The Path to Public Service at SEAS
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"If education fails to make itself an effective agent of democracy, both in helping to meet the basic human needs in the spirit of democratic justice and in advancing the ablest and most devoted to positions of leadership, it may be because American teachers do not know how to stand together for such an end or to use the means at their command." It is for this reason that Dean Henry W. Holmes, in his annual report for the Graduate School of Education, vigorously insists that teaching should be a "permanent, independent, and powerful profession." No one can deny the vital necessity of sound teachers if we are to build a reliable citizenry and an enduring nation.
One of the most vitiating forces in the preparation of our secondary school staffs is the commercialization of education courses in many second-rate universities. State boards set up certain definite requirements for teachers, and colleges supply the courses for fulfilling the minimum requirements and no more. The formulation of educational policy becomes the sole function of a political group instead of research-minded university faculties where it truly belongs. This unfortunate preponderance of courses in education existing only for "money-making", as Dean Holmes remarks, has the still more unhappy consequence of neglecting the fitness of prospective teachers for their work. The all-important function of secondary education is not a matter to be left to any individuals having the fee for a course in Education.
The question of how to educate our teachers must necessarily be preceded by deciding what constitutes education. In helping to solve this problem a university provides its greatest service, and it is with this in view that Dean Holmes has embarked upon a campaign of graduate school cooperation at Harvard. The relatively new degree, Master of Arts in Teaching, combines the two essentials of a good teacher -- thorough knowledge of the subject he intends to teach, and an understanding of the principles of education. Another angle of cooperation is planned for supervisors and school officials by sending students in the School of Education over to the School of Public Administration for supplementary instruction.
Dean Holmes' report outlines a positive policy for preparing sound teachers that is strikingly clear. It is an analysis that might well serve as the guide-post for many universities now engaged in the education "racket".
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