Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

fore, have no doubt, that the existence of a high school, with such requisitions of admittance as have been adopted, would exercise the happiest influence on the district schools, and would raise their character at once. A motive to thoroughness and completeness in study would be presented, such as has never before existed. On the other hand, fix your standard of requirements below a thorough knowledge of the studies pursued in the district schools, and an injurious effect upon those schools is the inevitable consequence. You will never have another thorough scholar in them; the high school will be obliged to make up the deficiencies of the district school, instead of doing exclusively its own proper work, and the whole standard of education in the town will be lowered from what it might have been.

In conclusion, your committee would remind the town, that the problem submitted to them for solution was,-given four hundred and fifty dollars and no school room, to form the best possible high school. Now, four hundred and fifty dollars will bire but one teacher, and one teacher can instruct and govern but a limited number of scholars Eighty would be too large for such a school, but say, that eighty could be adınitted, and the committee were to set about fixing the qualifications, either of mind or body, which should exclude all the children in town but eiglity ;-would one course be more likely than another to meet the approbation of those who were determined not to be satisfied unless their children were immediately admitted ?

Your committee ask the attention of the town to the facts, which have now been stated, respecting the numbers of the school. In answer to the ohjection, that the standard of qualifications fixed, would necessarily keep the school too small, it is to be observed, that forty-seven pupils were at full liberty to partake in the benefits of the school, and it is no fault of the committee, that they did not do so; yet, if they had all attended, they could not have been accommodated in the only place, which your committee were able to procure.

Your committee would respectfully suggest, that there would have been more reason in the complaint, that they did not admit sixty or seventy scholars, it the town had furnished them with a school-room sufficient for that number of pupils. In the second place, it is to be observed, that the number, though small at first, rapidly and steadily increased. The fact is, there are a great many scholars, in our district schools, who had come nearly up to the standard of requisitions for admission in the high school, but who, for want of sufficient stimulus, had never, and probably never would have, reached it; but who, as soon as they found, that, by a little extra exertion, they could enjoy the advantages of the high school, were induced to make the effort, and made it successfully. Thus, the high school had scarcely come into existence, before its beneficial influence upon the primary schools began to be felt. It must be obvious to any one, who will bestow the slightest attention upon the subject, that the smallness of the number, at first, was merely incident to the commencement of such an undertaking; and your committee are convinced, that, if the school is continued, the force of the objection adverted to, will be, every day, growing less; than can be conveniently accommodated and taught, in one school, will be found qualified, and that the greatest difficulty, which future committees will meet, will be in deciding the claims of those, who are qualified, by their attainments, for admission.

One of the general topics, connected with the condition of the schools, upon which the committee are most anxious to communicate their views to the town, is the manner of conducting the examinations. The committee have taken these examinations chiefly, or entirely, into their own hands; and they have reason to suppose, that this practice has, in some instances, given offence. But they see not, how they can, in any other way, faithfully perform the duties expected of them, or promote the best interest of the schools committed to their trust. It is their duty to report, to the town, the condition of the several schools; but what can they know of the actual condition of a school, in which they are merely present, when an examination, or, as it should more properly be called, an exhibition, of the school is conducted by the teacher. The committee may enter one school, in which every question is promptly and correctly answered, by each scholar, ere the last word is out of the teacher's

that more

*

mouth ; not a mistake may be made, throughout the whole process; and the school may make, what is called, a splendid appearance ; yet it may be, that half, or a greater part, of the term has been wasted, in getting up this show; the scholars may have been answering those same questions every day for weeks; they may know nothing of the subjects, on which they recite, but what is contained in these answers; they cannot be said to know even that; they have merely learned it by rote, as parrots might bave done, with but little more training. Yet the committee must not dispel this delusion by a single word; they must appear perfectly satisfied, dispense the expected portion of praise, and thus make themselves accessories to the imposture. They enter another school, where the teacher has been faithful and honest; he has spent the term, in laboring to communicate to his pupils, true knowledge; he has made no preparation for the examination, except a general review, and asks such questions, as happen to occur to him at the tiine. His scholars, perhaps, sometimes hesitate; they are obliged, occasionally, to stop and think, and make some mistakes; yet, in fact, they have made real progress, and gained no inconsiderable accessions of valuable knowledge. But this school, judging only from the appearances, which they are permitted to witness, the committee must set down far below the other. How can this injustice be rectified, except by the committee's conducting the examinations, themselves ?

