Upon the whole, I believe that the outlook in this direction is encouraging. While the teacher may miss in her institutes and in the summer school that sort of encouragement, she is, I believe, finding it in larger and larger measure in the local teachers’ meetings and in her consultations with her supervisors. And when all has been said, that is the place from which she should look for inspiration. The teachers’ meeting must be the nursery of professional ideals. It must be a place where the real first-hand workers in education get that sanity of outlook, that professional point of view, which shall fortify them effectively against the rising tide of unprofessional interference and dictation which, as I have tried to indicate, constitutes the most serious menace to our educational welfare.
And it is in the encouragement of this craft spirit, in this lifting of the teacher’s calling to the plane of craft consciousness, it is in this that the supervisor must, I believe, find the true and lasting reward for his work. It is through this factor that he can, just now, work the greatest good for the schools that he supervises and the community that he serves. The most effective way to reach his pupils is through the medium of their teachers, and he can help these pupils in no better way than to give their teachers a justifiable pride in the work that they are doing through his own recognition of its worth and its value, through his own respect for the significance of the lessons that experience teaches them, through his own suggestive help in making that experience profitable and suggestive. And just at the present moment, he can make no better start than by assuring them of the truth that Emerson expresses when he defines the true scholar as the man who remains firm in his belief that a popgun is only a popgun although the ancient and honored of earth may solemnly affirm it to be the crack of doom.
EDUCATION AND UTILITY
I wish to discuss with you some phases of the problem that is perhaps foremost in the minds of the teaching public to-day: the problem, namely, of making education bear more directly and more effectively upon the work of practical, everyday life. I have no doubt that some of you feel, when this problem is suggested, very much as I felt when I first suggested to myself the possibility of discussing it with you. You have doubtless heard some phases of this problem discussed at every meeting of this association for the past ten years—if you have been a member so long as that. Certain it is that we all grow weary of the reiteration of even the best of truths, but certain it is also that some problems are always before us, and until they are solved satisfactorily they will always stimulate men to devise means for their solution.