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CONFERENCES

CLASSICAL CONFERENCE

IS LATIN HOLDING ITS OWN IN OUR HIGH SCHOOLS?

PRINCIPAL GEORGE R. SWAIN, BAY CITY EASTERN HIGH SCHOOL.

Something over a year ago I found that in the Bay City Eastern High School the enrollment in Latin classes, especially in Cicero and Vilgil, had for some time been diminishing. After speaking of the matter to several other persons interested in school work, I began to suspect that the condition was not local, but probably true of the state as a whole and perhaps true of neighboring states as well. Happening "sive casu sive consilio deorum immortalium" to mention the matter to Professor Kelsey, the chairman of the Classical Conference a year ago, I was straightway requested to look the matter up and report this year.

Knowing that a conclusion based on surmise, conjecture and inference would justly be relegated to the limbo of Cassandra's prophesies, I have fortified my position (which will be formally stated later on) with defenses of statistics, which, though markedly defective, will yet give a fair basis for reasonably accurate generalizations.

The inquiry, at first limited to our own state, was afterward broadened to include the group of north central states-Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Return postal cards were sent to the leading schools with a blank on the return card asking for statistics giving total enrollment, total number studying Latin, number of graduates, and number of graduates having four years Latin for each of the five school years just passed.

Much difficulty has been encountered in getting the desired data, for in many cases high school records have through accident been destroyed, are sadly incomplete, or are in such form that answers to my questions could be obtained only by arduous research in dusty pigeonholes. In consequence, to many cards I received no answer, and in numerous other cases only incomplete replies. My hearty thanks are hereby given to the people who did take the trouble to send complete statistics. The following tables show the results of my investigation:

TABLE I-MINNESOTA.

Cards sent, 45; complete replies, 17; incomplete replies, 9; total, 26. Complete replies from the following schools: Albert Lea, Alexandria, Anoka, Cloquet, Detroit, Duluth Central, Faribault, Fergus Falls, Glencoe, Hastings, Little Falls, New Ulm, Owatonna, Red Wing, Rochester, St. Paul Central, Stillwater, Winona. 4 Yrs.

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This indicates that the number taking Latin is practically the same per cent as five years ago, but shows a steady decline in the per cent taking four years of Latin.

TABLE II-WISCONSIN.

Cards sent, 45; complete replies, 12; incomplete replies, 8; total, 20. Complete replies from the following: Beaver Dam, Green Bay, Janesville, La Crosse, Menominee, Milwaukee South Division, Milwaukee West Division, Ripon, Sheboygan, Washburn, Waukesha, Waupun,

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*Paper and discussions at the classical conference, March 29.

This shows a decline in the number taking Latin of over 11 per cent, and a decline in the number taking four years Latin from 42.8 per cent to 27.3.

These statistics from Minnesota and Wisconsin may, I think, be considered representative, including as they do both large and small schools.

TABLE III-IOWA.

Cards sent, 46; complete replies, 9; incomplete replies, 9; total, 18. Complete replies from the following: Boone, Clinton, Dubuque, Hampton, Knoxville, Lyons, Maquoketa, Missouri Valley, Newton.

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This shows a falling off in the per cent taking Latin, while the number taking four years Latin has on the whole increased.

TABLE IV-ILLINOIS.

Cards sent, 50; complete replies, 6; incomplete replies, 10; total, 16.

Complete replies from the following: Decatur, Elgin, Evanston, Freeport, Kewanee, Streator Township.

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I do not consider the statistics from Iowa and Illinois extensive enough to make any conclusion based upon them very reliable. I have been unable to secure any figures from the Chicago high schools. Principal Boyer, of the Bloomington high school, writes that the number taking Latin is decreasing each year.

TABLE V-INDIANA.

Cards sent, 50; complete replies, 10; incomplete replies, 3; total, 13. Complete replies from the following: Columbus, Hammond, Indianapolis (Shortridge), Michigan City, Mount Vernon, Rockport, Tipton, Valparaiso, Washington, Winchester.

