Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/823

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THE PROFESSIONAL TRAINING OF TEACHERS.

work, be learned in the logical principles and divisions of mind activity, yet he does need to become acquainted with the action of the mind as it is manifested in the many concrete cases which are constantly before him in his daily work. He must come to feel that the mind acts according to law, definite, exact, and unerring, as well with reference to the subject-matter by which it is disciplined in the schools as to its reaction upon sense stimulus. He must be trained to observe the effect of all external conditions, bodily and otherwise, which do in any way modify or affect the mental and moral condition of the child; and it certainly can not be maintained that this study leads the teacher to become imitative and formal in his own class room.

Throughout all this work an effort is usually made to have the prospective teacher discover for himself the more obvious principles of mental activity, both by reflection upon the activities of his own mental life and by the observation of mind phenomena in the world about him. He is led to discern the intimate relation between body and mind, to discover for himself the law of mutual affection, and to trace the application of this fact in educational procedure. So it will be seen that the purpose is to initiate him into the habits of careful, intelligent observation of the facts of mental activity as displayed under the ordinary conditions of the class room, and to lead him to make correct, serviceable interpretations of what he observes. As an aid toward this, many normal schools include in their curricula special studies of child-nature in the concrete, in order to train teachers to habits of exact, scientific study of individual pupils under their charge, and also these individuals when they are combined into classes. The value of this work, when it is carried on intelligently, can not be overestimated; for it leads the teacher into those habits of trying to find some remediable cause for every undesirable manifestation of child-nature in the class room which constitute the most praiseworthy and serviceable attainments that those who deal with children can become possessed of. Such study is usually of great benefit to teachers by pointing out to them defects in vision and other physical imperfections in pupils, which render them incapable of the highest and best work which they could otherwise successfully undertake. The pupil teacher is made to realize that the environment of his own pupils will be a potent factor in determining the mental and moral effect which the means of stimulation in the school will have upon them; and he is further led to appreciate the maxim that in a great measure a teacher's success will depend upon his ability to perceive clearly the effect of external conditions, and to be able to arrange and modify them so that they will all operate toward the accomplishment of those ends which he is consciously seeking. It seems that such study as this