« PreviousContinue »
ret roof. But, content to mount by short, firm steps, keeping his eyes well to the ground that laid next before his feet, this collier and cow-boy, who, at eighteen, could not read nor write his own name, employed a poor teacher in a night school to instruct him in letters and pot-hooks, and finally got up the hill of difficulty, becoming a great and useful man.
ENDOWED SCHOOLS.—The friends of Norwich Free Academy, Connecticut, are rejoicing over the success of a new experiment they have made in adding to their free school system the feature of an endowed High School, securing by voluntary contribution a large fund in addi. tion to that raised by taxes, to obtain the ablest instructors for their locality. This may all be well enough in a few instances, but the main reliance for the children of the “people" is in the money of the “ people," expended from one common Treasury. When we have shown our devotion to the welfare of our “Primary" Grades, the tax payers will see it to their interest to contribute still more liberally for the higher schools.
CRAMMING.–By some courses of study" more is given to the students to learn than they can digest. Much of the fault of the non-assimilation of the food given, is that of the Teacher; it is given in "chunks." Knowledge always pleases youth if properly presented ; every thing of the nature of mental acquisition must, from our constitution, give us pleasure. In a recent discussion on this subject, we heard an experienced Teacher remars, "you can't cram a child, if the Teacher is vivacious, spirited and in earnest, if he gains the ear and heart of his pupil.” He evidently helieved in the doctrine-love your children_learn them to love you -and you can do what yon please with them. Some Teachers appear to avoid making studies attractive, for fear that, in two years the children will know more than the master.
FLOWERS AND FISHES.-It has been said, that were the flowers of the world to be taken away, they would leave a blank in creation. We should be grateful, then, for the gift of flowers, and as the season approaches for their disappearance out doors, they should grace our school rooms. Not only cages of canaries, but fish ponds are now to be had in our houses as sources of study and pleasure. Basins of artificial sea water, small and large sizes, framed with glass sides and top, are constructed, or glass jars provided, in which are contained and preserved all the family of small fishes of the sea. It has been found that by placing a certain grass or aquatic plant in the water with the fish, the carbonic acid is decomposed and carbon restored to the water, so that with a snail to consume the mucus from the plant, water can be kept constantly pure in these artificial reservoirs, and the eye can at all times dwell upon the wonders of the finny tribe, in parlor or school room.
THE RECORDS OF MY SCHOOL.- Who would not derive a melancholy happiness in reading over & continuous record of the history of the important events of the school where he spent his boyhood days? Who was the first Teacher, the incidents of examination and exhibition days -the latter white days in the school calendar-change of trustees, names of important visitors, programme of hours of recitation, etc.; all these would bring up a thousand pleasing and saddening memories. The School Board of Cincinnati have ordered the Principals of all their schools to commence and continue such Records. There have been provided large blank books, of good paper, well borind, extra cover, with the title of the respective schools printed thereon, for the thirty odd schools of the Queen City. Some will seek out the early history of their school, to preface the record, and, thereafter, will follow the history, day by day, of the school. Will not there be local features of great interest in this enterprise ? Is not there an appeal in this announcement, Teacher, for you to do likewise? We believe a truthful photograph might be taken of the living faces of each school room, as an additional memento of the charming past. Who will try it?
Cocoon TEACHERS-HATRED OF WORK.—Rev. Henry Ward Beecher says: “God is the most wondrous worker in the Universe — facile, sleepless, untiring — but men, instead of counting it a joy to labor, are always striving to evade what is to them a burden, and look forward to the time when they can "retire.'” As a worm feeding upon mulbery leaves, might say, " How glad I shall be when I am fat enough to roll myself into a cocoon.” So they eat the leaves of duty, and long for no higher joy than this silk worm's happiness ; and thus we have cocoon merchants, cocoon ministers, cocoon everything. We may add, that we have many cocoon Teachers, whose silk is not worth unwinding.
Be NEAT AND Tidy._Don't let visitors say of your school, “Slovens teach there." There is a moral culture iu cleanliness — pupils learn from the example of their preceptor - order is heaven's first law.
FALL AND WINTER READING.–School Teachers have it in their power to extend their literary labors far beyond the school room, and enliven the society of the neighborhood in which they dwell. Reading circles can be formed, meeting weekly in farmers' houses, where congenial spirits of both sexes may entertain each other in reading original and selected pieces, and welding all by charming conversation.
