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About Teacher's Agencies
By B. F. CLARK, CHICAGO, ILL. anno mamme ROM the thousands of colleges and other higher in
stitutions of learning there is graduated every year an army of young men and women who are
ready to take their places in the ranks of workers namuonna
of the world. A very few have prepared for some particular pursuit, the law, the ministry, commerce,--but the smallest number of all have pre
pared for educational work, or, to speak plainly, teaching school.
Those who have not had any definite goal clearly in view find themselves at the close of their school days "up against it.” For a time it would seem as if the world had forgotten that it owed them a living. The problem of getting onto somebody's pay roll becomes rather acute. It occurs to them that their recent training can be used for teaching; therefore, many take up that work. Teaching is the only field in which there is a reasonable immediate return on one's educational investment. The salaries at the very start are starvation wages as is true in most commercial pursuits, and while maximum salaries are modest, yet they are quite sufficient and make possible a life most attractive because of its associations, its opportunity for culture and its leisure for self-employment.
The annual increase of brand new material is taken up and absorbed by the schools of the country without any disturbance. How? Through what medium?
Among the immense number of teachers already in the work there are every year countless changes, promotions, retirements, etc. Busy teachers have little time and few facilities for the considerable task of finding out what the market for teachers is in hope of advancement in salary, work or location. Their own unaided efforts carry but a few miles from their doorsteps while the need of some means of communication of wide scope and recognized standing is apparent. A manufacturing concern not only makes its product but also finds a market for it. The college or educa
tional factory takes the general attitude that it manufactures the product but with a few possible exceptions goes no farther.
How do thousands of these teachers, both experienced and inexperienced, get their positions ? There is an educational clearing house through which those who want to teach and those who want teachers can be brought together. The necessity of teachers brought into existence Teachers' Agencies and it has been the custom for three generations for teachers and schools to get together through such agencies. So modestly have these valuable adjuncts to education worked that hardly anybody outside of the field of education has been aware of their existence. Yet as a matter of course a teacher desiring a school will first place an application in an agency. The intent of this paper, therefore, is to some extent to clear away the fog about this business in the mind of the average person and in the minds of some teachers.
Teachers' Agencies have been successfully operated for some seventy years. They have stood the test of time and have splendidly served their purpose. Agencies are used by schools from the university to the grades. Any school officer, of high or low degree who does not avail himself of Agency service at some time is overlooking a considerable chance of attaining the best results possible for the funds and equipment at his disposal. In fact the business of most agencies is with schools of the very best class to a much greater degree than with the lower strata of schools, which clearly proves that the best men and women in education support and value the work done by the Teachers' Agencies.
Through bringing about the most advantageous distribution possible of teaching talent, the Teachers' Agencies have rendered a distinctly valuable aid in raising the salaries of teachers and in getting for the school the very best available brains and personality. It is so common as to excite no comment for an agency to send a teacher several thousand miles to his (or her) new position. This distribution of the product of educational institutions of higher learning has unquestionably been of the greatest value to both schools and teachers, resulting in their mutual benefit in many ways.
What influence could be greater for any college than to have its graduates working as teachers of the coming generation of boys
and girls ? Every teacher is the center of a sphere of influence not only for his own college but also for the cause of higher education and better living in general. Is it of no advantage for the University of Chicago, for example, to have its graduates working faithfully in the best schools all over this broad land ? Is it of no value for even this great university that every year hundreds, literally, are placed in important positions entirely through Teachers' Agencies ? And this is in the face of the fact that they have a valuable and well managed "Board of Recommendations.” How can the spirit of this university be spread more advantageously? What could be more enlightening for the young than to have the college spirit imparted to them by their teachers ?
The standard of efficiency, truth and honesty of the Teachers' Agency of today is such that a telegram will start instanter a teacher on a long, expensive trip to the new post without a question and with the guarantee only that "The Agency” has requested it. Schools without number fill their positions with men and women whom they have never even heard of, much less seen, depending upon the Agency records and recommendations. These things are truth, not fiction. To arrive at such a point of efficiency, agencies have worked for years and have by their good sense, their fidelity to the interests of all and their indefatigable energy won their status by pure merit alone.
The men and women who are carrying on the great Teachers' Agency work of this country are taken from the best ranks of education. Among them are college presidents and professors, public school superintendents, graduates of highest and most renowned universities, men who have attained eminence in religious work, successful men in school book publishing work, prominent musicians, and in short, persons of the very highest intelligence.
