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Toward the latter part of next month will be held at Boston an assemblage of men, whose agency in shaping the destinies of the world, whether for good or ill, is far more powerful and decisive than that of any other body or class. This asseinblage, which meets, we believe, annually, is calied “ The Teacher's National Association,” and its object is to discuss and compare the different views and methods of medern instruction, to adopt the best, and to promote the educational interests of the country in general. Though these reunions may attract less public attention than many others of a mɔre pretentious nature, our continued prosperity and healthy progress as a free people depend mainly on the character of the individuals who compose them. If, as Montesquieu in his “ Esprit du Loix,” observes, “Despotisms are based on terror, republics on virtue and intelligence," then the schoolmaster's mission in America is a higher one than that of the politician, and even of the statesman. It is not only that no nation can long be free if iguorant, but no nation can be really great and strong without intelligence. The civilization of a people is not to be measured by the strength of its navy, the size of its army, the splendor of its public edifices and the grandeur and magnificence of its monuments, but by the condition and number of its schools and the material and social position which it assigns to its schoolmasters. Four years ago the Paris Siecle iaid bare one of the sorest spots in the French body politic, namely, its insufficient and shamefully neglected system of popular education. After enumerating some of the honors, dignities and emoluments which France so lavishly bestows on her military and civil servants, the Siecle quotes a recent official bulletin stating that “F. R., schoolmaster, after forty-eight years of service, had been retired with sixty-three francs pension.” Sixty-three francs annual reward to a poor old man for nearly half a century's good and loyal service, when age and infirmities compel him to retire! While Haussman was spending millions upon millions in adorning Paris with splendid squares and triumphal arches, seventeen centimes per day was all that the Second Empire could afford for the support of its superannuated schoolmaster. The remark that it was the German schoolmaster who defeated the French in the late disastrous war is evidently something more than a mere glittering paradox.
But the case of France is not an isolated one on the other side of the Atlantic. In a majority of European states, not even excepting Eng. land, the profession which deserves to be renumerated and respected above all others has ever fared and still fares the worst. For some inexplicable reason, the world appears to owe its benefactors, of whom the teacher is one, a grudge. From the earliest times writers have considered the schoolmaster lair mark for the shafts of their satire. While Sydney, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and many more, have had their fling at him, how very few ever thought to say a good word in his behalk? Even the learned Erasmus, in his “ Encomium on Folly," is not ashamed to caricature him, as one who takes special delight in frowning, boxing ears, and striking with the ferule. It was not until Lord Bacon entered the lists that he found a defender. After his lordship had strongly condemned “the disesteeming of those employments
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wherein youth is conversant, and which are conversant about youth," distinguished scholars like Dean, Collet, Arnold, Busby and other Englishmen, gradually redeerned the pedagogic character and brought it into credit. Walton deemed it no disgrace to have exchanged the duties of a statesman and ambassador for those of a schoolmaster, whose office he considered a “high and noble one. In the same ratio as society became more enlightened and intelligence spread among the masses, the teacher's calling gained the respect of the public. It has of late, even grown to be the fashion to talk about ihe influence of the schoolmaster. Grand roblemen, especially in France and England, even royalty itself, now condescend to lecture on the necessity of popular education before lyceums, institutes and associations; but these blossoms bear little fruit in monarchical lands. They are nothing save vapid declamations about the teacher's onerous responsibilities and importance, for his services still fail to receive adequate compensation. Indeed, the familiar complaints of Juvenal at the want of appreciation and the scanty pay of the “ doctus Palcemon,” are as true to-day as they were in those of ancient Rome. In Europe his social status is by nu means what it should be, and the wages grudgingly doled out to him are often very little above the miserable French pittance.
An American can, in this respect, point proudly to his country, though even here is room for improvement. While the teachers in our public schools and larger cities hold an honorable and lucrative position, those of the rural schools in some portions of the west are not quite so well off. Teaching, no matter whether in town or out of it, is a science of itself, which requires not only intellectual training, but experience and undivided devotion. But if those who are qualified for the task find that they can command by the exercise of ordinary industry a greater compensation in almost any other pursuit of life, they will not follow teaching as a regular profession. One result of this is that educated men-1
--men best adapted to teach our youth-often merely resort to it as a temporary makeshift, and very few good teachers are, therefore, to be found in those regions where the remuneration is inadequate. Now, such parsimony is pennywise and pound foolish. Upon the schoolmaster, as much as on the preacher and the legislator, depends the future of every community, and no price should be considered too high, when those fully qualified for an office which involves a sacred trust may be secured. It is to the schoolmaster that we confide our most precious jewels, to give them setting and polish, to engrave on them the noblest sentiments and justest conceptions, and yet, how rarely people are willing to pay the skillful artificer the value of his labor ?
As far as the United States are concerned, great progress has been made in their educational system and school discipline. On the one side, the twigs are no longer so unpleasantly associated with the tree of knowledge as they were in the old birching days ; juvenile eyes no longer water the dry Greek roots, dug from Attic soil, with tears elicited by the rattan; the age when the rod exercised supreme sway, and the potentate of the school-room had a way of enforcing attention to his arguments hy appeals to the ears of his subjects, which was decid. edly unpleasant, is gone, we hope forever. Physical terrorism, violence, and coercion by brute force, are out of date, and moral suasion has almost universally superseded them. The schoolmaster himself is
no longer that awful being before whom abject little slaves used to tremble, and
“ Trace The day's disasters in his morning face ;” for the cruel despot, dressed in a little brief authority, is now the guide, philosopher, and friend of his young charges.-Inter-Ocean.
