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“Let no ono bo criticised for holding to this or that theory, but in proper respect let argument answer, not harsh denunciation. My views may be impracticable and totally at variance with the spirit of our public schools, yet they are my views, my convictions, and if I am in error, let solid argument, uitered in kindness and generousness, be invoked to convince me of such error. Let us hear every side, every argument, that we may finally arrive, if possible, at a just conclusion of every question, every theory.
“No sane man will deny this fact, that onr chiliren are the central thought and object of our secular and social life, and of right onght to be. Goud in liis wisilom has intrusted them to our care, and the highest duty we owe to humanity is to care for, properly train, and educate these God-given jewels. To disregarıl these solem obligations, parental care and sacred devotion to our loved ones, is to fall below the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air; for they care for and nurture their young, and carry out the instincts which Goil planted in their breasts. If this lie true of the lower animals, how much more should it be true of man, created as he is in the image and likeness of luis Maker.
“In view of this fact, when all nations fostering the principles of civilization are more or less demanding the developinent of the human mind of all the people, would it not be the part of wisdom, patriotism, and statesmanship for us to janse and ask the vital question, What are we doing to educate the children of our land, the children of the State?' I do not advocate compulsory laws. Our people can not be driven, but they can be persuaded by legitimate argument. I have but little respect for that people who have to be forced by pain and penalties to perform so great a moral and natural duty. While it is truo twenty-seven States of this Union have on their statute books compulsory laws requiring every parent to educate his chill to a certain degree in the elementary branches, the Stato paying for the tuition, yet I am not sure this system is in keeping with the character, the temper, the genius of the genuine American citizen, or the principles of our system of government. I sincerely trust that tlie people of Alabama will never so far forget their duty to their children as to require penal statutes to force them to comply with parental duties. I have an abiding contidence in the integrity, patriotism, and loyalty of the people of this State. All we demand is to show us our duty and we will faithfully discharge it.
“A sliort while ago, I think in May last, at a meeting of the Farmers' Alliance in Shelby County, the committee on education made a report in which they used these significant words: We must earnestly insist upon the necessity of educating the masses of the people, believing that the uneducated are always at the mercy of the better informell, and we insist that the brotherlood should take more interest in the cause of education, so that by means of their own efforts they secure to their children the blessings of education.'
“The amendment to the constitution, as proposed by the last general assembly, and will be subinitted to the voters at the next general election, provides for local taxation for public schools. Before we can have such taxation, this amendment, or one similar to it, must be passed. It makes ample provision for the passage of such laws as will give the relief desired by our people. In the cities, towns, and villages under municipal regulations the authorities have power to raise revenue for the support of public schools. The people in the townships, in the county, have no such power, and can not have it unless the constitution is amended so as to delegate this authority to them. This done, and they can raiso a revenue by which their schools will be kept in operation for nine months. Such is the aim and purpose of the Hundley amendinent, and which, if passeil, will secure all the advantages that can be desired.
“Our system is a good one, with some exceptions that can be easily corrected by legislation. More money, longer school period, more traineil teachers, and better schoolhouses, with proper equipments, and we will soon be in the forefront of progress. The day dawn of a new concational era is breaking in upon us, and the time is near at hand when illiteracy will be a thing of the past and our civilization will continue to rise higher in the scale of enlightenment.”
In a report made to the governor of Alabama, under date of November 13, 1893, the State superintendent announces that more than 100,000 people attended the meetings, and over 800 speeches were made on the subject of education. In one county alone six mass meetings were held. More general interest was manifested! in the country districts than ever before, and the schools of the State opened with a larger attendance than in any previous year, notwithstanding the pressure of hard times; also more school buildings were erected than at any previons period.
