Page images
PDF
EPUB

or, at most, two grades. The increase of population and the erection of larger and more commodious buildings greatly facilitated the work of close classification. The course of study and classification then adopted have continued in force, with slight modification, ever since. The only important change is the division of the work into half-yearly, instead of yearly, steps, thus doubling the number of grades, and necessitating the transfer of pupils from grade to grade twice a year instead of once.

It is but justice to say that the influence of Mr. Rickoff's work in the reorganization of the Cleveland schools, say nothing of method's of instruction, has been very widely felt. Certainly no other agency has, in the same time, been so efficient in shaping the school systems of the cities and towns of Ohio, and it is probable the same might be said of the country at large.

The excellence of the Cleveland system, as a system, must be admitted. It is almost perfect in mechanism. The course of study is divided and subdivided, a definite time is allotted to each part and to the whole, and the grades or divisions of the pupils are nicely adjusted to the subdivisions of the course. There is almost the uniformity and precision of a great machine. Just here is one of the main points of objection to the system on the part of many intelligent citizens. Its perfection as a machine, is, in their estimation, its chief defect as a means of sound education. Among the children to be educated we find, not uniformity, but great diversity--diversity of mental capacity, of physical endurance, of past opportunity, and of present home surroundings. There is also diversity of skill and power among teachers. Such diversity of conditions interferes with the perfect action of the machine. The material and the product are of such a character as to require hand-work, so to speak, rather than machine-work.

We suppose the change of administration in Cleveland, something more than a year ago, was in some measure the result of a reaction against what was believed by many to be an undue tendency to uniformity and rigidity in the man. agement of the schools; and there has been a general expectation that the present administration would show some results in the direction of simplifying the system, and rendering it more flexible and more fully adapted to the individual needs. Considerable effort has been put forth in this direction, but we cannot yet speak confidently of definite results. We are not sure that any very radical change of this kind is possible, without impairing the efficiency of the system. The only hope we see lies in the direction of the improvement of the teachers. Only in proportion to the increase of skill and conscience in the teachers can the gearing of the machine be relaxed without loss, as it seems to us. Just here is the point toward which the great effort of school supervision should be directed. Good teachers will make good schools under almost any circumstances, and without them nothing else will, under the most favorable conditions.

We note some changes which have taken place under the present regime.

1. The study of drawing has been dropped from the course for the primary and grammar grades. (It is continued as an optional study in the high schools.) This, we understand, was done by the Board of Education, the superintendent not seeking to influence the decision in any way. We look upon this as a step backward.

2. Special teachers of reading, gymnastics, and drawing have been dispensed with.

3. Mental arithmetic, as a separate study, has been introduced into the primary and grammar grades, text-books being used. The superintendent speaks of this as "separate,” yet flowing into the arithmetic.

4. Written arithmetic has been introduced into the fourth grade (A Primary), a text-book (Ray's Practical) being used. The aim is to base the work in arithmetic more upon the text-book and less upon oral instruction.

5. Greater stress is laid upon practical language and composition work, in the grades below the high school.

6. The English course for the high schools has undergone some modification with special reference to those pupils who withdraw after one or two years. Botany, astronomy and geology have been stricken out, physical geography and civil government have been placed in the first year, and history in the last. The practice, which has prevailed for several years, of carrying along a large number of studies simultaneously, giving to some but one or two recitations per week. has been modified. There is more concentration and less attenuation.

The superintendent says he has made special effort to divest the work of the teachers of machine features and to make it free, independent and fruitful. To bring himself into closer relation with the teachers, he has published, for distribution among them, a series of "School Bulletins,"containing discussions of methods of instruction, directions to teachers, etc. Several of these "Bulletins'' have contained lists of questions, intended to serve the double purpose of conveying to the teachers the superintendent's estimate of the work that should be done in the various branches, and furnishing materials from which the teachers might select questions for the inid-term examinations. These examinations, as we understand, are not made the basis of promotion, but are merely tests of progress.

Sufficient time has not elapsed, even if the extent of our observations had been sufficient, to warrant definite conclusions in regard to the effect of these changes. If we were to express the opinion half-formed in our mind, we would say that the old machine still runs, with some slight changes in some of the bearings.

