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Mr. A. Bronson Alcott thought temperament goes farther toward giving the qualification of a teacher than any thing else. There are certain men, and more women, who have the highest qualification for a teacher, and that is magnetism, a magnetic temperament. Such a person may possess more or less information, but the knowledge possessed will be the least part of the qualification to teach. It is the power of influencing by looks, manner, or even by silence; the whole attitude and spirit of the teacher in the school. Books are very well, but books are the least part of the qualification. How will you impart what you know? is the question most important; and how will you impart what you know unless you have the imparting temperament? How many men and women there are who will demonize you by their every word and attitude, and the more they make the attempt to reach you the farther you are from them. Good people, unfortunate people, but not made for teachers. Whoever can draw out what is in us, and make us feel that we know something, is the best teacher.
Mr. Youngs, New York, said he wished to call attention to the necessity of educating public sentiment in regard to teaching as a profession in this country. Those who are professional teachers must accomplish this work, and each one as he goes back to his work should begin in this direction. It lies with the teachers themselves whether they shall be recognized as a body of professional men and women or not.
Mr. Abernethy said they have a board of state examiners in Iowa, who meet annually, the first week in July, and they give state certificates, good in any part of the state, in any school.
Mr. Hancock said the examinations in Ohio are partly written and partly oral.
Hon. J. P. Wickersham said any teacher properly qualified could come before the State Board of Pennsylvania and obtain a life certificate.
Mr. Estabrook, of Michigan, said all graduates of the State Normal School have a life certificate in that state, and a diploma from the State Superintendent.
The subject was referred to a committee consisting of Hon. John SWETT, Hon. J. L. PICKARD, Illinois, and Hon. JOSEPH WHITE, Massachusetts, to report at the next meeting of the Association.
W. E. Crosby, Superintendent of Schools, Davenport, Iowa, introduced the following resolution, which was referred to the last-named committee:
Resolved, That this Association give its influence to the securing of a common recognition throughout the l'nion of normal-school diplomas and state certificates as evidences of qualification actually possessed by higher classes of teachers, principals, and superintendents, city, county and state - provided that an equal and impartial basis of training and scholarship can be generally adopted.
The following paper was read by WALTER SMITH, State Director of Art Education, Boston, Mass., on
DRAWING, IN GRADED PUBLIC SCHOOLS: WHAT TO TEACH,
AND HOW TO TEACH IT.
In a country like America, where education is generally regarded as a living question of the highest importance, it is not to be wondered at that conventions such as this should be continually assembling to criticise and discuss the old agencies and methods, and to learn something of the new. The opportunities afforded for this interchange of experience among educationists in the Teachers' Institutes, County and State Associations, and finally at national meetings such as this, must necessarily account for some of the many excellences which characterize the common-school education of America. In no other country are such meetings so frequent, or so well attended; and in very few do they exist at all.
A short time after coming to reside in this country, and after having attended some of the teachers' institutes annually held in Massachusetts (which were quite new to me, being utterly unknown in Great Britian), I wrote an account of these organizations, and their methods of operation, to one of the officials of the English Educational Department, who read and discussed my description with the head of his department; afterwards informing me that it was with the greatest interest they had heard of an agency so novel, and apparently, from my description, so efficient.
The only corresponding organization existing in England, and which has but recently been established, is for the benefit of teachers of art and science, who are annually invited from provincial towns and cities to a sort of teachers' institute in London,- lasting for about six weeks,- where the greatest men in science are employed by the government to deliver courses of lectures upon those subjects which are taught in the provincial science and art schools. In this case the teachers are brought to the professors; and such as attend all the lectures have their expenses paid by the government. This is a modern experiment, and very limited in its influence; not to be compared, I think, with that of a well-conducted plan of teachers' institutes as carried out in Massachusetts, where the professors go to the teachers.
A national organization for meeting and discussion, such as this, does not exist in England; though, from the additional interest now being felt in the educational subject there, this feature, as well as others, may possibly be annexed also to the national system.
