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“I have long been of the opinion that it would be beneficial to the cause of education, to do away with the office of Town Superintendent, and to have one man in each county who should devote his attention entirely to the schools.
Town SUPERINTENDENT OF COTTAGE GROVE." "I would have a law creating the office of County Superintendent, or Assembly District Superintendent.
Towx SUPERINTENDENT OF EDEN." " My plan would be to adopt the Ohio and New York system of Inspection.
Town SUPERINTENDENT or FOUNTAIN PRATRIE." "I think having a thorough man in each county, acting in the capacity of Superintendent, would be beneficial to our common schools.
Town SCPERINTENDENT OF Big SPRING. "In view of still further increasing the efficiency of the present system, I would recommend that the Legislature make provision for the office of County Superintendent, or a Superintendent for each Assembly District, as the case may be. I think that such an officer, acting in concert with the present Town Superintendents and District Boards, would impart a wholesome and valuable stimulus to the educational cause. The duties of this officer ought to be very clearly defined by law. He ought to visit schools, in company with Town Superintendents, as often as requisite, and deliver lectures and extempore addresses on suitable occasions. His compensation should be liberal. I believe that great and untold benefits would result to the rising generation, and the cause of education generally be promoted thereby.
Town SUPERINTENDENT OF WHITE OAK Springs." Many others concur in the foregoing expression of opinion, while none dissent therefrom.
The abolition of the office of Town Superintendent is, perhaps, of questionable policy, while a provision for an additional and more able and thorough supervision is imperatively demanded by existing and urgent needs. An Assembly District or County Supervision, I think would be too burdensome to be patiently borne by our people. A Superintendent for each Judicial District would perhaps sufficiently meet every demand, while the increased taxation for the payment of salary wouid scarcely be felt. Within the limits of such a jurisdiction, an able, talented and efficient officer certainly could be found, through whose intelligent and energetic and persevering labor, our common schools would be greatly improved, parents aroused and interested, good teachers approbated and sustained, difficulties adjusted, the entire public mind enlisted, and educational reform go forth over the State as terrible to ultra-conservatism and anti-progress as an army with banners.
The intelligent and active Town Superintendent of Hubbard, a devoted friend of our common schools, proposes a similar plan or system of supervision. His views are as follows:
“The State Superintendency should be continued as now. And then the State should be divided into districts composed of say fifty or more towns each, for which districts Superintendents should be elected or appointed, who should devote the entire time to the legitimate work of their office. He should hold at least one Convention in each town in his district annually. Every teacher with the Town Superintendent should be required to be present.
The Town Superintendent of each town should be required during the progress of the schools within his jurisdiction, to hold a meeting every alternate Saturday, composed of the teachers in the several districts, for mutual conference, interchange of thought, discussion, &c.
I would have the salaries of the District Superintendents such as should command the services of competent men, and enable them to devote their whole time and energies to the duty of promoting the best interests of the Common Schools.
The Town Superintendents should be paid for their time while attending the Convention and meetings at which they were required to be present, the same as though they were engaged in visiting schools, and examining teachers, or in the discharge of any other duty enjoined upon them. So with respect to the wages of teachers—when in conference with the Town Superintendent on alternate Saturdays, I would have their wages continue the same as though they were engaged in teaching
I am satisfied that even $10,000 per annum taken from the income of the School Fund, and expended for competent labor, on the above or some similar plan, would be far more promotive of the educational interest of the State, than to expend the whole amount for teacher's wages."
Additional remarks on the subject of School Supervision, together with a Bill for an act creating the office of District Superintendent, will be found in the appendix. The attention of the Legislature is earnestly called to the subject.
TEACHERS AND THEIR QUALIFICATIONS. I know of no more important and responsible position, than that of Teacher. I know of no weight of obligation like that which rests upon him who assumes the sublime task of developing and training an immortal mind. And yet how many engage in the work of the Teacher with no adequate idea of what it is; of its vastness, the careful preparation it requires, and the varied and intelligent labors demanded for its perfect accomplishment. “Let the Teacher,” says Northend, "well consider the high and important nature of the duties incumbent on him. The youth, entrusted to his care and training, are the daily and hourly recipients of impressions which will contribute to increase their future weal or woe. Then should he not, by the prompt and faithful discharge of every duty, strive only to make such impressions as will prove salutary."
