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small expenditure of money which is now required, directly from the purse. The aim of a large majority of the districts, is, to make as much as possible of the public money. This, costing no labor or effort, a free gift, is counted of little value. They care little how it is expended, if they can get their schooling free. This is perhaps harsh judgment; but when we see how grudgingly a school tax is paid in very inany instances, it certainly must be acknowledged to have some force. We believe that if each town was required to raise an equal amount, or a sum bearing a proportion to the public money, an increased interest would be at once manifested. This tax should be levied as is the town tax, on the polls and property.—Brooklyn Sehool Society
In our opinion, too much reliance is placed upon the school fund as the educator of the children. Parents give their children over into the hands of the State, to be educated, without giving themselves any, or very little concern about it, unless it be to keep the expenses within the limits of the receipts. Hence, we believe, their want of interest, and hence the employment of unqualified teachers. If the money were given to the districts on condition of their raising as much more, we think this difficulty might in part be remedied.—Watertown School Society.
The defects in the operation of the present Fund system, in this place, and in others in which we have been conversant with schools, for twenty-five years, appear to us as follows:-the result is often no schools in the small districts which need them most, the parents not having it generally in their power to sustain private instructors. And when the small districts sustain teachers, they feel obliged to sustain the very cheapest that can bear an examination. I remember a case when the candidate did not pass; and a plea was put in by the district committee, that they had but seventeen dollars, and if they could not have the candidate elect, (who offered to keep for nine dollars per month,) they should give up the hope of a school for the winter. "Out of pity, he was indulged. This is exactly the operation in hundreds of cases similar. The result may not always be the same, but the tendency of the Fund, as it is now apportioned, is to lower down the instructors to the cheapest grade, because no others can be obtained by the funds allowed.
It seems in vain to say in Connecticut, that by the help of the Fund, the parents ought to be willing to add a sufficient sum to meet the demands; for the Fund has, in point of fact, taught the people to feel that their schools are to be sustained without a Tax. This habit of feeling is uncontrollable. The habit of feeling in Massachusetts is, that the common schools are to be amply supported by a direct tax. This is calculated upon as much as any other family expenditure, and in some cases is appreciated more highly than any other. And they have raised two dollars to a scholar more easily than
we, in Connecticut, can now raise two York shillings per schol. ar. In Massachusetts, their tax enables them to have the best of instructors that good wages can ensure.
Their schools are consequently much superior to ours.--Prospect School Society.
But a worse evil than this consists in the supineness and indifference which the people very generally manifest with regard to their schools, and which this feature of the present system tends to foster, if indeed it has not begotten it. The indifference of parents is astonshing. In society and district meetings you will seldom find any body but the officers and persons who are interested from other motives than a regard for education. The schools, year after year, go unexamined and unvisited by any except one or two appointed visitors, and it is mainly owing to the exertions of two or three individuals that they are in so good a condition as the present. Now if an amount of money were to be raised by tax equal to one third or quarter of the regular income, should we not be more likely to have superior instructors and more interested people. Men value most highly what costs them most, and that which costs nothing is little thought of. So it is with education. If the parents are obliged to pay little or nothing for the instruction of their children, they cannot be expected to be anxious as to the quantity or quality of that instruction. In some States the school societies or towns receive the benefit of the fund only on the condition that they add a certain amount to it themselves, and we presume but few question the wisdom of such a provision. It is unnecessary to enumerate the good results that would flow from a greater interest and activity among our people in behalf of the cause of education.
Without these it is absolutely certain that no great progress can ever be made.-Glastenbury School Society:
The defects in our present school system are many, and are mainly attributable to a want of interest in parents and others who have the management of the schools. They have settled down into a state of apathy, from which it seems impossible to arouse them. They think they have done every thing that can be done when they have voted wood and hired the master at $10 per month and “ board round.” If a person speaks of defects in the school system and improvements in our common schools, he is eyed askance, and regarded as one who wants to get above the “ common schools." They are unwilling to do any thing further than the school fund does; consequently we have low wages and of course incompetent teachers, and frequent changes, that great bane of our school system.—Granby School Society.
Another great evil is a destitution of books in the schools, particu* larly among the poor. Parents who furnish their children liberally are unwilling they should be annoyed by those who are not thus furnished, by sharing the use of their books with them, yet it seems necessary, unless the time of the destitute poor be entirely sacrificed. The law intending to remedy the evil haz in this town entirely failed. We think if a portion of the school money were applied for this purpose it would benefit the schools much more than the entire appropriation of it to teachers' wages. The advantages of the plan would be the wholesale price_every scholar being furnished, a great saving of the teachers' time in providing temporarily for the destitute would be effected. A book from use becoming defective before worn out,
might be exchanged for another till the defaced or missing pages were passed ; besides, we think the books would last longer when the scholars use them as borrowed, than when they consider them their own, and the teachers would exert a more strict supervision. Similar plans have been adopted, we believe, with great success, in other places. Although we did in years past enjoy the reputation of having the most efficient common schools, I trust we are not too proud to avail ourselves of the improvements of our hitherto less favored sister states. We think the states of New York and Massachusetts are far in advance of us, and much benefit might be derived from an investigation of their systems.-Norwalk School Society.