But, it is said, that the scholars are accustomed to their teacher's voice, and manner of asking questions, and can, therefore, answer more readily, when questioned by him. Your committee would suggest, that, if this is true, it furnishes a strong argument, in favor of the practice, for which they contend. Can that be truly called knowledge, or is it available for any useful purpose, which is forthcoming only at the bidding of one particular voice? If the teacher asks a pupil a question, he knows the subject inquired about; if any one else asks him, or if any of the exigences of life brings his knowledge into demand, he knows not. What sort of knowledge is that? Is the pupil to carry his teacher with him through life, to ask him questions, whenever it is necessary to bring his knowledge into use? If a thing is really known, it can be produced in answer to any body's questioning, and this is a good test of real knowledge. One great means of producing thoroughness, and completeness of knowledge, would be the anticipation of au examination, in which the pupils would be questioned by a new voice, and be obliged to rely, for their answers, on the general information they have gained, upon the subject of the examination. A school, accustomed to be examined in this manner, is in a fair way to attain a manly maturity of intellect, and the valuable habit of self-reliance. The pupils of any other school are kept perpetually in leading strings, and will find themselves wofully deficient, when they come out into the business of real life. It would be a subject of deep regret, that the presence of the committee should operate as a spell on the faculties of the pupils; nor do your committee believe, that this is, to any great extent, the case. There are, it is true, occasional cases of extreme constitutional timidity, which are obvious, and to which, all necessary indulgence will undoubtedly be ever shown But diffidence is not one of the besetting weaknesses of youth of the present day. There is rather a tendency to forwardness, and a readiness to show what is confidently known. The objection to being examined by the committee will be, generally, found to arise from the consciousness of crude, uncertain, half-knowledge; and, if the practice, which your committee recommend, is given up, such will continue to be the character of the knowledge, communicated in our schools. The custom of conducting examinations by the teachers alone, is a relic of antiquity, of which, your committee believe, traces are now to be found, in very few towns in the State. In concluding this topic, the committee would earnestly protest against any feeling, on the part, either of parents or children, which regards the public guardians and superintendents of the schools in any other light, than as friends, indulgent friends, who have the best interests of the pupils at heart. No committee, whom the town can choose to this important trust, can ever entertain other sentiments, towards the objects of their charge. They will enter the schools, not with a view of spying out deficiencies, and harshly exposing them, but to perform the truly kind office of indicating what is wanting, and suggesting the remedy; they will make indulgent allowance for the

*

*

imperfections and mistakes they may witness, and will sincerely rejoice in, and gladly acknowledge, every indication of genuine improvement.

The committee have noted several points, in the construction of the schoolhouses, on which they intended to express their views, but will mention but two, and those very briefly. The need of suitable shades to the windows of our schoolhouses, with but one exception, is believed,

with any, is most urgent. In some districts, close shutters are provided; in others, none at all; leaving the alternative of enduring the scorching heat and blinding light of the sun, or sitting in total darkness, unless, indeed, a scanty and insufficient shelter is obtained, by stretching shawls and handkerchiefs across the windows. The ventilation of the school-rooms also demands attention The necessity of some provision, for this purpose, must be readily acknowledged by any one, who has entered one of our schools, from the bracing atmosphere of a cold winter afternoon. Such a visiter can easily call to mind the feeling of suffocation, with which he was immediately seized; the drowsiness, which soon crept over him, and the loss of about half his intellect, which was the consequence of a half hour's stay. These are the natural effects of the same quantity of air being breathed over and over again, and would be easily prevented, by a simple contrivance, by which the air would be permitted to pass off as rapidly as it is respired, and its place taken by a fresh supply from without. The drowsiness, and loss of intellectual energy, produced upon the transient visiter, are the habitual effect of a badly ventilated house upon the pupils; and it must be acknowledged, that this is a serious evil, in a place, where the very business carried on is, the exercise and improvemeut of the mind. It would be making but a low calculation of this effect to say, that half the usefulness of most of our schools is thus destroyed.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE.JNo. Jennings, Thos. C. BiscoE, CAZNEAU PALFREY, LEVI RAWSON.

.

HARDWICK,

$ (1) Population, 1,818. Valuation, $476,185 00.

