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TEACHERS FOR OUR SCHOOLS. The greatest hindrance to the successful operation of our common school system, is the want of a sufficient number of properly qualified teachers. We have on our files communications from nearly every part of the State corroborative of the statement in the letter from Superintendent Chase, of Wausa, published in the January Number of the Journal, “The greatest difficulty under which we labor is to obtain competent teachers."
As a general thing the people are willing to pay for the education of their children, but an increase in teachers' wages does not always secure better qualifications, and we ought not to be surprised if tax-payers refuse to give liberally for the support of schools when they see so little good resulting from increased expenditures.
We need more efficient and better disciplined teachers, who realizing the responsibility of their position, shall devote all their energies to their work, and make it the business of their lives.
We do not wish to be understood as underrating the teachers of Wisconsin-far from it. On the contrary, we believe that, as a class, they are as intelligent and capable as those of any Western State, and that there are among them many who would take a prominent place in a collection of teachers gathered from the whole country. Still there are in many of them manifest deficiences, the consequence of isolated positions, and the absence of agencies fitted to develop a higher order of talent, aud greater efficiency in teaching. They are striving to improve, and are willing to learn, but in a majority of instances the means of improvement are not within their reach, and this accounts, in a great measure, for the existence of schools arranged, governed and taught on the same plan as were the schools twenty years since. And this state of things will continue so long as the Legis. lature shall neglect to provide for the establishment of institutions for the training of teachers. The school fund subject to appropriation next month amounts to nearly a quarter of a million of dollars, yet not a dollar of it is devoted to the supo port of teachers' institutes or normal schools.
How can we expect our free school system to work harmoniously or effectively so long as we make no provision for the proper training of those who are to guide and control it? Teaching is an art as well as a science, and those who engage in it should be thoroughly trained and disciplined, not by the active performance of the duties of the profession alone, but by competent instructors, before they assume the position of teachers.
It is not so much schools to teach the sciences that we need, as it is those in
which the art of teaching shall itself be taught; schools whose object shall be not so much to impart information, as to enable the teacher to impart to others that which he has already acquired, or rather, to develop in him the capacity to draw out and educate the faculties and powers of those to be hereafter committed to his charge.
To accomplish this we need separate and distinct institutions, firmly established and liberally supported, presided over by thoroughly educated, experienced, energetic teachers, who understanding and appreciating our noble free school system, shall devote all their time and energies to the responsible work of training and fitting for the proper performance of their duties, those who shall feel called to en. gage in our common schools.
Other States are acting in this matter, and providing liberally for the support of institutes and normal schools.
Massachusetts has four normal schools, supported at an annual expense of $14,500. Besides these, twelve teachers institutes, "are authorized at an expense not to exceed $350 for each one. The State also gives $50 annually to each County Teachers' Association, and $350 to the State Teachers' Association.
Connecticut requires the State Superintendent to hold a Teachers' Institute annually in each county in the State, at an expense not exceeding $120 for each one. There is also a State Normal supported at an expense of $ 1000 a year.
New York has one State Normal School, supported at an expense of $12,000.
Michigan has one of the most successful normal schools in the country, and $1800 is appropriated annually for State Teachers' Institutes.
Within the past two years the State of New Jersey has expended $20,000 for the support of her State Normal School, exclusive of the grounds, buildings, and apparatus, which are estimated at $30,000.
Illinois has appropriated $10,000 annually to the support of her normal schools The Town of Bloomington donated $149,000 in order to secure its location within her limits.
We are informed that a village in this State has offered a good site, and a sup: ply of building materials gratis, if a normal school shall be established there, and a small outlay by the State, not to exceed $5000 a year, for three years, would socure the completion of suitable buildings, and inaugurate this much needed in. stitution. We ought to have four or five such schools in operation in this State in less than five years, and should, is the people understood their true interests.
We call the attention of our readers to the advertisement of the CHART OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, published by E. B. & E. O Kellogg, Hartford, Conn.
We have carefully examined the Chart, and believe it to be just the thing fo families and schools, and worthy of the commendations of the distinguished educators and naturalists, whose names appear in the advertisement. Mr. Cahoon comes well recommended, and we believe him eminently worthy of the confidence and support of the people in his efforts to introduce the valuable work for which he is agent.
We would also direct our readers to the advertisement of E. TERRY & Co., of Milwaukee, Booksellers. We have dealt with them at different times, and always found them accommodating and honorable, selling good books at fair prices. Call on them when you are in Milwaukee, and examine their stock of books, stationery and fancy articles,
Our old friend, A. A. Griffith, is engaged the present winter in giving lessons on elocution and public readings, in various parts of the State. We understand that he is quite successful, and are sure that he deserves the patronage of the people for furnishing a kind of entertainment so instructive and rational, and so much superior to the "show3" and performances" which, for want of better and higher sources of amusement, have heretofore engaged the attention of two many of the yoath in our cities and villages.
Mr. Griffith has a fine voice of considerable volume and compass, which he his trained and disciplined to such an extent as to make his readings very pleasing and effective, giving selections from the English poets and prose classics with a pathos and power which brings his hearers into sympathy and communion with the noble and beautiful thoughts of the gifted minds, whose utterances are the gospel of humanity.
A short time since he generously gave a public reading in Palmyra in aid of the Union School, to assist them in furnishing their house, when, though the fee was but 15 cents, the sum of twenty-five dollars was raised.
