The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Education, National Systems of
EDUCATION, National Systems of. The system of education maintained by any nation must be the result of three groups of factors; (1) a group of national ideals; (2) a group of fundamental conceptions of the relationships of citizens in their economic, political, social and religious activities, and (3) an accepted attitude toward childhood and a group of accepted views with reference to the nature of educational processes. All of these may be vague and ill defined or they may be clearly formulated, — the result of a philosophy of life, consciously worked out in a more or less scientific way. The first two groups of factors are most influential in determining a nation's educational aim and in guiding the selection of the content, or material to be taught; the second and third groups contribute most to the form of organization perfected for carrying on educational work; to the third group we look for the explanation of the methods of instruction employed. In order to fully understand a nation's education, then, there must be taken into account facts with reference to its history, industrial life, government — particularly in its legislative and administrative phases — temperament of the people, organization of society, religion, and, finally, the degree to which scientific principles have been developed and applied to problems of education.
Such completeness is impossible here. With these facts in mind, however, we may in a general way characterize the leading national educational systems of the present by presenting their most prominent characteristics and indicating the conditions upon which they depend. France, Germany and Great Britain, because of their size and importance, deserve the fullest treatment. We shall treat them first, following with very brief sketches of other European nations, then of the two principal nations of the far east, China and Japan, and finally, of Latin-American countries.
France. — France possesses a national system of education in the truest sense. Its most marked characteristic is centralization. Politically, the country is made up of 89 “departments,” each under a prefect appointed by the President, a small advisory council and a general council of elected members. Each department is divided and subdivided again into “arrondissements,” “cantons” and “communes.” For educational purposes the country is marked off into 17 “academics.” The authorities in all these divisions, both political and educational, play a part in carrying into effect the educational laws, all of which are national. Some of the characteristics of the system resulting from these laws are (1) opportunity for free elementary education; (2) compulsory attendance; (3) absence of religious instruction in public schools; (4) required instruction in morals; (5) a completely organized system of normal schools; (6) recognition of teaching as State service and provision for teachers' pensions.
Administration centres in a government department under a Minister of Public Instruction. Assisting him are four directors; one each for elementary, secondary and higher education and one for accounts, under each of whom are a number of bureaus with special functions. In each academy except Paris a rector has charge of educational affairs in general, though prefects hire elementary teachers on recommendation of academy inspectors, and certain other affairs are left to a departmental council of teachers, inspectors and general councillors. In the academy of Paris the Minister is nominally rector, but a vice-rector performs the duties of the office. Inspection of the system is organized to the last detail. For example, in case of primary education there are general, academy, departmental and arrondissement mspectors, each of whom must possess special qualifications.
Instruction may begin at a very early age in the maternal schools (écoles malernelles), where children from two to six years of age attend. Infant classes for children from five to seven years are provided in some places. Schools of primary and secondary grade are not closely co-ordinated. The former are practical and are directed toward life work; the latter (the lycées and collèges) are pointed more in the direction of higher training.
Lower primary schools, adapted to fit the compulsory school period (ages 6 to 13), are organized wherever possible as elementary, intermediate, and higher grades. The fundamental elementary subjects are taught, stress is put upon manual work, and the teaching of morals is compulsory. Special classes are organized in many places for backward and subnormal children. Where necessity warrants it, books, pencils and even food are provided. Supplementing the primary instruction described above are various courses. There are: (1) the “supplementary courses” (cours complémentaire) provided in some places; (2) the “higher primary school,” which is a separate school with a practical course; (3) professional schools offering special instruction, as agriculture; and (4) continuation schools which are somewhat similar to the evening classes in American cities.
A normal school for each sex in each department, except where departments are allowed to combine their efforts, provides a three-year course for training elementary teachers. The work includes theoretical pedagogy and practice teaching. A higher normal for men and one for women are provided for the preparation of teachers to supply the departmental normals.