We saw excellent work in many of the schools. The work done by N. Coe Stewart in music could scarcely be surpassed. His skillful handling of classes, his enthusiasm, and his superior methods of teaching are excellent models for teachers in every department. As a model of good teaching, say nothing of the work accomplished in his special department, he is worth many times his salary to the Cleveland schools. We heard an excellent recitation in political economy, conducted by Principal Campbell, of the Central High School. We were particularly pleased with a lesson in reading given by Miss Cowley, of the Outhwaite School, to a first-year class. But we must leave the methods of instruction and other features, for some future time.

Here is one of Rousseau's wild shots: "Let a child do nothing merely because he is bid; nothing is good for him which he cannot perceive to be so. He had better learn nothing, than learn upon compulsion.”

QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR READING CIRC'LES.

HLAILMAN, VII; QUICK, V. In studying Rousseau, tie student will need to exercise a good deal of discrimination. The good wheat must be sifted from the worthless chaff; that which is true and cool must be distinguished from that which is false and pernicious. The true aui the false are so skillfully interwoven as to make his writiny, dangerous to the undiscriminating reader. He is characterized by a recent writer as "immeasurably vain, selfish, changeful and ungrateful--easily provoked, always suspicious, and morbidly misanthropic. As a reformer, his merit consists in having opposed to the godless humanism of his day the crying needs of the human heart; but he identifier the empirical sinful heart with the ideal heart, individual participation in nature with personal conformity to nature, the beautiful soul with the moral spirit, the utilitarian with the practical, declamation with confession, and he therefore remained involved in contradictions to the end. In contrast with Calvin, he brought out the ideas of individual rights and of the personal dignity of man--elements of Christian truth often violated by Calvin; but he nevertheless gave his ideal state power over the religious worship and profession of its subjeets. Compared with Voltaire, the sardonic mocker of all existing things, Rousseau commands respect by the fraukness and manliness of his protests, even when they are directed against holy things. lle was incapable of comprehending the syntheses, nature and culture, liberty and authority, individuality and society, reason and revelation, the human and the divine. In its pedagogical aspects, his work compares with that of Pestalozzi a does the dawn with the noon-day sun. In politics, he points forward to both Mirabeau and Saint-Simon ; and in philosophy, as a preacher of Deism, he may be compared with Kant. For both good and evil, Rousseau was a mighty exponent of the spirit of his time, and deserves, in justice, to be studied from both points of view.”'

He was a visionary theorist, a deist and a libertine-a very unsafe guide. 1. The time of Rousst au. 2. Where was unst of his life spent ? 3. llis early education, 4. The tendency of the thought of his time. 5. The humanists and realists-points of agreement and points of differ

ence.

6. The principal writings of Rousseau.

7. His most important educational work. When did it first appear? (We have a London edition, in four volumes, printed in 1763.)

8. Describe the characters Einile and Sophiu.

9. Principles laid down by Rousseau concerning human nature. What important element in human nature does he ignore ?

10. Distinction made between the education of boys and that of girls. 11. What stages in a child's development are recognized ?

12. the education of nature, of man, and of circumstances. What is included in each ?

13. Stress laid upon the study of child-nature.
14. Position in regard to educating for a particular vocation.

15. Negative character of early education. What is to be said of this? Is it at all practicable? Does it suggest any modification of present practice ?

16. Three-fold character of the teacher's function. 17. The extent and means of control.

18. Principles of intellectual culture laid down. State them clearly and enlarge upon them.

19. Views on physical training. Vanual and industrial education.
20. Moral and religious culture.
21. Things in Rousseau's system to be commended and adopted.
22. Things to be condemned and avoided.

