
is supposed to be based upon a reasonable ability to weigh out
justice. Thus the method both of instruction and of government in our
better schools presupposes the ability on the part of pupils to judge
worth; and the better teachers have considered it so important that
they have constantly striven to develop it through instruction, just
as sensible parents have placed upon their children some of the
responsibility of buying their own clothing, doing the marketing, and
planning work at home, in order to cultivate the power to make wise
choice. If the ability to judge were really wanting in children, our
supposedly best methods of teaching and governing them would need to
be abandoned.

_3. As evidenced by requirements of child life._

The best proof that children possess this ability is that they can
scarcely get on without it. Several years ago, when I reached
Indianapolis on a journey, I gave my bag to a boy ten or eleven years
of age to carry to my hotel. While we were walking along together
another boy stopped him and drew him to one side. I observed that they
were having a serious conversation, and when we soon proceeded further
I inquired what the trouble was. "That boy," said he, "wants me to
divvy up with him." "What do you mean by that?" said I. "He wants me
to give him half of the money that I am to get from you for carrying
this bag," was the reply. "But," I responded indignantly, "he has not
helped you at all. Why, then, should he receive anything?" "He
shouldn't," came the answer; "but he belongs to a crowd of fellows,
and he told me that if I didn't divvy up with them they would pound
the life out of me." I pondered for some time, but I gave no advice.
What advice should have been given?

This is a striking ease; but it only illustrates very forcibly that
children are not merely sleeping, and eating what is given to them,
like cattle and sheep. Like adults they are surrounded with human
beings and are leading moral lives. At home, in school, on the street,
a hundred times a day they must "size up" people and situations and
decide what is best to do. If they are weak in such decisions, they
are regarded as weak in general; and if very weak, other persons must
assume responsibility for them and "tote" them through life. On the
other hand, if they are strong, they are classed as sensible persons,
and they "get on" well. Children distinguish themselves as balanced
and sensible, just as adults do, simply because they are wise in
measuring values.

Those persons who regard childhood as almost solely a period for
receiving knowledge, seem to think that active life really begins only
when one becomes of age. The fact is, it begins from eighteen to
twenty-one years sooner than that; and throughout all those earlier
years one has nearly as great a variety of trials, and trials usually
of greater intensity for the moment, than adults have. In the midst of
so much need, it would be strange, indeed, if one were endowed with no
power, called judgment, to cope with difficult situations, if one had
only the power to collect facts. That would leave us too helpless; it
certainly would not be adaptation to environment, or normal evolution.

In conclusion, therefore, those who deny a fair degree of sound
judgment to children deny what seems a marked natural tendency of
childhood; they pass a sweeping criticism upon what is now supposed to
be the best method of instructing and governing children; and,
finally, they deny to the child the one power that can make his
knowledge usable and insure his adaptation to his environment. Self-
reliance, which parents and teachers strive for so much, becomes then
impossible among children, for self-reliance is nothing more than
independent direction of self, made possible by power to judge
conditions. Certainly most persons are unwilling to take this position
in regard to the nature of childhood. They will agree that a twelve-
year-old boy, sitting for an hour in the presence of the President of
the United States and hearing him converse freely, without forming
judgments about him, and many fairly accurate ones too, would be an

_Danger of priggishness._

What about the threatened priggishness and related evils that may
result when the responsibility for passing judgment frequently is laid
upon children? Certainly a modest sense of one's own merit and proper
respect for others are highly desirable qualities. These qualities,
however, are not greatly endangered by the exercise of intellectual
independence, for it is little related to immodesty and impertinence.

A few years ago when many distinguished scientists celebrated in
Berlin the discovery of the Roentgen rays, Mr. Roentgen himself was
not present. Although he had possessed boldness enough to enlarge the
confines of knowledge, he lacked the courage to face the men who had
met to do him honor, and he telegraphed his regrets. St. Paul,
Erasmus, and Melanchthon were, intellectually, among the most
independent of men; but St. Paul possessed the humility of the true
Christian, and both Erasmus and Melanchthon were extremely modest.
Pestalozzi was once sent by his government as a member of a commission
to interview Napoleon. On his return from Paris he was asked whether
he saw Napoleon. "No," said he, "I did not see Napoleon, and Napoleon
did not see me." Recognizing the greatness of a real educator, he took
away the breath of his friends by ranking himself alongside Napoleon
as a truly great man. Yet he was one of the most modest, childlike men
that the world has ever known. These examples show that the keenest,
boldest of analysts and critics may yet be the humblest of men.

Self-reliance is the more common name for similar independence among
children; and it is no more nearly related to priggishness in their
case than in the case of adults. The five-year-old child will often
reject statements from his parents, even though he have the greatest
respect and love for them. It is only natural for him to do so when
assertions that he hears do not tally with his own experience; and he
will retain such boldness throughout life unless made subservient by
bad education.

There is some danger, however, that the cultivation of this
independence may make one a chronic fault-finder. It should not be
forgotten, therefore, that judging means approving as well as
condemning, and in case of children probably much more of the former
than of the latter. In addition, care should be taken that children
shall pass judgment only on matters lying fairly within their
experience, and shall recognize the need, too, of giving good reasons
for their conclusions. If these precautions be taken, the danger of
priggishness is reduced to the minimum. What danger remains can afford
to be risked; for independent judgment is the very basis of
scholarship among adults, and mental submissiveness in childhood is
not the best preparation for it.


_1. Placing responsibility upon children at school._

Responsibilities that require exercise of judgment should be placed
upon children throughout the school, from the kindergarten on.
Scarcely a recitation need pass without opportunities of this kind.
For example, children can determine the correctness of answers to
questions put in class, can weigh the relative merits and the
efficiency of tasks performed, can propose suitable ways of
illustrating topics, such as lumbering, irrigation, mining, etc. The
wisdom of plans for preserving order in the school, for decorating the
building, and for improving the school in other respects can also be
submitted to their judgment. It is by the exercise of judgment in many
ways that young people will become judicious in numerous directions.
It is not difficult for any teacher to do some work of this kind, but
it is difficult to be consistent in it. Many teachers who are zealous
in cultivating independent judgment a part of the time, undermine this
influence at other times by arbitrary decisions or by a personality so
overpowering that it allows no free scope to the child's personality.

_2. Study of responsibilities borne at home._

Some study of the responsibilities that different children bear at
home may prove very profitable. While some carry much responsibility
there, others are given no option as to when they shall start to
school each day, or how they shall dress, or who shall buy their
clothes, or how they shall spend money. Thus they are allowed no
opportunity to decide things for themselves or to develop independent
judgment. Interviews with individual parents, and parents' meetings,
may prove very fruitful along this line.

_3. Consideration of the use to be made of advice._

In order to teach the nature of self-reliance and the scope of its
exercise, the use to be made of the advice of friends should be a
topic for occasional discussion. Many a young man and woman hesitates
to ask the advice of others for fear that they may be offended if the
advice given is not followed. They are justified, too, for many
persons are offended in this way. The propriety of rejecting advice
should be far more generally understood than it is. Then children, as
well as young men and women, would seek it much oftener, to their
lasting benefit.

_4. Examples of combinations of modesty with independence._

Since modesty should be cultivated along with independent judgment,
examples of distinguished men and women who have combined these two
qualities should now and then be considered.

_5. Observation of habits of pupils in use of judgment._

It is well to mark out for special attention such pupils as seem to be
untrue to their own experience in judging, or such as seem to lack the
energy to use it as a basis of judgment. For example, many eleven- and
twelve-year-old children in their study of _Excelsior_ feel that
the young man very rashly exposed himself and merited his death. Yet
some of these will suppress this judgment, and even praise him as a
noble youth, in order to please their teacher, or because they think
that that is what they _ought_ to say. They lack the boldness to
be honest with themselves.

Again, very many young people fail to think far enough to "weigh and
consider." They stop short with the concrete narrative, failing to
judge whether the story is reasonable, whether the characters are
representative, whether the moral is sound, etc. Thus they omit a
portion of the thinking that should be expected of them. Whether they
are wanting in mental energy or do not realize that this is one of the
important parts of study, they should be taken in hand. Right habits
of mind are even more important than knowledge.

_6. Reports of merits of printed matter, with discussion._

As one means of overcoming the defect just mentioned, different
children, or different committees of a class, might examine the same
newspapers, magazines, articles in reference books, etc., and then
report on their merits independently of one another, giving their
reasons. The discussions that would be likely to follow as the result
of disagreements would be of the highest value.



"All the intellectual value for us of a state of mind depends on our
after-memory of it," says Professor James. [Footnote: William James's
_Psychology,_ Vol. I, p. 644.]

_Importance of memory._

In other words, there would be little object importance in reading, or
reflection, or travel, or in experience in general, if such experience
could not later be recalled so as to be further enjoyed and used. Want
of reference thus far to memory does not, therefore, signify any lack
of appreciation of its worth. No time is likely to come when a low
estimate will be placed upon memory.

_Usual prominence of memorizing as a factor in study, and the result._

How prominent memorizing should be, however, is a question of great

The four factors of study that have now been considered are the
finding of specific aims, the supplementing of the thought of authors,
the organizing of ideas, and the judging of their general worth. These
four activities together constitute a large part of what is called
_thinking._ Memorizing--meaning thereby, in contrast to thinking,
the conscious effort to impress ideas upon the mind so that they can
be reproduced--has usually been a more prominent part of study than
all these four combined. The Jesuits, for example, who were leaders in
education for two hundred years, made repetition "the mother of
studies," and it is still so prominent, even among adults, that the
average student regards memorizing as the nearest synonym for the term
studying. Repetition, or drill, however, is far from an inspiring kind
of employment. It involves nothing new or refreshing; it is mere
hammering, that makes no claim upon involuntary attention. When it is
so prominent, therefore, it stultifies the mind, starving and
discouraging the student and defeating the main purpose of study.

_Reasons for such prominence._

If the work of memorizing is so uninteresting and even injurious, why
is it made so prominent? There are probably numerous reasons; but only
three will here be considered.

In the first place, memorizing is more superficial than real thinking,
and people generally prefer to be somewhat superficial and mechanical.
It takes energy to dig into things, and, being rather lazy, we are
very often content to remain on the outside of them. Children show in
many little ways how natural it is to be mechanical. For instance,
rather than think the ideas _adverb_ and _present active participle,_
they will recognize words ending in _ly_ as adverbs, and those ending
in _ing_ as present active participles. They will class words as
prepositions or conjunctions by memorizing the entire list of each,
rather than by thinking the relations that these parts of speech
express. Young men and women, likewise, will memorize demonstrations
in geometry rather than reason them out, and will memorize other
people's opinions rather than attempt to think for themselves. Even
though it is often really easier to rely upon one's own power to think
than upon memory, it takes some depth of nature to recognize the fact
and act accordingly.

Teachers show this tendency as plainly as students. In preparing
lesson plans, for example, very few will get beyond what is mechanical
and formal. The reason that recitations are so largely memory tests,
too, is that teachers put mere memory questions more easily than they
put questions that provoke thought. It is, therefore, a well-
established natural trait that is back of so much mechanical

A second reason for the prominence of memorizing is found in the
desire to strengthen the memory through its exercise. We know that the
arm may be developed by the lifting of weights, so that it will be
stronger for lifting anything that comes in its way. So it has long
been a common belief that memory, as a faculty of the mind, could be
developed by any kind of exercise so as to be stronger for all kinds
of recall. Many words in spelling, many dates in history, many places
in geography, many facts in grammar and even in the more advanced
studies, have been learned rather because they were supposed to
develop memory than for any other reason. Thus the desire of
strengthening memory has considerably increased the amount of

The belief that memorizing normally precedes thinking rather than
follows it, is a third very important reason for the prominence of
memorizing. "The most important part of every Mussulman's training,"
says Batzel, "is to learn the Koran, by which must be understood
learning it by heart, for it would be wrong to wish to _understand_
the Koran till one knew it by heart." [Footnote: Batzel, _The History
of Mankind,_ Vol. III, p. 218.] We hold no conscientious scruples
against understanding statements before attempting to memorize them;
but one might think that we did, for our practice in memorizing
Scripture generally corresponds to that of the Mussulman in learning
the Koran. I venture to affirm, also, that the average student
habitually begins the study of his lessons by memorizing, with the
expectation of doing whatever thinking is necessary later. The average
teacher conducts recitations in the same manner. There is the defense
for this practice, too, in the fact that it seems logical to get the
raw materials for reflection into our possession before trying to
reflect upon them. The result, however, is that a surprisingly small
amount of thinking is done; for the memorizing requires so much time
and energy that, in spite of good intentions, the thinking is
postponed for a more convenient season until it constitutes an
insignificant part of study, while memorizing, the drudgery of study
becomes its main factor.

_How this prominence may be reduced._

If it is possible to reduce the prominence of mechanical memorizing,
it is highly desirable to do so, for it is unreasonable to defeat the
ends of education in the attempt to educate. Let us see how this may
be accomplished.

_1. By providing more motivation._

There is no complete cure for our tendency toward the superficial and
mechanical, due to mental laziness; the defect is too deep. Yet to the
extent that we increase our motive for effort a cure is found. Live
purposes give force; they make one earnest enough to fix the whole
attention upon a task, and to determine to get at the heart of it;
they deepen one's nature. Full concentration of attention, due to
interest and exercise of will power, is one of the chief conditions of
rapid memorizing. Some of the ways in which such purposes may be
supplied have already been discussed in Chapter III.

_2. By abandoning attempts to strengthen the general power of memory._

In the second place, we can afford to abandon all attempts to develop
the _general power_ of memory. The power of various crude materials to
retain impressions that are made upon them varies greatly according to
their nature. Jelly, for instance, has little such power; sand has
little more; clay possesses it in a higher degree, and stone in a far
higher still. But whatever persistence of impressions a given lot of
any one of these materials may possess, it can never be changed, it is
a fixed quantity.

The same holds in regard to the brain matter. Some men have brains
that retain almost everything. Professor James tells, [Footnote:
_Psychology,_ Vol. I, p. 660.] for instance, of a Pennsylvania
farmer who could remember the day of the week on which any date had
fallen for forty-two years past, and also the kind of weather at the
time. He tells further of an acquaintance who remembered the old
addresses of numerous New York City friends, addresses that the
friends had long since moved from and forgotten; nothing that this man
had ever heard or read seemed to escape him. Other persons, on the
other hand, possess little power to retain names, dates, quotations,
and scattered facts; their desultory memory, as it is called, is very
poor. But whatever native retentive power any particular brain happens
to have, can never be altered. The general persistence of impressions
of each person is a physiological or physical power depending on the
nature of his brain matter, and it is invariable. "No amount of
culture would seem capable of modifying a man's general
retentiveness," [Footnote: _Psychology,_ Vol. I, p. 663.] says James.
Again, "There can be no improvement of the general or elementary
faculty of memory." [Footnote: _Talks to Teachers,_ p. 123.] Our
desultory memories, in other words, are given to us once for all.

It is commonly supposed, on the contrary, that persons who memorize a
great deal, such as actors, greatly strengthen their general memory in
that way. "I have carefully questioned several mature actors on the
point," says James, "and all have denied that the practice of learning
parts has made any such difference as is alleged." [Footnote:
_Psychology,_ Vol. I, p. 664.] Actors certainly do increase their
ability to memorize certain kinds of subject-matter. Any one who has
much practice in learning lists of names, even, is likely to increase
his ability for that and similar tasks, just as one who learns to play
tennis well is aided thereby in playing baseball. The reason for such
improvement, however, is found largely, if not wholly, in improvement
in one's method of work, as will be made clear later, rather than in
any increase in general retentive power.

While the question of improving the memory is somewhat in dispute,
[Footnote: See _Educational Review_ for June, 1908.] and some
psychologists assert that _any_ kind of memorizing will have _some_
effect on all other kinds, it is safe to say that mere exercise of
memory is, for all practical purposes, useless as a means of
strengthening general memory. Only those things, therefore, should
be memorized that are intrinsically worthy of being reproduced.

_3. By improving the method of memorizing._

Even though a person's native retentive power cannot be improved, the
skill with which he uses whatever power he has can be increased. Men
who lift pianos find the work very difficult at first; but soon it
becomes reasonably easy. The greater ease is not due to any marked
increase in strength, but rather to increased skill in using strength.
It is due to improvement in method; they learn how.

So it may be with memorizing. A large portion of such work is usually
awkward, consisting of repetitions that consume much time and energy.
But it is possible so to improve the method that memory tasks will
occupy comparatively little time.

_How facts are recalled._

Before discussing ways in which the method of memorizing can be
improved, it is necessary to consider how facts are recalled.

Impressions are not stored away in the brain, and afterward recalled,
in an isolated state, or independently of one another. On the
contrary, they are more or less intimately related as they are
learned, and recall always takes place through association of some
sort. "Whatever appears in the mind must be _introduced;_ and,
when introduced, it is as the associate of something already there."
[Footnote: James's _Talks to Teachers,_ p. 118.]

The breakfast I ate this morning recalls the persons who sat around
the table; memory of one of those persons reminds me of a task that I
was to attend to to-day; that task suggests the fact that I must also
go to the bank to get some money, etc. Thus every fact that is
recalled is marshaled forth by the aid of some other that is connected
with it, and which acts as the cue to it. This is so fully true that
there is even the possibility of tracing our sequence of ideas
backward step by step as far as we wish. "The laws of association
govern, in fact, all the trains of our thinking which are not
interrupted by sensations breaking on us from without," says James.
[Footnote: _Ibid._]

_How method of memorizing may be improved._

Since any idea is recalled through its connection with other ideas,
the greater the number and the closeness of such relations, the better
chance it stands to be reproduced. Improvement in one's method of
memorizing, in other words, must consist mainly in increasing the
number and closeness of associations among facts. A list of unrelated
words is extremely difficult to remember; every additional relation
furnishes a new approach to any fact; and, the closer this relation,
the more likely it is to cause the reproduction.

_1. By more of less mechanical association._

Even the simplest associations, that are largely mechanical, may be
important aids to memory. For example, it is much easier to learn the
telephone number _1236_ by remembering that the sum of the first
three numbers forms the fourth than by memorizing each figure
separately. _Teacher_ is a word whose spelling often causes
trouble; but when _teach_ is associated with _each_, which is
seldom misspelled, the difficulty is removed. _There_ and _their_ are
two words whose spelling is a source of much confusion; but it is
overcome when _there_ is associated with _where_ and _here,_ and
_their_ with _her, your, our,_ etc. _Sight, site,_ and _cite_ are
still worse stumbling-blocks in spelling; but the difficulty is
largely overcome when _sight_ is firmly associated with _light_ and
_night, site_ with _situation,_ and _cite_ with _recite._ The
association of the sound of a word with its meaning is an important
help in remembering the meanings of some words, as _rasping,_ for
example. Professor James, I believe, tells of some one who forgot his
umbrella so often that he practiced associating _umbrella_ with
_doorway_ until the two ideas were almost inseparable. Then, whenever
he passed through a doorway on his way out of doors, he was reminded
to take his umbrella along. While there might be some disadvantages in
this particular association, it forcibly suggests the value of
association in general.

The various mnemonic systems that have been so widely advertised have
usually been nothing more than plans for the mechanical association of
facts. Sometimes, to be sure, it has been more difficult to remember
the system than to memorize the facts themselves; yet they, too, give
witness to the value of association.

I once asked a thirteen-year-old girl, in a history class, when Eli
Whitney lived. She gave the exact month and day, but failed to recall
either the year or the part of the century, or even the century. Her
answer showed plainly that her method of study was doubly wrong; for
she not only offended against relative values in learning the month
and day while forgetting the century, but she revealed no tendency to
associate Whitney's invention with any particular period of history.
Even cross-questioning brought no such tendency to light. She was
depending on mere retentiveness to hold dates in mind. The habit of
memorizing facts in this disconnected way is common among adults as
well as children, and as a remedy against it the student should form
the habit of frequently asking himself the question, "With what am I
associating this fact or idea?"

In contrast with associations that are more or less mechanical, there
are vital associations that are possible in all studies containing
rich subject-matter.

_2. By close thought association.
(1) Through attention to the outline._

Early association of the principal ideas, or early recognition of the
outline of thought, is perhaps the most important of these. One can
proceed sentence by sentence, or "bit by bit," in memorizing as in
thinking, adding one such fragment after another until the whole is
learned. But the early recognition of the main ideas in their proper
sequence is far superior. These essentials give peculiar control over
the details by grouping them in an orderly manner and furnishing their
cue so that the whole is more easily memorized. This is true even in
the case of verbal memorizing, as is evidenced by a certain minister
quoted by Professor James. "As for memory, mine has improved year by
year, except when in ill-health, like a gymnast's muscle. Before
twenty it took three or four days to commit an hour-long sermon; after
twenty, two days, one day, one-half day, and now one slow analytic,
very attentive or adhesive reading does it. But memory seems to me the
most physical of intellectual powers. Bodily ease and freshness have
much to do with it. Then there is great difference <of facility in
method. I used to commit _sentence_ by _sentence._ Now I take the idea
of the whole, then its leading divisions, then its subdivisions, then
its sentences." [Footnote: James, _Psychology,_ Vol. I, p. 668.]

Thus early attention to organization is a large factor in memorizing,
as in study that aims principally at comprehension of the thought.
Where good organization is wanting,--as in tracing lessons in
geography, and other mere tests of facts,--this aid to memorizing is
lacking, and one must depend more upon brute memory power. On the
other hand, where the portions of one's knowledge have become so
closely interrelated and so well organized that they form a well-knit
system of thought, one's ability to remember may be surprising.
Spencer and Darwin were examples of men whose ideas were thus
organized. Neither of them possessed phenomenal memories to start
with; but their observations so generally found a group of close
relations to sustain them, and these groups were associated with one
another in such a close and orderly way, that the outline of the whole
could be easily surveyed, and any fact could be quickly reproduced,
just as any book can be speedily found in a well-organized library.
Thus, as we grow older, if the organization of our knowledge is
improving, the power of reproducing it will likewise be increasing.

_(2) Through comparisons._

Comparisons are another means of establishing valuable thought
connections. Study by topics, also, furnishes special opportunity for
comparisons. "It is generally better," says James Baldwin, "to learn
what different writers have thought and said concerning that matter of
which you are making a special study. Not many books are to be read
hastily through." [Footnote: James Baldwin, _The Book Lover,_ p. 43.]
Koopman likewise declares, "A single trial will prove to any student
the superiority, in interest, of the topical and comparative over the
chronological and consecutive method of studying history." [Footnote:
Koopman, _Mastery of Books,_ p. 43.] Again, "The student who has not
known the pleasure of reading _all_ the works of an author, as a study
in personality, has a great source of enjoyment still before him."
[Footnote: _Ibid.,_ p. 44.]

Many persons have the feeling that it is a moral duty, after having
begun a book, to read it through. Here is the recommendation that our
reading for a time "converge to one point"; that we find, for example,
what several psychologies have to say on one topic, such as memory,
rather than read one psychology from cover to cover. The value of
comparison for thoroughness has already been emphasized. Its value
from the view-point of memory is great, not only because it insures
more lasting impressions due to increased interest, as just suggested,
but also because each new comparison, while reviewing, also
establishes new and closer associations among old ideas.

_Memorizing of Kipling's "Seal Lullaby."_

According to the above, we can best memorize by establishing whatever
associations seem interesting and reasonable. Take, for instance,
Kipling's Seal Lullaby:--

     Oh! Hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
       And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
     The moon, o'er the combers, looks downward to find us
       At rest in the hollows that rustle between.

     Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
       Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
     The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
       Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

The music of the rhythm leads one to read it aloud from time to time.
The first two lines are an announcement of bedtime; the next three
tell where the resting place is, and the last three give assurance of
safety--that is the outline. Any one has often observed how black the
waters become as night approaches, and the picture is vividly recalled
as the first couplet is read. "Combers" is almost a strange word, but
its use makes its meaning reasonably clear. Is there a cradle of some
sort? And a good pillow, too? Is there any tenderness indicated on the
part of the mother? Any pet names applied? What dangers might cause
uneasiness? Which is the most beautiful part? What lullabies of our
childhood does this recall? How does this one compare in beauty with
"Rock-a-bye-baby"? Let us sing each, in order to judge. What marked
contrast is there between the two, in the latter part?

I first ran across this lullaby in company with two friends, to each
of whom it was entirely new. It appealed to us so strongly that we
read it aloud several times and talked it over. We considered some
questions such as the above, and compared it with "Rock-a-bye-baby,"
disagreeing somewhat in our opinions. When we left it, each of us
nearly or quite knew it by heart, although we had scarcely thought of
trying to memorize it. In this way the association of ideas with one
another, particularly with things that have been long cherished, is a
very valuable aid to memory.

_Where the fault in cramming lies._

To some persons this method of memorizing through association of ideas
will seem very slow. It must be acknowledged that there is a more
rapid way, called _cramming._ Every mature student has found
that, under great pressure, he can commit to memory the substance of
thought, and even the words, for an astonishing amount of matter. The
difficulty is, however, that it will hold only up to a certain hour,
the hour after examination, for example; then it goes so rapidly that
one can fairly feel it slipping away. Such rapid memorizing is a
witness to the value of very close attention in study; but the rapid
escape is testimony to the necessity of a closer association of facts.
Owing to undue haste the ideas are crowded into the memory without
becoming intimately related, or tied together, in numerous ways. Then,
when some part is forgotten, as is sure to happen, the other parts,
being unrelated to it, offer no cue for its reproduction. Thus one
part after another is lost; and, even though the ideas are closely
related by nature, the lack of appreciation of such relationship on
the part of the student allows the whole to escape as rapidly as mere
lists of facts. To be firmly remembered, either a great amount of
drill is necessary, or else the ideas must be _assimilated_, and
assimilation cannot be hurried in this manner.

_The principal means of making mechanical memorization less

The ordinary plan of study, by which memorizing precedes thinking,
results, as we have seen, in crowding out thinking by leaving little
time and energy for it. Memorizing thus becomes a substitute for
thinking, and makes study an extremely dull task. This is an
inversion, however, of the true order. If thinking is made to precede
conscious attempts to memorize, the nourishing character of study is
assured, and direct attempts at memorizing become largely unnecessary,
because most of the memorizing has already been accomplished
unconsciously. In other words, _memorizing then becomes a by-product
of thinking, instead of a substitute for it._ We often regret the
prominence of memorizing in study, and here is probably the principal
means of reducing it. There will be less of it, to the extent that we
do more thinking; and there will be far more thinking if we put
thinking first in time, thereby making it first in importance.

I once saw Kipling's _Seal Lullaby_ presented to seven-year-old
children. The teacher read it aloud from the blackboard, then the
class read it. Then the class set to work to memorize it, a line or
two at a time. This was a good example of bad method, for adults as
well as for children. If they had planned first to _enjoy_ the
poem by trying to read it several times aloud with expression, by
talking it over, illustrating it and singing it, the memorizing would
have taken care of itself. As it was, their teacher's haste to have it
_learned,_ amounted to a direct advocacy of the principle of cramming;
for they were attempting to memorize through force rather than through
association of ideas. One reason older students practice cramming to
such an extent is that they have never been fully taught a better
method; the schools have never fully stood for a better method of

So long as memorizing is put first in time, and therefore in
importance, those persons who have quick memories will be held up as
the ideal students, whether they have higher abilities or not. Quick
memories, however, are poor educators indeed unless they are coupled
with unusual earnestness and energy. With all classes of students,
therefore, the thinking should habitually precede attempts to

_Examples of improvement in memory through closer attention and better

From all that has been said, it is plain that _how_ to memorize is
closely bound up with the question _when_ to memorize. We are now
ready to appreciate the statement that good memorizing is really
good thinking, and that improvement in memory is mainly improvement in
attention and in method of thinking.

This is in general true, even in spite of some opinions to the
contrary. Thurlow Weed, the journalist and politician, for example,
greatly increased his ability to remember, and attributed the
improvement to an increase in his general power of memory, due to its
exercise. He relates his experience in the following words:--

My memory was a sieve. I could remember nothing. Dates, names,
appointments, faces--everything escaped me. I said to my wife,
"Catherine, I shall never make a successful politician, for I cannot
remember, and that is a prime necessity of politicians."

My wife told me I must train my memory. So, when I came home that
night, I sat down and spent fifteen minutes trying silently to recall
with accuracy the principal events of the day. I could remember but
little at first; now I remember that I could not then recall what I
had for breakfast. After a few days' practice I found I could recall
more. Events came back to me more minutely, more accurately, and more
vividly than at first. After a fortnight or so of this, Catherine
said, "Why don't you relate to me the events of the day, instead of
recalling them to yourself? It would be interesting, and my interest
in it would be a stimulus to you."

Having great respect for my wife's opinion, I began a habit of oral
confession, as it were, which was continued for almost fifty years.
Every night, the last thing before retiring, I told her everything I
could remember that had happened to me, or about me, during the day, I
generally recalled the dishes I had had for breakfast, dinner, and
tea; the people I had seen, and what they had said; the editorials I
had written for my paper, giving her a brief abstract of them. I
mentioned all the letters I had sent and received, and the very
language used, as nearly as possible; when I had walked or ridden--I
told her everything that had come within my observation.

I found I could say my lessons better and better every year, and
instead of the practice growing irksome, it became a pleasure to go
over again the events of the day. I am indebted to this discipline for
a memory of somewhat unusual tenacity, and I recommend the practice to
all who wish to store up facts, or expect to have much to do with
influencing men. [Footnote: Quoted by James, _Psychology,_ Vol. I, p.

Professor James comments on this experience as follows:--

I do not doubt that Mr. Weed's practical command of his past
experiences was much greater after fifty years of this heroic drill
than it would have been without it. Expecting to give his account in
the evening, he _attended_ better to each incident of the day, named
and conceived it differently, set his mind upon it, and in the evening
went over it again. He did more _thinking_ about it, and it stayed
with him in consequence. But I venture to affirm pretty confidently...
that the same matter, casually attended to and not thought about,
would have stuck in his memory no better at the end than at the
beginning of his years of heroic self-discipline. He had acquired a
better method of noting and recording his experiences, but his
physiological retentiveness was probably not a bit improved.
[Footnote: James, _Psychology,_ Vol. I, p. 666.]

Again, as to the memorizing of facts by actors, Professor James

What it has done for them is to improve their power of _studying_
a part systematically. Their mind is now full of precedents in the way
of intonation, emphasis, gesticulation; the new words awaken distinct
suggestions and decisions; are caught up, in fact, into a preexisting
network, like the merchant's prices or the athlete's store of records,
and are recollected easier, although the mere native tenacity is not a
whit improved, and is usually, in fact, impaired by age.

It is a case of better remembering by better thinking. Similarly when
schoolboys improve by practice in ease of learning by heart, the
improvement will, I am sure, be always found to reside in the _mode
of study of the particular piece_ (due to the greater interest, the
greater suggestiveness, the generic similarity with other pieces, the
more sustained attention, etc., etc.) and not at all to any
enhancement of the brute retentive power. [Footnote: _Ibid._, p.

_The prominence of drill._

It still remains to consider the extent to which mere repetition or
drill should be prominent. Some help toward an answer may be found in
certain recent investigations into the value of drill, and in certain
recent improvements in method.

Spelling, arithmetic, and language being the subjects that have
required the largest amount of drill, these will be the principal
studies here considered.

Dr. O. P. Cornman in his _Spelling in the Elementary School_ recounts
some very interesting investigations into the value of drill in that
subject. In two schools, each containing the usual eight grades, the
use of the spelling book and home lessons in the subject were
abandoned for a period of three years. At the same time the period
which had been devoted to studying and reciting in spelling in
school was omitted from the school program, making the mastery of
spelling entirely an incidental matter. The results thus obtained were
then compared with the results previously obtained in spelling in
those two schools, and also in a number of other schools that devoted
from ten to fifty minutes daily to spelling. The conclusion reached
was that "the spelling drill as at present administered throughout the
country adds little or nothing to the effectiveness of the mere
incidental teaching of spelling"; [Footnote: Cornman, _Spelling in
the Elementary School,_ p. 66.] or, again, that it "is of so little
importance as to be practically negligible." [Footnote: _Ibid.,_ p.
65.] This result may have been due to a considerable extent to poor
texts in spelling and to the ineffective methods of drilling used.

A large portion of the time spent on arithmetic in the first six
grades is usually occupied with drill. Some schools devote a full
fifth of their time to this study, thus making the drill in arithmetic
very prominent. It is commonly supposed that so much repetition
greatly improves the results. Yet, according to investigations
undertaken by Dr. C. W. Stone, "a large amount of time spent on
arithmetic is no guarantee of a high degree of efficiency. If one were
to choose at random among the schools with more than the median time
given to arithmetic, the chances are that he would get a school with
an inferior product; and, conversely, if one were to choose among the
schools with less than the median time cost, the chances are about
equal that he would get a school with a superior product in
arithmetic." [Footnote: Stone, _Arithmetical Abilities: Some Factors
Determining Them,_ p. 62.]

Such conclusions as these give ground for suspicion of any very large
amount of drill, even in these drill subjects; it involves too much
waste. One important reason for the waste is the fact that drills
usually are uninteresting or lack motive, and on that account
attention lags, until one learns slowly or not at all. It is true that
one can and ought to _will_ to do certain necessary things. But
even adults are so made that an act of will insures close attention
for only a moment at a time, then attention lags again; sustained
attention is assured only when the work undertaken is subordinated to
some real interest, so that attention is involuntary.

Recent advances in method of studying language offer further
suggestions in regard to the advisable prominence of drill. In the
study of modern languages, for example, it used to be the custom to
depend largely upon drill for the mastery of a vocabulary, and of the
forms of the verbs, nouns, and other parts of speech. Likewise in
teaching children to read English it was customary for much drill on
new words to precede the actual use of such words in reading. Now much
more rapid progress is effected both in modern languages and in our
vernacular by greatly increasing the amount of matter read and
decreasing, correspondingly, the quantity of drill. The suggestion,
therefore, is here made that not only the extensive drills of former
times involve much waste, but also that they are probably unnecessary.
Further than that, since a closer and more abundant association of
facts has already eliminated a large amount of drill, it may be
expected that the good work of elimination will go on much farther.
Very extensive drills in the future, therefore, do not promise to be a
recommendation for the teacher who is responsible for employing them;
they will be the resort of those persons who lack the energy or
ability to do a higher kind of work, that is, to _think_.

We need not congratulate ourselves, however, that drills will ever
disappear entirely; some drill, like some punishments for children,
will probably always be in place, and a considerable amount is still
necessary. We must expect a fair amount because we shall probably
never be bright enough to make the associations of ideas fully take
the place of review by drill. In particular it must be remembered that
those portions of our knowledge that we expect to use daily must
become second nature to us, or be reduced to habit; that means that
many facts must become familiar enough to be reproduced instantly
without effort. That is the case, for example, with the multiplication
table. Thoughtful association is only a good beginning in the
formation of habits; repetition also has a very important place, which
must be continued until the knowledge stands at our command "without


_The crucial question._

No one doubts the ability of children to memorize; that is the one
thing that they have always been known to be able to do. One argument
for teaching them foreign languages as well as many things
unintelligible to them now, but possibly useful later, is that they
can learn them so easily. That is the ground also, on which much
verbatim memorizing of literature and Scripture, that they could not
hope soon to appreciate, has been required of them.

The crucial question in this connection, therefore, is not, "Can
children memorize?" but rather, "Are they capable of more than
mechanical memorizing, or learning by rote? Can they think well enough
to memorize largely through association of ideas, like older persons?"

_Children's ability to memorize by thinking._

The answer to this question has already been practically given. It has
been shown that children can conceive specific purposes; can
supplement the thought of authors; can measure the relative importance
of facts well enough to establish fair organization among them; and
can judge the soundness and general worth of statements. They not only
_can_ do these things, but they normally do do them; their present
daily lives constantly call for these several kinds of mental

These several factors, however, largely compose the activity of
associating ideas with one another, or of thinking. Children can,
therefore, memorize through thinking, just as naturally as adults can.

_The desirable prominence of such memorizing in childhood._

While very extensive drills are perhaps generally recognized as
questionable in the case of adult students, there is a tendency to
regard them as entirely proper in childhood. And the helplessness of
children--in spite of frequent little rebellions on their part--prevents
the establishment of a contrary conviction. We admit that a considerable
amount of drill is guaranteed to children through the three R's and
spelling, whether any one approves of it or not. But what about much
beyond this minimum? Shall the teacher willingly increase the amount
by neglecting possible associations within those four subjects, and
also by requiring much memorizing of literature and facts in other
subjects that cannot be appreciated at the time? Or shall she regard
the close association of ideas as the normal activity of children and
a great quantity of drill and rote learning as at least verging on
the abnormal and the unhealthy? These are questions of great importance
in the instruction of children.

It seems safe to affirm that, in general, there are the same reasons
for regarding drill and thoughtless memorizing as an evil--though to
some extent a necessary one--in childhood as in adult life. Indeed, if
there be any difference, the evil is probably greater in childhood,
for drill furnishes no nourishment to childhood, while that is
peculiarly the period of growth, when abundance of nourishment is most

Granted that the ability of children to memorize things that do not
brighten the eye is striking, it must be remembered that their mental
and moral growth in numerous directions is also striking. It is far
more important that their spiritual welfare as a whole be provided
for--as live ideas lying within their sphere of experience can be made
to provide for it--than that they starve themselves now for the sake
of storing up material for the future. The latter plan shows a very
low estimate of child-nature, and a misapprehension of the relation of
the present to the future.

Aside from this, it is in the elementary school that children must
mainly acquire their permanent habits of study; the methods of work
there acquired will not be made over on entering the high school or
college. If they there become accustomed to beginning their lessons by
memorizing, and to memorizing words without appreciating their import,
the chances are good that they will have the same habits later. Why
not, if there is anything in habit? At least, they will have much to
overcome if they reform. On the other hand, if they there begin the
mastery of lessons by studying the thought, and memorize largely
through the association of ideas, they are likely to continue that
plan later. By thus becoming thoughtful in regard to childish matters,
they give best promise of being thoughtful on larger subjects later.

In all these remarks there is no intention of making philosophers out
of children; but there is a feeling of the necessity of preserving and
developing their live-mindedness. Opposition to this feeling indicates
that children are not expected to do much thinking even in their own
sphere of experience.


Other things being equal, the depth and hence the permanence of
impressions varies as the degree of attention varies. For example, if
a child's whole attention is given to a name, or a date, or the
spelling of a word, he may retain it in memory after having heard it
only once; otherwise it may have to be repeated several times.

_1. Need of concentration of attention, and method of securing it._

Children, however, easily fall into the securing it. habit of dividing
their attention between work and play, so that half of their time is
wasted; yet they labor under the impression that there is much virtue
merely in _spending time_ on lessons.

Divided attention is not confined to children, either. It is
frequently observed that announcements made before large schools are
never understood rightly by _all,_ simply because there are always
some who are thinking partly of something else. A certain professor of
English in one of our large universities has for years been in the
habit of dictating the following directions, with illustrations, to
his students beginning composition: "Fold the paper lengthwise from
right to left, leaving the single edge to your right hand. Endorse on
the first three lines. Do not use abbreviations in writing the date.
Omit all punctuation, or, if you punctuate, use commas at ends of
lines and after date of month." In classes ranging from forty to
seventy-five persons, as many as 90 per cent have failed to follow
these directions. What better proof is needed of common laxness of

To remedy this evil among children teachers would do well to refer
much less to the _time_ spent in study and much more to the _kind_ of
attention given. More than that can be done. Children are often
directed to "pay close attention," or to "concentrate their attention
fully," sometimes without comprehending the meaning of the command,
and more often without knowing what steps to take in order to obey.
Both difficulties can be partially overcome by fixing time limits to
tasks, even in the lower grades. For example, two minutes can be
announced as the limit for reading a half page in the second reader.
Under that stimulus the children will do their best; and when they
have undergone several such tests successfully, reference to these
tests will explain what is meant by close attention; reference to
their successes also will instill confidence that they know how to
give close attention, for they can do again what they have already
frequently done. The dawdling that is so common among children is
partly due to lack of an ideal, and such time limits should be
resorted to somewhat frequently in order to keep the ideal fresh in
mind, as well as to cultivate confidence that the ideal can be
realized. Military governments often obtain undivided attention to a
remarkable degree, showing that attention is a thing that can be
cultivated in some directions. Similar determination to secure it
should be exercised in the school, only the pressure applied should be
of a different kind.

_2. Danger of cramming and its avoidance._

College students are not the only ones who gulp down facts, hold them
undigested for a few hours, and then disgorge them. Many children
study largely in this way in preparation for their daily recitations,
as is shown by the fact that they retain facts a very short time, even
though they seem to know each day's lessons. It is true in spelling,
for example, and in geography and history. It is true likewise in
verbatim memorizing of poetry and Bible verses on Sunday mornings.

The general remedy for this evil is found in the requirement that
ideas be associated, and as far as possible enjoyed, before any
special attempt is made to memorize. This is most difficult in
spelling; but some associations are possible there, as suggested (p.
168). It is comparatively easy in geography and history, after
children have received some instruction as to method. It is impossible
in verbatim memorizing of literature, if selections are made that are
far beyond children's appreciation. But there is no need of such
selections; there are plenty of poems and Bible verses that can be at
least partly understood and really enjoyed by very young people, and
it is that kind that should be chosen.

Naturally the thinking that is thus required cannot be expected in
large amount from the younger children, for they will feel and enjoy
much more than they can analyze. Also, it should, perhaps, be expected
very little in memorizing that is entirely voluntary, as when a poem
is learned by some child simply because he likes it. But memorizing
that is a part of school work, and therefore a part of serious study,
should be undertaken in this way, because it is the right way. The
number of associations, too, is not so important as the method of
study that the child gradually adopts.

_3. Ways of leading children to memorize through thinking in study

How children study in preparation for the recitation will depend upon
how the recitation itself is conducted, upon what is _first_ called
for there and what is most emphasized. The reason that memorizing
constitutes the main part of study, not only in the elementary school,
but in the high school and the college, is that reproduction has been
the principal thing required in the recitations all along the line. It
is the character of the recitation, therefore, that must first be

The questions that are considered in the recitation are the factor of
greatest influence. If the children find that the teacher's questions
usually begin with what, or where, or when, thereby merely calling for
direct reproduction of the substance of text, she may talk ever so
much about right methods of study, but they will memorize before
thinking and without thinking.

Very many of the questions should test not so much knowledge of the
text as the pupil's way of treating the text. The spirit of the
teacher's usual general question should be, How have you associated or
related these facts? And some of her detailed questions might well be:
What object do you see in studying this topic? What statements here
need filling out, and how have you done it? What are the most
important ideas here? Or the most beautiful? How do these statements
remind you of others that you already know? Have you found any of
these statements questionable? And, if so, how? Thus the conduct of
the recitation will show the kinds of questions that must be expected.
Gradually the teacher should refrain from putting the questions
herself and leave that to the pupils. That becomes very important as
they mature; for how otherwise will they learn to study alone?

The questions should include higher forms of comparison far more than
is customary. Much of the study of geography, for example, should
consist of the comparison of countries with one another. Poems should
be compared and grouped. _The Children's Hour, Snow-Bound,
Evangeline,_ and the parable of the Prodigal Son taken together
reveal a conception of home life that is not obtained by the study of
literary selections in an isolated way. So Burke's three addresses,
_On Taxation,_ in 1774, _On Conciliation,_ in 1775, and _Letters to
the Sheriffs of Bristol,_ in 1777, throw light on one another and form
a unit. Such comparisons continually review original facts, and in
that way eliminate much customary drill. Preparation for such
comparison in the study period properly puts mere memorizing far
in the background.

The cross lights that different studies throw upon one another through
careful correlation--as when literature and history deal with the same
topic--are valuable in a similar manner and should be included in the
questions that are considered.

Finally, when the text is so intolerably dull that it discourages
reflection, instead of stimulating it,--as is not seldom the case,--it
very often lies within the teacher's power to accomplish her objects
mainly by the use of other books that are supplementary and for
reference. This she should do without hesitation. Much routine drill
on geography text, for instance, can be avoided by using geographical
readers. Pointed questions, of course, would be in control here as in
other cases.

These various thought questions, coming from teacher and pupils,
should not be reserved until toward the close of the recitation, to be
put then _if any time is left._ That defeats their object. They
should occupy the time from the beginning of the period; it is the
memory questions that should follow, if there is time and if they are
needed. The order in time for the thinking and the special attempt to
memorize is one of the most vital matters, and it is highly important
that the recitation itself stand for the order that is expected in
private study.

_4. Conditions for the best kind of drill._

While it is the sign of a weak mind to give great prominence to drill,
some drill is unavoidable. There are two conditions that must be
fulfilled in order to secure the best kind. One is that sufficient
motive be provided to secure very close attention. The use of motor
activity may be an important aid in this direction, as when children
are allowed to walk about and point in locating places in geography,
to dramatize in reproducing literature, and to use sand and clay in
representation of various kinds.

Emulation is a powerful motive, but has so many dangers that it should
be used sparingly. The cooperative spirit is the kind that the school
should cultivate, and heated competition does not readily lead to
cooperation. There is, however, much profit and no danger in making
comparisons among one's own products.

The teacher herself may be one of the most potent factors securing
close attention. If she has force and has cultivated the friendship of
her pupils until they are anxious to please her, her appeals to their
own wills will not be in vain. If, in addition, her skill in handling
a class inspires confidence, she can do much toward conducting her
class through drills without waste of time. Very many drills are
failures mainly because the teacher is a poor manager, not knowing how
to distribute materials quietly and quickly and to assign and
supervise work so that all are kept busy. The strong personality,
however, has its dangers, also, for it may _carry_ children through
drills instead of letting them carry themselves. In the main, unless
children furnish their own steam when they work with a teacher,
they will have little steam to do work when left to themselves.

The healthiest provision for motive in drills is found in the
recognition of a given drill as a necessary step toward the
accomplishment of some already greatly desired end. A child will
willingly practice mixing colors in order to obtain a certain shade,
if he is much interested in painting a certain kind of calendar. And
he will gladly drill upon the rendering of a poem, if he is anxious to
surprise his mother with it on her birthday. Such subordination of
uninteresting tasks to larger purposes is highly educative, and no one
has found the limit to which it can be carried.

The second condition of successful drills is that they be short. Even
under the most favorable circumstances children cannot long remain
alert on subject-matter that lacks intrinsic interest. In brief,
therefore, drills to be effective must be made sharp by the presence
of motive, and must be short.



_The indefiniteness of the endpoint of study._

The student has accomplished much when he has discovered some of the
closer relations that a topic bears to life; when he has supplemented
the thought of the author; when he has determined the relative
importance of different parts and given them a corresponding
organization; when he has passed judgment on their soundness and
general worth; and when, finally, he has gone through whatever drill
is necessary to fix the ideas firmly in his memory. Is he then through
with a topic, or is more work to be done? Digestion of food is
likewise a long process, the food having to be acted upon in various
ways in the mouth, the stomach, and the intestines. But with food
there is always a certain end to be reached, called assimilation,
which is the actual changing of its nutriment into the solids and
liquids of our bodies. Is there a similarly definite end to be reached
in the study process?