Secondary instruction is given in the state institutions called lycées, and in the communal colleges, which may receive state aid. Both may charge tuition fees. They admit boys at the age of 10 or 11 years and give courses of seven years. Most have preparatory schools for boys under 10 associated with them, so they do not draw their attendance, ordinarily, from the primary schools. The first “cycle” of four years is arranged to allow a choice of a classical course or a modern language and science course. The second “cycle” of three years offers four possibilities: (1) a Greek-Latin; (2) a Latin-modern language; (3) a Latin-science, and (4) a science-modern language course. Completion of any course of the four gives a baccalaureate degree. Teachers in these institutions must have special training along both academic and pedagogical lines. Secondary instruction for girls is carried on in lycées and collèges for girls, but the course is of five years instead of seven. They too have their own preparatory schools.
For higher education a university has been established in each of 15 of the academies, but they do not all have the complete four faculties. Appropriate degrees for higher work are given in the name of the state. There are also some special institutions, among which are the Collège de France, which dates from 1530, certain private institutions, and some “free faculties” of the Roman Catholic Church. Private institutions may not take the name of university.
Great Britain and Ireland. — England, Scotland and Ireland may best be treated in a group because all are more or less directly under the control of Parliament and all receive contributions from parliamentary money grants. Let us take them up in the order given above.
England's education is best understood when approached from the historical viewpoint. Its organization has been slow and only in recent times has begun to warrant the use of the term “system.” The leading universities and some of the secondary schools are several centuries old, and still maintain curricula which suggest the Renaissance. They have always been the fitting schools for the best classes of English society. For a long period the education of the common people was, in accordance with accepted views, the business of the Church. Schools were controlled by ecclesiastical authorities. Two or three centuries of change along industrial, social and political lines, however, brought a change of view. Education began to be thought of as the business of the state, as is shown by various bills presented in the Parliament, appropriations and the appointment of a special committee for administering educational grants. But the first of a series of really effective measures was the educational act of 1870.
Under this act, existing voluntarily established denominational schools were to be recognized as public elementary schools and receive apportionments from parliamentary grants on condition that they (1) conform with regulations of the education department, (2) submit to government inspection, and (3) reserve religious instruction for hours outside those of the regular school day. They might charge fees but could not share in any local tax. The act provided further for a school in every district not already supplied, provided the electors requested it. Such a school was to be established by a local elective school board, and came to be designated a “board school.” It might, on meeting government requirements, receive support from both parliamentary grants and local taxes. Thus was laid the foundation upon which has been built England's dual system of schools, supported by moneys from fees, endowment incomes, parliamentary grants and local taxes. A summary of some of the most important characteristics resulting from legislation since 1870 would include (1) compulsory attendance; (2) abolition of fees for elementary instruction and provisions for free tuition; (3) the right of voluntary (denominational) schools to participate in local tax funds; (4) abolition of the old committee and organization of a central board of education; (5) elimination of local boards and placing of local school affairs in the hands of the “county councils”; (6) extension of government support and inspection to include secondary schools of all classes. Government schools are now called “provided” schools, while others are called “nonprovided” schools. Supervision is left to supervisory boards, and in case of “nonprovided” schools a majority of the members may represent the Church under which the schools were established. Secularization is therefore not complete.
In the elementary schools, the lower grades, or “infant schools,” for children of five or less to eight years of age, lead up from play exercises to easy reading, writing and number work. Upper grades, for ages 8 to 15, carry work in the usual elementary subjects. Additional classes for vocational training may be organized under certain conditions. Where a need for them exists, “higher elementary schools” of three grades may be established for the continuance of instruction along the lines of elementary subjects with special vocational training added. Children who attend must be 12 years old and must have completed at least two years of elementary school work. They may not remain after completing the third year of the course nor after attaining the age of 16, except to complete a grade.
