Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a

a

for a school term on a broken chair, at a desk whose top is scratched and marred, in a schoolroom that is dirty and otherwise untidy. How different must be the effect on a child of daily work for an entire year on a comfortable seat, at a desk that is in good repair, in a clean, well-ordered schoolroom, with books that are whole and free from dirt, from a corresponding daily work on a stool without a back, at a desk made hideous by the vandal's knite or inconvenient and ugly by accident or carelessness, in a dirty, untidy schoolroom, with torn and dirty books? Example is a contagion for which there is no antidote.

Night schoo18.-Stable character of membership:Teachers. The night schools, as they grow older and become more mature, show their usefulness and thus prove their right to exist and the importance of giving to them liberal support. Their history, which points clearly to a fluctuation of attendance and a variation in their success, proves the importance of giving to them a wise and careful supervision. Pupils present themselves for instruction in successive years at those scliools that are well taught and skillfully managed. The system of gradation that was adopted at the beginning of the school seems to work well for the adjustment of the teaching force as well as for the educational interest of those who attend them. Much latitude is allowed in the interpretation of this course for the different schools. Promotions have taken place from year to year, so that now pupils are advanced from the division night schools to the night high school. This gradation of work and the consequent promotion of pupils who finish the work of a given grade seem to influence the pupils to a continued effort for a longer time than one or two years. At least 334 per cent show this continuity of purpose. The increase of this element in the annual enrollment is an evidence of the substantial results the night schools are securing. A spasm of desire for improvement that lasts but a half dozen evenings is perhaps to be encouraged, but is not encouraging, while a purpose to learn and improve that shows staying qualities which last a term of years under varying circumstances gives encouraging promise that assistance given to it will fructify in good.

The stable character of the membership is shown by the fact that in the early history of these schools there were few pupils in the upper or highest classes while the lowest were crowded, whereas now the highest classes are large while the lowest classes are small. It is perhaps atlvisable for the board of trustees to offer to such as finish a course at the night high school a certificate of graduation. This would serve as an incentive to many to attend moro regularly and for a longer time, yet it couhl be done easily and at little cost. It would add dignity to the whole system of night schools and would have a strong tendency to insure their stability, as very many of those who attend them require some incentive to continued effort in welldoing stronger than a love for knowledge, and as the irregular attendance in these schools gives little opportunity for developing the spirit of the true student.

Experience has shown that only those teachers who succeed well in day-school work are fitted to do even passable work in the night schools. It is a difficult matter to secure enough competent teachers from the day-school force, as the day-school work is very exacting and consequently exhausting. Only the strongest (physicalls) can teach both day and night school. Many persons seeking employment regard the night school as a place to experiment or to “try their hand” at teaching. Wherever such experimenting has been allowed the teaching has proved a failure. The pupils in every instance have been able to detect the lack of ability and strength in the teacher. "As the teacher so the school" proves especially true of night schools. A person unaccustomeil to manage others in large numbers is helpless in the presence of a dozen or score of boys and young men, much of whose life is spent on the street. It were better not to have night schools than to put them in the hands of such persons.

It is especially noteworthy that those night schools are the most successful whose priucipals have remained at their heads for a number of years. Principals who remain at the work from year to year become interested in it, get to know thoroughly the conditions of the pupils as well as their ambitions, and are thus able to plan for them better than strangers can. The pupils become acquainted with the principal, learn his ways, and if they are satistied to stay at school at all, develop a pride for the one they attend. This mutual interest between principal and pupils is an important factor in securing good results, but being of slow growth.is rarely found in schools whose principals are changed each year. The night-school principalship is an important position, one which can not be well filled except by a person of broad experience. It is a position demanding executive ability. liberal education, and experience in its practical application, and especially a missionary spirit. A person to fill this position well should feel the responsibility that attaches to it sufficiently to be willing to make sacrifices for his pupils whose antecedents and present lives he must study. A few persons have been found who have made the position what it ought to be. The place is not a sinecure. It may be desirable to increase the principal's pay, that when the right persons have been found they may more easily be induced to stay.

