1920 Advice on Assessing Your School part I

She is writing for the public school, but there is no reason much of this could not be used for a home school as well.

Volume XXVIII January 1920 Number 1
Hang Up Your Thermometer
Ida E. Roger Grade Supervisor, Mt, Vernon, N. Y.
(Book rights reserved)
NOT the glass and mercury kind, but the mental variety that registers your pedagogical temperament, that blazes to you the challenge, ” What am I Doing and Why am I Doing It?
” — hang up in your mental vision this measure that stings you into intro spective sifting, that calls, Am I working through principles or merely imitating devices of as many different varieties as the 57 kinds of Heinz, all of which can’t be meant for the same meal!
Honestly face the question, ”What Sort of a Place Ought a School to Be?” — not what is the type we have inherited, nor again the type you have stumbled upon and helped in working out through blindly following your principal’s hobbies, but the sort you would like to see offered your own child, or yourself (could you find yourself once again a six-year-old trudging to school)!
What Are the Tendencies toward which the efforts of our elementary grades are bending?
To this query, can we not affirm that our aim is a character-building education and that not as mere teachers or givers of outlines but as workers in developing in each child a Response to his opportunities, do we hold that we are justifying the confidence of every child coming to us with a faith in humanity firmly fixed in his heart.
We agree, however, that efficiency in any educational institution must be measured by clear, definite, uncompromising standards, even though “the confusions of the profession we are following are the confusions of life and of that strange unconquerable thing we call growth.”
And so even when recognizing character making as our aim, we are also conscious that ours is the responsibility “for accomplishing with a large number of children in an economy of time what we would like with one child in an infinite period of time.”

As a measure of our present purposes, I suggest the testing of what we are now accomplishing, by the standards proposed by Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University. His measure is as follows:

“These Five Characteristics I Offer as Evidences of an Education: Correctness and Precision in the Use of the Mother Tongue; Refined and Gentle Manners, which are the Expression of Fixed Habits of Thought and Action; the Power and Habit of Reflection; the Power of Growth; and Efficiency, or the Power to Do.”

The sound philosophy of these five criteria clearly meets the conditions necessary because of the world-war problems which demand that we shall prepare the child to take his place in the coming keen competition which he as the future citizen will face.

The failure of Greek philosophy was The Relaxing of Effort and the letting down of obligation. Our acceptance of these five standards demands, not a liberation from the old formal discipline to a chaotic condition indicating neither democracy nor freedom, but a practice of the right spirit of responsibility which produces “a delightful effort” on the part of the child.

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