Technically, among secondary schools are included all day and boarding schools maintaining courses of wider scope and more advanced degree than elementary schools and attended by scholars up to and beyond the age of 16, Pupils may enter as early as the age of eight or nine. These schools may charge fees but also receive parliamentary aid on meeting government requirements. Breadth of training is insisted upon and Latin may be omitted from the course only with the consent of the school board. Considerable variation in organization and means of support exists. The best known types are the classical “grammar schools” and “public schools,” many of which rest upon very old endowments. (“Public school” does not mean free to the public. It is the designation for secondary boarding schools like Rugby, Harrow, etc.). These schools fit boys from the best classes of society for the university. Secondary schools for girls are very modern institutions. During the last few decades many have been established with financial foundations and study courses similar to those in institutions for boys.
Elementary and secondary schools are not closely co-ordinated. Most children who attend the broader secondary schools prepare under tutors or in special preparatory schools, then enter at an early age. Some pupils go from elementary to the secondary schools, but the number is small, and there has been official expression of the opinion that preparation in elementary schools for transition to the secondary is a “subsidiary object.” When made, the transition should be early, not at the end of the course. That is to say, the two groups of schools differ in aim and are designed to meet the needs of different classes of society. Most children who go through and beyond the elementary schools enter day or evening continuation schools or vocational or technical schools.
Universities, university colleges and higher technical and professional schools provide for advanced training. They are not free institutions, but may receive government financial aid.
Teachers in secondary schools usually come from the universities. Elementary teachers get their training through a kind of apprenticeship known as “pupil teacher training,” or by a method of “student teacher training” in which secondary training to the age of 16 or 17 is followed by a year of practical work and one to four years in teacher training colleges which are maintained in connection with universities or may be established by county or city councils.
Scotland's education is under supervision of a separate board of education, with committees for secondary education in large educational districts and local elective school boards. Elementary education is generally free. Compulsory attendance is demanded of children between the ages of 5 and 14. Practically all types of schools may receive parliamentary aid on compliance with government standards.
Primary schools (infant, junior and senior divisions) carry the child to the age of 12, when a “qualifying examination” is given. Beyond this he may enter a supplementary course or he may begin an intermediate course. The latter is a kind of lower secondary course of three years, broader in scope than the primary and including a foreign language. On completing it a child receives an intermediate certificate. A secondary school parallels the intermediate course and adds two more years, and may give a choice of more than one course. On completing such a course a child receives a “leaving certificate.” Higher training is given in the universities and technical institutions.
Teachers prepare under the direction of committees for the training of teachers, of which there are four, and must take work in both academic and professional subjects, usually in selected institutions, not in separate normal schools.
The educational history of Ireland is similar in some respects to that of England. A group of voluntary elementary schools has been placed under control of a National Board, which administers education, supervises inspection of schools and distributes parliamentary grants of money. Elementary education is free and compulsory. Religious teaching is permitted, but may not be enforced by any denomination upon a child against the wishes of his parents. Teacher training is provided for in denominational colleges. Little progress has been made in providing higher elementary schools. Most secondary schools, known in Ireland as intermediate schools, are endowed, private or denominational. These have been brought partly under supervision of an intermediate board, which cares for distribution of grants of money to those schools which conform with government standards and submit to inspection. Denominational contentions have retarded the progress of higher education. However, there are a number of denominational colleges, and reorganizations of rather recent origin have resulted in the combination of some colleges into universities with a view to securing greater financial aid from parliamentary appropriations.
Germany. — Germany is a federation of some 25 states, in which are included monarchies, grand duchies, duchies, free city republics and small principalities. The King of Prussia holds the title of Emperor. Imperial legislation covers only affairs with which the states are jointly concerned. Other affairs, — and education is included among them, — have been left largely to the control of individual states. Education is sometimes affected by actions of imperial authorities, but there has never been an imperial educational code. There has therefore been no “system” of education in the empire, but systems, provided and administered by the several states, with consequent lack of uniformity in methods of providing and supporting schools. On the other hand, there has been similarity though not identity of educational aims; other states have tended to follow the example of Prussia; and since the historical background has been nearly the same for all, their schools bear remarkable similarities of content and organization and serve the various classes of society in much the same way.
