Read CHAPTER III of New Ideals in Rural Schools , free online book, by George Herbert Betts, on ReadCentral.com.

THE CURRICULUM OF THE RURAL SCHOOL

If we grant the economic ability to support good schools, then the curriculum offered by any type of school, the scope of subject-matter given the pupils to master, is a measure of the educational ideals of those maintaining and using the schools. If the curriculum is broad, and representative of the various great fields of human culture; if it relates itself to the life and needs of its patrons; if it is adapted to the interests and activities of its pupils, it may be said that the people believe in education as a right of the individual and as a preparation for successful living. But if, on the other hand, the curriculum is meager and narrow, consisting only of the rudiments of knowledge, and not related to the life of the people or the interests of the pupils, then it may well be concluded that education is not highly prized, that it is not understood, or that it is looked upon as an incidental.

The scope of the rural school curriculum

Modern conditions require a broader and more thorough education than that demanded by former times, and far more than the typical district rural school affords. The old-time school offered only the “three R’s,” and this was thought sufficient for an education. But these times have passed. Not only has society greatly increased in wealth during the last half-century, but it has also grown much in intelligence. Many more people are being educated now than formerly, and they are also being vastly better educated. For the concept of what constitutes an education has changed, and the curriculum has grown correspondingly broader and richer.

It is therefore no longer possible to express the educational status of a community in the percentage of people who can merely read and write. Educational progress has become a national ideal. The elementary schools in towns and cities have been greatly strengthened both in curriculum and teaching. High schools have been organized and splendidly equipped, and their attendance has rapidly increased.

But all this development has hardly touched the rural school. The curriculum offered is pitifully narrow even for an elementary school, and very few high schools are supported by rural communities. In fact, a large proportion of our rural population are receiving an education but little in advance of that offered a hundred years ago in similar schools. This is not fair to the children born and reared on the farm; it is not fair to one of the greatest and most important industries of our country; and it cannot but result disastrously in the end.

If the rural school is to meet its problem, it must extend the scope of its curriculum. It was formerly thought by many that education, except in its simplest elements, was only for those planning to enter the “learned professions.” But this idea has given way before the onward sweep of the spirit of democracy, and we now conceive education as the right and duty of all. Nor by education do we mean the simple ability to read, write, and number.

Our present-day civilization demands not only that the child shall be taught to read, but also that he shall be supplied with books and guided in his reading. Through reading as a tool he is to become familiar with the best in the world’s literature and its history. He is not only to learn number, but is to be so educated that he may employ his number concepts in fruitful ways. He must not only be familiar with the mechanics of writing, but must have knowledge, interests, experience that will give him something to write about. The “three R’s” are necessary tools, but they are only tools, and must be utilized in putting the child into possession of the best and most fruitful culture of the race. And, practically, they must put him into command of such phases of culture as touch his own life and experience and make him more efficient.

The rural school cannot extend the scope of its curriculum simply by inserting in the present curriculum new studies related to the life and work of the farm. The modification must be deeper and more thoroughgoing than this. A full elementary course of eight years and a high school course of four years should be easily accessible to every rural child. Less than this amount of education is inadequate to prepare for the life of the farm, and fails to put the individual into full possession of his powers. Nor, in most instances, should the high schooling be left to some adjacent town, which is to receive the rural pupils upon payment of tuition to the town district. Unless the town is small, and practically a part of the rural community, it cannot supply, either in the subject-matter of the curriculum or the spirit of the school, the type of education that the rural children should have. For in so far as the town or city high school leads to any specific vocation, it certainly does not lead toward industrial occupations, and least of all toward agriculture. It rather prepares for the professions, or for business careers. Its tendency is very strongly to draw the boys and girls away from the farm instead of preparing them for it.

While the rural child, therefore, must be provided with a better and broader education, he should usually not be sent to town to get it. If he is, the chances are that he will stay in town and be lost to the farm. Indeed, this is precisely what has been happening; the town or city high school has been turning the country boy away from the farm. For not only does what one studies supply his knowledge; it also determines his attitude.

