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ORGANIZATION AND INSTRUCTION OF THE NATIONAL
SCHOOLS OF IRELAND.
The following Circular and Time Tables, selected from a Report of P. J. Keenan, Head Inspector, instructed by the Commissioners of National Education in 1855, to hold, what would be called in this country, a “ Teachers' Institute," composed of practical teachers, whose business it is to visit different parts of the country for the purpose of assisting in the organization of schools, and diffusing a knowledge of the best principles and methods of instruction, throw much light on the aims and processes of the National Schools of Ireland.
CIRCULAR LETTER explanatory of the nature of SCHOOL ORGANIZATION, and the DUTIES of the ORGANIZERS and InSPECTORS in relation to it.
1. The objects which the Commissioners of National Education have had in view, In establishing the staff of organizers, are two-fold, viz.:-
A.-- To bring National Schools into a state of efficiency.
tership in all its practical bearings, and also of the leading principles of
the Science of Education. 2. To carry out the first great object, (1 A), the organizers will devote themselves. during their stay in a school, to the following, as the main part of their duties.
3. To secure a regular and proper ventilation of the school-room.
7. To arrange maps, charts, and tablets, and show how they can be most profitably used.
8. To provide black-boards, ensels, pointers, arithmeticons, &c., and instruct the teachers as to their use.
9. To see that a sufficient number of desks is provided ; that they are properly arranged and fixed on the floor ; that provision is made for holding the slates; and that the business legitimate to the desks is regularly carried on.
10. To secure sufficient space for the drafts; to denote them by suitable marks on the floor; and to arrange the business proper to the drafts.
11. To elassify the pupils, and divide them into convenient divisions and drafts.
12. To make out a time table suitable to the circumstances of the school, and to test its judiciousness, by experiment, for a number of days before recommending its adop tion to the Manager.
13. To see that the pupils, as well as the teacher, understand the arrangements indicated in the time-table.
14. To establish a sound system of monitorial instruction ; to see that the members of the monitor class are judiciously selected ; that they are sufficiently mature and intelligent for their duties; that their employment as monitors does not interfere with their business as pupils; that they be required to teach those subjects only which they are competent to teach ; that they receive special instruction from the teachers, in limu of the time spent by them in teaching; that the business arranged for their special instruction is regularly conducted; that they are instructed in the art of teaching: that they are taught to prepare notes of the lessons which they may be called upon to teach ; that they know their duties prospectively; that they teach the same set of children from day to day for an assigned time ; that their teaching is effective; that the pupils have sufficient respect for them, and confidence in their abilities that much arrangements are made as to satisfy the parents of pupils and monitor with the mon itorial system, and that the teacher is duly prepared to control and prepare the mon itors for their duties.
15. Whilst monitorial instruction, judiciously and moderately employed, la encon aged, the organizers are to see that all the essentials of the education of a child are looked after and cared for by the teacher himself, and that the latter is to be almost constantly employed in the actual teaching of class after class, at the same time that he exercises an active superintendence over all the simultaneous operations of his school.
16. To establish a system of home lessons; to make arrangements for their regular announcement day after day ; to see that they are properly heard ; that the answering of the pupils is in some form noted; and that the general order of such lessons be kept in correspondence with the ordinary teaching pursued in the school.
17. To arrange for the regular recapitulation or repetition of the home and other lessons.
18. To make arrangements that the parents may be occasionally informed as to the attention of the children to the homne lessons and general business of the school.
19. To exemplify before the teacher the different methods of teaching, and to cause him in turn to practise the same.
20. To see that he prepares notes of lessons ” in proper form, on the different subjects taught in the school, and that he teaches the various lessons in conformity with the notes so prepared.
21. To effect as much improvement as possible in the teaching of reading, writing, arithmetic, dictation, grammar, geography, drawing, &c., and particularly in the teaching of the First Book.
22. To see that the teacher gives clear evidence that he prepares himself beforehand for the prork of each day, not only in the notes of the lessons which he is to teach, but also in the general business, including the simplest mechanical details of his school.