Would it not be better for our schools to have the text books uniform throughout each school, each school society and the entire State? A public act, authorizing the general Superintendent to constitute a committee of teachers, or others from each county to examine all and report the best set of text books for the State, and compelling the schools to comply with such report, would, in our judgment, be preferable to the present law. Many advantages would occur under such an arrangement, Ist, The scholars would be supplied with the best books extant. 20, The pupils would make greater advancement by having a uniformity in books; and teachers would be familiar with them. 3d, The loss consequent upon frequent changes in books by the suggestion of different teachers, would be avoided, and lastly, the prices of books would be reduced to 33 per cent. or more, if publishers could know what Granımar or Geogarphy would be in general use.-Avon School Society.
No rules have been prescribed respecting books. For a series of years, the visitors have paid no attention to this branch of their duty. The consequences have been disastrous. The various teachers have introduced books, to suit their varying tastes and judgments. Good, bad and indifferent books are, therefore, now used. Many are totally unfit for the purposes of education; they are absolute hin, drances to the progress of the scholar, and impose a heavy burden upon the teacher. Again, scholars removing from one district to another, carry their old books with them. This introduces confusion, very frequently rendering it impossible to classify the scholars, and in the process of time each scholar has his class-book, and is “ solitary and alone.”—Brooklyn School Society.
EXAMINATION OF TEACHERS.
A great diversity of practice exists in different towns. In some, no teacher can obtain a certificate without the highest qualifications; in others, the least qualifications which the law will admit of, will answer. Our present laws also require repeated examinations of the same teacher, when he or she takes charge of a different school. A much better plan, in my opinion, would be to have a County Examiner, who should have power to approve or reject those who should present themselves, and whose certificate should be a warrant to the person bearing it, to teach any where within the limit of the county, and for a longer period of time than one year, his conduct as teacher being subject to all the restrictions to which it now is. It is believed this plan would raise the qualifications of teachers. Should it be objected to on the score of expense, the person applying for a license to teach might be required to pay the examiner a suitable fee, to be regulated by law.-Winches. ter School Society.
The Business Agent of the Journal of the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction, will take this occasion to state, that the illness of the Editor, and other causes which he could not control, has interfered with the regular publication of the Journal, on the plan originally announced. Before bringing the volume to a close, there will be forwarded to each subscriber more than twice the amount of printed matter promised in the terms of subscription.
As soon as Mr. Barnard can superintend the printing of some documents connected with his Report, the regular numbers of the Journal not already sent, will be forwarded.
Two more Extras, at least, will be published, which will contain, among other articles by Rhode Island men, relating to education, a “ Lecture by the Hon. E. R. Potter, on the History of the English Language;" and an “ Address by Rowland G. Hazard, Esq., on Public Schools."
The completion and publication of a Circular, by the Commissioner of Public Schools, announced in the last Extra Journal for April 1st, on the mode of proceeding in the organization of school districts, was arrested by his illness, till it was too late for circulation in the month of May. It will be published, at least so much of it as relates to the action of districts, after their organization, in another form.
RECEIPTS FOR THE JOURNAL,
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Subscribers who have not forwarded the amount of their subscription, will please do the same withont delay. Providence, June 1, 1816.
T, C. HARTSHORN.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, AND OF THE PRINCIPAL CHANGES IT HAS UNDERGONE.
BY ELISHA R. POTTER. [The following Essay was prepared originally, and delivered by its author as a lecture before a Lyceum at Kingston, and subsequently printed in the Massachusetts Common School Journal. The importance of the subject, as well as the ability, and clearness with which it is treated, will secure for the article an attentive perusal. The teachers of our common schools, where the great majority of the people must receive all the school education they will get, ought to be able to teach the English language, in such a manner as to impart a knowledge of its component parts, and of the transitions it has undergone, as well as its correct use, in speech and writing, as the great medium of communication between mind and mind. Nothing would be more easy of acquisition, or more entertaining to scholars of the right age, than a historical view of their language, with apt and interesting illustrations, drawn from the productions of the great writers, in different periods, of English literature.
It is sad to think how much of the pleasure and advantage of the intercourse of daily life is abridged from the want of a correct knowledge and use of the “mother tongue.” How many terms, and phrases, used in legal and legislative proceedings, public addresses and 'newspapers, are unintelligible to many hearers and readers, from the continual recurrence of words of Latin, Greek, or French derivation,-words, which might be easily comprehended by all, who had been properly instructed in the changes which the language had undergone, and the common roots, and principles of etymology. We hope the perusal of this lecture will expand the views of teachers, and scholars in the public schools.-Editor of Journal.]