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thoroughly posted in the elements of the sciences, it is not expected that there would be no mistakes made in their efforts to give culture to the senses. A knowledge of a subject is one thing, to present it correctly is another. If we ever secure systematic and rational object teaching, we must first pass through the age of experiment. "In every department of human affairs," says John Stuart Mill, "practice long precedes science."
But there are objections to enlarging the curriculum of the common schools. The principal one is: "We haven't the time to teach these things." Haven't the time! Haven't the time! Have'nt the time to study objects, the ideas, of which words are mere symbols, but must devote all the time to the mere study of words only! To me this seems very strange. All the branches of education belonging to the common school curriculum, or any other curriculum, have their origin in the different phases presented by nature; and, if we have time to study nature second hand, we ought to find time to study a little of it first hand.
As long as teachers consider it a religious duty to try to teach the science of language, and not language, to impart knowledge on all the subjects and puzzles in arithmetic, instead of teaching only that which is used in the business transactions of life, as long as they continue to teach the ten thousand details in geography that they themselves have forgotten-in short, as long as teachers persist in feeding their pupils on a great deal of chaff and very little grain, it is true there will not be much time for object teaching. But when they realize that the common school is not the place for the study of the science of language; that language can be taught and well taught in connection with other branches; that language, spelling and penmanship can be taught in connection with object lessons; when they confine their efforts in teaching spelling to the child's vocabulary, when they expunge two-thirds of the matter in the arithmetics and geographies, they may then find time for the study of objects. In support of these views, I cannot do better than to quote the opinion of the following eminent teachers and thinkers:
"Instruction must begin," says Comenius, " "with actual inspection, not with verbal descriptions of things. From such inspection it is that certain knowledge comes. What is actually seen remains faster in the memory than description or enumeration a hundred times as often repeated."
"Observation," says Pestalozzi, "is the absolute basis of all knowl
edge. The first object, then, in education must be to lead the child to observe with accuracy, the second, to express with correctness, the results of his observation."
"If we consider it," says Herbert Spencer, "we shall find that exhaustive observation is an element of all great success."
"The education of the senses neglected," says Bacon, "all after education partakes of a drowsiness, a haziness, an insufficiency which it is impossible to cure."
A. L. SHATTUCK, COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF POWESHIEK COUNTY.
A good county superintendent is unquestionably the most important element in the effective supervision of the schools of a county, and should be considered the first essential requisite.
He should possess a thorough education, good business qualifications, affability of manner, a good moral character and vigorous health; should be a practical teacher and a person of good common sense; and must possess that independence and stability of purpose which will not be influenced by flattery or intimidated by threats. He must not be a man of hobbies, or a mere student, shut up among the books of his study. If he is too narrow in his views, he will pursue a few subjects, whether important or otherwise, to the neglect of all others. If hes should attempt the wide and varied work to which he has been called without possessing sufficient capacity or breadth of mind to grasp its manifold purposes, or understand its extensive machinery, failures and humiliations are likely to follow. The county superintendent must be active, wide-awake, thorough and practical, and must know the details. of the work of teaching, its methods and management. He should possess all the qualifications of a good teacher, to which must be added the power to influence, direct and control those under his supervision. He must be able to shape and systematize the instruction given in the schools; to note the progress of the pupils, and to stimulate them to effort. He should be capable of detecting the defects in teaching and pointing out the remedy, and should be able to influence the school legislation of his county, and to disseminate ideas and create purposes among the people, that will raise the standard of educational culture.
How shall we obtain persons possessing these qualifications. To
this question there can be, with us, but one answer-elect them. Some have thought that other plans would give better results.
In some States the county courts appoint, in others the State superintendent or governor selects. A plan adopted in some States, and much favored by educators, is appointment and removal by a State Board of Education. On this subject, Baldwin, in his "Art of School Management," says:
"The State Board of Education should be composed of leading educators, representing all parts of the State. The professional standing of the members of the board guarantees the selection of the most competent persons, and the summary removal of the inefficient. The board would not be restricted by county or State lines. As in the selection of teachers, qualification and not residence, should determine the choice. This plan impresses us with the force of an intuition. It could not fail to give to each county a first-class superintendent. All the conditions of success, competency, efficiency, permanency and independence would be secured. The county superintendency should be an employment, not an office. It should be strictly professional, and similar to city superintendency. Making it an office involves great difficulties. Superintendents should be employed and dismissed on precisely the same basis that teachers are employed and dismissed."