If the curriculum contains no subject-matter related to the immediate experience and occupation of the pupil, his education is certain to entice him away from his old interests and activities. The farm boy whose studies lack all point of contact with his life and work will soon either lose interest in the curriculum or turn his back upon the farm. If the boys and girls born on the farm are to be retained in this form of industry, the rural school must be broadened to give them an education equal to that afforded by town or city for its youth. If the rural community cannot accomplish this end, it has no claim on the loyalty and service of its youth. Rural children have a right to a well-organized, well-equipped, and well-taught elementary school of eight years and a high school of four years, with a curriculum adapted especially to their interests and needs.

It is not meant, of course, that the rural school, with its present organization and administration, can extend the scope of its curriculum to make it the equal of that offered in the grades of the town or city school. Radical changes, such as those discussed in the preceding chapter, will have to be made in the rural district system before this is possible. That these changes are being made and the full elementary and high school course offered in many consolidated rural schools, scattered from Florida to Idaho, is proof both of the feasibility of the plan and of an awakened public demand for better rural education.

The broadened curriculum of the rural school must contain subject-matter especially related to the interests and activities of the farm; upon this all are agreed. But it must not stop with vocational subjects alone. For, while one’s vocation is fundamental, it is not all of life. Education should help directly in making a living; it must also help to live. Broad and permanent lines of interest must be set up and trained to include many forms of experience. The child must come to know something of the great social institutions of his day and of the history leading to their development. He must become familiar with the marvelous scientific discoveries and inventions underlying our modern civilization. He must be led to feel appreciation for the beautiful in art, literature, and music; and must have nurtured in his life a love for goodness and truth in every form. In short, through the curriculum the latent powers constituting the life capital of every normal child are to be stimulated and developed to the end that his life shall be more than mere physical existence-to the end that it shall be crowned with fullness of knowledge, richness of feeling, and the victory of worthy achievement. This is the right of every child in these prosperous and enlightened times,-the right of the country child as well as the city child. And society will not have done its duty in providing for the education of its youth until the children of the farm have full opportunities for such development.

The rural elementary school curriculum

By the elementary school is meant the eight grades of work below the high school which the rural school is now meant to cover.

Whatever is put into the curriculum of a nation’s schools finally becomes a part of national character and achievement. What the children study in school comes to determine their attitudes and shape their aptitudes. The old Greek philosophers, becoming teachers of youth, turned the nation into a set of students and disputants over philosophical questions. Sparta taught her boys the arts of war, and became the chief military nation of her time. Germany introduces technological studies into her schools, and becomes the leading country in the world in the arts of manufacture. Let any people emphasize in their schools the studies that lead to commercial and professional interests, and neglect those that prepare for industrial vocations, and the industrial welfare of the nation is sure to suffer.

The curriculum of the rural school must, therefore, contain the basic subjects that belong to all culture,-the studies that every normal, intelligent person should have just because he belongs to the twentieth-century civilization, and in addition must include the subjects that afford the knowledge and develop the attitude and technique belonging to the life of the farm. Let us now consider this curriculum somewhat more in detail.

The mother tongue. Mastery of his mother tongue is the birthright of every child. He should first of all be able to speak it correctly and with ease. He should next be able to read it with comprehension and enjoyment, and should become familiar with the best in its literature. He should be able to write it with facility, both as to its spelling and its composition. Finally, he should know something of the structure, or grammar, of the language.

This requirement suggests the content of the curriculum as to English. The child must be given opportunity to use the language orally; he must be led to talk. But this implies that he must have something to say, and be interested in saying it. Formal “language lessons,” divorced from all the child’s interests and activities, will not meet the purpose. Facility in speech grows out of enthusiasm in speaking. Every recitation is a lesson in English, and should be used for this purpose; nor should the aim be correctness only, but ease and fluency as well.

The child must also learn to read; not alone to pronounce the printed words of a page, but to grasp the thought and feeling, and express them in oral reading. This presupposes a mastery of the mechanics of reading, the letters, words, and marks employed. The only way to learn to read is by reading. This is true whether we refer to learning the mechanics of reading, to learning the apprehension and expression of thought, or to learning the art of appreciating and enjoying good literature.

Yet, trite and self-evident as this truism is, it is constantly violated in teaching reading in the rural school. For the course in reading usually consists of a series of five readers, expected to cover seven or eight years of study. These readers contain less than one hundred pages of reading matter to the year, or but little more than half a page a day for the time the child should be in school. The result is that the same reader is read over and over, to no purpose. With a rich literature available for each of the eight years of the elementary school, comparatively few of the rural schools have supplied either supplementary readers or other reading books for the use of the children.