23. To drill the children, put then through the simple marching exercises, establish order and discipline, and train the teacher to continue the same course of drill and discipline so established.
24. To see that the business of the school is conducted with the least noise possible.
25. To establish a system of punishment for badly conducted children, and to intro duce a system of emulation or reward, to promote good conduct.
26. To improve the manners of the children, and to see that there is a daily inspec tion as to cleanliness, &c.
27. To see that the children are provided with the necessary books for home study, and that a sufficient sale stock, and an ample supply of school materials and requisites are furnished.
28. To arrange as to the calling of the rolls with all possible despatch ; to provide a report slate ; to correct and show the teacher how to keep the school accounts, and to cause scroll rolls to be kept.
29. To adopt measures towards improving the attendance of the children, particu larly with reference to punctuality in the morning.
30. Finally, the organizer is to lead the teacher into a strict observance of the rules of the Board, but especially the Practical Rules for Teachers.
31. The Cominissioners of National Education have decided that no National school can be organized until the Manager express his desire to avail himself of the services of an organizer; and even after so expressing himself, and permitting the organizer to commence operations in his school, it is to be distinctly understood that he is not bound to carry out the plans or to effect the alterations suggested by the organizer.
32. The Inspectors should therefore select those schools only for organization, the Managers of which are likely to exhibit a kind and cooperative spirit to the organizers.
33. Before a school can be organized, the Manager must provide a sufficient sale stock for the use of the children attending it. As already announced to the Inspectors, the Commissioners, on the recommendation of the Head or District inspector, or the organizer, will make a small grant of charts, black-boards, easels, pointers, &c., proportioned according to the wants and attendance of the school, not exceeding, however, except in special cases, the value of five pounds.
34. When an organizer enters a school, he is carefully to observe the methods of teaching pursued by teachers and monitors; the order, discipline, arrangements, and general organization of the school ; and he is afterwards to report, on a form prepared for the purpose, the exact state in which he finds the school in all these respects. This report is called the Preliminary Report.
35. When an organizer has completed the organization of a school, he is to make a report of the order, discipline, system, &c., established by him; to detall the exact state in which he leaves the school; and to record the general results of the organization. This report is called the Final Report.
36. The organizer is then to forward the two reports just referred to, to the Inspector of the district in which the school is situated.
37. After a period of not less than three weeks, and not more than six weeks from the completion of the organization of the school, the Inspector of the district is to inspect the school, with a special view of ascertaining the effectiveness of the organization, and of examining and checking, in detail, al he points and statements contained in the organizer's final report.
38. The District Inspector is then to forward this report, along with the organizer's Preliminary and Final Reporte, to the Head Inspector of the Distriet, who will afterwards transmit them to this office.
39. During the time that a school is under organization the Inspector is not to make a formal inspection of it, nor sooner after the organization is completed than the time mentioned in paragraph 37; and it is the express wish of the Commissioners that the employment of an organizer in a district may interfere as little as possible with the usual and regulur business of inspection.
40. It is, however, exceedingly desirable that the Inspector should make as many incidental visite as possible to a school under organization, to see that the work is proceeding with regularity and vigor; to confer with the Managers, and stimulate them to a hearty co-operation with the organizers; to assist in removing local diffi cultics or impediments, and to extend, as much as lies in his power, the advantages accruing to the National system from the operations of the organizers.
41. No organizer should, for the present, be sent to any place where there are not, al
least, four National Schools within a circuit of three miles from it, the Managers of which are desirous that their schools may receive the advantages of organization.
42. No less than four, or more than eight, schools are for the present to be organized by the same organizer in any particular locality.
43. As a general rule, the time spent in the organization of a school is not to exceed a fortnight; but the organizer is to return for a day or two, if necessary, before he leaves the locality in which the school is situated, to observe the results of the organization, and give such further instruetion to teachers and monitors as the state of the school may at the time suggest as necessary and important.