Some states have series of educational laws, others only general legislative provisions supplemented by ordinances or decrees of central authorities. Administration has been highly centralized, particularly in Prussia. Most of the larger slates combine education with religion under one ministry. This is true in Prussia, Bavaria, Würtemberg and Saxony. Some others include education in the Interior or in the Department of Justice. Central authorities may be assisted by local bodies, sometimes civil authorities, sometimes special provincial and local school councils.
Military training is universal, but the requirement decreases with increase in educational accomplishment. School attendance is compulsory, usually to the age of 14. Religion is taught in elementary schools. Much has been done to raise efficiency of teaching and to induce persons to make it a life work. Pensions for aged teachers are common. Great progress has been made along the lines of hygiene and the sanitation of school buildings.
As stated, schools are similarly organized in the several states, though there are variations. Those of Prussia come nearest to being typical, and may be briefly characterized as follows: A longitudinal separation prevents continuity and keeps distinct the schools patronized by different classes of society. A child's school and the length of his course is determined almost entirely by the class of society into which he is born. Transition, after the first two or three years, is very difficult.
The “Volkschule,” or people's school, is a free school of eight grades admitting children at the age of six, in which are taught the elementary subjects and religion. It is patronized by the lower classes of society. Most children go from here into industrial life. Supplementary courses in evening or Sunday “continuation schools” exist in many places, and there has been a movement in the direction of making attendance a requirement, up to the age of 18, wherever possible. Teacher training is thorough, including three years in preparatory classes above the Volkschule, three in a normal school, and then practical work, aside from the passing of various examinations.
Secondary institutions are tuition schools of nine grades, or classes, admitting boys (girls very rarely) at the age of nine or 10 years. Preparation for entrance is either privately or in a special preparatory “Vorschule.” There are three types: (1) the “Gymnasium,” characterized by its strictly classical course; (2) the “Realgymnasium,” with a Latin — modern language — science course; and (3) the “Oberrealschule,” with a science — modern language course. A special examination at the close of the gymnasial course (the Abiturientenpruefung), if successfully passed, fulfils the requirements for entrance to the university, in part the requirements for state service, and in addition secures certain privileges with reference to army service. The same is true for the courses in the “Realgymnasium” and “Oberrealschule,” except that language deficiencies must be made up in order to enter certain university courses. Communities unable to maintain nine-year courses have six-year courses, paralleling the first six years of the schools just described, under the names, “Progymnasium,” “Realprogymnasium,” and “Realschule.” Secondary schools for girls, similar in organization to those for boys, but with less extensive courses, are found in many places. Secondary schools are patronized only by the aristocracy and the professional classes. Secondary school teachers must have thorough training, including university work and special pedagogical training, both theoretical and practical.
Between the lower and the secondary schools are the “middle schools,” with courses somewhat longer than that of the lower, or people's school. They are somewhat exclusive, charge tuition and are attended by children of the middle classes. But they do not articulate with the secondary schools.
Universities and higher technical institutions are state institutions, controlled by the state and maintained largely by state funds.
Austria and Hungary. — The educational systems in these countries are very similar to those of the larger German states. Hungary has included denominational schools under an arrangement similar to that in England, but in both these countries the organization of classes and the curricula in elementary, secondary and higher institutions parallel very closely those in the schools of Germany.
Denmark. — Administration of schools in Denmark is in the hands of the Minister of Ecclesiastical and Educational Affairs, with a school council in each county and a school board in each local subdivision. There is also a group of inspectors, assisted by the bishops of the state (Evangelical Lutheran) church. Education is free and compulsory between ages seven and 14 years. Religion is taught.
