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The CHAIRMAX. Who is at the head of the second department?
Capt. GIBBONS. The head of the English department is Commander R. H. Jackson, and the head of the department of modern languages is Commander A. B. Hoff.
The CHAIRMAN. All three commissioned officers?
Capt. GIBBONS. Yes, sir; the two, English and modern languages, being line officers, and the head of the department of mathematics being a staff officer.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know the opinion of those three commissioned officers as to the desirability of this change? Does it meet their approval?
Capt. GIBBONS. It meets their approval, so far as I know.
The CHAIRMAN. I have been told that they disapprove of it. I do not know. I have not seen any of them. I got my information indirectly.
Capt. GIBBONS. They have not disapproved of it to me, and the recommendation as to what instructors would have to be dropped if this law became operative has been discussed with these three heads of departments before making this recommendation, the idea being that those who had the shortest service there, other things being equal, would be dropped.
The CHAIRMAN. We are short, I believe, about 3,000 officers already in the Navy, and they are insisting that we shall continue the present number at Annapolis and extend the operations of the law which expires this year, so as to fill up that need. Do you think that as we are short of officers we can not use the officers in the other duties of the Navy?
Capt. GIBBONS. I think that the education and training of officers is about the most important duty that we have. That is my personal opinion. The necessity of maintaining a certain standard at the academy has never been questioned. It has been found in the 67 years that the academy has been in operation that the larger the number of naval officers we could have there the better it was for the interests of the institution and the Navy: We have employed some civilian professors to give what I call " atmosphere” to those three departments. Of course, when it comes to the instruction in the professional branches-ordnance, navigation, seamanship, and marine engineering—the instruction is carried on almost entirely by the naval officers.
The CHAIRMAN. In everything that relates strictly to the military?
Capt. GIBBONS. Outside of the question of policy I look at it this way, that the officers who are detailed in time of peace for shore duty at the Naval Academy are immediately available on the outbreak of war for sea duty. In both the Civil and Spanish Wars the Naval Academy was practically closed. They transferred it to Newport at the time of the Civil War, and at the time of the Spanish War the Spanish prisoners were at Annapolis. The Spanish War was a short one. I consider that every officer detailed for service at the Naval Academy is available for sea duty at the outbreak of war. In that case a large number of civilian professors in these departments would not be necessary. Another feature, as soon as civilian instructors have received appointments at the Naval
Academy, there not being any particular future for them, they try to get transferred to some permanent part of the naval list, for instance, the list of professors of mathematics; a good many of them come here for such transfer.
The CHAIRMAN. Take the languages, for instance; do you think a line officer who may be detailed for service for three years and then return to the line is better qualified to teach than an expert who makes it a life business as a civilian instructor!
Capt. GIBBONS. Not better qualified, but we have young naval officers whom I consider well qualified. For instance, I have there Lieut. Beauregard and Lieut. Glassford, whom I consider as good linguists and as good instructors, from my own observation, as some of the civilian instructors; not as good as a professor, perhaps, for I maintain that we shall have to have a certain number of professors to keep in touch, but as good as some instructors in the languages there-Spanish and French. We have always found since the academy has been in existence that there are officers who have special talents for languages and who can be employed in that position. The same way with English. Of course, in languages we would want more civilian instructors than in the other departments.
Mr. TRIBBLE. Why?
Capt. GIBBONS. Because I think that as an instructor in history, grammar, rhetoric, and international law a graduate of the Naval Academy would do just as well as a civilian instructor, but in the languages it requires pronunciation and a certain gift. There are a good many officers who graduate from the Naval Academy and despite all our efforts are not linguists. Many read and write French and Spanish but do not speak these languages fluently.
Mr. TRIBBLE. You have some?
Capt. GIBBONS. In the languages ?
Capt. GIBBONS. I think we have a percentage, and I should say that our percentage was as good.
Mr. ESTOPINAL. You spoke of the pronunciation ?