Of our system it may be said that the people of a county are generally well able to judge of the fairness, the honesty, energy and faithfulness of its officers, and that they are not liable to elect or retain a person who will disregard their interests, or attempt to force upon the school his own hobbies. Some years ago a change in the time of electing the county superintendent was discussed. It was advocated that the election should take place in the spring, at the time when the other school officers are elected. In this way it was supposed that the election would be freed from the influence of party prejudice.
It certainly is desirable that some standard of qualification should be established, that uneducated or inexperienced persons may not be elected to this important position. In most counties the intelligence and good judgment of the people render any such safeguard unnecessary; but still, I think it advisable that a standard of educational and professional excellence be established by law. For example, the law might provide that, to be eligible to this office, a person should have held a certificate of a certain grade for a number of years, and should have taught successfully a certain number of terms.
Of course it is the duty of the superintendent to supply the schools with the best teachers he can find. Whenever a poor teacher leaves the work and a good one takes his place not only are the scholars benefited but the work of supervision is greatly facilitated.
The qualifications of teachers are so clearly defined by law that it is not necessary here to repeat them. It may appropriately be said that a teacher can only be known positively to possess the requirements, "aptitude to teach and ability to govern," after successful experience. In examining applicants for certificates the superintendent should be assisted by a board of four or five examiners, and examinations should be held every three months. Ample time should be given for the examination, and three grades of certificates should be granted. For certificates of the lowest grade the applicant should be examined on a certain number of branches, and each succeeding grade should require an additional number of studies. For the lowest grade: reading, writing, spelling, grammar, arithmetic to finish percentage, and descriptive and political geography; for the next grade: physiology, arithmetic complete, English analysis, history of the United States, book-keeping and physical geography; for the highest grade: algebra, geometry, some branch of natural science, rhetoric, general history, analysis of civil government and word analysis. The length of time for which certificates are given, should be based upon thoroughness of educational qualification, and success in teaching. For those who have never taught, it should not exceed twelve months; but to those who prove themselves good teachers, certificates may be given for two or four years or for a longer time.
There is no doubt that the visits of the county superintendent to the schools are, as the law intends them to be, the most effective means of accomplishing what is to be done. Whatever plans may have been suggested, whatever directions given at other times, it is during these visits that their efficacy may be tested and the faithfulness of the teachers in carrying them out may be discovered. At no time can suggestions and directions be better given than at the close of a visit, when the working of the school has just been inspected. The first hour, perhaps, of the visit should be spent in watching the management of the school. There is no part of the work that requires greater ability on the part of the county superintendent than the hour thus occupied. Not the slightest occurrence should escape his notice. He has to judge of the work of a term by the short experience of an hour or two. He should know how much allowance to make for in
incidents which are not indicative of the general condition .of the school. A narrow-minded person, or one who is not a practical teacher, will sometimes magnify trifling and unimportant incidents and lose sight of the essential items. As the new version has it, he will "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel."
The discipline of the school should be noticed. The power which controls the pupils, whether it is the personal influence of the teacher through love or fear, whether habits of self-control on the part of the pupils have been cultivated, and whether they are earnest, industrious and respectful. The school tactics may be observed: programme, movements of classes, regulations for requests, records, punishments, etc. The number of recitations, length of the lesson, the interest manifested by teacher and pupils, the thoroughness with which the lesson has been prepared, the plans by which the teacher tests the preparation, her ability to explain and illustrate, should each receive attention.
These and many other items should be noticed, and perhaps recorded. A part of the time, however, should be occupied in examining or teaching some of the classes in order to inspect, or to illustrate methods and encourage pupils. A few judicious lessons from the superintendent given in a pleasing manner may tend to give great encouragement to the classes. These lessons should be given in such a way as not only to make the recitation a model for the teacher, but also to recognize the ability of the pupils. The teacher may be asked if there is any difficult part of the work in which she needs assistance; if so, a lesson may be given, or an exercise conducted which will give the required aid. If there are any special methods which it seems necessary to introduce, a lesson may be given to a class called for the purpose. Any or all of this may be done without seriously interfering with the arrangements of the school. The teacher may be assisted by advice or even censure. But this should not be given in the presence of the pupils. Neither by word nor act should the teacher be condemned before the school. Such a course would injure the discipline very materially. A beneficial influence may be exerted on the pupils themselves. A word to a single pupil, a talk to the school on the importance of improving opportunities, or hints to a class during recitations, may be the means of doing good.
At the time of the visit to the school, a visit to the directors would not be out of place. Sometimes they wish to visit the school at the same time. They cannot always be informed of the time of the su