The school system includes (1) the elementary school (“Folkeskole”) for children of six to 14 years, supplemented by continuation schools; (2) the middle school (“Mellemskole”), with a four-year course which may he entered from the elementary school after the age of 11, and supplemented by a “real class” leading into a group of “middle professional schools”; (3) the three-year “Gymnasium,” offering three courses based on the classics, mathematics and modern languages, and leading to the higher technological schools and the university. The university is considered a part of the state system. Schools above the elementary are not free. Middle and secondary schools for girls exist, but they are fewer than those for boys. Normal schools, both public and private, give courses of from one to three years for the training of elementary teachers. Teachers are considered as in state service, and teachers' pensions are provided on a graded scale. Denmark deserves the credit for originating the special supplementary school for adults known as the “people's high school.” It gives a short course, for men in winter, for women in summer, for which a tuition fee is charged, but there are no examination requirements.
Sweden. — Education in Sweden is controlled through the ecclesiastical department of the government, working in co-operation with the popular assembly.
Elementary education is compulsory for children from seven to 14 years of age. Schools are subdivided into “infant schools” (ages 7 to 9, and elementary schools (ages 9 to 14). Teachers are prepared in training colleges with four-year courses. Continuation schools, held usually in the evenings, “higher elementary schools” and “people's high schools,” modeled after those of Denmark, supplement the elementary schools.
Secondary institutions are (1) the practical six-year “realschool”; (2) the four-year “gymnasium” for boys, offering both classical and modern courses; (3) the higher girls' school, usually a private school with preparatory classes attached; (4) the special technical school. A lower secondary examination is given at the close of the realschool course, and a higher secondary examination at the close of the gymnasium course. Children may go from elementary to realschool, also from this to the gymnasium at the end of the fifth year of the course. “Middle schools,” in some communities, give a practical four-year course which may include the work of the higher elementary school.
Three state universities and two private universities, known as high schools, provide for higher training.
Norway. — In Norway schools are under general control of the Department of Education and Ecclesiastical Affairs, but much control is left to county and local school boards in which the state (Lutheran) church is well represented. Primary education is free and compulsory to the age of 14 and religious instruction is required. A well co-ordinated system allows continuous progress from primary school through, first, a lower secondary school of four classes (“Middelskole”), and a higher secondary school of three classes (“Gymnasium”), to a higher professional school or a university. Secondary schools may be state, municipal or private. Most of them are coeducational. Continuation schools supplement the primary schools. Lower secondary courses articulate with technical courses of lower professional schools. Training colleges are provided for preparation of teachers. A number of special state institutions provide for abandoned and delinquent children and for defectives.
Netherlands. — Administration here is under the Minister of the Interior, under whom are ranged groups of general, district and arrondissement inspectors. Some local affairs are regulated by local civil authorities and communal school boards.
Classed as elementary schools are: day schools for children 7 to 13 years old — the compulsory school age, — continuation schools and evening schools.
Secondary institutions are both public and private. They include burgher schools with a two-year practical course, higher burgher schools with a five- and a three-year course, agricultural schools, industrial and technical schools, and a group of very special training schools. Higher burgher schools are the only ones giving broad training. They close with a State examination giving admission to higher institutions and to various kinds of state service.
Gymnasia, with courses for ages 12 to 18, and fitting for the university, are classed along with the university as higher institutions.
Training of teachers is carefully supervised and the law provides for minimum salaries of elementary teachers and for pensions in cases of disability and long service.
Belgium. — Belgium, like a number of other European nations, has had a long denominational struggle. There is an educational department under the Minister of Science and Art, who is assisted by general directors and a corps of inspectors, but in each commune there is a board possessing considerable authority, and in these denominational influence is considerable. Local independence accounts for considerable variation in the schools. Above the elementary schools, there are lower and higher secondary schools. The lower are practical schools maintained by the government and give courses of three years. Separate schools for boys and girls are established. The higher are seven-year schools (the athénées and a few collèges), and lead up to the university. Aside from these two groups, secondary schools may be established by local authorities. Higher education is provided for in four universities, two of which are state institutions, and in numerous special institutions.