To reap the fruits growing out of this enterprise the State superintendent intimates that “it is necessary that the campaign, so auspiciously inaugurated, be carried on annually in some form or other, opening new avenues of thought, creating new methods and systems by which to reach a greater degree of success. It is the most important work in the State. It is not routine work, as some suppose, it demands progress and development. To accomplish the proper results will require zeal, energy, and constant labor of every school officer. Means and agencies must be invented or discovered or formulated through which to reach the masses of the people, hence, constant watchfulness, study, and labor is necessary.”
REPORT OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ON THE CONDITION OF THE SCHOOLS
OF NEW HAVEN COUNTY.
[The following report calls attention to some of the results of an investigation into the true condition of the schools of New Haven County, Conn
This report may be considered as a noteworthy document. The investigation was of the most searching, methodical, and thorough character, the methods of procedure adinirable, and the results calculated to put the public on their guard against reposing too great confidence in the conduct of the schools. The facts discloseil are of value in bringing to notice the ineffectiveness of the instruction in many schools, and the causes of the same, while the methods by which more satisfactory results are to be obtained are indicated. The detailed record of the investigation, with numerous facsimiles of examination papers, is contained in the 1893 report of Hon. C. D. Hine, secretary of the board.]
The first legal duty of this board is to “ ascertain and keep informed as to the condition and progress of the public schools in the State;” its second and correlated duty is to "apprise the general assembly of the true condition, progress, and needs of public education."
It is the obvious intention of these provisions of law to charge the board with constant oversight of the working of the common school system, in order that they, and through them the legislature and the people of the State, may know whether said system is producing the results for which it is maintained. It is not the business of the board to make out a case for the common school system, neither should we be justifiedl in maintaining silence concerning faulty buildings or bad instruction. If it was proclaimed that everything is hopeful and prosperous, without a close examination of the facts, a delusion might be prolonged as to the real character of the schools, from which the children would be the sufferers.
It would be pleasant to dwell upon the excellent schools here and there, whose merits are great and obvious. In these proficiency is attained in the common branches, and what is intinitely more important and satisfactory, the intellectual life of the children is stimulated. But it is those which do not reach a high standard of merit to which attention is above all demanded.
In executing the duties laid upon them by the provisions of law above quoted, the board has caused a thorough investigation to be made of the schools of New Haven County. The results of this investigation are shown in detail in the report of the secretary. Only the most important general results are here indicated.
I. In too many schools, sometimes in all the schools in a town, children at 12 and orer do not know more than children at 8 can easily know. The result in one town having six schools was as follows: (1) There were 37 children over 10 years of age; the average age of these
children was over 12. All had attended public school more than six
201 (8) Nineteen did not multiply correctly 604 x 29. (9) Fifteen did not divide correctly 546 by 3. (10) Nineteen did not work correctly the following example: It is now ten
minutes after 10, what time was it five minutes ago? (11) A larger munber died not work correctly the following example: A school
room is 6 yards aud 2 feet long. How many feet long is it? (12) A still larger number diel not work the following example: A man nises
124 envelopes in a month. Ilow many will he use in six months ?
In both oral and written work there was practically no time limit and the children could use such helps in counting as they had at hand. They were asked to write at dictation a few sentences, with the following result:
(1) Thirty did not begin their sentences with capital letters.
(7) Thirty-seven did not use quotation marks. Spelling had been taught from a spelling book in which the children were learning words of three to five syllables.
The following ten words were given out to each of the 37 children. Of the 370 words, 248 were spelled incorrectly. busy comb eyes goes
such They had studied spelling, but could not spell in the only place where spelling is useful-on paper.
Not more than five papers oxhibited penmanship which was tolerable. These children had learned their letters and a few words, but could not read. They had been allowed to use one book in a year as a reading book. The younger children could repeat from memory the words of the reading book if it were opened and they were started. They had not gained the ability to read intelligently any book suited to their capacity. The school furnished them no opportunity nor incentive to read.
They had studied arithmetic and could not manage the simplest operations in arithmetic.
They had studied grammar and could not write a single sentence correctly. Not one of the papers in this town showedl acquaintance with “the art of speaking and writing the English language correctly.”