bindergärtens.— There can be no doubt that a relatively small annnal expenditure for kindergartens would give rich returns to tho school and to the cominuvity. It is not difficult for the teachers of experience to select from the children entering the first grades those who have had training in the kindergarten. They learn enough more rapidly and enough more thoroughly to warrant the maintenance of this kind of school for its economic value alone. This is moro evident wlien it is considered that the child who does not get training in the kindergarten before coming to the primary school gets, in too many instances, a training that is a hindrance to progress until it has been corrected.

Much of evil found in many persons that lasts, and whose fruitage is measured in the police court, is implanted in early lifo at the kindergarten age. It would be in the interest of good government and of economy to get loll of these persons and properly care for them before germs of evil are planted in their susceptible young lives, which, when strength of character develops, make criminals of them. No small part of the ettort of the primary teachers is given to counteracting the teaching that has been done by the street the year or two preceding the time the child enters the school. An earlier start at this by one year or more would be an inestimable advantage. The kindergarten offers this.

Gradation and promotion of pupils.- Tho gradation and promotion of children are two subjects requiring the utmost care and the most profound consideration of those who manage school systems. It is detrimental to a pupil's interests for him to be in properly graded for any great length of time. The eitect of having to work in too high a grade may be as barinful as having to work in a grade that is too low, thongh of quite a different character. The grade school scheme may work injury to the child if the course of instruction is inflexibly fixed by mctes and bounds of text-books, as indicated by page, chapter, section, or paragraph. A graded course of instruction so outlined or determined, in the hands of a machine teacher or an inexperienced teacher not under close and correct professional guidance, will do the chili harm from which he may never recover. The value of graded instruction, that is, teaching many pupils the same lesson at the same time, as compared with that of individual instruction, is receiving the attention of many earnest thinkers among those who are investigating the effects of our social institutions. The evil to which I have alluded has been pointed out by many of these inquirers, some of whom have sought a remely for it.

Among the various plans that have been offered as remedies is that of shortening the period of the grade; that is, making a grado a half year or a quarter of a year long and allowing talented or competent pupils to pass along rapidly, but detaining for a longer timo those who are unable to do the work-a plan of gradation and promotion now in vogne in soine of the cities of the United States. The effect of this is, of course, to advance the talented pupil along the straight line of the cowso more rapidly than he would be advances were the grades each a year in length, requiring him to do more waiting for tho less fortunate pupil to accomplish prescriberl work. The effect of tho plan must be to foster and emphasize in the mind of the teacher that view or understanding of the graded course of work from which the greater portion of the poor grade teaching proceeds, namely, that the course of study contains, in its letter, all that any need learn, and only that which all must learn. This is the root of the evils of graded work, as opposed to individual work.

The evils of the plan for prevention may become more serious than the one which it is intended to prevent. These evils are threefold:

First, the tendency of rapid promotion is to prevent, in the interest of “ going up" more rapidly within prescribed lines, a breadth of learning for which some children who are sent up in advance of their mates are capable, and to minimize the broadening which all should get before they are allowed to advance. This broader learning involves (a) the assuring or confirming part of perception and conception that is securel by testimony, testimony of numerous examples or of authority, or botlı, aul (b) the synthetic steps of mental acts, rounding tliem ont, perfectiug or completing them, and applying them, as opposed to the purely analytic steps of mental acts, a most necessary part of education indeed.