Number of Public Schools, 11. (2) No. of Scholars of all ages in all the Schools—In Summer, 509—In Winter, 619. (3) Average attendance in the Schools—In Summer, 413—In Winter, 549. (4) No. of persons between 4 and 16 years of age in the town, 600.-No. of persons under 4 years

of

age who attend School, 20.-No. over 16 years of age who attend School, 50. (5) Aggregate length of the Schools, 68 mths. 14 days.-In Summer, 34 14-In Winter,

34. (6) No. of Teachers in Summer—M. -F. 12.-No. of Teachers in Winter—M. 11-F. 1. (7) Average wages paid per month, including board— To Males, $23 36–To Females, $10 18. (8) Average value of board per month-of Males, $5 09—Of Females, $4 36. (9) Average wages per month, exclusive of board-Of Males, $18 27–Of Females, $5 82. (10) Amount of money raised by taxes for the support of Schools, including only the wages of

Teachers, board and fuel, $1,000 00. (11) Amount of board and fuel, if any, contributed for Public Schools, $200. (12) No. of incorporated Academies, -Aggregate of months kopt, .--Average number of

Scholars, -Aggregate paid for tuition, $ (13) No. of unincorporaled Academies, Private Schools, and Schools kept to prolong Common

Schools, 1.-Aggregate of months kept, 3.-Average No. of Scholars, 20.-Aggre

gate paid for tuition, $60. (14) Amount of Local Funds, $200 00.—Income from same, $12 00.

BOOKS USED.- - Spelling—National. Reading—American First Class Book. GrammarSmith's and Pond's. “Geography-Smith’s and Olney's. Arithmetic-Adams' New and Smith's. SELECTIONS FROM REPORT.

And here we cannot forbear from remarking, that much of the usefulness of our Common Schools is lost, by the unwarrantable indifference and inattention of parents, and others, who have an interest in them.

* *

*

[ocr errors]

A teacher may be ever so faithful, and ever so well qualified for the discharge of his duties to those placed under his care, but, if he be deprived of the sympathy, the coöperation and the encouragement of parents, he will have but indifferent success. His labors, and the money expended, will be, in a measure, thrown away. Our Common Schools, with the present liberal provision for their support, are capable of producing almost an infinite amount of good to the rising generation. But, to receive this benefit, to make them as profitable as they nay be made, much, very much, depends on the parents and guardians of children. A failure, in this respect, has been greatly detrimental to the progress and usefulness of our schools. We are happy in being able to state, however, that in this town there appears to be a growing interest on this subject. More attention has been paid to our schools, by parents, in general, the past year, than usual. At the close of the winter schools, we were favored with the presence of a considerable number, with one exception. There are other obstacles in the way of the progress of our schools, which, however, are not probably confined to this town alone,such as cold and inconvenient schoolhouses, want of dry fuel, incompetent and unfaithful teachers. On these topics we shall make no comment, but trust there may soon be improvement.

The committee would suggest the propriety of having registers so constructed, that the names of all scholars may be inserted therein; so that the visiting committee can have certain information what scholars are most regular or irregular in their attendance. We highly approve of registers; but we want, if possible, they should give us more information.

Some of our committee have been intimately connected, either as teachers or committee, with the schools in this town, for the last five and twenty years; and if that term of time entitles our opinion to any weight, we say, that since the regulations made by law, and adopted by the Board of Education, have been in operation, a great improvement is evident in our schools.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE.-WALTER MANDELL, N. B. Janes, R. S. POPE, IRA P. Goulu.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

HARVARD

S(1) Population, 1,566. Valuation, $357,549 33.

Number of Public Schools, 9. (2) No. of Scholars of all ages in all the Schools—In Summer, 320-In Winter, 496. (3) Average attendance in the Schools In Summer, 226—In Winter, 382. (4) No. of persons between 4 and 16 years of age in the town, 424.-No. of persons under 4

years of age who attend School, :-No. over 16 years of age who attend School, (5) Aggregate length of the Schools, 43 mihs. 21 days.-In Summer, 22 14-In Winter, 21 7. (6) No. of Teachers in Summer-M. -F. 9.-No. of Teachers in Winter—M. 8-F. 2. (7) Average wages paid per month including board—To Males, $26 57—To Females, $10 99. (8) Average value of board per month-Of Males, $8 28-Of Females, $5 55. (9) Average wages per month exclusive of board—Of Males, $18 29—Of Females, $5 44. (10) Amount of money raised by taxes for the support of Schools, including only the wages of

