How to Teach
by George Drayton Strayer and Naomi Norsworthy
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Some schools have found, especially in the upper grades, an opportunity for a type of social activity which is entirely comparable with the demand made upon the older members of our communities. This work for social improvement or betterment is carried on frequently in connection with a course in civics. In some schools there is organized what is known as the junior police. This organization has been in some cases coordinated with the police department. The boys who belong pledge themselves to maintain, in so far as they are able, proper conditions on the streets with respect to play, to abstain from the illegal use of tobacco or other narcotics, and to be responsible for the correct handling of garbage, especially to see that paper, ashes, and other refuse are placed in separate receptacles, and that these receptacles are removed from the street promptly after they are emptied by the department concerned. In one city with which the writer is acquainted, the children in the upper grades, according to the common testimony of the citizens of their community, have been responsible for the cleaning up of the street cars. In other cities they have become interested, and have interested their parents, in the question of milk and water supply. In some cases they have studied many different departments of the city government, and have, in so far as it was possible, lent their cooeperation. In one case a group of children became very much excited concerning a dead horse that was allowed to remain on a street near the school, and they learned before they were through just whose responsibility it was, and how to secure the action that should have been taken earlier.

Still another type of activity which may have significance for the moral social development of children is found in the study of the life activities in the communities in which they live. There is no reason why children, especially in the upper grades or in the high school, should not think about working conditions, especially as they involve sweat-shops or work under unsanitary conditions. They may very properly become interested in the problems of relief, and of the measures taken to eliminate crime. Indeed, from the standpoint of the development of socially efficient children, it would seem to be more important that some elementary treatment of industrial and social conditions might be found to be more important in the upper grades and in the high school than any single subject which we now teach.

Another attempt to develop a reasonable attitude concerning moral situations is found in the schools which have organized pupils for the participation in school government. There is no particular value to be attached to any such form of organization. It may be true that there is considerable advantage in dramatizing the form of government in which the children live, and for that purpose policemen, councilmen or aldermen, mayors, and other officials, together with their election, may help in the understanding of the social obligations which they will have to meet later on. But the main thing is to have these children come to accept responsibility for each other, and to seek to make the school a place where each respects the rights of others and where every one is working together for the common good. In this connection it is important to suggest that schemes of self-government have succeeded only where there has been a leader in the position of principal or other supervisory officer concerned. Children's judgments are apt to be too severe when they are allowed to discipline members of their group. There will always be need, whatever attempt we may make to have them accept responsibility, for the guidance and direction of the more mature mind.

We seek in all of these activities, as has already been suggested, to have children come to take, in so far as they are able, the rational attitude toward the problems of conduct which they have to face. It is important for teachers to realize the fallacy of making a set of rules by which all children are to be controlled. It is only with respect to those types of activity in which the response, in order to further the good of the group, must be invariable that we should expect to have pupils become automatic. It is important in the case of a fire drill, or in the passing of materials, and the like, that the response, although it does involve social obligation, should be reduced to the level of mechanized routine. Most school situations involve, or may involve, judgment, and it is only as pupils grow in power of self-control and in their willingness to think through a situation before acting, that we may expect significant moral development. In the case of offenses which seem to demand punishment, that teacher is wise who is able to place responsibility with the pupil who has offended. The question ought to be common, "What can I do to help you?" The question which the teacher should ask herself is not, "What can I do to punish the pupil?" but rather, "How can I have him realize the significance of his action and place upon him the responsibility of reinstating himself with the social group?" The high school principal who solved the problem of a teacher who said that she would not teach unless a particular pupil were removed from her class, and of the pupil who said that she would not stay in school if she had to go to that teacher, by telling them both to take time to think it through and decide how they would reconcile their differences, is a case in point. What we need is not the punishment which follows rapidly upon our feeling of resentment, but rather the wisdom of waiting and accepting the mistake or offense of the pupil as an opportunity for careful consideration upon his part and as a possible means of growth for him.

There has been considerable discussion during recent years concerning the obligation of the school to teach children concerning matters of sex. Traditionally, our policy has been one of almost entire neglect. The consequence has been, on the whole, the acquisition upon the part of boys and girls of a large body of misinformation, which has for the most part been vicious. It is not probable that we can ever expect most teachers to have the training necessary to give adequate instruction in this field. For children in the upper grades, during the preadolescent period especially, some such instruction given by the men and women trained in biology, or possibly by men and women doctors who have made a specialty of this field, promises a large contribution to the development of the right attitudes with respect to the sex life and the elimination of much of the immorality which has been due to ignorance or to the vicious misinformation which has commonly been spread among children. The policy of secrecy and ignorance cannot well be maintained if we accept the idea of responsibility and the exercise of judgment as the basis of moral social activity. In no other field are the results of a lack of training or a lack of morality more certain to be disastrous both for the individual and for the social group.


1. How satisfactory is the morality of the man who claims that he does no wrong?

2. How is it possible for a child to be unmoral and not immoral?

3. Are children who observe school rules and regulations necessarily growing in morality?

4. Why is it important, from the standpoint of growth in morality, to have children form socially desirable habits, even though we may not speak of this kind of activity as moral conduct?

5. What constitutes growth in morality for the adult?

6. In what sense is it possible for the same act to be immoral, unmoral, and moral for individuals living under differing circumstances and in different social groups? Give an example.

7. Why have moral reformers sometimes been considered immoral by their associates?

8. What is the moral significance of earning a living? Of being prompt? Of being courteous?

9. What are the instincts upon which we may hope to build in moral training? What instinctive basis is there for immoral conduct?

10. To what extent is intellectual activity involved in moral conduct? What is the significance of one's emotional response?

11. What stages of development are distinguishable in the moral development of children? Is it possible to classify children as belonging to one stage or the other by their ages?

12. Why is it true that one's character depends upon the deliberate choices which he makes among several possible modes or types of action?

13. Why is it important to have positive satisfaction follow moral conduct?

14. How may the conduct of parents and teachers influence conduct of children?

15. What is the weakness of direct moral instruction, e.g. the telling of stories of truthfulness, the teaching of moral precepts, and the like?

16. What opportunities can you provide in your class for moral social conduct?

17. Children will do what is right because of their desire to please, their respect for authority, their fear of unpleasant consequences, their careful, thoughtful analysis of the situation and choice of that form of action which they consider right. Arrange these motives in order of their desirability. Would you be satisfied to utilize the motive which brings results most quickly and most surely?

18. In what sense is it true that lapses from moral conduct are the teacher's best opportunity for moral teaching?

19. How may children contribute to the social welfare of the school community? Of the larger social group outside of the school?

20. How may pupil participation in school government be made significant in the development of social moral conduct?

* * * * *


Formal discipline or transfer of training concerns itself with the question as to how far training in one subject, along one line, influences other lines. How far, for instance, training in reasoning in mathematics helps a child to reason in history, in morals, in household administration; how far memorizing gems of poetry or dates in history aids memory when it is applied to learning stenography or botany; how far giving attention to the gymnasium will insure attention to sermons and one's social engagements. The question is, How far does the special training one gets in home and school fit him to react to the environment of life with its new and complex situations? Put in another way, the question is what effect upon other bonds does forming this particular situation response series of bonds have. The practical import of the question and its answer is tremendous. Most of our present school system, both in subject matter and method, is built upon the assumption that one answer is correct—if it is false, much work remains to be done by the present-day education.

The point of view which was held until recent years is best made clear by a series of quotations.

"Since the mind is a unit and the faculties are simply phases or manifestations of its activity, whatever strengthens one faculty indirectly strengthens all the others. The verbal memory seems to be an exception to this statement, however, for it may be abnormally cultivated without involving to any profitable extent the other faculties. But only things that are rightly perceived and rightly understood can be rightly remembered. Hence whatever develops the acquisitive and assimilative powers will also strengthen memory; and, conversely, rightly strengthening the memory necessitates the developing and training of the other powers." (R.N. Roark, Method in Education, p. 27.)

"It is as a means of training the faculties of perception and generalization that the study of such a language as Latin in comparison with English is so valuable." (C.L. Morgan, Psychology for Teachers, p. 186.)

