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another-a more special preparation. The general preparation,-the general scholarship,-they believe should be given by the general schools, the academies, high schools, and colleges: and if the Normal Schools can find nothing else to do, why then, in the opinion of these persons, there is no need of Normal Schools. And to these objectors the old answer, so often given, that high schools are yet so few in number and the work they do so poor, that Normal Schools must for the present be chiefly engaged in academical instruction, is by no means satisfactory. Once that answer may have been conclusive; but now it is not, with a high school on every hill-top, and many of them as richly endowed as the Normal Schools themselves with apparatus, libraries, and skilled teachers.
These men are the most dangerous, though not the most numerous enemies of the Normal Schools; but they are not so much enemies to Normal Schools as enemies to the Normal Schools.
Now the Michigan State Normal has been constituted about the same as the other Normal Schools, and has tried to do about the same kind of work. It has been in operation about twenty-five years, and has felt the opposition of both the classes of critics above described. The one has denied her right to exist at all, and the other has denied her right to exist as she is or has been. They have said: Twenty or thirty years ago, when the State was comparatively young and sparsely inhabited, and when good schools were very few, it was well to have one State high school where teachers and others could get a good academical education ; but now there are scores of good high schools, scattered all over the State, well equipped and well manned, and supported by local taxation. The Normal School they have said, must either be closed as a State school, or else confine herself to the legitimate and peculiar function of affording to teachers the special preparation they need, and the special preparation it is the function of no other school in the State to give.
Now, although the opposition to this school did not threaten immediate destruction, still it seemed to be growing, and especially among men who are usually considered the warmest friends of education, and whose opinions upon educational matters ought to have most weight. This, and some other considerations, eighteen months ago induced the governing Board of the School, the State Board of Education, to inquire whether considerable changes in the courses of study were not needed in order to readjust the school to its changed surroundings. A committee of their own number was accordingly appointed to study the subject. The members of the faculty of the School were asked to give their views in full. All the chief educational men of the State, and many in other parts of the country, were consulted. Quite elaborate discussions were in some cases presented, and the views of many of our best teachers obtained. These opinions with an unexpected unanimity, pointed in one direction. As a result the committee of the Board reported in favor of a considerable change in the plan of the school with the purpose of making it more distinctively professional in character. The change recommended was adopted, and has been called with rather unnecessary ostentation, “ New Departure.”
The following paragraphs from the report of this committee are given,
before going more into details, as presenting in general terms a fair idea of the new basis of work.
“The committee recommend, 1st, Enlarging the School of Observation and Practice so as to constitute a graded school representing all the departments of our best schools, including the high school; and that students applying for admission to the Normal School, deficient in academic preparation, be allowed to make such preparation in the School of Observation and Practice. 2nd, This School of Observation and Practice to be under the supervision of the Principal of that School with two skilled assistants, but the teaching to be done by Normal students under the direction and inspection of the respective professors of the Normal School. 3d, To establish in the Normal School proper three courses of study, of one year each—the Common-School Course, the Higher English Course, and the Language Course, -for fitting teachers respectively for the lower and the higher grades of our common and graded schools. 4t, Aside from general reviews in connection with the professional instruction, the Normal School proper is to be confined to professional instruction.”
This plan, as will be seen, implied two distinctive changes from the former courses, and from the courses commonly pursued by most of the Normal Schools. The changes are, 1st, a complete separation of the academical from the professional work of the school, the entire relegation of the former to the School of Observation and Practice, and the restriction of the Normal School proper to the work of professional instruction; and, 2nd, the endeavor to do all the work of general instruction by means of the Normal pupil-teachers under the supervision of the regular Normal School-teachers, each supervising the work in his own department.
The Normal-School courses proper need fuller explanation. They are all one-year courses and are purely professional :
I. The Common-School course is intended to fit teachers for work in the rural schools and for the lower grades of the graded schools. Before a pupil can enter this course he must have a thorough knowledge of Practical Arithmetic, English Grammar, Local Geography, Orthography, Reading, History of the United States, Elements of Physiology, of Vocal Music, and of Drawing, and Elementary Algebra.
