[Footnote 5: The writer here accepts the conclusions of J.A. Thomson (Heredity New York, 1908, ch. vii).]
HOW MAY WE PROMOTE THE EFFICIENCY OF THE TEACHING FORCE?
Efficiency seems to be a word to conjure with in these days. Popular speech has taken it in its present connotation from the technical vocabulary of engineering, and the term has brought with it a very refreshing sense of accuracy and practicality. It suggests blueprints and T-squares and mathematical formulae. A faint and rather pleasant odor of lubricating oil and cotton waste seems to hover about it. The efficiency of a steam engine or a dynamo is a definitely determinable and measurable factor, and when we use the term “efficiency” in popular speech we convey through the word somewhat of this quality of certainty and exactitude.
An efficient man, very obviously, is a man who “makes good,” who surmounts obstacles, overcomes difficulties, and “gets results.” Rowan, the man who achieved immortality on account of a certain message that he carried to Garcia, is the contemporary standard of human efficiency. He was given a task to do, and he did it. He did not stop to inquire whether it was interesting, or whether it was easy, or whether it would be remunerative, or whether Garcia was a pleasant man to meet. He simply took the message and brought back the answer. Here we have efficiency in human endeavor reduced to its lowest terms: to take a message and to bring back an answer; to do the work that is laid out for one to do without shirking or “soldiering” or whining; and to “make good,” to get results.
Now if we are to improve the efficiency of the teacher, the first thing to do is to see that the conditions of efficiency are fulfilled as far as possible at the outset. In other words, efficiency is impossible unless one is set a certain task to accomplish. Rowan was told to carry a message to Garcia. He was to carry it to Garcia, not to Queen Victoria or Li Hung Chang or J. Pierpont Morgan, or any one else whom he may have felt inclined to choose as its recipient. And that is just where Rowan had a decided advantage over many teachers who have every ambition to be just as efficient as he was. To expect a young teacher not only to get results, but also to determine the results that should be obtained, multiplies his chances of failure, not by two, as one might assume at first thought, but almost by infinity.
Let me give an example of what I mean. A young man graduated from college during the hard times of the middle nineties. It was imperative that he secure some sort of a remunerative employment, but places were very scarce and he had to seek a long time before he found anything to which he could turn his hand. The position that he finally secured was that of teacher in an ungraded school in a remote settlement. School-teaching was far from his thoughts and still farther from his ambitions, but forty dollars a month looked too good to be true, especially as he had come to the point where his allowance of food consisted of one plate of soup each day, with the small supply of crackers that went with it. He accepted the position most gratefully.