AULD LANG-SYNE. This extract from a letter received recently is printed, in the hope that the older brethren who are not in their graves" may take the hint and let their names be seen on these pages. Edwards, and Lord, and Andrews, and Garfield, and Henkle, and many others, have joined the innumerable company on the other side. Cowdery, and Kingsley, and Hurty, and White, and Rickoff, and Ormsby, and Freese, and Royce, and Smyth, and Harvey, and many more, have either put off the armor, or have joined some other branch of the service. Very few cotemporaries of these veterans are still in the ranks:

Permit me to express for you a warm personal friendship, and for the Monthly and its readers, whom you may meet socially and in institutes, and at association meetings, especially those with whom I was acquainted, my most hearty good wishes.

"Those with whom I was acquainted," did I say? Alas ! how few are left! Where are they? Surely they are not in their graves ! nor the half of them. But I see their names no more on your pages. I think I could count on the tiugers of one hand the names of such, that you placed on the pages of your December number; and yet the time was, when, at the annual meetings of the State Association, as I sat year after year at the table of the Treasurer, I could save the Presidents of the Association the necessity of asking the name of one who might rise to speak, with exceptions few and far between. Yours in sincere friendship,

Chas. S. ROYCE. Spring Mountain Sanitarium, Schwenksville, Montgomery Co., Pa., Dec. 11, 1893.

a

SELF-IMPROVEMENT. Miss E-Gasks us to tell her, through the Monthly, "the best means which a teacher may use to improve herself in her profession.”

The larger, stronger, and purer one is, in mind and heart, the better she is fitted for the work of teaching. Whatever tends to enlarge, strengthen and purify the teacher will be to her a means of professional improvement. This opens a field in which thought might take very wide range. We shall confine ours to a few leading points.

1. Seek to know your true relationship to God, and freely and fully acknowledge that relationship. This is fundamental. There is no true character, there is no right living without it. This relationship understood and acknowledged, look continually to God for wisdom, purity, faith and love.

2. Learn obedience-obedience to every law of your being. Bring self into complete subjection.

3. Keep mind and heart open to every good influence. Retain the Spirit of God in your heart. Seek the company of good people. Visit good schools. Attend teachers' institutes. Read the best educational journals. Keep your mind occupied with high thinking, and crowd out all unworthy thoughts.

4. Be thoroughly in earnest. Do your best every day.

5. Spend no time in brooding over your own short-comings. When you have done wrong confess it heartily to yourself and God, and to others whom it may concern-even to your pupils, and go bravely on.

6. Be a systematic and persistent student. Study most in the direction of your greatest felt need. Study nature. Study books, especially the Bible. Study human nature, especially child-nature. We need to study children far more than we do, and we need ourselves to be child-like in simplicity and teachableness. It is Rousseau that says we are not sufficiently acquainted with childhood. “Even the most sagacious instructors apply themselves to those things which man is required to know, without considering what it is children are capacitated to learn. They are always expecting the man in the child, without reflecting what he is before he can be a man." The greatest teachers have ever been profound students of child-nature.

Does E. G. think we have set for her a large task? We know no other way.

SMOKING TEACHERS.

A college president sends us the following:

"A young lady, a pupil in one of the city high schools of Ohio, writes, 'I do not like our new principal nearly as well as I did the former one. He smokes cigarettes so much that he is scented all the time, which is very unpleasant, I think. Without taking any fanatical view, in consideration of the extent of tobacco-smoking among the youth of our cities, and its pernicious physical and mental effects as exposed by medical authorities, and the grave moral objections to it, and the acknowledged power of a teacher's example, is it right to employ such a man in one ot the most responsible educational positions in the State unless the supply of capable temperance men is exhausted ?"'

It has long been a matter of grief to us that some of our most valued friends among Ohio teachers are great smokers. We have difficulty in reconciling their practice in this respect with their well-known excellence of character and good sense in other respects. It is no uncommon thing for great and good men to betray, at times, weakness in some direction, but to be in perpetual bondage to this habit seems to us like submission to a very small and very

We feel the more deeply on this subject, because the example of some teachers and clergymen, and other good people, has so often come in the way of our efforts against the tobacco habit, in our own family and in our school work.

We once heard a member of a city board of education give as a reason for not voting for a certain candidate for school superintendent, that he smoked. The candidate had eminent qualifications for the position, but this member gave preference to a man who was free from the stains and fumes of tobacco.

mean master.

« PreviousContinue »