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Here although the number of graduates having four years' Latin has increased for three years, still the last year shows a marked decrease in the total per cent taking Latin; this augurs ill for the future. Miss Campbell, teacher of Latin at South Bend, says the number taking Latin is decreasing in that school.

TABLE VI—OHIO.

Cards sent, 60; complete replies, 15; incomplete replies, 7; total, 22. Complete replies from the following: Ashtabula, Canton, Cincinnati (Woodward), Cleveland East, Columbus North, East Liverpool, Elyria, Findlay, Ironton, Newark, Sandusky, Springfield, Steubenville, Tiffin, Xenia.

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These statistics are probably representative enough that fuller reports would not change the per cents materially. It is to be noted that the per cent of pupils studying Latin is greater in 1904-1905 than in any previous year.

So much for our neighbors. In our own state I attempted to trace the vicissitudes of Latin for ten years instead of five. In place of reply postal cards, letters with a blank and return addressed stamped envelope were sent. As was to be expected, the difficulty in securing

data was more than doubled in trying to cover ten years instead of five. The results are given in the following table. In this table, after the column giving the per cent studying Latin is inserted a column giving the corresponding per cent for all the high schools of the United States according to the latest report of the Commissioner of Education, Dr. Harris:

TABLE VII-MICHIGAN.

Letters sent, 51; complete replies, 15; complete for last five years, 19; incomplete, 10; total, 29.

Complete replies from Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Bay City E. S., Detroit Central, Detroit Eastern, Flint, Iron Mountain, Kalamazoo, Marshall, Monroe, Muskegon, Port Huron, Saginaw E. S., Saginaw W. S., St. Joseph.

Complete replies for last five years: Charlotte, Jackson W. S., Manistee, Ypsilanti. 4 Yrs. % 4 Yrs. U. S. Graduates. Latin.

% in

Year.

Enrollment. Latin. % Latin.

Latin.

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The apparently heavy increase in enrollment for the year 19001901 is in part due to the introduction at that point of the statistics from Charlotte, Jackson W. S., Manistee, and Ypsilanti.

Of all the schools mentioned above, Flint, Iron Mountain, Monroe, Port Huron, Manistee and Jackson W. S., only show an increase in the number of pupils taking Latin during the last two or three years; the falling off in the other schools has more than balanced the gain here. It is noticeable, however, that the decrease for all the schools is less the last year than for some years preceding, while there is a slight gain in the per cent of graduates having four years Latin.

The table shows that for the schools under consideration the per cent of pupils taking Latin has fallen from 48.8 in 1896-1897, to 37.2 in 1904-1905, and that the per cent of graduates having four years Latin has fallen from 45.7 in 1897-1898, to 26.5 in 1904-1905.

The following table shows the results obtained by combining the statistics for the seven states investigated:

TABLE VIII.

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.

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This shows a much greater decrease proportionally in the number of pupils having four years' Latin than in the total number taking Latin. The next table is inserted for the purpose of showing at a glance the per cent of pupils taking Latin in the schools investigated in the seven states already mentioned:

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This shows an increase in the per cent taking Latin in Ohio, but a decrease in all the others, the loss apparently being greatest in Wis

consin.

Lastly, the following table exhibits a comparison of the percentage of graduates having four years' Latin in all the schools reporting full statistics:

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This shows that there has been a heavier decrease in the per cent of graduates having four years' Latin in Michigan than in any other

state.

In view of the statistics tabulated, I consider that the following propositions are rendered highly probable:

1st. There has been a slight falling off in the per cent of pupils taking Latin in these seven states.

2nd. The decrease in Michigan has been about twice the average decrease.

3rd. During the same period (the preceding five years) there has been a marked falling off in the per cent of pupils graduating with four years Latin.

4th. In this falling off, the decrease in Michigan has been markedly greater than in any other state of the group.

So far as the decrease in the total number taking Latin is concerned, two things have perhaps had something to do with it, although there are doubtless others factors. First, in some of the larger schools at least the increase in enrollment has been in part due to the better facilities offered in obtaining a business education, and this has at

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