« PreviousContinue »
7. I would also offer a word of caution against discouragement in your work, or disinclination to it, on account of its comparative obscurity. It is true, the circle of your daily labours is narrow, and the results of them are remote ; there' is little variety in your employment, and the monotony of it is only varied by quarterly examinations and short vacations. It therefore requires more than ordinary patience, perseverance and benevolence to pursue your work, month after month, and year after year, with unabated zeal and energy. Yet your work is now a public profession, recognized by law, and none but a Teacher examined and licensed according to law, is permitted to receive a farthing of the public School Fund, any more than a person not examined and admitted to the Law Society, is permitted to practice as a Barrister at Law. And the results of the work performed in the humble school-house, though remote, will not be uncertain, and may one day appear in the highest position of a free people's gift, or in the most important affairs of a nation's diplomacy, or in the most honoured relations of parental and social life. The common school-house is the sole educational college for the vast majority of the present youth and future fathers and mothers of our country. That accomplished scholar and elegant writer, Dr. JARED SPARKS, President of Harvard University, traces his early training, and several years of his apprenticeship in teaching, to the common school, and the great American statesman and orator, Daniel WEBSTER, is accustomed to refer to the common school as his first alma mater, in which was laid the foundation of his future character. Through long months, and in retirement and solitude, the Italian painter occupied his brush on a single piece of canvas; but that canvas has, age after age, imparted instruction and delight to hundreds of thousands. For years did the Grecian sculptor, in almost exiled seclusion, employ his chisel on a single block of mar. ble, but that marble has survived the wreck of empires, and still commands the admiration of the refined of all countries. Let' the practical philosophy of these facts be'engraved upon the heart of every right-minded Teacher, and it will sweeten his toil, and add fresh attractions to every successive year of his increasingly skilful and efficient labours.
I remain, Sir,
(OFFICIAL.] NOTICE TO THE LOCAL SUPERINTENDENTS OF SCHOOLS,
AND THE TRUSTEES OF DISTRICT GRAMMAR SCHOOLS THOUGH-
Toronto, 8th October, 1850. By the 28th section of the School Act, 13th and 14th Victoria, chapter 48, the Board of Trustees of the Grammar Schools and the Local Superintendents of Schools in each County or Union of Counties, are constituted a Board of Public Instruction for such County, or Union of Counties; and under the authority given in the 35th section, and 4th clause of said Act, I hereby appoint the first meeting of each County Board of Public Instruction to be held on Thursday, the fourteenth day of November next, at 10 o'clock, A. M., at the place of the last meeting of the Council of such County, or Union of Counties. When once assembled, the law authorizes each County Board to appoint the times and places of its own meetings.
CIRCULAR FROM THE CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT OF
SCHOOLS TO EACH OF THE COUNTY BOARDS OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION IN UPPER CANADA. [OFFICIAL.].
.? Toronto, 8th October, 1850. GENTLEMEN:— .
! ' I transmit you herewith a copy of the Programme for the Examination and Classification of Teachers of Common Schools, which has been adopted by the Council of Public Instruction, as required by the School Act, 13th and 14th Victoria, chapter 48 ; and I think it proper, at the same time, to niake a few explanatory and practical remarks on the subject.
1. You will observe that the standard of qualifications prescribed for each class of Teachers, is extremely low ;-lower indeed, than in strict propriety it ought to be lower than it is for Common School Teachers in Ireland lower than it will doubtless be in Upper Canada in the course of three or four yesrs. The standard here laid down for first class Teachers, will probably soon be applied to second class Teachers, and that of second, applied to third class Teachers, and no persons will be admitted into the public schools as legally qualified Teachers whose qualifications will not enable them to secure a second class certificate according to the accompanying Programme. But the Council of Public Instruction has had regard to the present circumstances of the country, to the fact that this is the first step which has yet been adopted for establishing an uniform standard and system of examination of teachers throughout Upper Canada. It is painful to think, that there should be a necessity in any part of the Province, to license persons as teachers with no higher qualifications than those required of third class teachers in the accompanying Programme ; but it is hoped such a ncessity will not long exist : and every teacher of this class 'should be impressed with the consideration, that if he wishes to be recognized in future years as a legally qualified Teacher of Common Schools, he must apply himself diligently to the acquisition of higher qualifications. The profession of School-teaching can only be efficient, and influential, as the qualifications and character of its members are respectable and elevated. The accompanying Programme states the minimum of qualifications required for each class of certificates.
