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this number, as we can only give a meagre review of it at this time, with the hope that our successor will do it justice in the next number.
He first alludes to the continuance of public opinion in favor of public education. One of the greatest dangers to the system arises from complacency and apathy. In speaking of the evils and imperfections in the present state of our Common Schools, he says: “ There is in one part of the community a lamentable indifference to the whole subject of education. Those who belong to it are yet to be reached by some influence which shall arouse them from their slumbers and dispel their ignorance. Educational papers and books they will not read. They must be visited at their homes, and attracted to those public meetings which are held for their benefit. As a consequence of this indifference, inadequate appropriations are made for the support of schools. Some, comparing the schools of the present day, in respect to expense, with those in which they and their fathers were educated, and not seeing the necessity of the increased expense required to sustain schools of an elevated character, object to additional appropriations. Strange as it may appear, the larger portion of the substantial tax-payers in the towns are ready to appropriate a liberal amount for purposes of education. Yet a few men of selfish principles and aims, and of extensive influence, by forming a combination with the ignorant or indifferent, and persuading them that the school money is lavishly expended for useless purposes, are able to make formidable resistance to
liberal proposition for improving the condition of the Common Schools. These false notions need to be publicly combated and exploded, in order that the common people, who are voting blindly against the free education of their own children, may be delivered from their fatal error, and brought to a sense of their parental responsibilities.
Text-Books. This subject is one of great perplexity to the community, and we are glad to see the following judicious remarks. “ The subject of the selection of text-books to be used in the Public Schools, is one of increasing importance and difficulty. The number of persons competent to examine them is so few,- the labor of examining numerous series of books on all the branches taught in the schools is so great,— the sensitiveness of the people to frequent changes is so keen,- and the complicated machinery of book agents and publishers is worked with such amazing power, that committees stand aghast, and the wholé Commonwealth, from one end to another, is ringing with complaint. Abuses and impositions of the most flagrant character are of daily occurrence. A more efficient power needs to be created ; and men, who thoroughly understand the subject, and who shall be independent of authors, publishing-houses, and agents, need to be appointed for this special work.”
Well-qualified Teachers, their compensation, fe. “On the paucity of well-trained teachers,—the laxity and irregularity which prevail in regard to the selection of them,
— the low rate of compensation, and frequent removals, much has already been said, but not enough to produce the proper effect. With respect to the evil first named, the remedy must be the work of time. A new class of teachers cannot be created in a day. The other evils admit of a speedier cure. If intelligent and practical men, in all our towns and villages, would stand up in public and reason the matter out before the people, it would not be long before these vital parts of the Common School system would be brought into a much more healthy and vigorous condition.”
Evils of Irregular and Non-attendance. 66 The non-attendance of a part of those children for whose benefit the Public Schools are especially intended, particularly the children of foreigners in our large cities and manufacturing towns, is assuming a fearful importance ; and it will not be safe long to delay such measures as may be necessary to avert the impending danger.
“ The irregular attendance of those who belong to the schools is still a subject of complaint in very many of the reports of the school committees. It is to be hoped that the people will listen to the remonstrances which are repeated on this subject, from year to year, and take into earnest consideration the counsels and recommendations contained in the reports above-mentioned. Some degree of irregularity will, of course, always exist. The absences here complained of, however, are those which are wholly unnecessary and inexcusable."
Duty of Parents to visit Schools. “The faults committed by parents in neglecting to visit and encourage the schools, and to awaken in their own children a love of knowledge, in allowing them to grow up without the restraints of proper discipline, and in officiously interfering, at times, with the regular discipline of the schools, would, of themselves, furnish ample scope for an instructive volume. Here, indeed, is the root of many of the worst evils with which committees and teachers have to contend."
The Gradation of the Public Schools. The Secretary devotes nearly seventeen pages of his Report to this subject, all of which is so important, that we find it difficult to abstract.
“ The most obvious advantage resulting from such an organization of the schools, would be the increased productiveness of the teacher's labors, without any increase of expense. Every good teacher attaches importance to a skilful arrangement of the pupils in classes according to age and proficiency. But in most of our district schools the diversity in these respects is so great that classes can be but imperfectly formed. The object of gradation is to classify the schools themselves, placing the young children in one, those of maturer age in another, and, wherever
it is practicable, those of an intermediate age in a third. If there be children enough in one neighborhood to constitute three schools, it is not a matter of indifference whether the division be made
perpendicularly, cutting through these three strata, and putting some of all ages into each school ; or horizontally, separating the older and the younger from each other, and placing them in different schools. In the one case, the formation of large and regular classes will be out of the question ; in the other, it will be practicable and easy. In the one, only a few individuals can be instructed simultaneously; in the other, many times the same number can be instructed advantageously together. With the same teachers, by one arrangement there might be three firstrate schools ; by the other, there cannot be any but very ordinary schools. The expense of instruction given to an individual in the two cases, is widely different."
