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in separate rooms, under different teachers. These schools should uniformly be taught by females ; not because it might be possible to procure their services for less money, but because they are best fitted to be the instructors of children.*
The central High School should also, in a certain sense, be a Normal School for the town. At proper intervals the local teachers shonld assemble under the principal teacher for mutual instruction and sympathy while the smaller children of the neighborhood, gathered in primary and secondary departments, in the high-school edifice, should, at all times, constitute a model school for the guidance of the other schools in the town. Under a system like this the desire to teach would be more readily awakened, and an aptitude for the calling more readily discovered, among the pupils themselves. This desire should be encouraged; especially, by allowing such pupils, as advanced members of the high school, to join the teachers' class of the town.
But all this, though it would greatly improve both the schools and their teachers, would not accomplish all that is necessary. The teachers of our primary schools should be well trained for their work. No mistake can be greater than to suppose that a person who has just ceased to be a child, who has mastered but the elements of learning, and gained no experience in the world, is fitted to teach a primary school. Such a person may use-fully aid the child, indeed, in learning to read and write; but to impart even the elements of learning properly, requires wisdom and experience; and when we reflect that this is the least part of the teacher's office; that the discipline of mind and heart which the child receives, is the important consideration ; that the moral influence and example of the teacher, for good or evil, is almost indelible; we shall, readily admit that it is of the utmost consequence into whose hands we consign our children, and cannot but feel that she who is daily to supply the place of parent to the gathered lambs of many a domestic flock, should be possessed of rare gifts, and well trained for her place.
It is not necessary, however, that this class of teachers should possess the same order and degree of scientific attainments, or even strictly professional acquirements, as those in higher schools. He who is to fabricate the delicate watch spring, or surgeon's instrument, although he may require peculiar firmness of muscle, and steadiness of nerve, does not, therefore, require to have learned, also, how to forge anchors, or to construct a
*The reader is referred to Mr. Palmer's Prize Essay on the subject of Central High Schools, and to the plans recommended by Mr. Mann and Mr. BARNARD. Quotations from these documents will be found in first annual Report of the first State Superintendent, Hon. E. Root.
steam engine. I do not intend to imply that primary school teachers should not be highly educated, but that they do not absolutely require a knowledge of all science, or of all the details of teaching branches beyond their sphere. But were it otherwise, it is in vain to expect that teachers of the highest qualifications in these respects can be obtained for anything like the compensation offered, or likely to be paid, for years to come, in our primary district schools.
We need, therefore, training schools for our primary teachers. One Institution in the State will suffice to supply, for years to come, the hightrained permanent teachers needed in our higher schools; but one Institution can never supply our primary schools. Many hundreds of new teachers annually enter the field, and the number is constantly increasing with the population of our State. This rapid accession of new recruits among the female teachers is explained by the fact that after an average service of perhaps five years, marriage introduces them to the sacred duties of domestic life ; while our male teachers, in the rural districts, generally take up the business only as a temporary employment. It is not to be expected, in the nature of things, that this class of teachers should bestow as great an amout of time and expense upon personal education as those who design to become permanent teachers. Still, there is a large class, especially of female teachers, who would gladly improve their qualifications; and increased interest in education, and that advance of compensation, which school improvement always brings about, would increase the desire and effort of teachers to improve.
We need, therefore, as a part of an improved school system, a series of Normal Schools to accommodate this class of teachers; schools of the same mixed character as those already established in other States. We need, not one or two, but several such schools. In those parts of Europe where Normal schools are most fully developed, as in Prussia, Hanover, and Switzerland, there is one such school to about every 250,000 inhabitants. But, in those countries, teaching is far more a permanent profession than with us, and the supply of qualified teachers is equal to the demand. But, with us, one school for every 100,000 inhabitants would no more than meet our wants. On this basis we need at once at least six schools for teachers in Wisconsin, aside from an institution of a higher order for the State at large.
How shall these schools be provided ? We can scarcely expect that the State will very soon create them; but from the examples furnished in other quarters, we may, perhaps hope that local liberality and private enterprise can be enlisted in behalf of this work. And why may we not imitate the example of Pennsylvania, and after dividing the State into a suitable number of Normal School Districts, invite this liberality and en
terprise, in connection with a moderate State patronage, and under suitable legislative control ? Let a general law authorize the formation of corporations for this purpose, or the assumption of the Normal character by schools, snitably located, now in being.
We have an approximation toward this plan already. We have provisions for Normal departments in institutions already existing, and the State gives certain aid and encouragement, or certain conditions. It is not to be concealed, however, that the law, as it now stands, opens a door to cupidity. What we want is not a Normal School law so loose as to induce every college, and academy, and high school in the State to seek, and so loosely interpreted as to enable them to gain a portion of the school fund, without rendering an equivalent service in return; but we want a halfdozen or more institutions that shall, in some just and honest sense of the term, be Teachers' Seminaries; schools, the leading feature of which shall be the Normal feature; the leading object of which shall be to prepare young persons for the school room; while at the same time they shall farnish sound and wholesome academic instruction.*
Such schools can be called into existence by the joint action of teachers and the friends of education, and such moderate aid from the State as will simply put such schools on a par with other schools that have an endowment. It is better for the Normal pupil to pay a moderate price for his advantages than to receive them gratuitously; but, at the same time, let public aid and private munificence make those advantages of the most thorough and efficient character.
be thought that such schools—Normal Academies they may be called--would interfere with ordinary academies. I meet this objection by simply taking the ground that Normal Academies, besides subserving this primary end, would better answer the purposes of ordinary academies than those institutions do theinselves. One great defect of our common seminaries is, that they impart a kind of sciolism, instead of true science. There is no sufficiently definite and practical object sought to be accomplished. If in all the instruction given in schools, the object kept in view was, not only to impart knowledge, but to show, also, how to impart that knowledge in turn, the instruction would be far more practical and fruitful than it now is. And this is all important; for knowledge, like money, is of little use except as it is put in circulation.