“What the teacher is in his general character," says Prof. Haddock, "his principles of life, his personal habits, his individual objects, his tastes and amusements, his whole bearing and demeanor, has as much to do in forming the spirit and shaping the destiny of his pupils as his more direct instructions. There is a certain air about a man, or, rather, a certain spirit in him, which determines, to a great degree, the influence of his whole life. It is not exactly what he knows, or what he says, or what he does, but a peculiar style of character in all these respects,--that makes him one and the same man, every where, and upon all occasions. If of the right sort, -bright, earnest, open, kindly, full of cheerful hopes, and ennobled by reverence for truth and love of goodness,--this general character is itself a school, a model for young ambition, a fountain of good thoughts, a silent, insinuating, living stream, nourishing the roots and opening the buds of spring. In this character we find the elements of that enthusiasm, without which gicat things are never done by any body, in any sphere of life—a heavenly, divine spirit, moring us to attempt good ends by manly effort, and, with an eye fixed on liigh ohjects, to labor earnestly and long, with a sturdy heart and cheerful face."
“Let him daily enter," says another speaking of the teacher, “with fresh preparation, with interest, with energy, with the spirit of love, and a sound mind, upon his labors. Let him, at all times, feel that principle of love, and that sincere devotion to his profession, which are to be regarded as the sign and measure of high souls, and which, wisely directed, will accomplish much. Iis calling is honorable, and his labors will be felt and appreciated if he is faithful. Let him not be satisfied with his past success nor with his present attainments. Let his motto ever be, -Onward and upward.
"Let him also be impressed with the vast importance of his office. He deals with the mind. IIe is called to educate immortal beings. He is stamping upon their souls impressions that will endure 'when the sun shall be blotted out, and the moon and stars shall withdraw their shining.' Should there be given to such teacher a broad tablet of polished silver, upon which he were required to inseribe some sentiment, to be read by thousands on earth and by angels in heaven, he would tremble in view of the important duty; he would desire that the sentiment might be truthful and wise, and such as would be approved above. Now, there are placed in the hands of every teacher many tablets,-not, indeed, of silver and gold, but tablets that shall endure when silver and gold shall have perished, -the immortal tablets of youthful minds. Upon these teachers are inscribing principles and sentiments, which thousands of their fellow-men will read with grict or joy, which all the angels of light will one day look upon with tears, or behold with exultations of joy.”
It is gratifying to know, that in our State we have an increasingly large number of competent and faithful teachers--professional teachers, who do honor to their profession, and are accomplishing a noble work in their chosen field of labor. On the other hand it is painful to know, that there are a far larger number of poorly qualified if not absolutely incompetent teachers, who merely "keep school" for want of other satisfactory employment, or as a stepping-stone to other business. They have no rational idea, no adequate conception of the duties of the school room--many of them destitute of either natural or acquired qualification for their vocation. Yet into their keeping are committed the vastest interests, and without a knowledge of either the theory or practice of teaching, to them is committed the training of young, immortal minds.
Perhaps the greatest, most pressing educational want of our State is, at the present time,--a larger supply than we have of good, competent, fuithful, professional teachers. I quote from the reports on this subject:-
“We want a better class of teachers."
“There is with us a lack of good teachers. The qualifications of teachers are generally mcagre- there are some honorable exceptions."
“ The most serious dilliculty consists in the incompetency of teachers. Good teachers are not to be found in suflicient numbers to supply the schools. I have recently examined three applicants for our school-the third being a young lady, whose qualifications I regarded as far superior to those of the other two. She is a goori natural reacler, spells well, writes a fair legible hand, but is very deficient in Arithmetic, Grammar and Geograplıy. In answer to the question, “By what other names is the Earth known," she said, “By the names of Globe, Ilemis here and New World."
"I have been obliged, from necessity, to grant certificates to teachers when I would have limited them, not only to a particular district, but to a single term of three months, if I could."
"Our teachers are far from reaching any superior standard of qualification.True, there are some honorable exceptions.' Our Town Superiutendents are doubtless to be blamed in part for this state of things. It seenis to me that in justice to
the public, and for our own credit, we should promptly reject all that class of teachers who do not come up fully to some fair standard of qualification. Better that the doors of our school-rooms be closed for a twelvemonth, than that they be opened for the reception of teachers who are incompetent to discharge the duties of instruction and discipline. The teacher, more than any thing else, makes the school."
" There is a great want of experienced teachers. We have often to hire mere boys to teach our winter schools."
“The education of our teachers is perhaps sufficient, but they lack the ability to teach."
"I have great distrust of the ability of these young half-fledged teachers who are thronging the country. Some of them may, and indeed do, succeed; but the majority of them fail—if not in getting through a term of school, in doing any
16** * * * * If a teacher presented himself with a certificate granted by some partial Superintendent at the East, he was permitted to go into school without many questions being asked him. Owing to the laxity on the part of our school officers, the schools were filled with a class of teachers who did not know enough to take proper care of themselves. There were exceptions, of course; but poor teachers were the rule."
“Qualified teachers, particularly females, cannot be had. Often I have had the inquiry made under these circumstances, “What shall we do?--for teachers we must have."
