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From A Cyclopedia of Education, edited by Paul Monroe, Ph.D. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1911, vol. II, pp. 209-211).
- Ernest N. Henderson (Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Education, Adelphi College)
As applied to the work of education, this means the interrelation of studies so that the material of each lesson is made interesting and intelligible through its connection with the points involved in others. In general three reasons for correlation have been urged. First, correlation enables the child to comprehend better the meaning and bearings of what he studies. The more thorough the correlation, the richer the intension of the ideas that are presented. Without correlation study is irrational, wooden. It becomes a mere appeal to mechanical memory. The proper interrelation of the material of instruction makes it intelligible, more easily memorized and retained, and more significant. Second, correlation is held to make study interesting, for it connects the work of the lesson with what the child already knows and is interested in. To find in the new the familiar is ever a source of pleasure. To be able to unravel, explain, perhaps anticipate the work of the new lesson, as a result of applying what is already learned, is a power the exercise of which is a continual delight to the pupil. Third, correlation makes the application of the knowledge gained in school to practice both within and without that environment far more easy, and so far more likely. This result is due, first to the fact that it cultivates in the child the tendency to apply his knowledge to the comprehension of new ideas and the solution of new problems and second to the enhanced power of recall that springs from the many associations which it establishes. To be able to apply knowledge, one must be accustomed to the practice of hunting within himself for ideas with which to deal with new situations, and the experience that he has already obtained must readily rise into memory when it is needed. Correlation cultivates the tendency to think, and facilitates the recall of resources to sustain the thinking process. The general conception of correlation is applied to the work of the school in a great variety of ways. These types of correlation may be reduced to three groups: (1) correlation within the content of a subject; (2) correlation among the different subjects in the course of study; (3) correlation between the school work and life outside.
1. The correlation of the material of a subject means, of course, that arrangement by which each topic is a natural outcome of the preceding one and a natural preparation for the next. It is the grading of the subject matter. Grading may follow either what is known as the logical order or the so-called psychological order. The logical order implies any systematic development of the subject from premises to a logical conclusion. The psychological order implies such an arrangement as appeals to the child's interests and powers of comprehension. The psychological order involves certain logical principles of arrangement, but not all logical arrangement is effective in its psychological appeal. In learning written language, it is logical to begin with the letters. However, it is not a good psychological order to make such a beginning, especially with little children. Until they are combined in words, letters are meaningless, and, as a rule, uninteresting abstractions. The natural, or psychological, first step is to begin with words and sentences, which have meanings and may easily be interesting. The alphabetic method is logical but not psychological; the word method is both.
2. When one speaks of correlation in education, it is ordinarily the second type that is in mind, that is, the interrelation of subjects in the curriculum. Such correlation may be of two sorts, which may be called incidental and systematic. Incidental correlation is that which arises as a result of the broad presentation of a topic to a class. If the teacher is giving a history lesson on the discovery of America by Columbus, and makes use of arithmetic, geometry, geography, natural history, literature, and drawing as a means of developing interest in the class and giving a comprehensive notion of the event, she is employing correlation. Systematic correlation involves such arrangement of the content of the various subjects in the curriculum as makes them constantly bear upon each other. The day's work in arithmetic, for example, is planned, not merely to spring out of the preceding lesson in arithmetic and to lead to the following lesson in that subject, but also to be a natural outcome of the work which has just been done in geography, nature study, constructive work, or perhaps even history and literature, and to prepare for immediate onward progress in all these lines. Incidental correlation arises from day to day, and is a necessity of good teaching; systematic correlation requires a planning out of the whole course of study. Systematic correlation may be minute and specific, or merely general and loose in character. The daily work in each subject may be made to bear on the daily work in correlated ones. The topics may be selected to correspond as closely as possible. For example, the history, the geography, the drawing, the nature study, the arithmetic, the literature and composition might deal with the discovery of America. This would be close correlation. On the other hand, the curriculum may be planned merely to make it likely that when a topic is taken up in a certain subject, the pupil will be in the possession of such knowledge from other subjects as is necessary to its adequate comprehension. Close correlation is apt to become superficial and ridiculous. For example, the topic of the school day might be the egg, which could be studied not only from the point of view of nature study, but as the theme of other lessons. It could be drawn, measured, and weighed. It could be studied as an article of trade in commercial geography. Literature dealing with the egg might be found; if nothing else, then Humpty Dumpty from Mother Goose or the tale of the Roc's Egg from the Arabian Nights. In history the legend of Columbus and his problem of standing an egg on end might be read. To conclude, the composition work might bear on the same theme. Such close correlation has undoubtedly done much to discredit the idea altogether. The difficulty arises because close correlation seems to demand that the same topics as well as the same principles shall run through the lessons that are studied each day. Indeed, it seems difficult to provide a specific correlation of principles without unity of topics. Now, while the topics of some subjects, such as history and geography, can be fairly easily made to correspond, it is evident that others will not fit so well; for example, natural science and literature. Close correlation usually culminates in a scheme of concentration where there is one central subject, for instance, history, which constitutes the core of the curriculum; other subjects are studied only as they contribute to the comprehension of the topic of the day in this central subject, or as they contain topics which can be related to this.