Capt. GIBBONS. Yes, sir. A good many officers have a good working knowledge of a language and can teach the grammar, and all that, but their pronunciation is not as good as that of natives.
Mr. BUTLER. How many civilian instructors have you?
Mr. BUTLER. If you exchanged them for naval officers you would have 19 more naval officers?
Capt. GIBBONS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BUTLER. And their time would be required at the Academy all the time?
Capt. GIBBONS. Their time would be required while there, but, as 1 say, immediately upon the outbreak of war they would be avail able for sea duty.
Mr. BUTLER. And then you would have to get civilian instructors! Capt. GIBBONS. But not in such large numbers.
Mr. BUTLER. Would it not be better for a man who has to command men to have his experience in the field than to have his experience in a schoolroom in Annapolis-you will know and I will not-is not that better for the service!
Capt. GIBBONS. It would probably be ideal for the Navy to have every officer at sea; but in the division of duties a naval officer is assigned to certain shore duty, and it is very desirable to have him assigned to the Naval Academy because of the example that he sets to the midshipman as a specially selected officer.
Mr. BUTLER. Is it not better to keep a man always teaching? Do you not think that is good for the service or for the Academy?
Capt. GIBBON. You have to have naval officers in the professional subjects of navigation and the like.
Mr. BUTLER. I understand in the tactics or in teaching the military features you must have military men.
Capt. GIBBONS. Take these officers in the summer, they go out on the battleships as instructors of the midshipmen and have regular sea duty. My idea is that a naval officer is a good primary instructor in the three branches of languages, English and history and mathematics. · As to whether his services can be spared, whether we are short, I do not know. That question has to be settled by the department. I have asked all along to have seagoing officers detailed for duty at Annapolis. I think it is better for the institution. The present conditions are due to the tremendous increase in the number of midshipmen and the scarcity of officers.
Just after the Spanish War we were short of officers, the policy of increase had not begun, and this was the only thing that could be done. The argument was made at that time that it was done to release officers so that they could go to sea.
Mr. ROBERTS. Do you look on teaching as a profession?
Capt. GIBBONS. It is a profession. I do not know that teaching at the Naval Academy is a profession.
Mr. ROBERTS. Why should it not be? Do we not want the best there!
Capt. GIBBONS. We want the best; yes.
Mr. ROBERTS. Now, if teaching is a profession, would it not be reasonable that a man who has made that his life work is better qualified to teach the academic branches than a man who comes off a battleship and is detailed there for three years, perhaps, and then goes back to his regular duties as an officer? In other words, can an average naval officer, in the short time he is detailed at the academy, pick up the fine points of the profession of teaching and get the results? In other words, must he not be a real student himself for a year or so?
Capt. GIBBONS. Any instructor, civil or naval, would have to be a student.
Mr. ROBERTS. It is supposed that these instructors have experience before they come there. You do not take them up haphazard. These instructors are picked men, college graduates, who have held the position of instructor in colleges; they are trained men for that particular vocation?
Capt. GIBBONS. We find that they are not as satisfactory at the Naval Academy as naval officers.
Mr. ROBERTS. Wherein are they not satisfactory; can not they maintain discipline?
Capt. GIBBONS. That is one of the objections.
Mr. ROBERTS. Have you had any trouble since you have been there with the instructors not maintaining discipline in the classroom?
Capt. GIBBONS. No, sir.
Mr. ROBERTS. Do you know of any occasion since you have beers there where, under the civilian instructors, there has been any lack of discipline in the classroom?
Capt. GIBBONS. Not to my knowledge.
Mr. ROBERTS. You have had trouble with your line officers in maintaining discipline there?
Capt. GIBBONS. The civilian professors have also had trouble within my recollection.
Mr. ROBERTS. You had a case where “ silence” was administered to one of your line officers?
Capt. GIBBONS. Yes, sir; but not in my administration.
Capt. GIBBONS. That occurred in Bancroft Hall, where the civilian instructors would not be concerned.
