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the branches to be taught by them; for a very great part of the work to be done in these schools must be academic in its character. Let this knowledge be imparted, systematically, by skilled teachers, whose instruction will unconsciously be a model for them; let the consideration of methods accompany the daily lesson ; let the pupil have a short drill in actual school management, under the direction of an efficient training teacher, and more will be done to elevate the character of the common schools than can possibly be done by State normal schools, as at present organized.

It may be objected to this plan, that it would operate to lower the standard of attainments among teachers, degrade the profession from its highest position, and subvert the means by which it can be fitted to accomplish its noblest results. Not by any means. The highest department of a system of learning is reached through those that

. precede it. Its real strength will depend upon their efficiency. This rule will obviously apply to normal schools. Let them be graded, the greater part of them being adapted to the necessities of the mass of teachers, and others having a more professional character for those who make teaching a profession for life. These higher schools would thrive with the lower, and would attain to greater excellence because of them. It may not be expecting too much to hope that there might be, here and there, one which could give attention to normal methods of instruction in the classics, and higher departments of science, and literature. From such schools could be drawn a supply of efficient instructors for high schools, seminaries, and colleges.

But it will be a long while before any system of normal schools will succeed in reaching all the teachers of the country. Teaching, as a business, must be more permanent, and offer better remuneration, before many of those engaged in it will make it an employment for life. The fact that the graduates of the normal schools of Massachusetts teach an average of only three years, is a forcible illustration of this position. The conveniences for normal instruction must be greatly increased before a title of the demand for teachers can be supplied from that source. Meanwhile other means must be utilized. There is a large and increasing number of graduates from academies, high schools, and colleges, very many of whom enter upon the work of instruction. They have been through a course of study generally more comprehensive than that taught in the normal schools. In scholarship, save, perhaps, in the common school studies, which were laid aside when they commenced their higher course, they are prepared to commence their work. But their instruction has been academic. They need to review the primary studies with methods of instruction in the same, and to have the benefit of practical work in the class-room, under the eye of an efficient training teacher. In view of their more general scholarship, and of the mental discipline acquired from long-continued study, two or three terms in a normal school would do much to prepare them for their work. The establishment of training schools in many of the larger cities is a step in this direction, many more of which should be taken. When the number of graduates is not large enough to justify the step, a few months in a primary normal school might well be substituted.

Teachers' institutes furnish a powerful and efficient means for instructing and inspiring teachers. They may be considered as normal schools, of the lowest grade, affording the only means by which the great mass of teachers can, at present, be reached, and some better ideas of school instruction and school management can be imparted. If these are well-conducted-if the plan is devised beforehand-if the work is done by skilled teachers who have given special attention to it, and in such a way as to elicit active thought and work from the institute, it is doubtful whether an equal amount of expense and labor to the same end will accomplish so valuable results. But the practice of gathering teachers together, and promiscuously parceling out the work to be done, without reference to time or system, is apt to be more corrupting than elevating in its results. It is desirable that the number of institutes be largely increased. The fact that in several States, one is held in every county, yearly, and in some cases halfyearly, while in others not more than one-tenth of the counties hold them, is evidence that much more is attainable in this direction than has yet been accomplished.

The work done in the institute, like that of any other school, will depend upon the teacher. Of the institute it may be remarked, however, that since it continues for a shorter period, generally for a week, greater skill at organization, greater promptness of action, are required of the conductor than of the ordinary teacher. An institute should have the best possible talent secured for its exercises. The employment of one or more corps of instructors, whose whole time should be given to holding institutes in different parts of a State, would produce a greater immediate effect upon the schools of the country than any other agency. Upon these institutes the teachers should be compelled to attend, without losing time, if their schools are in session, or furnish evidence of having attended a more extended course of instruction of similar character.

