« AnteriorContinuar »
(From Report oi Stato Supt. J. R. Preston for 1892-93.]
FLOURISHING CONDITION OF TOWN AND VILLAGE SCHOOLS. The avorage country school, as it has been conducted, could command the respect of neither pupil nor patron, and has served, in many instances, but to pension incompetent kindred of trustees, to blunt every educational aspiration of our youth, and rob them of precious days and golden opportunities. The time has come to stop dallying with so serious an interest of the Commonwealth.
The towns of our State, recognizing the futility of a four months' term, have organized into separate school districts, and annually raise enough money by local taxation to extend their term to seven months in all the smaller towns, and to eight, nine, and ten months in the larger ones—the average term being more than eight months.
The new constitution diminished the revenues of many of the separate school districts, and occasioned a stricter economy, and in some instances a shortening of tho term; butin every case the towns have met the emergency, increased the local levy, and will maintain their schools eight or nine months.
The people in our towns have gone to great expense besides in building and equipping schoolhouses. They recognize the value of education, and are determined that their children shall have every reasonable opportunity in an educational line.
In the last two years the number of separate school districts has increased from 41 to 58, showing that our towns and villages are forging to the front in providing school facilities for their children.
Several of the smaller towns have enlarged their school districts by embracing some adjacent rural territory upon petition of the freeholders thereof.
The schools of all the separate districts are reportedl as being in a flourishing condition and crowded with pupils to the limit of their capacity.
As indicated in the last biennial report, these municipalities had to make, in most instances, a slight increase in their local school tax; but no serious hindrance of their progress and efficiency has been occasioned by the change in our school revenue system.
The increase in the number of separate school districts and their steady progress indicate the healthy tone of public sentiment which follows great local offort in behalf of schools.
The course of study in nearly all of these schools is sufficient to prepare students to enter the freshman class of the university and the other State institutions. They are, moreover, contributing to the rural schools many well-prepared, active, and progressive teachers.
Numerous changes of principals and superintendents have taken place within the past few years, indicating that the people aro seeking stronger men to conduct their schools.
A system of schools seldom rises above the idea of the principal or superintendent, and most often is but a reflection of that ideal.
The chief function of trustees is to put the right man in charge of the schools.
The quality of manhood in a principal is a silent molding power that stamps its impress on the character and destiny of every pupil. It operates not simply in tho school room and on the play ground, but follows children into their homes, is withi them during vacations, and registers itself in their conduct as future citizens of tho Commonwealth.
Most of the separate school districts have provided school libraries.
A library composed of popular and standard literature is a necessary adjunct to evely public school.
The highest function of the publie school is to create and cultivato the reading babit. Terein lies its chief power to promote culture among the masses.
Our country homes have but few books, and these generally of a kind unattractivo to children. Many young people aro reaching the age of maturity without ever have ing read a book.
Õur schools must set to work to collect small libraries of readable books and placo them in the hands of the children. A little cooperative effort by the neighborhood will supply the means to purchase twenty or thirty volumes. Even this small number, if weil selected and wisely used by the teacher, will suffice to lead the pupils into communion with the great apostles of the world's thought, to create within them a new source of happiness, to uplift them ultimately to a state of intellectual freedom,
PROPRIETARY HIGH SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES.
In addition to our separate school districts we have 233 high schools, academies, and colleges. The enrollment in these institutions for 1892-93 was 22,859, and all of them give more or less secondary instruction.
These schools include all denominational institutions, and, except cight or ten, are conducted upon the coeducation plan. Most of them are effective factors in tho education of the youth of the State.
Nearly all of them during the public school term conduct their departments below the high school as public schools.
A high degree of credit must be conceded to a majority of these institutions; but some of them are unworthy of the patronage they secure through artful and delusive pretenses.
When a school claims that in one year it can teach a course of mathematics from algebra to calculus, or can give a classical education in two years, the wise parent will conclude that it is a humbug and look for another school in which to educate his child.
We need to get rid of all such educational shams.
A DEPARTMENT OF PEDAGOGY FOR TIIE STATE UNIVERSITY.
The establishment of a department of pedagogy in the university is a step of progress which reflects credit upon the wisdom of the trustees of this great institution of learning.
The department of pedagogy will articulate the university with the public school system of the State and by degrees put university men at the head of most of our town and city public schools, which will unify and harmonize our educational work.
Young men and women of the State who wish to become teachers will turn to the university for professional instruction, and the people will naturally apply there when they wish scholarly and well-trained teachers.
