Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

The following table gives the per cent of incorrect answers :

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Per ct. Per ct. ! Per ct. Per ct. Per ct.
23
28
57
14

42
28
48
79
19

56 35 55 79

29

52 35 48 75 37

54 28 47 80 22

52 15 23 56

9

27 30 40 91

16

35 16 30 75 13

39 29 54

92 27 56 41 50 84 25

59
37
66
72

36
8
20
91
10

43
14
22
74
10

37 9 8 51 12

28 20 51 68

48 14 23 56 11

27
11
41
70

12
18
20

70 12 47
27
43
78
19

48 18 17 46 14

28 23 43 66 18

53

54

M м N

P
Q
R
S.
T
U

3 12

6 17

2 14 9 9

20 26 15 37 27 29 29 30 21 46

22
51

Children whose failures are here recorded are taught to work the examples in the book, and to repeat the rules in the same book. There are cases where children can begin and repeat every rule without prompting. These rules are taught verbatim, and the children sedulously practiced in working examples. The real needs and capacities of young children are disregarded; business facility in the comnion operations not thought of. Arithmetic has thus become a science of difficult trifles and intricate fooleries peculiar to common schools, and remarkable chiefly for sterility and ill-adaptedness for any useful purpose. It is pertinent to inquire, and parents ought to inquire, why children over 11 years of age can not correctly divide 546 by 3.

The reason is that there has been no teaching whatever, or that the method of teaching is radically unsound.

II. Many teachers do not possess the necessary practical wisdom and professional skill. They do not know how to so arrange courses and to so instruct as to do the most possible of what is worth doing in a given time.

An examination of our schools will seldom reveal a teacher who is devoid of interest in her work. Many of them are young. Some of them are uneducated, while only a small per cent ever received anything like special training in the art of instruction. They are like lawyers who begin to practice when they begin to stndy, and like doctors who begin to give medicine when they first open their books. The analogy would be complete if physicians were appointed over limited districts and the children within these districts were obliged to take medicine and advice from them, or not at all. There should be no more thonght of employing a publicschool teacher who does not know how to give instruction than there is of employing a musician whose musical education is limited to the hearing of a street band.

The ends of education, therefore, demand that teachers be trained, and that if the State is to establish schools, it also expend some of i18 money in giring our teachers greater skill.

Omitting one town, i. e., New Haven, in the county under review, it appears that 35 of 203 teachers visited by the examiner had normal school or equivalent training. Such training may mean much or little; the minimum would be a tolerable knowledge of the way to teach the common branches.

Evidence is wanting that committees are strenuous in their efforts to secure teachers of approved character and qualifications. There are many pernicious influences at work of which family and locality are the most conspicuous. No new blood can get in. The natural influx of trained teachers is prohibited, and the inefficient are protected. This is educational politics. The machinery and the output of this machinery are well known, and yet we do nothing about it but let the children suffor. Thus worked, the school system is not performing a great public duty, but perpetrating a great injustice.

Often when an inadequate examination is passed and a certificate is secured by a teacher, professional equipment is regarded as complete. Of serious and systematic reading, of the pursuit of any branch of letters or of science for its own sake, or of the habit of self-instruction which alone can furnish the freshness of intellect needed by teachers, there is not much evidence.

Those whose class work is observed and tested sometimes have some technical skill in the art of teaching, but there is absoluto poverty of illustration and thonght. This results from lack of reading and observation, by which light would be shed upon lessons and text-books.

The recent development of primary education, so remarkable and widespread, has not touched many of these towns, and has not compelled an improvement in the qualifications of teachers. There are some men and women who have no conception of progress in elucation. They do not reject the idea; it has never been in their minds. Their schools are not only behind this age, but behind all ages.

Nor is there in some towns much encouragement for teachers to secure by expenditure of money and hard work substantial qualifications. The school officers have prescribed schemes of instruction, founded on text-books, and exhibiting in minute detail the work to be done; no discretion either in plan or detail is left to the teacher. There is no scopo for her training, or knowledge, or individual experience. There is a limited and solidified programme; every subject and part of subject is obligatory. The question for the teacher is, not what is useful, not what is best for this chilli or that, not what will do each the most good, but what is prescribed by the committee, school visitor, or superintendent.

It follows that children are not expected to know anything ontside of this limited routino, because it is not in the course of study, or has not been reached in the course of study; it is not in this grade; the page where it is found has not been turned over. That a subject is not prescribed, or has not been regularly reached, is an all-sufficient excuse for ignorance. For instance, in many, perhaps most, schools fractions are not touched until chuldren are 10 or 12 years old. In such schools if a question involving a fraction is asked, it is then suthicient to say that the children have not bad fractions. If the children should be asked to add a half and a quarter before they came to written addition of fractions in the book, they onght not to have heard of such an operation. They ought to keep silence if they have heard of it.

