Archive for August, 2013

TeachersPhilosophyWilliam DeWitt Hyde (1858 – 1917), the 7th president of Bowdoin College, was a prolific author and a remarkable university leader.    His writing and public speaking were “distinguished by fluency, ease, and roundness of statement”.   Hyde wrote at least fifteen different books that built on his knowledge in ethics, morality and the education of young people.    I particularly enjoy two of Hyde’s books that relate to higher education:   The College Man and the College Woman (1906) and The Teacher’s Philosophy in and out of School (1910).

In The Teacher’s Philosophy in and out of SchoolHyde builds the case for the teacher’s ‘in school’ philosophy by first illustrating the development of the young man from primary school to the university.   He concludes with the Five Tests of the Teacher.   They are reproduced below:

First : Is my interest in my work so contagious that my pupils catch from me an eager interest in what we are doing together?   Then I have the primary teacher’s quality, essential to success there and everywhere.

Second : Is my work thorough and resourceful, rather than superficial and conventional, so that the brightness of my industry and the warmth of my encouragement kindles in my pupils a responsive zeal to do their best, cost what it may?   Then I have the grammar school teacher’s essential quality, without which no one can teach anywhere aright.

Third : Do I get at the individuality of my students, so that each one is different to me from every other, and I am something no other person is to each of them? Then I have the high school teacher’s special gift ; and shall be a power for good all through my students’ lives.

Fourth : Do I treat them, and train them to treat each other, never as mere things, or means to ends ; but always as persons, with rights, aims, interests, aspirations, which I heartily respect and sympathetically share ? Then I have the college quality ; and am sure to be popular and successful everywhere.

Fifth : Am I so reverent toward fact, so obedient to law, that through me fact and law speak and act with an authority which my students instinctively recognize and implicitly obey? Then the mantle of the university, and a double portion of the professional spirit has fallen upon me and wherever I teach, the problem of discipline for the most part will solve itself through the mutual recognition by both students and teacher of a Power greater than either and higher than all.

As I make my teaching preparations for the upcoming academic year, I will reflect on William DeWitt Hyde’s five tests and will be a better teacher for it.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe


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