Switzerland. — Because each of the 25 Swiss cantons controls its own educational affairs there results considerable lack of uniformity in the school system. Free education is provided for in the constitution. Some cantons provide free books and material. Compulsory education is common, sometimes for seven, sometimes for eight years, beginning usually at the age of 6½ or 7 years. Continuation schools are provided in all cantons. Various kinds of schools above the elementary grade exist, some giving general, others technical courses. Commercial education is stimulated by giving federal grants. The universities, of which there are seven, and the “Federal Polytechnikum” are institutions known world wide for their standards of work.
Italy. — Administrative machinery for control of Italian education is very complex. Under the Minister of Public Instruction are an undersecretary of state for public instruction and a higher council with the Minister as chairman. A vice-president of the council is appointed by the king. The council is divided into different permanent and special committees. There are also a number of special bureaus. In each province there is a special administrative head and an educational council. Some localities have a degree of independent control.
Elementary schools vary in number of grades from two to six, and may or may not be free. Under certain conditions they may receive state aid. Attendance is compulsory to the age of 12, or, in communities with the poorer schools, through the grades which are provided. Many evening and Sunday schools for illiterate adults have been established.
Secondary schools provide classical, technical, nautical and normal training in courses ranging from two to five years in length. An examination, for which a fee is charged, admits children to secondary schools at the end of the fourth elementary year. Few limits are placed upon the establishment of secondary schools, but government credit may be had only by taking the government examinations.
Universities are state institutions with separately organized administration and government. Various other higher special schools and institutes for higher training may receive contributions from state funds.
Spain. — The Spanish government seems to have taken over for inspection and support many schools, whether founded by the state itself, the provinces, towns or religious corporations. These it controls through a general director, who, with an advisory council, is under the Minister of the Interior. A number of inspectors are employed, and in each province and town there is a school board which has considerable authority.
Attempts have been made to classify the elementary schools, but they are poorly graded, except in a few cases, and in such a state of transition that few definite statements concerning them may be made. “Institutes” admitting boys at the age of 10 and giving courses leading to the bachelor's degree, and “colleges” with shorter courses from which boys may go into the “institutes,” are classed as secondary institutions. Secondary and university education are closely related, the two being under the control of “rectors,” of which there is one for each “university district.” Professors in both types of institution are appointed by the king and must be university graduates. Education of girls has been for the most part in private schools or in convent schools.
Oriental Countries. — Oriental education was for centuries characteristically memoriter, imitative, nonprogressive. The two most important nations, Japan and China, have for a number of decades been making a transition to a more progressive education, largely on account of western influences.
Japan started the movement first. For about half a century she has been busy with the problem of modernizing and “westernizing” her education. At present education is controlled entirely by the state, through a Minister of Education who is a member of the Cabinet, and an educational council. Much of the regulation is by means of imperial ordinances.
Parents are compelled to send their children through a primary school, which it is the duty of the community to provide. Above the primary schools are middle schools and secondary schools of various types. The former are practical and lead toward technical schools or toward the secondary. The secondary schools are pointed toward the university, special colleges, or other higher institutions. Some provision has been made for the education of girls in special girls' higher schools. The problem of the proper co-ordination of the various institutions is not yet completely solved. A fairly well organized system of normal schools for training elementary teachers has been developed, and also a method of certification, either on graduation from one of these schools or by examination.
China's transition has been made almost within the present century. An ancient educational system consisting for the most part of memorization of a group of Chinese classics and the passing of a series of state examinations has been overthrown. A system modeled somewhat after the western systems has been put in its place, but many of the problems are yet unsolved. Teachers educated under the old system tend to fall back into a memorization method, disregarding the teaching of the meaning of material. Governmental changes and the changes incident to rapid adaptations being made make definite statements difficult. In general it may be said that China is fast developing elementary, middle and secondary, and higher institutions to meet ihe needs of education throughout the nation.