These Agencies are strong financial institutions, many of them corporations, with branches situated to cover to the best advantage the territory they serve. These agencies are ever alert, "on the job,” ready on a telegram to offer reliable aid to whomsoever may call. Consider what it means to keep such an organization as an up-to-date Agency in a state of constant preparedness, the trained helpers always ready, the managerial force ever on hand, willing, cheerful, optimistic, resourceful.
Their offices are open every
working day in the year, in dull season and in busy season.
One can think of nothing more nearly like this than the crew of a ship in the navy which is ever and always ready for a “fight or a frolic.”
The retainer fees, which teachers pay as the evidence of their own belief in their own qualifications, are never more than two dollars each. These do not reimburse the agency for its postage bill. Each manager is capable of holding a first class position as a teacher (frequently he is taken directly from the ranks of teachers). They are, therefore, paid corresponding salaries. The "overhead expenses,” rent, salaries, postage, printing, etc., are enormous and the percentage of profit in each commission paid is less than one-third. In a word, these agencies are and always have been, and are naturally accepted as, facts.
It is generally believed by the ordinary teacher that the problem of the Teachers' Agencies is to fill the vacancies to which it can recommend its candidates. The very reverse of this is, in fact, true. The problem is to keep up an active list of available teachers. One does not see any general advertisement of a Teachers' Agency for vacancies, such advertisements are always aimed at the teacher. Any other method would be "putting the cart before the horse." Imagine an Agency with a lot of vacancies for which it had to hunt up candidates; if the Agency is not ready to act at once, the opportunity is gone—lost.
A list is constantly changing. A teacher available today probably will not be available, a month hence, having in the meantime definitely settled on some plan of work or study. A list a year old is almost worthless, two years old—junk. Hence the constant effort is to build up and keep up the grade and quality of the list.
It is easy to see that for its own self-preservation a TeacherAgency must make good”:--that is, it must satisfy the school authorities and satisfy its candidates. To do this, it must be absolutely fair, impersonal, strictly honest and even generous in financial affairs. “You cannot fool all the people all of the time.” A business which has been constantly before the most severe of all critics—teachers,--for a generation certainly has stood the acid test.
ASPECTS OF MODERN DRAMA. By Frank W Chandler. New York, The Macmillan Co. Price, $2.00 net.
The author of this substantial volume with its 494 large pages is Professor Dean in the University of Cincinnati. The book grew out of lectures, given within the last four years, at Cincinnati, or Columbia University. He affirms that: “In no other department of literature have recent developments been so significant as in the drama." While many of our plays are without literary merit and most of them are far inferior to the great plays of Greece and of Elizabethan England, nevertheless, they "powerfully render the thoughts and feelings of a time when old forms of art are changing and the life of man is being reflected from new angles." His method is to group together and carefully analyze plays from different writers which exemplify "conceptions and modes of expression characteristic of the stage today." He begins with Ibsen, whom he regards “as master of the drama of ideas," and continues with the work of Hauptmann, Brient, Gorky, Rostund, Sundermann, Maeterlinck, Strindberg, D'Annunzio, Wilde, Piners, Echegarey, Bjørnson, Ychak her, Schintzler, Bornstein, Galsworthy, Barker, Hervieu, Janus, Lady Gregory, Yeats, Synge, and others, closing with Bernard Shaw, the representation of the drama of Satire. The subjects covered by this wide array of authors are as wide as human passion in every form of love or lust, of greed or jealousy, of sin or cruelty or crime. Mr. Chandler wields a trenchant pen. He is master of his subject and analyzes each play, and its author's purpose in writing it, in a clear, incisive, always interesting and sometimes luminous manner.
STORIES FROM NORTHERN MYTHS. By Emilie Kip Baker. New York. The Macmillan Co. Price, $1.25.
These are intensely interesting tales and remarkably well told, by one who was already the author of "Stories of old Greece and Rome.” In these pages we meet the old gods in their warm delightful home city, Asgard. Here are Thor, Odin, Vile, Ve, Balder, Tyr, Fenrer, Hel, and that wicked one, Loki. Great and terrible deeds are recorded of them. And mighty are those heroes of Midgard, the earth, Sinfiotli; Siegmund and Siegfried. Fierce and bitter is the strife between gods; but still more terrible is the fierce battling between the gods and their deadly enemies, the frost-giants. These terrible beings lived in Jötunheim, an awful region of fog, and ice and snow. Very beautiful are some of these gods and goddesses; and great and strong are the earthly warriors; but ever the story is of envy, jealousy and hatred which lead to awful deeds of cruelty and bloodshed. Yet here and there one meets a strain of kindness, magnanimity or genuine love. As we read of their wonderful deeds we miss the genial glow of tenderness and love which characterize the truly Divine One. How much the old world of myth and of reality needed him.