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Results of these Mistakes.
This I despised. But in my zeal to oppose the practice, I went quite too far. There was indeed a temptation to this, arising from the fact that, at this time, I was strongly impressed with a belief that somehow or other my services were valuable to the school, in proportion to the length of the lessons I gave the scholars in reading, spelling, &c.; so that when I detained the pupils, as I was apt to do, after the hour of four o'clock, in the afternoon, or shortened the recess at noon, I considered it a real gain to the pupils, and a gratuity from me to the parents.
In winter, when in our climate the days are at the shortest, it is almost sunset at four o'clock; and, for little children, who have from one to two miles to go to reach their homes, is quite late enough to dismiss them. And yet, when the weather was not too cold, I sometimes detained them till quite sunset. I remember that in one instance they were kept till after sunset, when a fog suddenly came on, and one family of children did not reach home till dark. No wonder the parents were disaffected, and complained. They ought to have been disaffected.
They did wrong, however, in not coming directly to me, and telling me their grievances. This going and complaining to somebody else - so common throughout society — is all wrong, It is even unchristian. “If thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.' The observance of this rule would save much trouble in the world, and especially in schools.
But their complaints reached my ear, and I reformed my practice. In doing so, however, I fell into another error, which though it did not displease the parents directly, was very mortifying to their children. I encroached more and more upon the intermission, sometimes continuing the school till nearly half past twelve instead of leaving off precisely at twelve; but always beginning again precisely at one.
The first evil which arose from this practice was that some of the pupils who went hoine to dinner, were not able to return seasonably for the afternoon; at least they thought so. They had not time, they said, to eat their dinner. My reply to this was, that they usually had as much time for that purpose as I had; for I boarded among the families, and usually walked home to dinner. I had not then learned that we ought to eat slowly. I supposed, up to this period, that the sooner we eat our meals the better. I forgot too, that I could eat much more rapidly than my pupils.
Another evil was, that the pupils who remained said they had not time enough for play. if the intermission was contracted to thirty minutes, and it took them fifteen minutes to eat, this
My Eyes gradually opened.
37 left but fifteen for sports. However, I thought this was enough. I had not learned, as fully as I have since done, that sports are as indispensable to the health of both the bodies and minds of children as their food, their drink, or their sleep. Like many other people, I regarded them as a mere waste of time, which it were far better to avoid. And with this view the more we could cheat them out of their sportive hours, the better.
However great this error, and however common, I do not wonder at it, when I consider how ignorant people are of their own structure and the laws of their physical being; and, above all
, when I consider how children are brought up. I was trained—and I suppose most other people are, in New England, to the belief that play is folly, rather than wisdom, in the child; and that he will soonest be a man who puts on the man's gravity. In this belief my father always gave me leave to join in the sports of my companions very grudgingly; and with the same mete' wherewith he measured to me, I was disposed to measure again to my poor pupils.
My eyes how ver were gradually opened. I saw-how could I help it ?—that my pupils studied best when they had the most time for exercise. I found that besides a recess of ten minutes in the middle of the forenoon, and another in the afternoon, they needed at least an hour at noon; and it was accordingly allowed them. I gradually learned that their progress at school did not wholly correspond with the length of time during which they were confined to their seats, or compelled to hold their books; but that if they were cheerful and voluntary and spirited in their efforts, they might do more in half an hour, than in a whole hour of languor, disgust, or pain.
1 say I learned all this; but I repeat it, the knowledge I acquired was very gradual. I was always slow to learn from experience; though always making some progress. Would that young teachers at this stage of their history could be persuaded to study more the experience of other teachers by visits, conversation, and reading. They would then advance with threefold their present rapidity.
Duties of a City School Officer.
DUTIES OF A SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT.
The Committee to whom was referred the subject of appointing a Superintendent of the Public Schools in Providence, R. I., suggested the following as among the duties belonging to such an officer. The reader will please to bear in mind however that they refer to a city and not a state Superintendent.
He should keep regular office hours daily, before and after school hours, at a place to be called the superintendent's office. This should be the head quarters of the school department: the place of deposit of all the records and papers belonging to the schools.
He should procure and have charge of all books and other necessary articles, to be supplied to indigent children, and deliver them out.
He should once in three months exhibit and settle an account with the School Committee.
He should keep a regular daily journal of his proceedings, and as often as the first Monday in every month make therefrom written reports to the School Committee; and under the direction of the School Comınittee, make therefrom a quarterly report, to be published in the several newspapers in the city.