Seconil, rapid promotion results in taking the child while lie is yet young and immature, as graded courses of study are now planned, to higher work, work suiteil only to maturer minds, minds that have proved their sense impressions and syntlicsizeil their powers and their percepts. If the advancell grades of instruction were simply for giving broader views and more numerous applications of principles learned in the grades below them, and for formulating such views and upplieations, rapii advancement along the straight line of the course would be conducive to bealthy mind growth; it would be strengtlı giving in its tendency, and would secure to the pupil that possession of confidence in himself which is a result of all correct learning. But such is not the case. The child, in passing from grade to grade, encounters at each step a new subject or a new part of a subject that is to him a new subject, which must be approached by analysis. Concepts come only by synthesis, but the child thus rapidly moved from one thing to another of greater difficulty is accumulating unrelateà percepts. Because of this, he is given little opportunity to complete his mental acts and make totals of them, resulting to him on the culture side in anorganized, uurelated bits of strength, and on the acqnistion siilo "patchwork " knowledge, whose relations he has never been made to see fully and of whose uses lie is in the main ignorant. The pripil who is allvanceal rapidly from grade to grade osten meets with subjects that aro too intricate for him to understand, and which he consequently learns ouly in an inprofitable, memoriter way. If didactic teaching is not done and memoriter learning, not allowed he may yot be hurried from one point to another before his mind has had testimony enongli to shape or give character to a sense impression and make a percept of it, and exercise giving it strength enough to hold the percept in consciousness as a permanent acquisition. Then, too, it must be remembered senso impressions are not percepts, nor does it make percepts of them for the teacher to name them for the child and cause him to commit the names to memory. What must be the intiuence of this kind of training (?) on the mind of the boy, continued for a greater part of the time devoted to elementary and secondary edncation? It is not strange that pripils thus tanght disappoint their friends and employers when testel in practical life. It is not strange, perhaps, though it ought to be, that a pupil this taught can get into college, and while there be one of the bright lights of his class, and graduate from it an honor mian."

Thiru, rapidly hurrying part of the class over a course of study does great injustico in many instances to those who are left behind. The totality of the mind of one boy may be as great or even greater than that of another, yet the former may appear to the unskilled teacher much duller and less talented than the latter, because he gets percepts less easily, which power only is considered by the teacher in rating the two boys. But the slowness with which he gets percepts is not proof that he is less talented than the other. His mind may require more testimony before a percept becomes, and yet when it is fixed he may have natural aptuess iu synthesizing or applying percepts, or botlı, of which his apparently moro fortunate mate may have little. The one boy is only apparently “bright" and the other is only apparently "dull," and that to a teacher incompetent to judge of mind aggregations. The kind of teaching that rapid promotion almost inevitably induces prevents the teacher from striking a balance and knowing the working value of a child's mind. In a majority of cases it gives no opportunity to test the minds of the class, as simple justice demands they should be tested before the serious distinctions are made that are shown by the promotion of some and tho detention of others. The stronger person, as shown loy an aggregate of mental endowments, is often found at the foot of the class, and is therefore left behind when promotions are maile.

KENTUCKY.

(From the report of State Supt. Ed. l'orter Thonpson for 1892-93.]

Some leading facts.— There are at present in Kentucky between 3,000 and 9,000 public schools, under the supervision of city and county superintendents.

The teachers employed in these schools number approximately 9,100. The number of white teachers in the counties receiving first-class certificates for the year ended June 30, 1893, was approximately 43 per cent, as compared withi 2:3 per cent for that ended June 30, 1891, and this botwithstanding the fact that the examinations have been gradually growing more ditticult.

The average annual State fund disbursell in cities and countios for the two years ended June 30, 1891, was $1,275,181.78; contributed by local taxation for all purposes, $723,215.51. The average annual State fund for the two years endles June 30, 1893, was $1,668,308.37; contributed by local taxation for all purposes, approximately, $831,115.33. This remarkable increase of State fuurd, moro than 30 per cent, was due in part to the fact that in 1892 the direct tax due to Kentucky by the General Government, $606,611.03, was returned, and by constitutional provision was made part of tho school fund, and on which a semiannual interest of 6 per cent is paid yearly; in part to the fact that the new revenue law has materially increased the State's finances. It is to be remarked as a most favorabile indication that the increase of local aid during the two years was more than 15 per cent.

