Visual Aids in the Schoolroom


    THE remarkably comprehensive and suggestive paper recently read at the Royal Society of Arts by Mr. R. W. Moore, headmaster of Harrow, calls for special comment. The progressive teacher, he said, is alive to the uses of the epidiascope, and films have established themselves as an important subsidiary in schools. In the past, visual factors have been neglected, no doubt. Yet, he said, we must ask ourselves whether worse dangers than those of neglect are not involved in the uncritical multiplication of visual aids now prevalent in some quarters. Illustration is confused with explanation. Excess of detail, leading to distraction and irrelevance, abounds. True, the development of new processes promises a great enrichment for teacher and pupil; but our chief need is that of a psychology of education which will take account of these visual adjuncts and order them. The subjects which most need visual aids, said Mr. Moore, are science, history and geography. Of the three, he proceeded, science is the best case, because observation has long since been recognized as basic in the scientific tradition, and also scientific men have a professional bias towards, and a mechanical dexterity in, the manipulation of visual aids. History is the most difficult to accommodate to such aids. Geography stands between. It is the study of man in his natural environment. As a subject, it has only recently emancipated itself from the verbalism of the academic tradition. It should have its roots in observation and begin with local investigation. But how are we to extend the process towards a knowledge of world geography ? How is the child in a poor London school to observe India and South America? Films are here intensely valuable, but the material available is sadly thin. The present needs are: (1) that research and experiment be made inside the teaching profession towards ascertaining what visual aids are appropriate to particular subjects and purposes, and (2) that there should be thorough co-operation between teachers and manufacturers before and during production.

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