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necessary and desirable. Without them a new teacher, usually a novice, is compelled to make a reclassification of the school. The result is a woeful loss of time, both for those who are imprudently set back in their studies and compelled for the second or third time to go over the same ground, and for those also who are quite as unfortunately pushed into water beyond their depth and left to tlounder as best they may. A properly graded system will make necessary two sets of records-one, tho class records of each school, showing its peculiar classification and the proficiency of each of its pupils; the other, the county records, which certify the results of the ofticial inspection and examinations made by its superintendent. The former will enable a new teacher to organize her school with ease and dispatch; the latter will enable ber to compare her school with others of the same class in a town or county, and will serve also as a general guide for framing a suitable programme. Promotions, as a general rule, will be inade upon the local class records; the official county records will enable pupils removing to other districts in the county to be more readily classified.
(5) Certificates for each grade and a final diploma.-Pupils who complete any grade receive a certificate bearing the signature of the county superintendent, district clerk, principal, or teacher. Those who complete the four grades below the high school receive a diploma; the fifth or high school grade a special diploma. I need not say that these certiticates are highly prized in rural districts. To the child who at the age of 7 or 8 years receives bis first certificato it is the greatest experience of his life. Nor does the desire to gain these paper honors grow legs until the age of 14 or 15, the last in the series to be secured. Some moralists will doubtless decry the practice that supplies to the children and youth motives so base. But are wo not all of us chasing madly after some supposed good, as useless and ephemeral when we get it as the paper on which the child's certificate is written? It is the present or immediate and not the remote good that appeals to the child of interest. Time may come when these farmer boys will “Seek honor, c'en at the cannon's mouth,” but now the height and breadth of their ambition is a roll of parchment. Who shall say which is the more laudable ambition, this or that! But, moralizing aside, the intluence of the county certificate on the rural schools is an incentive to effort which can hardly be overestimated.
(6) Recognition of diplomas by higher institutions.-All graduates of the county graded course are admitted to the State normal school and to many city high schools without a reexamination. So, also, several colleges accept these county examinations in lieu of their own in the same subjects. This is an advantage not to be lightly estimated.
Such, then, in brief, are the essential features of the New Jersey system of grading rural schools. A few words now as to the general working of that system. It was devised to correct certain evils and to secure certain definite ends. It should be judged, therefore, by its specific results.
The principal evils which it aimed to reach and correct are the following:
(1) The short period of school attendance.—The entire school attendance of most children in the largo cities does not exceed upon the average three to four years. Ju rural listricts pupils attend through a longer period of years, but for fewer months in a year anel with frequent lapse's of one or more terms. The canse of this short period of school attendance is not infrequently the actual need of the child's labor at home; but quite as often it is due to an inilitierence on the part of the pupil bimself. The value of an education is not realized by him. The end is too remote. Some more immediate end, such as securing a cowity diploma, is a more powerful incentive. Take a single county. For instance, in Atlantic County, prior to the introduction of a graded system fifteen years ago, not one person pursued a vauceil studies where twenty or more are doing so now. So, also, of matriculants at the noranal school and colleges; the ninnber has increased at least twenty times in the same period.
(4) Irregularity of attendance. This is due to many cases, such as sickness, bad roads, need for pupils' work at home, etc. Experience has abundantly proved, however, that the principal cause of irregular attendance is lack of interest on the part of pupils. When deeply interested in the school nothing but absolute necessity will keep them away. The county grading, with its system of examinations, certificates, and diplomas, furnishes the necessary incentive to keep pupils in school.
(3) Intrained and incrperienced teachers. The small salaries paid in most rural districts compel the employment of untraineel and inexperienced teachers. They need every help that can be devised. It is impossible for the county superintendent, owing to the extent of his district, to visit and advise with great frequency; hence, reliance must be liad upon some general directions. These are furnished by the course of study and the regulations that govern it.
(1) Frequent change of teachers.—The average term of service of the country district teacher is less than two years, just umo enough to undo the work of a predecessor, and not enough to estal·lish a new rogime. Hence, chaos is likely to prevail without the guidance and help attorded by some uniform system of grading. Grant that the
most important need is the personal supervision of an intelligent and enthusiastic superintendent. In lieu of such supervision tho county graded system is a necessity; with it, an additional help.