Mr. ROBERTS. Apparently a line officer could not maintain discipline?
Capt. GIBBONS. If a line officer could not maintain discipline as well as a civilian instructor, we would have to close the institution.
Mr. ROBERTS. I am advised that you have more trouble maintaining discipline with the line officers than with the civilian instructors.
Capt. GIBBONS. We do not maintain discipline with the civilian instructors. In the academic departments the discipline consists simply of marching in, being marked, and marching out.
Mr. ROBERTS. I have had this situation brought to my attentionI do not know whether it is true or not—that a certain line officer in charge of a classroom could not maintain discipline there; that the midshipmen would talk, and that there was constant confusion created in that classroom by the midshipmen not observing the discipline of the classroom. Of course, when you speak of discipline, there are two sorts of discipline—military discipline, which governs them at all times, and the discipline in the classroom, which is a little bit different, I apprehend.
Capt. GIBBONS. Discipline in the classroom is simply their behavior in the classroom.
Mr. ROBERTS. Here is another feature: I am advised—I do not know how correctly—that the line officers do not like to be detailed at the Naval Academy as instructors, for the reason that it puts them back just that far in their profession as naval men.
Capt. GIBBONS. I do not think that is true. Mr. ROBERTS. That they do not have an opportunity to keep abreast of their profession while teaching mathematics and languages, which are not really connected with a naval man's prime duty.
Capt. GIBBONS. I can only say that such officers as Admiral Dewey, Admiral Schley, Admiral Sampson, and Admiral Sperry have all had duty at the Naval Academy. Admiral Schley was at one time the head of the department of modern languages, and Admiral Sperry was an instructor in mathematics.
Mr. ROBERTS. In those days the Navy was not what it is to-day. In their day we had practically a wooden Navy, and we did not have any complicated machine shops, which require so much more experience and diligence and which make it so necessary for an officer to keep right up to the minute because of the changes in those technical branches.
Capt. GIBBONS. There is a large percentage of naval officers in the departments of marine engineering and ordnance.
Mr. ROBERTS. Do you know what the practice is at West Point; do they have a civilian instructor there!
Capt. GIBBONS. I do not know whether they have or not. They give the head of a department a permanent detail and give him advanced rank. I do not believe in that systern.
Mr. ROBERTS. At West Point do they have civilian instructors?
Capt. GIBBONS. Yes. From the current register I find that at West Point there are 3 civilian instructors in academic departments as compared to 25 civilian instructors at the Naval Academy.
Mr. ROBERTS. Do you know what the practice is in the military schools in Germany, England, and France !
Capt. GIBBONS. I know in England they did have naval instructors who were generally given a commissioned rank.
Mr. ROBERTS. I am advised that in the most important naval schools of the world, England Germany, Italy, and France—both advance and preparatory—the instruction is very largely by civilians. In England there are both naval and professionalstags, the first composed of officers for discipline and technical instruction, the second composed of Oxford and Cambridge graduates for instruction in academic subjects. If the leading military schools of Europe find it advisable to have college graduates instructing their military men, their boys, on the academic side, is not that something worth considering in our country?
Capt. GIBBONS. Not if our policy is different and we have obtained just as good results. This practice is a recent thing, really an emergency, in the policy of the Naval Academy.
Mr. ROBERTS. How many officers are there at the Naval Academy, not including the surgeons?
Capt. GIBBONS. I will have to look that up.
Capt. GIBBONS. Yes, sir. “As I say, a great number of officers are in the professional departments. There are about 20 instructors in the department of marine engineering.
Mr. ROBERTS. Do you really thaink that a junior officer—and that is what he must be to be an instructor-taken off a ship with no previous experience as an instructor, can get as good results from any class of boys at Annapolis or elsewhere as a man who has been trained to instruct in a certain line?
Capt. GIBBONS. I think they can, judging from my own experience both as a midshipman and as an instructor.
Mr. ROBERTS. That is not the information that I get.