The result is that most rural school children learn to read but stumblingly, and seldom attain sufficient skill and taste in reading so that it becomes a pleasure. Such a situation as this indicates the same lack of wisdom that would be shown in employing willing and skillful workmen to garner a rich harvest, and then sending them into the fields with wholly insufficient and inadequate tools. The rural school must not only teach the child the mechanics of reading, but lead him to read and love good books. This can be done only by supplying the books and giving the child an opportunity to read them.

Comparatively few people like to write. The pathway of expression finds its way out more easily through the tongue than through the hand. Yet it is highly necessary that every one should in this day be able to write. Nor does this mean merely the ability to form letters into words and put them down with a pen so that they are legible. This is a fundamental requisite, but the mastery of penmanship, spelling, and punctuation is, however, only a beginning. One must be able to formulate his thoughts easily, to construct his sentences correctly, and to make his writing effective; he must learn the art of composition.

Here again the principle already stated applies. The way to learn to write is by writing; not just by the dreary treadmill of practicing upon formal “compositions,” but by having something to write that one cares to express. The written language lessons should, therefore, always grow out of the real interests and activities of the child in the home, the school, or on the farm, and should include the art of letter-writing, argumentation and exposition, as well as narration and description.

The subject of formal grammar has little or no place in the grades of the elementary school. The grammatical relations of the language are complicated and beyond the power of the child at an early age. Nor does the study of such relations result in efficiency in the use of language, as is commonly supposed. Children are compelled in many schools to waste weary years in the study of logical relations they are too young to comprehend, when they should be reading, speaking, and writing their mother tongue under the stimulus and guidance of a teacher who is himself a worthy and enthusiastic model in the use of speech. Only the simpler grammatical forms and relations should be taught in the grades, and these should have immediate application to oral and written speech.

Arithmetic. Arithmetic has for more than two hundred years formed an important part of the elementary school curriculum. It has been taught with the double object of affording mental discipline for the child, and of putting him into possession of an important tool of practical knowledge. It is safe to say that a large proportion of the patrons of the rural schools of the present look upon arithmetic as the most important subject taught in the school after the simple mechanics of reading. Ability to “cipher” has been thought of as constituting a large and important part of the educational equipment of the practical man.

Without doubt, number is an essential part of the education of the child. Yet there is nothing in the mere art of numbering things as we meet them in daily experience that should make arithmetic require so large a proportion of time as it has been receiving. The child is usually started in number in the first grade, and continues it the full eight years of the elementary course, finally devoting three or more years of the high school course to its continued study. Thus, nearly one fourth of the entire school time of the pupil is demanded by the various phases of the number concept.

The only ground upon which the expenditure of this large proportion of time upon number can be defended is that of discipline. And modern psychology and experimental pedagogy have shown the folly and waste of setting up empty discipline as an educational aim. Education time is too short, and the amount of rich and valuable material waiting to be mastered too great, to devote golden years to a relatively barren grind.

It is probable that at least half the time at present devoted to arithmetic in the elementary school could be given to other subjects with no loss to the child’s ability in number, and with great gain to his education as a whole. Not that the child knows number any too well now. He does not. In fact, few children finishing the elementary school possess any considerable degree of ability in arithmetic. They can work rather hard problems, if they have a textbook, and the answers by which to test their results. But give them a practical problem from the home, the farm, or the shop, and the chances are two to one that they cannot secure a correct result. This is not the fault of the child, but the fault of the kind of arithmetic he has been given, and the way it has been taught. We have taught him the solution of various difficult, analytical problems not in the least typical of the concrete problems to be met daily outside of school; but we have not taught him to add, subtract, multiply, and divide with rapidity and accuracy. We have required him to solve problems containing fractions with large and irreducible denominators such as are never met in the business world, but he cannot readily and with certainty handle numbers expressed in halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, and eighths. He has been compelled to sacrifice practical business efficiency in number to an attempt to train his powers of logical analysis.

