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Egstad, Herman M. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 30, Number 4 (Jan. 1929)

Dixon, John
Wisconsin High, an experiment,   p. 115


Page 115


_7anuary, 1929                      THE WISCONSIN ALUMNI MAGAZINE       
                                      Page n15
     Wisconsin High, An Experiment
                   Former Student Hails Madison School As Successful Forerunner
                              of Meiklejohn's Present Experimental College.
                                           By JOHN DIXON, '30
"C HALLENGE the initiative!" This       as pupils and as instructors.
  The      To start his pupils thinking for them-
       is the foremost of instructions  greater stress, however, is laid
on    selves Professor Miller adopted the pro-
given to all newly hired teachers at the  their activity as pupils, for it
is in this  ject method. The students, without tu-
Wisconsin High School. And it was      capacity that they may best gain a
     torial assistance, work out, during the
with these words as a basis that the late  clear-cut understanding of the
second-  year, some problem, master all of its de-
Professor H. L. Miller gathered and set  ary school mechanism. Each day they
  tails, and are prepared to explain it fully
into frictionless motion the apparatus  are requested to write a reaction
card,  at a public exhibition toward the end of
for one of Wisconsin's most successful                                  
          the spring term.
experiments in Education.                                               
            It is at this point that a faint sketch
  Eighteen years ago, in 1.911 , the Edu-                               
         of the background for an Experimental
cation Department of the State Univer-                                  
          College may be discerned. The picture
sity came face to face with two distinctly                              
         of young boys and girls, working with-
different problems. First, an institu-                                  
         out encouragement, without supervi-
tion was needed    where University                                     
         sion, without discipline, in order to reach
seniors, intending to teach, might gain                                 
          the fictional pot of gold at the end of the
experience through actual participation                                 
         scholastic rainbow, brought suddenly
in the daily routine of high school                                     
          to the minds of certain prominent edu-
classes. Secondly, a place was needed                                   
         cators the possibilities in such a situa-
which would enable the department to                                    
          tion if applied to young men and women
put into practice its theories for the im-                              
         of the college age.
provement of secondary teaching and                                     
            Now we have the Experimental Col-
learning.                                                               
         lege at Wisconsin. Somehow the co-eds
  The logical result was the University                                 
         have been at least momentarily forgot-
High School, located near the campus                                    
          ten, but their hopes may be high as long
and not far from Madison's west side                                    
         as the College lives and flourishes as it is
residential districts.                                                  
         doing at the present time. Perhaps the
  The faculty was largely enlisted from                                 
         connection between the two educational
the ranks of "Hill" professors and in-                        
                   experiments is not as definite as we have
structors with Professor H. L. Miller                                   
         stated here. The first experiment, how-
as Principal. The tuition was set at            The LateProf. H. L. Miller
     ever, in its complete and colorful tri-
eight dollars per quarter, the fourth                                   
         umph, would logically influence the de-
quarter being in the form of a summer                                   
         gree of enthusiasm with which a further
school and not compulsory. With the    evidencing, as time passes, their
grasp  and  similar  experiment would  be
aid of this fee the Board of Regents   of the real significance of the teaching
 launched.
found themselves able to maintain the  job. Perhaps, on one or two occasions,
  The   Wisconsin   University  High
school on the state budget as an inde-  they will be left alone in charge
of an  School, with its enrollment of four hun-
pendent University project.              entire class for a period of sixty
minutes;  dred boys and girls, and with its two
  An adequate attendance was soon se-  or, In an English class, for instance,
they  hundred participating college seniors, is
cured; the school, gathering momen-    will be allowed to coach a play, pre-
  a firm, living monument to Professor
tum, developed its athletic teams, its  pare a program, or direct a grammar
  H. L. Miller. Once he wrote, "Teaching
extra-curricular activities, and its stu-  exercise. When they have finished
their  is, or ought to be, a profession, not a
dent spirit.                             terms they are no longer embryonic
       trade."  Today, a Wisconsin senior,
  So the apparatus for the experiment  teachers. They have served their ap-
  claiming that he is about to enter the
was readily assembled and placed in po-  prenticeships, and are prepared
to as-  "teaching trade" suddenly finds that he
sition. Professor Miller then proceeded  sume responsible faculty positions.
 is doing the wrong kind of thinking. He
to expand, by means of it, the ideas and  With this primary purpose accom-
   realizes that he is entering, not a trade,
hypotheses of the Education depart-    plished, Professor Miller turned his
at-  but the teaching profession. He finds
ment. To these he added his own the-   tention to the inception of his now
well  himself inspired by his practice-teach-
ories, his own knowledge, and his own  known "Initiative Challenge."
He be-   ing. He learns that the student is there
genius in teaching.                      lieved that the daily assignment,
the    to co-operate with him, to give to him
  The "Practice Teaching" scheme was   pages to be read in a text,
the problems  as much as he assimilates from him. He
perfected. The School of Education re-  to be done, should serve only to
stimu-  discovers that it will be his duty to pre-
quires fifteen  credits in  Education  late the student into going ahead,
by  sent to his future pupils a professional
courses of all students who intend to  himself, with a view to discovering
new  challenge, a challenge to their minds, to
enter the teaching profession after grad-  and exciting facts in regard to
the sub-  their initiative to delve deeper than the
uation, and who desire the Wisconsin     ject in question.              
         time-worn   "tomorrow's assignment,"
teaching certificate. Included in these  "The personal initiative of
pupils,"  and to solve the mysteries which await
fifteen credits are two units to be    Professor Miller once said, "must
be   them from the scores of centuries of in-
granted for a semester's practice at the  cultivated and their productive
energies  tellectual exploration.
Wisconsin High School. While there,    developed as well as their powers
of as-  The Wisconsin High School has ac-
the University seniors participate both  similation."              
                       (Continued on page 140)


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