It must be admitted that while we can define this end somewhat sharply
in words, it is very difficult to know when it has been actually
reached. Many a business man has felt convinced that he understood a
certain business project perfectly, until the outcome has proved the
contrary. Business failures are largely due to such deception. Even
highly educated men are often surprised at their want of mastery of
questions that they had supposed to be fully within their grasp.
Socrates spent much of his time bringing such surprises to the
promising but overconfident young men of Athens. Robert Y. Hayne, the
distinguished champion of nullification, no doubt experienced such a
surprise when Webster delivered his great speech on that subject. The
actual mastery of subjects is perhaps never complete; it is only
relative. Even a child may have as good a grasp of one subject as a
philosopher has of another, and each may be deceived in regard to the
extent of his understanding.

The common ignorance as to how much study is necessary for the mastery
of knowledge is suggested by the common ignorance as to how much work
is necessary for the assimilation of food. It takes from three to five
hours for food that has been eaten to get beyond the stomach, and
people ordinarily assume that the assimilative process is pretty well
completed by that time. The fact is, however, that it is then only
well begun; for it requires from ten to twelve hours to dispose fully
of a meal, and most of the work of digestion takes place _after_
the food leaves the stomach. While the assimilation of knowledge is
what the student is supposed to aim at, how much that involves is even
less understood.

_Importance of as great definiteness in the endpoint as possible._

In the digestion of food our organisms provide for themselves, so that
we do not need to worry greatly over some ignorance of the process.
But our responsibility in the assimilation of knowledge is much
greater, for that does not go on uninterruptedly even while we sleep;
it will be carried only so far as we have the energy and insight to
take it.

That being the case, it is very easy for one to stop too soon in the
study of a topic. For instance, when a lesson in history has been only
memorized, the digestive process has been carried little further than
physical digestion has been taken when food reaches the stomach. That
is, it is barely begun. Yet very many young people stop near this
point, and they sometimes even take credit to themselves for getting
so far.

We might add comprehension of the thought to the work of memorizing
and still be far from the end. We can have comprehended and memorized
the Beatitudes, for example, and be as free from any effect from them
as the proverbial duck's back is from the effect of water. We can pass
good examinations in psychology and logic with the same absence of
influence. That certainly does not signify assimilation. Assimilation
means the spiritual nourishment that is received by making new thought
homogeneous with one's own thought, by making it an integral part of
one's self.

Remembering how young people generally study, it seems probable that
many of them spend a large part of their time providing for
nourishment that they never get. They do a lot of hard work collecting
the raw materials of knowledge without working them over so as to reap
either the pleasure or the profit intended. Here is where some of the
waste in education lies.

It is highly important, therefore, that the student reach as definite
as possible a conception of the endpoint to be attained in study.
Although the meaning of assimilation may not be perfectly clear, a few
of its characteristics at least may be distinguished, so that we can
feel some certainty as to how far we have got in the process, and have
some notion as to how much more must be done in order to reach the
approximate goal.

_The endpoint accepted in mastery of the useful arts._

Study of the useful arts, such as the various trades, consists of two
distinct parts. On the one hand, facts must be mastered that pertain
to the nature of materials, to methods of using implements or tools,
and to plans tor construction. In cabinet-making, for example, the
qualities of woods and paints, the rules for using the saw, plane, and
chisel, and the various ideas governing designs for household
furniture must all receive attention. In other words, a considerable
body of theory must be acquired.

On the other hand, this theory must find application under particular
conditions; a table must be made out of certain materials, with
certain tools, according to a certain design. This also involves much
thinking; but, in addition to all that, there is execution of theory,
called doing or practice.

There is, further, a definite relation between these two parts, for
the theory is merely a means to an end. What is wanted is a good
product, and the theory is valuable to the extent that it affects the
product. The useful arts, as studies, stand, therefore, both for
theory and for the application or use of theory, and the latter is the
goal. No one thinks of pursuing any one of the trades without
including the use of his knowledge in practice as the culminating part
of his work.

To what extent should other branches of knowledge resemble the useful
arts in their combination of knowledge with the use of knowledge?
Should the use of ideas be their goal? The answer must depend upon
one's conception of the purpose of life in general and, therefore, of

_The endpoint in the study of other subjects._

Abilities of various kinds in the animal world find their purpose not
in themselves but in adaptation to environment. Fear on the part of
the rabbit, for instance, increases its speed in running, and in that
way protects its life. The bear's strength aids in repelling its
enemies, and the intelligence of both animals finds its purpose both
in protection against enemies and in finding food. Living, in the case
of animals, thus means _getting on,_ and any ability, whether physical
or intellectual, is of importance to the extent that it makes such
getting on successful. The endpoint among animals, then, is the _use_
of their powers in effecting adaptation to their environment.

Man's environment is far broader than that of animals, being moral and
spiritual as well as physical. But his relation to it is substantially
the same; for his success is likewise measured by the degree of
adaptation accomplished. Human abilities are not mainly valuable in
themselves, but rather as means in securing fuller adaptation,
"complete living"; that is, they are valuable for their use.

The end to be attained in education is in full harmony with this idea.
The object of education most emphasized in recent years is
_efficiency,_ which means power to accomplish. It presupposes a
good degree of intelligence, the more the better, but it goes beyond
that; for an efficient person is one who _does_ things. Knowledge
without the ability to apply or _use_ it leaves one theoretical,
which, is a term of reproach.

The various subjects of instruction recognize the necessity of use
very plainly. Painting and music, for example, contain, each, a large
body of theory. They also include an abundance of practice, a
practice, too, that centers in the betterment of man's condition.
Literature deals largely with ideals, presenting the theory of living.
But this theory is valuable chiefly as a guide to conduct. The student
of literature who professes admiration for its ideas without applying
them to himself has derived only a small part of the benefit from it
that he should. Literature is like religion in this respect. The
latter emphasizes the worth of insight into divine truth and of faith
in God; but both this insight and faith are to find their fruitage in
conduct. "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is
this," says the apostle, "to visit the fatherless and widows in their
affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." [Footnote:
James 1, 27.] Similarly, a study of philosophy that does not end in
affecting our own philosophy of life, and thereby our conduct, has
been unsuccessful, even though examinations have been successfully

Pure science is knowledge that has been proved and properly organized;
and it is highly desirable that specialists devote their lives to its
further development. The main reason, however, is that its
applications may finally be more abundant; and science used for the
purpose of education must recognize the relation of such knowledge to
man as one of its integral and prominent parts. So long as efficiency
is the recognized purpose of education, there is little excuse for a
young person's studying science apart from its applications, or pure
science. There is some profit in it, but there is more profit in
something better. That kind of study should be left to the specialist.

Much has been said in times past about art for art's sake, science for
the sake of science, and knowledge for the sake of knowledge; but
these are vague expressions that will excite little interest so long
as the worth of a man is determined by what comes out of him, by the
service he renders, rather than by what enters in. Other branches of
knowledge used for educative purposes, therefore, resemble the useful
arts in the recognition of their bearings on man, their actual use as
the goal in their study.

_Why the using of knowledge as an endpoint in study needs emphasis._

It might be unnecessary to emphasize this matter were it not that this
conception of study has been reached only after long development and
is still actively opposed. The old Greeks stood for a very different
idea. To Plato, the use of the intellect for practical purposes was
subordinate and almost disgraceful. The summation of existence was to
be found in reflection, and the ambition of the educated man was to
escape from the concrete world, in order to live in the world of
abstract truth. Many of the monks of the Middle Ages resembled the
ancient Greeks in this regard, desiring to separate themselves as
completely as possible from society for the sake of the contemplation
of spiritual matters. Reflection, contemplation, was thus not a means
to an end but an end in itself, and the thinker or dreamer, rather
than the efficient man, was the ideally educated person.

That goal is now condemned for its extreme selfishness; we want men
and women as citizens who are glad to identify themselves with their
fellow beings and ambitious for efficient service among them, not
those who conscientiously ignore the world. Yet there are still plain
tendencies in this direction, as is seen in the fact that an education
that is liberal and cultural is often contrasted with one that is
useful as being of a higher order. "That alone is liberal education,"
says Cardinal Newman, "which stands on its own pretensions, which is
independent of sequel, expects no complement, refuses to be
_informed_ (as it is called) by any end or absorbed into any art,
in order duly to present itself to our contemplation." [Footnote:
_Scope and Nature of University Education,_ p. 135.] Liberal
education is something which "is desirable, though nothing come of
it"; "worth possessing for what it is, and not merely for what it
does." Art for art's sake, rather than art for man's sake, would thus
represent the true spirit of a liberal college course, in the
estimation of this author; the admission of service to mankind as a
prominent purpose, particularly as its goal, would deprive it of its
liberal character, and in the same degree expose it to condemnation.

That is strange doctrine indeed. Liberal is originally a term opposed
to narrow and restricted, and a liberal education might properly be
contrasted with the very narrow bread-and-butter kind that aims at the
mastery of art without theory. But how the restriction caused by the
presence of worthy specific purposes of a thousand kinds is inimical
to the broadening effects of study and to its general value is
difficult to comprehend. The hypothesis guiding a scientific
investigation narrows the work only enough to give it point, and a
well-chosen particular aim will have the same effect on any study.

Further than that, the consciousness in advance that any conclusions
reached must be tested by actual conditions has only a good influence
by nerving us to do our best; and the actual test is of value in
informing us as to the degree of soundness of our ideas. All persons
must be shocked by the misfit between what they supposed to be true
and what they find by trial to be fact, before they will waken up and
do their best thinking. The superabundance of advice that bachelor
uncles and maiden aunts offer in regard to the rearing of children is
due to the fact that their theory has not been refined by practice. It
is the direct contact with the world in the _use_ of knowledge that
reveals the latter's real significance and that converts it into
experience; and it is only the knowledge that becomes experience that
really counts in education.

Again, in arguing the question of allowing normal schools to grant
degrees, a certain well-known educator declares: "Where ability to
exercise a practical art is concerned, degrees are or should be
valueless. They should be restricted merely to the position of
evidences of culture. For this reason normal schools should not grant
degrees." [Footnote: _Year Book of National Society for Scientific
Study of Education,_ 1905, p. 93.] Our better normal schools--which
are the only kind that might be expected to grant degrees--give
instruction in literature, history, geography, fine art, etc., the
same as the degree-conferring colleges. To these subjects the normal
school adds the history of education and the principles of education,
which are presumably harmless so long as they are not applied, and
they usually are not. There remain then the subjects that involve
practice, such as special method courses, applied psychology and
practice teaching; these must be the baneful studies. The good four-
year normal school course presumably requires as much thinking and
other strenuous work as that of the college. But the presence of the
last group of subjects signifies that this study is to culminate in
the _use_ of knowledge; and there's the rub. It is this latter fact
that vitiates the course and precludes the cultural effect that a
college course insures.

If this is a proper interpretation, it is, indeed, strange doctrine.
One can understand how carpentry might not have as great a cultural
effect as literature; but one would think that, if the untested and
therefore half-digested thoughts of literature have a certain cultural
effect, the same thoughts might have a fuller refining influence if
their meaning and force were more fully realized in the way their use
in life might secure their realization; and one would think that the
same might hold in regard to any subject.

The difficulty is that there are two opposing notions of culture. On
the one hand there are persons who conceive culture to be a refinement
that is directly endangered by contact with the realities of life, for
instance by participation in local politics and other social contests,
and by such practice of charity as must be accompanied by physical
exertion and bad smells. Culture is, to them, the name for that
serenity and loftiness of mind that can be attained and preserved only
by keeping a safe distance from the madding crowd; and the cultured
man is pictured by them as sitting in a comfortable chair, preferably
with a book in his hand, and rapt in meditation on lofty themes.

On the other hand there are those who conceive that culture--if more
than a veneer--is a refinement that can be attained only by direct
participation in social life. Such contact with the world may bring
embarrassment, temptation, and failure, as well as their opposites;
but all of these, instead of debasing, are the very experiences that
purify and make gentle; they are the fire without which the refining
process could not take place. Culture means to these people the
ennobling effect of such actual struggles upon a person's whole
outlook on life and upon his way in general of conducting himself; and
the cultured man is pictured by them as in action, even with his
sleeves rolled up, engaged in the accomplishment of high purposes.

Culture is so valuable a quality that each person must determine for
himself which of these two conceptions of it is sound, before he can
decide whether the using of knowledge is worthy of being made the goal
in study or not.

_Breadth of meaning of the term "use."_

In declaring that the _using_ of knowledge is the proper endpoint in
study, it is important that the breadth of meaning of the term _use_
be held in mind. The application of knowledge in earning a livelihood
covers only a small part of what is included. A man is using his
knowledge when he is getting inspiration from poetry that he has
memorized, or drawing new conclusions from previously acquired facts.
He is using it, further, when he entertains his family with it, or by
its means makes himself otherwise agreeable to them. He is using it
when it is made to count in the rearing of children, or in the
performance of the manifold duties of membership in a community, or in
worshiping God. In short, it is being used when its content is turned
to account in the accomplishment of purposes, whatever they be, or is
made to function in one's daily adaptation to physical, moral, and
religious environment.

_States in the assimilation of knowledge._

The student should continually carry in mind the fact that facility in
the use of knowledge is the end of his study, and the only reliable
proof of mental assimilation. It is a long road, however, to this
goal, and any clearly marked stages that must be passed through in
reaching it should be well known, since they will help the student
greatly to keep his bearings and preserve his courage. Here are given
a few such stages.

_1. Collection of crude materials._

First, under the influence of as full a sympathy with the author as
possible, one obtains a fair comprehension of the thought. Much
supplementing may be necessary to this end, as well as careful
consideration of relative values. This may require one or several
perusals of the thought, according to the difficulty of the subject
and to individual ability. Proof of comprehension may be given by the
expression of the thought in one's own words, either from memory or
with the book open. Such study is a comparatively passive kind of
work, calling for subordination of the student to the author, and
amounts to little more than a collection of the crude materials of
knowledge. The corresponding stage in the assimilation of food would
be, perhaps, its preparation and mastication.

_2. Selection and reorganization of the profitable portion of these

"What am I getting from this author?" or "What profit is this material
bringing me?" is the principal consideration in the second stage. With
the thought of profit uppermost in mind, the student recalls or
further defines any specific purposes of the study that may have
occurred to him; under their guidance he casts aside as non-essential
much of what is presented, and centers his attention on those ideas
that seem to have real value for him.

These he further re-words, in order to determine their very essence,
and also carefully weighs. In addition he reorganizes them, unless
their original organization appears to him peculiarly fitting. The
self must enter so fully, in true assimilation, that neither the
author's wording nor his organization is likely to prove satisfying.
One will seldom quote another's words or follow his order of treatment
when presenting a topic that has been really digested. Not seldom the
last point made by an author will become the first in the student's
mind, showing how radical the reorganization may be.

This step, requiring much discrimination and exercise of judgment from
the learner's own view-point---thereby entirely subordinating the
author to the student--requires a high degree of independence. It
might be called the profit-drawing stage, or the stage in which the
part that promises profit is extracted. The corresponding step in the
assimilation of food is what is technically called digestion, which is
the separation of the nutritious from the waste elements, or the
conversion of food into chyme, preparatory to assimilation.

_3. Translation of this portion into experience._

Even after a person has determined what portion of the crude materials
can be of value to him and has reorganized it in a satisfactory
manner, it may still seem somewhat strange to him,-another person's
thought rather than his own. This is an indication that more work must
be done, for assimilation of knowledge, like assimilation of food,
requires the full identity of the nourishing matter with the self. "A
thought is not a thought," says Dr. Dewey, "unless it is one's own."
[Footnote: _School and Society,_ p. 66.]

The student may thus far have reached nothing more than a
consciousness of facts by themselves, while consciousness of them as a
part of the self is a much more advanced stage. In order to reach this
last point the student may find it necessary to review the thought a
number of times in various ways, stating the pertinent questions and
their answers. He may also practice making the main points with force,
using them either under imagined or under actual conditions. In such a
manner they are tossed about, overhauled, and restated, until a much
closer and more abundant association of the ideas with one another and
with the past experience of the learner is secured; he warms up to
them until he welds them to himself.

As a result a sense of ownership of the knowledge is finally
established, a condition in which one largely loses consciousness of
the original wording and, perhaps, even of the original source of the
thought. The ideas now seem simple and their control easy, and one
enjoys the feeling of increased strength due to real nourishment
received. The feeling of ownership is fully justified, too, for, no
matter where the thought may have originated, it has been worked over
until it has been given a new color and has received one's own stamp,
the stamp of self. This is the step in which the profitable matter
extracted from the crude materials is translated into the learner's
own experience; it corresponds to that part of food assimilation in
which the nutritious portion of our food, secured through digestion,
is made over into the bone, tissue, and muscle of the body.

_4. Formation of habit._

While these steps overlap more or less, each represents a distinct
advance. Study of many topics may be allowed to stop at this point,
although it should be understood that assimilation is perhaps never
complete, and that the appreciation of a great thought, together with
the ability to use it, may continue to grow from year to year. On that
account one should expect to review from time to time, by use and
otherwise, the valuable experiences that have already been "mastered"
through study.

Certain portions of knowledge, however, cannot be left as properly
under our control when they have been translated into experience as
described. Study has thus far brought the student only to the ability
to use his knowledge with fair ease _consciously,_ and extensive
portions of knowledge have to be used quite _unconsciously;_ they
must not only become truly ours but they must become second nature to
us. In all the trades, for example, the many facts about the use of
materials and tools, etc., must be applied "without thinking" before
skill is attained. The same holds in the fine arts. In grammar,
knowledge of the rules must be carried over into habit before one's
speech is safely grammatical. Knowledge of the political and moral
truths contained in history and literature must likewise be converted
into habit before proper conduct is assured. In learning how to study
one must fall into the habit of associating ideas, weighing values,
and carrying points, _unconsciously,_ before the subject is properly
mastered. "Ninety-nine hundredths, or, possibly, nine hundred and
ninety-nine thousandths of our activity is purely automatic and
habitual," says Professor James, "from our rising in the morning to
our lying down each night. Our dressing and undressing, our eating and
drinking, our greetings and partings, our hat-raisings and giving way
for ladies to precede, nay, even most of the forms of our common
speech, are things of a type so fixed by repetition as almost to be
classed as reflex actions." [Footnote: James, _Talks to Teachers,_ p.
65.] Professor James is here referring mainly to motor activity; but
habit is evidently a large factor in all phases of life; and, while
many of the valuable thoughts assimilated by study probably do not
need to be applied unconsciously, it is safe to say that prominent
portions of most branches of knowledge must be converted into habit,
or become second nature, before we can be said to have reached the
desirable endpoint in their pursuit.

The extent of this last advance, in which experience becomes habit, is
indicated by the wide difference that exists between using a correct
form of speech consciously and using it unconsciously, for even years
of trial may intervene between the two. Repetition by use, under as
nearly natural conditions as possible, must be the principal means of
getting through this fourth step. But such practice should be
influenced by certain very important precautions stated by Professor
James. He has in mind primarily the formation of moral habits in his
suggestions, but they apply in large measure also to the formation of
other habits.

1. "In the acquisition of a new habit, or the leaving off of an old
one, we must take care to _launch ourselves with as strong and
decided an initiative as possible._ Accumulate all the possible
circumstances which shall reinforce the right motives; put yourself
assiduously in conditions that encourage the new way; make engagements
incompatible with the old; take a public pledge, if the case allows;
in short, envelop your resolution with every aid you know."

2. "_Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is
securely rooted in your life._ Each lapse is like the letting fall
of a ball of string which one is carefully winding up; a single slip
undoes more than a great many turns will wind again."

3. "_Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every
resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may
experience in the direction of the habits you aspire to gain._ It
is not in the moment of their forming but in the moment of their
producing motor effects, that resolves and aspirations communicate the
new 'set' to the brain." [Footnote: James, _Talks to Teachers,_
pp. 67-70. See also James, _Psychology,_ Vol. I, Chapter IV,

_The time and labor necessary in real assimilation of knowledge._

It is evident that real assimilation of knowledge is a very complex
process, requiring a great amount of time and labor. "And be assured,
also," says Ruskin, "if the author is worth anything, you will not get
at his meaning all at once--nay, that at his whole meaning you will
not for a long time arrive, in any wise." [Footnote: Ruskin, _Sesame
and Lilies._] Ruskin is here doubtless referring mainly to insight
into the thought; but, as has been shown, a point is not assimilated
when one merely sees it clearly; insight into an idea usually precedes
experience or ownership of it by a long interval; and the latter
generally precedes habit by another long period.

We are familiar with these facts as applied to mechanical subject-
matter, such as the multiplication tables and forms of discourse. We
recognize that we must come back to these over and over again if we
are to obtain automatic control over them. Yet we act as though there
was ground for assuming that the more fertile ideas, which are to be
reduced to habits of thought and conduct, require less energy and
patience. There is no justification for any such assumption; it would
seem more reasonable to expect to devote more time to the latter,
rather than less.

Probably not much knowledge acquired either in school or college is
carried through the three or four stages named above; but it is also
true that comparatively little of that knowledge becomes a source of
power, and it is safe to assume that the one fact is at least part
explanation of the other. It is highly important, therefore, that the
student become early reconciled to the fact that the real mastery of
knowledge is a long and laborious process.


_The natural tendency to carry ideas into execution._

One of the most attractive baits that can be offered to a
discontented, restless child is to propose that he _do_ something; and
having received such a proposal, his impatience over delay in its
execution shows how closely his nature links doing with thinking and
planning. The games of children call for comparatively little study;
yet children's desire to be acting is so dominant that they can
scarcely wait to learn the rules before beginning to play. An eight-
year-old girl who had been studying at home with her mother complained
to a friend, "Mother doesn't have me _do_ anything! She has had me
read and spell and learn arithmetic, and that's all." It is partly
because we have come to appreciate, in recent years, this pressing
need of doing, that we have been reforming the elementary school by
introducing manual training, cooking, and sewing. One of the early
surprises and disappointments of children produced by adults is
the failure of the latter to carry into practice plans that they have
been heard to make, and ideals that they have professed to admire.
Having set up specific aims, such as were suggested in Chapter III,
children expect to realize them in practice, because instinct tells
them that the value of theory is found in its application. That is the
reason that they so often inquire, "What is the use of it?" in
connection with their study at school, and that they disapprove so
heartily of any project that won't work.

_Value of this tendency in education._

Living means substantially the same thing with children as with
adults. They have the same general environment as adults; they study
the same large fields of knowledge; and they likewise find the object
of education in efficiency. There are the same reasons, therefore, as
in the case of more mature students, for making the using of knowledge
the aim of their study.

The prospect of applying knowledge is a source of motive for all
grades of learners. I have never seen a class more attentive to every
detail of its procedure than were a certain group of girls who felt
under obligations to eat the strawberry jam that they were making at
school. Furthermore, the actual doing of the things imagined is a
great clarifier of thought for children, as is shown in the very
extensive use that the school makes of motor activity in numerous
studies, and particularly of dramatizing in literature and history. It
is also the most natural test of the practicability of the plans of
children, and on that account a means of developing their soundness of
judgment. This is well illustrated by a certain six-year-old girl who
was making a doll's dress. After working in a very absorbed way for a
time she impatiently exclaimed, "I won't have any lace in my sleeves!"
"Why not?" asked one of her playmates. "'Cause I can't see any way to
put it on," was the reply. One of the chief reasons why the experience
of children outside of school is so educative is the fact that their
ideas and plans are thus continually corrected by trial.

Briefly, therefore, it is normal for children to carry ideas into
execution, and there is the same need of it as in the case of adults.
It might be added that the peculiar ease with which children form
habits furnishes a special reason why the conversion of ideas into
habits should constitute a very important part of their study.