"Arithmetic, if judiciously taught, forms in the pupil habits of mental attention, argumentative sequence, absolute accuracy, and satisfaction in truth as a result, that do not seem to spring equally from the study of any other subject suitable to this elementary stage of instruction." (Joseph Payne, Lectures on Education, Vol. I, p. 260.)

"By means of experimental and observational work in science, not only will his attention be excited, the power of observation, previously awakened, much strengthened, and the senses exercised and disciplined, but the very important habit of doing homage to the authority of facts rather than to the authority of men, be initiated." (Ibid., p. 261.)

The view maintained by these writers is that the mind is made up of certain elemental powers such as attention, reasoning, observation, imagination, and the like, each of which acts as a unit. Training any one of these powers means simply its exercise irrespective of the material used. The facility gained through this exercise may then be transferred to other subjects or situations, which are quite different. The present point of view with regard to this question is very different, as is shown by the following quotations:

"We may conclude, then, that there is something which may be called formal discipline, and that it may be more or less general in character. It consists in the establishment of habitual reactions that correspond to the form of situations. These reactions foster adjustments, attitudes, and ideas that favor the successful dealing with the emergencies that arouse them. On the other hand, both the form that we can learn to deal with more effectively, and the reactions that we associate with it, are definite. There is no general training of the powers or faculties, so far as we can determine." (Henderson, 10, p. 307 f.)

"One mental function or activity improves others in so far as and because they are in part identical with it, because it contains elements common to them. Addition improves multiplication because multiplication is largely addition; knowledge of Latin gives increased ability to learn French because many of the facts learned in the one case are needed in the other. The study of geometry may lead a pupil to be more logical in all respects, for one element of being logical in all respects is to realize that facts can be absolutely proven and to admire and desire this certain and unquestionable sort of demonstration...." (Thorndike, '06, pp. 243-245, passim.)

"Mental discipline is the most important thing in education, but it is specific, not general. The ability developed by means of one subject can be transferred to another subject only in so far as the latter has elements in common with the former. Abilities should be developed in school only by means of those elements of subject-matter and of method that are common to the most valuable phases of the outside environment. In the high school there should also be an effort to work out general concepts of method from the specific methods used." (Heck, '09, Edition of '11, p. 198.)

"... No study should have a place in the curriculum for which this general disciplinary characteristic is the chief recommendation. Such advantage can probably be gotten in some degree from every study, and the intrinsic values of each study afford at present a far safer criterion of educational work than any which we can derive from the theory of formal discipline." (Angell, '08, p. 14.)

These writers also believe in transfer of training, but they believe the transfer to be never complete, to be in general a very small percentage of the special improvement gained and at times to be negative and to interfere with responses in other fields instead of being a help. They also emphasize the belief that when the transfer does occur, it is for some perfectly valid reason and under certain very definite conditions. They reject utterly the machine-like idea of the mind and its elemental faculties held by the writers first quoted. They hold the view of mental activity which has been emphasized in the discussion of original tendencies and inheritance from near ancestry, i.e., that the physical correlate of all types of mental activity is a definite forming of connections between particular bonds-these connections, of course, according to the laws of readiness exercise, and effect, would be determined by the situation acting as a stimulus and would, therefore, vary as the total situation varied. They believe in a highly specialized human brain, which reacts in small groups of nerve tracts—not in gross wholes. They would express each of the "elemental" powers in the plural and not in the singular.

The basis of this change of view within the last fifteen or twenty years is to be found in experimental work. The question has definitely been put to the test as to how far training in one line did influence others. For a full description of the various types of experiments performed the reader is referred to Thorndike's "Psychology of Learning," Chapter 12. Only an indication of the type of work done and the general character of the results can be given here. Experiments in the effect of cross education, in memorizing, in observing and judging sensory and perceptual data, and in forming sensori-motor association habits have been conducted in considerable numbers. A few experiments in special school functions have also been carried out. Investigations in the correlation between various parts of the same subject and between different subjects supposed to be closely allied also throw light upon this subject. The results from these different lines of experiment, although confusing and sometimes contradictory, seem to warrant the belief stated above. They have made it very clear that the question of transfer is not a simple one, but, on the contrary, that it is extremely complex. They make plain that in some cases where large transfer was confidently expected, that little resulted, while, on the other hand, in some cases when little was expected, much more occurred. It is evident that the old idea of a large transfer in some subtle and unexplained way of special improvements to a general faculty is false. But, on the other hand, it would be equally false to say that no transfer occurred. The general principle seems to be that transfer occurs when the same bonds are used in the second situation to the extent that the alteration in these particular connections affects the second response. Both the knowledge of what bonds are used in various responses and to what extent alteration in them will affect different total responses is lacking. Therefore, all that is at present possible is a statement of conditions under which transfer is probable.

In general, then, transfer of training will occur to the extent that the two responses use the same bonds—to the extent, then, that there is identity of some sort. This identity which makes transfer possible may be of all degrees of generality and of several different types. First, there may be identity of content. For instance, forming useful connections with six, island, and, red, habit, Africa, square root, triangle, gender, percentage, and so on, in this or that particular context should be of use in other contexts and therefore allow of transfer of training. The more common the particular responses are to all sorts of life situations, the greater the possibility of transfer. Second, the identity may be that of method or procedure. To be able to add, to carry, to know the method of classifying an unknown flower, to have a definite method of meeting a new situation in hand-work, to know how to use source material in history, to have gained the technique of laboratory skill in chemistry, to know how to study in geography, should be useful in other departments where the same method would serve. Some of these methods are, of course, of much more general service than others. In establishing skill in the use of these various procedures, two types of responses are needed. The learner must form connections of a positive nature, such as analyzing, collecting material, criticizing according to standard, picking out the essential and so on, and he must also form connections of a negative character which will cause him to neglect certain tendencies. He must learn not to accept the first idea offered, to neglect suggestions, to hurry or to leave half finished, to ignore interruptions, to prevent personal bias to influence criticism, and so on. These connections which result in neglecting certain elements are quite as important as the positive element, both in the production of the particular procedure and in the transfer to other fields. Third, the identity may be of still more general character and be in terms of attitude or ideal. To learn to be thorough in connection with history, accurate in handwork, open-minded in science, persistent in Latin, critical in geometry, thorough in class and school activities; to form habits of allegiance to ideals of truth, cooeperation, fair play, tolerance, courage, and so on, may help the learner to exhibit these same attitudes in other situations in life. Here again the connections of neglect are important. To neglect selfish suggestions, to ignore the escape from consequences that falsehood might make possible, to be dead to fear, to ignore bodily aches and pains, are quite as necessary in producing conduct that is generous, truthful, and courageous as are the positive connections made in building up the ideal.

In the discussion of transfer because of identity, it was emphasised that the presence of identity of various types explained cases of transfer that exist and made transfer possible. In no case must it be understood, however, that the presence of these identical elements is a warrant of transfer. Transfer may take place under such conditions, but it need not do so. Transfer is most sure to occur in cases of identity of substance and least likely in cases of identity of attitude or ideals. To have useful responses to six, above, city, quart, and so on, in one situation will very likely mean responses of a useful nature in almost all situations which have such elements present. It is very different with the ideals. A child may be very accurate in handwork, and yet almost nothing of it show elsewhere; he may be truthful to his teacher and lie to his parents; he may be generous to his classmates and the reverse to his brothers and sisters. Persistence in Latin may not influence his work in the shop, and the critical attitude of geometry be lacking in his science. Transfer in methods holds a middle ground. It seems that the more complex and the more subtle the connections involved, the less is the amount and the surety of the transfer.