I cannot better call attention to the preparation needed by the teachers in country schools than by quoting a few words from the observations of Rev. Dr. Ryerson, superintendent of public instruction for the province of Ontario, on “The American School System.” They are taken from his report on the systems of public instruction in Europe and the United States. He says:

“ Taken as a whole, I do not think, from my best observation and inquiries, that there is a country in the world in whose cities and towns (except Leipsic, in Saxony) the systems of education are so complete and efficient as in the neighboring States, especially in Boston, Providence, New York, Philadelphia,” &c. “Nothing but a personal visit and inspection can convey an adequate idea of the comprehensiveness, completeness, and even in some instances grandeur, of the establishments and systems of education in the cities, and in not a few towns of our American neighbors.” “But here, in most of the States, the work has begun to halt, and the patriotic objects of its (the system's) projector have been disappointed.” “There is no adequate provision to secure the operations of a school in a single neighborhood, much less to secure properly qualified teachers where schools are established. The result is, that when you leave the cities and large towns, and go into the rural parts of the State, the peculiar field of a national school law, and system, you there find that our American neighbors are not so successful in their public school economy, and accomplish results far below, and short of the State appropriations they make, and the machinery they employ for the sound education of all the people.”



Principal of the State Normal School, Winona, Minnesota. The committee appointed at the last meeting of this association, to consider and report upon the subject of a course of study adapted to normal schools, would beg leave to submit:

That they have given to the subject as much time and attention as other absorbing duties would allow; that they have not deemed it necessary to discuss, in detail, the relations which the different branches of study sustain to the work of mental development; nor have they attempted the impossible task of laying down a curriculum, applicable alike to all circumstances and places, but they have contented themselves mainly with the presentation, in a suggestive form, of such a plan of professional training as seems well adapted to the preparation of teachers for the lower departments in our graded school system, and for the mixed schools of the rural districts; reserving for the future the consideration of a course suited to the wants of instructors in the high schools and colleges.

The committee have been led to pursue this plan for reasons which will now be stated :

First. These lower schools present altogether the most difficult problems in respect to methods of instruction and administration with which educators are obliged to deal. Hence the greater necessity for that intelligence, skill, tact, patience, and energy on the part of the teacher, which a careful special training is so well calculated to develop.

The committee do not feel that it is necessary to enlarge upon this proposition. The truth itself is too obvious to all who have seriously thought and labored in the field of popular education to require any demonstration at this time. It is an admitted axiom that the post of difficulty and responsibility is in the primary school, and in those grades of instruction most nearly allied to it.

It is comparatively easy to fill the professorial chair of the high school or college. Here the mind of the student is far advanced in its stages of development; his habits have been, in a measure, systematized, and his power increased by a long course of previous training; he is better prepared to help himself; he requires less aid from bis tutor, and that aid when needed is of a more simple and direct character. Hence the duty of the instructor here is comparatively easy. With a thorough knowledge of the subject-matter, it is not a difficult task to employ the method best suited to the work before him. From these considerations it follows that the peculiar needs of special training as a preparation for teaching are down at the base of our system of public education.

Secondly. By far the greater number of the children of this country obtain their only educational advantages in the schools of the rural districts, and in the lower departments of the graded schools in the larger towns and cities. This is a proposition so self-evident as to need no discussion. We speak entirely within bounds when we affirm that not less than nineteen-twentieths of the children and youth of our country fail to reach the high schools and colleges during their brief educational career. For this reason, every effort within the power of the Government and people should be put forth to improve and perfect these agencies for elementary instruction. They are the only colleges which the masses can reach. If they fail us, therefore, upon what can we rest our hopes for the universal diffusion of education.

Thirdly. The gradation of the work of instruction in our public schools necessitates a similar gradation in the agencies for the special preparation of teachers.

The work of the primary teacher is so distinctive and peculiar in its character and aims as to demand a distinctive and peculiar training therefor—a training especially suited to the circumstances of the case.

In like manner the instructor in the higher departments of education has a work more especially his own, differing widely in its motives and methods, and demanding attainments and qualifications very different from those of the elementary teacher. Hence the training of those who are to occupy these higher walks of educational effort should be suited to their condition and necessities; and it follows, also, tbat the appliances for their preparation should be modified accordingly. In other words, the necessities of our system of public education at the present time demand not less than two grades of normal training schools-one for the preparation of elementary teachers, and another for school officers and instructors in the higher departments. And it would, in the judgment of the committee, vastly increase the efficiency of our normal school system if these two classes of institutions could be organized and conducted as separate establishments, each suited to its special work.

Fourthly. The courses of academic study in many of our existing normal schools have become expanded to such an extent as to have greatly overburdened them, and to have largely diverted them from their special work, thus diminishing their intluence and usefulness as agencies for the professional training of teachers.

That this state of things has been brought about by the urgency of the public demand for teachers in the higher schools, in consequence of the withdrawal of many for more lucrative employments, is freely conceded; but the fact itself is none the less disastrous to the cause of elementary instruction. The committee beg leave to reiterate the statement that our most pressing wants, at the present time, are in the domain of elementary education. We must ever keep in view the primary school and its immediate adjuncts. We must not neglect that knotty problem, “the district school as it is.” We must remember its difficulties. We must reflect that the common schools are the only " colleges for the people.” We must have trained skill here, if anywhere; because failing here we shall fail altogether, and succeeding here we shall succeed altogether. It is down here where the great industrial classes," the bone and sinew" of the land, come to take their only chance for that training which is to lift them from sensuality to rationality and clothe them with the attributes of citizenship in this land of free thought, free speech, and free suffrage. And be it remembered, too, that it is down deep in this soil where the seeds of higher culture must be sown and where they must germinate and attain their earlier stages of growth. If we plant, and water, and cultivate here as assiduously and carefully as we may and should do, we shall not only lay broad and deep the foundations of general intelligence among the people, but by these means hundreds will demand the aids to liberal culture where now, amid neglect and inefficiency, only here and there one aspiring genius rises superior to the obstacles which environ him.

In this connection the committee take the responsibility of broadly asserting that while much has been done for the improvememt of elementary instruction, especially in the cities and larger towns, yet that, as a whole, the schools forming the lower parts of our system are deplorably deficient. They are mainly in the hands of ignorant, unskilled teachers. The children are fed upon the mere husks of knowledge. They leave school for the broad theater of life without discipline; without mental power or moral stamina; with minds distorted; too often with liearts corrupted, to swell the ranks of the lawless and to recruit the army of ignorant voters who are ever a menace to the peaco and security of the country. And here let us refer to a fact which cannot become too soon or too widely known, and which ought to arouse the educators and the statesmen of the country to the most vigorous exertions. We allude to the fact of the great increase of the ignorant voting population in these United States. This unwelcome phenomenon has its causes. It is not due alone to the enfranchisement of the slaves. The fact of such increase remains after full allowance is made for the addition of the blacks to the ranks of those who are entitled to suffrage. And we are forced to account for it largely by the utter ineficiency of thousands of our elementary schools, and their failure to do their assigned work. Poor schools and poor teachers are in a majority throughout the country. Multitudes of the schools are so poor that it would be as well for the country if they were closed. They add nothing to the intelligence or moral power of the country. They waste its resources. They teach nothing positively good, but much that is positively bad. They are little else than instruments for the promotion of mental and moral deformity. They repress the native aspirations of the child for knowledge. They foster habits of indifference and carelessness, which are the bane of his future life.

That eminent statesman and philosopher, Guizot, never uttered a more palpable truth than when he declared that “a bad school-master, like a bad parish-priest, is a scourge to the commune."

That the inefficient and worthless character of so many of these lower schools is a prolific cause of ignorance and its increase is proved by the fact that whenever good schools take their places a large increase of attendance at once occurs, and the “ noble army” of truants and absentees is correspondingly diminished. Thus poor schools not


only fail to attract to themselves great numbers of those who are pressing forward, unprepared, to the responsibilities of citizenship, but they equally fail to qualify those whom they pretend to teach for the most simple duties of life. Hence they are blind leaders of the blind. They afford the sad spectacle of ignorance engaged in the stupendous fraud of self-perpetuation at the public expense.

We have a fitting illustration of the grave deficiencies in our system of elementary instruction in the spectacle recently afforded at our national military school, in which more than fifty per centum of the candidates for cadetships utterly failed in a preliminary examination, although that examination was of a purely elementary character. At a recent competitive examination for an appointment to a cadetship, embracing sixteen young men over seventeen years of age, from an entire congressional district in Minnesota, only one was found to be a fit candidate to become a candidate for the position. The examination was limited to the elementary subjects prescribed by the Department of War in such cases. In some of our Western States more than three-fourths of the certificates granted to teachers are third grade, which represents such a paucity of literary and professional attainments that an expert calculator” would scarcely be able to find any sum total but zero. A majority of the candidates presenting themselves for admission to many of our normal schools are so utterly destitute of elementary knowledge, or any positive knowledge whatever, that it becomes necessary either to reject them, to establish preparatory departments, or to devote the first year to a grade of work which should have been and might have been accomplished in a good grammar school prior to the age of twelve years. In all the cases cited it should be borne in mind that these young men and women have been past the age of sixteen years. If anything can be decisive of the existence of the gravest deficiencies in our instrumentalities for elementary instruction, it is such facts as these--and their number is legion. And from the meager qualifications denoted by these cases down to the abject ignorance of the multitude of illiterate voters before alluded to there is every conceivable grade and shade, all bearing testimony to the quality of the education we are offering to the million. Among this mighty host how rare to find anything like clear, consecutive thought, leading to sound conclusions! What abuse of mother tongue!' What a negation of good habits of every kind! What a deplorable lack of the very foundations upon which a useful, virtuous, and successful life may be predicated.

The first, the most potent step toward a remedy of these gigantic evils, the committee believe, is to elevate and improve these schools of the people. We do not, in the present emergency, need to trouble ourselves so much about the higher institutions. If we take care of elementary instruction, that prolific soil in which the seeds of all learning and all excellence must germinate, as we ought to do, we shall go far toward providing for what we are pleased to call higher education, on the principle that the greater includes the less. Once thoroughly awaken the dormant energies of the human soul to the higher life of intelligence-to à realizing sense of the ecstasy of a rational and virtuous existence—and no power less than that of omnipotence can arrest its progress. Where it lacks opportunities it will create them; where it encounters obstacles it will glory in them, and they will disappear like the mists before the morning sun. One of the chief hinderances to the advancement of higher education and of its institutions in this country must be sought in the inadequacy of our agencies for elementary instruction.

When young men by scores, if not by hundreds, enter the college, unable to cope successfully with the minor difficulties of the English sentence, doing daily violence to mother tongue, with no methodical plan of study, no persistent power of application, no fixed principles of action, of character, or conduct, the fact is mildly suggestive of

something rotten in Denmark.” Reference is here made to the elementary school, of course. If the college be unsound, the defect arises largely from the admission of such candidates to its courses, instead of consigning them to the healthful probation of a good intermediate school. It must be admitted, however, that this remedy would prove ineffectual in its influence upon the unfortunate ones who might be subjected to its immediate application. For, when a young man has arrived at an age which justifies his admission into college, and is still destitute of the habits and acquirements which only a careful rudimentary training can give, it is generally too late to mend him. There are certain elements of character, personal, intellectual, and moral, that must be sought after and cultivated in childhood or never. That is the precious seedtime of the human soul. Its golden opportunities once lost can never be regained. It is this thought that invests the whole subject of early education, its character, motives, methods, and agencies with such supreme importance, whether viewed in its relations to the individual or to society, and especially to our own American society, where vox populi is so decisive in its influence upon the conduct of affairs. Perhaps no one thing would be more salutary in its effect upon our schools of lower grade than the universal and certain enforcement of a rigorous standard in respect to character and rudimentary attainments in the admission of candidates to the higher institutions. Nor could these institutions inaugurate a measure which would at the same time conduce more powerfully to their own real and permanent advantage than this.


The problem which above all others is committed to this nation is the education of the people. “The whole people must be taught and trained.” What shall be the character of that training? What system of agencies is best adapted to secure the certain result ?

The committee will yield to none in their profound appreciation of the claims of higher education and its institutions. They concede all that can reasonably be urged as to the value of highly educated men to society. But they feel bound also to submit that such men are not necessarily the product of higher institutions alone. They are rather the result largely of that spirit of self-culture whose germs lie in the deeper soil of early instruction. It is here that they must receive their first inspiration.

But however important to society the liberally educated man may be, it is of greater importance still that the industrial classes in this country should become the recipients of a training befitting their condition and their weighty responsibilities. The wickedest rebellion recorded in history was inaugurated by “liberally educated” men. But the crowning victories of Appomattox and Sadowa were won not by rifled cannon and needle gun, but by intelligent masses who, comprehending the interests at stake, and appreciating the gravity of the crisis, bravely faced death that their country and civilization might live.

The education of these masses, as we have shown, must be secured in the elementary schools or it can be done nowhere, and the advancing tide of ignorance must roll on until it shall overwhelm the nation. And it can be done here. But our agencies for the work must be multiplied and perfected far beyond our past experience. The trained, skillful schoolmaster must be abroad everywhere. “It is the master that makes thé school.” It is the careful training that makes the master. He must be scholarly, ingenious, earnest, conscientious. He must be inspired with broad views of his work. He must love it. He must know that the lessons of the text-book are but a fraction of the means to be employed in the formation of character. He must be able to lead his pupils not only to know but to do that which is lovely and of good report. To rear a supply of teachers after this model we are aware is no easy task. But we must succeed in it at whatever cost, or our great scheme for the education of the masses is a myth and a failure. Seminaries for the training of elementary teachers must be increased in number, perfected in organization, and improved in management, until they can create and keep up a supply of skillful teachers for the whole country. A knowledge of the noble art of teaching and of training up children in the way they should go, must be made universal; for this, after all, is the chief business of a civilized society.

For the weighty reasons which have thus been imperfectly sketched, then, the committee believe that our normal school system should be so graded that we shall be supplied with separate agencies for the special preparation of elementary teachers adequate to supply cvery school in the community. Their organization would thus be more simple, and their operation more direct and effective than on the diffused plan, which seems, in many instances, to embrace every grade from the primary school to the full collegiate course. This plan would so far localize the training system as to bring its benefits within reach of the great body of teachers. It would give greater prominence and effectiveness to the professional work of the schools by limiting the scope of their academical courses. It would in a few years create and maintain a supply of able teachers worthy of the high vocation of instructing the people. It would rapidly renovate the entire public school system, and carry the infinite blessings of knowledge and culture to every home. It would stem this advancing tide of ignorance which now threatens to imperil

, if not to overwhelm, the country. It would elevate the profession of teaching in public estimation. It would lead to a far more liberal compensation of teachers, by enabling them to render a more acceptable service to the people.

The committee believe, however, that no course of study which can be committed to paper can be made adequately to represent the true worth of a training school for teachers, or of any school whatever. It is the supreme function of every school not merely to accomplish a given course of study but to develop character. A curriculum is only one of the ineans to a great and comprehensive end. It is too often made an end unto itself; and it must be confessed that this end, in a majority of cases, is not realized. The value of a curriculum depends, first, upon its adaptation to the special purpose for which it is designed, and still more upon the manner in which it is handled. The best course of study ever devised by the wisdom of man, in the hands of an ignorant and unskillful teacher, is no better than a string of pearls offered as a morsel to a famishing beast. Said the late Edward Everett, in a brief address to a class of teachers on a certain occasion, "In education the method, the method, is everything.” So the power of a curriculum depends preëminently upon the method in which it is employed. The branches taught in our elementary schools have a power of mental discipline and expansion many-fold greater than we realize from them in the average of cases. It is this latent power that we so much need to apply in our common schools. But intelligence and skill alone can do it. While a text-book stands between an unwilling child on the one hand and a blockhead on the other, this power must remain as a light hidden under a bushel, and the poor children will see only as through a glass very darkly.

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