“ Another argument, suggested by the foregoing, is that, in graded schools, the pupils are subjected to a better mental discipline. One of the chief aims of education is to promote the growth of the mind. Now all growth must proceed in harmony with organic laws, and can be healthy only as it is gradual and regular. The evenness and exact measure of the successive steps of progress, in schools in which the classes move on in regular gradation, form of themselves a system of order, and give steadiness to the mental habits of the pupils. All the members of each class are habitually trained to regular duty. The work of to-day is but the continuation of the work of yesterday, by which the mind acquires the power and forms the habit of acting systematically and thinking consecutively."
“ In schools properly graded there are still other causes which favor a healthy intellectual excitement. That a certain degree of exhilaration, arising from companionship in study, is necessary to the highest success in teaching, is admitted by all. The influence of such association, which is of great utility with persons of all ages, operates with peculiar force upon the minds of the young. Every one must have observed with what a different spirit a child performs any kind of work alone, from that which it manifests in doing the same work in company with others. The mere bringing together of children into one room will not produce this excitement; the companionship must extend farther, and enter into the particular work in which they are engaged."
“ The necessity of grading the Public Schools, wherever it can be done, will be still more apparent, if we consider that without such an arrangement there can be no perfect adaptation of teachers to the schools under their charge. To put young children under a male teacher in the winter schools, is in almost every respect undesirable. They are not so well
governed. They are not so well taught. They are a great hindrance to those more advanced. They are exceedingly troublesome to the teacher. It is bad economy. They occupy part of the time of a teacher who is paid, it may be, at the rate of forty dollars a month, and are less benefited than they would be under a female teacher whose services could be had for half that sum.
It is not necessary to repeat what has so often been said in regard to the happier adaptation of the female mind than that of the male to the government and instruction of children. How many a tender child is injured by the stern administration of just the man required for full-grown boys ; by harsh decisions formed in haste, when there was not time to weigh all the circumstances of the case; and by the ill-treatment, rough language, and bad example in morals and manners of the older scholars! The intellect of children stands equally in need of the training which woman is best qualified to give. She is accustomed to take concrete views of things. Neither her mental constitution, nor her habits, have led her to contemplate things chiefly in the abstract. She paints to the imagination, where the male teacher defines and reasons. She gives form and color and life to what the male teacher treats as an abstract principle. She can more easily bridge over the chasm between the natural life of infancy or childhood, and the artificial thing called a school. It is only by putting himself under an unnatural constraint that the male teacher can, in this respect, perform what is easy and natural to the female. He is prone to take too long steps in his instruction, to which the minds of the pupils are not yet adequate. Not only has his mind been disciplined by severe study, which may be as true of the female teacher, but it has received its masculine type with fixed habits of thought. He has not the patience to graduate his elementary instructions by so minute a scale, and to advanee by so slow a pace as is required by the conditions of the young mind. He is full of energy and power, and wishes to rush forward with his pupils to the higher studies. The very same qualities of mind which unfit him to be a teacher of young children, qualify him both to govern and to teach boys of more advanced years.
( To be continued.)
(1.) x2–50x+xy+x?ys +xy®=50y.
THE PRIMARY TEACHER.
We are told that when Sir Robert Peel was quite a child, his father would frequently set him on a table and say, “ Now, Robin, make a speech, and I will give you this cherry.” The few words stammered out by the little fellow were received as a praiseworthy effort, and he was applauded accordingly. Stimulated by the attention and encouragement thus given, it is said that before “ Robin ” was ten years of age, he was able to address the company with some considerable degree of eloquence.
It appears that Sir Robert's father designed, from the birth of the child, to educate and train him expressly for a seat in Parliament. With what success the father's project was carried out, requires no recital at this time. The point to which the attention of teachers, and especially primary teachers, is called in this incident, is the early age at which the child's education commenced, the assiduous attention and efficient manner by which he was carried forward in his course of training till the great object was attained. When we are informed that in mature manhood, a member of Parliament, he was able to remember accurately for a long time, the speech of an opponent, and answer in correct succession every point of his arguments, we are not to conclude that the simple exercise in his boyhood of treasuring up in memory the sermons he heard in Drayton church, and repeating them word for word to his father, as he was required to do, was the only means by which he acquired such a wonderful command of memory. When mounted on that table, there was an effort of will put forth, which acted as a bond to hold together, in their proper relations, all the facul. ties of mind necessary to accomplish the object. Perception,of an object to be attained ; conception,-of ideas to be presented; memory and judgment,-with respect to words to represent the ideas,-all the faculties which the Baronet employed in his greatest efforts, in the councils of the nation, were in the infantile trials brought into active exercise, feeble, imperfect indeed, but not destitute of a powerful influence in the formation of the character of the future statesman and orator.
The great secret in this case, well worthy the serious consideration of every parent and teacher, is that the faculties of mind were early, very early preoccupied with one leading, controlling object; whereby other less important, perhaps vicious ones were forestalled. The child may have had all the amusements and childish employments needful for relaxation and enjoyment, yet the great object is at no time to be subordinate to anything else. For many years the boy himself may be almost wholly