Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PROPRIETARY HIGH SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES.

In addition to our separate school districts we have 233 high schools, acadeinies, and colleges. The enrollment in these institutions for 1892–93 was 22,859, and all of ibem give more or less secondary instruction.

These schools include all denominational institutions, and, except eight or ten, aro conducted upon the coeducation plan. Most of them are effective factors in the 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 numbug 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 THE STATE UNIVERSITY.

The establishment of a department of pedagogy in the university is a step of progross 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 metliods and devices can take its place; but it is equally essential that the scholar bo 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 mako is to employ a poor teacher for their children, and the day is at hand when teacher 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 institute fund to be invested in works on teaching, to be kept by the county superintendent for the use of teachers, moro 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 tho teachers for enlarging these libraries and for the purchase of libraries in connties were none had been procured, so that by the end of the present scholastic year nearly every county will be provided with tho 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 clucational thought of the world. Our teachers can now pursue a course of professional reading with no outlay for books; reading circles and associations can be formed to master prescribed courses; educational theories can be studied in the light of daily experience. 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.

MISSOURI.

(From report of State Supt. L. E. Wolfe 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 methods. I use the term aristocratic not in an odious sense. By its use I mean that these institutions reach the few in distinction from the many. From tho 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 both of humanity and public welfare, decided to make the education of all a public charge.

There has not been sufficient time to make the public school courses of study and methods as democratic as tho systems are in their scope and design. The design of our free school systems is to reach the masses; yet we cling to the courses of study and methods modeled after those in universities and colleges, that, from the very nature of things, can reach only the few. We must remember that the day of uni. versal education at public expense has but fairly dawned; the sun hangs low in tho eastern horizon. There has not been sufficient time to create a harmonious whole. These higher institutions of learning being designed to prepare for the learned professions, their courses of study were shaped with reference to graduation. If the student fell by the waysido before graduation, it was his own fault. When frco school systems wero established, their courses of study were modeled largely after those of the college. Theso courses of study, while professedly for the many, arc really for the few. Although a largo per cent of the pupils drop out of school before reaching the fourth grade, but little work is done in the majority of schools below the fourth grade in oral geography, and in tho applications of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Although three-fourths of the pupils leave school before reaching the eighth year of school life, not one st hool in twenty gives instruction below grade 8 in the elements of the natural sciences, in elementary history, civil government, political economy, and literature.

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 becomo heads of families, and are to wield the ballots that are to shape the destiny of our country. We apply the spurs to the geograplical hobby through grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, apparently oblivious, not only of the great events of the workl's history, but of the thrilling events in the history of our country. Is it because pupils below grade 8 would not take an interest in these events? Oh, no; it is simply that we are 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 the second and third grades, if given an opportunity, would read with great relish fairy tales and folk stories. In graries 3, 4, and 5 they would read with equal relish Kingsley's Greek Heroes, Ten Boys on the Roail from Long Ago Till Row, Abbott's Cyrus and John Esten Cooke's Stories of the Old Dominion. In grades 5, 6, anal 7 they would read with interest and protit elementary books of civil government and political economy.

Again, why, when we take np United States history, should we be expected to memorize the thousand unimportant oletails of battles ? Why not give some of this tinie to interesting historicalor biographical sketches in the world's history! Again, we aro expected to grind the selections of the readers over and over, again and again. eqnandering valuable time that coull be given to the reading of a number of choice literary wholes. It is not enough to study the examples in arithmetic growing out of actual life. We must ransack algebra in order to deviso improbable, impractical, and artificial hare-an-hound problems. It is not enough to study practical arithmetic; we minst push the study into abstruso an impractical higher arithmetic, thus wasting time that should be given not only to a better understanding of practical arithmetic, but to obtaining au clementary knowledge of points, lines, surfaces, and solids. Writing and drawing must also be ground very line, and struug out very long-made as abstruso as possible.