44. The two weeks which may be spent by an organizer in a school are not to be consecutive; a week, in all cases, is to elapse between the first and second parts of the organization. For instance, where four schools, A, B, C, D, are to be organized, tho following may be the order of organization :First week.
B Next week. 45. The second great object which the Commissioners of National Education have had in view in establishing the staff of organizers, as already stated in paragraph 1 B, is “to diffuse a knowledge of schoolmastership in all its practical bearings, and also of the leading principles of the science of education amongst the teachers of the country.”
46. To carry out this great object each organizer will deliver a course of lectures to the teachers who live in the neighborhood of the school in which he is engaged, upon method, order, discipline, school accounts, employment of monitors, construction of time-tables, arrangement of school furniture, use of charts, tablets, and apparatus, industrial education, and upon organization generally.
47. These lectures will take place on Saturdays, at whatever hour may be most convenient to the organizers and the teachers.
48. The District Inspector is to invite all teachers living within a reasonable walking distance-four or five miles-to those lectures; and whilst attendance is, under no circumstances, to be considered as compulsory, it is to be understood that the Commissioners will regard with satisfaction the conduct of those teachers who attend the instructions.
49. None but schoolmasters and monitors in their fourth year, are to attend the lectures of male organizers, and none are to attend the instructions of the female organizers but schoolmistresses and monitresses in their fourth year.
50. Teachers, whether trained or not, are eligible for admission into the organizers' classes ; for it is hoped that both the trained and the untrained will derive such advantage from the instructions as to qualify them the better for a skilful and efficient discharge of their duties.
51. The organizers will keep a roll of the attendance of the teachers, and submit it at the end of the course of instruction to the District Inspector.
52. The organizers will require the teachers who may attend to take such notes during each lecture as will enable them to write out an abstract of it before the day for the following lecture; those abstracts and whatever other written exercises the organizers may require the teachers to prepare for them are to be examined and noted by the organizer, and submitted from time to time to the District or Head Inspector, to be afterwards, however, in the corrected state, returned to the teacher.
53. A statement will be made at the end of each course of lectures by the organizers, for the information of the Inspectors and Commissioners, of the attention paid by each of the teachers to their instructions, and of the proficiency which each of them shall have made.
54. As the duties of an organizer, when organizing a school, will be such as to prevent him from doing much more, in reference to methods of teaching, than exemplifying and carrying into practical effect the instructions contained in his lectures, no school can be organized, the teacher of which does not attend, or shall not have attended, a course of lectures either from him or some other organizer
55. The Commissioners desire that the Inspectors should devote as much attention as possible to the arrangement and superintendence of those weekly meetings; and they also desire that the Inspectors should sustain and encourage the organizers on those occasions, uphold their authority, give weight to their position, and contribute by every means in their power to their success.
56. Before an organizer commences operations in a locality, the Inspector should have all necessary arrangements with Managers and teachers completed, as to the schools to be organized and the teachers who are to form the Saturday class for practical instruction.
57. Whenever a District Inspector feels that the services of an organizer are required for any particular group of his schools, all the conditions already announced being either fully complied with, or in a fair way of being so, he is to communicate with this office, giving information on the following points:(a) As to the centre which he proposes for the residence of the organizer, selecting,
of course, no place in which a suitable lodging cannot be procured for him
and his family. ) As to the schools which he recommends for organization and the distance of
each from the proposed residence of the organizer. > As to the number of teachers who would likely attend the lectures of the
organizer upon Saturdays. 58. Each District Inspector is requested to inform this office, within a week after the receipt of this circular letter, upon the points enumerated in the previous paragraph.
59. The office, on receipt of those communications, will advise them to the Head
in their power to their se weight to their posite organizers on
tors, the Co These report because the
Inspector, whose duty it will be to select the schools proposed to be organized, to instruct the organizers as to the schools assigned them, and the time of the commencement of the organization, and immediately to advise the office as to the steps thus taken.