With no normal school in the State, this department should be crowded from year to year by those who aim to make themselves better teachers. The day is not far distant when an applicant without professional training need not apply for a position in any important public school in Mississippi. The sooner trustees exact professional training as a condition precedent to election, the speedier will be the progress of their schools.
Already there is happily a growing tendency in this direction. Many scholarly young men have been rejected within the past few years simply because they had no professional training. Scholarship is of prime importance. No acquaintance with methods and devices can take its place; but it is equally essential that the scholar be trained to teach, if he expects to meet the demands of any position of prominence in our schools,
The people are fast learning that the very worst investment they can make is to employ a poor teacher for their children, and the day is at hand when teachers must invest liberally in the acquisition of professional training before they enter the profession, and must annually spend a part of their salaries in self-improvement.
TEACHERS' PROFESSIONAL LIBRARIES, Under the law allowing 20 per cent of the surplus instituto fund to be invested in works on teaching, to be kept by the county superintendent for the use of teachers, more than half the counties have purchased libraries containing from 20 to 300 volumes each. At the county institutes the past summer contributions were made by the teachers for enlarging these libraries and for the purchase of libraries in counties were none had been procured, so that by the end of the present scholastic year nearly every county will be provided with the best works on teaching. These libraries will be increased from year to year, and in a short while the public school teachers of Mississippi will have free access to the very best educational thought of the world. Our teachers can now pursue a course of professional reading with no outlay for books; reading circles and associations can bo formed to master prescribed courses; educational theories can be studied in the light of daily experienco. The establishment and use of these libraries will ultimately exert a potent influence in uplifting the teachers and bringing them to a true appreciation of the dignity of their profession.
[From report of State Supt. L. E. Wolfo for 1892-93.)
A REFORM URGED IN THE ELEMENTARY COURSE OF STUDY.
It was once thought sufficient to educate the few. The education of the many is an idea of comparatively recent origin. Our universities and colleges are aristocratic in their origin, their design, their scope, their courses of study, and methode. I use the term aristocratic not in an odious sense. By its 1180 I mean that these institutions reach the few in distinction from the many. From the very nature of things, they can reach but a small per cent of the people. They were originally resigned to prepare for the learned professions, especially for the ministry and law. The time came when States, in tho interest botli of humanity and public welfare, decided to make the education of all a public charge.
There bas not been sufficient time to make thio public school courses of study and methods as deniocratic as tho systems are in their scope and design. The design of our free school systems is to reach tho masses; yet we cling to the courses of study and methods modeled after thoso in universities and colleges, that, from the very nature of things, can reach only the few. We must remember that the day of universal elucation at public expenso las but fairly dawnedl; the sun hangs low in the eastern horizon. There has not been sufficient time to crea a harmonious wholo. These higher institutions of learning being designed to prepare for the learned professions, their courses of study were sliaped with referenco to graduation. If the student fell by the waysido beforo graduation, it was his own fault. When free school systems wero established, their courses of study were modeled largely after those of the college. These courses of study, whilo professe'lly for the many, are really for the few. Although a largo per cent of the pupils drop out of school before reaching tho fourth grade, but little work is clone in the majority of schools below the fourth grade in oral geography, and in the applications of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Although three-fourths of the pupils leavo school before reaching the eighth year of school life, not one school in twenty gives instruction below grado 8 in the elements of the natural sciences, in elementary history, civil government, political economy, and literaturo.
Our courses of study seem to have been framed without a recognition of the fact that these pupils, without training in the natural sciences, without any knowledge of their country's history, with no intimation of the world's history, with no instruction with regard to the social units so near and vital-the school district, the township, the county-that these pupils are to become heads of families, and are to wield tho ballots that aro to shapo iho destiny of our country. Wo apply the spors to the geograplical hobby through grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, apparently oblivious, not only of tho great events of the world's history, but of tho thrilling events in the history of our country. Is it because pupils below grade 8 would not take an interest in tlieso events? Oh, no; it is simply that wo aro slaves to custom; that we have been unable to overcome tho inertia of the past; that we have not had sufficient time to mako our free school systems democratic in their courses of study and methods. Pupils of tho second and third grades, if given an opportunity, would read with great relish fairy tales and folk stories. In grades 3, 4, and 5 they would read with equal relish Kingsley's Greek Heroes, Ten Boys on the Road from Long Ago Till Now, Abbott's Cyrus and John Esten Cooke's Stories of the Old Dominion In grades 5, 6, and 7 they would read with interest and profit elementary books of civil government and political economy.
