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A Discussion of Educational Values
in the Elementary Curriculum
CHARLES B. GILBERT
Formerly Superintendent of Schools in the United States
Why is the course of study in use in our elementary schools constituted as it is? Why are reading, spelling, arithmetic, grammar, and history taught the children, rather than knitting and shooting and guiding automobiles ?
What particular gift has each of the conventional school studies to bestow upon the children, and hence upon society, as justification for its place in the curriculum and as compensation for the labor, the tears, the time of the students, and the care, the effort, and the financial expenditures of the community?
These are questions that should be answered by teachers, parents, and public officials, if the best results are to be obtained from the schools. But most teachers take the course of study handed to them from above and teach it perfunctorily, without much serious consideration of its reason for being or for its motive. Most parents accept the courses forced upon their children, more or less willingly, but with the vaguest notions of their meaning or motive. Most school officials accept the conventional curriculum inherited from the past and used by their neighbors and pass it on to their own schools, taking for granted that it is right.
In this book no attempt is made to trace the history of the curriculum. That I willingly leave to more
learned writers. But I have endeavored to give in plain, untechnical terms a few of the practical psychological and sociological reasons for teaching the subjects found in most of our elementary school curricula, and to state what should result, from their study, to the benefit of the children and of society.
In some cases, also, I have intimated methods that seem likely to aid in securing the desired results, but I have not attempted to discuss methods of teaching in detail. That has been well done by several writers already. However, I have it in mind, in the near future, to offer a book discussing methods more fully than the limits of the present work allow, basing such discussion upon the specific psychological and social functions of the various subjects studied, as outlined in this book.
C. B. GILBERT.
VII. ENGLISH GRAMMAR — INSTRUCTION METHODS