This reform conrse of study herein offered does the best thing possible for every pupil, regardless of his station in life, and regardless of the number of years he is permitted to remain in school. If from caprice or misfortune he leaves school at the enıl of the third year, lie has the best the school can give him. The same is true if he leaves the school at grade 5 or 8. At whatever point lie leaves school, he would

have received some training in observation along the entiro lino in both the domain of naturo and man, and if ho had learned to read, his reading would be along the same liberal and extended line. Such a course of study would not only give the pupil the best possible preparation for life, regardless of when ho left school, but also the best preparation for subsequent studies either in the high grades of the common school or in secondary institutions of learning or university. This course of study would hasten the articulation of tho common schools, secondary schools, and universities; would bring abont a rational articulation without sacrificing tho 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 inemory, but to observe 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 concerned can bring the best resnlts. 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 the utilitarian at the expense of the ethical and esthetic. Reader, have yon gone among the people--the plain, common people--and looked again and again at edncation from their standpoint? Have you, in imagination, lived over your childhood ! Does our public school system seem to have been constructe:) 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 hungering! They are asking bread and fish, and we are giving them 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 beanties of nature attending them by night and day. In return, wo gorgo their memories on geography and the books of natural science. They seek companionship with the good and 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 childliood and yonth is preeminently the timo for such training; the period when the senses and curiosity are most active; lifo 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 lielpful to their parents, that does not lay hold upon the hands and feet, laoks efficiency. There is something wrong about an education that does not enable the farmer's son to look more carefully after the condition of the crops, the stock, the gates, and fences; the daughter to be inore 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 listory-a recital of deeds-should disincline pupils to deeds in their own spliero-in a word, to work? Go largely among, parents, and you will find a general belief that some strange 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 knowledge-100 understood by the people. We teachers still act out our little part; puppet-like, we still dance at the behest of custom; still pay tribute to the eflete past. Our pupils still perpetuate their wordy parades on examination and commencement days. Our gra luates, with but littlo knowledgo of composition, manage to deliver themselves of essays and orations, which, with "learned length and thundering som, amaze the gazing rnsties, rangell around.” It may be remarked, in pussing, that the teacher is no less amazed than tho andience. 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 more helpful though the heavens fall. I learned of an inspired preacher who draws his hundreds of thousands, and npon learing 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 hin lip service in every convention of teachers, but the actual work of the average schoolroom shows that onr hearts are far from him. For twelve long years, Horace Mann, the illustrious apostle of Pestalozzi, with the energy of despair, made his eloqnent plea for ideas before words, throughout the length and breadth of Massachusetts, and we love to do hiin honor; and yet, in the average school, the gluttony of the memory goes on. Herbart, the apostle of apperception, nombers his followers by the tens of thonsands, and yet, in practice, tho doctrine of the correlation and concentration of studies is a stranger in fourfifths 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, belpfulness, and wisdom These reforms aro 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 destined to lead these reforms to final and complete triumph. Wo are a conservative body. It may be that to achievo these reforms, somo John the Baptist, feeding on locists 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

PUBLIC LIBRARY BUILDING,

[The exercises connected with the formal opening of the now building for the St. Louis public library were held February 17, 1893. The library at that date nombered 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 foresee the happiness of liomes which is thus made possible. No man can foresee the elevation and advance of social life and publie order. No man can foretell the special oceasions in which some new Watt is to be trained to build some new steam engine, in whieh some new Edison is to bo 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 are achieved, are all in the germ when 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 treo of which you plant tho 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, tho 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 stand, reading one of its brown paper-covered volumes. It is becauso I havo seen the thonghtful mechanic come out from one of its private rooms where he had been at work, in his leisure honrs, on the most careful and recondite problems of the mathematics, perhaps extending their discoveries. It is becanse I have seen the first artists of America 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 rebel. lion against any city government which neglected to provide for their library than if they had been wonuded 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 anıl on the left, you may cut down the salary of the mayor, you may leave the streets narrow, you may have a bad fire department, you may go to tho dogs in any other direction; bnt beware how you put a finger on the appropriation for the public library! The people of that city, even those who you would say were of the most ignorant and thoughtless 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 tho 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 broken lights” upon my picture; and I will try to make you believe that I am not speaking extravagantly. In the presenco of the distinguished librarian of this society-a gentleman whose name is known all over the English-speaking world, among the leaders in his business for the tact and skill which he has brought to administration-I shall certainly speak modestly. I claimed to be an expert, but still speak as an outsiiler 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 remember where the leaders of men so often come from. I do not remember that you found Jenny Lind in the court circles of Sweden. I know you found Ben