Again, why, when we take up United States history, should we be expected to memorize tho thousand unimportant details of battles? Why not give some of this time to interesting historical or biographical sketches in the world's history Again, we are expected to grind the selections of the readers over and over, again and again, squandering valuable time that could be given to the reading of a number of choice literary wholes. It is not enough to study tho examples in arithmetic growing out of actual life. We must ransack algebra in order to devise improbable, impractical, and artificial hare-and-hound problems. It is not enough to study practical arithmetic; we must push the study into abstruso and impractical higher arithmetic, thus wasting time that should be given not only to a better understanding of practical arithmetic, but to obtaining an elementary knowledge of points, lines, surfaces, and solids. Writing and drawing must also be ground very tino, and strung out very long-made as abstruso as possible.
This reform courgo of study herein offered does the best thing possible for every pupil, regardless of his station in lifo, and regardless of the number of years he is permitteil to remain in school. If from caprice or misfortune he leaves school at the end of the third year, lo has the best the school can give him. The same is true if ho leaves the school at grade 5 or 8. At whatever point he leaves school, he would have received somo training in observation along the entire line in both the domain of naturo and man, and it ho had learned to read, his reading would be along the samo liberal and extended line. Such a course of study would not only give the pupil the best possible preparation for lifo, regardless of when he left school, but also the best preparation for subsequent studios either in the high grades of the common school or in secondary institutions of learning or university. This course of study would lasten tho articulation of the common schools, secondary schools, and universities; would bring about a rational articulation without sacrificing the interests of the common schools, secondary schools, or the universities. The passport to a higher grade or institution would not be an ability to disgorge a gorged memory, but to observo and read intelligently, and to express the results of that observation and reading in good English. Inspiration and power rather than information would become the basis of promotion. No articulation that does not consider the interests of all the institutions concernoil can bring the best results. The articulation that is based upon the best interests of the common schools is the one from which the secondary schools and universities will derive the most profit.
Life is a very practical thing. By this I do not mean to unduly emphasize thie ntilitarian at the expense of tho ethical and aesthetic. Reader, havo you gone among the people—the plain, common people--and looked again and again at education from their standpoint? Have you, in imagination, lived over your childhoodDoes onr public school system seem to have been constructed with special reference to the needs of the people? Does it do the most to enlarge, to strengthen, and perfect their lives? Does it go to them in a spirit of helpfulness, or does it invite them to come to it? Is our system giving them that for which they are lungering? They are asking bread and fish, and we are giving the serpents and stones. They cry aloud for trained powers of observation, that they may have better food, clothing, shelter, and transportation; that they may appreciate and enjoy the beauties of nature attending them by night and day. In return, we gorge their memories on geography and the books of natural science. They seek companionship with the good anıl great through their books; we give them five readers composed of extracts.
Do you say that this is not the province of school, but of life? I reply that child. hood and yonth is preeminently the time for such training; the period when the senses and curiosity are most active; life will be full of other duties; the to-morrow of neglected opportunity will never come. An instruction that does not make the son and daughter more helpful to their parents, that does not lay hold upon the hands and feet, lacks officiency. There is something wrong about an education that does not enablo the farmer's son to look more carefully after the condition of the crops, the stock, the gates, and fences; the daughter to be more interested, ingenious, and helpful in cooking, sewing, and housekeeping.
I hear a widespread complaint that "schooling” turns boys and girls against work. Is it not strange that history-a recital of deeds-should disincline pupils to deeds in their own sphere—in a word, to work? Go largely among parents, and you will find a general belief that some strango and wonderful power inheres in the text-book, and especially in that knowledge that is so hidden by technical terms as to be unintelligible to the masses. The pedantry of teachers is in no small degreo responsible for our present course of study and methods; a desire to possess termsif not kuowleilge--not understood by the people. Wó teachers still act out our little part; puppet-like, we still dance at the behest of custom; still pay tribute to the effeto past. Our pupils still perpetuate their wordy parades on examination and commencement days. Our graduates, with but littlo knowledge of composition, manage to deliver themselves of essays and orations, which, with “learned length and thundering sound, amaze the gazing rustics, ranged around.” It may be remarked, in passing, that the teacher is no less amazed than the audience. When will we cease this array of pedantry and the artificial, and be perfectly sincere and honest with the people? Our systems of cducation must get simpler and moro helpful though the heavens fall. I learned of an inspired preacher who draws his hundreds of thousands, and upon hearing him, find his secret to be simplicity and helpfulness. Eager to catch a glimpse of the world's great paintings, I find them portraying the meek and the lowly-Alone in the World, The Last Muster, Breaking Family Ties. The short and simple annals of the poor will ever be the inspiration of literature.