In order to increase the probability of transfer when connections of method or attitudes are being formed, first, it should be made conscious, and second, it should be put into practice in several types of situations. There is grave danger that the method will not be differentiated from the subject, the ideal from the context of the situation. To many children learning how to study in connection with history, or to be critical in geometry, or to be scientific in the laboratory, has never been separated from the particular situation. The method or the ideal and the situation in which they have been acquired are one—one response. The general elements of method or attitude have never been made conscious, they are submerged in the particular subject or situation, and therefore the probability of transfer is lessened. If, on the other hand, the question of method, as an idea by itself, apart from any particular subject, is brought to the child's attention; if truth as an ideal, independent of context, is made conscious, it is much more likely to be reacted to in a different situation, for it has become a free idea and therefore crystallized. Then having freed the general somewhat from its particular setting, the learner should be given opportunity to put it in practice in other settings. To simply form the method connections or the attitude responses in Latin and then blindly trust that they will be of general use is unsafe. It is the business of the educator to make as sure as he can of the transfer, and that can only be done by practicing in several fields. These two procedures which make transfer more sure, i.e., making the element conscious and giving practice in several fields, are not sharply divided, but interact. Practice makes the idea clearer and freer, and this in turn makes fresh practice profitable. It is simply the application of the law of analysis by varying concomitants.

In all this matter of transfer it must be borne in mind that a very slight amount of transfer of some of these more general responses may be of tremendous value educationally, provided it is over a very wide field. If a boy's study of high school science made him at all more scientific in his attitude towards such life situations as politics, morals, city sanitation, and the like, it would be of much more value than the particular habit formed. If a girl's work in home economics resulted in but a slight transfer of vital interest to the actual problems of home-making, it would mean much to the homes of America. If a boy's training in connection with the athletics of his school fosters in him an ideal of fair play which influences him at all in his dealings with men in business, with his family, with himself, the training would have been worth while. To discount training simply because the transfer is slight is manifestly unfair. The kind of responses which transfer are quite as important as the amount of the transfer.

The idea that every subject will furnish the same amount of discipline provided they are equally well taught is evidently false. Every school subject must now be weighed from two points of view,—first, as to the worth of the particular facts, responses, habits, which it forms, and second, as to the opportunity it offers for the formation of connections which are of general application. The training which educators are sure of is the particular training offered by the subject; the general training is more problematic. Hence no subject should be retained in our present curriculum whose only value is a claim to disciplinary training. Such general training as the subject affords could probably be gained from some other subject whose content is also valuable. Just because a subject is difficult, or is distasteful, is no sign that its pursuit will result in disciplinary training. In fact, the psychology of play and drudgery make it apparent that the presence of annoyance, of distaste, will lessen the disciplinary value. Only those subjects and activities which are characterized by the play spirit can offer true educational development. The more the play spirit enters in, the greater the possibility of securing not only special training, but general discipline as well. Thorndike sums up the present attitude towards special subjects by saying, "An impartial inventory of the facts in the ordinary pupil of ten to eighteen would find the general training from English composition greater than that from formal logic, the training from physics and chemistry greater than that from geometry, and the training from a year's study of the laws and institutions of the Romans greater than that from equal study of their language. The grammatical studies which have been considered the chief depositories of disciplinary magic would be found in general inferior to scientific treatments of human nature as a whole. The superiority for discipline of pure overapplied science would be referred in large measure to the fact that pure science could be so widely applied. The disciplinary value of geometry would appear to be due, not to the simplicity of its conditions, but to the rigor of its proofs; the greatest disciplinary value of Latin would appear in the case, not of those who disliked it and found it hard, but of those to whom it was a charming game."


1. It has been experimentally determined that the ease with which one memorizes one set of facts may be very greatly improved without a corresponding improvement in ability to memorize in some other field. How would you use this fact to refute the argument that we possess a general faculty of memory?

2. How is it possible for a man to reason accurately in the field of engineering and yet make very grave mistakes in his reasoning about government or education?

3. What assurance have we that skill or capacity for successful work developed in one situation will be transferred to another situation involving the same mental processes of habit formation, reasoning, imagination, and the like?

4. What are the different types of identity which make possible transfer of training?

5. How can we make the identity of methods of work most significant for transfer of training and for the education of the individual?

6. Why do ideals which seem to control in one situation fail to affect other activities in which the same ideal is called for?

7. Under what conditions may a very slight amount of transfer of training become of the very greatest importance for education?

8. Why may we not hope for the largest results in training by compelling children to study that which is distasteful? Do children (or adults) work hardest when they are forced to attend to that from which they derive little or no satisfaction?

9. Which student gets the most significant training from his algebra, the boy who enjoys work in this field or the boy who worries through it because algebra is required for graduation from the high school?

10. Why may we hope to secure more significant training in junior high schools which offer a great variety of courses than was accomplished by the seventh and eighth grades in which all pupils were compelled to study the same subjects?

11. Why is Latin a good subject from the standpoint of training for one student and a very poor subject with which to seek to educate another student?

* * * * *


The exercises which teachers conduct in their classrooms do not commonly involve a single type of mental activity. It is true, however, that certain lessons tend to involve one type of activity predominantly. There are lessons which seek primarily to fix habits, others in which thinking of the inductive type is primarily involved, and still others in which deductive thinking or appreciation are the ends sought. As has already been indicated in the discussion of habit, thinking, and appreciation in the previous chapters, these types of mental activity are not to be thought of as separate and distinct. Habit formation may involve thinking. In a lesson predominantly inductive or deductive, some element of drill may enter, or appreciation may be sought with respect to some particular part of the situation presented. These different kinds of exercises, drills, thinking (inductive or deductive), and appreciation are fairly distinct psychological types.

In addition to the psychological types of exercises mentioned above, exercises are conducted in the classroom which may be designated under the following heads: lecturing, the recitation lesson, examination and review lessons. In any one of these the mental process involved may be any of those mentioned above as belonging to the purely psychological types of lessons or a combination of any two or more of them. It has seemed worth while to treat briefly of both sorts of lesson types, and to discuss at some length, lecturing, about which there is considerable disagreement, and the additional topic of questioning, which is the means employed in all of these different types of classroom exercises.

The Inductive Lesson. It has been common in the discussion of the inductive development lesson to classify the stages through which one passes from his recognition of a problem to his conclusion in five steps. These divisions have commonly been spoken of as (1) preparation; (2) presentation; (3)comparison and abstraction; (4) generalization; and (5) application. It has even been suggested that all lessons should conform to this order of procedure. From the discussions in the previous chapters, the reader will understand that such a formal method of procedure would not conform to what we know about mental activity and its normal exercise and development. There is some advantage, however, in thinking of the general order of procedure in the inductive lesson as outlined by these steps.

The step of preparation has to do with making clear to the pupil the aim or purpose of the problem with which he is to deal. It is not always possible in the classroom to have children at work upon just such problems as may occur to them. The orderly development of a subject to be taught requires that the teacher discover to children problems or purposes which may result in thinking. The skill of the teacher depends upon his knowledge of the previous experiences of the children in the class and his skill in having them word the problem which remains unsolved in their experience in such a way as to make it attractive to them. Indeed, it may be said that children never have a worthy aim unless it is one which is intellectually stimulating. A problem exists only when we desire to find the answer.

The term "presentation" suggests a method of procedure which we would not want to follow too frequently; that is, we may hope not simply to present facts for acceptance or rejection, but, rather, we want children to search for the data which they may need in solving their problem. From the very beginning of their school career children need, in the light of a problem stated, to learn to utilize all of the possible sources of information available. Their own experience, the questions which they may put to other people, observations which they may undertake with considerable care, books or other sources of information which they may consult, all are to be thought of as tools to be used or sources of information available for the solution of problems. It cannot be too often reiterated that it is not simply getting facts, reading books, performing experiments, which is significant, but, rather, which of these operations is conducted in the light of a problem clearly conceived by children.

The step of presentation, as above described, is not one that may be begun and completed before other parts of the inductive lesson are carried on. As soon as any facts are available they are either accepted or rejected, as they may help in the solution of the problem; comparisons are instituted, the essential elements of likeness are noticed, and even a partial solution of the problem may be suggested in terms of a new generalization. The student may then begin to gather further facts, to pass through further steps of comparison, and to make still further modifications of his generalization as he proceeds in his work. At any stage of the process the student may stop to apply or test the validity of a generalization which has been formed. It is even true that the statement of the problem with which one starts may be modified in the light of new facts found, or new analyses instituted, or new elements of likeness which have been discovered.

