NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN EDUCATION.
Address by Mr. J. L. Hughes, Public School Inspector of Toronto, before the Empire Club of Canada, on Thursday, November 2nd, 1905:
Mr. President and Friends,--
When asked rather suddenly to address you today I responded that if I could be of any service to the Club of which I have the honour to be a member, I should be glad. I chose for a title a subject which we might speak on for a great many hours, if we had the time at our disposal. All departments of life have been developing during -the last twenty years, the last ten years, even the last five years; the Medical, Legal, and even the Ministerial departments have been making progress. I remember when, about fifteen years ago, in this City it was proposed to introduce the trolley service and one man, who was afterwards Mayor of the City, objected to it because he said if they erected the trolley wires they would shut out the sun at noonday. That man holds a very prominent position now in connection with the Street Railway. The world moves on. A little over 100 years ago there were 223 crimes for which the criminal might be hanged. We have been making progress in all departments.
It would, therefore; be strange if the Educational department of the, world were not making progress. I think while it is quite proper at this gathering .to discuss matters relating to the Empire we should occasionally discuss educational questions. In our own City we have had for thirty years one institution which I think is of vital interest and of great consequence in the development of the Empire, in the establishment of the true relation between the young men of the Empire and the Empire as a whole. I refer to our cadet work in the schools. If you saw us on Empire Day you would see we had forty-nine companies of well-drilled boys in line. Not that we wish to train them to dislike their neighbours, but to develop the best elements of young manhood, to train them so that they are able to carry themselves properly. I do not believe it is possible to develop the body without at the same time developing the mind and .the moral nature. Then we have also another element. During the week before Empire Day every child in our City from the kindergarten to the highest class makes the Union Jack from the crosses that compose that Union Jack-St. George's Cross, St. Andrew's Cross and the St. Patrick's Cross; and they are shown how to combine these into our Union Jack so that they may understand the meaning of it.
My subject is " New Developments in Education." We have a great many of these during the last twenty years, and they all centre around one thought, one element of development and that is a higher, a truer, a broader recognition of the child himself and of his individual power, of his selfhood, his soulhood or whatever you choose to call it. That is really the ground-work on which all the true development that is being brought about in the school rests. We may classify the developments into three departments for a little more definite exposition. First, the development that has come in the training of children; second, the development that has come in our programmes of study; and, third, the development in our methods of teaching. All these departments of evolution rest on the same fundamental element of self-activity of the child; the development of that which we call the individuality or selfhood of the child.
What are the changes that have come in the last few years? Since Froebel introduced the kindergarten system into the world-because he was the man who gave us the central thought that now dominates all education from the kindergarten to the university-in training we have made several steps in advance. The old training was chiefly along the lines of " don'ting "; the most important word in our training system was " don't " or " quit " or " stop." Now the word for training is " do." All children as soon as they manifest themselves to us, as soon as they are able to move around reveal three distinct fundamental tendencies. First, they love to do things; that is the deepest love of their nature. Deeper than even the love of mother is that love and more essential for the development of child life. We all reverence our mothers. As soon as the child can-come in contact with two things it changes the relationship or the condition of these two things. We used to allow the child to get into the parlour and transform conditions there. We called the child bad names because we were foolish enough to let him have an environment that was not appropriate to his stage of development.
The child not only loves to do things, but the things he plans himself. That was clearly intended to be so. Those are the things that develop the child. God made him original and creative. We have made him imitative because we have taken away that tendency to do the things he plans himself. And the child had still a higher tendency and that was to do things in harmony and co-operation with other people. That little boy loves to work with his chums in the play-house and with his father in the garden. The little girl loves to work with her mother. All children love to do things they plan themselves and to do things in co-operation with other people. Those are the central elements of higher Christian character and that help to raise the child in his progress from stage to stage in his evolution. These are the elements that tend to true development. Children ought to grow more rapidly under true conditions, but the fact that most children lose these elements to a very large degree and all children to a certain degree proves that the old method of training was not a true method of training and so we have changed from "don't" to "do."
Our purpose from the first time a child comes to the kindergarten is to give him things to do which will be interesting to him to do and which will give him an opportunity to plan for himself in the doing. Not that we shall do the planning, but that he shall himself to a very considerable degree have a right to do the planning and so far as possible to have the different pupils of the class cooperate in producing things and in transforming conditions. We are of little use to the world unless we are transforming the conditions of our environment. Every man and woman should be a transformer. Every child is. So we are trying to give the child power to transform by giving him the opportunity. Then we have changed from the old plan in another way. The old idea of training was from without in. Froebel's revelation was that we should train from within out. In our life the self-hood, the soul-hood should dominate the outer environment and as I do transform my outer environment as boy or man I am growing. Not by what I take in is my life enlarged, but by what I transform in my own inner life in harmony with that life, and having developed and added it to my life I transform my environment. That is what enables me to be a greater man today than yesterday and tomorrow than today.
