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Mr.
M'ELWAINE.

Teachers.

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The number of teachers in section A (omitting seven Convent schools) is 131 principals (three P.L.U. schools have each two departments), 29 assistants, 7 manual instructresses, and 6 workmistresses. In addition two manual instructresses have been appointed but not yet reported on-gross total, 173. In each of 109 schools there is only one teacher.

In section B there are 184 certificated teachers, 2 manual instructresses, and 3 workmistresses.

In section C there are 124 principals, 32 assistants, 10 manual instructresses, 5 workmistresses, and 1 junior literary assistant-gross total, 172.

The teachers are generally hard-working and conscientious. When they fail to achieve success it is not, as a rule, owing to indolence or indifference. The old Results system suited an inferior teacher better than the present one.

It was more mechanical, and as he had only to follow in a narrow groove and fixed routine, which did not exact individuality, he could make a better show at the end of his school year. The present system calls for a higher type of ability in teachers, and encourages special gifts.

The teachers of the circuit have clearly shown their desire for self-improvement by the eagerness with which they have attended organizer's classes, often at personal inconvenience.

There is, however, great room for improvement in teaching skill, methods of teaching being in many cases poor.

Mr. Worsley says :There is a good deal of want of skill in the methods of instruction followed by the teachers. I believe that many of them are desirous of improving themselves in the art of teaching the new subjects in the school code ; at the same time that they often display a helplessness or want of resource in their endeavours to keep themselves au courant with the progress of educational methods. They show a tendency to lean too much on the inspector. This lack of enterprise, initiative and inquiry, I have no doubt, considerably arrests the onward march of education in the district. I fear that in some cases indolence is at the root of the unprogressiveness discernible in methods of teaching. In this connection it is to be observed that there is practically an utter absence of a local educated public interest in education, which in other countries

has been found to be necessary as a spur and stimulus to effort and • initiative on the part of the teachers in the schools."

Preparation.

I regret that teachers make little previous preparation for school work. The better and abler the teacher, the more ready he would be to acknowledge the importance and even the necessity of having each day's work previously blocked out, and the skeleton of certain lessons entered in his notebook. It is not too much to ask a teacher to have decided previously on his questions in arithmetic and mental arithmetic, to have selected his sentences for analysis, his subject for composition, and the way in which it might best' be treated, as well as other preparations which will occur to anyone who gives his attention to the matter, but which it would be tedious to enter into in this report. Inspectors are, I believe, doing what they can to assist teachers in making suitable preparation, but this is par excclience the work of Mr.

M'ELWAINE. trairing colleges.

Teachers' Mr. Bartley says :

preparation

for work. “In the majority of instances steady work is done during school hours, but it would generally be made much more effective by a little previous preparation. Expecting such preparation in the case of ordinary school subjects is no reflection on the professional reputation of the teacher. Few professors, though experts in their own subjects, would care to face a class without having previously settled on at least the leading lines of their discourses. I frequently ask teachers to examine pupils on the leading facts of the last few historical lessons read. They often fail to do so without considerable loss of time."

Many teachers are improving in teaching skill. They are not hurried and driven to get over a course as they were in the days of the Results system. I always endeavour to inculcate thoroughness-quality rather than quantity. The defect most commonly met with in teaching is that there is too much of the how and too little of the why, too much telling and too little explaining, too much depending on the memory and too little cultivation of the understanding. Festina lente is an excellent motto in education. When a good foundation is laid, though progress may seem slow at first, it will be quicker afterwards. The junior pupils, whom teachers can instruct more thoroughly, as their range of subject is narrower, are brighter and more intelligent than the seniors, and I am frequently informed by teachers that when the present juniors reach the higher standards they will be better pupils than the present seniors. I have no doubt that this will be the case if their instruction is continued on the same lines. Irish children are naturally bright and intelligent, and make excellent material for education.

