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subject of the lesson that he needs no book; he assigns to each member of the class a topic, a certain portio. of the lesson, and the scholar, standing, gives the substance of that portion, without question, and in his own language, subject to corrections, first by the class, as a body of critics, and then by the teacher, as judge; or, instead of assigning a definite part to each one of the class, the teacher calls on one to begin the lesson, appoints another to serye as special critic, and requires another to take up the subject at the point where the first is stopped; each member is called in the same way, without knowing when he is to be called. In all cases the teacher records, in his class-book, the character of each scholar's recitation, not excepting the critic, who is marked according to the accuracy with which he has performed his duty. This method of teaching can be variously modified, so as to secure, at all times, life, and animation in the class—"consummation devoutly to be wished.” That this method can be adopted fully and with equal success in primary schools is not claimed, though some of its main features can be used there as well as in grammar schools, high schools, or academies.
Objections have been made to this method of teaching, on the ground that it requires so much of the teachor's time out of school, to prepare himself to appear before his classes as indicated above! The method presupposes that the teacher loves his business, and that he loves to prepare himself to do that business in the best possible manner; such being the case he would not consider the time lost that he devotes to a preparation for the duties of the school-room.
It remains to consider at some future time, the principles upon which this method is based, and the advantages arising from it. FOND DU LAO
E. C. J.
THE MEDIATORIAL OFFIOE.
BY GEORGE D. HUNT.
Muou is said and published about the qualification of teachers, and the proper management of schools; and the idea appears to prevail that the work of education depends for success wholly upon them. This shows but a limited conception of the matter. The importance of good teachers and good regulations in schools I will not disparage. But I boldly declare that too much dependence is placed upon them. We have teachers' institates and normal schools; but too many of those who have been trained in these are not elsewhere suitably appreciated and encouraged. The
teacher's work is performed mainly in the recitation room. Outside of this his merits are not always understood. He is often censured and criticized by persons who are ignorant of both school matters and the disadvantages under which he labors. The task of conducting lessons and otherwise imparting instruction is sufficiently onerous for one person. And when a heavy task of discipline is superadded to this, it is not strange that many teacbers make great failures. While in his official capacity there should be a power to which the teacher is amenable, and by which he is sustained. This is the mediatorial office, the business of school trustees and boards of education. They are mediators between the teachers and the public, for whose children they labor. An important part of their duty is to reconcile the public to the best policy in school.
Persons not engaged in teaching can awaken the public to the subject of education without the charge of begging patronage. They also can best conciliate the common people in regard to the operations of the school. Those who are the most in need of education are the most liable to be dissatisfied with the policy of schools; and hence originate the numerous conflicts between teachers and ignorant and dowise parents. These conflicts are among the greatest annoyances incident to the profession. The fact of the teacher's efforts not being appreciated is another great hindrance to the success of education. Teachers are thereby discouraged and disgusted with the profession, and led to abandon it for a more lucrative and less vexatious employment. These evils can always be removed, or, at least, much mitigated by vigilant and attentive school officers. They are as much needed as good teachers, and their proper qualification is next in importance. They very much aid the teacher, and render the school more efficient. Schools result in failures oftener from the delinquency of trustees than for want of good and attentive teachers.
A parallel is found in church economy. There, good deacons are as much needed as good ministers. Many churches, after calling good ministers to their pastorship, do not prosper because they have not deacons competent for their office, and all the members are indifferent to this matter, and impose the whole burden of sustaining the church on the pastor. And because the church is not blest under his preaching, he is charged with inefficiency. This is unjust and unfair.
The proper qualification of school officers (directors or trustees) is next in importance to that of teachers. They should make themselves acquainted with the best school policy, and they should know how to estimate the merits of teachers, and to roake allowance for circumstances under which they labor. Above all things, they should strive to make the teacher's efforts accomplish as much as possible for his charge. They should frequently inspect the school, counsel with the teachers, parents and guardians, and pupils too. They should always attend at the commencement of a school, and see how the teacher begins his operations. What farmer, when he employs a “band” to plow for him, does not at the outstart see
that the team is properly rigged, and the plow in order; and then go with him to the field to witness his commencement, and render him some aid in beginning? Perhaps he accompanies the plowman during a few rounds, till the horses are fairly “ broken into" the work. From time to time he goes to see how the work progresses. Trustees and parents should manifest no less interest in the commencement of a school.
Outside indifference and pragmatic interference are among the greatest obstacles to the success of schools. A few words of admonition from the school officers will awaken interest and silence interference, often, much better than any defense or apology by a teacher. If there be just cause of complaint, they are the proper persons to remove it. It will be asserted that in many places persons are not to be found who are acquainted with school economy so as to be fit for trustees or boards of education. Then it is their duty to inform themselves. And this any person can do; and sarely it is for their interest. If they only give countenance and encouragement to the teacher, they will aid him much.
