tainly contains a great deal that we have not before seen in the literature of school reform. Candid readers, familiar with current school ideals and practices, will see, we think, that Colonel Parker is working from a stand-point of his own, and that his view of the situation is not the generally recognized one.
The fashion of modern educational reformers has been to exalt "method" above all other things. Normal pupils have been trained early and late in methods of teaching. To the acquirement of method they have given long practice, under sharp criticism. And the practical issue of all this drill has too often been a kind of teaching which has at once fallen to the level of dead routine. The method, mechanically acquired, has been mechanically applied. Colonel Parker evidently sees this. With him methods are nothing without competent teachers; and competent teachers evolve their own methods. The "talks" in this volume are mostly of the underlying psychological principles that should shape methods, and rarely of special practices. He reiterates his warning to teachers against imitation. Teaching, with him, is a vital intercourse between the mind of the teacher and the mind of the scholar. It is in his greater reliance upon the guidance of principles, and the personal activity of the teacher, working on his own hook independently of anybody's method, that Colonel Parker's claim seems to us to consist.
He has unusual insight into mental phenomena, lie is a student of psychology, with an intuitive tendency to seek the causes of things. Further than this, he has strong sympathy with childhood, and these combined traits give originality to his work as a teacher. They make him a reformer of the reformers. He sees through the barren formulas and absurdities that have frequently replaced the old-fashioned school routine.
His sense of the inanity of prevailing practices is often seen in these pages. For instance, in speaking of so-called analytical teaching, he gives the following familiar example of recitation in arithmetic:
Teacher.—"If one apple costs three cents, what will four apples cost?"
Child.—"If one apple costs three cents, four apples will cost four times as many cents as one apple will cost. Therefore, four apples will cost four times three cents. Four times three cents are twelve cents. Therefore, if one apple costs three cents, four apples will cost twelve cents."
Colonel Parker adds: "I think I have not put in all the words that can be put into this complex and useless explanation. If the previous work has been correct, all the child needs to say is, 'twelve cents,' and go on performing a dozen examples, instead of agonizing over this one."
By "previous work" Colonel Parker means the early study of numbers, which should be "by bringing the mind to bear directly upon the relations of things. . . . As well might we try to teach the facts in botany without plants, in zoology without animals, form without form, and color without colors, as to teach number without numbers of objects. All primary ideas of numbers and their relations must be obtained immediately through the senses, and by their repeated limitations as numbers of things, as to how many. . . . From repeated tests, given by myself and by teachers under my supervision, the average child of five or six years of age does not know three when he enters the school-room. . . . Ability to count," says Colonel Parker, "must not be confounded with the knowledge of numbers. Knowing a number is, first, knowing the equal numbers that make it up; second, the equal parts of a number; and, third, any two unequal numbers in a number and any two unequal numbers that make it up. This applies to numbers from one to twenty, and is learned by experiments with things. I have tried during the last eleven years to teach numbers to little folks, and I have never succeeded in teaching, nor have I seen ten really taught, during the first year. By using language without regard to what it expresses, fifty or one hundred may be taught; i. e., the child, by unceasing drill, may repeat gibberish that seems to be knowledge to the casual observer. Ask him to verify his statement by showing the real relations among things, and you find he has been repeating an unknown language."
Colonel Parker's criticisms upon much that goes as object-teaching are equally trenchant and thorough-going. With him,