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Normal department of Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn....
30 00 25 00
* From Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1883–84.
gressional grant of land to agricultural colleges.
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE NORMAL SCHOOLS—THEIR NUMBER, ATTENDANCE, ETC.
Normal schools for the training of teachers are fully established as an integral part of the public school systems of our country, and on the whole the tendency each year seems to be to make more and more liberal provision for their maintenance.
Where the number of public normal schools is few, the demand that exists for trained teachers is sufficient to induce private institutions to attempt the work of training, and in sections where education depends largely upon the fostering care of the various religious denominations or other benevolent agencies it has been seen that in no way can the work be so directly and fully promoted as by the endowment and efficient conduct of normal schools. Much of the training in these denominational schools is of a very high order, following closely the model presented in the best public normals. The present status of public and private normal schools, as regards the attendance and classification of pupils, instructors, equipment, property, valuation, and appropriations, is set forth in the summary of Table III. The number of schools reported is 263, of which 131 are public normals. The latter had 1,234 instructors and 32,130 students, nearly two-thirds of the number being women. The number of graduates was 3,162, of whom 1,793 have since engaged in teaching. Few of these schools have extensive libraries, but as a rule they are supplied with necessary books of reference. In respect to training in music, drawing, elementary science, and gymnastics, the provision, with a few notable exceptions, is meager, exceedingly so, when the great and growing importance of these subjects in a scheme of popular education is considered.
The State Normal School at Natchitoches, La., whose opening was delayed by an error in the appropriation bill, is about ready to begin operations. The Milwaukee Normal School appears now as a State normal, its province having been extended in accordance with the legal provision made as early as 1890. Two Territorial normal schools are reported from Dakota, one with an appropriation of $27,000 and one with $5,000. A new training school for teachers will be opened in Brooklyn the coming fall. It will be thoroughly equipped for the work, the school of methods being under the charge of Miss Lucilla E. Smith, who has achieved an enviable reputation as principal of the Washington Normal School. Every year adds to the number of public normal schools at the South. The latest addition is the training school at Charlotte, N. C., which is to be opened in September.
The private normal schools reported in the table nunber 132, having 842 instructors and 23,005 students, the number of male students being slightly in excess of the number of female students. The number of students who graduated last year was 1,366, of whom 692 have since engaged in teaching.
The proportion of private schools iņ which provision is made for instruction in gymnastics, elementary science, and vocal music, is still smaller than that of the public schools, but in the private normal schools more attention is given to instrumental music. - The property valuation of the normal schools appears for the first time in the tables. It will certainly not be charged, apon an examination of these figures, that there has been any extravagance in the matter of sites and buildings.
ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL TRAINING.
The schools under consideration differ materially in organization and conduct, as must be the case with schools adapted, as these necessarily are, to a great variety of conditions. With few exceptions the public normal schools require entrance examinations. As a rule, these examinations are limited to the branches taught in the common schools. Several schools require for admission either graduation from a high school, or evidence of equivalent attainment. These obviously possess great advantage in the purely professional part of their work. In a little more than one-half of all the schools professional training includes practice in a model school, and in a few instances these model
schools comprise the three grades, viz, primary, intermediate, and high; as a rule, however, the practice school is merely a primary grade school.
There is a very general conviction among those whose experience gives weight to their opinions that secondary or academic instruction ought to be eliminated from the normal schools, or, in other words, that they should be conducted strictly as professional schools. However excellent this idea of the function of normal schools, it cannot be generally carried out at present. In many parts of our country there are no high schools nor other efficient secondary schools accessible to those intending to be teachers, and upon the narrowest interpretation of the qualifications of a teacher the normal schools must supply this deficiency. Surely no one capable of judging in the matter will hold that 2 mere knowledge of the common school branches, reading, writing, and arithmetic, United States history, a little geography, and possibly less physiology, is sufficient for even the most elementary teacher, or that such limited attainments afford a suitable basis for anything worthy of the name of professional training. In the schools in which the standard of admission is low, it is indeed difficult to preserve a just balance between the time devoted to the acquisition of knowledge and to special training in the theory and art of teaching. The dificulties, however, do not appear to be insurmountable. Where the normal school is obliged to perform the function of a secondary school, students ought not to be admitted unless they give evidence of a thorough mastery of the elementary branches, with the intellectual habit that such mastery implies. Under these circumstances the course of the normal school should cover at least three years, two for general study and one for special training.
