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We do not propose to discuss the problem of city government or the question of remedies, only to suggest that in the rural districts the view of the pupils should be extended beyond this political horizon, while in the cities the standard of political morality can at least be raised above the doctrine that "To the victors belong the spoils," if they fail to comprehend that "Public office is a public trust."
What we have said in comparison of country and city governments and the standard of political intelligence in those localities is true not alone of Michigan, but other states as well.
The better class of country teachers are trying to improve their teaching of Civil Government as well as other studies. They have attended Institutes and heard this question discussed, and are trying incidentally, in connection with History or Geography, or by special oral courses, not only to prepare their scholars for the textbook study, but also to give those who must leave at an early age, some ideas on this subject. It is to be regretted that the uncertain tenure of office and frequent changes of this class of teachers give but little encouragement to begin this class of work, and renders it useless when begun.
As we have stated, in all but twenty-three graded schools, textbook instruction in Civil Government is limited to the high school. In this department it is considered an essential study of the course, or if there be more than one course, of one or more of these. As in the ungraded schools, it is merely the study of a textbook. In two hundred and sixty-four schools a textbook treating only of the Federal Government is used; in one hundred and thirty-one schools the textbook deals with both federal and state governments, and twenty-two use only a state textbook.
Civil Government is in these high schools, like history, assigned to the weaker teachers, and not considered of much consequence. The quality of instruction is about what might be expected. A certain number of pages of the textbook is assigned for the next lesson, studied by the pupil, and at the time of recitation recited, either as a voluntary repetition or reproduction of the textbook, or in fragments in response to questions from the teacher, sitting book in hand. Other teachers assign topics, and draw elaborate outlines on the blackboard, to be studied up in the textbook. The whole work is cut and dried, purely formal and perfunctory. There is none of that original work, that research, that examina
tion of authorities, that free and independent discussion for which Civil Government offers the most fruitful field. If, by chance, any question outside the limits of the book arises in the class, recourse is had to some other textbook which the teacher may chance to have, or failing here, to some good-natured lawyer.
There are exceptions to this style of teaching Civil Government in our high schools, but the exceptions prove the rule.
Table B is a suggestive study. The one hundred and eightythree schools in which instruction in Civil Government is limited to the textbook course, include some of the largest schools and those in the southern part of the state, where we find the largest and best high schools and the largest per cent. of high school enrollment. In ten of the largest schools, the smallest enrolling eight hundred and forty-four pupils, but nine-tenths of one per cent. of the whole enrollment studied Civil Government, while in twelve schools enrolling over eight thousand scholars, no instruction whatever was given in this study. In the graded schools, enrolling less than four hundred and fifty pupils, Civil Government was studied by six per cent. of the enrollment, and by eleven per cent. in schools of less than two hundred and fifty pupils. In the southern tier of counties, seven in number, Civil Government was taught in forty-seven and seven tenths per cent. of the ungraded schools, in the same number of counties in the central part of the state in fifty-one per cent., and in the seven northern counties of the Lower Peninsula in fifty-four per cent. of the ungraded schools.
The reason for this is obvious. In the southern tier of counties wealth is more evenly distributed. The people are as a rule well-to-do farmers and trades people. They are better able to keep their children in school for a longer period, while the farmers send their children to some neighboring village school to finish. As a result, the ungraded schools do less advanced work, while the high schools, because of this foreign attendance, show a relatively larger attendance of enrollment and number studying Civil Government than is their due. For in these high schools Civil Government is as much a part of the finishing course of the farmer youth as is the time-honored Arithmetic, while the preference of the town scholars is for the Language or Scientific courses, which is made up solely with a view to university preparation, and from which the study of Government is wholly omitted. Were the
foreign pupils studying Civil Government in these schools deducted, the per cent. of scholars receiving preparation for citizenship in our city schools would be materially reduced.
In the middle counties the attendance is more in the home schools, though the effect of village attendance is noticeable. In the northern counties, as a rule, the home school is the sole reliance of the people, they can afford nothing else. As a result, more advanced work is done in the ungraded schools. In one of these counties Civil Government is taught in sixty-five per cent. of the schools.
In twenty-three graded schools Civil Government, textbook course, is taught in the eighth grade; in ninth grade, in one hundred and nineteen schools; in tenth grade, in one hundred and forty-one; in eleventh grade, in forty-two; in twelfth grade, in thirty-one; in the eighth and ninth grades, in twenty-one; in eighth and twelfth grades, in thirteen; in tenth and eleventh grades, in five; in tenth and twelfth, in four; and in seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth grades, in one.