Franklin in a tallow-chandler's shop. I think Abraham Lincoln had never been sent to a gilt-edged academy, and never graduated at a college of a thousand generations. I am speaking in a nation where every soldier carries a marshal's baton in his knapsack, and it is so speaking that I am takiug it for granted that this city of St. Louis, which has so well forecast the future in a hundred enterprises, highly resolves to-night that in the future, in this business of books, the ration of the private who is tramping on foot with his musket on his shoulder shall be the same ration which the Secretary of War is to digest to night, or tho commander in chief of the great Army. It is two hundred and fifty years since the real people of this country highly resolved that every child born into it should be taught to read and write, and should share at the common charge in the effort for education, which other countries had made only for their priests and their rulers. It is two centuries and a half since such people as there were in this country highly resolved that for them, and with us and with our children, church and state should be rnled by the people of America. When they resolved' this they meant that all America should be what we now call a school for the training of soldiers; that all America shonla be as a divinity school for the training of priests, so that every inan might be his own priest, and hold his own personal relation to God; that all America should be a school for the education of song and daughters of the King, so that the meanest brat born in the meanest lovel might be able to read the Word of Life, or the law of life, as well as the child shaded under purple curtains in the palace of an emperor. True, when the fathers made this high decision they did not anticipate to-day. There had not been so many words printed in the world when the United States was founded as were printed in America yesterday, either in the form of journals or of separate volumes. The fathers who founded universal education, therefore, did not in tho same statutes establish universal public libraries. But, if they could have forecast the future of type and stereotype and power presses, the future of to-day, they would have founded public libraries for everybody. And we, who are in that future—we who know what a book is, and how many books there are—we have no itlea of limiting any son of God or daughter of God to the 5, 10, or 50 books which he can bring together in his own home. We have learned the great lesson that books are the universal property of the world, and that the light which is lighted is to be pat upon a candlestick; it is not to be shut up under any bushel.

We, who are not ashamed of the name of nationalists, do not expect the great victories of cooperation in life to be wrought in one hour, in one year, or in one century. We observe, however, that they have been won already-in a steady evolution. Wo see with gratitude that this nation has from the beginning been ready to strengthen the hands of its Government whenever and wherever the Goyernment acted for each and for all in the establishment of popular education. Thus the fathers determined that one child should have the same chance as another child. Gradually, in the establishment of their armies, they determined that every man must bear a gun, and that not the one military class, but the whole nation must serve the state. It followed, when they came to questions of suffrage, that they gave the suffrage to every man who had carried the firelock and had risked his life for his country. So when, in any city, one wanted to fulfill the Saviour's demand, and give the cup of cold water to the brother who was in need, the people of the American cities, as by instinct, saw that this water must be cold water, that it must be pure water, that it must bo God's water, not defiled by human filth or iniquity. And, without asking under what power they did this, the great cities, as by one step, marched forwarrl, so that the beggar might wash in water as pure as that which flowed for the baths of a palace. The American law is that, if the necessity is a necessity for each chill of God, and is the same for each child of God, to each child of God it shall be given, at the public charge.

That child may be blind; still the state will see that he is taught to read. He may be deaf; still the state devises the method by which he shall be taught to hear. Poor thing, he may be deaf and dumb and blind; still the state folds him in her arms, soothes him on her bosom, and you find that by some magic or miracle she has tanght him how to speak, how to remember, how to think, and how to live. In such determination that the meanest and the worst shall be nursed and cherished as the noblest and the best, the state does not know the meaning of the word “extravagance.

Now, even in what I have said, you have observed, you could not but observe, that the very words which we use are all tangled in with our thoughts of what a free public library can do, and what this library is going to do for the people who will use it. Thus, when we speak of “light” to-day, why, wo hardly know whether we speak of the light which comes from one of Mr. Edison's incandescent burners, or whether we speak of the licht which comes to a man as he reads from his New Testament, as he commits one of Tennyson's poems to memory, or as he follows along ou the words of stimulus and snggestion which Georgo Eliot has written down for him, or William Thackeray, or any other mistress of life, or master. It is all light, and it shines for all. It is interesting, indeed, to see how, in the common talk and common

« AnteriorContinuar »