In the conduct of an inductive lesson it is of primary importance that the teacher discover to children problems, the solutions of which are important for them, that he guide them in so far as it is possible for them to find all of the facts necessary in their search for data, that he encourage them to discuss with each other, even to the extent of disagreeing, with respect to comparisons which are instituted or generalizations which are premature, and above all, that he develop, in so far as it is possible, the habit of verifying conclusions.

The Deductive Lesson. The interdependence of induction and deduction has been discussed in the chapter devoted to thinking. The procedure in a deductive lesson is from a clear recognition of the problem involved, through the analysis of the situation and abstraction of the essential elements, to a search for the laws or principles in which to classify the particular element or individual with which we are dealing, to a careful comparison of this particular with the general that we have found, to our conclusion, which is established by a process of verification. Briefly stated, the normal order of procedure might be indicated as follows: (1) finding the problem; (2) finding the generalization or principles; (3) inference; (4) verification. It is important in this type of exercise, as has been indicated in the discussion of the inductive lesson, that the problem be made clear. So long as children indulge in random guesses as to the process which is involved in the solution of a problem in arithmetic, or the principle which is to be invoked in science, or the rule which is to be called to mind in explaining a grammatical construction, we may take it for granted that they have no very clear conception of the process through which they must pass, nor of the issues which are involved. In the search for the generalization or principle which will explain the problem, a process of acceptance and rejection is involved. It helps children to state definitely, with respect to a problem in arithmetic, that they know that this particular principle is not the one which they need. It is often by a process of elimination that a child can best explain a grammatical construction, either in English or in a foreign language. Of course the elimination of the principle or law which is not the right one means simply that we are reducing the number of chances of making a mistake. If out of four possibilities we can immediately eliminate two of them, there are only two left to be considered. After children have discovered the generalization or principle involved, it is well to have them state definitely the inference which they make. Just as in the inductive process we pass almost immediately from the step of comparison and abstraction to the statement of generalization, so in the deductive lesson, when once we have related the particular case under consideration to the principle which explains it, we are ready to state our inference. Verification involves the trying out of our inference to see that it certainly will hold. This may be done by proposing some other inference which we find to be invalid, or by seeking to find any other law or principle which will explain our particular situation. Here again, as in the inductive lesson, the skillful teacher makes his greatest contribution by having children become increasingly careful in this step of verification. Almost any one can pass through the several stages involved in deductive thinking and arrive at a wrong conclusion. That which distinguishes the careful thinker from the careless student is the sincerity of the former in his unwillingness to accept his conclusions until they are verified.

The Drill Lesson. The drill lesson is so clearly a matter of fixing habits that little needs to be added to the chapter dealing with this subject. If one were to attempt to give in order the steps of the process involved, they might be stated as follows: (1) establishing a motive for forming the habit; (2) knowing exactly what we wish to do, or the habit or skill to be acquired; (3) recognition of the importance of the focusing of attention during the period devoted to repetitions; (4) variation in practice in order to lessen fatigue and to help to fix attention; (5) a recognition of the danger of making mistakes, with consequent provision against lapses; (6) the principle of review, which may be stated best by suggesting that the period between practice exercises may only gradually be lengthened.

Possibly the greatest deficiency in drill work, as commonly conducted, is found in the tendency upon the part of some teachers to depend upon repetition involving many mistakes. This is due quite frequently to the assignment of too much to be accomplished. Twenty-five words in spelling, a whole multiplication table, a complete conjugation in Latin, all suggest the danger of mistakes which will be difficult to eliminate later on. The wise teacher is the one who provides very carefully against mistakes upon the part of pupils. He assigns a minimum number of words, or a number of combinations, or a part of a conjugation, and takes care to discover that children are sure of themselves before indulging in that practice which is to fix the habit.

In much of the drill work there is, of course, the desirability of gaining in speed. In this field successful teachers have discovered that much is gained by more or less artificial stimuli which seem to be altogether outside of the work required to form a habit. In drill on column addition successful work is done by placing the problem on the board and following through the combinations by pointing the pointer and making a tap on the board as one proceeds through the column. Concert work of this sort seems to have the effect of speeding up those who would ordinarily lag, even though they might get the right result. The most skillful teachers of typewriting count or clap their hands or use the phonograph for the sake of speeding up their students. They have discovered that the same amount of time devoted to typewriting practice will produce anywhere from twenty-five to one hundred per cent more speed under such artificial stimulation as they were in the habit of getting merely by asking the students to practice. These experiences, of course, suggest that drill work will require an expenditure of energy and an alertness upon the part of teachers, and not merely an assignment of work to be done by pupils.

Appreciation Lesson. The work which the teacher does in securing appreciation has been suggested in a previous chapter. It will suffice here briefly to state what may be thought of as the order of procedure in securing appreciation. It is not as easy in this case to state the development in terms of particular steps or processes, since, as has already been indicated in the chapter on appreciation, the student is passive rather than active, is contemplating and enjoying, rather than attacking and working to secure a particular result. The work of the teacher may, however, be organized around the following heads: (1) it is of primary importance that the teacher bring to the class an enthusiasm and joy for the picture, music, poetry, person, or achievement which he wishes to present; (2) children must not be forced to accept nor even encouraged to repeat the evaluation determined by teachers; (3) spontaneous and sincere response upon the part of children should be accepted, even though it may not conform to the teacher's estimate; (4) children should be encouraged to choose from among many of the forms or situations presented for their approval those which they like best; (5) the technique involved in the creation of the artistic form should be subordinated to enjoyment in the field of the fine arts; (6) throughout, the play spirit should be predominant, for if the element of drudgery enters, appreciation disappears.

Teachers who get good results in appreciation secure them mainly by virtue of the fact that they have large capacity for enjoyment in the fields which they present to children. A teacher who is enthusiastic, and who really finds great joy in music, will awaken and develop power of appreciation upon the part of his pupils. The teacher who can enter into the spirit of the child poetry, or of the fairy tale, will get a type of appreciation not enjoyed by the teacher who finds delight only in adult literature. It is of the utmost importance to recognize the fact that children only gradually grow from an appreciation or joy in that which is crude to that which represents the highest type of artistic production. It is important to have children try themselves out in creative work; but the influence of a teacher may be far greater than that of the attempts of the children to produce in these fields.

Lecturing. Among the various types of methods used in teaching there is probably no one which has received such severe criticism as the so-called lecture method. The result of this criticism has been, theoretically at least, to abolish lecturing from the elementary school and to diminish the use of this method in the high school, although in the colleges and universities it is still the most popular method. Although it is true that the lecture method is not the best one for continual use in elementary and high school, still its entire disuse is unfortunate. So is its blind use by those who still adhere to the old ways of doing things.

The chief criticisms of the method are, first, that it makes of the learner a mere recipient instead of a thinker; second, that the material so gained does not become part of the mental life of the hearers and so is not so well remembered nor so easily applied as material gained in other ways; third, that the instructor has no means of determining whether his class is getting the right ideas or wholly false ones; fourth, the method lacks interest in the majority of cases. Despite the truth of these criticisms, there are occasions when the lecture or telling method is the best one—in fact the only one that can accomplish the desired result.

First, the lecture method may sometimes take the place of books. Often, even in the elementary school, there is need for the children to get facts,—information in history or geography or literature,—and the getting of these facts from books would be too difficult or too wasteful. In such a case telling the facts is certainly the best way to give them. A teacher in half a period can give material that it might take the children hours to find. By telling them the facts, he not only saves waste of time, but also retains the interest. Very often discouragement and even dislike results from a prolonged search for a few facts. Of course in the higher schools, when the material to be given is not in print, when the professor is the source of certain theories, methods, and explanations, lecturing is the only way for students to get the material. It must be borne in mind that human beings are naturally a source of interest, particularly to children, and therefore having the teacher tell, other things being equal, will make a greater impression than reading it in a book.