Prepared by the Assistant Superintendent. Q. Are two and one half sections of land sufficient to form a school district?
A. This depends upon circumstances. Sixteen hundred acres, divided into ten farms, would give a fair district, but not a stong one, unless the valuation was more than ordinary.
Q. If a district is formed of territory from two other districts, the board of one of which witholds its consent, must the order of formation state that it will take effect in three months, to be legal?
A. The law fixes the time when it shall take effect, in a case iike this. That the order does not bear the endorsement of both boards, shows that it takes effect in three months, and not before. Still, it will be proper
to state in the order, the time when it will take effect. Q. If only three instead of four notices of a special meeting are posted up, is the action of the meeting invalid?
A. The foundation of a special meeting is the call, which must be in all respects as the law requires. The omission of one of the notices might leave several voters in ignorance of the meeting. This being shown, on appeal, might require the action of the meeting to be set aside.
Q. If a special district meeting is called on“ Monday evening, June 25th," when the 25th comes on Tuesday, is the action of the meeting, if held Monday evening, invalid?
A. If all are aware of the mistake, and all attend, no reason exists for calling in question the validity of the proceedings; but if some of the voters are misled, and suppose the meeting is to be held on the evening of the “ 25th," it might be a sufficient reason for considering the action of the meeting invalid.
Q. If one of the boards of several towns, who have been petitioned to alter a joint district, does not attend the meeting called for the purpose, and the boards present at the meeting refuse to take any action, will an appeal lie?
A. In this case there is simply a failure to get such a meeting as could take any legal action. No appeal lies therefore.
Q. If a clerk is elected for one year, when the unexpired balance of the term is two years, is there a vacancy at the end of the year?
A. The misapprehension on the part of the electors as to the length of time he has to serve does not affect the tenure of his office. Being nominally elected for one year, or three years when the unexpired balance of the term is really two years, does not deprive him of the right to serve the two years in the one case, nor give him a right to serve three years in the other. The law and the facts of the case determine the tenure of his office, and not the apprehension or misapprehension of the voters, at the time of voting. Q. A school-officer had his house burnt, moved a short distance, on his own land, into another house, but in another district ; while he was living in the other district, the annual meeting was held and another person elected in his place. Subsequently he rebuilt his house and moved back into the first district. Can he claim and retain his office?
A. If he lost his residence by moving out of the district, he lost his office. Residence depends upon intention, and intention is generally susceptible of proof. If the man had no fixed intention of rebuilding and moving back, he lost his residence and office. If neither himself nor any one for him interposed any objection to the election of an officer in his place, and if he had ceased to act in an official capacity, the inference is natural that at the time he considered himself as no longer in possession of the office. Aa opposite state of facts would of course change the case.
Q. If a district treasurer resigns and the “ clerk accepts the resignation, while the director does not,” is a vacancy created ?
A. The law does not require the “ acceptance” of a resignation before it can take effect. If a district officer formally resigns, and ceases to act, a vacancy is created and should be filled by appointment.
Q. Would the law sustain the election of a woman--a mother and resident in the district-as director ?
A. Perhaps it ought to do so, but at present the policy of our government proceeds upon the principle that it is administered by men alone. There are cases in which women may be appointed to official functions, but it was held by our supreme court (Off vs. Smith, 14 Wis. R., 497), that electors alone can be elected to office.
Q. Has a district board power, of its own motion to put a lightning rod on the school house?
A. This can hardly be considered one of the necessary appendages” of the school-house allowed to in section 49, which the board may provide without any previous action on the part of the district.
Q. Has a district board legal power establish the rule of punctual attendance, at the opening of each session, and is it legal for the teacher to inflict punishment for tardiness?
A. A board may be held to have this power, under section 52, and any rule legally established by them can be enforced, by appropriate penalty. To determine the kind and degree of penalty for tardiness in a particular school, requires good judgment. If a want of punctuality has long prevailed, an opposite habit cannot be introduced at once. The people must be educated to it as well as the children. The variation of country time-pieces must be taken into account, and unintentional tardiness is not to be treated like an act of wilful disobedience. Teachers often diminish or destroy their good influence by injudicious and undiscriminating severity. The best of all devices to secure punctuality is to keep a good school.
Q. In case one of the children of a widow goes to live with an uncle, in another district, receiving from him board and care, is the child entitled to attend school free?
A. This is one of those cases where there may be doubt as to the strictly legal right of the child, but it is always best to give the child, if possible, the benefit of the doubt.
Q. Can a parent require the discharge of a teacher because unable to teach his child in the “ latter part of the Mental Arithmetic?"
A. If a majority of the board consider the teacher a suitable one for the school, no individual parent has the power to demand his dismissal. Charges of general incompetence to teach can be made to the county superintendent, who has power to annul a teacher's certificate, if he finds cause, but would hardly do so, in the case supposed. Very few teachers are perfect in every branch.
Q. A man who owns land and pays taxes in this district, but lives in another, occasionaily sends to school here; has he a right to?
A. Certainly not. Residence alone confers this right. A man cannot have a legal residence in two districts at the same tine.
Q. Is it legal to continue a school, for five-sixths of the five months required by law, as an English school, and then make it German, Norwegian or Swedish school for the remaining sixth part of the time?
A. A public school must be an English school, taught in the English language, by a teacher who speaks and writes the language with facility. (Sections 55 and 102.) Chapter 50 of the general laws of 1869, (p. 85, school code,) which is a concession to districts embracing many cit