LOOK WELL TO YOUR CUSTOMS.--Accustom thyself and thy youth to what is highest and best. Lord Bacon says:
“Mens' thoughts are much according to their inclination; their discourse and speeches according to their learning and infused opinions ; but their deeds are often as they have been accustomed : therefore there is no trusting to the force of Nature, nor to the bravery of words, except it be corroborated with custom. Therefore, since custom is the prin cipal magistrate of man's life, let men by all means endeavor to obtain good customs."
Boys in their plays at recess, and in their idling or occupation in vacation, as well as in school hours, are making up that bundle of habits which is to constitute their character as men. Parents and Teachers, look well to their customs.
“SCHOOL TONE.”—Thayer, in his “Letters to a young Teacher," thus refers to that reproach to our schools, conveyed in the expression, “ It was read in a school tone.” The fault begins in the Primary School. The true idea of what reading is seems not to enter the minds of many Teachers, and hence this bad habit. I understand reading to be nothing more nor less than talking with a book in hand. Hence it should be, in practice, simply an imitation of talking; and the very first words read, and all that follow throughout the school life, should be given as if the sentiments were uttered in personal conversation. Instead of this, the scriptual injunction in our Primary School reading books, “No man may put off the law of God,'' is usually read, No-ah ma-an ma-ah poo-ut o-off the-ah law-er o-off Go-ud. Here then the remedy should be applied. The child should be told to repeat the sentence without the book, and be required to go over and over again with it, until he utters it correctly. The Teacher, of course, will give the proper reading of it after the pupil has made a faithful effort without success. Proceeding in this way, and never allowing an erroneous reading to pass uncorrected, the school tone' will never obtain a footing in the classes.”
THE Music LESSON.—Thank goodness, the thraldom is nearly over; the half hour for vocal music in many schools, instead of being a torture, a period of punishment, has become one of recreation, of delight. New methods have made of the science of vocal music, the easiest and most elementary of all the sciences of pleasure—a science within the reach of all ages, of all professions, of all fortunes. We have witnessed the elementary instruction in our public schools, of the enterprising and industrious Professor who furnishes the pages of music for the " Journal,” whose methods, if adopted, will “flood with harmony the rising generation.” We have before us his manuscript music, published by Applegate & Co., Cincinati; Time Books, ruled with musical lines, to be filled up by the pupils; also "chants and hymns for the use of schools ;" a blank and the words of a chant, a blank and the words of a hymn on each page -eight pages. The Teacher writes the music of the chant on the black board, and the pupils write the music themselves on their own books. The voices are classified in Prof. Mason's school, and the pupils show by their looks that their exercises never commence soon enough, or continue late enough.
LIBERALITY OF SENTIMENT.—That is to be taught youth as well as their letters and figures, man is selfish.
"To acquire sentiments of liberality is not the work of a day, nor of months, but of years ; they are generally the fruit of early instruction, for those opinions which we acquire in our youth make the deepest impression, and are longest retained. It is of great consequence, therefore, that the passions and opinions of young people should be early submitted to the discipline of reason, and that they should be taught to see things in their true light. Liberality of sentiment is the greatest sentiment of man, it embellishes all his other good qualities, and makes them shine with double lustre. Other virtues can only be exer: cised at particular times, but liberality is perpetually requisite. Liberality of sentiment gives an amiable cast to all our words and actions, and distinguishes one man from another more than any other quality, for it is more extensive in its operation."
Ohio Journal of Education. .
COLUMBUS, DECEMBER, 1857.
County Common School Superintendents.
The people of Ohio have just cause to be proud of their school system. We are emphatically an educational people. Nothing, however, has so retarded the progress of education in this State, as a persistent, unsound policy of forcing the official care of this important interest upon the hands of officers who should not be trammeled with it.
For the last twenty years, the people of Ohio have steadily manifested a willingness to have something decided and effectual done for education; yet this feeling seems ever to have been unfortunately restrained by a fear lest too earnest an action might be taken ; consequently, the progress of education has been seriously impeded, and all beneficial action partially neutralized by indecisive, hesitating, half-way measures, inevitably tending to dissipate much of the benefit intended to be conveyed.
For 'many years the official charge of our Common Schools devolved upon the Secretary of State, and he was expected to devote a portion of time that he could not well spare to the concerns of an interest which it was impossible for him thoroughly to investigate.