Second, the lecture method is valuable as a means of explanation. Despite the fact that the material given may be adapted to the child's level of development, still it often happens that it is not clear. Then, instead of sending the child to the same material again, an explanation by teacher or fellow pupil is much better. It may be just the inflection used, or the choice of different words, that will clear up the difficulty.

Third, the telling method should be used for illustration. Very often when illustration is necessary the lecture method is supplemented by illustrative material of various types—objects, experiments, pictures, models, diagrams, and so on. None of this material, however, is used to its best advantage unless it is accompanied by the telling method. It is through the telling that the essentials of the illustrative material gain the proper perspective. Without such explanation some unimportant detail may focus the attention and the value of the material be lost. It has been customary to emphasize the need for and the value of this concrete illustrative material. Teachers have felt that if it was possible to have the actual object, it should be obtained; if that was not possible, why then have pictures, but diagrams and words should only be used as a last resort. There can be no doubt as to the value of the concrete material, especially with little children—but its use has been carried to an extreme because it has been used blindly. For instance, sometimes the concrete material because of its general inherent interest, or because of its special appeal to some instinct, attracts the attention of the child in such a way that the point which was to be illustrated is lost sight of. Witness work in nature study in the lower grades, and in chemistry in the high school. The concrete material may be so complex that again the essential point is lost in the mass of detail. No perspective can be obtained because of the complexity—witness work with principles of machines in physics and the circulation of the blood in biology. Sometimes the diagram or word explanation with nothing of the more concrete material is the best type of illustration. A fresh application of the principle or lesson by the teacher is another means of illustration and one of the best, for it not only broadens the student's point of view and gives another cue to the material, but it may also make direct connection with his own experience. Illustrations in the book often fail to do this, but the teacher knowing his particular class can make the application that will mean most. Telling a story or incident is another way of illustration. The personal element is nearly always present in this means, and is a valuable spur to interest.

Illustrations of all kinds, from the concrete to the story form, have been grossly misused in teaching, so that to-day teachers are almost afraid to use any. The difficulty has been that illustrations have been used as a means of regaining wandering attention. It has been the sugar-coating. The illustration, then, has become the important thing and the material nonimportant. The class has watched the experiment or listened to the story, but when that was over the attention was gone again. Illustrations should not be the means of holding the attention; that is the function of the material itself. If the lesson cannot hold the interest, illustrations are worse than useless. Illustrations, then, of all kinds must be subordinated to the material—they are only a means to an end, and that end is a better understanding of the material. Illustrations, further, should have a vital, necessary connection with the point they are used to make clearer. Illustrations that are dragged in, that are not vitally connected with the point, are entirely out of place. If illustrations always truly illustrated, then children would not remember the illustration and forget the point, for remembering the illustration they would be led directly to the point because of the closeness of the connection.

Fourth, telling or lecturing is the best way to get appreciation. This was discussed in the chapter on appreciation, so need only be mentioned here. The interpretation by the teacher of the character, the picture, the poem, the policy, or what not, not only increases the understanding of the listener, but also calls up feeling responses. It is in this telling that the personality of the teacher, his experiences, his ideals, make themselves felt. One can often win appreciation of and allegiance to the best in life by the use of the telling method in the appropriate situations.

Fifth, the lecture method should sometimes be used as a means of getting the desired mental attitude. The general laws of learning emphasize the importance of the mind's set as a condition to readiness of neurone tracts. Five or ten minutes spent at the beginning of a subject, or a new section of work, in introducing the class to it, may give the keynote for the whole course. A whole period may be profitably be spent this way. Not only will the telling method used on such occasions give the right emotional attitude towards a subject, but also the right intellectual set as well.

It is evident then that the lecture or telling method has its place in all parts of the educational system, but its place should be clearly and definitely recognized. The danger is not in using it, but in using it at the wrong time, and in overusing it. Bearing in mind the dangers that adhere to its use, it is always well, whether the method is used in grades or in college, to mix it with other methods or to follow it by another method that will do the things that the lecture method may have left undone.

The Recitation Lesson. As has been suggested in the opening of this chapter, the recitation lesson is not a type involving any particular psychological process. It is, rather, a method of procedure which may involve any of the other types of work already discussed. When the recitation lesson means merely reciting paragraphs from the book with little or no reference to problems to be solved or skill to be developed, it has no place in a schoolroom. When, however, the teacher uses the recitation lesson as an exercise in which he assures himself that facts needed for further progress in thinking have been secured, or that habits have been established, or verbatim memorization accomplished, this type of exercise is justified. It is well to remember that the thought process involved in the development of a subject, or the solution even of a single problem, may extend over many class periods. The recitation lesson may be important in organizing the material which is to be used in the larger thought whole. Again, this type of exercise may involve the presentation of material which is to be used as a basis for appreciation in literature, in music, in art, in history, and the like. The organization of experiences of children, whether secured through observations, discussions, or from books, around certain topics may furnish a most satisfactory basis for the development of problems or of the gathering of the material essential for their solution. A better understanding of the conditions which make for success in habit formation, in thinking, and the development of appreciation, will tend to eliminate from our schools that type of exercise in which teachers ask merely that children recite to them what they have been able to remember from the books which they have read or the lectures which they have heard.

The Examination and Review Lessons. In the establishment of habits, the development of appreciation, or the growth in understanding which we seek to secure through thinking, there will be many occasions for checking up our work. Successful teaching requires that the habit that we think we have established be called for and additional practice given from time to time in order to be certain that it is fixed. In like manner, the development of our thought in any field is not something which is accomplished without respect to later neglect. We, rather, build a system of thought with reference to a particular field or subject as a result of thinking, and rethinking through the many different situations which are involved. In like manner, in the field of appreciation the very essence of our enjoyment is to be found in the fact that that which we have enjoyed we recall, and strengthen our appreciation through the revival of the experience. The review is, of course, most successful when it is not simply going over the whole material in exactly the same way. In habit formation it is often advisable to arrange in a different order the stimuli which are to bring the desired responses, for the very essence of habit formation is found in the fact that the particular response can be secured regardless of the order in which they are called for. In thinking, as a subject is developed, our control is measured by the better perspective which we secure. This means, of course, that in review we will not be concerned with reviving all of the processes through which we have passed, but, rather, in a reorganization quite different from that which was originally provided.

The examination lesson is classified here as of the same type as the review because a good examination involves all that has been suggested by review. The writer has no sympathy with those who argue against examinations. The only proof that we can get of the success or failure of our work is to be found in the achievement of pupils. It is not desirable to set aside a particular period of a week devoted entirely to examinations, because examinations in all subjects cannot to best advantage be given during the same period. There are stages in the development of our thinking, or in the acquiring of skill, or in our understanding and appreciation which occur at irregular intervals and which call for a summing up of what has gone before, in order that we may be sure of success in the work which is to follow. It is, of course, undesirable to devote a whole week to examinations on account of the strain and excitement under which children labor. It is entirely possible to know of the achievements of children through examinations which have been given at irregular intervals throughout the term. It would be best, probably, never to give more than one examination on any one day, and, as a rule, to devote only the regular class period to such work. In another chapter the discussion of more exact methods of measuring the achievements of children will be discussed at some length.

In all of the lesson types mentioned above, one of the most important means employed by teachers for the stimulation of pupils is the question. It seems wise, therefore, to devote some paragraphs to a consideration of questioning as determining skill in teaching.

Questioning. The purpose of a question is to serve as a situation which shall arouse to activity certain nerve connections and thus bring a response. Questions, oral or written, are the chief tools used in schools to gain responses. In some situations it is the only means a teacher may have of arousing the response. Psychologically, then, the value of the question must be judged by the response.

