The Method of Teaching in Practice
§ 4. Contests.
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Among the various school exercises mentioned by the Ratio Studiorum, we find the so-called concertationes, or contests between boys of the same or of different classes on matter that has been studied previously. These contests have the same end in the' lower classes as the disputations in the higher: accustoming the boys to speak on the subject matter of the class, giving them readiness of reply in answering questions, in a word, making them masters of their subjects. Ribadeneira speaks of them as follows "Many means are devised, and exercises employed, to stimulate the minds of the young, assiduous disputation, — various trials of genius, prizes offered for excellence in talent and industry. As penalty and disgrace bridle the will and check it from pursuing evil, so honor and praise quicken the sense wonderfully to attain the dignity and glory of virtue." [ 80 ]
All opponents of the Jesuits try to make a capital point of "emulation" as recommended by the Ratio. [ 81 ] This "fostering of ambition" was styled "the characteristic of the corrupt Jesuitical morality." We may first ask: are the Jesuits the only educators that used this means? Professor Paulsen answers our question most appositely: "The Jesuits know better, perhaps, than others how to use declamations, contests, premiums, etc., effectively. Protestant educators are wont to express their indignation, and to inveigh against the Jesuits, for having made emulation the moving power in learning. The practice of Protestant schools never shared the disgust of these theorizers at the use of emulation, and I do not know whether this practice should be censured. It is true that the good emulation is closely related to the bad, but without the former there has never been a good school." [ 82 ]
That these exercises were by no means intended to develop the bad emulation, or false self-love in the young, is evident; this would have been little to the purpose with religious teachers. "Let them root out from themselves, in every possible way, self-love and the craving for vain glory," says the oldest code of school rules in the Society, probably from the pen of Father Peter Canisius. [ 83 ] What is appealed to, is the spirit of good and noble emulation, — honesta aemulatio, as the Ratio says, — and that by a world of industry which spurs young students on to excellence in whatever they undertake, and rewards the development of natural energies with the natural luxury of confessedly doing well. This makes the boys feel happy in having done well, however little they enjoyed the labor before, and will rouse them to new exertions. Gradually they may then be led to have higher motives in their endeavors. Does not the Divine teacher of mankind act similarly? He demands great sacrifices and arduous exertions of man: purity, humility, meekness, patience, self-denial, but he always points also to the reward, "theirs is the kingdom of heaven," "your reward in heaven is exceedingly great." God promises also earthly blessings to those that observe his commandments: "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thou mayest be long lived upon the land which the Lord thy God will give thee." Why, then, should it be unlawful and immoral to employ rewards in the education of the young, who are not yet able to grasp the highest motives of well-doing? Or is it probable that young pupils will readily be diligent,when told that they ought to do their work? Kant's teaching of the autonomy of human reason is not only deficient, but positively erroneous [ 84 ]; but least of all will the rule, you ought because reason tells you so, have any effect on the young. On this point also Professor Kemp, in his otherwise fair treatment of Jesuit education, has been led into an error, when he states that "emulation was carried to such extremes that, apparently, it must have obscured the true ends of study and cultivated improper feeling among the students." [ 85 ] Such a priori conclusions are very dangerous; and the "must have" is frequently only "apparent." Kant, indeed, said: "The child must be taught to act from a pure sense of duty, not from inclination." Still, in another place he declares that "it is lost labor to speak to a child of duty." Children must be treated, as St. Paul says: "as little ones in Christ, to whom I gave milk to drink, not meat; for you were not able as yet." [ 86 ] This milk, in education, is some sort of reward, a means not at all immoral. For the desire of honor is inborn in man and lawful as long as it does not become inordinate. [ 87 ] Honest emulation is therefore lawful; it is also productive of great deeds. "In all the pursuits of active and speculative life, the emulation of states and individuals is the most powerful spring of the efforts and improvements of mankind." (Gibbon.)