Pestalozzi indeed came preaching the gospel of sense-perception in the wilderness of memory culture, and we do lim lip service in every convention of teachers, but the actual work of the average schoolroom shows that our hearts are far from him. For twelve long years, Horace Mann, the illustrious apostle of Pestalozzi, with the energy of despair, madlo his eloquent plea for ideas before words, throughout the length and breadth of Massachusetts, and we love to do him lionor; and yet, in the average school, the gluttony of the memory goes on. Herbart, the apostle of apperception, numbers his followers by the tens of thousands, and yet, in practice, tho doctrine of the correlation and concentration of studies is a stranger in fourlifths of the schoolrooms.
Shall our great systems of education, with their superb machinery, drift further and further from the people, or shall we hasten to learn the lessons of simplicity, helpfulness, and wisdom? These reforms are coming just as sure as the water seeks the sea. Already there are ominous mutterings among the people. It may be that no member of our profession is destineil to lead these reforms to final and completo triumph. We are a conservative body. It may be that to achieve these reforms, some John the Baptist, feeding on loensts and wild honey, and with a leather girdlo about his loins, must come forth from among the people. Be it so; thus have been compassed tho world's greatest reforms.
ADDRESS OF REV. EDWARD EVERETT IIALE AT THE OPENING OF THE NEW ST. LOUIS
PU'BLIC LIBRARY BUILDING. [The exercises connected with the formal opening of the new building for the St. Louis public library were held February 17, 1893. The library at that date unmbered 90,000 volumes, having increased threefold since the present librarian, Mr. Frederick M.Crunden, took charge in 1877. Rev. E. E. Hale delivered the following dedicatory address:]
It is impossible, for the people of any community which has not fully tried it, to foresee the joy to individuals which they are making possible. No man can foreseo the happiness of homes which is thus made possible. No man can foresee the elevation and advance of social life and public order. No man can foretell the special occasions in which some new Watt is to be trained to build some new steam engine, in which some new Edison is to be trained for new discoveries in science, in which some new Walter Scott is to be educated for the happiness of millions upon millions. Victories, which can not be written before they aro achieved, are all in the germ wlien we plant the acorn. Or, if you call it a mustard seed, no man shall say what birds shall take shelter, what travelers shall rest, under the shade of that tree of which you plant the germ to-day. Far less shall any man say what conquests shall be achieved by the travelers who from this rest and this shade go forward upon new duty.
I speak, in some sort, as an expert. I have seen the public library of my own home begin with a little collection of public documents in a snuffy little room in the city hall. I have seen it grow till it takes possession of the most costly building in New England. From a thousand books, I think, the gift of a retiring mayor, it has inereased till it is now one of the largest libraries in the world. But it is not because I have seen this growth that I am saying what I say. It is because I may see any day a cabman, on his stan«l, reading one of its brown paper-covered volumes. It is becanse I have seen the thoughtful mechanic come out from one of its privato rooms where he had been at work, in his leisure hours, on the most careful and recondito problems of the mathematics, perhaps extending their discoveries. It is because I have seen the first artists of Anerica meet there to study what elsewhere they could not find, the steps in some line of composition or invention. It is because I know that the rank and file of the city of Boston would more readily rise in rebellion against any city government which neglected to provide for their library than if they had been wounded at any other point of their social life. After thirty years' experience, this has come to be the law and understanding; you may retrench on the right hand and on the left, you nay cut down the salary of the mayor, you may leave the streets narrow, you may have a bad fire department, you may go to the dogs in any other direction; but beware how you put a finger on the appropriation for tlo public library! Thé people of that city, eveu those who you would say were of the most ignorant and thoughiless grade, have tasted the blood of life; and having tasted it once, they will not forego their feast. They know what it is to have the best books in the world at their command. They and their wives and their children know what this is. Having once feasted at that board, they mean that the steward and the cook shall purvey for them as well to-morrow as they did yesterday.
As I go forward it is my hope and effort to illustrate my prophecies by one or two' simple details which will at least throw what the artists call is broken lights” upon my picture; and I will try to make you believe that I am not speaking extravagantly, In the presence of the distinguished librarian of this society-a gentleman whoso name is known all over the English-speaking world, among the leaders in his business for the tact and skill which he has bronght to administration - I shall certainly speak modestly. I claimed to be an expert, but still speak as an outsider speaks, and not as one personally concerned in the administration of these great institutions. I beg to be understood as speaking as a child of the public, who has fared with other children of the public, when we come to the festival of which I have spoken. My ticket is as good as theirs and no better. In what I am to say, I am glad to be under stood as pleading for all sorts and conditions of men. I shall beg you, as I go on, to reinember where the leaders of men so often come from. I do not remember that you found Jenny Lind in the couri circles of Sweden. I know you found Ben