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The ground which he took .was that we needed something more, something higher than we already have. We often hear it said that the common school system has diminished crime, and made the number of juvenile offenders, especially, less. Mr. Pierce showed by facts and figures that the result has been different. It seems to me this question should not be regarded like one for a lyceum debate; but for the practical purpose of ascertaining whether our common school system is answering the great end for which it was established. The teachers of our schools have got to produce an impression higher and holier than they now produce, in order to diminish crime in the community. To do this we want teachers fitted to produce the result. We want teachers of experience, of age, who have had a life to know what life is made of, and what are the principles which must guide life. As it is, from the parsimony of the people, and other causes, many of our schools are not such as they ought to be.
Hon. Geo. S. BOUTWELL. — I wish to make a single statement, inasmuch as the statistics used by Father Pierce have been referred to. I cannot say how correct those statistics may be. But we know one thing about statistics ; that no influence can be more false than deductions from statistics, unless the statistics possess two qualities, accuracy and completeness.
MR. HEDGES. — And applicability.
MR. Boutwell. — That is a question of judgment. I will state, because there may be gentlemen here from other parts of the country, who may not be aware of the fact, that last year I instituted an inquiry in all the reformatory institutions and jails of the Commonwealth ; and the result is in the report of the Board of Education. I think I may say the investigation was careful in regard to every inmate of each institution. Much the larger portion of all those in these institutions never received any systematic training in our public schools. The great truth to be deduced from these statistics is, that it is the duty of every State to provide homes for those who are destitute of one. A large part of the crime of the State may be traced to the misfortune of orphanage, by which the children have been deprived of the proper advantages of domestic life. These statistics are the first upon which a reasonable degree of reliance can be placed.
This question was then laid on the table.
On motion, by MR. STONE, of Plymouth, Dr. Lewis was invited to give another illustration of his system of gymnastics, to-morrow morning.
Adjourned to a quarter before 8 o'clock.
EVENING SESSION. In the absence of the President, Mr. J. D. PHILBRICK presided this evening, and introduced, with appropriate remarks, Hon. FRANCIS GILLETTE, of Hartford, as the lecturer of the evening.
The thanks of the Institute were unanimously tendered to Mr. Gillette for his able and interesting lecture.
The Institute was called to order at half past eight o'clock, and the minutes of yesterday's proceedings were read.
Prayer was offered by Rev. Dr. McJilton, of Baltimore.
The first exercise this morning was another illustration of Dr. Lewis's system of gymnastics, by a number of his pupils, and others selected from the audience. The frequent applause and hearty cheers with which this exercise was greeted, was sufficient to attest the real interest which was felt in and approval of the system. Dr. Lewis closed this exercise by urging on all the importance of having pupils in schools play much in the sunshine and open air; of daily bathing; of eating less, particularly of animal food ; and above all, of standing erect, sitting erect, and walking erect. Let ladies pinch their toes if they will, or lay a stone upon the head to make it flat ; but let them not compress the lungs on any account or in any manner.
The Institute then took a recess of five minutes.
A discussion on “ The proper mode of examining Schools and of reporting thereon” followed.
MR. A. P. STONE, of Plymouth, said, -- No one was more pleased than myself to see this question upon the programme. It has been often discussed, and our State journal has contained many valuable articles upon it. It is a question of great importance, especially to us who are practical teachers. It is, however, difficult to come to the point and speak of the proper mode of conducting an examination, from the fact that the idea of an examination of schools is a very indefinite one.
What are the objects of an examination? They are various, and of course the mode of conducting an examination will vary with the object. If the object of the com. mittee or trustees or superintendent is to examine a class to ascertain whether they are fitted for college, or to go from one class to another, that is one thing. If the object is to be satisfied whether the teacher has done his or her duty well, that is another thing. The examination will then be quite as much with reference to the qualification of the teacher as the progress of the school.
Then, again, where schools are not graded, and in locali. ties where they are seldom visited, except at the close of the year, there is a laudable desire of friends to attend, and there is a false impression that in such a case the examination should partake largely of the nature of an exhibition. An examination of an academy or school in Berkshire county, is quite a different thing from an examination of the first class in a Boston Grammar or High School. I do not think our examinations should be popularized, and made to partake so much of the nature of an exhibition as is often the case. It is not necessary that the auditors at an examination, should be perfectly familiar with all the processes of a work, to be satisfied as to the manner in which that work has been done. I may not understand algebra or engineering; yet I think I can satisfy myself, to a certain extent, whether the teacher is qualified to teach those branches, and whether the pupil has done his work well and thoroughly. I once heard a blacksmith say he travelled seventy miles to hear Jenny Lind. I presumed he was the leader of a country choir, or an itinerant teacher of singing schools. He replied that he was neither ; but he said, he did like to see work done well, and he came to Boston to hear what he supposed was the highest style of music, and felt well paid for his visit. He said he could see that she came as near perfection as any one could, and he believed that the stimulus he received would urge him on toward a high standard in his business during the remainder of his life. (Applause.)
So, I think that those who examine schools should confine themselves to the proper and legitimate examination. Of course the examination of a Primary School will differ from that of a Grammar or High School. In the higher schools the examination may be either oral or in writing; but that of a primary school must be oral. The reputation of a primary school depends more on the manner of the examination than that of an advanced school. The Committee may propose questions to the children in such a way as to embarrass them, so that every one but a practical teacher might conclude that the school had been a failure. Yet it may have been very successful. I prefer written questions when there is a lack of time for an examination. In my own school we usually devote two days to an examination ; and my own impression is, after all, that it has been hurried. I once attended an examination where there were twenty-six classes examined in a day, and we had twenty speeches from different persons, and yet we got home in time for tea. Written questions allow of a better opportunity to see how each does his work, and also to examine a large number at the same time, while every appearance of favoritism or partiality is avoided. There are some branches where written examinations cannot be applied. Teachers should be in the habit of using written questions. This will obviate the tendency to be embarrassed by written questions at an examination. The questions should be prepared by those who understand the subjects, and who know the pupils. Many Committee men are entirely unfit to examine a class ; and I will go further and say, there are many teachers who are unfit to examine their classes before the public or a Committee man. Schools often fail in consequence of the teacher's failure in his mode of examination.
A written examination can cover a great deal more ground than an oral one; and gives more opportunity for a deliberate comparison of the work of different pupils. But both written and oral questions are necessary to constitute a fair test. I cannot adopt the sentiment of some teachers, that no Committee shall come between them and their pupils. The laws of Massachusetts will allow the Committee man to conduct the whole of the examination. If a Committee should tell me to take my