An illustration is found in the fact that at least one-fourth of the children over 11) did not work correctly the example, 516--3; they had not reached division. Children learn to add, and leaving school at 8 or 9 years of age, can not subtract uor uso small fractions.

The courses of study, if any exist, aro in reality constructed to conform to textbooks, while the books themselves are books of reference, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but not suitable to direct the method or even the order in which subjects should be presented.

The same auherence to text-books is found where there is no course of study. The children will be required to give what the book contains, to perform the examples, say the rules, enumerate the mountains, and recite the battles in the order of the Look. One teacher exhibited a boy as a meritorious scholar who had begun at the beginning of a United States bistory and repeated without verbal error 15 pages. Another boasted that his class could begin at the beginning of one of the larger arithmetics and give every rule and definition without prompting. Both of these teachers were men and adults.

III. There is no ailequate superrision.

In 23 towns the schools are visited and supervisory duties performed iwice in a term.

There are in this county two large districts, New Ilaven and Waterbury, which employ a superintendent.

It is quite impossible to characterize the ordinary visitation of schools as supervision. It has no effect upon the teacher and is only intended to satisty the visitor that in general tho legal requirements of the school have been met. This is all he is obliged to testify to. It is not essential to a legal school that any child or any class should have made any progress, or that a single child should have learned any. thing whatsoever. It is only necessary that the school should have been begin, continued, and endel in conformity to the statutes, which require no test of the quality of the education.

This is a go-as-you-please system, which will make a good school if there happens to be a good teacher who is not hampered. The school system of the Stato dloes not, however, supply any assurance that the quality of the education will be gooul. On the contrary, we should naturally expect that it will sometimes be good and sometimes bad, and that children will sometimes be educated and sometimes not. The only conditions absolutely essential are that the teacher shall be employed and the schoolhouso kept open. It is not even necessary that the studies prescribed by the Stato chall be taught. It is found that in many, perhaps most, schools writing,

which has been specifically prescribed, is not, in any proper sense, taught. The one result which is almost certain is that the children will not attend a good school continuously during their school lives.

The mischief which is here suggested has its seed in part in the law itself, which prescribes two visits a term as the legal requirement, and by implication expresses itself satisfied with that number. These two visits ean not amount to supervision, and if supervision be necessary, it can not be had under such a law executed to the letter. School visitors can not be held responsible for the failure.

The inefficiency in teaching noted above in some measure arises from the fact that the committees and visitors are entirely unacquainted with what should bo taught in schools, and are not competent supervisors. Many of these teachers go astra y in their work, because they have no one to tell them what they ought to do. Very frequently young persons labor hard but fruitlessly, because they have no notion of what they ought to accomplish. These teachers are thankful for suggestions, and no teacher has been found to reject recommendations or receive thein otherwise than gratefully. Without question, the school committees and school visitors might inform themselves, and thus participate more frequently and actively in school work. This would be an impulse to the efforts of teachers, if it were well directed.

IV. The high schools are dislocated from and do not lend a helpful hand to the elementary schools.

There is no cement by which the grammar schools are bound to tho high schools. The high schools have dictated the studies of elementary schools to the endless harm of the latter. Schemes are formed, one school first grade, another second, another thirl, etc., but these names which represent a valuable reality when a school of Jower grade gives an education useful in itself and thus fits for a higher, simply imply a harassing limitation upon the subjects of instruction when the higher school dictates the studies and directs the instruction in the lower, or when each school, instead of being a part of an organism, must act as an independent body.

Possibly high schools are supplying as much education above the elementary as is demanded, but they are doing very little, perhaps nothing, to stimulate this demand. In the larger towns the high schools furnish the instruction which a few wish for, but they do not help, or help only to a very slight extent, the main body of the youth in the town.

This means that they are doing only what could be done without them. For when so few demand what the high schools afford, it is probable that the people who want this education for their children could be trusted to find it for them. These high schools provide at the expense of the taxpayer what a few want a little cheaper tban private individuals could provide it. They should prove their right to exist by creating a demand for their special training and fitting youth for useful occupations.

Notably is weak teaching manifest in the high schools and in the advancell grammar grades in the elementary schools. Deticiencies in these grades are not easily detected. Children can be set to tasks useless or useful. Memory exercises indi. cating an apparent intellectual activity can be given, while the wholo process of learning is fatal to thinking, and ultimately to independent right action. As in elementary schools, so in high schools the cardinal need to-day is a supply of persons qualified to intelligently instruct.

EDWARD D. ROBBIXS,
ANTIIONY AMES,
GEO, M. CARRINGTOX.
WILLIAM G. SUMNER.