The course of study itself consists of, ist, a course of daily lectures running through twenty weeks, upon the Elementary Principles of Education and their psychological and physiological basis-tempered to the capabilities of pupils who are mostly young, and who have only commonschool attainments;—20, a twenty-week course of daily lectures upon School Organization and Government, School Laws, History of Education, and Methods of Reading and Study ;-3d, a daily exercise in practice teaching for forty weeks ;—4th, a course of twenty weeks in the special methods of teaching reading, orthography, English grammar, and composition. This course in special methods, besides affording an opportunity for á rapid review of the studies themselves, is devoted to such work as the discussion and illustration of the sequence of topics, and the best order of presentation, the comparative value of different topics and the special method of presenting them, the methods applicable to different grades of pupils, the educational and the economic value of the particular study, the elucidation of difficult points, methods of preparing lessons, modes: of conducting the recitation, what qualities make up a good text-book, the handling and movements of classes, -referring all points, so far as possible, to underlying educational principles and maxims. These and many other points that easily suggest themselves to all experienced and thoughtful teachers, fill up pretty fully the courses in special methods ;5th, a similar course of fifteen weeks in Arithmetic and Elementary Algebra ;-6th, a similar course of fifteen weeks in Local Geography and United States History ;-7th, a similar course of twenty weeks in vocal music and drawing,
,-a little more than the pro rata time being given to these studies, both to aid the more general introduction of these branches into the public school, and on account of a common deficiency of preparation ;-8th, a course of fifteen weeks in objective teaching,-botany, zoology, and elementary physics, being the topics ;-9th, a course of five weeks in human physiology and hygiene, in which, besides methods of teaching, attention is given to modes of lighting, heating, and ventilating schoolrooms, proper posture of pupils, length of work hours for pupils of different ages, physical exercises, care of the eyes, and other important matters of school hygiene.
This course—the Common-School Course-altogether, provides, upon the average, about four and one half exercises per day for the school year of forty weeks. It is not, and is not intended to be, so heavy as to prevent pupils from engaging in some general reading and other voluntary literary work. An able pupil may indeed carry the work of this course and still have time to make up in the School of Observation and Practice some deficiencies in his academical preparation.
On the completion of this course the pupil is licensed to teach in the lower grades of the public graded schools, and in the rural ungraded schools of the State for the period of three years. On certain conditions. this license may then be renewed for another equal period.
II. The Higher English Course requires for admission, in addition to the demands for the Common-School Course, a good knowledge of the following branches of study:- A course equal to that of our best High Schools is understood ;-Higher Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Bookkeeping, English Composition, Rhetoric, English Literature, General History, Mental Science, Botany, Zoology, Physical Geography, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Civil Government, Geology, Astronomy.
Equivalents for any of these branches, or of those required for admission to the Course of Languages will be accepted, at the discretion of the Faculty, and students will be required to pursue those studies only in the Advanced Professional Courses for which preparation was required for admission.
The course itself is made up as follows:-1st, a course of daily lectures. for forty weeks upon the Science of Education,-a fuller discussion of principles than in the preceding course; -2d, twenty weeks upon the history of education, school laws, school organization, and school government;—30, a daily exercise for forty weeks in practice-teaching under supervision ;- the pupils in this course do the work of teaching the English studies of the higher classes in the School of Observation and Practice ;-4th, a course of thirty weeks in the special methods of teaching such elementary branches as reading, penmanship, arithmetic, spelling, geography, vocal music, and drawing, similar to the corresponding course described above for the Common-School pupils ;-5th, a like course of fifteen weeks in grammar, composition, rhetoric, and kindred branches; —6th, a course of fifteen weeks devoted to a like end for some of the more advanced mathematical studies;—7th, a similar course of twenty-five weeks devoted to the natural and the physical sciences, and a course in school hygiene like the one before described.
This course also furnishes upon an average about four and a half daily exercises, and upon its completion the pupil is given an unlimited license to teach the English branches in any of the public schools of the State.