Teachers, board and fuel, $900 00. (11) Amount of board and fuel, if any, contributed for Public Schools, $ . (12) No. of incorporated Academies, -Aggregate of months kept, :-Average number of

Scholars, .-Aggregate paid for tuition, $ . (13) No. of unincorporated Academies, Private Schools, and Schools kept to prolong Common

Schools, -Aggregate of months kept, -Average No. of Scholars, :-Aggre

gate paid for tuition, $ (14) Amount of Local Funds, $899 25.—Income from same, $53 95.

Books USED.- -Spelling-Emerson's 1st and 2d Parts. Reading-Pierpont's Series of Reading Books, New Testament. Grammar-Smith's, Ingersoll's. Geography-Olney's, Malte-Brun's and Parley's. Arithmetic-Emerson's, Colburn's, Adams', Smith’s. All others -Walker's Dictionary.

1 *

REMARKS.—“In several school districts there have been Private Schools." but no particulars are given respecting them.

There may be an inaccuracy in the averages of wages, &c., because, in regard to one district, two sets of figures are entered, one of which was probably erroneous and intended to be stricken out, but was not.

SELECTIONS FROM REPORT. The committee, to whom, by a vote of the town, passed on the 4th of March last, was assigned the duty of procuring suitable apparatus for the schools, after much care and consideration in making such a selection, from the numerous articles which have been devised for the purpose, as would bring their expenditure within the means placed at their disposal, have procured such, as, in their opinion, is best fitted to promote the improvement of the respective schools in the common and more useful branches of education. These consist of terrestrial globes, maps, charts, diagrams, &c., which the committee, after having prepared them with a view to their better preservation, committed, in equal portions, to the charge of the teachers who were then engaged in the instruction of the several schools, enjoining upon them to see them delivered, at the close of their respective terms, to the prudential committees. And even from the short trial which has been made of these new facilities in the work of instruction, the committee have had more than one satisfactory proof of their great utility; and they are convinced, that, where they are not universally useful, the reason must be found in some deficiency of the teacher. Either he must feel that nothing is to be learned by the pupil but the mere letter of the text-book, or he must be extremely ignorant of the importance of fastening his instructions in the mind of his pupils by sensible illustration. Indeed, if your committee had no satisfactory evidence of their usefulness thus far, when properly employed by the teacher, still they could not doubt that they are very beneficial; for it is scarcely possible for them to be, as they are, constantly before their eyes, without conveying to them many ideas, in relation to their studies, which all verbal instruction would fail to do.

In proceeding to lay before you a detailed report of the condition of the respective schools during the past year, the coinmittee cannot forbear to advert to the very great importance of the annual report to the prosperity of the schools. The Commonwealth has done no small service to the cause of education in reyuiring, by law, that the qualifications of teachers who have been employed, their success in instruction, and all important particulars relating to the schools, should be laid before the town,--for your committee have found, by their own observation, that this course has had, the past year, a vast influence over our teachers. A knowledge of the fact that their conduct, in this responsible station, was to pass before the ordeal of the town, has greatly tended to render them more active and faithful in their duties. They have labored, knowing that they would receive their award of praise or censure, from those who, in this town at least, had power to settle their destiny as teachers. Thus stimulated, they have applied themselves diligently to the duties of their high calling, and the following exposé, your committee trust, will exhibit a degree of success commensurate with their increased efforts.

Such, your committee believe, is a correct and faithful exhibit of the condition of our schools during the past year. In consequence of the increased provision made by the town for their support, they have extended to an unusual length, and this circumstance, in connection with the consideration above stated, has greatly contributed to their prosperity. In thus testifying to the general faithfulness of our teachers, however, the committee would not be understood as saying, that all of them are such as they would have them. Indeed, they have met few, very few, during the whole period of their supervision of the schools, whom they thought, in every respect, thoroughly qualified for so delicate and responsible a situation. The general standard of teachers' qualifications is not sufficiently elevated. The demand has been low, and few of those who have adopted the profession for temporary convenience, have cared to elevate themselves above the demand. Your committee have no doubt, however, that our teachers, generally, will bear a favorable comparison with any employed in the vicinity ;—but, when we consider what the young mind

« ForrigeFortsett »