In speaking of reward we do not mean necessarily prizes or premiums. These are indeed more open to objections. The jealousy of pupils is more easily aroused and sometimes even the dissatisfaction of parents. However, this cannot justify the general condemnation of prizes. There is hardly an appointment made to any position of honor in a city or state, but a few disappointed individuals will feel and express their disapproval, no matter how just and fair the promotion has been. Should the appointment for such adverse criticism be omitted? Further, premiums for excellence in learning, in military valor, in political ability are as old as history. The Greeks rewarded the conqueror in their national games with a wreath; the Romans had various crowns for citizens who in different ways had deserved well of their country. And now-a-days no one objects if a victorious general or admiral is offered a token of public recognition, in the form of a precious sword, or even a more useful object. The soldiers of our generation are justly proud if their bravery is rewarded by a badge, and even the scholars of modern Europe, perhaps such as strongly denounce the corrupting influence of premiums in Jesuit schools, do not hesitate to accept a decoration, or the title of nobility in recognition of their labors for the advance of science. Why, then, should this principle of rewarding success be so rigorously excluded from the schools? No, it is at least exceedingly difficult to prove that prizes have generally evil results, provided all injustice and even all suspicion of unfairness in the distribution is avoided. However, when speaking of reward we mean in general some public recognition, be it a word of praise or something else. [ 88 ]
Emulation may be fostered in various ways. The Ratio gives one in the contests. Each pupil may have his aemulus or rival. The professor questions A, while B, the aemulus of A., is on the alert to correct his rival. Or the boys question each other mutually, while the professor merely presides to see that all goes on fairly. The whole class may be divided into two sides, which are frequently called camps or armies, as boys naturally delight in anything military. Boys of the one camp, let us say the "Carthaginians," question some of the rival camps of the "Romans," and vice versa. The leaders of the two sides keep the record of the points gained, of the corrections made by their respective side. The leaders ought to be pupils distinguished by talent, industry and good character. Different classes may also challenge each other for an extraordinary and more solemn contest, to which other classes may be invited as witnesses.
It is not easy to make such contests successful, and it may require great skill and experience on the part of the teacher; and if he lacks this skill he may be a very good teacher in other respects — it is better to find some other means of encouraging fair and successful emulation. It should not be forgotten that this emulation, in the words of Fathers Hughes and Duhr, is only one of the "subordinate elements in the Jesuit method," [ 89 ] or "only a trifling detail," as Father de Scoraille says, not the predominant element as its adversaries represent it. In general, these contests work better in the lower classes; especially in Northern countries, they will not be found as suitable for higher classes. Much of the pomp and the ceremonies which are mentioned in the Ratio and by Jouvancy, do not suit modern taste and have long ago been discarded in Jesuit colleges. But these were accidental details; the fundamental principle is sound. Father Duhr well observes: "The literary contests of the pupils brought life and action into the schools of olden times. We have become colder in such things, whether to the benefit of lively youths is another question." [ 90 ]
We quoted above the statement of Professor Paulsen to the effect that the practice of Protestant schools in regard to emulation is by no means what should be expected from their severe censures of this point in the Jesuit system. In fact Mr. Quick, writing about competitions and "class matches," says: "With young classes I have tried the Jesuits' plan of class matches and have found it answer exceedingly well." [ 91 ] In the revised edition of 1890 the same author declares, in general, that there are many forms of emulation which he did not set his face against. [ 92 ] And not long ago, in 1901 Dr. Beecher of Dresden recommended for the lower classes of the gymnasium contests among the pupils, which resemble very much the concertationes of the Ratio. He calls them "dainties of a harmless character which make the boys relish better the dry forms of Latin grammar." [ 93 ] Still more remarkable is the fact that in the Berlin Conference, June 1900, one of the most distinguished members of that assembly, Professor Munch, pleaded for introducing a system which is not much different from the Jesuit system of the aemuli. He says: "It must come to it in our schools that not only the teacher asks the pupils but also that the pupils question one another." [ 94 ]
Other exercises intended to rouse the activity of the pupils are oratorical contests and other public exhibitions. [ 95 ] The rules for the teachers prescribe that the original productions of the pupils must be carefully corrected and polished by the teacher, but the latter should not write them in their entirety. [ 96 ] A skilful teacher can do much in stimulating interest in such entertainments, if he proposes an interesting subject and knows how to use the literary and historical material treated in the class. The best entertainments will be those that treat one subject under various aspects.
In the philosophical course the contests consist in the disputations. The disputations of the students of philosophy in most Jesuit colleges are conducted in the same fashion as those described in a previous chapter. [ 97 ]
In the last place we must mention an exercise which has been styled a "better kind of rivalry," [ 98 ] namely the so-called academies. These are voluntary associations of the students, literary societies in the middle classes, and scientific societies in Philosophy. In Philosophy, according to the rules for the academy, essays are read by the students on some scientific topic, preferably on subjects which are in some way connected with the matter studied in class, but which could not be treated there at length. At times these subjects may be given in the form of free lectures. After the essay has been read all the members of the academy are free to enter on a discussion and attack the assertion of the essayist. [ 99 ] It is clear that academies conducted in this manner afford the greatest advantages. In the essayist, the spirit of research is stimulated, and in all those who take part in the discussion, in fact, in all those present, scientific criticism is developed.