60. In order to place the object and details of the system of organization, and the machinery by which it is worked, as fully and clearly as possible before the Inspectors, the Commissioners append printed copies of the reports referred to in paragraphs 34 and 35. These reports, printed verbatim from the copies furnished by the organizer, are selected principally because the school to which they refer, from being one of the worst town schools in connection with the Board, has become, since its organization, distinguished for the neatness and completeness of its arrangements, and the general excellence of the order, discipline, and methods of teaching pursued in it. The Inspectors should peruse these reports carefully, inasmuch as they exhibit, with considerable precision, the chief points and details in the organization of a school.
61. The District Inspectors are requested to circulate, as extensively as possible, amongst Managers, teachers, and the public generally, information as to the object, scope, and lead features of organization; to let Managers understand that the presence of an organizer in their schools neither affects their privileges nor interferes with their functions ; to inform teachers that organization is intended to diminish, in no way, their authority in their schools, or to degrade them in the estimation of their pupils or the parents ; to acquaint all classes interested in the education of the people, that an organizer has nothing whatever to say or do in relation to the arrangements for religious instruction ; that, on the contrary, it is the aim of the ('ommissioners, in the measures now taken by them for the improvement of their schools, to uphold the rights of Managers, to strengthen the power of the teachers, by rendering them more skilful servants of the public, and to realize what the Board have long desired to attain, a scheme of organization which, by combining all that educationists approve in the matter of instruction and commend in school keeping, will give a distinctive stamp and uniform character to the schools conducted on the National system.
The following extracts from Mr. Keenan's Report (1856) illustrates some of the above points.
School Organization. In organizing an ordinary National School, the teacher should divide the school into two divisions; and he would arrange that the divisions should move alternately from floor to desks, desks to floor, and so on. He would appoint specific business for each division for every moment of the day, whether in the desks or on the floor, and the spirit of the whole organization would consist in the unflagging nature of the work from morning to evening. On the floor there would be the active rira voce lessons in reading, grammar, geography, arithmetic, spelling, geometry, algebra, mensuration, &c.; in the desks there would be the quiet work, requiring only superintendence and occasional examination or instruction, as writing on slates and paper, dictation, composition, drawing, slate arithmetic, lesson exercises, book-keeping, and industrial work. "Lesson Exercises" is a name which I have given to any exercise on paper or slate, which refers to some lesson previously learned. For instance, if it refer to grammar, the exercise may be to classify columnarly the parts of speech of the words of a sentence, to write out the derivations of a number of words dictated to them, &c.; if it refer to the Lesson Books, the exercise may be to write out the substance of the lesson read a little previously upon the floor, or to summarize the lessons of a section of one of the books, &c.; if it refer to geography, the exercise may be to write down the manufactures, population, imports, exports, &c., of some country, or to draw an outline map of it; and no matter, in short, what the subject may be, it will afford material for this very useful and interesting exercise, which has the advantage of being always an appeal to the judgment as well as to the memory.
The organizer takes care that there shall be no « preparing lessons," home being the place for that, the suitable place where even if there were no improvement on the hour and forty minutes' plan, it would be still desirable to enforce habits of reading and study and of preparation for the business of the school. The arrangement into two divisions - the rotation being from desk to floor and floor to desk throughout the day - would be called a bipartite organization ; but if the school were large and possessed the convenience of a gallery or class-room, the arrangement might consist of three divisions, the rotation being from desk to floor, floor to gallery, gallery to desk, it would be called a tripartite organization. The result of these arrangements is, that there are either two or three distinct courses of business going on at the same time, each course of business being regularly arranged and properly defined, and having strict reference to the gradual development of the education of the children in the school. There can be no haphazard work, no fortuitous employment; every one must be constantly engaged, the master teaching and the pupils learning. In Holland, one of the state laws declares -“The instruction shall be communicated simultaneously to all the pupils in the same class, and the master shall take care that during that time the pupils of the two other classes are usefully employed."