What branch of education is more neglected than reading? There is no literary treat so great as to listen to good reading of any kind. Not one in a hundred can read so as to please the ear, and send the words home with gentle force to the heart and understanding. An indistinct atterance, whines, drawls, nasal twangs, guttural notes, hesitations, want of proper spirit-emphasis and inflections, and other vices, are almost universal. Why it is so no one can say, unless it be a lack of instruction and training in our schools —a failure to give a correct impulse to the elocutionary powers of the popil. Many a lady can sing an Italian song with considerable execution, but can not read English passably. Yet reading is by far the most valuable accomplishment. If an article is to be read in the drawing-room, it is discovered that no one can read it properly. One has weak lungs, another gets hoarse, another chokes, another has an abominable singing, another dashes along, rumbling like a clumsy wagon on a pavement, and another has such a style as seems to proclaim that what he reads is of little consequence, and proclaims also his want of efficient training.
There are hundreds of teachers who are very indifferent readers, and hundreds more who can read well themselves, but do not understand how to teach reading properly and critically. They read too little for their pupils, and fail to point out to them their faults—to point out the difference
between good and bad, or indifferent reading. As well might a person be expected to make proficiency in vocal music, without having his teacher sing, or a child to learn to talk without hearing its parent speak, as to expect the pupil to learn to read with ease and consistency without an ex. ample to listen to.
L. L. KENOSHA, Feb. 1859,
SOME OF THE THINGS WE TEAOH OHILDREN.
BY MISS HELEN M, OULVER, OF OHICAGO.
The character of Illincis's hundred thousand school children is waiting onr impress. What is the coin we bave to stamp?
The soul of a child is ever likened to an unsullied page, to a sweet opening rose, to the still waters of a calm, pare lake, to plastic clay in the hands of the potter-in fact, to aln.ost every thing that symbolizes docility, innocence,and purity. Yet we who deal much with children sometimes find these sweet roses nothing more than poppies after all, and the still waters stagnant, and the plastic clay with an innate tendency toward uncoath and fantastic shapes, and the unsullied page likely to remain spotless for aught we can do toward making any lasting impression upon it. Indeed, spite of ourselves, children do some times remind us that the blood of Cain, and Nero, and Caligula, still flows in their veins, warring with their nobler heritage from Columbus, Milton, Howard, and Adams.
I would not tarnish the fair fame of childhood. I believe, with St. Paul, that "man is made but a little lower than the angels;" and yet some times feel with Jeremiah, that the “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”
The child is many-sided, and responsive to the slightest touches. How do we deal with this complex nature of childhood? Do we deepen and strengthen, and broaden every proclivity toward the good and true? Do we carb and smother the protean shape of evil that lurks in every heart ? Are the life-lessons we are imparting such as we can look back upon with satisfaction when we review our life's work? These are questions we should not evade, but answer unbiasedly.
Let us glance at some of the lessons (they are much the same in town and hamlet) we are teaching to thousands of children in this fair, broad State. Let us see if they are adapted to the eager, enthusiastic nature of childhood? Let us see if they are adapted to the rearing of worthy citizens of a free republic ?
The little antaaght urchin enters school for the first time some sunny Monday morning, eager, expectant, wondering. The teacher greets him with a "good morning,” shows him where to hang his cap, gives him a seat and tells him to sit very still. For the first half-hour he is all-observant of the operations of the school-eyes and ears do good execution, he is greatly interested; but by-and-by his little limbs, which have never known rest save in slumber, begin to grow weary, and he very innocently thinks he will take a run out in the open air, and leisurely starts for the door, when, lo! teachers and pupils stare at him as though he had committed one of the seven deadly sins. He slinks back to his seat shame-faced, and never again tries that resource to rest his aching body. Again he sits still, fearing to stir for a length of time, to him interminable, when he ventures, timidly, to ask his next neighbor bow long he must stay there; and again those terrible looks are upon him, and he cowers down into his seat, trembling at the crime he has committed. But childhood is elastic, and he soon regains bis equanimity; and he begins to think of his swing at home, and his rocking-horse, and the birds, and the green fields, and the berries, and longs to get away into the free air. He gazes wistfully at the door-way, but dares not again venture to cross that rubicon. This is repeated for many a weary, weary day. It is his earliest school-lesson of listlessness and idleness. These habits are so grounded. so thoroughly rooted in the natures of children in our primary schools, and by primary discipline in district schools, that it is almost a hopeless task to eradicate them.
It is pitiable to see teachers of the more advanced schools working, toiling, spending themselves, in the almost vain endeavor to overcome faults not natural but acquired in the primary schools. The task of imposing this habit of idleness is scarcely less difficult than that of aprooting it. It is accomplished only by the utmost vigilance on the part of the teacher; for God has as surely made the child for action as he has the skyey hosts above us. But at last comes his first lesson. Now he will learn about the rain, or the bright sun, or the shadows which have been so long a mystery, or why it is that every body must learn to read. No, poor child I nothing of the kind! There are certain characters of which you must learn the names. What though you don't care what their names are ? What though you don't know that any use is to be made of them! You must remember them every one, and when they are all learned you shall have a new and equally interesting lesson : you shall be initiated into the mysteries of bra, cra, fra, bro, cro, fro, and so on. What wonder that the restless spirit of a child, fed on such husks, and without the hope or knowledge that something better is in store for him when he has mastered these rudiments should become disgusted with it and with school generally? What wonder that the temptations of new skates and smooth ice should some times overbalance his sense of duty, and send him off skyrocketing, as the boys of Easton say.