Ho has lately been associated with Prof. Brunson, a celebrated elocutionist from the East, and they have given two public readings in this place, besides occupy. ing the Assembly Chamber one afternoon. Success to them in their laudable efforts to elevate the public taste in regard to reading.
LIND, Jan. 30th, 1858. The several schools in this town are in good condition, and doing very well; and the district boards and inhabitants have manifested a good degree of interest in their schools by visiting them occasionally, but still there is not that degree of interest manifested that ougnt to be.
But I think I see signs of improvement. The teachers that have presented themselves for examination, although pretty well qualified in most respects, show, conclusively to my mind, that our present institutions of learning are not calculated to prepare teachers for their arduous tasks.
Those branches which are the most eesential in the education of every person, and which it is requisite for every teacher to understand, are neglected for higher or more ornamental branches.
I think a "State Normal School," in which teachers could be thoroughly drilled
in the branches which they are required to teach, and in the principles and prac. tice of teaching, would remedy this defect. Respectfully yours,
GEO. A. SELLECK, Town Supt. of Schools.
[Though the following communication was 'not designed for publication, we can not deny ourselves the pleasure of inserting it in the Journal, because we wish our readers to sbare with us the cheering intelligence wbich it contains, and because o the just tribute it pays the Racine and Kenosha public schools. It is written by Mr. LEONARD LEE, Superintendent of Somers, Kenosha, Wis.)
In my last letter, an extract from which was published in the January Number of the Journal, I paid, what I then considered, a merited compliment to the teachers of this town (Somers, Kenosha County), 'for the present winter, as far as their qualifications were manifested in their several examinations, and predicted that they would doubtless reflect credit on their profession. Since that time I have visited their schools, and if I am capable of judging, I am happ! to state that my prediction is fully verified, and, taken as a unit, I think I may safely challenge their superior in any rural town in the State, I am aware this expression may sound large, but, till convinced of error, I must adhere to my opinion. Their course is not confined exclusively to text-books, but oral and general instruction is given in such a manner as to awaken the interest of their pupils, giving a wide scope to their knowledge, and thereby securing their undivided attention. Vocal music is also taught to a considerable extent, which receives the warm approbation of their patrons.
The present season seems an exception to by-gone times. Ten or twelve years since necessity compelled us to accept su material for teachers as would now be thrust aside—teachers whose qualifications were almost exclusively confined to a superficial knowledge of such text-books as they have been taught—totally deficient in such general intelligence as is always requisite to interest both pupil and teacher. True, there were many honorable exceptions, but taken as a body, their qualications were far below a proper standard. During the past two or three years, however, a new era in this respect seems to have dawned upon us. Better salaries have been paid, and better teachers employed, consequently we have had cheaper schools. I say cheaper schools, for every school is dear which employs an incompetent teacher.
The cause of this progress may, perhaps, be attributed, in a great degree, to the standing and flourishing condition of the Kenosha and Racine High Schoolsinstitutions which hold a rank second to none of their kind in the State. Their course is thorough, and their radiating influence is felt throughout the adjacent county, by the numerous well-trained teachers which emanate from their halls.
Our schools are making a little progress, but quite slow for the times. There are quite a number of reasons for this, but the most potent difficulty that I have to contend with is incompetent teachers. Now, if you please, give us the remedy,
the "evil" is a sore one The people think they can not afford to pay the prices that competent teachers command, and are constantly insisting that poorer teachers will answer their purpose, and that they must use such or none. Now what shall we do? Must we certify to poorly qualified teachers, or risk having po schools in many of the back districts ? Very respectfully yours, E. P. I.
(Do not be discouragod friend I., but work on and hope for better days. We have experienced the same difficulties under which you labor, and have sometimes been sorely puzzled as to our duty when called upon as Town Superin endent to license poorly qualified teachers, because the people thought they would do to teach their school. Raise the standard of qulification as much as possible from year to year, visit the sch vols often, advise with the teachers, and endeavor to lead the parents to higher views of duty in the matter. Reject those applicants who are wholly incompetent, but permit even a poor teacher to try what he can do. If his pupils do not learn any thing, he may, and we think a poor school is better than none. -Ed.]
The schools under my charge are in a prosperous condition, quite an improvement on the past.
Parents and officers take more interest in the schools, and the teachers are more zealous with better qualifications than heretofore; though there is yet a great want of uniformity in teaching.
The new books furnished have made a decided difference for the better.
The teachers in this vicinity are to meet on tho 2d Saturday of February, to organize and sustain an association,
D. JOHNSON, T. Supt. DECATUR, Jan. 26, 1858. [The touchers can not do a better thing than to organize and sustain an association.-ED.)
[The following notices of the Sunte University, and Madison Female Seminary, we clip from the Wisconsin Farmer for January ]
STATE UNIVERSITY.—The first term of the current year of this Institution closed on the 16th of last month. The portion of the examination which we witnessed was both interesting and croditable to all parties, evincing a thoroughness on the part of both Profe-gors and students that must eventuate in good scholarship. The classes are considerably larger than last year. The boarding arrrngement in the Institution seems both economical and excellent, affording good fare, agreeable and profitable social surroundings, and for the low price of $2 per week,—thus making the University one of the best, and one of the cheapest Institutions for a thorough education to be met with in the country.
The winter term commences the 1st Wednesday of this month, and will have the especial attraction of a particularly interesting course of Chemical Lectures by Dr. Carr.
Young men of Wisconsin, this is your chance for a good and cheap education.