“ The qualifications of teachers are very limited."
" It would give me pleasure to be able to say to you, that our teachers are as well qualified as they should be. About one half of them are tolerably competentthe others are serving in the capacity of teachers for the want of proper instructors to supply their places.”
“Able teachers are not easily found, and they probably will not be for a while to come. In the country, where schools are taught for a few months only every year, teaching cannot become a profession, and the task is undertaken by young men and ladies who enter upon it as a temporary business, and do not make any great effort to improve themselves as teachers. Perhaps to make good teachers more common, something should be done to render their situation more desirable."
Similar report is made from nearly every town in the State. Inquiry is made of us almost daily; "Can you not send us a good teacher?" We know of none out of employment to send. What then shall be done by way of meeting the demand ? What? save by improving those now in our schools, and raising up and qualifying any additional supply that may be required. This may be done, in part, by means of
TEACHERS' INSTITUTES. These have proved themselves very efficient agencies in the work of preparing teachers for their high and responsible calling. They have tended to elevate the standard of qualification wherever they have been introduced and sustained.When properly organized and conducted they impart instruction eminently adapted to the wants of teachers. They unfold the true theory of teaching, reduce that theory to practice, and impart through lectures and otherwise, a vast amount of information of a practical and useful character. Teachers go from them impressed with a truer estimate of the capacity and magnitude of their employment, with their enthusiasm enkindled, and a determination to be more and do more than ever before.
The first Institutes were held in the State of New York, and were attended with signal success. From thence they were introduced into Massachusetts, and of the experiment there, Gov. Briggs bore this testimony :-In every instance, the result was most satisfactory and auspicious. I had the pleasure of witnessing the exercises and proceedings of one of those interesting assemblages. The punctuality, attention, improvement, and entire devotion to the great purpose for which they came together, on the part of the members, were worthy of all praise. May not some legislative aid and encouragement be given to a measure which looks entirely to the increased qualification of teachers, and the improvement of Common Schools?' I repeat this question, and address it to the Legislature of WisconsinMay not some Legislative aid and encouragement be given to Teachers' Institutes here? A small appropriation annually from the School Fund in support of them, would furnish and endow an instrumentality of conceded power and usefulness inthe work of preparing teachers.
With reference to Teachers’ Institutes the lIon. IIenry Barnard says:
"We have no hesitation in saying, that a judicious application of one-fifth of the sum appropriated unanimously by the House of Representatives, to promote the education of teachers for Common Schools, in different sections of the State, would have accomplished more for the usefulness of the coming winter schools, and the ultimate prosperity of the school system, than the expenditure of half the avails of the School Fund in the present way. One thousand, at least, of the eighteen hundred teachers, would have enjoyed an opportunity of critically reyising the studies which they will be called upon to teach, with a full explanation of all the principles involved, and with reference to the connection which one branch of knowledge bears to another, and also the best method of communicating cach, and the adaptation of the different methods to different minds. They would have become familiar with the views and methods of experienced teachers, as they are carried out in better conducted schools than those with which they have been familiar. They would have entered upon their schools with a rich fund of practical knowledge, gathered from observation, conversation and lectures; and with their own defective, erroneous, and perhaps mischievous views corrected and improved. Who can tell how many minds will be perverted, how many tempers ruined, how much injury done to the heart, the morals, and the manners of children, in consequence of the injudicious methods of inexperienced and incompetent teachers, the coming winter? The heart, the manners, the morals, the minds of the children are, or should be, in the eye of the State, too precious materials for a teacher to experiment upon, with a view to qualify himself for his profesajon; and yet the teacher is compelled to do so under the present order of things. [llow true is this remark as applied to our own State! Our teachers, the mass of them, have no other place in which to qualify themselves save the school-room in which they are employed, and no other means of preparation save those which it furnishes. So that teaching, with thein, is an experimenting process, which is as likely to result in evil as good.] He has no opportunity afforded him, as every mechanic has, to learn his trade: and if he had, there is but little inducement held out for him to do this. No man is so insane as to employ a workman to construct any valuable or delicate piece of mechavism, who is to learn how to do it for the very first time on that article. No one employs any other than an experienced artist to repair a watch. No parent entrusts the management of a law-suit, involving his property or reputation, to an attorney who has not studied his profession and given evidence of his ability. No one sends for a physician to administer to fris health, who has not studied the human constitution, and the nature and uses of medicine. No one sends a shoe to be menderi, or a horse to be shod, or a plough to be repaired, except to an experienced workman; and yet parents will employ teachers, who are to educate their children for two worlds, --who are to mould, and fashion and develop that most delicate, complicated and wonderful piece of mechanisin, the human belng,—the most deli