Of the two hundred and thirty-four schools giving instruction in Civil Government other than the textbook course, and in the grades below the high school, forty-seven give such instruction in connection with United States history; thirty-five in connection with geography; forty-two in connection with geography and United States history; in seventy-six there are oral courses averaging an hour per week for one to three terms; in twenty-six schools, the manner of instruction is not specified, and eleven have oral courses covering the departments of local, county, state, and federal government as a regular study in all grammar grades.
This incidental instruction in connection with other studies, is doubtless, in some schools, developed in all its possibilities, but in most cases it consists in merely teaching what the textbook throws in the way of the teacher. Reference to any United States history or to a geography will show just what this is, and how well suited it is to the scholars who are expected to study it.
We admit the above is not a very creditable showing for the Michigan schools, and it does not help matters any to say, as is undoubtedly true, that in deficient preparation for citizenship, Michigan is no worse than other states, and probably a good average. Michigan school men have been so lost in the idea of a great
educational ladder, "with one end in the gutter and the other in the university," that they have failed to realize the fact that the masses can climb but the first few rounds, and that a landing should be provided for them. They consider the high schools as but feeders to the university, and that every scholar must take one of the University preparatory courses, whether he is ever to attend the University or not, and that, in the graded school, it is sufficient if Civil Government is taught in the high school, for every scholar will, in theory, go through the high school.
The energies of our high schools have been exerted in the departments of Classics and Mathematics, in which the University had renowned professors. Later, attention was given to English. The University raised its requirements in this branch, and high school teachers began to understand that it was fully as important for a boy to write English correctly, as Greek with the accents. It is doubtful if the excellent, even superior, work in English now done in many high schools would ever have been begun had it not been for the University. Natural science has come in for its share, and now the high schools are endeavoring to improve their work in this line. It is to be hoped that History and Political Science will eventually receive the attention they deserve.
As the improvements in high school teaching can all or nearly all be traced to the influence or positive requirements of the University, it will be presumed that in this reform it would take the lead. Its recent action in reducing the already meagre amount of History required for admission, it is to be hoped, is without significance, and that the proper proportion will be soon restored. Civil Government is required for admission to but one of the University courses, viz., that in letters, which is taken by but a small per cent. of the students. A complete knowledge of United States history is not required for admission to any of the University courses; in two, the applicant is required to pass in United States history to close of Revolutionary war. In the University itself, no work in history, political science, or constitutional law is required except in the course of letters, and then only in English or European history. So it is not only possible but very probable that the Michigan youth who climbs the "Educational Ladder," who passes through every grade of school, from the Kindergarten till he receives the highest honors of the University will remain, for all the schools have done for him, in the most profound igno
rance of even the simplest principles of the government which has educated him, and of the leading facts in its history. Let United States history and Civil Government be required for admission to all courses of the University, even at the expense of the last six books of the Æneid, and its accompaniment of heathen Mythology. This proposition requires no argument; the absence of these requirements needs defending. The University, in its work in history and political science, in which field it was a pioneer, and is now a leader, is either compelled to do high school work, or else assume its students possess a knowledge they have had no means of getting.
We have no intention in this article of discussing remedies. We have endeavored to state the facts as correctly as possible, and so far as we are able the causes for the defects. The condition is improving. Teachers are taking more interest in the subject, and are striving to use better methods. The presentation of flags to schools, now so fashionable, is exciting a temporary interest. Strikes, and the discussion of the immigration question have turned public attention to the work of the schools in preparing for citizenship. The tide is setting in the right direction. It is to be hoped it will not be turned.
THE TEACHING OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.1
A TERM'S WORK IN ENGLISH LITERATURE.
BY PROF. HENRY A. FRINK, PH. D.,
Department of Logic and Oratory, Amherst College, formerly Professor of Logic, Elocution, Rhetoric, and English Literature, Hamilton College.
T is not the object of this paper to present an ideal course in English literature. Ideal plans imply ideal conditions. With literature such plans demand an ample supply of the best textbooks, classes interested and well prepared for the work, and adequate time for a systematic development of the subject. As a rule, these are not the conditions furnished by the average high school or academy. The library is deficient; the students are indifferent; the time is limited.
1 Copyright, 1889. by Eastern Educational Bureau.