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but they must think deep and long of nothing. The course must be completed in the time specified, and hence it is necessary to hasten on. Thus the pupil is lead through all the dizzy mazes of the modern High School course, and comes out at the end wise, perhaps, in his own conceit, but in fact a superficial creature. We should have no fellowship with the alarmist. No sudden outburst of public opinion should be allowed to abolish or even transform the High School. At the same time, a subject fraught with so much moment to the people, should be carefully considered, and if defects are found the remedy should be unsparingly applied. It has been quite clearly shown that this matter of High School education has been overdone and a reaction is now very evident. There is a demand for more practical instruction; and to ignore this demand means certain ruin to the High School. Nothing else can be expected, for when a public school ceases to meet the wants of the community supporting it, it must and ought to go down
. The High School should be made emphatically a popular school, a school where the children of the rich and the poor alike may obtain something more than the mere rudiments of learning, and that was the original idea. The High School has in some cases, it appears, assumed proportions collegiate, and you are laughed to scorn by the jealous managers if you intimate that those proportions are imaginary or even embryogenic. Here lurks our most serious danger, for if we assume in this work abnormal proportions, we must, like the frog in the fable, experience disastrous consequences.
The arrangement of the High School course has frequently been left to those who labor under the strange delusion that true dignity can come to the school only through the medium of the ancient languages; that these furnish the indispensable, if not the only, basis for disciplinary study; hence it is that these branches often appear prominently, while the English classics and other highly useful branches are rated as of secondary importance. The highest results have not been secured, and never will be, by this system. Pupils have sqandered their most precious time upon ancient languages, when, if the same time and faithful effort had been given to the study of the English language and literature, they would have been benefited more in every way. We should by no means ignore disciplinary studies in our High Schools, but a far better course is to select those branches that will couple the largest amount of useful knowledge with discipline, rather than consume the time with discipline alone. This is too
expensive a process for the many who can never go beyond the High School. Admit all that is said of the richness and grandeur in the vernacular dialects of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the fact still remains that the thoughts there embodied deal not with the living questions of to-day. They have marked no progress in the arts and sciences during these hundreds of years. It is, no doubt, pleasant to know just how Demosthenes or Plato gave utterance to their ideas, but this is by no means necessary in preparing young men and women for the responsibilities of the present age. A few years ago, when Horace Greeleey raised his mighty pen and voice in favor of a more practical education, he took occasion to mildly reprehend the practice of giving the ancient classics such pre-eminence in secondary schools. But how were his arguments met? He was told that inasmuch as he had never tasted the sweets of classic learning, he was not to sit in judgment upon so grave a question. That had he been warmed into life by classical parents and nourished with Greek roots and Latin idioms, he would, without doubt, think differently. Thus po or Ho race Greley was treated with disdain — his arguments set at naught simply because he was not a classical scholar. This style of argument finds little favor to-day — thanks to a more progressive age — and how will gentlemen answer their classical brethren of New Eng. land, who now take the same ground formerly taken by Mr. Greeley and others, and who are striving to purge their schools of this same disorder? Even in the "Hub" of classical learning in this country the reaction seems more marked than elsewhere. Very recently a committee appointed by the association of classical and high school teachers of Boston report that "English language study is in an extremely unsatisfactory condition in their schools;" that "great improvement is possible;" that "Greek usurps the place which belongs to English studies;" that "a better knowledge of Greek history literature, and art may be obtained through the English than the Greek language.” That “less costly means might be employed for the education of the few who must from necessity learn Greek." That "Greek makes an aristocracy of college work, and separates the high school from the college, placing the latter outside the pale of public occasion.”
These are the sentiments of a new English classical committee, and they are all that the most enthusiastic and practical men can desire. They are in substance all that Horace Greeley or Dr. Stark ever said, but they are the sentiments of the masses to-day. The people have
t been fast to question the good intentions of the few who have shaped the policy and work of high schools. Only an occasional murmur was heard until recently, but there is no mistaking the feelings which now find expression throughout the land upon this subject; and when such a body as this New England committee express themselves so unqualifiedly, there must exist an abiding presentiment that reform is needed and must come.
We should not forget the earnest and vigorous labors of our own lamented Dr. Carpenter, of our State University, who, being thoroughly versed in the Greek language and literature as well as in the English, French, and Anglo-Saxon, was not to be silenced with the weapons used to put down Horace Greeley. It is a noteworthy fact that the deeper he plunged into the realms of language and literature, the more fully was he convinced that our system of education needed reforming, and when he said: “It is no credit to our scholarship that our own language has been so much neglected, while so much attention has been given to the study of the ancient languages," he forcibly expressed the sentiments of the most progressive teachers. The eminent Prof. Palmer, of Oxford, has now symptoms of reform; he would exclude Greek from secondary schools; (and Prof. Price, of Virginia, would reverse the system and make the scientific study of English the basis for the study of Greek;) and thus like haven-lights in a storm, we occasionally find men who, with our brethren in New England, are asking for a more natural and useful work for our secondary schools.