The arithmetic of the district school should be greatly simplified and reduced in quantity. Its quality should be greatly improved both as to accuracy and speed in the fundamental operations and in the various concrete types of problems to be met in the home, on the farm, and in the shop. There need be no fear that the mental training will be less efficient with this type of arithmetic. For mental development comes only where there is mastery, and there is no mastery of the arithmetic as it is taught in the rural school to-day.

History and civics. Every American child should know the history and mode of government of his country. This is true first of all because this knowledge is necessary to intelligent participation in the affairs of a republic; but it is also necessary to the right development of the individual that he shall realize something of the heroism and sacrifice required to produce the civilization which he enjoys. Every person needs to extend his thought and appreciation until it is large enough to include other peoples and times than his own. For only in this way can he come to feel kinship with the race at large, and thus save himself from provincialism and narrowness.

This is equivalent to saying that the curriculum should afford ample opportunity for the study of history. Nor should the history given the child deal chiefly with the military and political activities of the nation. Many text books have been little more than an account of wars and politics. These are not the aspects of national life that most interest and concern the child, especially at the age when he is in the elementary school. He should at this time be told about the people of his country,-their home life, their industries, their schools and churches, their bravery, their hardships, adventures, and achievements. He must come to know something of the great men and women of his Nation and State, the writers, inventors, explorers, scientists, artists, and musicians, as well as the soldiers and statesmen.

Not only does this require that the child shall have suitable textbooks in history, but that he shall also have an adequate library of interesting histories, biographies, and historical fiction adapted to his age and interests. For it is not enough that the child shall learn the elementary facts of history while he is in the elementary school; more important still is it that he shall develop a real interest in history, and form the taste for reading historical matter.

The course in history must, therefore, contain such matter as the child will love to read; for only then will it leave the desire to read. It must so put a premium upon patriotism, loyalty to country, and high-grade citizenship that the child shall feel the impulse to emulate the noble men and women who have contributed to our happiness and welfare. The study of history, even in the elementary school, should eventuate in loyal, efficient citizenship.

The civics taught in the elementary school should be very practical and concrete. The age has not yet come for a study of the federal or state constitution. It is rather the functional aspect of government that should be presented at this time-the points of contact of school district, township, county, state and federal government with the individual. How the school is supported and controlled; how the bridges are built and roads repaired; the work of township and county affairs; the powers and duties of boards of health; the right of franchise and the use of the ballot; the work of the postal system; the making and enforcing of laws,-these and similar topics suggest what the child should come to know from the study of civics. The great problem here is to influence conduct in the direction of upright citizenship, and to give such a knowledge of the machinery, especially of local government, as will lead to efficient participation in its activities.

Geography and nature study. The rural school has a great advantage over the city school in the teaching of geography and nature study. For the country child is closer to the earth and its products than the city child. The broad expanse of nature is always before him; life in its multiple forms constantly appeals to his eye and ear. He watches the seeds planted, and sees the crops cultivated and harvested. He has a very concrete sense of the earth as the home of man, and possesses a basis of practical knowledge for understanding the resources and products of his own and other countries.

Geography should, therefore, be one of the most vital and useful branches in the rural school. It is to begin wherever the life of the child touches nature in his immediate environment, and proceed from this on out to other parts of his home land, and finally to all lands.

But the geography taught must not be of the old catechism type, which resulted in children committing to memory the definitions of geographical terms instead of studying the real objects ready at hand. It must not concern itself with the pupils learning the names and locations of dozens of places and geographical forms of no particular importance, instead of coming into immediate touch with natural environment and with the earth in the larger sense as it bears upon his own life. The author has expressed this idea in another place as follows:-

“The content of geography is, therefore, synonymous with the content of the experience of the child as related to his own interests and activities, in so far as they grow out of the earth as his home. Towns and cities begin with the ones nearest at hand. The concept of rivers has its rise in the one that flows past the child’s home. Valleys, mountains, capes, and bays are but modifications of those that lie within the circle of personal experience. Generalizations must come to be made, but they must rest upon concrete and particular instances if they are to constitute a reality to the learner.

“What kind of people live in a country, what they work at, what they eat, and how they live in their homes and their schools, what weather they have, and what they wear, how they travel and speak and read,-these are more vital questions to the child than the names and locations of unimportant streams, towns, capes, and bays. For they are the things that touch his own experience, and hence appeal to his interest. Only as geography is given this social background, and concerns itself with the earth as related to social activities, can it fulfill its function in the elementary school."

