"But to put yourself in his place, sympathetically, scientifically, habitually, is the simplest, hardest, and most important lesson the professional school has to teach, or an intending teacher to learn, and I know of no better means to this end than the training in dramatic art, and the study of childhood and youth."
The best discipline is that which produces the natural development of the ideal within the nature of the child. Such development depends primarily on the personality of the teacher, and the influence she exerts thru the power of suggestion. Natural aptitude to control and govern; personal magnetism to rivet with links of steel; the power to express the beautiful impulses and noble emotions of a strong, steadfast character — these are fundamental factors. Pedagogy has been defined as the power of translating yourself into your pupil's exact environment, so that you may be able to think with his mind, to experience the thousand and one embarrassments under which his struggling brain labors and to view your own intuitional approaches to him thru his eyes. But to put yourself in his place, sympathetically, scientifically, habitually, is the simplest, hardest, and most important lesson the professional school has to teach, or an intending teacher to learn, and I know of no better means to this end than the training in dramatic art, and the study of childhood and youth.
Our best schools of acting claim that personal magnet ism is developed thru practice in reading and reciting such literary productions as require strong emotions for their portrayal. Dramatic art teaches pupils to become keen students of life, and their imaginations are trained to be in sympathy with the joy and pathos, heights and depths of that humanity they are to interpret. Pupils are trained, not only to observe the slightest detail of expression, but to reproduce such expression thru voice, face, and gesture. 0, the power of the human voice ! The living agent of the soul, the agent of the imagination and feeling, as well as of thought. To the student of vocal expression every note in nature is alive with suggestions. In every wind that blows, in every thunder peal that rolls, in every laughing, dancing brook, in every storm-tossed wave, there are instructive lessons. But of far more value than the voice, in the discipline of the school, is the power of facial expression. It is with the countenance we supplicate, we threaten, we soothe, we rouse, we rejoice, we mourn, we triumph, we express submission. Thru the eyes are expressed, with the utmost power, joy, grief, anger, love, hatred, affection, pity, contempt, — all the passions — all the emotions of the human heart. The time is coming when every professional school for the training of teachers, will follow in the footsteps of Col. Parker, and organize a department of dramatic art; when the systematic study of children will constitute a regular part of the normal course of study ; when the child's physical and moral well-being will be considered of as much importance as his intellectual progress in passing from grade to grade, and each temperament will be dealt with according to its nature ; when the practice departments of our professional schools will be so organized that the teacher will have her own pupils in her own room to manage in her own way without unnecessary interference.
For if you take away the opportunity for testing the teacher's ability to govern a school, she can get no growth in this direction and you have failed to train the teacher in that which is most essential to her success and usefulness, and without knowing it you may turn out upon the public an incompetent teacher.
•Abstract of Address before the N. E. A.