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GRADED COURSE OF STUDY FOR IOWA NORMAL INSTITUTES
THE committee appointed by the State Teachers' Association to prepare a graded four years' course of study for normal institutes, met at Cedar Rapids, March 18 and 19, and prepared the annexed course, with the following suggestions:
The end in view in establishing these institutes was to remedy the defects in school work and increase the efficiency of the public school system. These defects may be grouped into the following classes:
1. Deficiency of scholarship among teachers.
SCHOLARSHIP, METHODS, AND ORGANIZATION,
are legitimately included in institute work. It is also evident that the average time given to institute work is too short to secure the desired improvement of the teachers in any of these respects. It follows, therefore, that institutes are of value, not so much for the work done in them, as for the work induced during the entire year under their guidance and control.
To secure the desired ends the following suggestions are made:
The instruction given in the institute should be determined by the defects discovered in the various institutes of the State.
It is expected that the teachers will prepare the work which they will have to take up the next year, in the accompanying course, at home, under the directions and by the suggestions of the county superintendent and institute conductors. These suggestions and directions should be so minute, in topics and references, that none need be mistaken.
All who complete any year's work and sustain a satisfactory examination on it, should receive certificates admitting them to the next year's work.
The examination, instruction, and work done, should be as nearly uniform throughout the State as is practicable.
Though the examinations required by law before the county superintendents should not be based upon the exact work done in the institute, in determining the grade of a teacher's certificate, the county superintendent should take into consideration the grade and standing of the teacher in the institute course.
County superintendents desiring full outlines in the studies named will find them in the reports of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for 1878 and 1850, copies of which will be furnished on application.
It is earnestly recommended that this course of study be supplemented by a course in general reading, including at least one book every year in each of the following subjects: History, travels, science, fiction, and didactics.
Where we have recommended elementary work, in didactics, Prof. S. N. Fellows, a member of the committee and Professor of Didactics in the State University, suggests as a valuable little book for young teachers, “ Mistakes in Teaching,” by J. L. Hughes, published by Eldredge & Brothers, Philadelphia.
Those now holding first grade certificates, and who also hold certificates of attendance at three or more former institutes, may be admitted to the third year's work, although it is desirable that they commence with a lower grade, to complete the course.
Those holding second grade certificates and who also hold certificates of attendance at three or more former sessions, together with those holding first grade certificates, but who have attended only two former sessions, may be admitted to the second year's work.
All others should commence with the first year's work.
This programme is only suggestive and may be changed to suit each particular institute.
C. W. von COELLN, Des Moines,
GRADED AND HIGH SCHOOLS. The educational advantages given to the residents of our towns and villages are limited only by the ability and willingness of the people to pay the necessary expenses. The large majority of our heavy taxpayers in cities and towns favor a good system of schools, with such a course of study as will fit rich and poor alike for any public or private career of usefulness. Many of the graduates of our high schools enter at once upon lucrative employment, while others enter the higher institutions of learning or professional schools. It has been claimed by the enemies of public schools that the training in the schools, and especially that of the high school, unfits children for the position of life which most of them must enter. If any such result is actually caused by the training obtained in our schools, it is exceptional and can usually be traced more to incorrect ideas implanted by parents than to those encouraged by teachers. The great body of our teachers believe that honest work, no matter how humble, is honorable.
That the courses of study in our schools are often not adapted to the wants of the community, that they often include studies not fitting for practical life, is undoubtedly true, and such errors should be corrected. The charge which is often made that the people who are abundantly able to pay for the higher education of their children are the ones who reap the benefit from the instruction in high schools, has been repeatedly disproved by the statistics of a large number of schools in this and in other States.
Our high schools should do one thing for the education of the masses which but few undertake to do at the present time. They should furnish normal training to all who desire to teach. I have referred to this subject in both of my former reports, and hope to see a law passed which will make the high schools of our towns of much greater use to the whole State. To accomplish this it will be necessary to authorize boards of country districts to pay for the tuition of advanced scholars in the high schools which provide for good academic instruction, and at the same time make provision for normal work. Such an arrangement could not be injurious to any one, and would provide what was intended to be afforded by county high schools, of which only a single one exists in the State.
It may be said without boasting that our country schools are on a par with those, not only of the Western States, but with most of the country schools of the Eastern States, and still we cannot doubt that these schools are not what they should be. Temporary teachers of little or no experience, with but little knowledge of methods and no surplus of literary qualifications, compelled to suit the whims of the people, who in their conservatism often frown down the attempts of new methods, are a cause of schools which lack very much of perfection. The examination of these teachers ought to be in part oral and their qualifications should be tested by a board of examiners, instead of by a single person who is often overworked at the time of examination; who is annoyed by the constant petitions, urgencies, and even threats, of incompetent teachers and their friends. Our normal institutes have given us great help in fitting teachers to some extent for. their work, but much yet remains to be done.
As above indicated, we should have boards of examiners for all our teachers, instead of an examination by the county superintendent; but we should go further. Ever since the Code of 1873 went into effect, we have had no way of granting any certificate of higher order than that of the county superintendent, valid at most for only one year. We should have a recognition of the teachers' profession. The diploma of the State Normal School or of the State University, when the didactic course as well as the academic course has been completed, should be a sufficient guarantee of scholarship and of fitness for teaching, for a number of years; and success in the school-room in addition, should be able to secure a life diploma. Examinations made by a proper board, based upon the scholastic requirements of the Normal School for graduation, should secure certificates for a number of years to others who desire to make teaching a life work. This subject has been before the legislature ever since the old board of examiners went out of existence. It may be stated here, incidentally, that, so far as I know, Iowa is the only State in which there is not some provision for more permanent certificates.
INDUSTRIAL TRAINING. The demand of a substitute for the old apprenticeship is becoming stronger and stronger, and the time will come when measures must be taken to secure skilled mechanical labor by training at home, or else we must import all such labor from foreign countries. How to secure this training is a grave question. Some of the New England