Hygiene and health. Since health is at the basis of all success and happiness, nothing can be more important in the education of the child than the subject of practical hygiene. It has been the custom in our schools until recently, however, to give the child a difficult and uninteresting text book dealing with physiology and anatomy, but containing almost nothing on hygiene and the laws of health.

Not only should the course in physiology emphasize the laws of hygiene, but this hygiene should in part have particular bearing on right living under the conditions imposed by the farm. Food, its variety, adaptability, and preparation; clothing for the different seasons; work, recreation, and play; care of the eyes and teeth; bathing; the ventilation of the home, and especially of sleeping-rooms; the effects of tobacco and cigarettes in checking growth and reducing efficiency; the more simple and obvious facts bearing on the relation of bacteria to the growth, preparation, and spoiling of foods; the means to be taken to prevent bacterial contagion of diseases,-these are some of the practical matters that every child should know as a result of his study of physiology and hygiene.

But we must go one step further still. It is not enough to teach these things as matters of abstract theory or truth. Plenty of people know better hygiene than they are practicing. The subject must be presented so concretely and effectively and be supported by such incentives that it will actually lead to better habits of living-that it will result in higher physical efficiency.

Agriculture. Agriculture is of course preeminently a subject for the rural school. Not only is it of immediate and direct practical importance, but it is coming to be looked upon as so useful a cultural study that it is being introduced into many city schools.

It has been objected that agriculture as a science cannot be taught in the elementary school because of the lack of age and development of the pupils. This is true, but neither can any other subject be taught to children of this age as a complete science. It is possible, however, to give children in the rural elementary school much useful information concerning agriculture. Perhaps better still, it is possible to develop a scientific attitude and interest that will lead to further study of the subject in the high school or agricultural college, and that will in the mean-time serve to attach the boys and girls to the farm.

The rural school pupils can be made familiar with the best modes of planting and cultivating the various crops, and with the diseases and insect enemies which threaten them; the selection of seed; the rotation of crops, and many other practical things applying directly to their home life. School gardens of vegetables and flowers constitute another center of interest and information, and serve to unite the school and the home.

Similarly the animal life of the farm can be studied, and a knowledge gained of the best varieties of farm stock, their breeding and care. Insects and bird life can be observed, and their part in the growth or destruction of crops understood. All this is not only practicable, but necessary as part of the rural school curriculum. Anything less than this amount of practical agriculture leaves the rural school in some degree short of fulfilling its function.

Domestic science and manual training. In general what is true of agriculture is true of domestic science and manual training. They can be presented in the elementary school only in the most concrete and applied form. But they can be successfully presented in this form, and must be if the rural school child is to have an equal opportunity with the town and city child. The girls can be taught the art of sewing, cooking, and serving, if only the necessary equipment and instruction are available. They are ready to learn, the subject-matter is adapted to their age and understanding, and nothing could be more vital to their interests and welfare.

Likewise the boys can be taught the use of tools, the value and finishing of different kinds of woods, and can develop no little skill with their hands, while they are at the same time receiving mental development and the cultivation of practical interests from this line of work. It is not in the least a question of the readiness of the boys to take up and profit by this subject, but is only a matter of equipment and teaching.

Music and art. Nor should the finer aspects of culture be left out of the education of the country child. He will learn music as readily as the city child, and love it not less. Indeed, he needs it even more as a part of his schooling, since the opportunities to hear and enjoy music are always at hand in the city, and nearly always lacking in the country. The child should be taught to sing and at least to understand and appreciate music of worthy type.

The same principle will apply to art. The great masterpieces of painting and sculpture have as much of beauty and inspiration in them as the great masterpieces of literature. Yet most rural children complete their schooling hardly having seen in the schoolroom a worthy copy of a great picture, and much less have they been taught the significance of great works of art or been led to appreciate and love them.

Physical training. It has been argued by many that the rural child has enough exercise and hence does not need physical training. But this position entirely misconceives the purpose of physical training. One may have plenty of exercise, even too much exercise, without securing a well-balanced physical development. Indeed, certain forms of farm work done by children are often so severe a tax on their strength that a corrective exercise is necessary in order to save stooped forms, curved spines, and hollow chests. Furthermore, the farm child, lacking the opportunities of the city child for gaining social ease and control, needs the development that comes from physical training to give poise, ease of bearing, and grace of movement.

