Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/69

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SECONDARY SCHOOL PROGRAMMES.

centage of the latter to the whole course is less than on the classical side.

From the data here given it seems clear that if we are to hope to pnt our schools on anything like an equality with those of France, to say nothing of those of other civilized countries of the world, certain modifications of our school programmes have certainly to be made. First and foremost among those changes there would seem to be indicated a need for a certain specialization of our school courses with reference to the different demands made upon the schools by different classes of pupils. That our schools of primary and secondary grade, as they stand to-day, do not respond to the varied requirements of American society, seems quite obvious. The complaint of President Eliot sufficiently indicates their shortcomings, so far as a preparation for college is concerned. For many years professors and teachers at scientific and technical schools have mourned the dearth of preparatory schools that should give them pupils not handicapped by great deficiencies in training of the powers of observation. Business men are quite unanimous in their belief that the schools do not afford a satisfactory training for commercial pursuits, while he who runs may read their many deficiencies for the constantly increasing class of pupils whose period of school life terminates in the grammar grade.

The main cause of the present stage of development of the school system is not so deeply hidden that one has to search long for it. The average American school programme at the present time is simply a living illustration of a development, on American lines—influenced and modified by national characteristics—of the old educational theory that literature and language are the basis of all mental culture and training. The educational structure reared on this theory, beset and more or less damaged by modern assaults, has been repaired here and patched there, but the old framework and the old foundations have ever remained to cramp intelligent reconstruction and practical reform. The result is in the main a hotchpotch with which no one is thoroughly satisfied. It would seem to be a clear case of the old house repaired and refurnished, until it is satisfactory to no one. It is passing strange that the school system of the United States, in respect to its want of specialization, should stand almost unique among the many examples of the national aptitude in adopting means to ends. In business life, in professional life, in industrial pursuits, our nation has shown itself peculiarly clever in its concentration of labor in systematic, well-defined channels having special reference to the results to be attained. Yet, when we come to compare our school programmes with those of other nations, we not only find that we do not do as much school work,