Character of the system.-- Apparently much, indeed most, of what the active friends of popular education have been contending for as to organization and State aid has been secureil. The system is so comprehensive and symmetrical as to present the appearance of having that close organic comection of schools of all grades, from that of the ordinary district to the State college, for which the Swiss plan is so much commended. Harmonious working is assured, and so liberal are its provisions that it not only places within the reach of every child a common school education, but contemplates graded free schools in every county, which shall afford to all within their districts higher and more thorough training, and give to those in districts not so favored this opportunity at the smallest reasonable cost-schools supplying the place of what has been much insisted on, a central high school for certain prescribed territory. In the cities excellent organizations are established and maintained-in part by the State, in part by municipal tax-that give adequate instruction, generally for ten months in the year, through all the grades from kindergarten beginning to preparation for college.

SOME OF THE CONDITIONS UNDER THE NEW SCHOOL LAW.

а

1. Uniform term prorided for:-Of the new conditions already established and in process of establishment may be mentioned that which insures to every district a five-mouths school. It puts away the injustice which has long been perpetrated upon thousands of children in the State—the curtailing of their school term one and two months because they were unfortunately residents of small districts.

II. Grading the schools.-Another, and one that will eventuate in benefits hardly to be estimated, is that mandatory provision of the act of July 6, 1893, requiring the grading of all the public schools. The State board of education, anticipating this, had formulated a systematic course of study, with suggestive ily programme of study and recitation, and a one-year register corresponding, to supply temporarily the place of the four-year grade book now required by law. With the opening of the schools for the year 1893–94, some thousands of teachers evinced their intelligence by reducing to practice the plan outlined. The schools have thus, at this writing, begun their transformation from a species of chaos to order; from haphazard to system; from the reign of whim (that made a hobly of grammar or arithmetic or geography, and consigned to almost utter neglect the other branches) to methodical attention to every subject and consequent symmetrical training.

III. County teachers' association. The new school law makes this association a distinct part of the county organization, with obligations of meeting, discussions, etc.

IV. Teachers' libraries.—The new law also provides that each county shall have a teachers' library. Under a system where it is the exception and not the rule for the county schools to be supplied with trained teachers, this is especially important.

L'. Kindergarten work and manual training.-A most significant indication is the ever-increasing attention paid to kindergarten and manual training work. In the cities these features are being introduced into the public schools, equipment provided, and very admirable work done. It is, of course, impracticable to introduce these distinctive features into the common district schools where the teaching force is limited, as a rule, to one person; but in most city schools, and in those graded free schools provideıl for in sections 100 to 130, school law, the plan is feasible.

Legal provisions relating to teachers.-Recent legal enactments, tending to improve teachers in their profession, may be noted as follows:

1. The payment of teachers according to grade of certificate.
2. The limiting of third-class certificates to a single issue.
3. The requirement that all schools shall be graded.

4. The increasing difficulty in the way of obtaining certificates. The law is exacting, and county boards are growing more and more disposed to rule firmly and justly.

5. The prohibiting of the more immature from obtaining certificates.
6. The county library and the reading circle.
7. The county teachers' association.

8. The issuing of State certificates and State diplomas—ditficult to obtain, but good for long terms.

9. The effort to reduce institute work to uniformity and give definiteness of aim to all instructors.

10. The requirement that teachers shall so demean themselves, and interest themselves in their respective districts, as to win the good will and contidence of patrons, and thus insure at least a reasonable attendance of pupils.

11. Better wages.

Training schools.- The State does have one for the whites, and it is doing a great work. The normal department of the State college-to and from which transportation is free, where tuition is freo, the facilities excellent, the teaching force sound and strong-had luring 1892–93 a large number of matriculates. This is well, but it is not suficient. Many of our young people, whether necessarily or not, go to the training schools of other States.