Questions may be considered from the point of view of the kind of response they call for. Probably the most common kind of question is the one that calls for facts as answers. It involves memory—but memory of a rote type. It does not require thinking. All drill questions are of this type. The connections aroused are definitely final in a certain order, and the question simply sets off the train of bonds that leads directly to the answer. Another type of question involving the memory process is the one which initiates recall, but here thought is active. The answer cannot be gained in a mechanical way, but selection and rejection are involved. The answer is to be found by examining past experience, but only in a thoughtful way. Questions which call for comparison form another type. These may vary from those which involve the comparison of sense material to those which involve the comparison of policies or epochs. Words, characters, plots, definitions, plans, subjects—everything with which intellectual life deals is open to comparison. Comparison is one of the steps in the process of reasoning, and hence questions of this type are extremely important. Then there are the questions which arouse the response of analysis. These questions vary among themselves according to the type of analysis needed, whether piecemeal attention or analysis due to varying concomitants. The former drives the thinker through gradual recognition and elimination of the known elements to a consciousness of the only partly known. The latter, by attracting the attention to unvarying factors in the changing situations, forces out the new and until then unknown element. Some questions require judgment as a response. The judgment may be one concerning relationships, or concerning worth or value, or be merely a matter of definition—all questions calling for criticism are of this type. In any case this type of question involves the thought element at its best. The question requiring organization forms another type. There is no sharp line of division between these types of questions. No one of them should be used exclusively. Some of them imply operations of a simple type as well as the particular response demanded by that form. For instance, some of the questions involving analysis imply comparison and recalling. A judgment question might call for all the simple processes noted above and others as well. The responses then vary in complexity and difficulty. The order of advance in both complexity and difficulty of the response is from the mere drill question to the judgment question.

Another type of question is the one which desires appreciation as a response. This question is one of the most difficult to frame, for it must tend to inhibit the critical attitude and by means of the associations it arouses or its own suggestive power get the appreciative response. Questions of this type often call for constructive imagery as a means to the desired end. Some questions are directive in their tendency. They require as response an attitude or set of the mind. They set the child thinking in this direction rather than that. In a sense they are suggestive, but they suggest the line of search rather than the response. A final type of question is akin to the one just discussed—the question whose response is further questions. Here again the response desired is an attitude, but in this case it is more than an attitude, it is also a definite response that shall come in the form of questions. The questions of a good teacher should result in students asking questions both of people and of books. These last three types of questions are perhaps the most difficult of all. Because of their complexity and subtlety they often miss fire and fail of their purpose. Properly handled they are among the most powerful tools a teacher has. The type of question used must vary, not only with the particular group of children, and the type of lesson, but also with the subject. Questions that would be the best type in mathematics might not be so good for an art lesson. The kinds of questions used must be adapted to the particular situation.

Psychologically a question is valuable not only in accordance with the kind of response it gets, but also in proportion to the readiness of the response. A question that is of such a character that the response is hazy, stumbling, hesitating—a question that brings no clear-cut response because the child does not understand what is wanted, is a poor question. This does not at all mean that the right response must always come immediately. Some of the best questions are put with the intention of forcing the child to realize that he can't answer—that he doesn't know. If that type of response comes to that question, it is the best possible answer. Nor need the whole answer come immediately. For instance, in many of the judgment questions the thinking process aroused may take some time before the judgment is reached, and meanwhile several partial answers may be given. But if the question asked started the process, without waste of time in trying to find out what it meant, the question is good. With these explanations, then, the second qualification of a good question is that it secures the appropriate response readily. In order to do this, these factors must be considered: First, the principle of apperception must be recognized. Every question must deal with material that is on a level with the stage of development of the one questioned. Not only so, but the question must connect somewhere with the learner's experience. This means a recognition also of individual differences. The question must also be couched in language that can be understood easily by the one questioned. To have to try to understand the language of the question as well as the question, results in divided attention and delayed responses. Second, the question should be clear and definite. A question that has these characteristics will challenge the attention of the class. It is directed straight at the point at issue, and no time will be lost in wondering what the question means, or in trying two or three tentative answers. Third, the younger the child, the simpler the question must be. With little children, to be good a question may involve only one idea, or relationship. The amount involved in the question, its scope and content, must be adapted to the mental development of the learner. It is only a mature thinker who can carry simultaneously two or three points of issue, or possibilities. Fourth, the question to gain a ready response must be interesting. Not only must the lesson as a whole be interesting, but the questions themselves must have the same quality. Dull questions can kill an otherwise good lesson. The form of the question is thus a big factor in gaining a ready response. All the qualities which gain involuntary attention can be used in framing an interesting question—novelty, exaggeration, contrast, life, color, and so on.

The third point to be considered in determining a good question is whether or not it satisfies the demands of economy. This demand is a fair one both from the standpoint of the best use of the time at the disposal of the learner, and also from the standpoint of the best means of gaining the greatest development on the part of the learner in a given time. The number of questions asked thus enters in as a factor. When a teacher asks four or five questions when one would serve the same purpose, she is not only wasting time, but the child is not getting the opportunity to do any thinking and therefore is not developing. Recent studies on the actual number of questions asked in a recitation point to the conclusion that economy both of time and in development is being seriously overlooked. Economy in response may also be brightened by preserving a logical sequence between questions. It is a matter of fact in psychology that associations are systematized about central ideas; it is also a fact that the set of the mind, in this direction rather than that, is characteristic of all work. Logical sequence, then, makes use of both these facts—both of the systematization of ideas and of the mental attitude.

The fourth test of good questioning is the universality of its appeal. Some questions which are otherwise good appeal but to comparatively few in the class. This, of course, means that responses are being gained but from few. The best questioning stimulates most of the class; all members of the class are working. In order to secure this result the questions must be properly distributed over the class. The bright pupils must not be allowed to do all the work; or, on the other hand, all the attention of the teachers must not be given to the dull pupils. Not only should the questions be well distributed, but they must vary according to the individual ability of the particular child. This has already been emphasized in dealing with readiness of response. Many a lesson has been unsuccessful because the teacher gave too difficult a question to a dull child, and while she was struggling with him, she lost the rest of the class. The reverse is also true, to give a bright child a question that requires almost no thinking means that a mechanical answer will be given and no further activity stimulated. The extent to which all the class are mentally active is one measure of a good question.


1. Give an example of a lesson which you have taught which was predominantly inductive. Show how you proceeded from the discovery of the problem to your pupils to the solution attained.

2. What is involved in the "step" of presentation?

3. Why may we not consider the several "steps" of the inductive lesson as occurring in a definite and mutually exclusive sequence?

4. In what respect is the procedure in a deductive lesson like that which you follow in an inductive lesson?

5. Show how verification is an important element in both inductive and deductive lessons.

6. Give illustrations of successful drill lessons and make clear the reason for the degree of success achieved.

7. What measures have you found most advantageous in securing speed in drill work?

8. What are the elements which make for success in an appreciation lesson?

9. Upon what grounds and to what extent can lecturing be defended as a method of instruction?

10. What may be the relation between a good recitation lesson and the solution of a problem? Growth in power of appreciation?

11. For what purposes should examinations be given? When should examinations be given?

12. When are questions which call for facts justified?

13. Why are questions which call for comparisons to be considered important?

14. Why is it important to phrase questions carefully?

15. Why should a teacher ask some questions which cannot be answered immediately?

16. What criteria would you apply in testing the questions which you put to your class?

17. Write five questions which in your judgment will demand thinking upon some topic which you plan to teach to your class.

* * * * *


The term study has been used very loosely by both teachers and children. As used by teachers it frequently meant something very different from what children had in mind when they used it. Further, teachers themselves have often used the term in connection with mental activities which, technically speaking, could not possibly come under that head. Much confusion and lack of efficient work has been the result. Recently various attempts have been made to give the term study a more exact meaning. McMurry defines it as "the work that is necessary in the assimilation of ideas"—"the vigorous application of the mind to a subject for the satisfaction of a felt need." In other words, study is thinking. Psychologically, what makes for good thinking makes for good study. Study is controlled mental activity working towards the realization of a goal. It is the adaptation of means to end, in the attempt to satisfy a felt need. It involves a definite purpose or goal, which is problematic, the selection and rejection of suggestions, tentative judgments, and conclusion. The mind of the one who studies is active, vigorously active, not in an aimless fashion, but along sharply defined lines. This is the essential characteristic of all study.

