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The rural school presents the most important problem in American education. In it are more than six million children coming from one great industry, agriculture the most fundamental and important of all industries. Under present conditions this occupation calls for an unusual degree of intelligence and skill. It demands the highest type of business management and industrial ability. And with the success of agriculture is linked the welfare of every American citizen, whatever be his status or vocation.
Yet the rural school, the sole educational opportunity of most of our agricultural population, has been grossly neglected. In the midst of universal progress, it has been allowed to lag behind town and city schools. Abandoned to relative inefficiency, it has failed to hold the loyalty and support of its constituency. The victim of changing social and industrial conditions, it has dwindled in size, diminished in influence, and lost step with the spirit of the times,
But the center of emphasis in education is changinghas changed. The great forces recently set at work to reorganize and vitalize country life have found the condition of the rural school to be one of the chief causes of decay. In it they have also discovered one of the most promising instruments of reclamation and reform. The rural school will come into its own. The great educational agencies of the country--national, state and private-are organizing to give it every help at their com
mand. Commercial interests are offering cooperation and support. Legislatures are shaping laws to its advantage and placing increased revenues at its disposal. Best of all, this accession of public interest is stimulating the patrons themselves to desire and demand better schools.
This book is an attempt to interpret the rising tide of interest in the rural school, and to offer whatever help it may in guiding the energy in fruitful lines. It is written especially for rural teachers and administrators in their reading circles, normal schools and study classes. For, while others may plan and project, it is the teachers and their official guides who must finally put these plans and projects into execution. They are the ones who are in immediate contact with the rural school and its problems; they meet pupils and patrons face to face and know their attitudes and modes of thought. And reforms are not carried out by resolutions or legislative decrees, but by individual influence and personal effort.
The book is simply written, that it may be easy and attractive reading. It contains much of illustration, incident and application, that it may be immediately helpful. It touches on such questions as the teacher must daily meet, that it may be practical. It presents many pictures of school conditions, that certain lessons may be doubly enforced. The weaknesses of present rural schools have been frankly exposed, but not for the purpose of mere faultfinding. Criticisms are often sharp, but never in a carping spirit. The motive of the entire volume is constructive. Faults are revealed only to show the means by which they may be remedied, and mistakes are condemned only to suggest the way to rectify them.
The scope of the book is broad. It shows how the call for higher efficiency in rural schools is a part of a universal demand upon education. It interprets the rela