At a recent meeting of the New England Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools, the subject of the teaching of pedagogues in colleges was discussed. After a number of prominent educators had expressed their views, all declaring that pedagogy could and should be taught in colleges, President Eliot spoke as follows:
"It is very difficult to find teachers qualified in pedagogy. The difficulty of colleges and professional schools was in teaching young men how to practice. So in college or university, the way to advance the profession of teaching is to teach the subjects which are to be taught in the colleges and high schools and academies in the best manner we can. In Germany the teacher shows how the subject should be taught. In regard to the preparation of the teacher, he thought Harvard had done her fair share of the work during the last thirty years. The methods of teaching the principal subjects have fundamentally changed at Harvard within twenty years, and I suppose it is the case in other colleges. If, therefore, we are right in our present methods, what good would it do to teach the old methods? Take, for instance, the study of Natural Science. The method of teaching it twenty years ago was worse than useless. How long is it that a reasonable method of teaching natural science has been in use? About fifteen years at the outside. So in the twenty years I have been at Harvard I have seen the whole method of teaching Latin and Greek changed-fundamentally changed-as I believe to the enormous advantage of the men who both study and study and teach these languages. It is by developing new methods of teaching subjects that colleges make teachers best equipped for their work. To turn to another subject: How long have our own men been systematically trained for the profession of pedagogy? How few I will not venture to say. Is teaching a profession, when the majority of teachers are elected once a year? Is it a profession when more than 33 per cent. are replaced every year? There are a few men and women who look upon it as a profession. The great majority of persons who teach, however, never intend to treat teaching as a profession. I say, therefore, that the institutions of higher education have some good reasons for not attempting to teach the philosophy of education. I thing, too, we may offer another apology for not having attempted to teach the history of higher education. It is the most terrible history in the world, and it is the most depressing thing for any human being, because there is no good history of teaching and no history of good teaching. There are no more discouraging biographies than those of men and women who give an account of their education. I should not, however, like to be considered as discouraging this education. I should welcome very heartily the changing of one of our normal schools of this state into a really high normal school, in which all the topics which are grouped together under the general term of pedagogy could be taught and studied."