[ocr errors]

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

[ocr errors]

(From the report of Sapt. W. B. Powell for 1892-93.1 Advantages of free text-books.-The distribution and preservation of text-books and supplies, though restricted to the tirst six grades of school, involved a large amount of extra work and care, which, notwithstanding a custodian was employed, devolved largely on the supervising corps. This work added a large percentage to the labors of the supervisors, and at the same time correspondingly reduced the amount of work and attention that could be given to supervision and improving the teaching in the schools. Books and supplies to the value of $10,000 or $30,000, in use by 40,000 children at work in a hundred schoolhouses distributed over 61 square miles of territory, required for their distribution, their preservation, and such constant knowledge of their condition as is desirable from a business as well as an ethical point of view not only much time as well as care, but also great labor and thought, demanding an expenditure of no inconsiderable nervous force.

Free text-books and supplies, however, have been a great boon to thousands of children, and have securod the prompt and regular attendance at school of many

who, if they had been obliged to buy their books, could not have attended at all. They have also served to make the schools more efficient and more uniform in their efticiency than schools can be made whose pupils furnish their own books, because uniformity in the character of supplies and promptness in furnishing them are more easily secured when books and supplies are provided by the school authorities than when they are furnished by the pupils. With few exceptions, resulting from inability of contractors to fill our orders promptly, teachers had to do but little waiting for materials with which to work during the year. The advantage of this is considerable, being especially appreciable in the poorer districts of the city and the more distant county schools. No other purely administrative item has tended so much to unify the teaching of our schools and to make it as good in the less-favored localities as it is elsewhere as this uniformity of supplies and this promptness in getting them into the hands of the teacher. Except in a few cases the books have been well preserved and the supplies car

carefully and economically used. The supervisors have exercised a judicious, intelligent, and painstaking supervision in the use and preservation of everything that has passed through their hands. The teachers, as a rule, have shown that interest and exercised that care in the preservation of books and the economical use of supplies that they would be expected to show were they providing these things themselves. In many instances the teachers do more than this; they impress upon their pupils the moral importance in caring for property that is a loan or trust or whose use is in part a gift. Indeed the strongest teachers have made this an opportunity to impress upon the minds of the children the moral obligation that rests upon one who is the custodian of public property, making them feel not alone that their own interests in the ownership of what they use should insure a careful consideration for its welfare, but also that the fact that they are trusted agents is a much weightier reason why they should be careful of this property: If the coming generation of citizens can be trained to a feeling of responsibility in the exercise of care in the use of public property which shall result in the cessation of vandalism, careless destruction, and the hõidenish practice of writing their names and carving their initials in public places, thus marring the beauty of everything they touch, the furnishing of free text-books will yield a fruitage quite commensurate with the cost.

One may almost know before an examination of a school has been made the condition of the books in use and the care that is exercised in the preservation of perishable materials, as paper, ink, and pencils, by the condition of the fence inclos. ing the school lot and the fences of the adjoining lots, by the condition of the halls and other passageways of the school building, and he will be further strengthened in such judgment by the presence or absence of cuts, mars, and marks on the school furniture, on entering the schoolroom. These are telltales whose reliable stories the wise supervisor will not fail to read in passing. It has been the constant effort of the supervising corps to train the children to preserve the property of tho District, not so much for the preservation, per se, though that is strong enough reason for the effort, but that the training of the children may be secured to that manly conduct, to that conscientious discharge of duty in the use of property that characterizes the safe man.

Moral effect of the condition of schoolhouses. The condition of the houses and their surroundings at all times should be such as to intluence the children to thoughtful care in their treatment of them. To the effects of this condition is due much that gives character to the conduct of the children. A scratch on the casing of door or window invites another scratch. A boy sees less harm in breaking a pane of glass adjacent to another that is broken than he does in breaking one in a sash containing only whole panes. It does not seem very wrong to jerk or twist from its post a gate that is hanging by only one hinge. To the mind of the child it is a small matter to take one or more bricks from a sidewalk already broken or partly torn np. The lesson to be learned from these facts by the management, if the children are to receive proper influence from their surroundings, is that the schoolhouses and their appartenances should be kept in perfect repair all the time. The effect of a clean schoolroom, in good repair, on a pupil's life and conduct is greater than any code of precept on order and cleanliness that may be dictated by the teacher or other person in anthority. The one becomes a part of himself, because he lives it; the other he is likely not to believe, if he understands it, because it has only been said to him. People are what they grow to be. They grow on what they take for nourishment. The life of a young child is un doubtedly attected by what is said to him, but it is intluenced far more by what he does. The atmosphere of a well-ordered, well-kept schoolroom is not only an inspiration, but it is moral nourislıment developing his tender lite in desirable, protitable growthis. It is a crime to the State and to the individual child, to the State because to the individual child, to permit him to sit

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 knife 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 schools.-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 schools 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 allvisable 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 more 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 tendoncy 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 forre, as the day-school work is very exacting and consequently exhausting. Only the strongest (physically) 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 unaccustomed to manage others in large numbers is helpless in the presence of a dozen or scoro 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

« AnteriorContinuar »