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seat, I should be grieved, and I should expect the classes would fail. I think the main examination should be conducted by the teacher; and yet I should not be satisfied if the Committee did not put some questions.
With regard to reports, I have no method which satisfies me. No table of figures can do justice to a school. I would, however, mark every recitation ; and yet I would be unwilling to have any person look over the figures. Exact justice cannot be done without writing a full statement respecting every pupil. If a report is to be published, it should be sufficiently definite and precise to give every one a distinct impression as to what it means in every case. If I examine a class, and say that with two or three exceptions they did well, those who failed might suppose that they were among those who did well, and some very timid ones would not be quite satisfied that they were not meant when it was said that two or three made a partial failure.
PROF. GREENE, of Providence. - It is evident from the discussion to which you have already listened, that the speaker has made a distinction in respect to the schools which are to be examined. It strikes me that such a distinction should be made. When we speak of the examination of a private school, that is one thing; and of a public school, that is another thing. A private school is one organized by the teacher himself; he makes such rules and regulations, and introduces such studies as he pleases. He then offers his school, such as it is, to the examination of the public, and invites patronage from the public. If he succeeds, all is well. His reward is the patronage of those who choose to patronize him. His school is examined when he pleases, or not examined at all; it is examined by himself, unless he chooses to invite in whom he pleases to examine it. .
MR. Stone, of Plymouth. — Does the gentleman think it right that a teacher shall take that ground ? Has he a right to say that the examination is simply to satisfy himself? Does not the examination of the school have an important influence on the pupil and on the public?
Prof. GREENE. — That question I will answer in the course of the discussion. The question is as to the examination by virtue of right, in consequence of the relation existing between the teacher, the pupil and the public. My reward of good work is public patronage. It may be a matter of the wisest policy for me to invite others to come in, and thus establish my reputation. But I ask if any body of men has a right to come in and examine my school, and make a report that shall be prejudicial to my school? It is a question of right. But the question changes materially when we change the nature of the school. The public school is the property of the town or city; and when they spend their money they have a right to know the condition of the school, in order to know that the money has been properly expended, and that the instruction given is of the right kind. The object, in this case, is to satisfy the public, who are interested in the school, that the school is well managed. It becomes a matter of interest to the public, because all are taxed, as well those who do not send any pupils to the school as those that do. The examination in this case is an act of authority, - not using that word in an odious sense. He who comes clothed with authority, comes in to see the actual condition of the school.
This leads me to say there is a wide difference as to the objects to be attained. He who comes to examine the school by public authority, ought to do it to find out more than how much the school has learned in a given time. The school should be examined in every respect
that makes a good school; in respect to the physical condition of the school, the house, the premises, the grounds. The Committee should look to all the appointments within. Is there a good apparatus; is the room well ventilated; are the seats such as they should be ; are there good blackboards ? It is his business to report upon the condition of the house, quite as much as upon the progress of the school. It is his business to examine as to the relation existing between the teacher and the pupils, to see whether the teacher is so conducting the school as to impress it properly; whether the manners of the pupils are such as to go to make the gentleman and lady; whether the cause of study is well adapted to the purposes designed ; and then to see whether the work is properly carried on. It seems to me we have taken too limited an idea of an examination.
When shall a school be examined ? It should be examined at appointed times, so that the public may be invited in. There are times when this will be useful. I will not say this is the best way to ascertain the actual condition of the school. There should be examinations early in the morning to see if the pupils are there, and to see if the school is opened properly. It should be examined in the middle of the forenoon without any knowledge on the part of the teacher or of the pupils; it should be examined at any and all times when it best suits the wish of the examiners, to ascertain the real condition of the school.
The question has been asked, by whom should the school be examined ? It should be examined by the teacher when the Committee man is not competent to do it. I beg pardon for even alluding to such a thing as this. But there are those who will know more about a school by sitting still than by asking questions. If the teacher ask the questions, the Committee may go away with false impressions ; but he is better off than if he had undertaken to ask the questions; for the children would not have understood him, if he had understood himself. But even if the Committee man were the most intelligent person who ever examined a school, it is well that the teacher should conduct a part of the examination ; because this is one thing that the Committee should be able to report upon, which is the actual relation between the teacher and the pupil. The Committee sees the play of the reflex sympathies between them, and this is an important item. But he is not to rely upon this.
Next; in what way should a school be examined? It should be examined both by written questions and oral. It should be examined orally by all means, to see how the children will answer questions put by the living voice. One question may suggest another, and that another, and the examiner will have an opportunity to see how the pupil seizes upon relations. The school should also be examined in writing for reasons already given, and for the purpose of inspiring in the scholars a love for writing, and to show the teacher that he will be held responsible for teaching the scholars to put their thoughts on paper. The scholars should be examined every day in writing in connection with the oral recitation. This gives the teacher an opportunity to explain as to the mode of writing, punctuating, paragraphing, &c. An examination should be so conducted, that it shall be suggestive. When a set of questions is arranged, a good judgment must be applied to this mode of examination. We form our judgment of the condition of a school, and obtain quite as good an idea of it, by the mistakes as by the correct answers; because the mistake may be made in such a way as you would naturally expect, while you may discover that the
mind of the pupil has been active notwithstanding. Then an examining Committee should look into the whole work, see how a child considers a subject, mark his errors, and mark his style of thinking. This is as important as to ascertain that he has obtained every figure in an arithmetical process. How many times those figures have lied, when one has taken the figures and put down a result which counts for the scholar, while he knows nothing about the subject itself. A judicious man, after such an examination, will report the facts; and he will report the result, not of one examination, but of many, and be careful and not report all the little gossip which he may hear. If the school is not doing well, let the teacher be dismissed, and not degrade the school. An impression should be made, as far as possible, that the schools are doing well.
Rev. DR. McJilton, of Baltimore, thought there was much that was ridiculous on the subject of examinations. He would like to know if the pupils of a private school would not have a right to call for an examination, if they desired it. The examination should be both oral and in writing, so mingled that the entire condition of the school can be understood. He never would interfere with the authority of the teacher ; but would have the school understand that they are to submit to the authority of the teacher in everything. The manner in which he was accustomed to examine schools was stated, and some of the incidents that have occurred in the course of his examinations, were related. He endeavored to make the examinations occasions for promoting kindly feelings between the pupils and the teachers. Thus he had found the examinations so agreeable to the scholars, that they often ask to have them prolonged. The results of the examinations of the schools in Baltimore are all preserved.