There are, however, various types of study which differ materially from each other according to the subject matter or to the type of response required. Some study involves comparatively little thinking. The directed activity must be present, but the choice, the judgment, may need to be exercised only in the beginning when methods of procedure need to be selected, and later on, perhaps, when successes or failures need to be noted and changes made in the methods accordingly. Another type of study needs continual thinking of the most active sort all the way through the period. Just the proportion of the various factors involved in thinking which is present at any given study period must be determined by the response. A type of study which would be completely satisfactory for one subject needing one response, would be entirely inadequate for another subject needing another response. To illustrate, in some cases the study must deal with habit formation. The need felt is to learn a mechanical response of a very definite nature to this situation; the problem is to get that response. The thinking would come in in deciding upon the method, in watching for successes, in criticizing progress, and in judging when the end was obtained. A large part of the time spent in study would, however, need to be spent in repetition, in drill. Of such character is study of spelling, of vocabularies, of dates; study in order to gain skill in adding, or speed in reading, or to improve in writing or sewing. Much of habit formation goes on without study—in fact, to some it may seem to be ludicrous to use the word "study" in connection with the formation of habits. It is just because the study elements in connection with responses of this type have been omitted that there has been such a tremendous waste of time in teaching children to form right habits. This omission also explains the poor results, for the process has been mechanical and blind on the part of the student. At the other extreme in types of study is that which can be used in science and mathematics, in geography and history, when the major part of the time is given to selecting and rejecting suggestions and seems required by the goal. In this type the habituation, the fixing of the material, comes largely as a by-product of the factors used in the thinking.

Study may, then, be classified according as the response required is physical habit, memory, appreciation, or judgment. These types overlap, no one of them can exist absolutely alone, but it is possible to name them according to the response. Study may also be classified into supervised study, or unsupervised study, into individual or group study. We might also classify study as it has to do with books, with people, or with materials. The term has been rather arbitrarily applied to activities that dealt with books, but surely much study is accomplished when people are consulted instead of books, and also when the sources of information or the standards are flowers, or rocks, or textiles.

Study, then, is a big term, including many different varieties of activities, of varying degrees of difficulty and responsibility. It cannot possibly be taught all at once, according to one method, at one spot in the school curriculum. Power to study is of very gradual growth. It must proceed slowly, from simple to complex types. From easy to difficult problems, from situations where there is close supervision and direction to situations where the student assumes full responsibility. Knowing how to study is not an inborn gift—it does not come as a matter of intuition, nor does it come in some mysterious way when the child is of high school age. It is governed by the laws of learning, or readiness, exercise, and effect, just as truly as any other ability is. If adults are to know how to study, if they are to use the technique of the various kinds of study efficiently, children must be taught how. Nor can we expect the upper grammar grade or the high school teachers to do this. Habits of study must be formed just as soon as the responses to which it leads are needed. Beginning down in the kindergarten with study in connection with physical and mental habits, the child should be taught how to study. The type must gradually become more complex; he must pass from group to individual study, from supervised to unsupervised, but it must all come logically, from step to step. True, it is not easy to teach how to study. A careful analysis of the various types with their peculiar elements should be a help. First, however, there are some general principles that underlie all study which must be discussed.

Study must have, as has already been stated, a purpose. The individual, in order to exercise his mind in a controlled way, must have an aim. The clearer and more definite the aim, whether it be little or big, the better the study will be. From the beginning, then, children must be taught to make sure they know what they are going to do before beginning to study. It may be necessary to teach them in the early grades to say to themselves or to the class just what they are going to accomplish in the study. Teach them when the lesson is assigned to write down in their books just what the problem for study is. Warn them never to begin study without definitely knowing the aim—if they don't know it, make them realize that the first thing to do is to find out the purpose by asking some one else. Better no study at all than aimless or misdirected activity, because of lack of purpose.

No study worthy of the name can be carried on without interest. The child who studies well must be brought to realize this. The value of interest can be brought home to him by having him compare the work he does, the time he spends, and how he feels when studying something in which he has a vital interest with the results when the topic is uninteresting. Of course, as will be pointed out later, much of the gaining of interest lies in the hands of the teacher necessarily, but if the child realizes the need of it in efficient study, some responsibility will rest on him to find an interest if it is not already there. No matter how expert the teacher may be, because of individual differences no problem will be equally interesting to all pupils in itself, and no incentive will have an equal appeal to all children. Therefore children should be taught to find interest for themselves. Certain devices can be suggested, such as working with another child and competing with him, "making believe" in study, and finding some connection with something in which he is interested, working against his own score, and the like.

Not only do the demands of economy require that the topic of study receive concentrated attention, but the results themselves are better when such is the case. Half an hour of concentrated work gives much better results than an hour of study with scattered attention. An hour spent when half an hour would do is thus not only wasteful of time, but is productive of poorer results and bad habits of study as well. Children need to be taught this from the beginning. Much time is wasted even by mature university students when they suppose themselves to be studying. Children can be taught to ignore distractions—to train themselves to keep their eyes on the book, despite the fact that the door is opened, or a seat mate is looking for a book. They should be encouraged to set themselves time limits in various subjects and adhere to them. It is economical to follow a regular schedule in study—either in the school or at home. Let each child make out his study schedule and keep to it. Teach children that the best work is done when they are calm and steady. That either excitement or worry is a hindrance. Therefore they should avoid doing their studying under those conditions, and should do all they can to remove such conditions. Training children to do their best and then not to worry would not only improve the health of many upper grammar grade and high school children, but would also improve their work.

Study requires a certain critical attitude, a checking up of results against the problem set. In order to be efficient in study a child should know when he has reached the solution, when the means have been adapted to the end, when he has reached the goal. This checking up, of course, means habits of self-criticism and standards. Sometimes all that is necessary is for the child to be made conscious of this fact so that he can test himself, for instance, in memory work, or in solving a problem in mathematics. On the other hand, sometimes he will have to compare his work with definite standards, such as the Thorndike Handwriting Scale, or the Hillegas Composition Scale.[19] In other instances, he will have to search for standards. He will need to know what his classmates have accomplished, what other people think, what other text-books say, and so on. Gradually he must be made conscious that study is a controlled activity, and unless it reaches the goal, and the correct one, it is useless. He must be made to feel that the responsibility to see that such results are reached rests on him.

These, then, are the general factors involved in all types of study, and therefore are fundamental to good habits of study: a clear purpose; vital interest of some kind; concentrated attention, and a critical attitude. There are further additional suggestions which are peculiar to the special type of study.

In study which is directed to habit formation, the student should be taught the danger of allowing exceptions. He should know the possibility of undoing much good work through a little carelessness. Preaching won't bring this home to him—it must come through having his attention attracted to such an occurrence in his own work or in that of his mates. After that knowledge of the actual experiences of others, athletes, musicians, and others will help to intensify the impression. The value of repetition as one of the chief factors in habit formation must be emphasized. The child should be encouraged to make opportunities for practice both in free minutes during the school program, and outside of school. He must be taught in habit formation to practice the new habit in the way it is to be used: practicing the sounds of letters in words, the writing movements in writing words, swimming movements in the water, and so on. Practicing the whole movements, not trying to gain perfection in parts of it and then putting it together. It is important also that the learner be taught to keep his attention on the result to be obtained, instead of the movements. He should attend to the swing of the club, the lightness of the song, the cut the saw is making, the words he is writing, instead of the muscle movements involved. In breaking up bad habits it is sometimes necessary to concentrate on a part or a movement, when that is the crux of the error, but in general it is a bad practice when forming a new habit. The child must also learn to watch the habit of skill he is forming for signs of improvement and then to try to find out the reason for it. It has been proved experimentally that much of the improvement in habits of skill comes unconsciously to the learner, and necessarily so, but that in order for the improvement to continue and be effective, it must become conscious. Of course, at the beginning and for a long time it must be the teacher's duty to point out the improvement and to help the child to think out the reasons for it, but if he is to learn to study by himself the child must finally come to habits of self-criticism which will enable him to recognize success or failure in his own work. In all this discussion of teaching children to study it must be constantly borne in mind that it is a gradual process—and only very slowly does the child become conscious of the technique. Which elements can be made conscious, how much he can be left to himself, must depend on his maturity and previous training. In time, however, he should be able to apply them all—for only by so doing will he become capable of independent study.