I do not by any means, however, subscribe to the utilitarian notion of the age, that no
* It would seem to an intelligent observer of educational matters that the experiment of endeavoring to obtain a supply of teachers from Academic Institutions founded for entirely different purposes, by paying them money to form a “Normal Depart ment,” or Teachers' Class, has been too effectually tried, and too decidedly condemned in the State of New York and elsewhere, to warrant its repetition in Wisconsin.
acquisition is valuable unless it can be put to a direct and obvious use which decries the classics, because men are not expecteå i talk in Greek and Latin ; but what I mean is, that inan, being a social creature, one end of a proper education, is to cultivate the power of expression. What a man learns he shonld know to communicate to others. Without this power imparted, the discipline of the school and college is too much like the effort of a certain youth to acquire the art of swimming by sprawling himself upon a table and imitating the motions of a frog in a basin of water, but never venturing into the element himself.
Another reason for establishing Normal Academies, is furnished in the fact that a large proportion of the pupils who resort to our common acad. emies and seminaries, especially young women, do so with the expectation of teaching, and with the purpose of qualifying themselves for that work. Let this expectation be met. Let discrimination and experiment sift out those who really have the teacher's gift, and let them receive the more technical instruction needed for their vocation; but, at the same time, let all wbo will enjoy that definite and peculiar instruction which is found, and found only, in the Normal School; or, at least, which none but those wbo teach according to the true normal idea, ever impart.
Whoever has bestowed reflection upon the subject will have noticed that, other things being equal, those persons are most successful and useful in the various professions and duties of life who have been successful and acceptable school teachers. The reason of this is obvious. Both the theory and the practice of the teacher's vocation is useful for all after life. It is no objection, therefore, to a school, even for ordinary purposes, but, on the contrary, a decided recommendation that it is technically a NORMAL SCHOOL.
I am not alone in this opinion. Mr. RYERSON, long the able head of the School Department of Canada West, says, in his last report, in reply to the complaint that teachers educated at the Normal School do not always continue to teach, “In whatever position or relation of life a Normal teacher may be placed, his or her training at the Normal School cannot fail to contribute to their usefulness." Mr. Hickok, the State Superintendant of Pennsylvania, in reply to an inquiry as to his views on this point, says, in a letter this hour received: “I regard it [a Normal course] as decidedly better, even for those not designing to teach, than the ordinary course furnished in an Academy. There can be no doubt of this if training, as well as the acquisition of knowledge, be regarded as indispensable to a true and liberal education; and if as Dr. Mason once remarked, the object is to make the mind of the pupil “a fountain instead of a receiver.” The general and by no means ill-founded complaint against the “education" of the present day is that it is crude, superficial, and not readily
available in practical life. True normal instruction will produce essentially different fruits for all purposes.
Normal School teachers I find incline to similar opinions. Mr. J. P. Wickersham, Principal of the Lancaster County (Pa.) Normal institute, in a letter to me, says: “I have for some time been drifting towards the conclusion that the course of instruction found best for the latter (teachers] cannot but be advantageous to the former (ordinary pupils]. Besides, it is an important principle, applicable here, that one of the best ways to learn a thing well is to learn how to teach it.” Prof. F. A. Allen, of the Westchester, [Pa.] Normal School, also says: “The academic course of instruction in a Normal School is far preferable to that in any other institution. This opinion is founded upon experience of my own. If all study were pursued as if it were to be taught, it would be far better understood.” These views are corroborated by the best practical teachers with whom I have conversed. In Prussia no person is admitted as a candidate for the sacred ministry who has not attended at least a six months' course of lecture and exercises on "Pedagogy,” or school-teaching.
It would be a great benefit, then, not only to public education, but in every way, if we had a dozen Normal Schools scattered through the State. They would soon become, not only the most useful, but the most popular and most frequented academic institutions which we have among us.
But the formation of such schools must be a work of time. It is desirable, therefore, to set on foot some agency that will immediately bring the whole mass of our teachers in contact with the means of improvement; and there seems to be no more possible way of doing this than by the creation of the office of County Superintendent of Schools, and provision for & system of annual, or semi-annual Normal Institutes, to be held in each county, or other Superintendent District, and under the direction of the proper Superintendent. It may be doubtful how soon the Legislature can be induced to grant endowments for normal, schools; but they can hardly refuse to grant at once a moderate allowance for teachers' institutes, and inasmuch as it will be found very difficult to call at once into the field a corps of county superintendents, all of whom, or a majority of whom, will be competent to give all needful instruction in these institutes, therefore, if the Legislature will also provide for the appointment of an itinerant Normal Faculty, to act in concert with the County Superintendents, the chain of agencies, immediate and prospective, for the improvement of our teachers, and through them the elevation of the schools would be tolerably complete.
In conclusion, then, it only remains for me to recapitulate the several agencies, beginning with the most humble and most feasible, which go to make up a practicable and needful PLAN OF NORMAL INSTRUCTION.