(5) Large number of classes. This must always be an obstacle in the way of improvement of rural schools. It is the opposite extreme to the city system, where, by reason of a large number of pupils and the employment of a greater number of teachers, advantage can be taken of the economic principle of “division of labor." There is a compensation, however, even in a large number of classes; individual work, so rare in cities, is made obligatory. Pupils are necessarily thrown upon their own resources. Hence, the two principal evils attendant upon the city system of grading, to wit, mechanical routine and “marking time,” are less likely to arise. There is a bappy mean to be found between too many classes and too few. The system of grading under discussion aims to find it.
(6) Lack of esprit de corp8.—The preceding conditions that I have mentioned, tend, without some corrective, to reduce the esprit de corps of the rural schools to the lowest ebb. There is little in the upgraded school to fire the ambition or excite the love of the average boy or girl. True, history affords many examples of illustrious men and women who have flourished upon such a soil. But history fails to record the achievements of that far greater number whose buds of promise never opened in that ofttimes cheerless atmosphere. Next to the intelligent, enthusiastic, skillful teacher, the system of county grading, with its awards and diplomas, will be found the inost effective stimulus to arouse and foster a love for school.
In conclusion, it may be said that the conditions prevailing in rural districts are so unlike the conditions that prevail in cities that any a priori judgment, based on a knowledge merely of city needs, must be carefully scrutinized. The contention of Dr. Harris, that the greatest need of all schools, city or rural, is a frequent reclassification, in order that all pupils may at all times find their normal level in the school curriculum, is not traversed by this paper. On the contrary, this need of frequent readjustment of classes is admitted. It is claimed, however, that the New Jersey system of grading rural schools makes this frequent reclassification possible, while attoriling certain additional advantages, such as comparative standard, proximate uniformity, and stimulus, so essential to intelligent organization, profitable instructiou, and effective supervision.
Under an act of the legislature passed in 1881, and under another act passed in 1883, the State may appropriate, in any one year, any sum not exceerling $5,000 to introduce and to maintain manual training in any school district of the Sate raising by donation or taxation an equal amount. It might naturally be expected that so liberal a State subsidy wonld tend to increase rapidly the number of manual training schools. The fact that no large and immediato increase bas taken place is due to the general belief that manual training is still to some extent a matter of experiment; that its adaptation to existing courses of study is not yet complete; that it is wiser to await the outcome of its trial where already introduced than tó undertake its introduction and maintenance without s!ifficient knowledge. Moreover, no effort has been made by the State department to hasten its introduction. On the other hand, it has been thought wiser, safer, and more economical to strengthen the existing schools by exacting better and more extended work; to carry on the necessary labor of adaptation and coordination in a few schools only until the experimental staye is over than to encourage the broadcast introduction of a form of education the limitations and value of which have not yet been fully determined.
Attention is called to the detailed reports of the several schools which have undertaken to carry on manual training, for an opinion of its merits and successful operation to date. To summarize briefly these reports, it may be said: (1) That without exception all the schools referred to report favorably.
(2) That so far from abridging the time devoted to this species of instruction, all, without exception, are disposed to extend it.
(3) That wherever tauglit by capable and competent instructors the manual training studies are very popular with girls and boys alike.
As the result of my personal observation and experience I incline to the belief that all of the following results flow naturally from manual training when riglıtly taught:
(1) A greater interest in school, especially on the part of boys approaching the high-school age. The desire to do something with ile hands, to engage in some form of labor such as they witness adults engaged in, to become men in the sense of being able to perform acts that look toward gaining a living; these and other considerations of a similar nature seem to give school life a more real and attractive character to boys at an age when book study is bocoming irksome.
(2) Growing out of this changed attitude toward school life and its duties there arises, by operation of the law of transference of interest, a greater liking for the orulinary literary studies of the school.
If this, indeed, were the only gain by incorporating manual training into the school curriculum would be a suflicient consideration for the expenditure of time and money:
(3) Lastly, the training acquired by a judicious course of manual instruction in a well-ordered school and under competent instructors is, per se, of great intrinsic value.
Drawing, for instance, lies at the foundation of all the industrial arts. It is the prime study of the manual training school. Its admitted failure heretofore, in the elementary schools especially, to produce any wholesome and valuable results has been due largely to the abstract character of the instruction given. Taught in relation to and in connection with the industrial arts it becomes vivified, and affords to the pupil a sense of gratification while giving him a valuable knowledge and power.
I am disposed to believe that carving and wood joinery are most valuable forms of manual training in the upper grades of grammer schools, first, because especially enjoyable to the pupils, and, second, because the results obtained are exact as well as obvious.
