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A child is educated by everything with which it comes in contact. Every circumstance of early life, the home, the neighborhood, the games and the tasks, all have their influence. But greater than any of these is the influence of human beings, the children who are playmates, the men and women, the brothers and sisters, the father and the mother. The mother affects the education of a child more than all the combined material circumstances of life. A human soul can Dot be truly educated by any instrument less noble than itself. Only by a diamond can a diamond be polished.
The work of a school is helped very much by proper material surroundings, grounds for physical exercise, houses well arranged and furnished. Pictures on the walls cultivate the taste. Music helps to soften the manners. Maps and apparatus and text-books facilitate the acquisition of knowledge. It may be, as the Alexandrian schoolmaster said, there is no royal road to science, yet these material aids serve to make a good turnpike of the public highway. But all of these combined are as nothing to the value of a teacher. With no books, no apparatus, and no furniture, Pestalozzi could do good work. His very necessities led to the invention of new motives, which made education a science. A skillful teacher does good work with no material aids; an unskillful teacher does poor work with the best. No other instrument of education is so important as the master.
Much deserved attention has been given to courses of study, and there has been great discussion as to what mental food is better calculated to strengthen this or that mental faculty. Here, also, the overpowering influence of the master is apparent,---for whether the subject be botany, or an ancient classic, or pure geometry, he may cultivate elegance of expression with vigor of thought, and lead the pupil by either path to love science and to strive for scholarship.
Once all education was in the hands of the church. Experience has shown that ecclesiastical organizations are not necessarily inspired with ability to conduct schools. Many of the best schools are under their control and are wisely managed, but this is not due to any peculiar virtue in the organization. Learned men, inspired with love and skilled in the art of teaching, make the school.
At the present day the state is everywhere assuming control of the business of education. This will meet with assent as long as good schools are made ; that is, as long as the best teachers are employed. It will fail and be condemned whenever teachers are employed because they are of a certain party in politics, or of a certain denomination in religion, or whenever they are appointed on any other ground than the best education of the children.
All employees of the state must either be elected by the people, or appointed by other officers. Popular election is proper for those who are to represent in some way the sovereign power, either as legislators, or as principal executive officers. Appointment is the proper way for those who are to exercise some particular professional skill, Reason and experience teach us that the people can not exercise a wise discrimination in the election of such officers, particularly at the same time that the chief executive or legislators are chosen.
This principle applies to all school officers, whether they be superintendents, examiners, or teachers. Their work is skilled labor. The skill and knowledge required can be obtained only by education and training. The higher officers, the superintendents and the examiners, may be selected on the ground of established reputation. In practice, superintendents for county and State are usually elected, but superintendents for towns and cities are appointed by boards of education. I believe that experience is in favor of appointment,—those superintendents who have been appointed by boards of education or other responsible officers have done better work than those who have been elected by the people. Of course, the rule has exceptions. Teachers are universally appointed by a board or committee, and there is at least a pretense of examination. As the necessity of such examination is conceded, I shall proceed to speak of,-1. Who should be examiners of teachers; 2. The object; and, 3. The method of such examinations. *
The examiner ought to be separate from the committee or board that appoints the teacher; for it is not to be expected that a board of education will be composed of experienced teachers, and certainly none others are qualified to examine candidates for admission to their profession. Nothing that teachers have to do requires so much skill as conducting an examination. The ordinary, well-educated man, without experience in such work, is rarely able to make a fair measure of a candidate's knowledge of arithmetic; much less is he able to determine the candidate's skill in teaching the elementary branches. Even if members of the school committee were usually competent to examine teachers, the power should be in other hands. The party that employs the teacher, that makes the bargain as to salary, if he is also the examiner, is very apt to make the bargain first and the examination afterward. If the bargain suits the employer, the examination is apt to suit the examiner. Within my own observation, this has been the process, and I doubt not many have observed the same thing, it is so natural. The examiner should not only be separate from, but independent of, the board that employs the teacher. Any contract for the employment of a teacher who has not already been examined and passed, ought to be simply void. It is so ordered in some States, but this wise law may be easily evaded when the examiner is himself the employer or the employer's committee.
In all the States west or south of New York examiners are appointed for the county, and not for smaller divisions of 'territory; but in eight or nine States examiners may be appointed for a city or town or independent school district. In twenty-one States the county is the smallest district for examining purposes. In all the New England States the examiners are town officers, and (except in Vermont) they appear to be members of the town school committee. The geographical limit of this custom is marked. I wish we could have the results of observation made by competent persons, on this question of the size of a district for purposes of examination.. My own experience is limited to the State of Ohio, where we have all kinds of districts. I have served as a city school-examiner in the largest city of the State, again as a State school-examiner, and again as a county school-examiner ; also I have
* For the facts as to the laws of the several States for the examination and licensing of teachers, I am in debt to the circular recently published by the United States Commissioner of Education,