The subjects treated in the academy of the pupils of Rhetoric and Humanities are, naturally, of a literary character: criticism, of rhetorical and poetical topics not treated fully in class, [ 100 ] which may be illustrated from various authors; a literary and critical appreciation of a striking passage from an author; the reading of an essay or poem composed by the pupil himself; a discussion of a disputed question of literature, and other interesting and useful subjects, which are recommended by the rules of this academy. [ 101 ] An academy is to be held every week in Philosophy, and every week or every fortnight in Rhetoric and Humanities. Even the Grammar classes are to have their academies, in which similar discussions are carried on, of course less scientific than in the higher classes. At any rate, these academies are excellently fitted to stimulate the activity of the pupils.
In one Jesuit college in the United States the essays prepared in the middle classes, sometimes treated of archaeological subjects which had been alluded to in the course of the reading of the classics. This seems quite in accord with the spirit of the rules for the academy. The pupils took a great interest in such subjects and undoubtedly derived great profit from them.
When the pupil read his essay, not unfrequently drawings on the blackboard, maps and pictures served to illustrate the lecture. Then followed a short discussion of the subject and further queries of the boys, which were answered by the teacher. The following subjects were treated in this manner: The Roman Coliseum, Roman military roads, Roman aqueducts, a Roman triumph, the Romans' daily life, the Roman family, Roman agriculture,. the number and rank of early Christians, character of Greeks and Romans compared, Greek sculpture, pagan and Christian art, — this last essay was read in connection with the study of Cicero's fourth oration against Verres, "On the Statues," in which many Greek masterpieces of art are described or mentioned. — Similar subjects are: The Roman (or Greek) house, Roman (or Greek) temples, feasts, costumes, weapons, magistrates, games, theatres, slavery, education, navy, travels etc. It may be easily understood that much is requisite to conduct such "Academies" successfully, above all on the part of the teacher. For he must discuss the subject with the young writer, suggest reliable sources from which to draw material, direct the writer in his work, and lastly revise and correct the essay. But the work will be amply compensated by the result, especially by the increased interest with which the pupils study the classics.
Such, then, are the exercises of the Ratio. They are distinguished for variety: a short recitation of the memory lesson is followed by the thorough repetition of the prelection of the previous day, or of the precepts of rhetoric, poetry, and grammar. Then comes the principal work of the day, the prelection of the new passage of the author, followed by a brief repetition. Some time is devoted every day to the writing of a little theme; and lastly the contests rouse the pupils to new attention, in case the other exercises should have caused some drowsiness. Certainly this change and variety, of the exercises is calculated to break the monotony which, especially with younger pupils, is apt to give rise to weariness and disgust. At the same time, the exercises are of such a character that they call into play all the faculties of the mind memory, imagination, reasoning. Thus they are excellent means for attaining the end of education, namely the thorough and harmonious training of the mind.
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[ 80 ] Hughes, Loyola, p. 90.
[ 81 ] See v. g. Compayré, p. 146.- Seeley, p. 186. — Painter, p. 171-172, where the Jesuit system is stigmatized as "stimulating baser feelings," "appealing to low motives," etc. — In France the Jesuits were attacked on this point also by M. Michel Bréal, in his Quelques mots sur l'instruction publique.
[ 82 ] Geschichte des gelehrten Unterrichts, p. 285. (First edition; the passage has been somewhat changed in the second edition, I, p. 430.)
[ 83 ] Hughes, Loyola, p. 90.
[ 84 ] See Rickaby, S. J., Moral Philosophy, pp. 115-118.
[ 85 ] History of Education, p. 191.
[ 86 ] 1 Cor, 3, 1-2. 88
[ 87 ] See Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 2, 2, qu. 131 and 132: "On Ambition and Vain Glory."
[ 88 ] The rewarding of prizes is ably vindicated by Father R. de Scoraille, S. J., in the Études religieuses, Paris, August and September 1879. "Les distributions de prix dans les collèges."
[ 89 ] Hughes, p. 89. — Duhr, p. 61.
[ 90 ] Studienordnung, p. 125.
[ 91 ] Educational Reformers (London edition of 1868), p. 297.
[ 92 ] On pp. 529-532. There he also states that the New England Journal of Education gives an account of some interclass matches at Milwaukee, and the New York School journal of contests in the McDonough School No. 12, New Orleans.
[ 93 ] Neuejahrbücher, 1901, vol. VIII, p. 98.
[ 94 ] Verhandlungen, p. 135.
[ 95 ] See especially Father Kropf, Ratio et Via, chapter V, art. II. (German edition p. 426f.).
[ 96 ] Reg. com. 32.
[ 97 ] See above pp. 422-425.
[ 98 ] Quick, Educ. Ref., p. 42.
[ 99 ] Reg. Acad. Theolog. et Philos., 3.
[ 100 ] Aliquid de praeceptis magis reconditis rhetoricae vel poesis, as the 2d rule has it.
[ 101 ] Reg. Acad. Rhet. et Hum. 2.
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