Nor must the athletic phase of physical training be overlooked. While it is undoubtedly true that athletics have come to occupy too large a part of the time and absorb too great a proportion of the interest in many schools, yet this is no reason for omitting avocational training wholly from the rural school. Children require the training and development that come from games and play quite as much as they need that coming from work. The school owes a duty to the avocational side of life as well as to the vocational.

The curriculum here proposed is so much broader and richer than that now offered in the rural district school that it will appear to many to be visionary and impossible. That it is impossible for the old type of rural school will be readily admitted. But it is entirely practicable and possible in the reorganized consolidated school, and is being successfully presented, in its general aspects, at least, in many of these schools. It is only such an education as every rural child is entitled to, and is no more than the urban child is already receiving in the better class of town and city elementary schools. If the rural school cannot give the farm child an elementary education approximating the one out-lined, it has no claim on his loyalty or time; and he should in justice to himself be taken where he can receive a worthy education, even if he is thereby lost to the farm.

But the rural boy and girl need not only a good elementary education, but a high school education as well. Let us next consider the rural high school curriculum.

The rural high school curriculum

This section is presented in the full knowledge that comparatively few localities have as yet established the rural high school. It now forms, however, an integral part of the consolidated rural school in not a few places, and is abundantly justifying the expenditure made upon it. In other localities the tendency is growing to send the rural child to the town high school, or even for the family to move to town to secure high schooling for the children. In still other cases, and we are obliged to admit that these yet constitute the rule rather than the exception, the farm boy or girl has no opportunity for a high school education.

If we succeed in working out the so-called rural problem of our country, in maintaining a high standard of agricultural population and rural life, the rural high school must be an important factor in our problem. For the children of our farms need and must have an education reaching beyond that of the elementary school. And this schooling must prepare them to find the most satisfactory and successful type of life on the farm, instead of drawing them away from the farm.

It goes without saying that the rural high school should be an agricultural high school. This does not mean that it shall devote itself exclusively to teaching agriculture; but rather that, while it offers a broad range of culture and information, it shall emphasize those phases of subject-matter that will best fit into the interests and activities of farm life, instead of those phases that tend to lead toward the city or the market-place. Its four years of work must be fully equal to that of the best town or city high schools, but must in some degree be different work. It must result in efficiency, and efficiency here must relate itself to agricultural life and pursuits.

A detailed discussion of the rural high school curriculum will not be required. The principles already suggested as applying to the elementary school will govern here as well. The studies must cultivate breadth of view and a wide range of interests, and must at the same time bear upon the immediate life and experience of the pupils. The lines of study begun in the elementary school will be continued, with the purpose of securing deeper insight, more detailed knowledge, and greater independence of judgment and action.

English should form an important part of the curriculum, with the double aim of securing facility in the use of the mother tongue and of developing a love for its literature. The rural high school graduate should be able to write English correctly as to spelling, punctuation, and grammar; he should be able to express himself effectively, either in writing, conversation, or the more formal speech of the rostrum. Above all, he should be an enthusiastic and discriminating reader, with a catholicity of taste and interest that will lead him beyond the agricultural journal and newspaper, important as these are, to the works of fiction, material and social science, travel and biography, current magazines and journals, and whatever else belongs to the intellectual life of an intelligent, educated man of affairs.

This is asking more than is being accomplished at present by the course in English in the town high school, but not more than is easily within the range of possibility. The average high school graduate of to-day cannot always spell and punctuate correctly, and commonly cannot write well even an ordinary business letter; nor, it must be feared, has his study of literature had a very great influence in developing him into a good reader of worthy books.

But all this can be remedied by vitalizing the teaching of the mother tongue; by lessening the proportion of time and emphasis placed upon critical analysis and technical literary criticism, and increasing that given to the drill and practice that alone can make sure of the fundamentals of spelling, punctuation, and the common forms of composition emphasized by all; and by the sympathetic, enthusiastic teaching of good literature adapted to the age and interests of the pupils from the standpoint of synthetic appreciation and enjoyment, rather than from the standpoint of mechanical analysis.