He should keep himself acquainted with the progress and condition of school instruction in other parts of the country, and the character of the text books and apparatus introduced elsewhere and proposed for use, and report the same to the School Committee.
He should keep himself acquainted with the families whose children do not go to school, and try to induce them to go.
He should have the care of the school houses and estates, and see that they are kept clean ; and when repairs are necessary, report the same to the School Committee or to the City Council.
He should consult and advise with the teachers in any thing connected with their duties.
He should see that the best and most advantageous use is made of all the means of instruction provided for the schools - that the mode of teaching is the best that can be pursued — and when any thing is well done in one school, endeavor to cause the same to be done in the same way in the others, and thus bring the character of all the schools up to the standard of the best.
He should see that a uniform system of proper discipline is
Common School Instruction in Georgia.
pursued in them all, and that no improper system is practised
He should visit some of the schools every day, and call up classes for unprepared examinations.
He should attend to the exercises of declamation, and correct those in composition, in schools where those branches are taught.
He should promote the regular attendance of the scholars, by personal influence with their parents and friends, and with the children themselves.
He should report to the School Committee the number and qualifications of the candidates from each school, who are annually, or at any other periods, to be admitted into the writing from the primary, and into the high from the writing schools.'
COMMON SCHOOL INSTRUCTION IN GEORGIA.
By an act of the Legislature of the State of Georgia, approved Dec. 23, 1836, a committee of five gentlenien was appointed to prepare and report to the present session of the General Assembly, for their consideration and adoption, a system of Common School Instruction. Such a report has been recently presented, of which 300 copies have been printed, and of which one copy - thanks to the politeness of Mr D. A. Reese, the chairman of the committee — has reached us, in time for notice in our present number. It is a very interesting pamphlet, of about twenty pages; and includes the form of an 'act for establishing a general system of education for the State, hy means of common schools. We marvel that the Legislature did not order 3000 copies printed, instead of 300 ; that they might have been sent to every post office, if not to every neighborhood in Georgia. How slow our legislatures are in free governments — to facilitate measures, even for internal improvement, which shall be, in the least degree, in advance of the public sentiment !
From the report before us, we learn that the committee were author. ized to appoint two of their number to visit the other States, to procure information and examine their schools; and that, in accordance with this intention of the Legislature, several months were spent in the manDer designated. That this time was spent, with open eyes and ears, and with unbiased minds and feelings is evident from the whole tone of the
Common School Instruction in Georgia.
report. It presents the leading facts, in regard to school systems, where any such exist, - and in regard to the existing state of things where they do not — in all, or nearly all our States ; aceoinpanied with numerous remarks on the importance of an improved common school education, in every point of view, personal, social, national and moral. It objects to the moral and social tendency of the manual labor system, considered as a system of general education, to be adopted and fostered by government, as well as to the general application of the Lancasterian plan of instruction; and recommends, notwithstanding some difficulties peculiar to the Southern States, the adoption of a system not unlike the Eastern and Middle States. It assumes, above all, as a leading principle - a sine qua non - that the good of the coinmunity requires,' that the rich and the poor should be educated together at common schools. Nothing contained in the report gives us more pleasure, than this truly wise conclusion of the committee. Such a conclusion, reduced to a common and prevailing sentiment, in the breasts of the rich as well as the poor, anı acted upon, would do more towards preserving the liberties and bappiness of our country, and rendering stable her so much boasted institutions, than any other measure upon wbich the acts of wise legislators or christian philanthropists can at present be brought to bear. Would that all heads and hearts could be led to unite on this common ground, and to concur in this sigle principle !
Among the numerous interesting facts and reasonings of the report, we learn with pain, what we had, indeed, feared before, that only a very small part of the children in Georgia are at school. The committee think they hazard potbing in saying, that the proportion is only about twentyfive thousand in eightythree thousand, of those who are of suitable age. That is to say, less than one third of those of proper age, and only one tenth of the entire white population, are receiving the benefits of instruction.
But the committee propose a remedy for this state of things. They submit, for the consideration of the Legislature, the basis of an act making provision for dividing the State into school divisions, chiefly by counties ; appointing commissioners or superintendents for each division ; laying off the divisions into school districts ; establishing school houses and supporting schools. The support of the schools is to be partly by taxation and partly by a State fund, as in several Northern States. If this system can be adopted and pursued, with such modifications as time and experience may suggest, it will change the whole aspect of things in Georgia, and render her even a more important pillar than she was before, in the national edifice.