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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/58

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48
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SECONDARY SCHOOL PROGRAMMES-FRENCH AND AMERICAN.
By GEORGE W. BEAMAN.

THE general subject of American secondary school programmes has been of late years a most prolific one. What with the relative or particular importance of the mother-tongue, classical studies, history, modern languages, and, more recently, manual training, the educational essayist has been rather embarrassed by the multitude of the topics presented him. As the result of much discussion, contention, and wordy warfare, we have, however, to-day, certain secondary school programmes, generally speaking quite similar in their character, marking in a more or less defined manner the routes along which our boys are traveling on their respective journeys to college, to scientific school, or to practical business life. While there is to be noted a decided advance and improvement in pedagogical methods in our secondary schools within the last few decades, it yet remains true that no intelligent reader of the programmes, as exhibited in the catalogues of our leading endowed fitting schools, and public grammar and high schools, can fail to be struck by a certain lack of co-ordination, system, and, in most instances, by an apparent want of a genuine appreciation of the real demands that the present age makes upon modern secondary schools. Once outside the old fixed limits of the classics, there is to be observed much disagreement among the schools themselves, both as to the proper subjects to be included in the programme and the relative time to be devoted to the studies that are placed in the school curriculum. When comparison of these programmes with those of other countries is made, we have at once afforded us a most striking exemplification of how far we still are in this country from any well-defined consensus as to what the modern secondary school programme really should be. In view of the revolutionary period through which the schools have been passing during the past thirty years, this is perhaps hardly to be wondered at. The broadening of the college requirements for entrance, largely brought about by the demands of a public sentiment, no longer fully satisfied with purely mediƦval curricula, has in itself served to call for many modifications of the secondary schools' programme. With Harvard and Johns Hopkins opening their doors to students unequipped with the traditional Greek, there has of course arisen a demand for preparation in other prerequisites which have necessarily been substituted for Greek. In response to the general outcry for them, the courses in modern languages, in the mother-tongue, history, and