The continual alterations which are made in the field of education, both in methods and subjects of instruction, are indications either of change or of progress, it is some times difficult to distinguish which; for growth and decay, development and corruption, are alike equally characterized by perpetual change.
Nevertheless, recent movements, both here and abroad, in the direction of comprehensiveness, can not but be regarded as improvements upon the narrow limits in which the education of the past has been confined; and with new conditions of society, and some of the ability which the world has at its command, it may yet be possible to devise schemes of education that shall have a definite and practical bearing upon each man's future occupation, without jeopardizing all men's necessities in the direction of general knowledge.
In an age when every man must pay his way, or die,- and it is impossible to compromise the matter by doing a little of both,— we can not speak or think of an ideal education; for that in practice would be advancing a small section of the race out of all proportion with the rest of mankind,-an experiment usually engling in evil times for both the van and the rear.
The actual functions of education are to prepare a human being to get along in this world without any reference to idealities, but with direct bearing upon his faculty at all times to pay a hundred cents to the dollar in discharge of his just obligations. And in addition to this commercial morality, and with a sensitiveness which indicates the longing for an ideal standard, it is some times thought advisable to throw into the educational caldron a flavor of self-denial which does not appear in the pages of the ledger, and a little taste, to give piquancy to the otherwise prosy railroad journey of life.
The first condition of having constructed or furnished the human machine with the ability to preserve a state of solvency having been complied with, just as the Indian selected his war-club of sound material, we seem to look for yet another characteristic, viz., fitting a man to be happy as well as solvent, by opening his eyes to the beautiful, and his mind and reasoning faculties to the true in nature, science, and art. More than half the difficulties which have beset the path of education in many countries have proceeded from the desire to magnify the importance of this latter element in education, only that the disagreement has usually come to an issue on the question of morals rather than science or art.
The tendency of modern education is to elevate the attainments of all, rather than to increase the knowledge of a few; and the great example which America has gloriously offered to the world is making education as free as the light and air of heaven to every human being who is born under her flag.
Neither ancient, medieval nor modern times can show a greater spectacle than this,— that the deliberate wisdom of the free American people has decided, and carries out by its own free choice, the principle that society should guard and protect the young from the neglect and poverty of parents, and insure that every possible citizen of the future shall be qualified by education to discharge his or her duty to the state.
I can find no words in the English lang which adequately express my admiration of this feature in American society; and, when the prejudices engendered by my own education in an ancient country some times rise up within me, I look out mentally to the school-houses, and then remember the neglected children of England and some other European countries, and all my dissatisfaction vanishes. In place of it comes the sensation that a people capable of performing so far-seeing and profound an act of justice to the weak and defenseless may be trusted in every social relationship; and from the flag-staff of national sentiment I haul down the union-jack, and as a teacher I run up the stars and stripes of my adopted nationality.
Patriotism is virtuous when one's country is in the right; it is mere clannishness when the country to which we owe allegiance is in the wrong: and the sentiment “My country, right or wrong," is not the cry of the man, but the howling of the patriotic slave.
Perhaps the most definite charge made against our systems of education in
modern times is that they are too purely intellectual from the first, and especially so in the lowest schools for children of tender years; that the living senses of the young, which are in a perpetual condition of inquiry, and are therefore the teacher's natural allies, have been very much ignored; whilst the yet incipient mental and reasoning faculties have been drawn upon out of all proportion to their strength, and with a bad effect upon their future development.
That there is some truth in this view seems to be becoming generally recognized; for in recent years the changes and alterations made in, and the additions made to, our educational schemes, have been in the opposite direction to that which we commonly recognize as the intellectual, and have had for their object the more perfect development of the understanding by appeals to the senses and their cultivation.
Thus the object-lessons which are now so popular, and deservedly so; the experimental diluted science which is rapidly entering the upper classes; the music and the elementary drawing which is now being introcuced into all schools and classes,- all these are efforts to reach the individual through his senses. The success attending the Kindergarten system, and its exceedingly humane and gentle methods of instruction, form, perhaps, the most decisive evidence that, for the education of the very young, we want less of the burden of abstract formulæ, and more honest recognition of the senses. If we remember- what seems generally forgotten - that in the child the senses are developed as strongly as in the adult, whilst the reasoning faculties are yet but in the condition of instinct, it would seem to be reasonable that education should primarily appeal to those human faculties which will never be more perfectly developed, in order to secure both success in its results, and merciful treatment of the child.
