The first issue of this journal appears at a time of great change in the field of education. In Ireland, as elsewhere, the signs of change are obvious. There is talk of re-organizing schools, and new curricula and technical aids are finding their way into more and more classrooms. Change, of course, raises problems, the solution of which is not always easy. All concerned with education, from the administrator at the national level to the parent in the home, are involved in these problems and their solution. Most of all perhaps, because education is his profession, the teacher is involved.
In common with members of other professions, the teacher today faces the problem of keeping in touch with the rapid development of knowledge in the world around him. In particular, he must keep abreast of the expanding content and new approaches relevant to the subjects he is called on to teach; he must also be aware of the rapidly increasing area of
knowledge dealing with the development of the child and the learning process. In a changing world, he must be continually changing himself.
The main purpose in founding this journal is to help teachers and others interested in education to keep in touch with developments in educational theory and practice. It is planned to publish articles on all aspects of education, and it is hoped that these will serve as a stimulus to thought and discussion. Only on the basis of such reflection and informed
discussion can one hope to arrive at wise decisions on educational matters.
We have been particularly fortunate in obtaining the services of a distinguished panel of consultants who will keep us informed of developments elsewhere. We thank them for their encouragement and support.
THE ROLE OF RESEARCH IN EDUCATION
Interest in educational research has vastly increased in recent years. It is now realized that research is necessary in order to provide a basis for educational planning and to assess the effects of such planning. Examples of research concerning social aspects of education, the development of children and teaching methods are considered. For many issues in education, empirical research cannot provide the answer; but it can provide essential information for making wise judgments about educational matters.
THE ORGANISATION OF CLASSES IN THE PRIMARY SCHOOL
Four of the many forms of organization of classes in the primary school are considered: non-promotion of slow-learning pupils, ability grouping (streaming), grouping within the classroom and organization for the purpose of individualizing instruction. Practices under each of these four headings are considered, and research into the effectiveness of each form of organization is examined. The available research does not indicate that any pattern of organization is consistently superior to others. Future research should be directed towards an examination of the relationship of organizational practices to specific kinds of learning.
EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES: THE BLUEPRINT FOR INSTRUCTION AND EVALUATION
George F. Madaus
It is the teacher’s aim to effect some change in the learner. A clear statement of desired changes should be the first step in planning curricula, courses and evaluation procedures. Many teachers, however, do not state their objectives at all, or state them unclearly. Objectives, if they are to be unambiguous, are best stated in terms of directly observable behaviour which describe what a student is doing when he is demonstrating that he has achieved the objective in question. Since the statement of educational objectives is not easy, teachers should collaborate in the task. Discussions among teachers and the observation of changes actually taking place in the classroom are useful.
THE PROCESS OF COMPOSITION
The personal writing of children in English class is considered in the light of recent research on creative processes. It calls for divergent rather than convergent thinking, and a task-oriented rather than ego-oriented approach towards the work. Writing done in the classroom has evident advantages over that done at home. The most effective way of stimulating good writing will vary with the age, the sex and the individuality of the child. The moment of starting to write is fraught with particular difficulties, which may be lessened by the use of ‘synectics’ technique.
BASIC ISSUES IN AMERICAN READING INSTRUCTION
William D. Sheldon
The teaching of reading to pre-school children has become increasingly common in recent years. Kindergarten schools, too, are engaging in more formal teaching than heretofore. As yet, however, there is no clear evidence concerning the long term effects of these practices. The study of teaching reading in the first grade of the elementary school shows that the teacher is probably more important than factors such as the method and materials used. The teaching of reading to disadvantaged children, to secondary school students and to illiterate adolescents and adults raises many problems that have not as yet been adequately faced.
FIFTY YEARS OF SOVIET EDUCATION
This paper outlines the development of Soviet education over the last 50 years. The initial difficulties are considered, as are the effects of the Civil War and the Second World War. Soviet education is seen to have two constant concerns practical (the production of personnel for a developing economy), and ideological (the use of education in the shaping of a new society). Tensions between principle and practicability can be seen in many areas of the system, and the major policy changes are examined as attempts to strike a balance between them. With a brief survey of achievements to date and problems still outstanding, it is suggested that the prospects for the next 50 years justify cautious optimism.
TEACHERS’ ATTITUDES TO PARENT-TEACHER RELATIONSHIPS
A random sample of lay primary school teachers in Dublin city completed a postal questionnaire on parent-teacher relations. From their replies it would appear that there is not a great deal of contact of any kind between parents and such teachers in the city. There are few formal parent teacher organizations. Fifty per cent of respondents said they would like more contact with parents but half of these thought parents would not like more contact with them. Informal concontact with parents was the most frequently preferred form of parent teacher relations, formal parent-teacher associations were least preferred. Teachers in poor centre city areas had least contact with parents and most frequently wished for more contact.
EDUCATION AND THE IRISH ECONOMY
Economic growth depends on investment in education as well as on the provision of physical capital, indeed, the former can be more important than the latter in accelerating growth. In Ireland, a good deal has already been done by way of providing physical capital, now more attention will have to be paid to education and to the creation of a general fund of skills in the population. This will require planning, so that educational developments may be geared to the future demands of the economy. In the face of mounting costs, it will also require a more efficient and effective use of resources in education.
DESIGNING A RESPONSIVE ENVIRONMENT SOME DEVICES FOR SELF-INSTRUCTION IN NUMBER
John D Williams
We briefly examine four kinds of device which help the pupil to instruct himself in number structured materials, counting frames, desk calculators and programmed instructional devices. Features of design that suit these kinds of device for their job are appraised, and, in some cases, variants are compared for merit.
TOWARDS A SYSTEM OF PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION
T Joseph Sheehan
The process of model building, now formally identified with the discipline of systems theory, has recently been making significant contributions to tidying up and advancing such areas as management science, economics, defense systems, and physiological systems. Before any kind of models can be built, foundations must be laid in terms of both verbal description of the problem and some sort of block diagram representation. Only after work has been completed at these two stages can General Systems Theory bring its tools to help either a computer simulation or a detailed mathematical model of a particular system. This paper is concerned with the first two stages approaches to verbal description and diagrammatic representation of the problems of an educational system.