Many of our normal schools illustrate the possibility of forming excellent teachers out of pupils whose previous study has not extended beyond the common school branches. In every such case the work of the school is characterized by thoroughness and precision. While it is necessary that a large proportion of our normal schools should combine general instruction with the special function of training teachers, we must note as an evidence of progress the increasing number that are able to confine themselves to professional work. The opinions of experienced principals as to the desirability of this course deserve attention. Gen. T. J. Morgan, principal of the Rhode Island State Normal School, says with reference to this subject:
A large part of the strength of normal schools is spent in giving their pupils the rudiments of the common school studies. They do academic instead of professional work. Against this policy it may be urged that it is a waste of resources. The normal school faculties are required to do what the faculties in the high school should do. It creates rivalry and jealousy between the normal and high schools. It degrades the normal from a professional to a secondary school, thus helping to defeat its own end, the creating of a professional spirit. It fatally lowers the standard of attainment that should be required of every teacher. It overcrowds the course of study, and by attempting to teach both matter and method, does neither with thoroughness. It attempts the impossible. Students need more culture and discipline than are now required upon entering normal schools, and the separation of matter and method before they can fully grasp the significance of methodology.
A complete separation of matter and method, a thorough differentiation of the normal school into that of a strictly professional school, would, it is believed, be productive of the following results: The normal schools would at once take higher rank and compel greater respect. The ranks of college and high school teachers and grammar masters would be more largely recruited from the normal graduates. The professional work would be better done. Normal-school teachers would turn their energies toward producing pedagogical literature rather than school books. Norn students would go out with more clearly defined notions of what constitutes professional training than they now possess. The antagonism between high school and normal school would at once
It is worthy of note that, in the early educational history of this country, the great institutions of learning were designed as theological schools, and their work was miscellaneous and elementary. By a natural process of evolution and differentiation the academy, the college, and the university bave grown out of the divinity school. The divinity school proper, now leaving to those the work of general culture, seeks to do strictly professional, post-graduate work. The normal school is undergoing something
of the same healthy metamorphosis. The improvement and multiplication of the schools of all grades, where those who wish to teach can receive the requisite instruction in the subjects to be taught, and the growing public sentiment, or rather demand, for a higber order of professional training, unite in rendering it possible and desirable for the normal school to do distinctively and exclusively professional work.
A similar view of the province of normal schools, or, as they are called in England, tiaining colleges, is expressed by Dr. J. W. Rigg, principal of the Westminster Training School, England. In a recent inaugural address, Dr. Rigg observes :
The training colleges will be increasingly efficient for the training of teachers in proportion as they have less need to give labor and time to the work of finishing the school learning of the students. The unfurnished condition in which students enter the colleges hinders the college tutors in all their work. With thoroughly educated students, of well-disciplined minds, entering college a year or two older, they would often be able to do more in one year to prepare them for the work of their lives than they can now do in two. And if, by having less to do in the way of imparting what in reality is merely the higher class knowledge of schools, and by having more thoroughly disciplined minds to deal with, the tutors were free to bestow more leisurely and more thorough attention on the instruction and training of their college pupils in all that belongs to the science and art of teaching and training, then we should see vastly higher and better results from our college work.