Both China and Japan find difficulties arising out of the nature of their written language (a character for each word), and both meet the difficulty of finding the proper place for the classical Chinese, which bears a similar relation to their modern life that Greek and Latin do to the modern life of western nations.
Latin-American Countries. — Space permits only a general characterization of education in Latin-American countries. In all of them the development of public educational systems has been slow. The causes for this are found in their extended territory, scattered rural population, differences in the grade of culture of the several classes of inhabitants, and the tendency to patronize private institutions. Early schools were almost entirely those of the Catholic Church, and there is still a large measure of Church control. With the acquisition of independence and establishment of republican forms of government, most of these countries began building systems of public education. The majority of them have provided ministries of education, although education may be administered, in individual cases, through the Department of Interior or Department of Justice. Usually much power lies in the hands of provincial and local authorities, but in Chile there is government support of all classes of schools and the control is highly centralized under a system somewhat similar to that of France. Many of the countries have taken steps to provide free elementary education, and there have been a few partially successful attempts at compulsory attendance. Co-education is not the rule, even in elementary schools, but exists in the lower grades of government schools in a number of cases. Elementary education is liable to be of a low standard in rural districts, but in the larger cities, and especially in the government capitals, much has been done to build up model institutions and stimulate the development of efficient schools. Normal schools have also received much governmental attention. In practically all of the leading countries some form of government secondary school may be found, supported by national, provincial or municipal funds, but much of the secondary education is carried on in private or Church schools. Secondary schools are liable to articulate poorly or not at all with the elementary schools, as is the case in some European countries. Universities are also found in most countries, although in a few cases higher training has been given by special faculties — of medicine, law, etc. — the instructors being professional men who gave part time only to teaching. The influence of the world's modern industrial development has been felt in these southern countries, and the old literary and classical tendencies have tended to give way to more practical education, as is shown by the efforts of educational ministers to introduce reforms into the school systems. Education of North American and European countries have been studied, sometimes by special commissions, and in some cases scholarships have been provided to allow young men to study abroad. See Latin America.
United States, in Relation to Other
Nations. — In both the period of their
lishment and the later periods of development
the schools of the United States have been
greatly influenced by the educational situations
in the various European countries. Their aims,
methods and forms of organization have in
a way been echoes of those in the countries
whose people first settled America. The
development of our Federal government, however,
with its characteristic democratic spirit, has
made for an educational system in which the
paternalism and social distinctions characteristic
of so many nations in Europe are almost
entirely lacking. And so it is that the business of
education is left for the most part to the
several States, and is only indirectly influenced
by the Federal government. The way in which
all of the States have set themselves the task
of providing a co-ordinated system of elementary,
secondary and higher institutions through
which any child of ability may go is remarkable.
Schools which parallel the “middle
schools” of European countries have been slow
in coming, but in recent decades have been
making their appearance rapidly, as have also
those similar to European “lower” or “middle
technical schools.” What will be their effect
upon American life and society is a question
full of interest and deserving careful thought.
A similar and perhaps more vital problem
arises from a tendency present in many
quarters to push specialization down into the
The Present Situation. — Practically every nation's educational system is disturbed, even reorganized temporarily just at the present, as a result of the European War begun in August, 1914. Undoubtedly the outcome of that war will bring radical changes in many a nation's economic, political and social philosophy, followed by changes in both educational philosophy and educational practice. The foregoing statements are based upon conditions as they were at the beginning of the conflict and, in so far as known, as they have continued since. But habit is strong, and the probability is that any changes in national educational systems resulting from the war will be in the nature of modifications and gradual evolutions, not sudden breaks from the old habitual courses. The general outlines here given will probably in the main hold true, therefore, for a number of years after the conclusion of the just peace for which the world waits.