_1. Special recognition of those facts that should be translated
into habit._

While all of one's knowledge should become familiar enough to form
experience, some of it should be worked over until it is translated
into habit. Facts of this latter kind should be clearly distinguished
from others, in order that they may receive the special attention due
them. The moral truths of literature and history belong plainly to
this group. But there are many others, such, for instance, as the
picturing of places upon the earth's surface rather than upon maps;
the association of places with their latitudes; in the case of such a
live problem as protective tariff, the association of the main facts
in its history; the association of our leading transportation routes
with the progress of our country; looking to the evidence in
considering the value of statements; and the accurate and pointed
wording of questions and answers.

The habits that should be insisted upon in arithmetic are pretty well
agreed upon, such as neatness of written work, accuracy of oral and
written statements, the statement of a problem in one's own words, in
case the meaning is at all doubtful, and the use of the approximate
answer as a guide in finding the exact answer. But only when the great
importance of such procedures is definitely recognized are they likely
to receive the attention necessary to convert them into habits. If
accuracy of statement were recognized as one of the very valuable
habits to be acquired in literature and geography, as well as in
arithmetic, much more effort would probably be put forth to establish
that habit in those studies. Rules for thinking and for the expression
of thought that should result in habits, like the rules of grammar,
pervade all the studies, but until this fact is better established,
and until the principal habits to be expected from each study are more
clearly defined, somewhat as in arithmetic, there will be much wasted
effort in study because important parts of the work will not be
carried to completion.

_2. Studying for one's own benefit._

The average "good" student scarcely gets beyond the first of the four
stages of study outlined, _i. e.,_ the collection of the crude
materials of knowledge. One very important reason tor this is that he
fixes his eyes too intently upon his teacher in the preparation of his
lessons; he studies to satisfy her rather than himself, as though
somehow the school was established for her benefit. This subordination
to the teacher is shown in the attitude toward marks; many a college
student, even, waits helplessly until he can learn his mark before he
knows whether or not he has done well; he seems to lack any conviction
of his own about the matter. The student who feels responsibility
primarily to himself, and therefore bothers little about marks, is

Yet the selection of that portion of the subject-matter that promises
profit, and its conversion into experience, presuppose the ability to
subordinate both author and teacher to the self, indeed to forget
about both. No teacher can direct a student just what to select, or
inform him when it has become experience with him; the real student
must have a self big enough to carry that responsibility alone.
Weakness in this respect manifests itself very early. Many a child is
so absorbed in his teacher as not to know when he knows a thing until
the teacher's approval is given. In some schools probably half of the
pupils ten to twelve years of age fall into such a halting, apologetic
frame of mind, that they would scarcely risk a meal on the accuracy of
any statement that they make. In comparison, the boy who won't study,
who plays hookey on warm spring days in spite of his teacher's
warnings, and who otherwise defies his teacher, is to be admired; he
is preserving his individuality, his most important possession.

It is largely the teacher's fault if children show no power to
discriminate the values of facts to themselves, and to determine when
they know a thing. They will not always show wisdom in their
selections, and will not always be right when they feel _sure._ A
good degree of reliability in these respects is something that has to
be acquired by long training. But the spirit of self-reliance is a
child's birthright, and if it is lacking in his study it is because
his nature has been undermined. Teachers, therefore, should take great
pains to avoid a dogmatic manner toward children; they should impress
upon them the fact that they are primarily responsible to themselves
in their study, and that teachers are only advisers or assistants in
intellectual matters, and not masters. No doubt many a college student
finds it next to impossible to accomplish the second and third stages
in study here outlined, simply because he finds no individual self
within him to satisfy; it has been so long and so fully subordinated
to others that it has become dwarfed, or has lost its native power to
react; on that account independent selection is difficult and the
sense of ownership is weak.

_3. Means of influencing pupils to use their knowledge.
(1). "The recitation."_

The principal means on which the teacher must rely for influencing
children to include the using of knowledge as a part of their study,
is the recitation. Since at least most of the recitation period is
necessarily spent in talking, it might at first seem that it could
accomplish little in the way of applying what one learns. But when it
is remembered that perhaps the main use of knowledge is found in
conversation and discussion, the situation need not seem so hopeless.

The great thing, then, is to see that the talk of the class room takes
place under as natural conditions as serious conversation and
discussion elsewhere, thus duplicating real life. We know that
children may spell words correctly in lists that they will miss in
writing letters, and that they can solve problems in arithmetic
correctly in school that seem quite beyond them when accidentally met
as actual problems outside. Such facts emphasize the truth that only
actual life secures a full and normal test of knowledge, and,
therefore, that the recitation secures it only to the extent that it
duplicates life.

Here is seen a fundamental weakness of the customary recitation. It
tests only the presence of facts in the minds of pupils, while the
outside world tests their ability to use these facts, which is another
and far more difficult matter, requiring true assimilation. Not merely
that; but the customary recitation makes a sympathetic teacher the
center of activity, she putting most of the questions, interpreting
the answers, foreknowing what the children are trying to say, and
deciding all issues. The children are not expected to offer ideas that
are new to any one present, and they even acknowledge responsibility
only to the teacher, looking toward her, addressing their statements
to her, and usually endeavoring only to make her hear. All this holds
largely in college recitations as well as elsewhere,--in case the
students have the privilege of doing anything beyond listening to
teachers there. This is an extremely unnatural situation and an
inadequate test, as is indicated by the fact that the replies to the
teacher's questions seldom convey clear meaning to strangers present.
Such recitations secure far less individuality of thought and far less
directness and force in its expression than is acceptable anywhere
outside of the academic atmosphere.

The special importance of having the school periods duplicate life
conditions is seen in the fact that the character of the recitation
determines the character of the preparation for it. Both the child and
the more mature student will ordinarily go only so far in preparation
as is necessary in order to meet the demands made upon them in class.
If, therefore, the recitation does nothing more than give a weak test
of the presence of facts, the preparation will include little
selection and reorganization of facts and little effort to translate
them into experience.

How, then, should the customary recitation be modified? Let the young
people come together much of the time for the same purpose that they
have in serious conversation outside; _i.e.,_ not to rehearse or
recite, but to talk over earnestly points that are worth talking over.
With an assigned topic for a lesson, and with a teacher present as
adviser and critic, let them compare their conceptions of what seem to
them the principal facts, supplementing, rejecting, and selecting what
seems to them fit. The relationship that they would bear toward one
another might be the same as in any social gathering; but since it
would be real work and not entertainment that they were attempting,
attention would be centered on a definite subject and remarks would be
more pointed. While the teacher would preserve order in the usual
fashion, and might often come to their aid by correcting and advising,
responsibility for taking the initiative and for making fair progress
would rest primarily upon the children, so that they would be adopting
an attitude and a method that could be directly transferred to the
home and elsewhere. This is the ideal that Dr. Dewey urges in his
_School and Society_ when he says: "The recitation becomes a
social meeting place; it is to the school what the spontaneous
conversation is at home, except that it is more organized, following
definite lines. The recitation becomes the social clearing house,
where experiences and ideas are exchanged and subjected to criticism,
where misconceptions are corrected, and new lines of thought and
inquiry are set up." [Footnote: Dr. John Dewey, _School and
Society,_ p. 65.] The recitation then becomes a period where
children talk before the teacher rather than to her; and in
questioning and answering one another in a natural way they not only
learn pointedness in thinking, but they increase and test their
knowledge by using it. Thus they give witness to the truth of Bacon's
words: "Whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits
and understanding do clarify and break up in the communicating and
discoursing with another; he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he
marshalleth them more orderly; he seeth how they look when they are
turned into words; finally, he waxeth wiser than himself; and that
more by an hour's discourse than by a day's meditation....A man were
better relate himself to a statue or picture, than to suffer his
thoughts to pass in smother." [Footnote: Bacon's Essays, _Of
Friendship._] When many of the school periods are occupied in this
way, the lessons are not likely to be prepared with the teacher first
in mind; what the others will say, what they will accept and reject
and enjoy, as well as what one can one's self present and maintain,
will chiefly occupy the attention. The child will then be selective in
his study, having a view-point of his own; and he may even practice the
forcible presentation of his ideas in the privacy of his study--before
"a statue or picture" if need be. Moreover, with the use of his
knowledge in prospect, he will cease to rely weakly upon his teacher
to tell him whether or not he knows, because he will carry his own

There is no reason for assuming that all recitations should be spent
in this manner, nor, perhaps, half of them; and they would not prove
highly successful without training on the part of both teachers and
pupils. But such a method of procedure should be common, and it should
be fundamental to other study. In fact, it has succeeded admirably
where tried by intelligent teachers.

_(2). The school and home life of the pupil._

While the recitation can furnish occasion, in the way described, for
the first use of knowledge, its use must be carried much further
before a fair degree of assimilation can be assured. For this purpose
the community life of the school, including the conduct of the
children toward one another in the schoolroom and on the playground,
may be of great value. A teacher of six-year-old children can, by
close observation, find many ways in which the morals contained in
fairy tales that she tells will apply to their daily lives, and with
skill she can draw their attention to the fact in a helpful manner.
So, any teacher who is earnest and observant of the thought, speech,
and general conduct of her pupils can find numerous needs for the
ideas that have been presented in class. The community life of a
school is not very much narrower than that of any ordinary social
community, such as a village; and certainly in a village the uses of
knowledge are without limit, if one will only find them.

If, in addition to a close watch of the school life, the teacher finds
energy to study the home life of her pupils, even to visit them in
their homes, so as to become acquainted with their parents and their
home conditions, she can gather many more suggestions for the
application of school knowledge. If she then makes mention of such
uses at fitting times, and also as a part of examinations calls upon
pupils to report on uses actually made of facts learned, she can both
secure much real use of knowledge acquired at school and at the same
time cultivate responsibility for its further use.



A fixed attitude toward facts and conclusions is harmful in several
ways. The following incidents suggest how greatly it interferes with
the usefulness of knowledge.

_Reasons why a fixed attitude toward ideas is undesirable.
1. It interferes with the usefulness of knowledge._

A certain man living in one of the suburbs of Greater New York was
commissioned by his wife to buy some flannel for her at one of the
large department stores in the city. She knew exactly what she wanted,
for she had already purchased some of the goods at this store. So she
gave her husband a sample, with the explicit directions, emphasized,
that the new piece should be of exactly the same quality, with white
edges, and one yard wide.

On arriving at the right counter, the man delivered his sample and
gave his order. But, after some searching, the clerk said, "The exact
thing that you want has all been sold; but I have here just the right
piece," throwing down a bolt, "except that it is slightly coarser.
Could you take that?" Recalling his wife's instructions, the man
replied, "No," somewhat doubtfully.

After more searching the clerk said, "Well, I have here a piece of
just the desired quality, and one yard wide, only it has red edges.
Could you not use that?" and he threw another bolt down on the
counter. Again, remembering the emphasis on the directions received,
the man responded weakly, "No, I think not."

Finally, after further search, the clerk produced a third bolt, with
the remark, "This will probably suit you. It is the exact quality that
you want, and has white edges. The only objection is that it is not
quite a yard wide. Can you not take it?" When for a third time the
hesitating response came, "I think not," the clerk turned away with an
expression of disgust for his customer, mingled with sorrow and pity.

Although the man had done his best, he did not feel sure of his wife's
approval on his return home. When she asked for his purchase he stated
that he had failed to make it, and explained the circumstances.
"Well," she replied, "but why didn't you use your own judgment and
take one of the other pieces?" To which he responded, "I understood
that I was not expected to use any judgment. You strongly emphasized
the fact that you wanted material exactly like the sample, with white
edges and just one yard wide. You told me nothing about what was to be
made out of the goods. How, then, was I in a position to do anything
more than to follow your exact directions?" That ended the discussion;
but the need of less fixedness in instructions given was strongly
impressed upon the husband, and a similar need in the following of
instructions was equally impressed upon the wife. They were thus
agreed as to the desirableness of some adaptability in one's ideas.

A certain class of girls was learning to make French cream candy, and
the recipe for the same, namely,

1 cup of sugar,
1/3 cup of water,
1 salt-spoon of cream of tartar.

was placed on the board for them to follow. After reading the recipe
and listening to some directions from the teacher, including special
emphasis on accuracy of measurements, the class set to work and
produced some candy that even the visitors were glad to eat.

The recipe seemed so simple that one of the visitors a few days later
proposed to his little daughter that they make some French cream candy
at home. They measured out a cup of sugar and one-third of a cup of
water; but there was a halt when it was discovered that there was no
salt-spoon in the house. The man's wife came to their rescue, however,
by giving them some idea of the size of such a spoon. Then it was
found that they had no cream of tartar. On further consultation with
the wife it was learned for the first time that the object of cream of
tartar was to prevent too quick granulation, and that probably some
other acid-like substance, such as vinegar or lemon juice, might do
just as well. So a small amount of vinegar was used instead, and
reasonably good candy was produced.

In a later attempt the exact amount of water necessary to a cup of
sugar had been forgotten, and too much water was used; but by boiling
the mixture longer, excellent candy was made. As a result of these
experiments it was found that only enough water was needed to dissolve
the sugar, and that any one of several other things would do as well
as cream of tartar to prevent granulation. Without this knowledge
there would be many a family which, either on account of bad memory of
proportions or of want of certain materials, could make no use of the
recipe. Such knowledge secured some adaptability or flexibility in the
directions, thereby greatly extending their use.

One of the common objections to preparing lesson plans for teaching is
that they can seldom be followed. More than that, it is declared,
children have such a disappointing way of doing and saying the
unexpected, that a carefully memorized lesson plan is likely to hinder
the teacher in adapting herself to her pupils, and on that account may
do more harm than good.

These objections contain much truth; and if preparing a lesson plan
means mapping out only one fixed procedure, they may be entirely
valid. That is not, however, what such preparation should signify. One
of the principal objects of making one plan is to think out others,
that may be followed or not as occasion demands. That kind of
preparation, instead of tying a teacher's hands, keeps her superior to
any fixed course and gives freedom to deal skillfully with almost any
kind of response.

These examples may be sufficient to show that a fixed attitude toward
directions and plans, or toward knowledge in general, is a serious
barrier to its application. The conditions are always changing, and
one's ideas must be capable of corresponding modification if their
full use is to be enjoyed.

_2. It is opposed to progress._

Our attitude toward knowledge is intimately related also to the
progress that we make; a fixed state of mind precludes reflection
about one's course by precluding a feeling of its need. Men frequently
show blindness to new truth. Boss politicians count upon from eighty
to eighty-five per cent of all voters "standing pat" and voting
according to party, no matter what facts may be discovered against one
candidate and in favor of another. This fact is what gives the bosses
their security. It was thought to be a wonderful sign of progress a
few years ago when sixty thousand out of six hundred thousand voters
in a certain election in Massachusetts ignored party lines and voted
according to the merits of the candidate. One reason that we have so
many mediaeval educational institutions is that persons in control
have so many fixed ideas. There are few colleges and universities to-
day, for instance, in which courses that prepare young women for home-
keeping, such as domestic science and domestic art, receive credit
toward a degree. Progressive changes in any line are conditioned upon
sensitiveness toward changing circumstances and new ideas, and a fixed
attitude is directly opposed to such responsiveness.

_3. It is opposed to peace and happiness._

History is full of instances of the extent to which intolerance
resulting from fixed convictions may carry people. Innumerable murders
and many wars, entailing untold suffering, have found their principal
cause in religious bigotry. Educational and political bigotry are
likewise sources of much bad feeling and unhappiness. Family disputes,
as between father and son, are in large measure due to too great
fixedness of views and opinions; and much of the discontent of old age
is found in the inability of old people to abandon their old-fashioned
notions, so as to adjust themselves to new conditions and enjoy them.
A fixed attitude toward ideas is, therefore, far from an unmixed
virtue; it seriously limits the usefulness of knowledge; it greatly
checks progress; and it strongly opposes peace and happiness.

_4. It finds little justification in the nature of knowledge._

Finally, a fixed attitude toward ideas finds little justification in
the nature of knowledge. If supposed facts were always true, and if
they were always truly understood, a fixed state of mind toward them
might still find justification; but that is far from the case.
Probably some things are true for all time, such, for example, as the
facts of the multiplication table, propositions in geometry, and some
of the laws of physics. But perfect reliability is attached to very
little of our knowledge. Some of the fundamental propositions in the
exact sciences of physics and chemistry are only hypotheses, that have
undergone extensive modification in recent years. Political opinions
are subject to constant change. Sixty years ago the secret ballot was
feared as one of the worst of evils, lest voters might then wreak
awful vengeance upon those in authority; now its desirability is

So many new ideas have become established in recent years about the
nature of childhood, the aims of the school, and even the use of
school buildings, that education is a radically different field from
what it was only twenty years ago. In the same way, facts in all lines
are ever undergoing modification, and evolution prophesies such
modification through all time to come. Even our statements of
scientific law, instead of being final, only express man's
interpretation of unvarying phenomena of nature, and are subject to
error, like all other work of man. Huxley declares that "the day-fly
has better grounds for calling a thunder storm supernatural than has
man, with his experience of an infinitesimal fraction of duration, to
say that the most astonishing event that can be imagined is beyond the
scope of natural causes." [Footnote: T. H. Huxley, _Life of Hume,_ p.
132.] Even within the field of science, therefore, we can never feel
sure that the last word has been said, and the best established
conclusions may have to submit to correction.

Turning from the better established fields of knowledge to such other
facts as influence daily life, we find them to be remarkably
uncertain. The facts about the weather, that guide the farmer, for
instance, are only beginning to be fully known, and consequent
miscalculations in the planning and the care of crops are without
limit. In ordering goods only six months in advance, the merchant must
be controlled by probabilities, many of which are only narrowly
distinguishable from guesses. The facts that establish friendships are
frequently still less tangible, blind feelings of affinity and faith
alone being not seldom the basis of the attraction. Thus our so-called
knowledge ranges all the way from ideas that possess a very high
degree of probability to those that are a product of faith and hope,
the greater portion of them approaching the latter. More than that,
even in cases where the statements of principles, as in physics and
ethics, seem thoroughly reliable, the variety of their application is
so great and any individual's horizon is so narrow, that errors in
their application to concrete cases must be very common. Correct
theory about any matter by no means carries with it the correct
application of that theory, as every one finds out sooner or later. It
follows, then, that the highest wisdom represents only a rough
approximation to the truth, and that ordinary facts are more nearly
hypotheses than certainties. Since, therefore, so few ideas are fully
reliable and unalterably fixed, a settled attitude toward them is
undesirable, not only because it is opposed to utility, growth, and
happiness, but because it finds no warrant in the real nature of

_The proper attitude toward knowledge._

What, then, is the proper attitude toward knowledge? While one should
not be ultra-conservative, as though everything were finally settled,
neither should one be ultra-radical, as though nothing were
established; bigotry and skepticism are alike to be condemned.

The ideal state of mind is illustrated by leaders in industrial
pursuits, like manufacturing. They confidently make the fullest
possible use of existing knowledge pertaining to their business,
including the latest inventions, while they keep a very careful
lookout for further improvements. That is, they preserve an
unprejudiced, open mind toward both the old and the new. It is just
such a tentative attitude toward knowledge that all people should
cultivate. So much of the old is defective, and so much new truth may
come to light at any moment, that the fair, judicial mind is always in
demand, a mind that is ever ready for new adjustments and that weighs
and decides solely according to evidence. Colonel F. W. Parker used to
declare that the grandest discovery of the nineteenth century was the
_suspended judgment._ Yet this attitude is one that has long been
insisted upon as essential to the scientist; indeed, it is most
generally called the scientific attitude. It is strange, however, that
those fields in which facts are best established should be the ones in
which the importance of a tentative attitude is most emphasized. One
would think that its worth for the non-scientific man would be far
greater, for the facts that he hears about people and things, which
guide him daily, are far less reliable, and his consequent necessity
of changing his views is much more frequent.

_The relation of this attitude to energetic action._

While a tentative attitude toward knowledge may be of great importance
for the scientist or theoretical student, may it not be even harmful
to the ordinary person? Force or energy is one of the chief
requirements in the world of action; and if a person becomes much
impressed with the unreliability of his ideas, as seems necessary in
the cultivation of a tentative attitude, may he not come finally to
lack decision and energy? Certainly we now and then see examples of
indecision and half-hearted action, due at least in part to
appreciation of opposing points of view and to consequent uncertainty
of conclusions.

There may be such a danger; but it is, on the whole, to be courted
rather than avoided; for, while examples of indecision are sometimes
seen, examples of too decided convictions and of excessive energy in
pushing them are far more common. It is not mere action that is
wanted, but _safe_ action. Force must be under the guidance of reason
if it is to be free from danger, and reason is hardly possible without
an interested but impartial attitude toward evidence. Possibly the
energy of educators would be at least temporarily increased if they
formulated and subscribed to definite educational creeds; but the
partiality that would thus be encouraged would soon lead to strife and
wasted effort.

A tentative attitude undoubtedly does limit activity somewhat, but
only as good judgment limits it, for it is one of the leading factors
in such judgment. It tends to eliminate misguided effort, and to check
other action until its object is found to be worthy. Each of these
effects is highly desirable.

On the other hand, there is no reason why it should be expected to
diminish energy after favorable judgment on a project has been passed.
It does not imply indifference or any lack of devotion; it merely
favors the subordination of enthusiasm to insight, and delays
expression of the former till the latter has given lief. The result is
likely to be greater and better sustained effort than otherwise,
because the tested excellence of the cause must be a source of
inspiration and will help to carry one through discouraging intervals.
Washington and Lincoln were both distinguished for freedom from blind
prejudices and corresponding openness to the influence of new ideas;
but they were also distinguished for uncommon energy and firmness in
the pursuit of their main purposes. A tentative attitude toward ideas
is, therefore, a real aid to energetic action in all but unworthy and
doubtful causes; in these cases it is a very desirable hindrance.
[Footnote: For a valuable discussion of this general topic, see J. W,
Jenks' _Citizenship and the Schools,_ particularly Chapter I.]


A receptive state of mind is supposed to be one of the peculiar merits
of children. Indeed, they are so sympathetic with any view that the
last presentation that they happen to hear in regard to a disputed
matter is likely to be the one that they accept. It might seem,
therefore, that there is no need of emphasizing the importance of
open-mindedness as a factor in their education. That is far from the
case, however. Children are peculiarly open-minded toward many things;
but it is mainly those that they have had no previous opportunity to
learn about. It is hard to take sides on a matter that you have never
heard of. But the test of an impartial mind is found in those matters
that are already somewhat familiar, so that one has already had some
temptation to choose a side. Note how children act in such cases. How
readily they declare allegiance to the political party of their
fathers and shout with all the vehemence of stand-patters! How
stubbornly they insist upon their teacher's method of solving problems
in arithmetic when their parents undertake to assist them by showing a
better way! They are nearly as intolerant as their parents on such
occasions. How hastily they take sides in disputes among friends! And
how very frequently their impatience with the statements and opinions
of their companions gets them into quarrels and fights!

When we recall the great variety of decisions that they reach in daily
life, and the impulsiveness with which many of them are made and
supported, it becomes evident that precautions against prejudice and
intolerance are not at all out of place in their education. The need
is emphasized, too, when we realize that many persons adopt inflexible
views on so great a number of disputed questions, that they show signs
of becoming old fogies quite early in life. "Old fogyism begins at an
earlier age than we think," says Professor James. "I am almost afraid
to say so, but I believe that in the majority of human beings it
begins at about twenty-five." [Footnote: _Talks to Teachers,_ p.
160.] If instances of intolerance become numerous enough to begin to
class a majority of us as old fogies at this age, certainly many
tendencies toward a fixed state of mind must appear and need treatment
at a much earlier age.