Detailed accoznts of individual schools by those personally familiar with their operations are always helpful to those engaged in the same work. The following statement by Hon. J. O. Wilson, late superintendent of public schools, Washington, D. C., shows the plan and working of the Washington Normal School, under Miss Smith, which has for several years maintained a very high character as a school confined exclusively to the professional training of elementary teachers :
The pormal school was established for the exclusive purpose of giving instruction in the science of education and the art of teaching. It was not intended that it should do academic work. Its pupils are young women not less than eighteen years of age, who have been graduated from the high school, and have successfully passed an examination in which they have attained a standard not below that required for a teacher's certificate of the third class. Under our system this certificate ranks next below the highest given. The number of its pupils was limited to twenty at first, then increased to twenty-five, and the present number is thirty. The number of candidates is always largely in excess of the limit fixed for the school, and therefore the examination becomes competitive. As the pupils in this school are required to have a knowledge of the subjects of instruction when they are admitted, its course of study occupies only one year, which is taken up mainly in learning how, and not what to teach. The course includes psychology, didactics, the history of education, and constant exercise in the practical application of the principles and methods acquired through these studies. The school bas under its control practice departments made up of pupils in the lower grades, and has the privilege of observing and practicing in higher grade schools. Its pupil teachers are thoroughly trained in the manual part of the work of an efficient teacher. By the best methods of practice they learn to execute with skill and ease. They become proficient in printing, writing, and linear illustration on the blackboard; in modeling geometric and other forms and relief maps in clay or other plastic substances; in map drawing; in preparing materials for teaching color, and objects, cards, and charts, for teaching number; in making collections of flowering plants, leaves of standard shapes, and insects and other small animals suitable for use in teaching young children; in preparing sets of picture-cards for language teaching, and devising many other most useial appliances for the objective teaching required by the younger children. Upon completing the prescribed course of study såtisfactorily a certificate to that effect is given to the graduates. They are then immediately employed in the schools of the city, and if their work for a period of not less than one year is entirely satisfactory they are entitled to receive the full diploma of the normal school. A good city normal school, aside from the training it gives to its own pupils, is a continual source of improved methods of teaching, and an inspiration to better work throughout the whole system of schools.
The St. Louis Normal School, under the charge of Dr. F. Louis Soldan, occupies a high position as a professional training school. During the five years preceding 1880 the
number of graduates was so much greater than the number of vacancies in the city schools that it was deemed desirable to diminish the number of normal students. This was done by making high school graduation a prerequisite for admission to the normal school. This naturally diminished the number of applicants, and at the same time se cured students of much greater maturity than formerly, and therefore better able both physically and mentally to profit by the course. Since 1882-'83 the normal school has been so situated that students had the opportunity of practice in teaching under the supervision and with the assistance of more experienced teachers. In consideration of the different opinions advanced with reference to the advantage of a practice department in connection with normal schools, the opinion of so experienced and competent an authority as Mr. Soldan is of interest. Mr. Soldan says:
The students of the higher classes of the normal school have been sent regularly to the several rooms of the Franklin to teach for at least five weeks at a time, under the supervision of the teacher of the room. This seems to be the best way in which the practical efficiency of the young teacher can be tested, and in which sho can learn how to apply the methods whose logical theory she has studied. The students have the assistance of the teacher of the room, and also the advice of an experienced teacher who inspects their work and meets them before or after school hours to give them an opportunity for obtaining advice. Another valuable feature of this plan is that the young teachers are required to hand in estimates of the ability and character of some of their pupils, which necessitates a personal study of the habits and peculiarities of the children under their care.
The Massachusetts State Normal Art School is the only institution of the kind in the United States, on which account its progress is watched with unusual interest. In pursuance of a recent act of the legislature the board of education has arranged for the erection of a new building for the accommodation of the school, and it is expected that the coming year will see the work completed. The success of this measure in the leg. islature is an evidence of the public appreciation of the merits of the school.
TEACHERS' INSTITUTES, CHAIRS OF PEDAGOGICS, ETC.
Particular accounts of the teachers' institutes held during the year will be found under the heading “Preparation and qualifications of teachers” in the abstracts of the educational affairs in the States and Territories. The subject was also exhaustively treated in a circular prepared by Hon. James H. Smart, and published by this Office as No. 2 in the series of 1885.
Chairs of pedagogics or didactics are still reported from the Universities of Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, and from Johns Hopkins. The chair of didactics in the University of Nebraska has been abolished.
We note also the closing of the normal departments of the following Universities : Arkansas Industrial University, University of Kansas, University of Oregon, and the summer normal of the University of North Carolina, for which is substituted the chair of pedagogics mentioned above.
The importance attaching to science instruction, and the desire recently manisested to make it a featnre of public school instruction, have created a demand for the special training of teachers for this department of knowledge. One of the most important experiments in this direction is that conducted by Dr. A. S. Bickmore, professor in charge of the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, New York City. The work has been in successful progress a number of years and receives from the State an annual appropriation of $18,000.
Recognizing the importance of a pedagogic museum as a means of keeping teachers and school officers informed of the progress in methods, material, appliances, etc., Superintendent Draper, of the department of public instruction, New York, has begun a work of this kind in one of the rooms of the Capitol. Arrangements are being made for classifying and explaining all articles received for this exhibit.