2. But the first, and perhaps most important duty which devolves upon you, is that which precedes an examination into the intellectual qualifications of candidates. The law expressly declares, that sono certificate of qualification shall be given to any person as
Teacher, who shall not furnish satisfactory proof of good moral character." This is a vital. point on which you are called to pass a conscientious and impartial judgment, before you admit any candidate to an examination. The law of the land thus makes you the moral guardians of the children and youth of your respective counties, as far as depends upon the moral character of their Teachers, the same as the Divine law, makes you the guardians of your own children, and you should certainly license no character to teach the former, whom you would not permit to teach the latter. Many representations have been made to this Department respecting, intemperate, and profane, and Sabbath-breaking Teachers. To what extent these representations are well founded, is not for me to say. But when so many parties have been individually authorized to license Teachers, it were not surprising if isolated individual firmness should be overcome by the importunity of a candidate in some instances, backed by requests of inconsiderate Trustees. Now, however, you meet in Council ; the candidates como before you on, common ground; you judge of the “moral character" of each by &
common rule : you are less liable to those plaintive appeals and pleas which have so often been pressed upon the feelings of individual Superintendents and Visitors. I can not but regard it as your special mission to rid the profession of common school teaching of unworthy characters and of wholly incompetent persons, to protect the youth against the poison of a vicious teacher's example, and to lay the foundation for greatly elevating the profession of school teaching, and greatly increasing the efficiency and usefulness of Common Schools. The moral character of teachers involves the deepest interests of our offspring, and the widest destinies of our country. No lax expediency or false delicacy should be permitted to endorse a person of irregular habits or doubtful morals as '&
"good moral character," and let him loose upon society, authorized . and certified as a duly qualified Teacher of its youth. I am sure
you will agree with me, that your certificate should state what you believe to be strictly true, and therefore be a guarantee to Trustees of Schools and parents of children, in regard to the moral character and intellectual qualifications of every Teacher whom you shall license.
3. As to your examination of candidates in the several subjects mentioned in the Programme, I had at first intended to have prepared some general questions on each subject, as hints both to examiners and candidates for certificates of different classes ; but on further consideration, I found it would occupy too much space, and might probably be better left to the discretion and judgment of Examiners themselves. I would only suggest, therefore, as all the candidates present at any meeting of a County Board of Examiners will probably be examined in a single class, the candidates entitled to the lower class certificates may be relieved from remaining (except as mere spectators,) at the continuation of the examination of those who are deemed competent to be examined in the subjects prescribed for the higher class certificates ; and that as the object of the examination is, to ascertain not only the nature and extent of the attainments of the candidates, but their capacity to teach others what they know themselves, the examination, in each subject of the programme, should be specially adapted to elicit this primary qualification of a good Teacher, as also his knowledge of school organization, classification, and government.
4. It only remains for me to advert to the mode of calling the first meeting of County Boards of Public Instruction, and of holding their future meetings. As the mode of calling the first meeting is left as a matter of instruction from this Department (section 35, clause 3.), I have thought it would be most convenient for the members of each County Board to meet about the middle of November, and have appoined that time accordingly. Each County Board once assembled, will ever after, according to law, appoint the times and places of its own meetings. It is submitted, whether the first meeting of each County Board of Public Instruction would examine Teachers at all; whether the members present at such meeting might not consider and determine their mode of proceeding in the admission of candidates to examination, and in the mode of examining them-assigning to one or more members the duty of conducting the examination in each branch or subject prescribed in the Programme ; and then appointing the time and place, or times and places for the examination of Teachers giving due publicity of the same. As but three members of the County Board are required to be present at any meeting for the examination and licensing of Teachers, they might at a general meeting agree to meet in sections of three or four members each at places most convenient for the examination of Teachers for different specified portions of the County-especially if it be large. As by the 15th Section of the Act, the certificates of qualification to Teachers, given by local Superintendents, are valid during the current year, the meetings and proceedings of the County Boards will have reference to 1851 and future years.
No branch of a system of public instruction has ever been brought into operation in any country, without much anxious toil; and the eficient commencement of this most important and too long neglected department of our school system, will require no inconsiderable labour and much patient and earnest purpose to promote the welfare of the rising generation. The more serious and difficult part of the task will soon be accomplished, while the results cannot fail to be extensively beneficial, alike upon the application, the aspirations and improvements of Teachers, the character of the Schools, and the progress and interests of the pupils.
I have the honor to be,