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Therefore, do something for all the social institutions in which you have your life, and if possible be a leader in every moral and intellectual reform.
By well directed efforts a "reading club" might be formed in every school district in the State during the winter term, as farmer boys, farmers and their wives and daughters, especially, have more or less leisure during this season of the year. A few of the leading families, at least, in each district, could readily be induced to subscribe for one each of the leading magazines of the day for the three or four months of the term, and the families could exchange and thus all have the benefit of the entire club.
Science primers, or a course of reading similar to that of the famous Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, could be secured at small cost and would prove of great advantage in arousing the mental activities of the people.
The teacher should know what is best as to a choice of subjects that would not only prove attractive, but would also have in view the cultivation of a literary taste.
In some of the school districts of this county are to be found regularly formed literary societies in which farmers' boys and girls are developing into quick and ready debaters and a knowledge of parliamentary usages.
A circulating library in each district is worthy the careful attention of teachers and school-boards.
All these things take time and energy in order to develop an interest.
A teacher, preacher, or any business man, who is so wholly wrapped up in his business affairs and cannot devote an hour once in a while to the benefit of society is supremely selfish, and ought not to be permitted to reap where he does not sow.
Again, it is the duty of every person, the teacher included, to as carefully develop himself as possible.
Teachers are too apt to get into what may be termed a pedagogic state, by standing aloof from the association of others, which, to say the least, might be modified by mingling with persons engaged in other lines of thought and occupations.
We find in the human mind and disposition a great variety of likes and dislikes; nature herself seems to be one vast kaleidoscope, everywhere we turn a different picture comes into view; we find this pleasing variety in the material world, and we also find it in the intellectual
world; there must have been some object in view in this universal arrangement. Nature is more pleasing to us by this endless variety, so society by its numerous phases of intellect presents, not only greater attractions but greater profit. We all have our own places to fill. If we fail to fill them well it will be like one vast mosaic, with now and then a vacancy; or rather where the jewel has failed to be fully polished, so, instead of adding beauty and luster to the whole, it detracts and mars the general appearance.
The teacher should bring the polish of good social training into the school-room, for it is a well known fact that most parents would prefer to have their children under the training of persons of good social powers and gentle manners.
I have known persons with not one-half the mental ability, and I had almost said not one-quarter of the intellectual attainments of others, so far, at least, as books are concerned, who have made teaching far more successful, simply owing to their Intense social nature.
In every business we must be social in order to exert an influence. I have seen majestic steamers enter the harbors of Buffalo and Chicago, proudly indifferent to the smaller craft. In the same view appeared numerous barges in tow of a diminutive steam-tug all connected with invisible lines, bringing into port the food of the nations.
We cannot all be the great steamer, but we may be the little tugs, and the invisible lines of our influence may reach throughout our respective communities. This, then, naturally suggests the relation of the teacher to his profession, for he will find it greatly to his advantage to mingle freely with those of his own calling.
In the present day we have greatly the advantage of those of the past generation, or even the past decade, for we have teachers' associations, teachers' institutes, teachers' magazines, monthlies and weeklies, treating on all subjects pertaining to the sciences, and, more especially, in the line of professional work. It would be a rare thing to find a lawyer or doctor who is not a regular subscriber to a legal or medical journal; therefore, every teacher worthy the name, should take one or more live educational journals; he should not only take them, but in reading up new methods, should carefully consider what would be the result of their practical working, and if desirable bring these new thoughts and ideas to bear in his own school, and with mind well stored with the newer and improved methods, he is then just fitted for the teachers' associations and institutes; he is not only better fitted for the work, but he owes it as a duty to his profession to attend these
times and places of refreshing, and thus bring them before the minds of others perhaps less fortunate than himself.
Many excellent teachers remain away from these annual gatherings because they do not need a review of the branches which they teach. One says that "neither the teacher in the high school nor in the lowest primary can ignore the work of the other without serious injury to the schools. Every teacher will feel an increased interest in his work who is given an opportunity to discuss its usefulness."
I have often thought that the greatest good derived from these meetings arises from the pleasant association, the contact of mind with mind, the renewal of former friendships and the formation of new acquaintances.
The zeal and enthusiasm thus kindled is, in my opinion, of far more value than so much arithmetic, or so much geography.
I have endeavored thus briefly to point out some of the teacher's duties to his patrons, to himself, to his pupils, and to his profession.
Several county superintendents who were requested to prepare essays, and consented to do so, were not able on account of sickness, lack of time, or other reasons, to furnish them in time.
FROM REPORTS OF COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS.
R. W. CARPENTER.
The carelessness of boards of directors in examining treasurers reports is astonishing. Of the fourteen reports sent me, four were returned for correction after boards had examined and accepted them. I found great difficulty in getting the desired information from the different secretaries.
Since last report we have erected eleven fine school-houses. No township in our county has had less than six months of school during the past year. The educational interests of Audubon county are improving. Our normal institute was well attended and full of enthusiasm. All together our schools have done good work the past year.
J. W. STEWART.
The school year of 1881 is gone, and the results are summed up. The blockaded condition of the roads during the greater portion of last winter's term, reduced the attendance in country schools to a considerable extent, yet teachers' reports showed a much better attendance than I had anticipated.
Our teachers as a class are doing very good work, and many of them excellent work. Still we have too many whose only desire seems to be to get in the time and secure the money at the close of the term. However, these teachers are learning that they must show some good results from their work, or their tenure of office as teachers will be very short. "Good teachers make good schools," and we want more of them in Butler county.
The time has come when every one who applies for a school should be able to show that he has received some special training in normal school or normal institute for this work, and when this is made imperative, then, and not till then, will many who are now killing time in our schools, wasting the money provided for the education of our youth, and injuring the intellects of our children instead of educating them, prepare themselves for the work, or do that which perhaps would be better for all concerned, quit the business. It is my opinion, formed and strengthened through my experience in the supervision of schools that by far the greater number of mistakes and failures in teaching, is attributable to the want of a consistent system and of a practical knowledge of the duties involved, rather than to any essential lack of a knowledge of the subjects to be taught, however great in general that want may be, and normal schools and normal institutes are the only organized agencies to give this professional training.
Our normal institute was held during the month of August, and although the weather was extremely hot, we had an interesting and a profitable session; the attendance was good, and a lively interest in the work was manifested from the beginning until the close.
Our teachers' association has done a good work in waking up the teachers, but we have failed, signally failed, in getting school officers and patrons of our schools to attend these meetings as they should be attended.
Three new school-houses have been built during the past year, and a number of old ones have been repainted and reseated and the surroundings very much improved. We have not been called upon to decide a single appeal case during the past two years; this certainly indicates educational progress. Our efforts to advance the educational interests of the county during the past ten years, have been, in a measure at least, successful.
I found the schools without organization, without classification, and without system. But few of the teachers knew anything about school organization or methods of teaching. I leave them well organized, well classified, and the work well systematized. Two-thirds of the teachers of the county to-day understand the principles upon which all true teaching is based, and can practice what they know. I leave the work with the consciousness that I have done what I could for the good of the schools, and hope that my successor may be able to accomplish more.