In the six schools in this town there was not a single book, map, or globe, and not more than 60 square feet of blackboard.
If this were a single or an exceptional case it might be attributed to peculiar circumstances and difficulties. The sole cause here and elsewhere is :
These children have not been well taught.
Has the money of the town been well expended that has produced no greater result than this? The loss of money is quite insigniticant in comparison with the loss of time to which these children have been subjected. Six years of their lives have been elaborately thrown away. The school system in operation for six years has turned out children at 12 whose education is not equal to what an ordinary child can acquire at 8.
The misfortune can not be fully estimated until we realize what might have been accomplished in these active years.
In oriler to show what may be done we give the following case: In another school the average age is 8 years and 7 months, and most of the child dren have been in school two years; a few two years and a half.
In one-year the children have read the following books in school: Pratts' U. S. History, No. 1.
Irving: Eggleston's History.
Sketch Book; History of New York. Greek Heroes.
Kingsley: Fables and Folk Stories.
Greek Heroes; Water Babies. Fairy Tales.
Hawthorne: Little Folks of Other Lands.
Wonder Book; Tanglewood Tales. Seaside and Wayside, No. 1.
Lowell: Selections from:
Vision of Sir Launfal. Pilgrims and Puritans.
Longfellow: Grandfather Stories,
Hiawatha. Stories of Heroic Deeds.
Mrs. Burnett: Normal Readers, III and IV.
Little Lord Fauntleroy; Little St. Shaler's Geology.
Elizabeth; Editha's Burglar.
Seaside and Wayside, No. 2.
Snow Bound; Barefoot Boy; Nan
hanght, the Deacon; In School
The following was their work in arithmetic:
Numbers developed from 45 to 144; multiplication; division; problems combining first four processes, in Popular Educator Arithmetic and Peck's New Arithmetic; linear measure; dry measiire; liquid measure; part of square measure; objective work, oral drill' and problems with 1, 4, 5; 1, 1, 1, 1, the; first case in percentare.
The same test which was given to the thirty-seven children above was given to this school, numbering forty, except that they were not allowed in the oral work any time to count.
(!) All added correctly 9 + 5; 17 + 9; 38 + 9. (2) Threo did not subtract 25-8; 11-4. (3) Four did not multiply 7 X 8; 6 X 7; 9 X 8; 7 X 12. (1) Five did not give correctly the number of 9s in 54; 3s in 27; 6s in 18. (5) All addel correctly +3; + These children looked with contempt at the example, “ It is now ten minutes after 10, what time was it five minutes ago?” In English the following was the result:
(1) All began sentences with capital letters. (2) All began proper names with capital letters. (3) All used capitals for the pronoun “1.". (4) Ten did not use the interrogation point correctly. (5) All use the apostrophe correctly. (6) All use the period correctly. 7) Ten did not use the quotation marks correctly. The result in this case is due to good teaching. The contrast is betueen children at 12. who have not gained the elements of a common school education and children who at 8 years and 7 months hare secured this education.
In this connection it is important to consider those children who from one cause and another do not remain in school until they are 12 or 14. Under this dawdling system inost do not get further than the primary school. Last year in one town 581 entered the primary schools. In the grammar schools, representing the eighth year, there were 98. The usual number that graduated from the high school was 20. Five hundred and eighty-four went in at the bottom and 20 came out at the top. Barely 100 at the age of 12 to 15 have secured a common school education; others have fallen by the way, having attained a part only of what has been outlined above as clearly possible. It is an unredeemed hardship to many children to remain in school unless the schools are doing the most and best for them. It is a crying injustice to waste the time of any chili.