The matter is of special importance with young children, owing to the
nature of the school curriculum during the early years of school.
Beginning reading, writing, and spelling are systems of conventional
signs, where authority and not reason decides what is right.
Arithmetic, also, consists of absolutely definite, indisputable facts.
Thus the facts in the three R's and spelling, which make up most of
the curriculum in the majority of schools for the earlier years, show
no flexibility whatever. They must be learned as fixed things, and
they tend to give the impression that the definiteness and finality
belonging to them are to be expected in all subjects. This impression
is strengthened, too, rather than destroyed, by the behavior of
average parents. The conditions are, therefore, very favorable for the
development of snap judgments and fixed attitudes among children,
unless such influences are counteracted by very careful training.


_1. Acquaintance with a variety of views._

University students preparing for supervision of instruction often
observe recitations together, with the object of discussing their
merits and defects. No matter how carefully they may have analyzed a
recitation, it is interesting, when they come to compare conclusions,
to observe how their view-points vary, how many things each person has
overlooked, and how widely their judgments at first differ. Many a
student who has pursued such a course of study has reached the
conviction that no one person is capable of discovering all the
important factors in thirty minutes of instruction, and that his own
conclusions are probably faulty in numerous serious respects. This
impression in regard to the fallibility of individual judgment has a
wholesome effect on any tendency to be too positive and fixed, while
it directly engenders respect for other people's opinions.

Frequent discussion of questions in class, even among younger
children, can have a similar influence, as can also the use of
reference works and different texts on a subject. The young student
should come to regard acquaintance with varying views as necessary to
the formation of a reliable opinion on any topic and of sound judgment
in general. That conviction will compel him to keep on the lookout for
new light.

Says John Stuart Mill: "The whole strength and value, then, of human
judgment, depending on the one property that it can be set right when
it is wrong, reliance can be placed on it only when the means of
setting it right are kept constantly at hand. In the case of any
person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it
become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his
opinion and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all
that could be said against him; to profit by as much of it as was
just, and expound to himself, and on occasion to others, the fallacy
of what was fallacious. Because he has felt that the only way in which
a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a
subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every
variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked
at by every variety of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in
any mode but this; nor is it the nature of human intellect to become
wise in any other manner." [Footnote: John Stuart Mill. _On Liberty,_
Chapter II.]

_2. Slowness in passing judgment._

A second means by which a student may be kept from too positive and
fixed an attitude is by being trained to feel satisfied that many a
clearly stated problem that has arisen with him cannot be definitely
and finally answered at the present time, and perhaps not at all.

Slowness in passing judgment may usually be urged with propriety. Even
the mere attempts to reply to a query should occasionally be checked
in class when it is evident that they are hasty. Some answers should
be delayed even several days, the time meanwhile being occupied with
the collection of data. Too many difficult questions are answered "at
a sitting," with meager reflection and investigation, as though final
answers in general could be obtained easily and quickly.

There are some problems also that should not be answered at all; not
because they are not valuable, but because their solutions cannot yet
be understood by the student, or are as yet impossible. The
consciousness that knowledge is too difficult, or is positively
wanting here and there, destroys overconfidence in the completeness of
one's attainments and awakens the need of further study. One of the
principal values of many a recitation, in any grade of work, should
consist in the unsolved problems that have been worded.

_3. Cultivation of sympathy._

A good measure of kindly feeling in one's make-up is, perhaps, the
greatest single remedy against a too static condition of ideas.
Feeling seems to have a double function in making one open and
plastic. A kindly attitude toward new ideas is necessary before they
can be viewed long enough to have their value tested. We must be
positively friendly, or willing to see worth, before we can see it.
Sympathy thus secures a hearing for new ideas. It was because the Jews
lacked this feeling and consequent willingness, that Jesus condemned
them for seeing not, though they had eyes, and for hearing not, though
they had ears.

Feeling is also a condition of the appreciation of new thought after
it has once secured a hearing. By a sort of intuition the significance
of a fact is often felt long before the intellect has furnished proof
of its value, the power of feeling supplying motive in this way for
the intellect to do its work. And, again, until the conclusions formed
by the intellect have reached the feelings, they exert little
influence upon one's ways of thinking and acting. Cold sermons have
little effect on most persons, even though, their logic forces assent
to them. Appreciation of worth thus greatly depends upon one's
capacity of feeling.

Considerable warmth of heart or mellowness of nature due to sympathy
is, therefore, an important factor in rendering one willing to listen
to new ideas and to be influenced by them. Without much feeling, a man
is likely to be narrow and unyielding. Gradgrind, in Dickens's _Hard
Times,_ is a shining example of this type. In his excessive devotion
to "hard facts" his emotional nature atrophied, until the many
valuable cues or suggestions about the conduct of his business
and the training of his children that a kindlier nature would have
caught from the events occurring about him, failed to affect him, and
on that account he went to smash. He admirably illustrates in a
negative way Carlyle's striking statement that "never wise head yet
was without warm heart," and he throws light on the profoundness of
Saint Paul's meaning when he said, "Love is...never conceited...but
has full sympathy with truth."

Without an abundance of affection a man is self-centered, a selfish
aristocrat. Sympathy or love allows the ideas of others to be lifted
to a plane on a level with his own and thus helps greatly toward his
tolerance and receptiveness.

It is true that the scientist urges the elimination of all personal
feeling in his investigations. He wants to be as purely intellectual
as possible, in order to see things as they are, while personal bias
tends to color facts and to that extent to vitiate them. It is
chiefly, however, prejudice of all sorts in testing and judging truth
that he is anxious to avoid, rather than any feeling of unalloyed
interest in it. A certain warmth of feeling is necessary for its
comprehension as well as its evaluation. The biologist, for instance,
must be in close sympathy with birds in order to understand them, just
as a mother must be in close sympathy with her child in order to
understand him.

It would scarcely be worth while to include these thoughts were we not
able to preserve and increase our capacity of feeling, in kind and
degree, just as we can preserve and increase our knowledge. It is
partly with this object that we have so broad a curriculum, even in
the primary school, including music, painting, and literature, as well
as other subjects. Literature certainly possesses great value for
developing broad sympathy; it is at least a question if literary men
do not exhibit less prejudice toward new ideas than scientists,
although so much emphasis is placed upon induction, and judgment
according to evidence, in the training of the latter that they might
be expected to be especially open-minded.

In addition to broad study, we can take pains not to study too much,
that is, not so much as to crowd out the emotional life. Insight is
only one of several large factors in a good education, and the
ambitious student is always in danger of becoming too exclusively
intellectual for the highest scholarship. The true relation of insight
to feeling is well illustrated in Lincoln's life, when in the midst of
the most serious and pressing problems he took time for jesting and
humorous tales. In spite of condemnation by his subordinates for
levity, he had excellent grounds for such conduct; for not only was
relaxation secured in this manner--which was important enough--but his
own natural warmth of sympathy was also restored, which was of
greatest value in weighing the worth of suggestions and events. Humor
is an important aid to any serious person in preserving balance; a
good laugh restores perspective.

While it is the duty of the more mature student to cultivate for
himself a many-sided emotional life, even at the expense of some
knowledge, it is the duty of teachers of children in particular to
give them material help in this direction. There are few schools that
do not emphasize learning to the neglect of feeling. The teacher can
help first of all by avoiding setting a coldly intellectual example.
In addition she can study the conduct of children with the object of
correcting their narrowness. Many a child who isolates himself from
conversation and play at recess is growing one-sided, whether he
spends the time in doing nothing or in studying. He should be
influenced to enjoy play and social life, just as he should be
influenced to study, and it is the teacher's task to single out such
cases and restore them to their normal condition.

_4. Subordination of authority to reason._

Young people can learn to distinguish between authority on the one
hand and evidence or reason on the other, and to subordinate the
former to the latter, thus allowing conclusions to be based chiefly on
facts rather than on persons.

The assertion of authority over children, requiring blind obedience on
their part in matters of discipline, is very common. Similar assertion
of authority over both children and adults in intellectual matters is
also common. The authority of custom, for instance, as represented in
the teacher, is dominant in beginning reading, writing, spelling, and
in language in general. In many advanced subjects, also, students are
accustomed to accept many statements as true simply because the
instructors declare them to be.

_(1) The two bases of conclusions._

Some subjects, however, to a peculiar degree eliminate authority,
basing conclusions mainly on reason. Mathematics affords an example.
Personal authority sinks so completely out of sight here that even a
child can dare sometimes to correct the teacher. While the majority of
studies lie between the extremes represented by literature and
mathematics, it is safe to say that conclusions generally can be based
upon reasons that are fairly within the understanding and the reach of
young people, if it seems desirable.

_(2) Inferiority of authority to reason._

Blind obedience is of doubtful value in the discipline of children,
because it is so unintelligent; it is well called _blind._ Blind
submission to authority in intellectual matters, on the part of either
children or adults, is no less objectionable. It is not any person's
mere assertion that makes a thing true, but evidence of some sort; and
evidence is likewise usually necessary to make it interesting and
comprehensible. The artificiality of the authority of a teacher as the
main support for conclusions is plainly seen in the fact that there is
no substitute for it outside of and after school and college. Its evil
influence is also evident from the fact that persons accustomed to
rely much upon it easily come to overlook evidence to the extent of
blindly jumping to conclusions. And, having formed their opinions
independently of reason, they cannot be easily influenced; for an
attitude that has not been reached rationally is not likely to be
modified rationally. Submission to authority easily ends in the most
extreme dogmatism.

_(3) The tendency of authority to usurp the place of reason._

There is a strong tendency, however, for authority to usurp the place
of reason. In penmanship, for example, the teacher often dictates the
proper position of the body, instead of acquainting the child with the
reasons for it. The rules for composition are usually dogmatically
presented, in spite of the fact that there are plain reasons back of
most of them. If, for instance, a sentence did not begin with some
large mark, such as a capital, and end with some other plainly seen
mark, it would be difficult to distinguish one sentence from another,
so as to read. Statements in geography were long based on authority,
like those in grammar; in fact, only very recently has the causal idea
become prominent in geography. High-school students of physics very
generally want to know what the teacher wishes them to see in an
experiment before feeling sure what they do see; and college students
of politics, rather than depend upon the evidence itself, are inclined
to learn the political views of their professors as the means of
finding out what they themselves think.

There are good reasons for this tendency to base conclusions upon
authority. It takes much more knowledge of a subject and much greater
skill in its presentation to make the reasons for facts clear.
Furthermore, it requires a good degree of energy and moral courage on
the part of teachers to decline the compliment that young people
confer upon them in preferring to trust them rather than evidence; and
it also requires a good degree of energy on the part of students to
rely upon their own study of facts. It is not surprising, therefore,
if the average teacher makes himself the main authority for the
statements that he makes in class, and if the average student readily
accepts his authority. That is the easier way to get through a day.

_(4) How this tendency may be combated._

As the first step in combating this tendency, both teachers and
students must decide how highly they value a scientific method of
arriving at conclusions. Heretofore our interest in conclusions as
valuable information has been so great that the method of reaching
them has been neglected; it mattered little how much prejudice or
blind acceptance of authority was connected with them, so long as they
were understood and remembered. If such neglect has been wrong, and if
a habit of basing opinions on carefully selected facts is
approximately as important as knowledge itself,--as is probably
true,--then we have found sufficient motive for serious effort toward

The next step is to make the words _premises, evidence, proof,_ as
prominent in study as the word _conclusions._ "In reasoning," says ex-
President Eliot, "the selection of the premises is the all-important
part of the process....The main reason for the painfully slow
progress of the human race is to be found in the inability of the
great mass of people to establish correctly the premises of an
argument....Every school ought to give direct instruction in fact-
determining and truth-seeking; and the difficulties of these processes
ought to be plainly and incessantly pointed out." [Footnote: _Atlantic
Monthly,_ "The School," November, 1903, p. 584.] Some college studies,
as physics, for instance, might be taught primarily for the sake of
method rather than subject-matter, and all college subjects, so far as
possible, should emphasize the value of the right method of study.

But scientifically trained college students, with their snap judgments
in fields outside of their specialties, give convincing proof that
emphasis on method in one or a few studies taken up so late in life
cannot inculcate the general habit of mind desired. Such training must
begin much earlier, must in fact extend throughout the whole period of
study, as Dr. Eliot suggests. Teachers in the elementary school in
particular must assume responsibility for developing a scientific
habit of thinking, just as they assume responsibility for correct
speech, and must insist upon the one in every subject as they do upon
the other.

_5. The referring of disagreements of view to large facts or

The tendency to dogmatize can be further overcome if disagreements of
view are habitually referred for decision to large facts or
principles. Suppose that a dispute has arisen as to when phonics
should be introduced in beginning reading, and how prominent it should
be made. A, wishing to teach children to read as soon and as rapidly
as possible, would drill upon lists of phonetic words and upon
sentences composed only of such words, no matter how artificial they
might be. B, considering other things more important in beginning
school life than learning to read, strongly opposes any extensive and
systematic use of phonics. Reiteration of views, and even the
customary proofs of success by trial, may avail nothing. But
reiteration may lead to derogatory remarks, when each becomes
impressed with the stubbornness and meanness of the other.

Suppose, however, that B, remembering that details of method are
determined by large principles, runs back to his largest controlling
idea in beginning reading, the need of live minds or of lively thought
on the part of the children. Suppose that he shows that extensive use
of phonics during the first year of school means the use of words
without meaning, a tendency that is marked in prayers and greetings
and that has to be actively combated throughout school and college
life. Suppose that he shows, further, that the main progress of the
best primers and readers in the last twenty years has been in
opposition to this tendency and in the direction of interesting
thought, and that good expression of thought rather than the mere
pronouncing of words is the chief element in good reading.

A large principle thus brought to bear is likely to accomplish one of
three things: (_a_) it may lead to full agreement; (_b_) or it may
itself be agreed upon, while the details are still objects of dispute.
But in that case the large thought, having put the details in proper
perspective, prevents unpleasant conflict by revealing their
comparative littleness. Also, agreement on the large point convinces
each disputant of the other's partial sanity, at least, and thus
preserves harmony; (_c_) or, finally, the principle itself may
become an object of dispute. Even then the largeness of the idea
places the discussion on a high plane, and the disputants, impressed
with the dignified, impersonal character of the thought, are
disinclined to personalities.

This value of a principle is often illustrated in the work of
criticising young teachers. Let the critic condemn with authority one
feature of a recitation after another, making free use of the pronoun
_I_, and the young teacher criticised is likely to glare at him
in rising wrath. But let the critic omit the show of authority
entirely, even the use of _I_, merely offering the reasons for
certain objections, particularly some broad principle of method whose
relation to the matter in hand is perfectly plain, and harmony is
almost bound to prevail, no matter how complete the condemnation may
be. Thus people will bear with one another, either agreeing or
agreeing to disagree, so long as discussions center about principles;
but without this condition intolerance and ill feeling easily manifest

_6. The delaying of judgment till the evidence has been considered._

Having granted the need of relying on reasons, and large ones, rather
than on authority, the habit can be inculcated of delaying judgment
until the evidence has been considered. It might seem superfluous to
add this suggestion, did it not frequently happen that people get the
cart before the horse in this manner. For example, it is common for
debaters to choose sides as soon as a question is agreed upon, and to
do their studying afterward. Then, having committed themselves to one
side, they study and argue in order to _win_ rather than to get
light. It being regarded as ridiculous for partisans to be on both
sides of a question at once,--even though one's convictions often
place one there,--they ignore strong opposing arguments, bolster up
their own weak assertions by fluency of speech and a bold manner, and
try to substitute witticisms for thought, when thought is lacking.
While such efforts increase knowledge, they pit personality against
personality in such a way that the ego rather than truth becomes the
main object of interest, and on that account their influence as a
whole is extremely injurious. That kind of discussion is not honest,
and its spirit is far removed from that of the true scientist.

Young people should avoid taking sides, at least at the beginning of
their study of a problem, and probably discussion should take the
place of debating. At any rate, the single point, rather than the
whole question, might form the unit of debate. They should be taught
to argue on both sides of a question, according to belief, just as
frank persons do in conversation, to recognize the strength of
opposing arguments, and to confess their own weak points. Then they
would be making truth their aim, rather than victory. Such discussions
are much more typical of life than ordinary debates; and if the latter
seem necessary as a preparation for some professions--which is
deplorable, if true--one should wait to acquire such ability until
professional training begins.

_7. Avoidance of too positive forms of speech._

Aside from debates, people are often tempted to commit themselves too
positively in regard to facts by too positive forms of speech. We so
often hear "I _know_" in place of "I suspect" or "I surmise"; and
the speaker, having committed himself almost before he knows it,
repeats the assertion to make himself more sure, meanwhile wondering
how sure he is.

Benjamin Franklin speaks in his autobiography of having acquired the
habit of expressing himself in terms of modest diffidence, "never
using," he says, "when I advance anything that may possibly be
disputed, the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give
the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, 'I conceive or
apprehend a thing to be so-or-so'; 'It appears to me,' or 'I should
not think it so-or-so, for such-and-such reasons'; or 'I imagine it to
be so'; or 'It is so, if I am not mistaken.' This habit, I believe,
has been of great advantage to me, when I have had occasion to
inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures that I have been
from time to time engaged in promoting. And, as the chief ends of
conversation are to inform or be informed, to please or persuade, I
wish well-meaning and sensible men would not lessen their power of
doing good by a positive, assuming manner, that seldom fails to
disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat most of those
purposes for which speech was given to us." [Footnote:_Autobiography,_
p. 21, of edition of Cassell & Co.]

Franklin is here considering intemperate forms of speech from the
point of view of others. But they have a corresponding bad effect on
the speaker, making him more dogmatic the more he indulges in them,
until he loses the power to be tolerant of other persons.

Discussion and conversation should be conscientiously utilized by the
student for the practice of intellectual honesty, of sincerity with
himself, for such sincerity lies at the very foundation of true



_The change in appreciation of the self._

There was a time when people seemed to take pride in self-
depreciation. Believing in total depravity, they were suspicious of
all natural tendencies, and the crushing out of strong desires seemed
no evil. Obedience to Another's will was the one supreme virtue, and
the killing of human nature, the annihilation of self, was the
condition of its attainment. [Footnote: See John Stuart Mill, _On
Liberty,_ Chapter III.]

But the watchwords of modern education--self-activity, self-
expression, self-development, self-reliance, self-control--indicate a
very different attitude now. The emphasis here placed on _self_
recognizes it as the center of virtue; and the suffixes, _activity,
expression,_ etc., declare the unfolding of instincts and other
native powers, up to the point of independence, to be a great
desideratum in education. These watchwords signify that the
constitution of an infant, like that of a young plant, fixes a certain
goal within broad limits for it to reach, the narrower limits being
left to be determined by social ideals. They signify further that this
goal can be reached only by the unfolding of inner powers, and that
the purpose of the educator, like that of the gardener, is not to
create but merely to furnish the food and environment most favorable
to growth. In brief, the object of education must be attained by
quickening to the utmost, rather than by annihilating, the self.

This conception holds good, too, for every human being, in spite of
the infinite variety of individuals. For, according to the doctrine of
interest, which is a term ultimately related to these other terms and
equally emphasized with them, only that spiritual food can be expected
to be truly assimilated by any person which appeals to his peculiar
nature; all else fails of real nourishment, no matter how much drill
may be given to it. Thus the sovereignty of every individual is
recognized. Psychologically speaking, there are no saints among us to
set the standard for others. Each person is worthy of exercising his
own choice, of having his own way; indeed, he _must_ exercise this
privilege if he is to act rightly.

_Causes of this change._

What respect we have come to have for ourselves! Have we, then, put
off corruption and become perfect? And is the millennium at hand? Far
from it. We have merely discovered the method by which we can become
good; and, stated briefly, it is that every one must be true to
himself, or must be himself. It is not strange that, in this age of
scientific investigation, we have come to know more about our own
natures than we did two hundred years ago. And the knowledge gained
touches two great questions: first, the original character of the
infant mind; and second, its method of advance.

As to the former, we are now convinced that the child is originally
endowed with certain impulses and instincts, or with certain
instinctive tendencies, such as fear, love, curiosity, imitation,
pride, constructiveness, appreciation of beauty, and conversational
power, [Footnote: See James, _Talks to Teachers,_ Chapter VII;
also Dewey, _School and Society,_ Chapter II.] and that these
constitute the foundation or starting point for all educational
endeavor. As to the latter, progress takes place by the unfolding of
these instinctive tendencies, by their development rather than by
their repression. Further than that, since everybody is unlike
everybody else in his native impulses, and since his environment
likewise varies, every person must expect to differ from all others,
more or less, in knowledge, desires, and actions. Corruption may be as
common as formerly, perhaps more so, requiring more vigorous
restrictions than ever; but the proper way for any one to advance is
to use the peculiar talents for good with which nature has endowed
him, in the peculiar way fitting to himself. He may not do everything
he likes; but whatever he does do must be an outgrowth of his own
past, in harmony with himself and therefore an expression of himself,
if it is to prove effective.

_The value of individuality in English composition._

This truth is often illustrated in the government of children. A young
teacher who attempts to govern a class "in just the same way as the
principal does it," thus relying upon imitation, is doomed to failure.
Pupils quickly detect the lack of native force, of genuineness, in
such a teacher, and lose respect on that account.

But the vital character of this thought is best illustrated in English
composition. It has long been recognized that merit in that field is
present to the extent that one gives expression to one's own ideas,
and is lacking to the extent that the ideas are borrowed. Whatever is
to be fresh and valuable must bear the peculiar stamp of the author
presenting it.

The reason for this is that only through self-expression is a natural
product obtained. So long as I am consciously imitating another, or am
unconsciously so warped by him as to ignore my own nature and
experience, I am sounding a false note. What another thinks, no matter
how good it may be, cannot properly represent me, and coming from me
as mine, the want of harmony injures. I am in that case merely
pretending, and the outcome is faulty because it is a sham. I might
much better give expression to my own ideas, remembering Wendell
Phillips's assertion that "any man who is thoroughly interested in
himself is interesting to other people." Real interest in self (which
is a very different thing from egotism) implies honesty with self and
consequent freedom from subjection to another. Then naturalness, which
borders closely on originality and is the first guarantee of
excellence, is assured.

Naturalness is assured, too, in my expression of other people's ideas,
provided these have become my own property by right of true
assimilation. In that case they have received my own stamp, so that I
am still offering something at first hand. The virility of even this
kind of thought is well illustrated in the following composition by a
twelve-year-old boy:--

The Chinese and Japanese may look alike in appearance; but they are
not one bit alike. Once upon a time they both were the most civilized
people in the world. Then Confucius came in and told them that they
should learn no more and do exactly what their ancestors did. Both
countries believed in this for a long time. Then the United States
butted in and told them of their danger; they said that they were
going backward instead of forward, and would be conquered by another
nation if they did not pick up. The Chinese would not listen to this
and said the United States had no right to interfere. But Japan
thought there was some truth in this, and so the United States sent
over machines, built factories, laid railroad tracks, etc. The result
is that Japan is winning the war she is fighting with Russia.

_How composition typifies life in general._

English composition is perhaps the best single test of the general
healthfulness of school instruction, and it typifies life in general.
The pretended appreciation of an author, an affected manner,
insincerity in the profession of friendship and religion, anything
that admits a deceitful, artificial element is pernicious in
composition as well as in life. Whatever is good must be true. In
consequence, no matter how extensively persons differ from one
another, the first essential to the highest efficiency of each is
fidelity to his own nature.

We hear a great deal about self-made men, men who have wrested success
from a stubborn world without the help of the schools. They are
examples of those who are guided from within rather than from without.
But every man, so far as he is a man, is self-made. He has had to use
his own observation to see; his own reason and judgment to foresee;
his own discrimination to decide; and his own firmness to stand by his
decisions. [Footnote: See John Stuart Mill, _On Liberty,_ Chapter
III.] His adaptation to his environment has been self-accomplished,
and the first condition of its success has been a noble self-respect.
Trust in self is a prerequisite to ability to do,--we must believe
that we can, before we can,--and obedience to inner promptings is a
necessary antecedent to such trust.