Of the new subjects, manual instruction practically never New subjects obtained a footing in this circuit. Organizers' classes were Manual

instruction. held in Ballinasloe, Athlone, and Roscommon, and a number of equipment grants were made. No organizer's class was held in the large part of the circuit, which lies east of the Shannon. A little manual instruction is attempted in a few schools, but on the whole it may be taken as une quantité négligeable. Organizers' classes in elementary science have been held Elementary

science. in Ballinasloe, Athlone, Loughrea, and Roscommon. A large and successful class was held in Birr at the end of 1904 for teachers in the part of the circuit lying east of the Shannon. Equipment grants have been made to a number of the teachers who attended these classes. There is not sufficient time to see the result of the instruction given in the section of which I have charge.

When elementary science is well taught, it is an excellent means of developing the intellect, but if taught unskilfully or unintelligently it is of little worth. Little need be expected from a six weeks' training course, if the teacher has not some previous knowledge of the subject taught.

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Mr.

Object lessons are, in a way, more important than elemenM.ELWAINE.

tary science. I do not mean that they are more important as Object lessons. a means of education, but they are taught in nearly every

school, whilst for years to come elementary science will of necessity be taught in a minority of schools. For this reason

. I should like to see more prominence given to the training of teachers in object lessons, both in the training colleges and by the Board's organizers.

Patience is needed. Development of skill in new methods and in teaching new subjects must be of slow growth. The great essential is that there is growth. It is of the utmost importance that in this time of transition teachers should get on right lines and right methods.

The attendance of pupils is somewhat more regular than it was. There was a decided improvement in 1905, due no doubt in part to the unusually favourable weather which prevailed. There was also an effort in a number of schools to raise the attendance so as to qualify for the appointment of an assistant.

Mr. Worsley, speaking of East Galway, says:

“ The attendance in schools shows a substantial increase for 1905– due, I think, to unusually fine weather. Poverty, lack of interest on the part of parents, climatic conditions, and the distance often to be travelled by children in going to school account to some extent for the irregularity of attendances. The managers are very assiduous in their efforts to secure regular attendance. The Compulsory Attendance Act is not in force in this district."

Attendance.

Compulsory
Attendance
Act.

Mr. Bartley furnishes some interesting and instructive returns for his section (chiefly South Roscommon).

“ The average number of pupils on the rolls has remained practically the same for the last three years. For the same period the percentage of the average attendance to the average number on rolls was in 1903, 59 ; in 1904, 59:5; and in 1905, 62:5.

"The total number of pupils attending the town schools in this section has remained practically the same. The number on rolls has slightly diminished, but there is a great improvement in the rural schools. In these schools the percentage of the average attendance to the average number on rolls was in 1903, 50; in 1904, 55; and in 1905 nearly 63."

The increased regularity of attendance found in rural schools cannot be attributed to the Compulsory Attendance Act, for it is not in force.

The only district in section C in which it is in force is the town of Athlone. The attendance in Athlone has been about 74 per cent. of the number on rolls, but in Strokestown and Elphin, where the Act is not in force, the percentage is 74:9 and 75:6 respectively.

Experience has only confirmed the judgment I formed when the Compulsory Attendance Act was passed, that it would be a failure. Teachers who were anxious to see the Act introduced into their localities have expressed to me their disappointment when they got it. In a few cases teachers have informed me that it improved the attendance at their schools. Mr.

M.ELWAINE. It does so when first introduced, but when careless parents find how hollow the Act is, it loses its virtue.

AttendanceI am inclined to think that Ireland would have been as well continued, without this Act. It has led to pupils leaving school at an earlier age, and the harm it has done in this direction is probably as great as the good it has done in effecting a slight improvement in the attendance. Very few believe in it. What is wanted is that the Act should be so amended as to be made effective, and also made of universal application. An energetic manager is much better than a school attendance officer.

Great irregularity of attendance may be taken as a proof as well as a contributing cause of low efficiency. The improvement which follows when an efficient teacher succeeds an inefficient one is striking. As our schools become more efficient, the attendance will become more regular.