The question whether children as a result of instruction in schools read and desire to read was made the subject of particular inquiry. We find
(1) Many children of 12 can not read any ordinary book or paper intelligently. (2) In most schools they aro not allowed to read more than a few paragrapiis
which are set for a reading lesson. (3) They aro not encourageul and incited to read at home or in school upon sub
jects which they are studying or are interested in. (4) In very few cases they are directed in their reading. The subjects wbich
they study are presented to them only in text-books; this is true in geog
raphy and history. (5) As a result the children could not namo any books which they had read,
and inquiry did not elicit the fact that they had read many, (6) Few schools had libraries to whiclı children had access, and in few towns
were the public libraries open to chililren. This deplorable result is not due to inability of children, but to radically defectire teaching. The methods of teaching can not secure the most and best education in a reasonable time.
One book is prescribed for the reading of a year, and the class read this book over and over again and they read no other. They can recite this book iluently, and they can read no other book lluently. Often when the book is opened, a picture or a word suggests the text, which can be recited as well without the book as with it. If any other book be opened to the child, le looks at it as a stranger and the teacher considers such a test an imposition and a reflection on her teaching. The result, so sad and harmful, is that for a whole year the reading of the child has been narrowed and impoverished, and tho delusion is that a child is learning to read.
When we think how noble and admirable a thing real literature is, it is provoking to know that one book, sometimes containing rubbish, is, with the sanction of school officers, crammed into children as their only reading.
Every known method of teaching reading is permitted, the good and the bad are open, and the choice is left to the untrained and inexperienced. Can it be wondered at that 135 of the teachers in New Haven Couty still alwell upon the letters in the vain belief that the naming of the letters is learning to read?
They teach as they were taught.
In reading should be found the crown and reward of the intellectual influences which the schools call into activity. If children have been taught to see and to hear, to experiment, and to express their ideas, the reading of the lowest classes is a test of intelligence, and the reading of the highest a test of training. There is not monotonous reading; the tone and quality are regulated by the children's itleasIndistinct utterance is banished because the chilren have something to say. Reading then displays the play of intelligence which we enjoy, and which lights up a school.
But consider for a moment the chats which the schools often serve up to these intelligent human beings-stuft which would not be offered to children in their homo reading, nor anywhere except in school. The system is based upon the supposition that children are not of full size physically, and therefore must be treated to small words without meaning mentally.
These text-books are not merely a means of misleading teachers, but they are a means of paralyzing the brains of children. Note tho dismal contents of books given to children for their early reading. To show what children are compelleil to do in contrast with what they are able to do, we give below specimens of the actual reading in two schools where the children are on an equality in years, the average being about 7.
Henry went to school when he was only It travels a long way to get here. 3 years old.
It travels with the light millions of miles. There was no nice kindergarten like ours. Some heat comes from the fires that we A colored man worked for Mr. Longiollow. make. Sometimes the colored man carried llenry Heat is often made without any light. to school on horseback.
This is the case with the heat of our When Henry was 6 years oll the teacher bodies.
said, “Master Longfellow is one of the Our bodies are not made warm by fire or best boys we havo in school."
clothing. When Henry was 12 years old he wrote They keep themselves warm. some Verses.
The fires and clothing are to keep the These verses were his first poem.
heat from flying off too fast.
Heat is also made by rubbing.
Rub your hands together swiftly.
Seo how much warmer they grow. A cube has faces.
Now ruly two smooth sticks together. It has six faces. The faces are square.
See how warm they become.
The Indians used to kindle their fires in Here is one face of the cube. A cubelias twelve edges and eight corners. The eilges are straight.
They rubbed two sticks together till they
burned. Some boxes are like cubes. Wo had a story about Pandora's box.
Before matches were made it was not Here is a picture of her box.
easy to get a light.
In this way a spark was made.
The spark woull set fire to the wood. The cylinder has three faces.
So you see heat is sometimes made by One-half as many as the cube.
striking two hard things together. Two of the faces are plain. One face is curred.
A piece of lime was put into water,
The water was cold.
Soon it became very hot.
The lime and the water had united.
Heat is made when lime and water umite. Most of the heat in the world comes from When two things unite in this way, heat the sun.
is always made.