Under our present law, a grand advance has been made, but yet the same retarding policy trammels the amount of good capable of being effected. A clerk who can ill spare any time from his own peculiar duties, is allotted to our State Commissioner, who, for the want of eficient assistance, finds himself overburdened and worn out, without being able to accomplish all that might be done and all that education requires.
As we descend the scale, the evils of this exacting, half-way policy, become more apparent. Our County Auditors find their office saddled with duties, many of which, to say the least, might with equal propri
VOL. VI.-No. 12.
ety and justice, be imposed upon the Clerk or Probate Judge; while our County Boards of Examiners, Township Clerks and Township Boards of Education, are expected to do much arduous labor for nothing;
their duties are therefore not unfrequently performed in a careless, imperfect and unsatisfactory manner, not altogether to be unexpected. Yet upon these very
officers the success or failure of our school system depends. They are the executive, who bring the school law into immediate contact with the people, and through whom the people feel and experience its practical workings. How important, then, it becomes, that the school law should, in all its details, be intelligently and judiciously administered, that those most interested in its success, should have the most favorable opportunity of testing its merits! Yet what can be expected, when on examining our school laws, we find them entrusted, for their execution, to men who either serve for nothing, or who cannot but regard them as a burden forced upon their office in addition to other exacting duties!
The most serious objection which the opponents of the present school system have been able to urge against it is, that it is unwieldy and cumbersome in its details; that Township Boards of Education are a useless innovation, that they are uninformed in regard to their duties, unmanageable in their action, and given to tyranny. This, perhaps, its friends also have found to be its most salient point. It is not often that additions simplify, theyrather tend to complicate ; but, in the present instance, our school system needs but one addition to make it so simple, so direct, so concentrated, and so harmonious in its action, that no further obstacles will exist calculated to impede us in our rapid progress to perfection.
The establishment of County Common School Superintendents is referred to, and the remainder of this article will be devoted to suggestions and remarks upon the duties pertaining to such an office.
As the school interests of the whole State are centralized in one head, recognized as the School Commissioner, so the school interests of each county should be centered in one responsible local officer.
In presenting a sketch suggestive of the duties of County Superintendents of Common Schools, a few remarks illustrative or explanatory of the same, may not be altogether inappropriate.
I. The County Superintendent of Common Schools should be, ex officio, president of every Township Board of Education. It should be his duty to convene the same by public notice, properly published, twice a year, and to preside at all their regular and adjourned meetings, of which he should see that an accurate record is kept.
As our Township Boards of Education now exist, many of them are broad farces. There is neither order, system or regularity in themnothing but confusion. The most important interest of community, in many townships, appears only to obtain a struggling existence at all, because it is hard to annihilate so important a local affair so long as there are public funds to be distributed and Common School Teachers to secure them.
There are many well-intentioned and intelligent men in our Township Boards of Education, but they are not a majority, and are not always so circumstanced that they can exercise a leading influence, and control the action of the Board for good. Many who compose these Boards feel themselves taxed in time and labor, and have frequently but little interest in the welfare of education; possibly they are even opposed to the school law itself, and were therefore elected. Such men arrive late at the meeting, and are the first to break it up by their departure ; such also are anxious to hurry every thing through, and, impatient of delay, create the confusion and occasion the mismanagement of which they are afterwards the loudest to complain. No wonder, in view of such circumstances, that Township Boards of Education are regarded as unwieldy. The presence of a controlling and intelligent head, officially entitled to instruct and explain, and well informed himself both in regard to the local condition and the peculiar wants of education, would effectually tend to expedite business : action would be concentrated, regularity would prevail, and, what before was disorderly and discordant, would speedily become methodical and harmonious.
A serious difficulty has doubtless already suggested itself to those intelligent readers wbo may favor this with a perusal, and this is, that all the Township Boards meet on the same day, and the County Superintendents could not attend all of them. This might be obviated by making it the duty of the County Superintendent to convene the respective Boards at their place of meeting, by notices duly publisbed, upon such a day as he may designate, between the first and the twenty-first of May, and also between the first and the twenty-first of September. He would thus be able to meet them all without any very serious change in things as they are at present constituted.
II. He should be president of the County Board of School Examiners, and shouli, in conjunction with the Probate Judge and the County Auditor, appoint the other two Examiners.
It should be his duty, in conjunction with his colleagues, to prescribe a form by which these examinations should be conducted, and to con