I think that the remarkable success in practical life of many men of distinction and usefulness, to whom the dry education of the school-room with its rules and tables made no appeal, and who, given up as dunces, or securing their freedom as neglected children, sought and found a rough practical education in the fields or woods, among animals, or playing in workshops, proves that even following the natural inclination of the senses, without the advantage of guidance or instruction, is some times equivalent to a whole course of schooleducation.
The fact, also, that to learn something about every thing they see, whether in a garden, on the seashore, in the market-place, or in the shop-window, is a source of the greatest delight to children, proves to me that, from natural desire, they should find their greatest happiness in learning; and they do so when information is presented to them as they acquire it out of doors by themselves, or, by persistent questioning, worry their parents or companions out of it.
It is of some advantage to a teacher to have continually under his own eyes and observation a troop of children in various stages of physical and mental development; and if they happen to be his own, who in the natural course of things look up to him as the source of all knowledge, he will have an excellent opportunity of deciding that a child's motto is: “I want to know”; and its symbol, the note of interrogation.
We are told that the first important act of our first parents was a disobedient onslaught upon the tree of knowledge. From my own observations on juvenile human nature, I should judge that this is perfectly true, even to the stealing of apples; for there is no one characteristic so inevitably transmitted to their descendants, or which shows itself so early: and any man who disbelieves in the existence of original sin had better try the experiment of bringing up a large family of his own close to an apple-orchard of his neighbors.
Assuming, then, that the young human creature has inherited designs upon the tree of knowledge, and that it is to the manifest interest of society that he should eat and become like one of us, knowing good from evil, the question arises as to what particular apples we should offer to him, so that he may choose the good and reject the evil, or, in another and more thoroughly nineteenth-century phrase, pay his way, and become a useful member of society.
The first care must be that he shall be taught such common principles of sense as will fit him to understand the common language which is used by the rest of the human race he is likely to come in contact with; then, that he shall understand the common arts of civilization, so that the craft of the majority may not lay him under too great a disadvantage; and lastly, as each human being is but like one single brick in the edifice of society, that he may recognize and discharge his responsibility wherever he may be placed, so that the whole structure may receive no weakness from him.
If it be true, as I have stated, that the natural condition of the child is one of inquiry, and that it feels happiness in finding out what to it appear as new facts, how comes it that school is not perfect happiness to all children?
Without attempting to explain or express my solitary opinion as to the cause of this, it may be that some one will feel as I do,—that the brain-work of children in public schools is always, from the first to the last, a little ahead of the brain-power, and that the mere dread of being imperfect, or behind its fellows, keeps the child in a condition of mental irritation; which, when continued, results in distaste to school and lessons.
That is especially hard upon the good-natured, stupid children, who do not develop early, and who are some times thus made to lose confidence in themselves; whilst it would appear to me the worst possible thing that could happen to smart children with large brains, who would be better held back than pushed forward, until their physical power can carry their brain-power.
The remedy would seem to be to dilute our high-pressure brain-work in the schools with a fair average amount of, say, low-pressure sensual work, so that now and then there might be a fallow of an hour or so in the studies, during which the child shall be taught nothing but what requires the use of its eyes, hands, ears and voice only, without employing its reason, memory, or intellect. A song would do this; and so would the reading of anecdotes of animals for little children, of historical scenes for the older ones, episodes in the lives of remarkable persons, or descriptions of natural curiosities; the teacher not being above the use of a little histrionic power in relating or reading to the class.
In the same way, drawing of objects might be used as a fallow,- not as an amusement, but as an exercise which will employ the eyes and the rs without distressing the mental powers. This may, perhaps, seem a low motive for which to introduce the study of art, even in its lowest stages, into our pub
But I look to music, drawing, natural history lessons, elementary science, and object-lessons, to protect our children from over-education, and to