It was true wisdom that led Polonius to close his blessing on Laertes
with the advice, "This above all: To thine own self be true; and it
must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any
man." Character itself is deeply involved. As Mill says: "A person
whose desires and impulses are his own--are the expression of his own
nature, as it has been developed and modified by his own culture--is
said to have character. One whose desires and impulses are not his
own, has no character, no more than a steam engine has a character."
[Footnote: _Ibid._]

_Necessity of accepting the self as it is._

Accordingly, it behooves every one to accept himself as he is. No
doubt every one at times becomes dissatisfied with himself even to the
point of despair. Feeling his own weakness, and seeing the many
superior qualities of persons about him, he thinks how much more
successful he might be if only he were some other person, and envy
takes possession of him. But "there is a time in every man's
education," says Emerson, "when he arrives at the conviction that envy
is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for
better for worse as his portion; that, though the wide universe is
full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through
his toil bestowed on that plot of ground (himself) which is given to
him to till." [Footnote: Emerson, essay on _Self-reliance._] And this
conviction must not be accompanied with self-reproach. Any one who
habitually feels ashamed of himself is shorn of power to do his proper
work in the world. The nature and rightfulness of the desired contentment
with self and of proper self-confidence are suggested by Emerson in
the words: "What pretty oracles nature yields us on this text in the
face and behavior of children, babes, and even brutes....Their mind
being whole, their eye is as yet unconquered, and when we look in
their faces, we are disconcerted. Infancy conforms to nobody; all
conform to it; so that one babe commonly makes four or five out of
the adults who prattle and play to it. So God has armed youth and
puberty and manhood no less with its own piquancy and charm, and made
it enviable and gracious and its claims not to be put by, if it will
stand by itself....The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner
and would disdain, as much as a lord, to do or say aught to conciliate
one, is the healthy attitude of human nature." [Footnote: Ibid.]

_Is such individuality conducive to social cooperation?_

But are such unconquered, unconciliatory minds desirable where social
cooperation is a necessity, as in present society? Are not those
persons preferable as citizens who readily put by their claims and
conform? Not by any means! It might be that wisdom would declare the
supposed claim unfounded, and that energy to combat it, rather than
willingness to conform to it, is wanted. Though yielding is often a
virtue, unintelligent conformity is weakness. Intelligent and vigorous
reaction of the individual against all claims for conformity,
sufficient to judge them, is a prerequisite even to actual conformity,
and it is only a well-developed individuality that is capable of such

Even military discipline, which represents the extreme in its demand
for slavish mass action, greatly values individual independence.
Soldiers often become isolated from their superiors in the midst of
combat, and are left to act on their own initiative, sometimes
deciding the fate of battles by their resourcefulness. It is partly
appreciation of the worth of individuality in all walks of life that
has spurred the European nations to educate the masses in recent

Ordinary social life makes a constant demand for individual judgment
and self-reliance. A high average of ability and character is required
for the maintenance of our democratic society; but that average can be
attained only when the persons who compose society individually attain
that average, that is, when their individuality is highly developed.

_Why it is necessary to emphasize the importance of individuality

Summarizing the preceding discussion, we see that the ideal man is not
one who is afraid, ashamed, and servile, but one who believes in
himself and dares realize himself rather than imitate others, one, in
short, who lives naturally and honestly. He possesses a personality
commanding enough to produce self-respect, and an individuality bold
enough to mark his thoughts and actions as his own.

Why is it necessary to emphasize this matter so much, particularly
with reference to young people? In our country, where the children are
so often charged with overboldness, and where commercial individualism
seriously threatens society, is there real danger that the
intellectual self may be neglected and that individuality may
consequently be lacking?

_1. Vigor of the reaction required in proper study._

Remembering that method of study is our theme, let us first recall the
degree of vigor necessary in providing for the elements of study that
have been named. Then let us consider some of the ways in which
students show unnaturalness and a tendency toward self-suppression.

A person must stand somewhat firmly upon his own feet in order to set
up for himself such specific aims, as guides for study, as have been
urged in Chapter III. The supplementing of an author's statements is
not so difficult, although one must be able to see around and beyond
him, in order to realize what additions are advisable. The
appreciation of relative worths, particularly the recognition of the
organizing ideas in the treatment of a subject, is a task that
requires a high degree of self-reliance. Judging of the soundness and
general worth of thoughts is certainly not any easier. Any one can
memorize; but to memorize in the proper way requires all the ability
just referred to. The using of knowledge, involving the selection of
the more promising part and its application until it becomes a part of
the self and even habitual, is impossible without a high degree of
mental vigor. Finally, the precautions to be taken in order to
preserve a tolerant attitude presuppose a personality moved by
purposes far higher than those of the average person. Altogether,
therefore, proper study is impossible without a self that is energetic
and firm. It should be noted, too, how little the mere quantity of
knowledge that one has happened to collect counts. It is not so much
learning as individuality that is required to meet these demands; on
that account the child can study just as truly, within his sphere of
experience, as can the adult.

_2. Failure to assert the simplest rights in class._

Now let us consider the evidences of unnaturalness and of want of the
boldness necessary for real study. In both school and college, when
members of the class ignore their mates by addressing only the
instructor, often speaking too low to be heard by others present,
there is usually little complaint. Although each person is a direct
loser, he seems reconciled to such neglect.

Very many young people lack the courage to ask questions in order to
understand a point; and even when asked if they understand and if they
do not wish to put some questions, they still are too timid to
respond; not seldom they declare that they understand when they know
that they do not. Teachers attending teachers' institutes are as bad
as children in this respect. Such conduct is not due to any desire to
deceive, but to self-depreciation; it is more agreeable to prevaricate
than to assert one's self.

_3. Subservience to authority._

The mere desire to please a teacher influences pupils of all ages to
watch the teacher's expressions and gestures and to answer what is
wanted, rather than what is sincerely thought. In Sunday school, in
particular, children can scarcely be got to give sincere answers; they
are so eager to please that they say what they think they ought to
think, rather than what they really think. Undue respect for
professors often has an overpowering influence on university students.
The writer has known of several instances where students of good
ability have almost lost the power to proceed with an argument, on the
unexpected discovery that their view was opposed to that of some

The subservience to books is as striking as that to teachers. The
history lesson of a certain class of eleven-year-old children
contained the following paragraph on the appearance of the Indians:
"When the first white men came to our shores, they found the country
inhabited by the people Columbus had named Indians. They had copper-
colored skin, coarse, jet-black hair, high cheek bones, thick lips,
small eyes, and no whiskers." The children had considerable difficulty
in reproducing the substance of this paragraph, attempting it several
times. The writer, who was observing the class, remembered, however,
having seen an Indian exhibition only a few weeks before, which
included Indian men, squaws, boys and girls, and even papooses, and
which this same class had visited in a body. After three rather
unsuccessful attempts to relate the contents of the paragraph, the
class were reminded of their visit to the Indians, and were then asked
to tell how they looked. Forgetting about the text, they had no
difficulty in doing this, for they were speaking out of their own

Subjects like geography and grammar likewise frequently contain facts
that pupils have long known; yet in school there is such an undue
respect for print that many children dare not subordinate such matter
to their own experience, and for that reason they have the same
difficulty with it as though it were new.

It is rare for even the college student to assert his independence of
both teacher and book. One of the greatest surprises that the writer
received in a two years' college course was produced in a rhetoric
class. The students were ordinarily assigned about twenty pages of
advance text per day, which was reproduced in the recitation. On one
occasion a student who was called upon did very well until he was
interrupted by the professor in charge on account of an omitted topic.
The professor gave the cue, but obtained no response; then, since the
student usually knew his lesson, the professor exercised a special
degree of patience and tried twice more to start him off. Failing,
however, he impatiently asked, "Why didn't you tell about so and so"?
"Why," replied the student, "I did remember something about that; but
I didn't think that it was worth talking about." In the estimation of
the entire class that man deserved a medal, and the writer still
thinks so. There is subject-matter in most text-books that students
are called upon to memorize which they feel is not worth reproduction,
and they are often right; but most college students are as still as
mice when it comes to declaring the fact. Their timidity in purely
intellectual matters is equaled only by their boldness in playing
pranks that require mere physical courage.

Subservience to mere custom is as common as that to teacher and to
print. If certain pictures or musical selections have come to be
generally admired, few persons to whom they fail to appeal have the
courage to acknowledge the fact. There is much pretended enjoyment in
art galleries.

The rate of progress acquiesced in by students is often greater than
fidelity to self will allow. The amount of text and the number of
references assigned frequently leave no possible time for reflection,
although reflection is the sole means by which the self can react on
ideas so as truly to assimilate them. Not seldom both teachers and
students are conscious of this fact and even lament it, yet they
continue in the same course. The result is that the average student
learns to disregard his own questions, doubts, and suggestions, and is
smothered by his studies. Only the exceptional nature rebels, as in
case of the rhetoric, and follows his own gait, even in opposition to
the teacher.

_4. The abnormal lack of initiative in class._

In order to test the power of initiative of young people in study, the
writer once selected a class of twenty children, ranging from ten to
twelve years of age, who were doing the work of the fifth school year.
They were only average pupils in home advantages and native ability.
But the school to which they belonged, being the practice department
of a training college for teachers, undoubtedly allowed a greater
degree of freedom to the individual and possessed more merits than the
ordinary public school. Nine of the children had attended this
particular school from the beginning, and several of the others had
gone there one or more years; and every one of the five different
teachers that the class had had, had been a graduate of a state normal
school, or of a teachers' college, or of both. Here, if anywhere, one
might expect a good degree of independence on the part of the pupils.
Also, the writer had been personally acquainted with the class from
the beginning, so that they felt reasonably at home with him when he
took charge of them in geography and history. After spending two
thirty-minute periods with them on successive days, considering
various review questions in geography, the writer, acting as teacher,
assigned them the following lesson of map questions in the text-

Here is a relief map of the continent on which we live. What great
highland do you find in the West? In the East? In what direction does
each extend? Which is the broader and higher? Where is the lowest land
between these two highlands? Trace the Mississippi River. Name some of
its largest tributaries, etc.

This lesson was to be studied in class _aloud;_ that is, the writer
was not to do any teaching or give any help; he was to assume as
nearly as possible the attitude of a listener, doing nothing more
than call upon some one now and then to "go on" or to "do what ought
to be done next." The children were to do all that was necessary to
dispose of the questions properly, even to the extent of correcting
one another freely.

With this understanding a girl was called on to begin. She arose and
read, "Here is a relief map of the continent on which we live. What
great highland do you find in the West? In the East?" Then she
stopped, and stood staring at the book. She may have needed to inquire
the meaning of "relief"; or she may have been in doubt whether or not
she should turn to the relief map opposite, which was small, or to the
better map two pages further over; or to the wall map hanging, rolled
up, in front of the class. But, although she was not noticeably
embarrassed, she did none of these things. She waited to be told
_just what to do,_ and she waited patiently--until aid from the
teacher arrived.

In response to the next question, "In what direction does each
[highland] extend?" the two great highlands, the Rockies and the
Appalachians, were described as parallel; and the pupil was passing to
the next question without objections from any source, when the teacher
again had to interfere.

The boy who was called upon for the third question, "Which is the
broader and higher?" stepped to the wall map and pointed out the
Rockies. But, as no one asked why they were supposed to be broader and
higher, the teacher suggested that question himself. Some one gave the
correct reason for considering them the broader; but by that time the
entire class had forgotten that there was a second part to the
question, and were passing on when they were reminded by the teacher
of the omitted part.

In response to the fourth question, calling for the location of the
lowest land between these two highlands, four or five stepped to the
map in succession, showing wide disagreement. Yet no one asked any one
else "Why?" or proposed any way of settling the dispute, or even
evinced any responsibility for finding one. They would have proceeded
to the next question had they not again been halted by the teacher.

In tracing the Mississippi River, only about one-half of it was
pointed out; _i.e._, from Cairo southward. But no one entered
complaint, and the next question was actually read before the teacher
requested more accurate work. The girl called on to "name some of its
largest tributaries" stood silent. Possibly the word tributaries
puzzled her; but she lacked the force necessary to make a request for
help. She seemed to be waiting for the teacher to ask her if she
didn't need to ask some one else for the definition. So the teacher
complied and the definition was given. But then all failed for a time
to answer the original question, apparently because they could not
break it into its two parts, first tracing the principal tributaries
on the map, then finding the names attached to them.

These responses are representative of the writer's earlier experiences
with these children. Although they were not frightened, and plainly
understood that they were to go anywhere in the room, and were to do
or say anything that was necessary, they almost invariably waited to
be told when to step to the board; when an answer was wrong; when
something had been overlooked or forgotten; when the pointer should be
taken up or laid aside; and when they were through with a question.

Between three and four recitation periods of thirty-five minutes each
were consumed, before they were able to do all that was necessary in
answering the extremely simple questions above, with a half-dozen
more, without help. Their frequent smiles of chagrin, too, proved
beyond question that they were fully in earnest in their efforts. This
helplessness was not exhibited on the first few days either. It was
their custom to wait for assistance and directions--even to sit
down--and it was a custom so well established that five weeks of daily
work with them in history and geography, with the avowed object of
breaking it up, only barely began a reform.

Other children, as a rule, would scarcely do better. But these are
cases of children. Would not a class in a normal school or a college
show greater capacity for leadership? Not often. Of course they
possess greater mental power; but the subject-matter with which they
are struggling is more difficult. Any teacher of such a class who
unexpectedly eliminates himself from a recitation by silence, and who
asks the students to provide a substitute from within themselves for
his part of the work, is likely to feel disappointed over the result.
Who will assert that such lack of initiative is natural?

_5. The evil effects of such suppression._

How docile young people are, after all, in intellectual matters! They
lack the courage to resent neglect in class, to acknowledge that they
do not understand, and to ask questions; they lose their initiative
and even independent power to think, when in the presence of teachers;
and they ignore their own experience in favor of print. They are so
bent on satisfying others that they suppress their own inner
promptings. In doing this they seem to confuse moral with intellectual
qualities, acting as though the sacrifice of self in study was equally
virtuous with its sacrifice in a moral way. Yet listen to Emerson's

"Books" (and he might have said _teachers_) "are the best of things
well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? They
are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book than to
be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a
satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world, of value,
is the active soul. This every man is entitled to; this every man
contains within him, although in almost all men obstructed, and as yet
unborn....Undoubtedly there is a right way of reading, so it be
sternly subordinated. Man Thinking must not be subdued by his
instruments." [Footnote: _The American Scholar._]

The evil in a young student's being "subdued by his instruments" is
that he is made artificial and dependent, and thereby ceases to be a
whole unit. The artificiality is often shown in the voice. Many
schools, owing to the restraint that their pupils are allowed to feel,
are guilty of establishing a special recitation voice, distinguished
from that ordinarily used in conversation by its different pitch, and
often amusingly distinguished, too, when some interruption during
recitation causes a question about outside or home matters to be
answered in the natural way. Many educated adults have suffered so
much in this respect that they cannot read in natural tones.

The dependence, further, is shown in any attempt to produce thought.
When a student has formed the habit of collecting and valuing the
ideas of others, rather than his own, the self becomes dwarfed from
neglect and buried under the mass of borrowed thought. He may then
pass good examinations, but he cannot think. Distrust of self has
become so deep-rooted that he instinctively looks away from himself to
books and friends for ideas; and anything that he produces cannot be
good, because it is not a true expression of self. This is the class
of people that Mill describes in the words, "They like in crowds; they
exercise choice only among things commonly done; peculiarity of taste,
eccentricity of conduct, are shunned equally with crimes; until, by
dint of not following their own nature, they have no nature to follow;
their human capacities are withered and starved; they become incapable
of any strong wishes or native pleasures, and are generally without
either opinions or feelings of home growth, or properly their own."
[Footnote: _On Liberty,_ Chapter III] Such people cannot perform
the hard tasks required in study, because they have lost their native
power to react on the ideas presented.

The evil is most serious with young children because of their youth.
Many of them, while making good progress in the three R's, outgrow
their tendency to ask questions and to raise objections, in other
words lose their mental boldness or originality, by the time they have
attended school four years. But all along, from the kindergarten to
the college, there is almost a likelihood that the self will be
undermined while acquiring knowledge, and that, in consequence, one
will become permanently weakened while supposedly being educated. In
this respect it is dangerous to attend a school of any grade.

_Why individuality is so difficult to preserve and develop._

"Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each," says Emerson, "the
highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is that they set
at naught books and tradition, and spoke not what men, but what they,
thought." [Footnote: Essay of _Self-reliance._] It is evidently
exceptional for one's thoughts and actions to be quite fully one's
own. In matters of dress hosts of persons would rather be fashionable
than comfortable; and in matters of the intellect subordination to
others is even more common.

One great reason for this is that people do not know how to be true to
themselves; they do not comprehend themselves well enough for that.
"Know thyself" was a dictum of Socrates that should precede the
command "Be true to thyself," because it is a prerequisite to it. But
if it takes a literary genius to reveal our thoughts to us, as it
often does, certainly the average person will not discover his own
characteristics alone. Even with firm intentions he will merely grope
about, and from blindness and want of skill will stifle a good portion
of his own nature.

On the other hand, if he goes to school, whatever peculiarities he may
possess are liable to suppression through the teacher and the
curriculum, the two chief agencies of the school. For the average
elementary teacher is not greatly concerned about preserving and
developing individuality, and the average high-school teacher or
college professor still less. Indeed, many teachers are convinced that
there is too much of it already, as shown in the discipline, and
insist upon as much uniformity as possible, because it is less
troublesome. When it comes to the curriculum, the commonly recognized
purpose of instruction is acquisition of knowledge rather than
development of self. But if a student sets out to amass as much
information as possible, he is almost sure to be covered up by his
collection; and, even if he proceeds slowly enough to admire and try
to imitate the good that he finds in his spiritual inheritance and
present environment, he is in no less danger of being mastered by his
instruments. Thus it happens that while self-expression should be one
of the great purposes of the school, annihilation of self is a common

_The positive character of provision for individuality as a factor
in study._

It follows from the preceding that provision for individuality is a
very positive factor in study, one requiring much time and energy and
on which all the others that have been mentioned are dependent. A
person must have the courage to assert his rights in intellectual
matters, must believe in the worth of his own past, and must not allow
his regard for others to weaken his trust in self. All this requires a
high degree of self-respect, which can be attained only by careful

As he comes more and more in contact with the ideas, desires, deeds,
and examples of other persons, and the demand for conformity grows
more pressing, he must reserve special time and energy for studying
his own powers and tastes and for discovering his own thoughts about
the many subjects of study in which he engages. In the study of many a
poem, for example, more time will be required to determine his own
attitude toward it, to find himself in regard to it, than to
understand its meaning.

Remembering that one purpose of education is development of the self,
he must ever be on his guard against being warped out of shape by
others, and must therefore offer a certain normal resistance to
everything that is presented to him. To preserve and develop one's
self thus normally, it is safe to say that any student should have as
much esteem for himself, intellectually, as for others, and should
spend at least as much time and energy upon himself in finding out
what he himself thinks and feels, as upon others.


The value of tolerance on the part of teachers, as discussed in the
preceding chapter, is plainly seen in this connection. Unless a
teacher's manner toward a pupil indicates a high degree of respect,
the pupil's respect for himself is in danger of being weakened. A
sarcastic attitude is even worse than a dogmatic one; beyond doubt,
the proper self-esteem of many a young person has been permanently
undermined by his teacher's sharp tongue; sarcasm is the extreme of

_1. The relation between teachers and students._

There should be a clearer understanding, too, about the function of
teachers in general. Many instructors give the impression that
educational institutions exist for their benefit, rather than for the
good of their students; and from the start the latter are forced into
the position of suppliants. If questions are asked, impatience is
shown; and if objections to statements are raised, impertinence is
charged. Such treatment tends to cow the average student and thus to
limit his power to react upon ideas.

While teachers may be real authorities in subject-matter, they can
never be anything more than assistants in the self-development of
their students. They should more openly assume this subordinate
position, placing the primary responsibility upon the learner; they
would then be less likely to subordinate the inner growth of the
student, which it is their highest function to aid, to the mere
acquisition of knowledge.

If, however, teachers practically compel subservience by an arrogant
manner, or by the assignment of lessons much too long for one's normal
rate of advance, or by the assignment of subject-matter that seems to
have no possible value, what should the student do? Should he smother
his own desires and opinions in the attempt to satisfy his teacher?
Rarely, if ever; he will not grow inwardly by suppressing the self. On
the contrary, when he feels himself in serious restraint, he should
frankly state his grievances, and the teacher, even though a college
professor, should receive and ponder such statements seriously,
remembering that one reason he is paid a salary is that he shall
exercise skill in adapting himself to the psychological condition of
his students.

If these frank statements evoke no friendly response, then protest may
be in place, and sometimes revolt, just as when political liberty is
assailed. Of course, a good degree of patience and tolerance should
always be exercised toward one's teacher; but there is need of more
moral courage among young people to meet the disapproval of teachers
and their punishments in the form of scoldings and low marks. Many a
college student unresistingly submits to a sarcastic, dictatorial
teacher when he ought to show resentment and stand on his rights.
Resistance to teaching authority may be just as vital a part of study
as the rejection of the conclusions of an author. Until such ideas are
more generally practiced, a normal, vigorous self, which is the first
factor in scholarship, is in danger. Intellectual liberty is not less
important than political liberty, and often worth a fight. It is odd
that much blood has been shed for the attainment of political and
religious freedom, while the tyranny of mind over mind, which is
exceedingly common in the class room, has scarcely been recognized as
a serious evil. It can be accounted for only by the fact that both
teachers and parents have been more interested in the quantity of
knowledge acquired than in the inner growth of learners.

_2. Recognition of individual characteristics._

Every person has many peculiarities that are important factors in his
study and that should be noted by all concerned with great care. For
example, aside from the desirable rate of advance for each person,
which has already been mentioned, a student maybe eye-minded, or ear-
minded, or motor-minded. That is, he may be peculiarly dependent upon
his eyes, needing to see a statement in print rather than to hear it
read, and inclined to visualize or image even the most abstract
thought. Or he may learn best through the ear, wanting to hear
statements read, rather than see them. Or he may be peculiarly
dependent on motor activity, preferring to write his spelling lesson,
rather than to see the words only or to spell them orally; such a
person will need to gesticulate freely, to imitate movements and act
out scenes, rather than see or hear only verbal descriptions. Some
persons are naturally regular and systematic in their work, following
a definite program each day and arranging facts as well as furniture
in an orderly way. Others are pained by regularity and system, and
find it impossible to reform themselves. They can work well only when
they feel like it, and therefore by spurts. Some do their best
thinking under the stimulus of discussion and opposition, others are
disturbed by such conditions and can think best in private. Some are
especially devoted to facts, being scientifically minded and
interested in the objects about them. Others are idea-lovers, caring
little for the concrete world of nature, but attracted to literature,
history, and music. Others, still, are particularly strong in
execution, rarely considering theory apart from practice.[Footnote:
See President Hadley's article in _Harper's Magazine,_ June, 1905.]

Some of the peculiarities that we discover in ourselves are weaknesses
that should be discouraged and combated to the utmost; others require
more or less modification. But there is no choice concerning most of
them; their sum constitutes our nature, and we must accept them. They
are our original capital, our source of strength on which all increase
of strength must be grafted. And we should become well acquainted with
them, just as the engineer should know the properties of steam.

