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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/418

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

profession of teaching, if it were not that new ideas in education urgently demand a hearing. These new ideas are concerned with the development and perfection of natural tendencies in the individual—which, if properly directed, would bring him into more sympathetic and efficient relation with society. It is the purpose of this article to show that the average teacher of to-day is not an efficient agent in social advancement. There still persist in him low or vague ideals of conduct. His mind is hidebound, and he is indifferent to problems of a social or political nature. He is aggravatingly humble, and forms a willing block in the existing bureaucratic system of school government.

Persons of even moderately delicate sensibilities are certain to be surprised if they come in contact with many teachers or principals in any of our large cities. One must be limited in his acquaintance if be does not know men in high position in school administration in cities, whose brutality is evident in their treatment of persons beneath them in authority, whose manners and speech are so coarse that their companionship in polite circles would be avoided whenever possible, whose selfishness and narrowness are so intense as to account fully under the present system of school government for their advancement beyond their less assertive fellows. Coincident with the lack of refinement characteristic of some teachers in the public schools, there is so general a deficiency of positive, militant and constructive qualities that the profession in its entirety is noticeable for its lack of intellectual alertness, of moral courage and of social and political understanding.

The student of social conditions has no difficulty in assigning to its proper cause the fact that in every part of the country teachers are often treated with disrespect (tempered with occasional fear) by their pupils, and with patronizing indulgence by people generally. In spite of pronouncements by leading public men, and by newspapers on the great and useful work of the public school teacher, the basic conviction persists that the profession of teaching is customarily followed by men who do not possess the force and manly power and the love of wide activity that characterize men who engage, for example, in law or finance. When the profession is entered by forceful young men, the relation is frequently a temporary one to be given up later for "something better."

The average high-school faculty is a heterogeneous composite of training and ability—a few forceful and several weak characters frequently with only normal-school training, a few college-trained men of ability not invited into college work, and more college men who never would be invited. When all are together the quality of the mass is distinctly commonplace, and does not contain the power of self-stimulation. There is among them an undercurrent of feeling that they are