But, other arguments failing, we are told that the ancient classics must be retained for the discipline they impart. Why is a monopoly of discipline so modestly given to the ancient (classics ? Dr. Carpenter was unable to find any good reasons for it. He said, “I see no reason why English, studied with the same care and thoroughness which are given to the ancient classics, may not afford equal mental discipline.” The scholarly Dr. Stark asserts that “ Latin and Greek are by no means necessary in the work of mental development," and "should be relegated to the position of pleasant accomplishments, or of professional helps for ministers, teachers, and specialists." Dr. Holland finds German and French equally as valuable as Latin and Greek as disciplinary studies. If space would permit, the list might be continued ad libitum, and of those eminently qualified to judge, showing this is by no means a one-sided question. Besides, it is the history of this instruction that the number of those in our high
schools who acquire such familiarity with it as to render it in any degree practical and useful, is indeed small.
If there is any shadow of truth in the assertion that high school training is detrimental to young persons, it must gain its force because of superficial work done. ]
Again, the theory of connecting high school instruction directly with college instruction, is perhaps all very good as a theory, but followed to its logical results it must needs work great injustice to the high schools as a whole. We admit it to be a comfortable arrangement for some to have a preparatory school at home; but we must recognize the fact that a very large percentage of those who are able to attend our high-schools are not able to go beyond them, and the very small percentage who do enter higher institutions are almost invariably the sons or daughters of wealthy parents who could easily afford to prepare their children for college elsewhere, hence it would be manifestly unjust to compel the eighty-five high schools of Wisconsin to so frame their work that they shall operate as mere feeders of colleges. Our high schools have a wider and more important work than this. Our first great duty is to prepare young people for good citizenship, to make them capable and efficient in the ordinary business affairs of life. More than this cannot be attempted by the high-school without seriously impairing its most legitimate function. There should be a good degree of thoroughness and completeness in every branch attempted, and the number should be limited to the most useful and necessary. If in pursuing this more general line of work we are able, incidentally, to prepare pupils for college, it may be done, but it cannot be made the chief aim without wronging the many for the benefit of the few. With the exception of Greek the work done by a majority of our high-schools is nearly identical with the requirements for entering our State University and most of oar colleges. We do not ask the University and colleges to drop Greek. We simply ask the privilege for ourselves. And so far as our University is concerned, it is confidently believed that its own interests would be enhanced by not making a knowledge of this branch a condition of entering any of its classes. Besides, we may doubt whether this home preparation in Greek is in all respects satisfactory to the University; and it is no great matter of wonderment that the University, with its Professors who make a specialty of the branches they teach, is able to do more satisfactory preparatory work. We do not deny that the the University would prosper more with the preparatory department
eliminated; but if its abolition means the transfer of its work, as it now stands, to the high schools of the state, it would be a calamity which you may be assured would be fully appreciated by the masses. If there is any conflict of interests between the two institutions and one must yield a point, that one should be the University, and not the high school.
It may be readily admitted, if you please, that this preparatory work should be done outside of the State University. Yet ample provision may be easily made without burdening the high-school with it. It would be far better for all concerned, if a sufficient number of special preparatory schools were established in different parts of the state for this purpose.
Our Normal schools are doing a useful, and, in many respects, a missionary work, but why not enlarge the bounds of their usefulness by giving to each a department in which the arrangement of the studies shall have special reference to this preparatory work. Some lack but little in academic work of meeting this demand now, and all could, with slight modifications of their elementary courses, make the necessary preparation and do it better than the high-schools. Our normal schools are state institutions, equipped with superior faculties of instruction and all the facilities for doing this work, and I submit that it would be more appropriate and more consistent for them than for the high-schools to attempt it. Aside from these, private academies and seminaries can profitably bend their energies in this direction, for as popular schools they can not, from their nature and organization, be compared with the high-schools of the state, and it would seem that they can find no more useful legitimate field of work than in this preparatory department. In short the means for working up the raw material for the University without the high-schools are so abundant and evident that it is unnecessary to specify further.
We should furnish in our high-schools a liberal course of English and mathematical study, English grammar, composition and rhetoric, with Latin or German, or both, as optional studies. These branches, pursued with sufficient thoroughness to secure an easy and correct style of writing and speaking, is all that should be expected by way of language studies. The mathematical course should provide all the theory necessary to a full and clear understanding of mathematical applications. Algebra, geometry, and book-keeping, pursued with a careful precision that will stamp thoroughness in the individual ever after, should be considered indispensable. Abstruse science and pure