Full acquaintance is impossible, and even approximate knowledge of the
extent of one's powers cannot be reached, until one has become deeply
interested in some project and loaded with responsibility in regard to
it. But by humbly and diligently observing one's better tendencies,
and by giving full expression to them, one may attain a fair degree of
self-knowledge. One of the special duties of teachers and parents is
to come to the assistance of young people in such study, helping them
to recognize their strong and weak points and to understand themselves
without getting discouraged or excited. If we fail to enjoy a book or
musical concert that arouses the enthusiasm of others, we may well
admit the fact to ourselves, and perhaps to others, with neither pride
nor shame, but as a fact. Such facts reveal us to ourselves, and
should be noted with the consciousness that, if strength is not found
in one direction, it is likely to be discovered in some other.

_3. Responsibility for initiative._

It is obvious from preceding statements that both children and older
students must become far more accustomed to taking the initiative
during instruction, if they are to take it in private study. The way
to prepare for leadership, whether of self or of others, is to
undertake such leadership under wise guidance.

There are two degrees of responsibility in recitation that are
somewhat common. Suppose, for example, that a class in manual training
is to make a tile out of clay, to be placed under a coffee pot. After
proposing this task the teacher (1) might further state that the tile
must be six inches square and one-half inch thick; that it must have a
level surface; that a ball of clay of a certain size will be needed in
order to make a tile of the desired size; that it must be pressed into
shape mainly by the use of the thumbs; that careful measuring will be
necessary to secure the proper dimensions; that square corners can be
obtained by placing some square-cornered object directly over the
corners of the tile, for comparison; and that a level surface can best
be obtained by sighting carefully across the surface, so as to detect
any irregularities. After these and perhaps other instructions have
been given by the teacher, the children may be directed to begin work.

Or, after the task has been proposed, the teacher (2) might simply ask
the main questions that need to be considered, letting the pupils find
the solutions for the same as far as possible. For example: How large
should the tile be made? What should be its shape? What kind of
surface must it have? How must the clay be worked into the desired
shape? How make sure of the dimensions? Of square corners? Of a level

The first plan shows practically the lecture method in operation. The
teacher presents all of the ideas, and the children have the position
of listeners or followers. That method places the minimum degree of
responsibility upon pupils, the responsibility for attention, and is
quite common in the poorer schools and in colleges.

The second plan allows the children to join actively with the teacher
in producing the ideas involved in the solution of the problem. It
shows the development method in operation, which places much more
responsibility upon the class. But the teacher even here takes
practically all of the initial steps. She is the one who breaks the
large problem up into its parts; who determines the wording of the
questions and the order in which they shall be considered. The
children follow her cue; they are subject to her constant direction,
and merely make response to her specific biddings. The reaching of new
thought by them under such immediate stimulus and suggestion involves
responsibility for thinking, to be sure, but very little
responsibility for the initial thinking or for initiative. Neither of
these methods, therefore, plainly develops the power of self-

Training in the exercise of initiative is provided, not when young
people are following some other person's plan and answering some other
person's questions, but when they are obliged to conceive their own
plans and their own questions. Here is the crux of the whole matter.
Some other method, therefore, is desirable, and it is not difficult to
find. After the making of the tile has been proposed, the teacher
might simply ask, "How will you plan this piece of work?" leaving the
conception of the main questions, together with the answers, as far as
possible to the children.

They would know that a certain size would need to be determined upon,
fixed by the size of a coffee pot; that the shape would have to be
considered, the round or square form being chosen according to
personal preference and ease of making; that the thickness would be a
factor, it being important that the tile be thin enough to be
reasonably light, but thick enough not to break easily or to let heat
through; that a level surface is desirable, both for the sake of
beauty and utility; and that some way must be found for pressing the
clay into shape. All of these ideas lie within their personal
experience and therefore call only for common knowledge and common

All or most of this part of the plan, including the correction of any
misstatements, could be made by the children with little or no help
from the teacher. Where their knowledge is more limited, however, she
should come to their aid, either telling or developing, as the case
required. For instance, she might possibly tell outright how much clay
each would probably need, also how the clay should be pressed into
shape; and develop the method of making sure of proper dimensions, of
square corners (or of roundness) and of a level surface.

This task in manual training is typical of lessons in general. In
their mastery there is always a procedure of some sort to be followed,
and now and then, at least, this procedure lies in whole or in part so
fully within the class experience that they should have the
responsibility of mapping it out. Sometimes in the lower grades such
work might occupy a whole recitation period; again, only a few
minutes. As the experience increases, this responsibility should
increase, so that the higher grades should often show children stating
the main questions to be considered in their lessons, without help,
just as they have long been in the habit of stating the main steps to
be taken in individual problems in arithmetic without aid. In very
many recitations children should have responsibility for rejecting
some of the answers and for accepting others. The writer is acquainted
with one eighth-year class in which not only all this is done, but the
children frequently determine their own lesson assignments, reporting
in class what home work was attempted the previous evening and how it
was done. These reports are then subjected to general criticism and
suggestion. If such practices become successfully established in the
elementary school, they will have to be adopted higher up, for very
shame if for no other reason.

_4. Past experience as the principal source of new ideas.
(1) Illustrations._

Socrates was one of the most fertile thinkers that ever lived; yet he
scarcely traveled beyond the walls of Athens, and was accused of
always talking about the most commonplace objects, such as "brass
founders and leather cutters and skin dressers." He clearly
illustrates the fact that fertility of thought bears little relation
to one's quantity of learning, but depends rather upon the use made of
such very simple raw material as any ordinary person possesses.

_The Children's Hour_ as discussed on pages 69-70 show how one's
past may be used in the production of thought. The poem tells of an
hour set aside by the family for play. The fact that we know this to
be a very rare thing prompts the questions, "Was it customary in this
family, or did it happen only once?" The fact that many fathers would
be bored by such an hour suggests the query, "Did this father really
enjoy it?" The fact that the custom is so uncommon raises the further
inquiry, "Was there any special merit among these children that led to
it?" Also, "Why is the custom not more common?" And, since some one
must take the lead in establishing such an hour, the query follows,
"Can children themselves accomplish anything in this direction?"

Thus facts that are well known lead to new ideas. No matter what we
hear or read, or what topic is given to us to ponder, thoughts
additional to those directly presented are likely to be reached by
reference to past related experience. That one should look to past
experience as an almost unlimited source of new thought is one of the
most important truths for any person to bear in mind who is
endeavoring to learn to think.

_(2) The common neglect of experience._

It is very common, however, for persons who are rich in experience
touching some subject that they are studying to fail almost entirely
to use it. This was once well illustrated by about twenty young women
who were specializing in domestic science. At their own suggestion,
they prepared written plans for teaching how to bake sweet potatoes;
the writer was to correct these and discuss them with the class. But
after carefully examining all the papers and finding remarkably few
facts included, he asked the class what was really necessary, after
all, in the baking of sweet potatoes, beyond putting them, clean, into
a hot oven and taking them out when done. He requested them to
enumerate the facts that really needed to be taught. After perhaps two
minutes of meditation they sheepishly admitted that there was really
very little to present on the topic, and that they had carefully
written out plans only because "plans" were expected, and they wanted
some practice.

Since it was subject-matter, rather than method, that was needed, the
discussion was then directed to the facts involved in baking the
potatoes. A dispute soon arose when one remarked, "You should never
cut a sweet potato," others inquiring what should then be done with
those that were partly unsound, and how potatoes of very different
sizes could be baked together. Numerous other questions were
considered, as follows:--

What is the best way to clean them? Is it best to allow them to lie
long in water? Should the oven be very hot, or is a slow heat
preferable? Should anything be done with them while baking? How can
they be protected against burning? How much time is necessary for the
baking? Or will it vary? If so, why? How tell when they are done? Is
it necessary to take them out and strike them with the palm of the
hand, breaking them slightly? How get them out without burning one's

Since one cookbook says that we want "dry and mealy" potatoes and
another states that they should be "moist and sweet," which is right?
Also, what different steps should be taken to secure each kind? Some
persons parboil the potatoes before baking them. Is that desirable?
What about the advisability of baking them with butter, sugar, and
salt? Are there other ways of baking them? What changes does the heat
effect in the potato? Should they be served immediately? Or, if guests
are not prompt, is there any way of keeping them in good condition?

Most of these questions arose for the first time in the discussion,
not having been referred to in any of the plans. Yet, no doubt, all
the members of the class had baked sweet potatoes many times, had read
cookbooks as often as novels, and--since they were not altogether
young--had scores of times been called upon to eat potatoes that were
not clean, or were unsound, or not done, or were tasteless, or burnt,
or soggy, or cold. Therefore, probably not one of the questions was
entirely new to any one of the students, so that the raw material for
thought was present in abundance and even very close at hand.

_(3) Reasons for such neglect._

Why, then, did they so neglect their past? Above all, why should two
minutes of reflection on the subject mark their limit? For, having
given to themselves the signal tor all stray ideas on the baking of
sweet potatoes to assemble, their manner indicated no hope of further
returns after the expiration of that brief period. A partial answer is
that they did not know where to look for ideas. But an additional
answer is that they did not know _how_ to look to their past, and
they accordingly lacked confidence. Indeed, they knew that they could
not think, so what was the use of wasting more than two minutes for
the sake of appearances?

It does require some knowledge and confidence to think out a subject
in view of one's experience. When we are somewhat familiar with a
subject, some ideas in regard to it may come very readily, so that the
first few minutes of reflection may be easily spent and fairly
rewarded. But the ability really to think is tested after this period.
Then we must know how to overhaul our past and must have faith that we
will get something from it. We must search our experience through and
through, viewing it from one point and then another in the keen
lookout for suggestions. And we must know that many of the best
thoughts, probably most of them, do not come, like a flash, fully into
being, but find their beginnings in dim feelings, in faint intuitions,
that need to be encouraged and coaxed before they can be surely felt
and defined.

The writer's experience in the observation of recitations with
graduate students has often illustrated this fact. Not seldom a
recitation has been observed that has apparently pleased most of the
observers, but that has produced only an uncomfortable feeling on his
part. At the close of the recitation he had no more definite ideas
about its merits than his students; but he was conscious of this
feeling of discomfort produced, and knew that if he followed it up he
would probably arrive at some important thoughts. Occasionally his
main points in an extended discussion of a recitation have been
reached in this way. Usually he has found afterward that his students
have had the same feeling as he; but they were scarcely conscious of
the fact, and, even if conscious, they failed to realize its worth as
a source of suggestion.

Thus vague premonitions furnish the clew to much of the best thought.
Very often one of the chief differences between a thinker and one who
cannot think lies in the attention given to premonitory feelings of
pleasure, discomfort, doubt, suspicion, etc.; the latter ignores such,
while the former, when he lacks clear ideas, or all ideas, even shakes
himself to discover how he feels, and patiently labors to define his
feelings and trace them to their source.

_(4) How confidence in the value of one's past may be developed._

But how dependent such study is upon self-confidence! Unless we have
faith in the richness of our own experience, and belief that a careful
inspection of it will be rewarded, we lack the courage and patience
necessary for success.

How can such confidence be cultivated? Mainly by cultivating the habit
of turning first to self when reflective thought is required. It is
presupposed that we must consult the library and the world about us
for raw facts of various kinds, for historical events, scientific
data, views of men, descriptions, etc.; but when our own thought is
wanted on a topic with which we are somewhat familiar, and on which we
are supposed to have some ideas, let us form the habit of turning to
ourselves _first;_ to others as helps later. If other authorities
are consulted first, there is danger that the first impressions, the
first thoughts, of the student will never come to light; the ideas of
others will hide these and become their substitutes, thereby
engendering distrust in self. But by giving attention first to self,
by giving it the first chance, its contributions can be recognized;
that encourages it to grow and attain vigor, so that, when outside
helps are later consulted, it can react upon them and maintain itself.
Every young person should do enough thinking on a subject, before
attempting to find what others think about it, to have something to
oppose to these others, as a basis of judgment. That will keep the
self upper-most and cultivate the confidence desired.

If, on the contrary, we wait until we have found what others think,
before attempting to find what we think, others will do our thinking
for us, and we will ever be suffering from the timidity that Emerson
laments in the words:--

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which
flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the
firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his
thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our
own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated
majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than
this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-
humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the
other side. Else to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good
sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the tune, and we
shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
[Footnote: Emerson, essay on _Self-reliance_.]





_The meaning of study._

True or logical study is not aimless mental activity or a passive
reception of ideas only for the sake of having them. It is the
vigorous application of the mind to a subject for the satisfaction of
a felt need. Instead of being aimless, every portion of effort put
forth is an organic step toward the accomplishment of a specific
purpose; instead of being passive, it requires the reaction of the
self upon the ideas presented, until they are supplemented, organized,
and tentatively judged, so that they are held well in memory. The
study of a subject has not reached its end until the guiding purpose
has been accomplished and the knowledge has been so assimilated that
it has been used in a normal way and has become experience. And, finally,
since the danger of submergence of self among so much foreign thought
is so great, it is not complete--at least for young students--until
precautions for the preservation of individuality have been included.

The common notion that study should consist of thinking is, therefore,
quite right. In _Hints for Home Reading_ (p. 51) Henry Ward Beecher
says of himself: "Reading with me incites to reflection instantly. I
cannot separate the origination of ideas from the reception of ideas;
the consequence is, as I read I always begin to think in various
directions, and that makes my reading slow; and that being the origin
of it psychologically, it has grown into such a habit that, if I read
a novel even, I read slowly." Later he advises (p. 95), "Never give
more time to reading a book than to reflecting upon its contents." In
criticism of the customary haste in reading, on the other hand, Mr.
Gorschen declares: "Honestly, I must say, I believe that a vast number
of readers do not allow what I may call the frenzied current of their
eyes, as they read, to be stopped by even a moment of calm reflection
or thought." [Footnote: _Aspects of Modern Study,_ by Right Honorable
G.J. Gorschen, D.C.L., M.P., p. 39.] Real assimilation of ideas has to
be slow; and while some reading, owing to the simplicity of subject-
matter, should be as rapid as the eye can travel, the rate at which
ground is usually covered is too great to make assimilation possible.

The eight factors of study that have been treated are not to be
regarded as separate stages of advance that must follow one another
tandem fashion. The principal stages through which the learner passes
are only four in number as outlined in Chapter VIII. Yet some of the
eight factors necessarily follow others. For example, the conception
of the specific aim should, if possible, come first, while memorizing
should usually come late, partly if not wholly as the by-product of
thinking; and the actual using of knowledge should come last. On the
other hand, provision for a tentative attitude and for individuality
should be made frequently throughout one's study. Several of these
factors, therefore, may be in evidence in any one of the four chief
stages of advance described.

_The ability of children to learn to study._

We have seen that children possess the ability to undertake the kind
of work required by each of the several factors of study. In fact,
outside of school, they are continually applying their minds in the
meeting of specific needs, as adults are, thereby employing most, if
not all, these factors. There is, accordingly, no fundamental
difference between their study and that of adults, although the
relative prominence of the various phases may vary somewhat; in other
words, these factors of study are general principles like the
principles of teaching, and likewise applicable to all ages. No
assertion is here made that children know intuitively how to do this
systematic kind of studying; they merely have the qualities of mind
and the experience prerequisite to rational study, and are therefore
in a position to receive instruction on the subject with profit.

_Why young people have not been learning to study properly alone._

Every one recognizes the fact that young people, as a rule, have not
been learning to study properly alone. There are two reasons for this,
which deserve very careful consideration. One is that the difference
between studying with a teacher and studying alone has been
overlooked. It has been assumed that the two were practically
identical, so that the one was full preparation for the other, while
in fact there is a very striking difference between them.

Consider what happens in class instruction, and then how independent
study differs from it. When a young person sets to work to master a
lesson with the aid of a teacher there is a question of how much two
persons can accomplish together. One of the two is mature, more or
less informed in general, more or less versed in the principles of
study, and more or less skilled in their application. The other is
immature, and only under favorable circumstances fully willing to
apply himself.

_1. The difference between studying alone and with a teach has been

As they ordinarily work, their relation to each other is well defined.
In case text has been assigned, the teacher asks various questions,
pushes the pupil against difficulties, points out crucial thoughts,
calls a halt here and there for review and drill, supplies motive for
attention by reprimanding or praising or pummeling, as the case may
be, and not seldom becomes flushed in the face from exertion. In the
case of development instruction in which, without the help of a text,
the thought is slowly unfolded by means of question and answer, the
teacher is the recognized master of the discussion. She usually
selects the general topic, breaks it into its parts, and then
concentrates her abilities on her questions, endeavoring to make them
short enough not to require too sustained attention, simple enough to
be reasonably easy, and attractive enough to be sure bait. In short,
she exerts herself to the utmost to conceive questions of just the
right size and quality; and, if she is very skillful, her morsels of
knowledge will prove so enticing that they will be swallowed and
digested without pain, and perhaps without conscious effort. In case
lecturing is the method followed, the teacher is still more plainly
the sole producer of thought, it being the mission of the student to
listen, comprehend, and retain.

In each of these cases the teacher is the acknowledged leader. Her
personality, as represented by voice, gesture, and manner, is drawn
upon for stimulus; she gives directions, puts the questions, and makes
the corrections, or sees that they are made. If she is accounted a
good teacher, she is probably more active than her pupils and grows
tired first.

Now, suppose that the teacher drops out and leaves the young person to
attack a similar lesson alone. How is the situation changed? The
purpose in the former case was the assimilation of the facts in the
lesson by the pupil. That is still the purpose. There is, therefore,
no change in that respect.

The method employed in the former case may be assumed to be as fully
in accord with the laws of the pupil's mind as the teacher could make
it. In short, the topic under consideration had to be carefully broken
into its parts, and various keen questions touching the meaning and
value of each had to be conceived in order that they might be
considered and answered. The same mind is still present to be
ministered to, so that, so far as possible, substantially the same
method must be followed. There is, therefore, no important change in
this respect. The purpose and the method in general being the same, it
is clear that the two situations duplicate each other to a large
extent. The same quantity of work must be done, and in practically the
same way.

But there is a very striking difference. When the two studied
together, the teacher not only did a part of the work, but she was the
leader; the pupil was a follower, doing only the subordinate part.
Now, being alone, he must do the principal part, in addition to the
other. He must divide his topic into parts, and conceive all the
questions that are worthy of attention; in brief, he must determine
the course of procedure himself, or take the initiative. Herein is
found the great difference between studying with a teacher and
studying alone, and it is a fundamental one. Capacity for self-
direction or initiation is not necessary in the usual class
instruction; but it becomes indispensable the moment one undertakes
independent study.

_(1) The nature and importance of initiative by the pupil._

This capacity is not simply a matter of knowledge. One person may know
much more than another about the factors involved in a proposed
project, and still be inferior to the other in ability to plan its
execution. It is not simply a matter of boldness, either, nor of
energy, although both of these, as well as knowledge, are necessary
elements. It signifies, in the main, rather a certain power of
invention, or a resourcefulness in planning work, a resourcefulness
that is sure to be exercised, however, only in case the other factors
just mentioned are also present.

Power of initiative is the key to proper study. If different lessons
were mastered in exactly the same manner, it might not be important.
But that is not the case, for every new lesson brings a new situation.
Experienced teachers know that one year of instruction in a certain
study does not free them from the necessity of extensive preparation,
if required to teach the same subject a second year. The discovery of
this fact is one of the serious disappointments of young teachers. The
same holds in study. Every new lesson, every new book, must be
mastered in a way peculiar to itself; each affords a new test of
resourcefulness. Thus the exercise of initiative is a constant and
very important factor in all independent study.

_(2) Why power of initiative cannot be acquired through imitation._

Power of initiative might still prove no source of difficulty, if it
were something that could be acquired mainly by imitation. But there
is the rub the case of the geography class mentioned on page 258 shows
conclusively that the natural tendency of young people to imitate the
example of initiative set by their teachers gives very little
guarantee of the exercise of similar initiative on their part when
studying alone.

And there are plain reasons for this. In the first place, there is the
widest difference between seeing and doing, between theory and
practice in general, so that one may observe an action and still fail
utterly to duplicate it. That is very common. But, in addition, the
power of initiative, being really the "ability to originate or start,"
calls for a good degree of originality and, therefore, lies largely
outside the field of imitation. In the second place, the long-
continued following of a leader, instead of fitting one to lead, may
directly unfit one for that responsibility. In the case of the
geography class it had been the leader who had determined how each
lesson should be attacked; who had exercised resourcefulness in
meeting unexpected obstacles; who had assumed responsibility for
deciding what the crucial questions were, and when the answers were
correct and complete; and who had supplied the energy that made things
"go." Under these circumstances, could it be expected that these
children, in their teacher's absence, would exhibit these same
qualities? Hardly. One does not learn to make an independent plan, to
show resourcefulness, to carry responsibility, and to supply motive
for effort--in brief, to take the initiative--by having some one else
perform these tasks for one. In other words, dependence is not the
preparation for independence. Indeed, great skill on the part of a
teacher in these respects almost precludes such skill on the part of
pupils. If allowed prominence year after year, it so undermines self-
reliance that one's helplessness when alone is greatly increased. The
children of the geography class had had nearly five years of training
in leaning on some one else, so that it was extremely difficult to
make them stand alone. They were like common soldiers especially
trained to obey their officers, yet expected to maintain their former
efficiency when suddenly left without officers. They were even more
helpless in the school-room, in the presence of a leader, than

By overlooking the difference between studying with a leader and
alone, therefore, the teacher overlooks initiative, and in consequence
she not only fails to develop that power, but she may easily undermine
it by accustoming pupils to dependence upon her. Here is one of the
reasons why young people have not been learning to study properly by

_2. Some of the factors of study have also been overlooked by
(1) Examples._

A second reason is that some of the factors of study themselves have
long been neglected or overlooked by teachers, as was stated in a
general way in Chapter I. It is not customary, for example, for
teachers to set up specific objects in their instruction, which shall
furnish motive and be guides in study. Indeed, it is rare except among
some primary teachers. While the supplementing of text is somewhat
common in some subjects, such as literature, any clear notion as to
what should be understood by thoroughness is rare indeed; and
consequently the whole matter of relative values and of organization
is poorly comprehended. Children, and even older students, are not
infrequently reprimanded for presuming to judge the merits of subject-
matter, a fact that plainly indicates how little the importance of
passing on the general worth of ideas is appreciated. Manual training
and a few kindred branches recognize the actual using of ideas as
their endpoint; but no one will assert that they are regarded as types
of other subjects in that respect. Any one will admit that special
provision for the development of a tentative attitude toward facts is
very exceptional; and students are so commonly submerged by their
studies, that there is hardly need to affirm that conscious provision
for the preservation and development of individuality is rare.
Memorizing is the only universally recognized factor in study; and the
supplementing of the author ranks next to it. Whether, aside from
these two, any or all of the other factors receive attention, depends
upon the individual teacher; as a rule they are sadly neglected, or
omitted outright from consideration.

This being true, it is uncommon for students to carry their study
through the three or four stages necessary in the proper assimilation
of knowledge (see p. 203), because these stages are accomplished only
by doing the work involved in these several factors. Very little
knowledge, for instance, is carried over into habit, the fourth stage.
The four fundamental operations in arithmetic and a few facts in
composition and grammar are shining exceptions. Very few teachers have
ever even asked themselves what portions of their different subjects
of instruction should result in habits; whatever habits become
actually established, therefore, are a matter of accident rather than
of intelligent planning by teachers. Every student reaches the third
stage of assimilation with some of his knowledge; that is, he
overhauls it until it is translated into his own experience. But what
a small proportion of all that he learns becomes welded to him, by the
warmth of his feeling for it, so that he forgets where it was obtained
and feels it to be his own! Almost any college student can name whole
courses that he pursued, to which he never warmed up appreciably.