Mr. Bartley instances seven schools in his section whose aggregate number on roll has increased during the last two years by 38 per cent. and the aggregate average attendance by 72 per cent. He attributes the improvement in attendance to improvement in the efficiency, the teaching staff having raised the schools from “middling” or “bad” to “good.”

The morning attendance of pupils is decidedly more punc- Punctuality tual than it was. It is now rare to find an empty school-room at 10 o'clock, and frequently almost the full day's attendance is present at that hour.

The change of roll-call time from 11 to 10.30 o'clock has contributed largely to this satisfactory improvement. Education is not confined to book learning, and if pupils are trained to be early and punctual, and also neat and orderly, their indebtedness to their teachers will not be lessened. I find, however, that there are still schools in which a punctual completion of roll-call at 10.30 o'clock leads to the loss of attendances by late pupils.

Mr. Worsley finds a less satisfactory state of things in East Galway. He says :

“ Unpunctuality in attendance is a frequent feature in this district. This is absolutely inexcusable, and is, I believe, the fault, not of the children, but often of the mothers, who rise too late to see to the children's breakfasts in time before they are sent off to school.”

The principal cause of lateness is, I believe, laxity of discipline. This is shown by the fact that in late schools pupils usually come in droves, showing that they loiter on their way.

Mr. Bartley reports of his section :

“I am glad to note in many schools that the pupils attend with greater regularity than formerly. In a considerable number of cases I find practically the whole school assembled at ten o'clock. There are, however, too many schools in which there is room for improvement in this matter.

Mr.
M.ELWAINE.

Punctualitycontinued.

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“The rule requiring marking of the rolls to be completed at 10.30 has, I believe, on the whole a beneficial effect on the punctuality of the pupils, but there are some schools in which there is hardly an attempt at work until after 'roll-call.' The pupils, instead of coming in at ten o'clock as formerly, now come in a few minutes before 10.30. I was recently in a school where the pupils were formerly most unpunctual. I found them practically all in when called a few minutes after 10 o'clock. The teacher remarked that he could call his rolls at 10 o'clock for some time past. Another school has recently adopted this course. The rolls are completed every morning at 10 o'clock.”

A few teachers showed a desire not to open school till 10 o'clock, beginning work at 10.30. There was no special reason for this change, in which the interests of their pupils were not consulted, and it was not persisted in.

The rule which allows infants to be dismissed when they have completed an attendance of three hours might with advantage be extended to pupils of first class, who might be allowed to leave at the end of an attendance of three and a half hours. In many schools this would get rid of the majority of the pupils, and leave the teacher free to give all his attention to the remaining standards for the last hour or half hour. Senior pupils require and can profit from longer hours than juniors can. The principle of gradation of time according to standard is a sound one. It would be specially helpful in schools under one teacher.

The chief local circumstances which affect regularity of attendance are farm operations in spring and autumn. Epidemics are of not infrequent occurrence, especially in the late autumn. The attendance in 1905 has been more regular than usual owing to exceptionally favourable weather.

Local circumstances.

Age of pupils.

As I have said when discussing compulsory education, pupils leave school at an earlier age than formerly. They do not, as a rule, come to school so young as the minimum age of three years. My own opinion is that five years of age is young enough for a child to begin school life. Three is certainly too young. The only argument I see for sending a child of that age to school is that it helps to raise the average attendance, and keeps the child out of the mother's way. The extreme case of this kind that I have met with was to find a child of eighteen months in a school (of course its name was not on the rolls). This is using a school as a crèche.

Recommendation.

The less children of three or four years of age learn the better it will be for them afterwards. I would recommend that a distinction be made between ordinary schools and schools with a fully organized infants' department, allowing infants to enter the latter a year younger than the former.

For some time after the introduction of the present system the rate of promotion was less than normal. On account of the variety of readers and of new subjects, pupils were retained in a majority of schools a second year in the same

Classification promotion.

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