Then we have new ideals in modern times of what obedience means. It has been interpreted to mean simply subordination-subordination of the child to the adult. Any soul that is consciously subordinate to another is always dwarfed, whether child to the adult or wife to the husband or the devotee to the principles of any denomination, in the east or west, the north or south. The human soul should not be consciously subordinate to another human soul. I should stand in direct relationship to the divine and as I do and get a revelation of the divine and, if I do as I pray, then my duty is to be true to the law of that divine. So we are not interpreting in modern times the idea of obedience to mean subordination. We want obedience, even the kind of the good woman that we have heard about. Perhaps you have read how the Minister came to see her and she was not quite ready to receive him and she left Tommy, her little eight-year-old boy, to receive the Minister. He said: " I suppose Thomas you obey your mother," and he said, " Yes, I guess I do, and so does Pa." (Laughter.) If we cannot have a higher or better kind than that we ought to have that.
But the true ideal of obedience is not subordination of one soul to another, it is not even the co-operation of that child with me; it is not the willingness of that child to do the thing I plan for him. In that case he is not getting the development, he is not getting true soul development which will make him a great strong Canadian by and by. He is getting the mechanical development. So we are trying now to raise the child above that and raise the ideal of obedience above that. Not obedience to me simply, but a recognition of law, a reverence for law which I shall develop into a consciousness of the law of his being and a consciousness of the relation of the law of God to his own life. Those are the laws we wish the child to be obedient to and in that regard I wish to say I have never known a boy who was not as reverently obedient to me as he ought to be if I have a proper reverence for him. Each boy has returned to me frankly and squarely as much reverence as I gave him; and the modern educational idea does not demand from the boy any more reverence for the adult than the adult gives- to the boy. It is that recognition of the child and the soul-hood of the child and the majesty of that soul-hood which has revolutionized all methods not only of training but teaching.
Then we have also the attitude towards the law itself. Law has been altogether restrictive in its application to the child. We are trying to make it directive, to make it guide the child instead of stopping the child from doing things. The little boy in Boston whose Father came to him and asked him in the evening, " Tom, what have you been doing today?" and to whom Tom replied, " I have not been doing anything, I have been don'ting all day for mother," is a type of. the old style of training. These three great central elements instead of giving inspiration and guidance under the old law were restrictive and not directive. We have a new ideal of what self-control means. The old ideal was that I should keep away from bad things. That was training of the boy merely negatively. Surely that is a small ideal, a poor ideal, for the training of a being created in the image of God. The new ideal of selfcontrol is not the control I get over myself to keep me back from doing the thing I ought not to do, but positive self-control which should train me so that I have control over my powers to do things I ought to do.
I think the churches used to err a little in preaching so much about my responsibility for the evil I did. Of course, I am responsible for it, but there is no great strong practical development in that ideal. Development comes to me from the idea that I am responsible for the good I ought to do. We desire a positive self-control, the control of my intellectual and spiritual powers that guides me towards achievement of things I know to be true. Then the whole change, the fundamental change in the training of children has been from what we used to call coercion and what we still call coercion to self-activity. All coercive processes, whatever they may be, should be tested by their influence on the three great central tendencies in human power and character. Does coercion make a boy do more, or do the things he plans himself more, or co-operate with his fellows more? Coercion is restrictive, not inspirational, and so the modern educator has less faith in coercion of all types and especially in the coarsest type of coercion which we call corporal punishment.
We have made rapid development in training in Toronto and yet we are behind. You may have noticed a few days ago a statement that the new Minister of Education in Austria has issued an order that any teacher who inflicts corporal punishment shall be instantly dismissed. In France, Italy, Finland, Switzerland and in Brazil and South America no corporal punishment is allowed at all. We are not ahead of the world. In New Jersey, the Cities of Chicago, New York, Toledo, Cleveland, Syracuse, Albany, Philadelphia, Washington and Savannah, there is no corporal punishment; and in those great cities, New York and Chicago, where they have probably the most difficult children to manage in all America, at any rate, they have no corporal punishment. I had the pleasure of being present at a School Board meeting in New York City last January when it was- proposed that corporal punishment should be allowed under certain conditions in New York and I was delighted that the great majority voted against such a retrograde step. In London, England, the Principals only are allowed to punish and they have to enter a record in a book of the nature and cause of the punishment. (A voice-Are children of the United States any better than ours?)
