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importance: (1) Executive; (2) Supervisory; (3) Advisory; (4) Examinative.
The superintendent should be the executive officer of the school board, and as such, should be clothed with authority to execute the decrees of the directors of the schools. He should be the hand, as well as the brain of the school organization, and his functions should be recognized as those of a director-in-chief, vested with the administration of the school affairs of the corporation. Any thing short of this makes him but a figurehead, an officer without power, and the schools an army without a commander. Subordinate in official rank, he should, nevertheless, be coördinate in the work of directing the various school forces within his jurisdiction.
As a supervisor, he should have the ability of an expert, and the authority which will enable him to look after every minutia of school work without embarrassment. He or his assistants should inspect without interference, and with the spirit of fair and honest inquiry, but not as inquisitors. Every teacher should be made an active assistant in this work, and each should feel the coöperative aid and sympathy of the other in the accomplishment of a fair modicum of work.
In his advisory relation, the superintendent is most efficient for good. His superior knowledge and experience in school affairs are the capital invested for the benefit of his teachers. When superior authority, combined with a large intelligence, meets the teacher in the relation of a friend and helper, then it is that the most happy results follow. The highest power of the individual is recognized in his ability to adjust, harmonize, and energize forces in the exercise of the advisory function alone.
At an examination (1) of teachers, and (2) of schools,
the superintendent exercises a most important function, the highest of his position. As he is made responsible, to a large extent, for the successful working of the schools of his city, he should have much to say in the decisions as to the choice and examination of his teach ers. Character, experience, success, and examinationtests of candidates should be matters of his most careful attention and inspection, and his opinions should have great weight in the acceptance or rejection of such candidates. The knowledge of the schools, obtained by previous inspection is invaluable in determining who should and who should not be the teachers of the several grades. Skilled in the adaptation of means to ends, he becomes the easy medium of interchange, by which the right teacher may find the right place in the system, when best results will flow to all parts of the school-body.
As an examiner of schools, he becomes qualified to judge of their condition relative to each other, and also relative to the schools of other municipalities. He should frame all examination-papers, on which promotions from grade to grade are made, and should exercise such supplementary powers as will enable him to adjust all cases of seeming injustice in the acts of promotion from school to school. His acquaintance with the status of the schools enables him to make such reports and suggestions to his directors, as will enable them to legislate most intelligently and successfully for the whole.
THE ASSAULT ON THE NORMAL SCHOOLS.
BY REV. A. D. MAYO, A.M.,
It is now only forty years since the first normal school in America began its modest' career, on July 3d, 1839, with three scholars, under Cyrus Pierce, in the historical old village of Lexington, Mass. It was a beginning fraught with results upon the education of the American people not less auspicious than the memorable skirmish that, sixty-four years before, had inaugurated Republican government in the Western continent. Horace Mann was one of those prophets who are called enthusiasts, or madmen, in their own generation, but are finally enrolled among the "solid men of the ages.” He never flashed out a more vital paragraph upon the sleepy schoolmasters of thirty-five years ago than when he said: “I believe normal schools to be a new instrumentality in the advancement of the race. I believe that, without them, free schools themselves would be shorn of their strength and their healing power, and would at length become merely charity schools, and thus die out in fact and in form. Neither the art of printing, nor the trial by jury, nor a free press, nor free suffrage, can long exist, to any beneficial and salutary purpose, without schools for the training of teachers ; for if the character and qualification of teachers.be allowed to degenerate, the free schools will become pauper schools, and the pauper schools will produce pauper souls, and the free press will become a false and licentious press, and ignorant voters will become venal voters, and through the medium and guise of republican forms, an oligarchy of profligate and flagitious men will govern the land; nay, the universal diffusion and ultimate triumph of all-glorious Christianity itself must wait the time when knowledge shall be diffused among men through the instrumentality of good schools. Coiled up in this institution, as in a spring, there is a vigor whose uncoiling may wheel the spheres."
The success of this first venture was followed by the establishment of the State Normal School at Albany, N. Y., in 1844, under the principalship of David Perkins Page. Thus planted on the two great seed-fields of the Republic,—the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, first of States in the establishment of the common school, and always foremost in the intelligence of the people; and the Empire State, always the training-school of the executive political genius of the nation ; — the normal school struck roots that have spread from Maine to California.
The report of the United States Commissioner of Education, for 1875, shows that 139 institutions called normal schools are now supported in the United States. This does not include the large number of public training schools and normal departments in private academies that aim at similar results. Neither does it take account of the organization under the common-school system, of the teachers' conventions, institutes, and local associations, for occasional instruction in the art of teaching. But it should never be forgotten that this vast machinery for elevating the professional rank of the teacher, is the child of that old normal school a Lexington, and is the best-beloved daughter of Horace Mann, the father of the new education in America. During sixty-five years of the first century of the republic, there was always on the ground a group of eminent teachers in popular and collegiate education; but the vast majority of the people engaged in public instruction hardly conceived the idea of a profession of pedagogy. The one service of Horace Mann which will link his name with the fathers of the new republic, was his broad, intense, and profound conception of the absolute necessity of such a profession; his untiring labors for the elevation of the teacher; his inauguration of the first group of normal schools in the East, and his pioneer Western work, in the new education at Antioch College, Ohio.
When we consider how hard it is to do anything above the average intelligence in a country where all things come, at last, to the test of the numerical majority; how many rival interests and scholastic jealousies among the educated, and what stolid ignorance among great masses of the people, were to be overcome; the progress toward the creation of a true professional class of competent teachers in the United States is one of the wonders of our wonder-working era. That few of the oldest of these State normal schools should be able to stand the fire of the high critical expert in normal training; that the majority of them should be normal schools chiefly in name; that the training schools should too often flood the cities that support them with half-fledged and clamorous claimants for positions in the public service; that a great many of the local, and even State conventions, should be only pleasant summer picnics with a mild educational flavor; that the institutes should