The knife and the saw, for instance, cut to an exact line. Precision as well as facility is acquired. Accuracy of eye and nicety of touch are cultivated. All these powers appeal to the self-satisfaction of the pupil; he can measure his own progress; his ideal is attainable; he knows when he reaches it.
The satisfaction of having made an original demonstration in geometry or a correct translation in Latin is by no means so intense as that of having made a wooden box with accurate measurements and perfect joints.
As a proof of this, observe the ladl who on the same day has done both. Which does bo exhibit to his instructor, fellow-pupils, or parents with the greatest show of delight? I grant that the demonstration in geometry exhibits a higher reach of trained faculty than is required to make a box of wool; it is not intended to disparage the demonstration; it is intended merely to call attention to the moral and spiritual elevation or, still better, exaltation that arises from the sense of honorable achievement.
Our schools are doing their best work when arousing such laudable feelings of a higher self-appraisement. Scholarship is one of the ends of the people's schools, but not the only one; for usefulness in its hughest sense, i. e., the ability to secure for one's self and for others all that life is worth living for, falls not a whit below scholarship as an appropriate end for school instruction. The boy or girl imbned with the feeling of capacity for usefulness in the simple activities of life will become a better citizen than the boy or girl who is taught to look for honorable distinction only in the attainment of encyclopedic book knowledge. The simple arts of sewing, cooking, and other handicraft are real elements of intellectual as well as of economic education.
Indirectly upon the moral life they are no less valuable than direct formal instruction in duty to one's self and society.
It is my conviction, after much careful observation of the results obtained, that manual training is a legitimate and invaluable addition to the common school curriculum; and this on social, political, and economic grounds. The individual is made happier; society is benefited; the State is made more secure; and the wealth of all is increased by shaping to some extent the instruetion of the schools along industrial lines.
The adaptation of manual training to the needs of pupils of the last year's grammar and of the high school age is well advanced. What is best for pupils of a lesser age is not so well ascertained.
It has been the policy of the department to discourage, for the time being, State appropriations to schools not having a high school department; and this for the reason that it is not clear as yet how manual training instruction of a sufficiently specitic kind upon which to base an appropriation can be carrieil on in the lower grades.
Applications for manual training appropriations from several large and important cities and school districts are pending. As soon as the wisdom of its introduction into the school curriculum becomes settled in the minds of the people at large, the rapidity of increase in number of manual trainmg schools in the State will be great.
Below is given the amount of money granted by the State to the several schools receiving an appropriation on account of manual training for the year 1892-93: Atlantic County: Atlantic City
$1,000.00 Bergen County: Carlstadt
530.00 HackensackDistrict No. 31.
800.00 District No. 32
500.00 Camden County: Camden City
5,000.00 Cumberland County: Vineland
1,000.00 Essex County : Montclair.
1,800.00 South Orange.
750.00 Hudson County :: Town of Union
618.55 Passaic County: Passaic City.
600.00 Paterson City
(From the report of State Superintendent James F. Crooker, 1894.]
THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF EDUCATION.
The first duty of the State in educational matters seems to me to be to provide sound, useful instruction to all children within its borders; such instruction as will lay a firm, thorough foundation for any structure of education which time and opportunity may afterwards design.
The majority of school children, about 90 per cent, can not enjoy the advantages of advanced education at the expense of the Stato, since necessity compels their parents to withdraw them from school about the time they have completed the study of the elementary branches. The elementary schools should therefore be the first and chief solicitule of the State until their needs are supplied and their efticiency in the remotest country district assured. They are conspicuously the schools of the people, the nurseries of future citizens.
I am compelled to dwell particularly on this subject, as it is a regretable fact that teachers and pupils in many iustances have shown inditierence toward the stu of the fundamental brauches and unretlecting eagerness to reach the higher studies without due preliminary steps.
It is a serious mistake to regard elementary classes in a school as unworthy of the zealous care of any teacher and the unstinted encouragement of any school board. It is to the thousands of children whose education is necessarily limited to the elementary classes that the State must look in the near future for the mass of its citizens; not to the comparative few who are enabled by more fortunate surroundings to graduate from high schools, academies, and colleges.
To attain success in the public schools and to expend to the best advantage the liberal appropriations made by the State for education it appears to me that there is one only practical course, and that is thoroughness in every branch of instruction. The tendency in many schools is, unfortunately, to attempt too much, without a thought as to doing the most necessary part of the work well. It is chargeable to the misdirected ambition of parents as much, if not inore, than to the teacher.