The State normal school for colored persons is devoted in part to the training of teachers for the schools of that people, and has an attendance that, measured by the relative popuations, exceeds that of the white training school át Lexington. The faculty liaving in charge its various departments will compare favorably with

[ocr errors]

any body of colored teachers in the Union; and this single institution, if somewhat enlarged and improved as to its facilities, would adequately supplement the work now being done by mission and other schools in supplying the State with well educated and trained colored teachers.

The Louisville system comprehends a splendid training school for her own teachers, well manned, well appointed, and fruitful of results.

[ocr errors]

LOUISIANA.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

(From the report for 1892–93 of Hon. A. D. Lefargue, State superintendent of public education.)

State text-books.-On Juno 10, 1893, the Stato board adopted, for the ensuing four years, a uniform list of school text-books, and contracts were made with the several publishing houses for furnishing the same to patrons of the public schools at advautareous prices. Later on in the year supplemental books for general reading and for high school grades wero added to the regular list, with a view of giving an option in choice to localities wliero great expenso had been incurred in the purchase of books under former contracts. The general policy of the board was not to change books hitherto in uso savo in cases whero exceptional advantages as to price and quality of books were offered by publishers.

High schools cstablished.-A board of trustees appointed by the State board of education havo erected at Opelouras a commodious and well-furnished building for iz central high school. This school has some revenue from its own property, and also receives assistance from local corporations. Tho Stato board also has authorized the school board of the parish of St. Mary to establish a high school at Franklin.

Educational societies.-As one of the indications of awakening public sentimentin regard to educational matters within the past few years, it will not be amiss to refer to the origin and continuance of numerous societies or associations which have in viow the dissemination of learning or the institution of scientific research. In many instances these societies have lecture and practical departments with their regular work, and their chief aim is educational. Combining in their membership all grades of ability, they include the skilled and amateurs aliko. Theso associations or unions are unquestionably a means of valuable instruction in technical knowledge.

The city of New Orleans may be said to contain as many societies for the dissemination of technical knowledge or the cultivation of asthetic tastes as perhaps any city in the nation.

In an age when all professions and trades are organized into associations and guilds, the teachers have not been idle; the public school teachers of this State have now a State organization whoso entire purposes are comprehended in their arowed objects to elevate the profession of teaching and to promote the school interests of the State.

Local taration.—The State superintendent recommends that a constitutional amendment be submitted to the people" by which local corporations shall be compelled to levy the school tax mentioned in article 209 of tho constitution. It is earnestly hoped that this needful amendment will be made, and that all restrictions on local taxes will be so far removed as will enable the peoplo to levy requisite taxes for the support of the schools.”

The poll tax.-The revenuo received from poll tax continues to increase each year, but the collections are not as complete as tho school officers desire. Officers in charge of the collections are generally activo in their endeavors to collect the tax, but the law does not afford sutficient opportunity for compulsory taxation. If some means by which cach adult male woull surely pay his poll tax could be devised, the amount accruing to the school treasury would be considerable, and would bring about the further improvement and enlargement of the school system. Many citizens have advocatel that the payment of this tax be made a qualification for suffrage. This plan seems generally preferred and advocated, and I am heartily in favor of it. Ono of the many points urged in its favor is that its enforcement will tend to interest all classes in schools, thereby inducing them to patronize an institution which they help to support.

The State normal school.-In the improvement of our school system that has taken place during the last few years, one of the most powerful factors has been the State normal school at Natchitoches. The establishment of this institution by legislative act of 1884 was the beginning of a new era in our educational development.

The graduates whom it sends forth annually in increasing numbers are carrying their ideas of improved methods of teaching into tho reinotest corners of the State. And it is a significant fact that the most rapid improvement in public schools has taken place in those localities in which normal graduates have been employed in greatest numbers. To these valuable results of the training afforded by tho Stato normal school should be added the incalculable benefit that our teachers and our people generally have derived from the teachers' institutes held throughout the

ED 93—104

« AnteriorContinuar »