The rural high school course in social science should be broad and thorough. The course in history should not give an undue proportion of time to ancient and medieval history, nor to war and politics. Emphasis should be placed on the social, industrial, and economic phases of human development in modern times and in our own country.

Political economy should form an important branch. Especially should it deal with the problems of production, distribution, and consumption as they relate to agriculture. Matters of finance, taxation, and investment, while resting on general principles, should be applied to the problems of the farm. Nor should the economic basis of support and expenditure in the home be overlooked.

The course in civics should not only present the general theory of government, but should apply concretely to the civic relations and duties of a rural population. Especially should it appeal to the civic conscience and sense of responsibility which we need among our rural people to make the country an antidote to the political corruption of the city.

Material science should constitute an important section of the rural high school curriculum. Not only does its study afford one of the best means of mental development, but the subject-matter of science has a very direct bearing on the life and industries of the farm. To achieve the best results, however, the science taught must be presented from the concrete and applied point of view rather than from the abstract and general. This does not mean that a hodge-podge of unrelated facts shall be taught in the place of science; indeed, such a method would defeat the whole purpose of the course. It means, however, that the general laws and principles of science shall be carried out to their practical bearing on the problems of the home and the farm, and not be left just as general laws or abstract principles unapplied.

The botany and zoology of the rural high school will, of course, have a strong agricultural trend. It will sacrifice the old logical classifications and study of generic types of animals and plants for the more interesting and useful study of the fauna and flora of the locality. The various farm crops, their weed enemies, the helpful and harmful insects and birds, the animal life of the barnyard, horticulture and floriculture, and the elements of bacteriology, will constitute important elements in the course.

The course in physics will develop the general principles of the subject, and will then apply these principles to the machinery of the farm, to the heating, lighting, and ventilation of houses, to the drainage of soil, the plumbing of buildings, and a hundred other practical problems bearing on the life of the farm. Chemistry will be taught as related to the home, foods, soils, and crops. A concrete geology will lead to a better understanding of soils, building materials, and drainage. Physiology and hygiene will seek as their aim longer life and higher personal efficiency.

The course in agriculture, whether presented separately or in conjunction with botany and zoology, must be comprehensive and thorough. Not only should it give a complete and practical knowledge of the selection of seed; the planting, cultivating, and harvesting of crops; the improvement and conservation of the soil; the breeding and care of stock, etc., but it must serve to create and develop a scientific attitude toward farming. The farmer should come to look upon his work as offering the largest opportunities for the employment of technical knowledge, judgment, and skill. That such an attitude will yield large returns in success is attested by many farmers to-day who are applying scientific methods to their work.

Manual training and domestic science should receive especial emphasis in the rural high school. Both subjects have undoubted educational value in themselves, and their practical value and importance to those looking forward to farm life can hardly be over-estimated. And in these as in other subjects, the course offered will need to be modified from that of the city school in order to meet the requirements of the particular problems to which the knowledge and training secured are to be applied.

Mathematics should form a part of the rural high school curriculum, but the traditional courses in algebra and geometry do not meet the need. The ideal course would probably be a skillful combination of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry occupying the time of one or two years, and applied directly to the problems of mechanics, measurements, surveying, engineering, and building on the farm. Such an idea is not new, and textbooks are now under way providing material for such a course.

In addition, there should be a thorough course in practical business arithmetic. By this is not meant the abstract, analytical matter so often taught as high school arithmetic, but concrete and applied commercial and industrial arithmetic, with particular reference to farm problems. In connection with this subject should be given a course in household accounts, and book-keeping, including commercial forms and commercial law.

It is doubtful whether foreign language has any place in the rural high school. If offered at all, it should be only in high schools strong enough to offer parallel courses for election, and should never displace the subjects lying closer to the interests and needs of the students.

The study of music and art begun in the elementary school should be continued in the high school, and a love for the beautiful cultivated not only by the matter taught, but also by the aesthetic qualities of the school buildings and grounds and their decoration. On the practical sides these subjects will reach out to the beautifying of the farm homes and the life they shelter.

When a well-taught curriculum of some such scope of elementary and high school work as that suggested is as freely available to the farm child as his school is available to the city child, will the country boys and girls have a fair chance for education. And when this comes about, the greatest single obstacle to keeping our young people on the farm will have been removed.