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TO THE EDITORS OF THE JOURNAL OF EDUCATION.
Knowing that you gladly receive accounts of the Public Schools throughout the State, I propose giving you a short sketch of the one under any charge—the difficulties under which we labor—the progress we have made—and the absolute necessity which exists here of greater school privileges than we are at present favored with.
There are in the district 239 persons between the ages of four and twenty. Of this number, 145 have attended school during the year—the greatest number on the list at any one time was 108. As I had no assistant, you may readily form some idea of what the school must have been.
The school-house, though commodious, was very poorly heated during the winter, and for days we shivered with the cold. An orifice through the wall gives egress to the stove pipe, and being twice too large, gives ingress also to any quantity of pure air; so that in one respect our schoolroom is a model one-it is very well ventilated indeed.
During the first quarter, the outside door was the only door ; but at its alose, in January, 1857, a hall was added which improved the convenience and warmth of the room very much. I fear you will not be very favorably impressed with the picture I have drawn of our school-room ; but let mo add that we are to have a new stove this winter, which will, I trust, with the improvements we intend making, render it quite comfortable.
And now to the scholars.—They are very irregular in their attendance, and very tardy when they do attend. There are bright exceptions of courso —but this is the rule. The fact is the people are very indifferent in regard to the welfare of their children, and consequently pay but little attention to the condition of the schools. I know it would be much pleasanter to report the opposite, but I report the truth. There are individual instances in which this rule does not hold good; but I am speaking of the majority of the people. I am fully aware that very many consider the teacher wholly at fault, where such apathy in regard to the public schools exist, and I am very willing to acknowledge, that with proper exertions, I might have accomplished more towards arousing the minds of the people in regard to the subject; and yet I must say, in self defence, that I have written, exhorted, remonstrated—to some purpose, it is true-but not with such success as I had wished for.
And here permit me to say, that notwithstanding the exertions made by the people of Wisconsin to furnish a liberal education to the masses, there are many, far too many, growing up in ignorance within her boi ders. In the “mining region," especially, too little exertion is made, and too little success achieved. There are many excellent teachers here, many who aro well prepared to do battle in the holy cause; but it is nevertheless a fact, that they are seriously crippled in their exertions by the non co-operation of the community at large. This must not be--these obstacles must be overcome.
If we would live, thrive and fourish, a prosperous, happy people; if we wish that the youth of both sexes should grow up prepared to enter upon the active and arduous duties of life; if we desire that they should catch the true spirit of the age, and become ornaments to society, and honored citizens of the Republic,—we must increase the means by which they may acquire a proper education, and see that those means are well applied. Yours,
W. C. A. LINDEN, Wis., Nov. 1857.
Prom the Pennsylvania School Journal.
THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A TEACHER.
The teacher should be thoroughly educated, and in no part more particularly and studiously so, than in the first principles, the rudiments of that which he assumes to teach. What! attempt to teach others in that wherein he limself is uninstructed ? Most absurd! An error here, and it is a common one, can never be sufficiently deplored, for the result is often never corrected. He should have a thorough acquaintance with every branch of learning required,--not only with the arbitrary rules laid down in books (these any parrot may be taught to con over) but with the principles they express, and be able by familiarity with them, to convey them in language and by illustrations of his own, to the mind's eye of those he teaches. A teacher being able to do this, will accomplish results which will surprise the mere automaton, book instructor.
While he instructs in these, he must be careful never to violate them himself in the presence of his pupils, but be in the habit of correctly ex. pressing thought. A teacher using ungrammatical expressions, should bo as much a lusus naturae at least, as a "white black bird.”
He should have a thorough knowledge of character. This is difficult but it should be acquired. Herein lies a secret spring of success in school government. An illustration of this position may be found in the fact, that often the character of a child seems to be totally changed by a change of teachers. No one abitrary mode of government can be adapted to different natures. He must study the character and disposition of his different pupils, as he would the different branches he teaches, and must with judg. ment and care, apply that knowledge to the proper government of his school. The will of the pupil should be made, promptly and implicitly, to yield to the will of the instructor; but the means by which this is to be accomplished, may in different cases, necessarily be widely different. In one case, the judgment may have to be convinced ; in another, the heart is to be reached, and with far happier results than will follow the peremptory enforcement of command. With such, the work once done is always done. Again, in many cases, peremptory measures are indispensable.
He should have a full appreciation of the command, “Know thyself.” Without this knowledge in an eminent degree, and without thorough selfgovernment, he may as well relinquish his work, for he cannot succeed.“How can he govern others, who has not learned to govern himself ?” A teacher with a teinper that he is unconscious of, or that he cannot or does not control--with feelings which scorn the trammels of a sound, patient judgment--with an obtuse sense of justice and a dull perception of right and
wrong, has mistaken his calling; he could not have made a more mischievous selection of a profession.
A teacher of youth should never open his lips in anger; never speak but in the calm words and firm tones of self-possession; a scolding, berating, threatening tongue, wins naught from the pupil but disrespect and hatred for the head and heart, which are its companions. Let a teacher but once grow pale with rage, and his sway, except it be of servile fear, is at an end. Promises of punishment are better never made, but if made, should never be broken. Let either a parent or a teacher, threaten with punishment he fails to inflict, and if the child or pupil does not apply the epithet “liar" to him in words, it is not that he does not think it, and he thinks rightly ; and his conduct in disregarding the threat thereafter, shows that he acts upon his belief. Children rarely fail to form just conclusions.