Tripartite System. li the school be large, the teaching power sufficient, and a class-room or gallery at his disposal, the organizer decides upor the tripartite system, and arranges the school into three divisions, the junior, the middle, and the senior. The junior division may be composed of the first class, the middle division of the second and sequel classes, and the senior division of the third and fourth classes. Sometimes it may be necessary, although to be avoided if possible, to break up a class and place the lower portion of it in one division, and
portion in another. For instance, the lower section of Second Book might be placed in the junior division; the middle division might include the higher section of second and the sequel class, and the senior division, as before, might contain the third and fourth classes. The head master might possibly have special charge of the senior division, the assistant master of the middle division, and a paid monitor might have the care of the junior division. The routine working of the tripartite system is very simple. The business of the day, say, commences with the senior division upon the floor. The head master, having a monitor in each draft
rom draft to draft, revising what has been done by the monitors, and giving the substance of the lesson for the time being to each class as he passes along. The middle division is at this time, say, in the gallery, receiving a simultaneous lesson from the assistant master on some subject appropriate to the gallery ; and the junior division is in the desks under the monitor, engaged in some befitting desk occupation. The head master, although having special charge of the senior division, is yet master of the whole school, and he must so contrive his duties, that whilst he teaches his own division, his influence and superintending function shall be felt and exercised in each of the other divisions
the school. Accordingly, whilst the divisions are disposed of as I have represented them, for the first lesson of the day, he must, in addition to the immediate instruction which he gives his own division, turn to the junior division in the desks, see how the monitor is managing it, take a momentary part in the teaching, and make a cursory inspection of what the children are employed at. This must be do..e without causing gaps or incoherency in the teaching of his own division, every draft of which must receive its share of his services, and every monitor in which must account to him for all that he is doing and for the proficiency of his pupils. He must also pay an occasional visit to the gallery, to see that his
his assistant is instructing the middle division with intelligence and effect, and that he exhibits evidence of having carefully prepared himself for the lesson. The order of the whole school is to be watched ; a monitor inclined to rest upon his oars is to be aroused; a child disposed to idle is to be admonished. Every one must be employed; every monitor must be in earnest; every blackboard must show that work is being done. The quality of the instruction must be looked after; there must be no lounging or yawning or talking or whiling time away. He must know the extent of the instructions which have been given in the desks and in the gallery. The lesson has now lasted for thirty minutes; the bell announces the time up for a change, and in a moment the three divisions are simultaneously in motion. In less than half a minute they have all changed places. The senior division has gone from the floor to the desks; the junior from the desks to the gallery; the middle from the gallery to the drafts on the floor. There is no noise or confusion in the movement, no roaring out the orders; the stroke of the bell by the monitor of order, or the head master, is sufficient to announce the change. Immediately that the divisions reach their places, business is resumed. The head master starts his division at once to work in the desks; the assistant is going through a course with his drafts on the floor, similar to that pursued by the head master during the previous lesson; and the monitor is busy with his division in the gallery. The head master has more leisure now to pay attention to the junior and middle divisions, for his own division is engaged at some silent occupation in the desks, which only requires superintendence and occasional examination. He may possibly exchange with the monitor, and give the simultaneous lesson to the junior division in the gallery, or he may go from draft to draft through the middle division, and confer with his assistant as to the state of each draft, the industry or the ability of each monitor, and the whole scheme of the instruction of the division. It requires only an occasional minute to pass through the desks and overlook and correct the exercises of his own, the senior division, or he may spend four or five minutes with it consecutively, in explaining the principle of what it is engaged at, whether writing, or drawing, or book-keeping, or composition, or whatever else the lesson may happen to be. The same activity and the same watchfulness prevail during the second lesson, as during the first; and when the a more or less, is up, the bell again rings, and again the simultaneous movement is made. As before, there is no noise; no confusion; no trampling of feet; no blundering; in silence and order each division reaches its new place. The junior division has moved from the gallery to the floor; the middle division now