Page images
PDF
EPUB

TEACHER'S CHARACTERISTICS. An interesting paper, lately read before the United Association of Schoolmasters of Great Britain, contains the following generalizations :

1. Teachers of limited capacity, or whose command of language is limited, invariably teach best with text books, or by the individual system of instruction,

2. Men of fervid imagination, having great command of language and enthusiasm of character, almost invariably become superior teachers.

3. Decision of character almost invariably forms an element in the qualifications of a superior teacher.

4. Men who are deficient in general knowledge and enthusiasm of character, are generally bad teachers, even though they may possess great technical acquirements.

5. An earnest man, imbued with the love of children, is rarely a bad teacher.

6. The love of teaching is generally associated with the capacity for it, but the converse does not generally hold true.

7. A man of superior teaching powers teaches well by the national method. But he will always teach best by that method which is suited to his peculiar capabilities.

8. Men generally teach badly when they attempt to teach too much, or when they do not duly prepare their lessons.

9. Presence of mind and that self-confidence which is based on selfknowledge, are essential elements in a good teacher's character.

10. Success in teaching is more dependent upon the capabilities of the master for teaching than upon his technical acquirements. Teaching power is not always associated with superior talents or acquirements.

[For the Journal of Education.] OUR SOHOOL SYSTEM.

MR. EDITOR:— I am glad that you have called attention to the subject of schɔols for the training of teachers, and I hope that you will continue to agitate the matter until the people shall demand that a portion of the public funds be appropriated to that object.

By the regulations of the board of regents appointed under the provisions of the act passed by the legislature last winter, entitled, "An act for the encouragement of academies and normal schools," a normal department is established in every college and academy in the State, which shall comply with the rules adopted by the regents in reference to such normal department, but no provision is made for a separate institution, the object of which shall be the training of teachers for our common schools.

I have been told that it was proposed to amend the act by providing for the immediate establishment of a central normal school, but I learn that there is no prospect of any such change being made by the present legislature, but on the contrary that increased facilities will be afforded for the distribution of a large share of the public funds to colleges and academies under the pretence of educating teachers for our commom schools.

Now, sir, I protest against this disposition of the people's money for various reasons, which I shall proceed to give.

In the first place I am opposed to the endowment by the State of any institution which does not belong to the school system of the State. If colleges and academies are necessary to the perfection of that system, and the proper education of onr children, let the State provide at once for their incorporation into it, and under proper regulations, dispense to them a fair porportion of the school fund. Let us have a system of graded schools, which commencing with the primary or infant school and ending with the University, shall embrace all departments necessary to the education of every child in the State, and then our legislation will not present the anomaly of supporting systems, different in their nature and conflicting in their operation,

In the second place, we can rely upon colleges and academies to furnish but a small proportion of the number of teachers that we need in our common schools, from the fact that a majority of the pupils in attendance at such institutions never intend to teach, many of them being by their wealth and position, above the dradgery of teaching, while others are preparing to study law, medicine or theology, and if they teach at all, do it simply to procure funds to finish their studies, thus making it a stepping stone to a more lucrative, or (in their estimation,) a more honorable

pro fession.

In the third place, I do not believe that a normal department attached to a college or academy, is the proper agency for training teachers, the course of study, system, and discipline, being altogether different from that which ought to obtain in our common schools. A teacher may be quite successful as a teacher in an academy or as a professor in a college and yet fail entirely if he were to take charge of a public school, or attempt to teach teachers.

In the fourth place, the provisions of the law and the regulations of the regents, are not of such a character as to inspire confidence in the efficiency of the departments established under it. Though a full four years course of study has been adopted, still the institutions receiving the benefits of the fund may draw pro rata for any pupil who shall have attended the normal department for the space of three months, and nothing in the act or the regulations of the board, makes it obligatory upon the pupils attending, to engage in teaching for any specified time, after leaving said institutions. When we examine further, and find that “pupils may be admitted to this normal department who shall have attained the age of fourteen years, and shall pass a satisfactory examination in elementary sounds, reading, spelling, intellectual arithmetic, written arithmetic as far as per centage, geography and pennamship; and that no provision has been made for free scholarships, but that on the contrary, those institutions receiving aid from the State are permitted to charge such prices as they please for tuition in the said normal departments, we have good grounds for claiming that the act aforesaid should be entitled "an act to appropriate public moneys to the support of private enterprises."

That we need "separate and distinct institutions for the training of teachers,” is now so generally acknowledged by all distinguished educators connected with the public school system, that I did not expect Wisconsin to adopt a plan of operation, which experience has shown to be a failure so far as providing teachers for the common school is concerned.

The Hon. A. O. Barry, late Superintendent of Public Instruction, in his last report, says:

“Proper and thorough instruction in the theory and practice of the teacher's profession, can only be furnished by the NORMAL SCHOOL.