For the Journal of Education.
LIT T L E
MY LITTLE FRIENDS :-I have looked through the Journal to find something for you, but not finding anything, I thought I would write you a little letter. All you girls and boys who go to school every day in good season, who study hard in study hours, and play hard at recess, and after school at noon and night; who never get angry with each other, but are always kind and happy; you are the ones I am writing to. Those boys and girls who are always late, idle and cross, and those who play truant, I do not wish to write to, for I know they can not read well enough to understand it. By the way, I must tell you about one afternoon when I played truant. I was about eight years old. It was a beautiful day. I had not been very attentive to my books, and I thought it would be such a nice thing to play truant as some other boys did. After dinner, instead of going to school, I went under a bridge, where I thought I would stay till all had gone to school and then I would go and play. How long do you suppose I staid there? I staid there till one o'clock, two, three, four o'clock. I did not dare to move for fear I should be found out and punished. So I
remained under the bridge till the boys came home from school. That afternoon was as long to me as a week in school. That was the first and last time I played truant. I felt so ashamed of myself, that it was a long time before I could play with the other boys at all. Nothing would, after that, induce me to play truant. This took place more than twenty-five years ago, but I can remember exactly how I felt, how dismal the place was where I spent those three long hours. If you wish to be happy, never play truant. More at another time.
ONE WHO LOVES LITTLE FOLKS.
A MARKED feature of American character, a peculiarity noticed and commented on by every intelligent foreigner who visits our shores, is a love of change, a desire for something new.
This element is a source of good or of evil, according to the direction of the effort which it induces or stimulates. When it results in the discovery of new principles in science or art, or the invention of labor-saving machines; when it produces lightning-rods or telegraphs, reapers and threshors, sewing and washing machines; when it breaks the shackles of conservatism, bigotry and habit, inducing a love for progress and independent thought, it is a blessed influence which we cannot value too highly, which we do not appreciate until, by contrast with the state of stagnation and darkness existing in communities in which it does not bear sway, we are taught its importance as an efficient agent in promoting that kind of healthful agitation so essential to mental vigor and moral development.
When it leads us to scrutinize theories and systems, plans and operations with the desire and intention of adopting better ones; when it impels us to discard ancient and time-honored customs and observances because they are unsuited to the conditions of the present, we realize in it something beneficial and worthy of consideration as an element of individual and social renovation.
On the other hand, we see some of the evils which it causes in the fickleness and instability of purpose manifested by our people as a body. So deeply has it entered into and permeated the popular thought, that secondary and collateral considerations are made to take the place of cardinal principles.
The intensity of the desire to secure an object blinds us to the perception of the rignt means to be used in order to succeed.
We act as though the possession of the power to do a thing implied the hligation to do it. Tois is clearly manifested in the frequent change of
officers in the various departments of natinnal, State and municipal government. From the president of the United States down to a town constable, 50 soon as a person becomes accustomed to the duties of his office and capable of performing them with accuracy and promptness, he is removed to make room for another who is ignorant of the routine of duties and destitute of the peculiar qualifications resulting from practice and experience.
But it is not in the frequent removal of ministerial or executive officers that society experiences the most disastrous results flowing from this love of change. The loss in these instances is principally one of dollars and cents, one which an enterprising growing people least feel, and which, though none the less a loss, does not materially affect the vital forces, the springs of thought and action which form and mould the real character and life of a nation.
But when this fickleness and instability of purpose manifests itself in a frequent change of teachers in our common schools, we utter our protest against it as a great evil which, if not abated, will eat out the little vitality inherent in the system, and make it a thing of forms and shows instead of a living, expanding, healthy organism, a means of personal development and national preservation.
There are nearly four thousand school districts in this State, three thousand of which probably have employed or will employ one teacher each the present winter. In how many of these districts will the same teacher who taught last winter be again employed ? In one-fifth ? No, not in one-tenth of them. It is a liberal estimate to allow three hundred districts the same instructor they had last term or last winter. What is the reason of this almost universal change of teachers ? If you question the people or the officers of a district, they will tell you it is to secure better qualified persons to take charge of their schools.
This would be a good reason for a change if the result sought to be secured were accomplished by it. But it is not, and cannot be, because the number of teachers remains about the same, increasing but slowly from year to year, so that we cannot with certainty conclude that there are more than two hundred teachers added to the list this winter. Supposing (wbich is far from being the case,) that these two hundred teachers are all of them superior to those hitherto employed, they can supply but two hundred districts, and the remainder of the three thousand must simply exchange teachers, by which process a few localities may possibly be benefited, while the condition of things, considering the whole State, remains as before.
Now that we have shown that better teachers are not secured by this system of changing from year to year and from term to term, let us look at the evils resulting from this ill-advised practice.
In the first place, it prevents the adoption in common schools of any definite system of instruction or management. What is commenced by one teacher is overthrown by his successor, whose system (if he has any) receives the same treatment from the next incumbent and so on indefinitely.
Provided that each succeeding teacher were superior in discipline and