When the programme of studies is increased so as to produce mental congestion, the main object of public instruction is lost. To (lo a few things in school, and to do them well, is preferable to cramming the tender mind with odds and ends of a multitude of subjects-the merest superficial knowledge, which can never be made practical. But it is unhappily the case that parents too frequently lose sight of this vital principle of education, and are prone to insist upon their children being pushed forward into higher studies before they are well grounded in the essential branches. They take pride in repeating the names of the various studies with which their children are vainly laboring, and disregard the necessity of obtaining a thorough knowledge of the elementary branches which must be brought into the walks of ordinary business lite.
The teachers, realizing that their efforts for the concentration of energy upon a few requisite subjects do not meet with proper appreciation, are tempted to abandon the true path of thoroughness in elementary instruction by gratifying the unreflecting vanity of parents and loading their pupils with burdens both grievous and nseless. The children are taught to regard elementary studies as beneath their notice, and with the merest smattering of the most essential branches they are rushed into higher readers, geometry, algebra, and other studies. Far better for them that they should be taught to read, spell, write, and cipher well, than to be subjected to such a force-pump process in higher studies without having firm ground under them for such education as will be of most service to them in the ordinary occupations of life.
The result is apparent in many instances of pupils forced into the most ambitious studies, and yet woefully deficient in spelling, and fair, legible penmanship. Wohare students in grammar schools in scientific branches who can not add up a simple column of figures without making inexcusable blunders, and who can not write a simple business letter without perpetrating gross ungrammatical solecisms. In attempting to do too much we accomplish but little. Bread-winning knowledge is ignored in the attempt to grasp overything. The promise of the common schools is to give a sound education in the most necessary branches.
There is not the slightest argument in favor of making them all-embracing colleges. The State shoull not, under any circumstances, hold out any encouragement to the multiplication of unnecessary studies by offering a premium or money inducement to forsake the safe, true course of instruction. Cramming for examinations which holil out such inducements is an evil to be deplored, and it can not fail in the end to injure materially the prospects of the common schools.
The vast field of human knowledge can not be adequately gleaned in the few years in which a chill can attend school. When the pupil is hurried from one topic to another there can not be any thorough education. The mind, like the body, requires time to digest its food.
A methodless thinker, a pupil, a parrot repeating set lessons without understand. ing them, a reflector of indistinct impressions, can not be considered as good a scholar as one who has been benefited by the liberality of the Stato in public instruction. As an eminenteilucator bas said, "The mind must be fed, judiciously fed, not gorged," The first object of a teacher should be to develop the mental faculties of his or her pupils by making them think. The mind can not be awakened or developed otherwise. The number of books which a boy or girl carries to school is no criterion of advancement. The most ignorant person, en lowed with wealth, can have a large library, which might as well be at the bookseller's as in his house. Fewer books and more knowledge of what they contain may be relied upon to produce more practical educational effect.
A few clear thoughts, adaptable at any moment and fully presenting a subject, are preferable to a mass of mere words, even if they are supposed to represent higher education. To think well and intelligently on one question, by having acqnired the habit of thoronghness in study, is of more use in practical lite than to have committed to memory the ideas of others on a score of different things and not be able to apply them.
The thorough mastery of a single educational subject, no matter how lumble it may be, is the best of introductions to all other questions. It is the best training of the mind, for it develops the essential faculty of getting to the bottom facts in investigating things. The superficial thinker or observer is the one who does not succeed in lito.
Education, so far as its effects upon the well-being of the State are concerned, should be practical and general. It should include the entire mass of the people, not solely or particularly a few favored by fortune. It should aim at the thorough instruction of the many, not the special aggrandizement of the few. The university and the college accommodate but a very small proportion of those who go to schoolmuch less than 1 per cent. They are separate and apart from any general practical system of public instruction. Publie finds intended for general elucational purposes should be primarily devoted to the elementary schools. The people require ele. mentary educatiou before that which is the province of what are known as the higher institutions. They want their children to read, write, spell, and cipher correctly before they seek diplomas and academic honors. They are inore interested in their children being well prepared for the duties of life by a solid ground work of public instruction than in wisting their time over a multitude of studies of an advanced kind, which can not, in a period allotted them for school, be learned with any degree of proticiency.
Potential knowledge consists in knowing a few things well, and not a large number of subjects badly. It includes in its broad scopo self-reliance, without which education is of little practical utility.
Strength and vigor of mind are depreciated, if not nullified, by any system of public instruction which causes the pupil to rely entirely upon the arm of another. Such a system is that which looks only to the superstructure of public instruction, to the neglect of the foundation.