How small this amount is, is suggested by the small quantity that is
carried even through the second stage, where the pupil or student
boldly subordinates both author and teacher to himself and asks what
profit he is getting; where he casts aside as non-essential much of
what is presented, and centers his attention on what seems of real
value to him, to weigh and perhaps reorganize it. Many a student never
consciously reaches this stage, and might be afraid to let his teacher
know the fact if he did. Certainly many a teacher would regard any
exercise of choice by the student, in the subject-matter assigned, as
an act of impertinence. Evidently most study does not carry
assimilation beyond the first stage, in which the crude materials of
knowledge are merely collected. And this not because young people are
lazy and disobedient, but because they are practically taught to stop
there by their teachers. They tell the truth when, recalling practice,
they almost universally declare that studying is mainly memorizing;
and Helen Keller's complaint that she had to study so much that she
did not have time to think, expresses a very common experience.

Even if there were no difficulty in regard to initiative, therefore,
proper methods of study could not be acquired through imitation,
because instruction does not set up a model of study that is worthy of
imitation. Beyond doubt, the method of instruction would duplicate the
method of study if each were right, and thus an example might be put
before the student for him to follow. But there is no such example at
present, and while students are upbraided for not studying properly,
they are furnished no means of learning the right way.

_(2) Why the factors in study have been so neglected by teachers._

The reason for this strange neglect of the factors in study is
probably due principally to the exaggerated importance of the teacher.
Believing in the maxim "As is the teacher, so is the school," we have
placed the center of gravity of the school in the teacher. "The
tendency of the (normal) training school," says President Millis, "is
to make the teacher self-conscious, concerned about her own
performance, about whether she did this or that in the approved way,
whether her voice was properly modulated, whether she utilized
illustrative and supplementary material in due proportion, whether she
followed copy faithfully, whether she got standardized results. The
tendency of supervision is to produce the same attitude of the
teacher. The success of the teacher is graded on her scholarship, her
culture, her standardized attainments, her questioning, her care of
the property, her attitude toward the community and the system, her
sympathy with the supervisor's notions--in short, her pedagogical
ability, which is now made a large factor in determining her ration of
bread and butter, is measured by her performance and her personal
charms." [Footnote: President W.A. Millis, _Training Pupils in the
Art of Study,_ The Educator-Journal, Oct., 1908.] Books dealing
with education show the same trend. There are hundreds of volumes on
method; but they almost invariably tell about what the teacher should
do, that is, they center in the teacher, not in the pupil. No wonder
that teachers come to regard themselves as "the whole thing," and
sometimes act as though educational institutions existed principally
for their benefit.

This exaggeration of the teacher's function has led the teacher
habitually to picture the learner in the presence of a helper; and
with that thought, it has hardly seemed necessary to ask whether or
not the learner should set up specific aims as guiding motives in
study; the teacher would furnish those herself in class, and perhaps
project her influence outside overnight by threats if required. It has
hardly seemed necessary to inquire how the learner would know when his
work was finished, or to what extent he should pass judgment on
thoughts presented, for her questions and other tests would insure
proper thoroughness, and her presence would check unfitting boldness
in judging. It has hardly seemed necessary to consider how far he
should proceed in the mastery of a topic, or how he should avoid being
dogmatic, for she would let him know when the endpoint was reached--if
he did not stop too soon of his own accord--and she would reprove too
positive an attitude. Finally, it has hardly seemed necessary to
enumerate the various ways in which he might protect his
individuality, because such protection has always been regarded as one
of the teacher's prominent duties, and she would offer it as occasion
demanded. Thus, with aid for the pupil always near at hand, the need
of careful investigation into the problems of private study and how
they should be met has not been felt by teachers to be pressing.

But the teacher herself has been at least something of a student while
teaching; and she may have made an extensive study of the learning
process as treated under apperception, attention, induction, and
deduction, interest, etc. How, then, has she escaped a close
acquaintance with the principal factors in study? The answer is that
as a teacher she has always thought of herself as giving aid, and has
never felt the need of examining into her own method of study. Why
should she, if she has never been conscious of any particular weakness
in that respect? In short, she has been too much absorbed in herself
to analyze the problems of independent study to be undertaken by her
pupils, and yet not enough absorbed in herself to investigate her own
study. Her psychology and pedagogy have not been valueless by any
means; but, lacking the imagination to picture her pupils at work
alone, and the sympathy to feel their confusion at such times, she has
not been prompted to make an examination of the requirements they
should meet when separated from her. Like many persons in other
fields, she has been too much interested in the results to consider
the process itself. "She" in this case represents high-school and
college teachers even more than those in the grades. This, at least in
part, explains why the method of individual study has been so

_Changes necessary before young people will learn how to study.
1. Placing the center of gravity of the school in the learner._

The first change to be made, in order that young people may learn how
to study, is to place the center of gravity of the school where it
belongs--in the learner. The great question of method, then, becomes,
How shall one learn? Not, first of all, with the aid of the teacher,
but alone. What are the main tasks that should be performed in private
study, and how should they be accomplished? These questions give the
right point of view by centering attention in the pupil, and for that
reason they are the first questions that teachers and books on method
should consider. Every one will commend the insight of the mother who
said to an instructor, "If you will teach my boy how to prepare his
lessons, I will attend to his reciting." If lessons are properly
prepared, the testing of knowledge will be simple.

The problem of independent study having reached some solution, how to
come to the aid of the independent student, or how to impart
knowledge, follows as a narrower and subordinate question. If the
former has been adequately treated, the latter will introduce few new
psychological points, because a full treatment of method of study will
require a careful consideration of apperception, induction and
deduction, interest, association of ideas, attention, etc. Above all,
it will give a new conception of the meaning and scope of self-
activity. Teaching will then call mainly for a review of such topics,
although from a different and very important view-point.

_2. Modifying the subject-matter of the recitation._

Method of study will then become a large subject for regular
instruction. Even in the kindergarten and the first years of school it
will receive some attention, for that is the time when children begin
to acquire good mental habits or to fall into pernicious ones. Without
making so young pupils fully conscious that they are learning to
study, the teacher will lead them to move their eyes rapidly over the
printed page, so as to read simple stories quickly in silence, and
with good expression orally. This is already done by good teachers.
She will accustom them to responsibility for discovering the bearings
of observations in nature-study, of stories, work in color, etc., on
their home lives, and thus pave the way for collecting knowledge under
guidance of definite aims. She will cultivate in them the power to
fill out the author's picture, until situations are more vividly seen
and felt than now. She will require them to think and talk more
sharply by points, and to use judgment in neglecting really
unimportant details, training their consciences to allow such neglect,
if such training is needed. She will encourage them to pass judgment
on the merits of facts that they learn, while influencing them not to
feel too sure. She will see that they do whatever thinking is to be
done on poems and other matter that is to be memorized before the
memorizing itself is undertaken, so that the important habit of
memorizing through thought, rather than without it, shall begin to be
firmly fixed. She will lead them to understand that they are not
through with the study of topics until the ideas have been used in
some way, perhaps many times. And, particularly, she will put forth
effort to keep them natural in whatever they do and say, reasonably
contented with their abilities, and self-reliant. While most of such
instruction will be incidental, a portion of many a recitation will be
directly occupied in this way.

By the time the fifth year of school has been reached the principal
facts concerning each of the prominent factors of study can be talked
about freely, as so much definitely understood knowledge, and the
children can be expected to apply them in their various studies. Many
a whole recitation can be spent in supplementing authors' statements,
in determining principal thoughts, and in doing many other things
suggested in the preceding pages, the teacher directly emphasizing
such things as essential parts of proper study, and requiring them in
the preparation of lessons. Many a whole recitation, also, may be
occupied in discussing how lessons have been prepared, the teacher not
seldom presenting her own way in detail and allowing her pupils to
compare theirs with it. Abstract theory about method of study will
thus be avoided.

Perhaps, most of all, the teacher will fix upon the second stage of
study (p. 204) as the crucial point in method, in which the children
select what seems of real value to them and let the rest go. Of course
they will often err, and then it will devolve upon the teacher to show
the value of what they have rejected. If she cannot do that, either
her mind or the curriculum will need to be improved. While this seems
a grave responsibility to place upon pupils of the elementary school,
It must be remembered that they should know how to study by the time
they complete that course; and they cannot possibly learn how, without
dealing boldly with values,--the values of facts in comparison with
one another, or relative values, and their values to the self, or
general values. We have long wanted young people to know how to study,
without allowing them choice among ideas, that is, without placing
them in the conditions that would permit it. The fact that during the
later years of the elementary school children must choose almost daily
outside of school between good and bad literature as presented in
books, periodicals, and newspapers, and that they actually select and
reject freely in their own reading, shows how normal it is to do such
work in school, and how important it is to make it prominent.

Method of study will then have precedence over other aims of the
school, even ranking above the acquisition of other knowledge.
Possibly as much as one-fourth of all the school time might be devoted
primarily to this problem, although within that period much subject-
matter in the studies would also be mastered.

While children completing the curriculum of the elementary school
might then be well enough acquainted with the general principles of
study, in their practical applications, to stop the customary
complaints of teachers and parents in that regard, method of study
would still be far from mastered. For, besides the general principles,
there are special principles peculiar to each branch of knowledge,
just as there are both general and special methods of teaching. Proper
study of arithmetic, for example, does not fully include the method of
studying algebra, to say nothing of grammar; neither does the method
in algebra duplicate that in geometry; nor the method in English, that
in Latin; nor the method in Latin that in French. As each new branch
is begun, therefore, two or three weeks might need to be spent
primarily in considering how it should be studied, and now and then,
later, an hour should be occupied in the same way.

Topics in learning to study that are too broad for the limits of any
particular branch would need to be taught from time to time. For
instance, the use of the table of contents, or of the index of a book,
of the library catalogue, of encyclopedias and other reference works,
should become familiar in the elementary school, as well as some facts
about taking and preserving notes. In high school and college further
systematic instruction would be needed on the finding of articles and
books treating of certain topics, on the keeping of notes, possibly to
the extent of establishing a card catalogue for them, and on the
general use of a library. Some attention to methods of study would be
in place, therefore, even in college.

On the whole, the content of the regular school period would be
considerably modified. Study periods, both supervised and independent,
devoted either to method of study or to subject-matter, would be far
more common; and, while the reproduction of facts would still be
necessary, it need not be the dominant feature of the school; for
improved methods of study, or better thinking, would render much of
the mere testing of the presence of facts, such as we now have,
superfluous. Study periods, or, preferably, thinking periods, as the
name in the regular school program, would then be recognized as more
fitting than recitation; the latter is a belittling name.

_3. Modifying the method of the recitation._

Finally, in order that initiative, good judgment, and even skill, may
be acquired in applying the principles of study, young people must do
a much larger part of the work in class than has been customary.
President Millis's statements are again eminently sound, when he
declares: "It is what the pupil can do, not what the teacher can do,
that counts. He may be fascinated by the brilliant performances of his
teacher, he may be pulled and pushed about under a skillful cross-
examination, he may manipulate apparatus, he may see the wheels go
round and round, and come out of it all with little actual gain of
power to do things for himself or for others. There is more than a
little danger that we have carried the refinements of teaching to the
extreme of defeating its proper ends....A college professor of my
acquaintance was criticised by a student for carrying the ball too
much in class! No coach ever built up a winning team by carrying the
ball himself. The pupil must be active. He must carry the ball. He
must ask and answer questions. He must make as well as solve problems.
He must be in the game himself, if he is to learn to play the game. He
must be independently productive. He must learn to do things for
himself, in a way which he has adopted for himself." [Footnote: Ibid]

Children and older students, therefore, must become accustomed to
taking the initiative and doing the other work of study in class, if
they are to do these things outside.

One day when reading Hawthorne's story of The Gorgon's Head with a
fourth-year class, the writer stopped at an interesting point and
asked, "Do you ever stop to talk over what you read? Or do you always
'go on' and 'keep going on'?" "We always go right on," replied
several. "We sometimes stop," said a few, among whom was Eddie. "Very
well," said I, "let us stop here a moment to talk. What have you to
say, Eddie?" "O, _we_ don't talk; the _teacher_ does the talking,"
said he, with a most nonchalant air. What likelihood was there that
that class, after their four years of school training, would show a
fair degree of independence in their study of literature, if their
teacher were suddenly struck dumb?

It is a matter of rather frequent remark that children accustomed to
lively participation in class discussion under a skillful teacher too
often experience a disappointing relapse the moment the teacher
absents herself. The peculiar stimulus being gone, they not only fail
to rise to the occasion by conceiving such questions as she might ask;
but even after the questions are put, they are overcome by a strange
mental lassitude and make little response. The stimulus to work must
come from within rather than from without, if one's state is to be

Furthermore, just as the children must do a larger part of the work in
class, the teacher must do less. One follows as a consequence of the
other. The old-fashioned country school neglected its pupils so much
that knowledge was poorly digested. The modern school very naturally
proposes to correct that evil. Accordingly, the "good teacher" of to-
day lives very close to her children. In many a school she does not
leave them to themselves five minutes in a whole day. With her keen
eye she detects their very state of mind, and by the sharpest of
questions reveals their slightest error. As a result, their knowledge
is much more thorough than it used to be, more of it is acquired, and
it is acquired with less effort.

But, meanwhile, new evils have crept in. The teacher, in spite of her
better preparation, is working harder than ever, much too hard. She
does more thinking in class than any one of her pupils, and more
talking than all of them put together. At the same time, she is
undermining their independence. The old-fashioned school, by leaving
the pupil alone a good share of the time, threw him upon his own
resources enough to develop a fair degree of self-reliance. It
possessed the merit at least of not preventing the exercise of
independence. The modern school, by providing a helper close at hand
every moment, tends in the opposite direction. The gain on the whole
is questionable.

The good of the old must be preserved while the added good of the new
is realized. The wise teacher of the future, therefore, will do more
for her children than lead them to learn rapidly and thoroughly; she
will endeavor to develop their self-reliance and judgment in study and
in other matters just as far as possible. For this end she will, more
often than at present, plan to act merely as chairman of discussion,
rather than as leader of it and an active participant in it. She will
induce her pupils to study aloud before her, particularly to take such
initial steps as lie plainly within their power. She will offer
suggestions from time to time, but not to the extent of depriving them
of responsibility for determining the main questions and answering
them. The longer she instructs a class, the less talking she will do,
because they, having grown more resourceful and independent, will be
able to do it themselves, it being one of her objects to show them how
they can get along without her. She will prove most useful when she is
least needed. But her presence will still be necessary, for, while she
will no longer have to prod them every moment by questions, her
testing will always be important, and her greater maturity of
knowledge will render her suggestions and criticisms always valuable.

The art of teaching will then consist not only in ability to present
ideas but also in ability to keep still. That is by no means a small
task. Under many circumstances it is not difficult to hold one's
tongue. But when a teacher is confronted by a class in which every one
has the duty of saying something, it is either painful or ridiculous
if no one says anything. It is then that the poor teacher is obliged
to talk much in order to "keep things going." The really good teacher
is the one who understands the secret of delegating responsibility to
her pupils, and not the least of her rewards is the fact that she is
allowed to rest her voice.

_Home study_

The first condition to be met in regard to home study is to assign
only such work as the pupils are known by the teacher to be able to do
rightly, and without too great physical strain. With the attention to
method of study that has been urged, this condition can be easily met.
That means, however, that many a topic cannot be assigned for the home
as it is approached, for it will first require some consideration at
school. Thus the home study of a lesson will very often follow rather
than precede its study at school.

The assignment of lessons merely by pages is now often decried, and
justly, because it leaves the child so utterly without a guide as to
method. But, when method of study has been properly taught, such an
assignment would often be fitting. The responsibility would then fall
upon the pupil of determining what it was good for, of selecting and
reorganizing the principal parts, etc.; but he could meet that
responsibility because he would understand what things he was to do
and would know how to do them.

Parents should not be expected to take a hand in teaching their
children how to study, for that is altogether too large a task, and
involves too much special preparation. If they observe that a child
does not know how, they would better leave him alone, directing him to
apply to his teacher for instruction. Parents are more bent upon
obtaining results and getting rid of their children--so far as school
work is concerned--than are teachers, so that the duties assigned to
them should be few and of a simple character.

There are some important things for parents to do, however. They
should take pains to provide proper physical surroundings for home
study, including quiet, proper light and temperature. They should
exert an influence in the direction of regular hours, of a short
period of relaxation immediately before and after meals and before
bedtime, and of some variety of occupation during the longer periods
of study, so that fatigue may be avoided. In addition, they should
stimulate their children by bringing pressure to bear on the lazy
ones, by "hearing lessons" now and then, and, above all, by asking
questions that call for a review of facts as well as for their use in
conversation. They may give some help; but, if they do, they should by
all means avoid falling into disputes about method. The child is right
in preferring to do a thing in the teacher's way, for it is to the
teacher that he is finally responsible; and parents ought to be broad
enough to try to follow the teacher's plan. They can help their
children most by showing concern for them, really inspecting their
written work instead of merely pretending to, and otherwise
manifesting genuine interest in their tasks.

_Are children capable of the initiative necessary for independent

Two questions remain to be considered, the first of which pertains to
initiative. If independent study requires that one practically
duplicate the work of the teacher by teaching one's self, can children
in the elementary school be expected to study alone, or can they even
be trained to it? Much power of initiative is rare even among adults.
Much of the instruction of teachers themselves is poor owing to a lack
of independent thinking. What success, then, can come to children when
they are sent off to study their lessons in private?

In reply, it is safe to say that they can be so trained, provided they
have some native capacity for self-reliance that can be used as a
basis for such training. And that they have such capacity can scarcely
be questioned. In their choice and leadership of games and other play;
in their plans for constructive work; in their serious tasks set by
themselves at home; in their selection of topics for conversation and
even in the turns that their remarks take, children plainly show power
of initiative.

Intelligent parents recognize this fact, and they not infrequently
take successful measures to cultivate this power. Kindergartners also
recognize it. Indeed, they expect children who are little more than
infants to propose suitable tasks, together with the method of their
execution, in the kindergarten, and to carry the responsibility of
leadership in the conversation of the "circle" and in the games. The
resourcefulness of a ten-year-old boy was recently suggested in a
certain class in composition. The subject that they were writing on
was Mining in the Far West, and spelling was a serious obstacle for
one youth, as it was for most of his mates. Finally, with apparent
innocence, he asked his teacher if he might not describe his
experiences as a miner in the miner's own dialect. On receiving her
consent he gloried in his freedom by misspelling nearly every word
that he used.

Evidently, latent power of self-direction is one of the "native
tendencies" of childhood. The statement may be ventured, also, that
while the field of experience of children is very different from that
of adults, the exercise of initiative within that field is as common
among children as it is among adults within their own field.

There is, therefore, a good basis in children for assuming the
initiative. But it is only a basis. Unless this native tendency toward
self-direction is carefully developed in connection with the studies
in school, from year to year, it will of course prove inadequate to
the demands of proper study. And that very often happens. In spite of
the fact that schools exist for the sake of education, there is many a
school whose pupils show a peculiar "school helplessness"; that is,
they are capable of less initiative in connection with their school
tasks than they commonly exhibit in the accomplishment of other tasks.
In its quest for knowledge the school may thus easily prove inferior
to the street and the average home in the development of this
extremely valuable power.

On the other hand, if children's native capacity for taking initiative
has been carefully developed, well-selected subjects of study need
make no excessive demands upon them. The topics to be considered will
be found so nearly within their experience that their ability to study
alone will be taxed only to a normal degree. Children, therefore, can
be expected to exercise the initiative that is necessary for
independent study from year to year, provided their teachers from year
to year do their duty in developing that power.

_Is there time for teaching how to study?_

Finally, even though children be capable of learning to study alone,
is there time for such instruction, particularly if it is to be the
primary object throughout possibly a quarter of the elementary-school
time, and during a considerable time later? Is not the curriculum
already full enough, indeed full to completion? While it is true that
it has begun to be reduced by the selection of only such matter as
bears a plain relation to our lives, as can be understood by the
learner, and as constitutes some part of a large topic, when such
reduction has been completed there may still remain twice as much as
ought to be taught. Shall we, then, even while making these
eliminations, make additions that may more than equal them?

The addition here proposed is not so alarming. For a long time some of
our university departments of physics have aimed rather to teach the
scientific method in laboratory investigations than to impart a
knowledge of the facts in physics; and some of our departments of
practical politics have been more concerned about the method of
investigating political problems than about the conclusions reached
concerning them. In such cases the acceptance of proper method as the
primary purpose has not precluded the acquisition of much subject-
matter, for the method has been taught through the subject-matter. The
same would hold in teaching proper method of study.

But, aside from that, attention to proper method of study will result
in greatly reducing, rather than in increasing, the work of both
teacher and pupil, and in two ways.

First, it will reduce the quantity of subject-matter. It is strange
that, in spite of the hue and cry of teachers and superintendents
against overcrowding in the elementary school, they are really the
ones who make out the course of study, and there are no persons back
of them requiring them to include a large amount. Beyond a minimum
portion of the three R's, spelling, and geography, which are required
by society, almost anything and everything could be omitted if they
greatly desired it. But they have forced young people to study in much
the same way as they themselves visit European countries, straining to
get a bird's-eye view of everything, and settling on nothing long
enough to know it intimately and to enjoy it deeply. They justify
Herbert Spencer's remark to the effect that he would have known no
more than a great many other persons, if he had read as many books as
they had.

The difficulty has been that teachers, with the center of gravity of
the school within themselves, have lacked a standard for determining
their pupils' normal rate of advance. The curriculum that they have
outlined has been merely the sum of those things that they have deemed
good, that they would like to have the children know; and the children
have been set to work to consume all these good things, just like

With the center of gravity in the child, however, and with the proper
method of study in the lead, the learner's real power of assimilation
becomes the standard for his rate of advance. And, since assimilation
is a very slow process, including much discrimination among ideas as
well as their use, comparatively few topics can be undertaken.
Appreciation of proper study then makes extensive eliminations so
evidently necessary that they become compulsory. So long as we did not
look closely at the minds of children, and they seemed to thrive
physically, we have lacked proof that they were surfeiting; attention
to study reveals the fact too plainly for it to be ignored.

It is not merely the teacher, either, that will be emboldened to cast
aside subject-matter. The pupil himself, under the influence of
specific purposes, a clear notion of thoroughness, and his own
conception of values, will quickly pass over many of the facts that
are assigned in his lessons. If he pays little attention to a full
half of any school text that possesses literary merit, he will
probably not be far in the wrong. For perspective is essential in all
presentation of thought, and there are usually as many things in the
background, necessary and yet to be ignored, as there are in the

Besides reducing the amount of matter to be studied, proper method of
studying will further relieve both teacher and pupil from overwork by
eliminating much friction in the process of study. The want of axle
grease on a wagon does not increase the actual weight of a ton of
coal, but it makes the pulling a lot harder; likewise, awkward methods
of study do not increase the curriculum in fact, but they do in
effect, by making progress slower and more taxing. There are hosts of
young people who are willing and are trying to be studious, who do not
know how. They, as well as the lazy ones, have to be dragged along by
their teachers, and it is this dragging more than the thinking that
exhausts them all. It is the discouragement resulting from this
condition that drives many pupils out of school and many teachers into
matrimony. While numerous things compete with it as a source of waste
in education, unnecessary friction in method of study is probably the
greatest source of waste; and it is as foolish to ignore the fact
longer as it would be for a manufacturer to refuse to oil and repair
his machinery.

There is no question, therefore, about the advisability of taking time
to teach proper method of study. In spite of helpful reductions in the
curriculum from other sources, we must look to proper method of study
as the principal means by which work for both the teacher and the
pupil will be made lighter, more effective, and more enjoyable.


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