3. The third type of correlation is that between school work and the life outside. Of this we may note three phases, the correlation of school and home, of school and vocation, and of school and the entire present or future outside activity of the pupil. The last sort of correlation includes, of course, both the others, but it also goes beyond them. The correlation of home and school aims primarily at discipline and moral culture. It presents two phases, first the introduction of a home atmosphere into the school, and second the endeavor on the part of the school to secure the assistance of the home in controlling the child and in interesting him in its work. Further results follow from the establishment of cordial relations between the two institutions. These are: (1) The school is able to learn more about the individuality of the pupils by getting the suggestions of the parents and by studying home environments and hereditary traits. (2) The school gets the cooperation of parents not only in discipline, but also in connection with the studies pursued. Hence we have home work, report cards, and similar practices. (3) The school endeavors to transform the home through its educative influence on the children. In this connection the clubs of the school, parents' meetings, etc., are utilized.
The problem of correlating the school with the vocation has led to the rise of vocational schools and the issue of vocational education. This is discussed in special articles. The idea of relating the school to life in general has involved especially the attempt to transform the school activities so that they should so far as possible resemble the concrete situations in the world at large. The endeavor to bring about this result is one of the leading features of school reform to-day. It has taken the form of attempts to make the school a place of social cooperation rather than of individual learning; to connect theory with practice by causing the child to apply whatever he learns, or to learn through doing, or perhaps merely as an incident to the solution of certain practical problems that arise in the school life; and finally, to make sure that the problems of the school represent typical ones in real life. (See Experimental schools.)
The principle of correlation has appeared wherever educational reform has reacted against the isolation and mechanical character of school work. It is especially in evidence in the criticisms of the realists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries upon the. linguistic instruction in the secondary schools. It was urged that knowledge should be made more practical, that words should be taught only in connection with things, and that living as well as dead languages should receive attention in the schools. Comenius especially may be regarded as an advocate of correlation between language and science, school and home, theory and practice. The French reformer, Jacotot, pushed the idea to a somewhat extreme conclusion in his maxim "all is in all," a practical application of which is found in his view that a thorough study of the Télémaque of Fénelon would involve a complete education. It is, however, especially to Herbart and his followers that we owe the modern emphasis upon the principle under discussion. His notion of apperception, when applied both to method and to the course of study, meant constant interrelation of the material of instruction. Indeed, his followers interpreted this system and unity to involve concentration. Utilizing certain hints of the master, Ziller, developed therefrom the plan of instruction, having history as its center and the notion of the culture epochs as its principle of arrangement. The idea of correlation was made prominent in the United States through the influence of the Herbartians, and the brilliant advocacy of Colonel Parker. It seized the attention of the teachers in general, and was made the central principle in a proposed reorganization of the secondary school program submitted by the Committee of Ten, to the National Educational Association in 1894. This was followed by a similar scheme proposed for elementary education by the Committee of Fifteen and reported to the same Association in 1895. These schemes have been criticized as not providing genuine correlation, but they mark the point of highest general interest in this specific topic in the United States. It is interesting to note that the committees emphasized especially the disciplinary effect of studies. (See Formal discipline.) It was assumed that each subject gives a special sort of discipline, that enhances the ability to deal with any subject where similar mental powers are required. Correlation here means the proper organization of these disciplines, so that we have as a result both the highest degree of mutual assistance among the forms of training, and the all-round development of the individual. One of the most recent notable attempts at correlation is that suggested by Professor Dewey for the Experimental School at the University of Chicago. It was essentially a plan for concentration about the social life of the school.
E. N. H.
- De Garmo, C. Herbart and the Herbartians. (New York,
- Dewey. J. School and Society. (Chicago. 1900.)
- McMurry.C.A. General Method. (New York. 1908.)
- Report of the Committee of Ten. (Washington. 1893.)
- Report of the Committee of Fifteen. (New York, 1895.)