MR. HUGHES.--If any of you have been in the schools of Chicago and New York you will find those children are more respectful, that they are more obedient, if you like, than our children in our schools. I would like any one who has not done that to visit at any time these schools. The best, and most respectful, and most energetic children in our schools in Toronto, are those whose teachers never use corporal punishment. Any of you may go with me at any time and I will call the teacher out of the room without the children knowing where he has gone, and after he has been out half an hour I will let you go on tiptoe to the room and see whether those children are not as good as they are when he or she is in the room. We do not need to go abroad to find the effect of discipline. I may be asked the question, is it not possible under certain circumstances for corporal punishment to do some good? I answer that question most frankly, yes, but I state also I am prepared to prove it is the poorest of all agencies to produce that effect. It produces less effect than any of the good agencies we adopt. I have not time to discuss the question any further today except just to say this, that the leaders in Europe and North and South America agree that if a man has to resort to corporal punishment it is an evidence that he or she has not studied fully his own powers or 'the powers of the child. Surely there are other elements in that being created in the image of God higher than mere fear and which may be touched to stimulate that soul-hood to grow towards the divine. We will leave the question of training and inquire what changes have come in the matter of programme? A great many, and for the same reasons that were given for the other-in order that children may have their soul-hood developed and in order that they may get the education a little more practically. That is the new ideal. We need to have an education which makes the children executive and gives them a little more practical education. Then we have made changes in the programme in order that we may kindle all the boys and girls of our schools. Many children can be kindled by literature; there are far more who can not be. Some children may be kindled by art, some by music, some by science--all these are valuable--and some even by mathematics. " Kindle " is the greatest educational word in the language for the teacher. If we kindle the boy in the centre of his power that is the best thing we can ever do for him.
More may be kindled by manual training than can be kindled by any other study. A good many can be kindled by nature study who could not be kindled by any other study. Some children do not like books. Some men do not like books as others like them. We always in the old days made a boy a bookish boy and if he didn't take to books and learn them we called him stupid. Some of the most brilliant fellows of our age were stupid at books. We wondered at that. We did not give the boy an opportunity to be kindled at the centre of his power. The mechanical boy has a right to be kindled as well as the boy who is literary in his tastes. We have introduced all these new subjects in order that the children of our classes may be kindled at the centre of their power. They have a practical application boys in Manual Training and girls in Domestic Science. In the Universities now, these matters have secured recognition.
In connection with the Toronto University your daughters may take a course in the high schools which will enable them to take a degree mainly based on Musical work. In connection with the University we are also to have a Domestic Science department. We have the element of engineering, two departments, so that our Manual Training School leads up to the Technical School and then on to the engineering department of the University. We are going to have, I hope, a complete Art department in the University. One University in America has gone so far as to start a course to give a degree for young ladies in Kindergarten Philosophy; of course, broadening in other subjects as well. Whatever we mean by introducing these new departments, no educator thinks the old culture should be disregarded. We wish more of that if possible and we wish more of that which is special. But we are building up these other departments so that the self-hood of the boy or girl may have the opportunity of being kindled by those departments which touch their lives as literature in the old days could never do.
What are we doing in regard to changes in methods of teaching? They are based on the same ground-work or the same philosophy. When we were boys the teacher stood at the desk and talked to us and we listened. We passed to another stage when the teacher showed us diagrams and maps and we said that was a great development. We passed to another stage when we made those diagrams and that was a great advance because we saw the thing really produced. We took another step in advance when the teacher stood in all the subjects where it was possible to do so and performed an experiment and we looked at him and learned the lesson as well as we could. There is no school satisfied today with that as the highest step of objective work. Every boy and every girl performs their own experiments. Another change is in giving a great deal more choice. In the old days every boy had the same kind of home work. We don't ask for that now. The boy should do chiefly the work he loves to do in his home work; he should have the right to choose, himself, very largely the work he has to do at home. They will do a great deal more of it and do it more joyously in that way. In the old days the teacher used to ask every boy to prepare the same lesson in reading. It is far better to say to the boy, take the lesson you love best or choose the stanza that means most to you and read that tomorrow and tell us why you love that best. We wish to give him a consciousness of his own individuality so that he may know he means something in the world. So in art work, we do not ask all the boys to try to draw trees, flowers or horses. We train them to do all this, but we say to the boy, choose in this city the most beautiful spire or the most beautiful tower and draw that and tell us next week why you chose that; or limit it to the best Greek or best Roman or best Norman architecture; so that he may go through the city looking for that thing; the best entry to a doorway, the best staircase, the best building of any kind. So that each one chooses. Or if the children are to draw trees, we say, choose the tree you love best of all trees and draw that tree. We do this to give them power of choice.
That is true in regard to composition. We used to ask all children to write on the same subject. We dared to choose the subject for the little child to write about. Each child should write on the theme he loves best. So while we give them all the same training in the school we do not ask them all to write on the same theme. Some of them will write on Spring, but they all had to write on Spring in the old days; and once or twice a year they all had to write on War or Intemperance. The child should choose the theme that touches his own life most. So all through the work we try to give them a greater degree of choice. Not that they shall choose whether they will take Grammar or Arithmetic or any of the studies in the lower grades, but we give them the choice within the law, of liberty under law. One of the fundamental ideals of our new education is that it is for the purpose of developing in each child a consciousness of his own tastes, his own tendencies and his own powers, and also that his father and mother and teacher may become conscious of that power, so that they may reveal to him what department of life-work he ought to take up when he leaves the school.