Did You Say Modern?

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]On: 05 October 2014, At: 10:35Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Peabody Journal of EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/hpje20

    Did You Say Modern?Marjorie E. Jarvi aa Graduate Student, George Peabody College for TeachersPublished online: 04 Nov 2009.

    To cite this article: Marjorie E. Jarvi (1960) Did You Say Modern?, Peabody Journal of Education, 37:5, 285-288, DOI:10.1080/01619566009536923

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  • Did You Say Modern?MARJORIE E. JARVIGraduate StudentGeorge Peabody College for Teachers

    Have you developed an attitude of comfortable complacency in yourteaching, telling yourself you are up-to-date and using the most moderntechniques? Is smugness and self-satisfaction part of that warm feelingas you survey your classroom daily? Perhaps a look into the past willstartle you and develop an appreciative attitude toward educators ofanother day.

    It was in 1847 that David Perkins Page, first principal of the StateNormal School in Albany, New York, penned his thoughts on THETHEORY AND PRACTICE OF TEACHING, a book destined to be abest seller in its time and one which holds sage advice for the teachertoday. Note well these thoughts of more than a century ago!

    Are you a firm advocate of the report card or do you plan forthe parent-teacher conference because "everybody else does nowa-days"? David Page advises:

    It should be the teacher's first object to become acquainted with theparent and to let him understand by a personal interview all his plansand aims for the improvement of the school . . . (1: 208). The teachershould be frank in all his representation to parents concerning theirchildren. (1:300).

    This is 1847!Did the supervisor the other day frown at the chart with the gold,

    red, and silver stars given to children with perfect spelling papers?Perhaps he had read page 164 in Mr. Page's book:

    Prizes offered to a school in such a way that all may compete for them,and only two or three obtain them, will always be productive f evil . . .the offer of prizes gives undue prominence to a comparatively unworthyobject. (1: 164).

    Readiness is a popular term today which rolls glibly from manytongues. David Page had another way to make the point when he

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  • recommended recognition of the natural order in the education ofchildren from the simple to the complex. Writing skills, especiallywriting with a pen, Page felt, should be deferred until the child wasten when the muscles would have acquired sufficient strength to graspand guide the pen. ( 1 : 38).

    That the teacher has certain responsibilities to his students wasuppermost in the thought of this educator. When urging thoroughunderstanding of his subject, complete preparation and careful plan-ning, the early principal is most convincing . . . "the teacher should beable to use our language fluently and correctly, never proceed withoutattention of the class and avoid a formal routine in teaching. (1 : 146).

    One could imagine David Page as the speaker at a present-dayteachers' convention or as a committee chairman when one hears:

    The highest merit lies in reaching all the pupils, the dull as well asthe active, and in making the most of them or rather in leading them tomake the most of themselves. (1: 167).

    Mark well

    The three essential points of school management are organization,government and instruction . . . make but a few rules and never multiplythem 'till circumstances demand it. (1 : 258).

    THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF TEACHING might provideyou with potent ammunition should you ever find yourself called uponto speak before the local PTA or to write a column for the townnewspaper. No one will guess that your challenging statements camefrom a century-old source. Could you tell the PTA or the schoolboard:

    It is proverbial that the pecuniary compensation of the teacher is, inmost places, far below the proper standard . . . ( 1 : 388) . . . teachers arepeculiarly exposed to criticism, censure and to the annoyances anddangers of legal persecution. . . ( 1 : 405).

    Still better"the press, the pulpit, the legislative assemblies all pro-claim that something must be done . . . all admit the faithful teacherhas not been duly rewarded." (323).

    But now a word of warning. Should the school board be willing togrant a substantial salary increase based on your attendance in summerschool, do not protest too loudly. "A teacher who has ceased to be an

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  • active student has lost the secret of his greatest power." (89) Theteacher increases his influence and consequently his usefulness inproportion as he makes himself conversant with general knowledge.(87). Your school board members may also have read David PerkinsPage!

    If you are still skeptical and doggedly clinging to your complacency,consider, too, die thoughts of Samuel Read Hall writing his LEC-TURES ON SGHOOLKEEPING in 1829. Ideas on that teacher'sbugaboo "discipline" are well put:

    Always make the punishment effectual . . . never be in haste to believea pupil has done wrong . . . decide on such a mode as will be most likelyto benefit the scholar and prevent a repetition. (2: 73).

    Clearly Hall recognized the importance of good teaching in reading,arithmetic, spelling and geography as he suggests showing the scholarthe importance and use of the "stops and points" in reading, andrequiring him to observe them. Of spelling he recommends pronounc-ing the words just as one might pronounce them in reading or con-versation. But in geography, we really hear echoes of our methodstextbooks when we note "let the child be taught something of thegeography of his own neighborhood and especially of his own statebefore he commences the study of it in a more extended manner." (2:92) ;...... :

    Hall, too, would be your champion in your speech before the PTAor school board when he states :

    Another reason why the standard of education in common schools hasnot been more elevated is to be found in the unwillingness on the part ofschool districts to make adequate compensation to teachers of approvedtalents and qualifications. (2: 28).

    Both Samuel Hall and David Page were much concerned about thequality of teachers in the schools. Could you meet their high stand-ards? Hall required a teacher with "common sense, uniformity oftemper, decision of character, moral discernment and affection." (2:31) David Page sought one of "pure and accurate speech, possessingskill as a reader, high motives, broad and accurate scholarship, allthis coupled with proper animation! Bluntly he says, "the practiceof teaching should be gradually restricted to those who furnish formal

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  • proof of their professional competence." (1 : 325)At this point your thoughts may be in a state of complete turmoil

    and you are about to discard those "modern" ideas and never againattend those professional meetings where nothing "new" is offered.Do not act too hastily, but profit yet from time spent in this reading"the true secret lies in listening to the views of all, and then in makinga judicious combination to meet your own character, and your owncircumstances. It is often better to adjust and adapt the plan of anotherthan to adopt it." (1 : 343)

    Perhaps you will still pool the ideas of the educators of 1829,1847, and 1960 and become truly "modern."

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