III. The last of these professional courses is designated the Language Course, and like the others it is one year in extent. It is designed to fit those who complete it for any place in the public schools of the State. The minimum conditions of admission are the same in English branches as for the Higher English Course, and, in addition, about as much Latin and Greek as is required for admission to college. An equal amount of French and German will be accepted as an equivalent for Latin and Greek.
The studies of this course are about the same as the Higher English Course, except that one exercise per day for thirty weeks is given to Latin and Greek, or to French and German, or to any two of these languages, in place of a corresponding amount in the higher English studies. In all cases, however, the pupil must attend to the professional work in the primary branches.
An additional elective course has recently been provided for persons who have had considerable experience in teaching in the higher grades of our public schools, and who desire to increase their preparation for teaching special branches. These may select and pursue, subject to the approval of the Faculty, any six studies in the Professional Courses.
Applicants for admission to these elective courses will be examined only in the Primary-School studies and in those branches which they intend to pursue. Satisfactory evidence of having taught successfully the Primary-School studies will be accepted in place of examination.
Such, briefly and imperfectly described, are the professional courses of study of the Michigan State Normal School; and such, in still more general terms, is the new plan of work upon which the school entered at the beginning of the last academical year. As has been stated, the distinctive features by which it is marked are a complete separation of the academical from the professional work, and the relegation of the former to the School of Observation and Practice; while the Normal School proper is confined to professional instruction. The academical instruction is all done by pupil-teachers under supervision, and is done solely for the sake of practice teaching; although many take incidental advantage of these classes to make, or to complete, their preparation for the Normal Courses.
Now before deciding to enter upon this plan two obstacles to success clearly presented themselves,-or rather two unsettled questions of para“, mount importance which nothing but experience can ever answer. The first is:-Do teachers, or those intending to become teachers, sufficiently recognize their need of special, technical training in preparation for their work, to spend their time and their money in attendance at a school where this is the sole or the chief kind of instruction offered ? The second question is:-Can pupil-teaching be made so good that the pupils taught shall suffer no harm, or so that pupils can be found to fill the classes?
The first of these obstacles seemed the greater one ;-the first of these unsettled questions seemed the more difficult to answer. As long as many téachers hold that accurate general scholarship, zeal for the work, and tact to control, are the only qualifications the teacher needs, it is not surprising if those young people who propose to become teachers shall often be found entertaining the same opinion. But it was thought that sentiment upon this point is at least slowly changing for the better, and that educators and educated people are becoming more and more apostles and missionaries of the faith, that as a man must have special training before he can be trusted to shoe a horse or to tune a piano, so he needs special training, certainly as much, who undertakes the task of leading and instructing children and youth; and it was further believed that if Normal Schools would both preach and practice this faith,—the only faith, indeed, that gives them the right to exist, the people would all the sooner arrive at correct convictions.
The experience of the Michigan State Normal School during the past year does not throw any certain light upon this question. The pupils of that school usually come to believe, after a time at least, that there is a science and an art of education, and that one to become a good teacher must make these the objects of special study ; but whether they are first attracted to the school by its professional or its academical instruction is not in many cases certain. Probably they come with only the indefinite purpose of making themselves in some way better teachers. The past year's trial has been too brief for definite conclusions ; furthermore, although the changes in the course of study were industriously advertised, there was not time enough before the opening of the year for the people to become generally informed. A very few pupils who were in school the year before and who knew the change was going to take place, have not returned, and their absence is said by rumor to be on account of the change, but no one knows of a certainty. It is possible that some who were attending the school for its academical instruction have been lost.
The attendance during the past year has been in the professional courses, 104, of whom 84 were graduated; and in the School of Observation and Practice, 439. Many of the latter, though, were carrying some professional studies.
This summary shows a slight decrease of attendance as compared with the preceding year; but the diminution can, in part at least, be traced to other causes. It can only be known after a longer experience whether the time has fully come when teachers are convinced of their need of special training. It may, however, be said that the experience of the school in question, during the past year, is, in this direction, not without promise.