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OKLAHOMA AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL COLLEGE
Agricultural Experiment Station
1 I I
-E-d-uc-ational Systems --· -- - ~ --·
The education of the ancient was for the most part purely national in character,
and \vas given up to practical training in the arts and virtues esteemed in each
nation. No wide field of knowle<)ge existed anywhere. Each man's knowledge
was within tte narrow scope of his own personal experience.
If he had a taste
for the beautiful in art, literature or person, to this he was trained. The
training was simple, definite, and accomplished its purpose. In that age life
was simple; there was no doubt that the world existed for man and his enjoyment.
He was then a little man in a little world, with little to know.
In modern days all was changed. Man began not only to doubt his importance
in the world but his importance. A host of new knowledges sprang into
existance, attacked his sympathies and interests and taxed him to the utmost.
Ancient literatures were re-discovered, which brought man in touch with the
past. Within a generation or two biology had been created, and physics and
/l, .:nl! 'C ~ -· .
..c hemistry and geology had been born again, Ga-1-i-!e-s with his telescope .
... and Jansen with his compound. micr'oscope rev:ealr'the· infinitely great. The
first wave of astbnishment and delight at these great revelat1ons has been succeeded
by one of perplexity and doubt in the presence of the wholly new problems 'w hich
. . they raise. No~ men have lost their old. self-assurance; they are blinded
:·. · _'by the unaccustomed light, · stumble a:r;d despair,
.more in a little wc}J;.d with little to know, t~ere
but from being·~ littla
suddenly daw'ns upon the:rn the
•• ' . .t.:· ~-
·possibility of becoming a great factor in the great world V:'ith 'more to know than ·
one head could contain. Through the cry of the philosopher and educator became
knowledge to the old maxim "know thyself", was added 11know the world, and
the proverb expressing the newest thought was 11knowledge is power11 • The question
ceased to be what is being?, what is the world? and became, what am I? what is
my destiny? what can I do to made it what I would? .
Thus the philosopher and theologian was looking within themselves at the doul
and trying to find a basis for responsibility and culture. The result was a
philosophy which was harmonious with the prevailing theology, but was not a wise
basis for education, although it has even since been the foundation sor such. The maKj;ox
majority of teachers, however, do not understand it and do not follow any psychology
consciously. The average teacher follows tradition and the traditions of school
discipline which have been followed up to the present have been derived from the
15th and 16th century psychology and theology.
According to this psychology the mind was a composite of several independent
faculties, such as perception, immagination, memory, will and reason. Education
was to consist in the training of these faculties. The result was the 11formal
discipline of school11 which has been the keynote and curse of education for more
than a century. All efforts were directed toward the training of these faculties,
and a subject was valuable only as it contributed to this end. It is useless to
attempt to train one fas;ulty to the exclusion of all others, but as far as it succeeds
it renders the soul one-sided, incapable of viewing the whole truth, unfit for life.
Another defect in the formal discipline is that the child 1 s interests are ignored.
This interest may become the greatest aid to education and his larger interest
in the world, but since it makes no difference whether the child is interested or
not the drill being the only thing, it is inevitable that this larger interest shall be ~
Again the formal discipline ignores the child. This is the greatest wrong
of all. It leaves no room for freedom or for those finer traits of character
which make life worth living. The child had no chance. He was for the school, not
the school for him. Many a child who has never known of anything but love
and freedom has had the light of light crushed out of him by the hard heartless
grinds of the schoolrooms.
The other great force mentioned, theology, not only agreed with the narrowness of
the school curricula but did its best to take from the school all freedom of
intercourse, which might have alleviated some of the misery caused by the
course of study. Sup't Gilbert, St. Paul, Minn. says "The school may be
likened to a mill; the mill stones psychology; the nether stores theology, the upper eve r
grinding, he teaches· but a cog of the great machinery, the grist the living sould of
children poured carelessly into the hopper while the parents sit encouragingly by,
believing that only by destruction of the germ can the children's souls become ready
to receive the yeast germ of the new life".
But amid all this confusion, a light has been glowing steadily brighter. Certain modifyu
:infhiences come in from time to time. Resseau came with his cry for education
by nature; but the nature he had in view was of the world and while it made many
think of the child, it did not greatly influance educational thought in his time. The
child must be educated, not only according to nature but in contact with nature. Herbert
Spencer brought out this idea with education through books much later. This was a good
thing but was absorbed by the formal discipline, which affected it greatly. Frobel
preserved the thought of the new education i¥ our institution by establishing
Many teachers have tried to modify the old course of study but knew of no basis an
which to establish a new one. But it is now believed that Herbart has supplied
this lack and though making many mistakes has given his attention to the
essential things of the child's life and to the preparation of the child for the
I will not take time to elaborate liis doctrine but will give it briefly and state
what may be done in our schools. It recognizes the soul as a unit and believes
that the will is an activity of the soul which is influenced by that which carries
to the soul from the external world through the senses and from the inner current of
Its aim.:d.s moral rather than purely intellectual. It bases all upon interest instead
of drilling the faculties without regard to the child's interests. Its government is
based on the systamatic and sympathetic study of the child. By doing away with the
formal discipline it takes a vast step toward true education, seeing that the child
has for the main element of his curricula something real. It is held that spirit of
the Kirbartian movement is working among us, that the child and not the schoolmaster
will predominate; the narrow interest or no interest OOxihe in reading, spelling, aax:iltklne<:t
arithmetic and geography which characterized the old schoolroom, will be changed to a r
many sided interest in all the relations into which the soul of more can enter.
This doctrine is at present attracting a great dea 1 of attention throughout the
country. A series of articles by Supt. Gilbert in Education has aroused much
interest as well as considerable opposition, but it is doubtful if the faults over
balance the good qualities or if they are more numerous than those of the old
education; and we have no reason to believe that these will not be rectified, for the r e
• is certainly a greater interest taken in education today than ever before. One proof
of this is the greatness of the National Educational Association which met at
Denver this year. Its greatness consisted not only of the large attendance but in its ,~,a
broadly representative character, its cordiality of feeling and the permanent
stimulas that it gave to the scientific study of education and its problems.
What 'we want and need is an education whose end is freedom. Freedom to grow good, to
to do good. Gne which stands in tbe closest relations to the highest forms of the
activity of that spirit which is created in the image of him who holds nature and man a lik·
in the hollow of his hand".
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