I regard the action of the last legislature on this subject, in part at least, as premature and ill-advised; and the entire plan as impracticable, and destined of course to fail. Without wishing to disparage in the smallest degree the claims of our colleges and academies, or to call in question their usefulness, I unhesitatingly assert that it is utterly impossible for them to furnish the normal instruction required, even though the entire income of the School Fund were to be distributed among them. The experiment has been fairly and faithfully tried, and failed most signally and disastrously, as shown by Mr. Mann's statement, copied into my last report. New York expended $301,716 00 upon her academies to enable them, if possible, to supply the deficiency of well-qualified teachers; and yet with all this aid in tho establishment and maintenance of Teachers' Departments, they failed in accomplishing the object sought. It would be worse than useless, therefore, to repeat the experiment in Wisconsin. We can hardly afford to be taught, by the same sad experience, the insufficiency of a like scheme. We may save time, money, and the vexation and shame consequent upon defeat, by proceeding at once to the establishment of a State Normal School on a wise and liberal basis. Never shall we need such an institution more than we do at the present time.”

The Hon. H. H. Van Dyck, Superintendent of Public Instruction in New York, in his last report, says: "It may not be inappropriate to suggest my own conviction that the $18,000 now annually appropriated to teachers' departments in academies, renders, in the present mode of its

application, a very inadequate return in the benefits resulting from the expenditure. With here and there an honorable exceptiou, it can, in my judgment, be regarded in no more favorable aspect than as a bonus to the institutions selected as its recipients; whilst the benefits inuring to the common schools, are 80 remote as to be scarcely appreciable."

Cyrus Pierce, the principal of the first normal school established in the United States, in a letter to Hon. Henry Barnard, written in 1851, says: “Teachers cannot be prepared for their work anywhere else, so well as in seminaries exclusively devoted to this object. The art of teaching must be made the great, the paramount, the only concern. It must not come in as subservient to, or merely collateral with anything else whatever."

I quote the following from a report on normal schools made to the Ohio State Teachers Association, by a committee appointed for that purpose. “No State in the Union having a normal school in active operation, can be induced to dispense with this most .powerful wheel in her educational machinery. It is an indispensable feature. No system can lay any claims to perfection without it or its equivalent.”

Ex-Governor Boutwell—now acting Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education-in an address before the citizens of Culambus, said, "No system of education can succeed without provision for the education of teachers; and in no way can this be so effectually accomplished as by a system of normal schools. They are to the profession of teaching, what the medical college, the law school, and the theological seminary are to these several professions, and indeed they seem to be even more necessary, if we estimate the real value of the teacher's duties, and his evident want of knowledge and skill in his profession. The normal sshool should become the grand regulating conservative element, to give character and efficiency to all the subordinate departments and powers concerned in the whole machinery."

These are the views entertained by experienced educators who have made the school systems of the world a life-study, and whose opinions, sustained as they are by stubborn facts, challenge the consideration of those who have the power to give efficiency to the agencies establisbed for the education of our children.

To provide suitable teachers for our schools is the work of time, and whether the public funds be distributed to colleges and academies, or devoted to the support of separate normal schools, we need immediate aid to sustain teachers institutes in every county of the State, as it is manifest that a majority of the teachers at present employed in our schools will not be benefited by either of the agencies above mentioned. Many of them are not conscious of their deficiencies, and will not avail themselves of the advantages furnished, unless they are brought into immediate contact with them, and forced by the pressure of public opinion to stand aside or fit themselves for their work.

The simplest and most efficient agency would be a system of county, or district superintendents, who, paid for their services, should have the charge of the schools in their districts and devote their whole time to the performance of their duties, which should comprise, visiting schools, examining teachers, holding institutes and collecting statistics bearing on the condition and progress of the schools.

If we cannot have county superintendents, the legislature should im. mediately appropriate $100 annually to every couuty which suould sustain a teachers' institute, for not less than ten working days, at which there should be present not less that thirty teachers. In this way our teachers and schools would be immediately benefited, and in the mean time other and broader agencies might be set in operation which should complete what the institutes would begin and secure a better education for future generations than the present is able to obtain.

H, S. P.

SCHOOL-ROOM APPARATUS. In previous articles I have touched briefly upon some of the elements of value in a good School-House, its pecuniary, intellectual, social, and moral advantages. All has been said upon the assumption that the furnishing of the school -room, its apparatus, and, above all, its teacher be such as to correspond with the room itself. Where a spirit of true liberality and devotion to the interests of education, prompt to the erection of an appropriate school edifice, there generally will be found the living teacher, with good tools at his command. Still there are exceptions to this general rule. An elegant mechanic's shop will not insure a good job of work, if the tools be poor, and the mechanic a botch. There must be a good compass and a skillful pilot, or the most costly vessel is liable to wreck.

Set a carpenter at work to build you a house, if you will, without tools, or place before the sculptor a block of rough marble, and demand of him a perfect statue without a chisel or a mallet, but expect not of the teacher the erection of an intellectual edifice, or the chiseling of an immortal statue without appropriate tools. Text books of the right stamp are absolutely essential. It is the duty of every school officer to see to it that such, and only such, are placed in the hands of the pupil. The right kind of tools of this description demands uniformity.

Next in importance is a suitable apparatus to illustrate the principles involved in the books used. This involves an expense commensurate with the advance of the pupil, and yet the ingenuity of the teacher may devise many temporary expedients. Anatomical charts, terrestrial and celestial globes, and a good set of outline maps, should be found in every school

room.

Tools of discipline and government are very various. Each teacher

« PreviousContinue »