When the study is primarily concerned with memory responses, all the elements which have just been discussed in connection with habit apply, for, after all, memory is but mental habit. There are other factors which enter into and which should be used in this type of study. First, the child should realize the need for understanding the material that is to be learned, before beginning to memorize it. He will then be taught to read the entire assignment through—look up difficult words and references, master the content, whether prose or poetry, whether the learning is to be verbatim or not, before doing anything further. Second, he will need to know the value of the modified whole method of learning, as well as its difficulties. If in the supervised periods of study and in class work, this method has been followed, it is very easy to make him conscious of it and willing to adopt it when he comes to do independent study. Third, he must be taught to distribute his time so that he does not devote too long a stretch to one subject. The value of going over work in the morning, after having studied the night or two nights before, should be emphasized. Also the value of beginning on assignments some time ahead, even if there is not time to finish them. Fourth, the child should be taught not to stop his work the minute he can give it perfectly. The need for overlearning, for permanent retention, must be made clear. How much overlearning is necessary, each child should find out for himself. Fifth, the value of outlining material as a means of aiding memory must be stressed. Sixth, the child should be taught to search for associations, connections of all types, in order to help himself remember facts. He might even be encouraged to make up some mnemonic device as an aid if these measures fail. If instead of simply trying to hammer material in by mere repetition children had been taught in their study to consciously make use of the other elements in a good memory, much time would be saved. But the responsibility should rest finally on the child to make use of these helps. The teacher must make him conscious of them, sometimes from their value by experiment, and then teach him to use them himself.

Much less can be done as a matter of conscious technique when the occasion of study is to further appreciation. A few suggestions might be offered. First, the child should be taught the value of associating with those who do appreciate in the line in which he is striving for improvement. He should be encouraged to consciously associate with them when opportunities for appreciation come. Second, he should know the need for coming in contact with the objects of appreciation if true feeling is to be developed. It is only by mingling with people, reading books, listening to music, that appreciation in those fields can be developed. Third, the value of concrete imagery and of connections with personal experience in arousing emotional tone should be emphasized. The child might be encouraged to consciously call up images and make connections with his own experience during study.

Study, when the object is to arrive at responses of judgment, is the type which has received most attention. This type of study includes within itself several possibilities. Although judgment is the only response that can solve the problem, still the problem may be one of giving the best expression in art or music or drama. It may be the analysis of a course of action or of a chemical compound. It may be the comparison of various opinions. It may be the arriving at a new law or principle. It is to one of these types of thinking that the term "study" is usually applied. Important as it is, the other three types already discussed cannot be neglected. If children are taught to study in connection with the simpler situations provided by the first two types, they will be the better prepared to deal with this complex type, for this highest type of study involves habit formation often and memory work always.

In the type of study involving reasoning, because of its complexity, and because the individual must work more independently, the child must learn the danger of following the first suggestion which offers itself. He must learn to weigh each suggestion offered with reference to the goal aimed at. Each step in the process must be tested and weighed in this manner. To go blindly ahead, following out a line of suggestions until the end is reached, which is then found to be the wrong one, wastes much time and is extremely discouraging. No suggestion of the way to adapt means to end should be accepted without careful criticism. The pupil should gradually be made conscious of the technique of reasoning, analysis, comparison, and abstraction. He must know that the first thing to do is to analyze the problem and see just what it requires. He must know that the abstraction depends upon the goal. The learner should be taught the sources of some of the commonest mistakes in judgment. For instance, if he knows of the tendency to respond in terms of analogy, and sees some of the errors to which accepting a minor likeness between two situations as identity lead, he will be much more apt to avoid such mistakes than would otherwise be true. If he knows how unsafe it is to form a judgment on limited data,—if from his own and his classmates' thinking first, and later from the history of science, illustrations are drawn of the disastrous effect of such thinking, he will see the value of seeking sources of information and several points of view before forming his own judgment. In his study the child should be taught not to be satisfied until he has tested the correctness of his judgment by verifying the result. This is a very necessary part of studying. He should check up his own thinking by finding out through appeal to facts if it is so; by putting the judgment into execution; by consulting the opinion of others, and so on.

Study may be considered from the point of view of the type of material which is used in the process. The student may be engaged on a problem which involves the use of apparatus or specimens of various kinds, or he may need to consult people, or he may have to use books. So far as the first type is concerned, it is obviously unwise to have a student at work on a problem which involves the use of material, unless the technique of method of use is well known. Until he can handle the material with some degree of facility it is waste of time for him to be struggling with problems which necessitate such use. Such practice results in divided attention, poor results from the study, and often bad habits in technique as well. Gaining the technique must be in itself a problem for separate study.

Children should be taught to ask questions which bear directly on the point they wish to know. If they in working out some problem are dependent on getting some information from the janitor, or the postman, or a mason, they must be able to ask questions which will bring them what they want to know. Much practice in framing questions, having them criticized, having them answered just as they are asked, is necessary. Children should be aware of the question as a tool in their study and therefore they must know how to handle it. In connection with this second type of material, the problem of the best source of information will arise. Children must then be made conscious of the relative values of various persons as sources of a particular piece of information. Training in choice of the source of information is very important both when that source is people and also when it is books.

Teaching children to use books in their study is one of the big tasks of the teacher. They must learn that books are written in answer to questions. In order to thoroughly understand a book, students must seek to frame the questions which it answers. They must also know how to use books to answer their own questions. This means they must know how to turn from part to part, gleaning here or there what they need. It means training in the ability to skim, omitting unessentials and picking out essentials. It means the ability to recognize major points, minor points, and illustrative material. Children must be taught to use the table of contents, the index, and paragraph headings. They must, in their search for fuller information or criticism, be able to interpret different authors, use different language, and attack from different angles, even when treating the same object. Children must in their studying be taught to use books as a means to an end—not an infallible means, but one which needs continual criticism, modification, and amplification.

Study may be supervised study, or unsupervised study. To some people the requirements in learning to study may seem too difficult to be possible, but it should be remembered that the process is gradual—that one by one these elements in study are taught to the children in their supervised study periods. These periods should begin in the primary grades, and require from the teacher quite as much preparation as any other period. Many teachers have taught subjects, but not how to study subjects. The latter is the more important. The matter of distributed learning periods, of search for motive, of asking questions, of criticizing achievement, of use of books; each element is a topic for class discussion before it is accepted as an element in study. Even after it is accepted, it may be raised by some child as a source of particular difficulty and fresh suggestions added. Very often with little children it is necessary for the teacher to study the lesson with them. Teachers need much more practice in doing this, for one of the best ways to teach a child to study is to study with him. Not to tell him, and do the work for him, but to really study with him. Later on the supervised study period is one in which each child is silently engaged upon his own work and the teacher passes from one to the other. In order to do this well, the teacher needs to be able to do two things. First, to find out when the child is in difficulty and to locate it, and second, to help him over the trouble without giving too much assistance. Adequate questioning is needed in both cases. It is probably true that comparatively little new work should be given for unsupervised study. There is too much danger of error as well as lack of interest unless a start is given under supervision.

Studying, especially unsupervised, may be done in groups or individually. The former is a stepping-stone to the latter. There is a greater chance for suggestions, for getting the problem worded, for arousing interest and checking results, when a group of children are working together than when a child is by himself. Two things must be looked after. First, that the children in the group be taught not to waste time, and second, that the personnel of the group be right. It is not very helpful if one child does all the work, nor if one is so far below the level of the group that he is always tagging along behind. More opportunities for group study in the grammar grades would be advantageous.

When it comes to individual study, the student then assumes all responsibility for his methods of study. He should be taught the influence of physical conditions or mental reactions. He will therefore be responsible for choosing in the home and in the school the best possible conditions for his study. He will see to it that, in so far as possible, the air and light are good, that there are no unnecessary distractions, and that he is as comfortable bodily as can be. He must think not only in terms of the goal to be reached, but also with respect to the methods to be employed. He should be asked by the teacher to report his methods of work as well as his results.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse