From the EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION.
The failure of the reactionary
There is a feeling that our schools are over-burdening our children with subjects for study, and that a kind of superficial training results. Many believe that we ought to return to the simple curriculum of our colonial fathers, to fewer subjects and more particularly to those which are sometimes called "fundamentals," - reading, writing, arithmetic, and the like. This species of discontent has been noticeable for more than a decade. Yet in spite of every form of opposition, the newer subjects of the course of study persist. The reactionary has failed to make any considerable headway. New aspects of training, even, have been added to the school's functions. The latest conscious function of the school
Of the new functions which the school is consciously assuming, there is one which promises to be epoch-making in the development of teaching methods. The deliberate effort to teach children to study is more than an addition to the school's tasks; it is a change in the emphasis of school instruction. Hitherto the teacher has spent most of his time in transmitting to the child the symbols of language and the facts of knowledge. To teach the child to read, to write, to figure; to make him memorize the important facts of history, geography, and literature, - such were the functions of the elementary schools till within recent years. Hereafter the school bids fair to devote its best energies, not to memorization, but to teaching the child how to think, how to direct his own conduct intelligently, how to study without constant dependence on the teacher. In the old school the teacher did the thinking and most of the talking, while the child did the memorizing. In the new school the child will do the thinking and most of the talking, while the teacher will restrict himself to a thoughtful stimulation and direction of the process.
Its effect on the crowded curriculum
To those who would loudly decry the addition of a new function to the school, it may be said that such an addition does not imply a new burden for the child and the teacher. In the specific case of teaching children to study it implies relief from the over-crowding of school life, rather than further congestion. If a child learns how to direct his observations, to read his books, to organize his facts, and to apply his knowledge, the school is no longer responsible for teaching him every fact for which life will call. He has power equal to his needs as they confront him in lifa. Now that he knows the uses of his mind and his books, he can make up any chance defect. His days of learning do not end with graduation from school. Under such conditions as these the demand of the course of study will be less for all the facts of a subject than for the typical ones. The independent qualities of mind required to understand and comprehend them will provide the rest.
Purpose of this monograph
The newness and the importance of the movement for teaching children to study require that teachers and parents be competent to supervise the learning process. They will need to know the nature of independent thinking, its various modes, the conditions favorable to its development, and the methods by which it may be strengthened as a personal power. The monograph here presented will be of large service to all who are interested in the problem. It is based upon extensive investigations of children's habits of mind under classroom conditions. It is rich in suggestions as to concrete ways in which pupils may be brought to a high degree of ability in the self-direction of their intellectual inquiries. It should, more than any other document now in print, aid teachers in their efforts to train self-reliant men and women.show more