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practicability had been tested, is now exceedingly popular in the community, and enjoys a very intelligent and excellent patronage. Most of its former opponents are now its advocates-some its warmest supporters. These schools now can stand upon their own recognized and admitted merits. I predict that they will more than justify all that has been claimed in their behalf.
SUPERINTENDENT WIDBER'S REPORTS.
The three reports of Mr. Widber, 1871, 72, 73, were models of brevity, containing little except finance and statistics, Deputy Snperintendent Swett in his reports made an exhibit of the results of the cramming system as shown by the written examinations; argued against state uniformity of text books; advocated a higher rate of salaries for principals of Grammar Schools; and recommended the adoption of the Grube system of teaching Arithmetic to beginners.
MR. DENMAN'S REPORTS.
The last reports of Superintendent Denman, 1874 and 1875, were the longest of the city reports. The report of 1874 treated at length of the new course of study.
The last report of Superintendent Denman, 1875, recommended the establishment of a city Normal School, and treated at length of the course of study. It also contained a valuable historical sketch of schools and teachers.
The report of Deputy Superintendent Leggett recommended the abolishing of annual written examinations for promotion; favored the appointment of a Board of Inspectors and a city Normal School; criticized the methods of teaching modern languages in the Cosmopolitan Schools, and recommended a cutting down of the course of study in the higher grades. The examination questions, in language prepared by Mr. Leggett, were particularly good.
The report of Deputy Superintendent Leggett, on examinations and methods of teaching, was a valuable one. The following extracts illustrate its style:
THE ANNUAL WRITTEN EXAMINATION.
It is curious to observe how hard it is to break the chain in which long habit binds human society, or to get out of the groove of custom. During certain stages of a people's progress no doubt this principle of aversion to change is useful and necessary; but there is also a time (whether we have yet reached it or not) when every practice or custom must make good its claim to future existence or cease to be.
Why should we have annual examinations at all? The question startles most ears, and why? Because we have always had them at the close of the school year. The habit of holding them has become venerable from antiquity, and I know I shall be accused of sacrilegious interference with a time-honored custom in proposing to do away with them. If we ask, why should the annual examinations be kept up, we have for reply: Because we have always had them. If we ask, why should they be abolished, we have for replies: First. Because they are not needed.
Second. Because they are expensive, costing the department at least $20,000 a year.
Third. Because they render useless the school work of the last school month of every year, and foster cramming and overwork during that time.
Fourth. Because they tend to produce excitement and lead to over-exertion on the part of pupils at a time when they are wearied by the work of the whole year.
Fifth. Because if they were abolished, many teachers who, under the present system cannot be induced to abandon the practice of cramming for the examination, because they are, as they believe, to be judged by the results of it, could be induced to do some teaching in their classes.
If I am asked how pupils could be promoted without these examinations, I answer, Promote them at any time of the year when their proficiency and the classification of the school would permit. How? I believe it would be best to do it on examination duly made by thoroughly qualified inspectors, such as I recommended the appointment of in my last annual report. But if we are not ready for that, then on the examination of the teacher, the principal and the superintendent or his deputy. There is no one season of the year, so far as my observation goes, at which the minds of children ripen or mature no particular month out of the twelve in which they become fully ripe and fit for the harvest. I believe the monstrous attempt to put children of widely varying physical and mental powers through the same mill in the same time, has worked infinite and irreparable mischief to many minds.
THE TEACHERS OF OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
The School Department employs more than five hundred teachers at the present time. Most of them are ladies and gentlemen well qualified for the positions which they hold. They are zealous and enthusiastic in their work. They are willing and anxious to do all in their power to further the best interests of the children committed to their care. If they fail to do all that we could wish them to do, it is not because of any lack of desire to do so. It is disheartening to any such body of men and women to be treated with distrust by those who employ them, and I trust that the new Board of Education will extend to the teachers of our schools all the kind consideration, sympathy and aid that it is in their power to do. Young teachers in this city have very meagre opportunities for improvement in the art of teaching. We have no Normal School. We have no teachers' institute, or associations. During the period of my con
nection with the department there has not been a single lecture on the science of education, or the art of teaching, delivered to the teachers of this city and county. If, therefore, some of our teachers are behind the times, if the ardor of others has slackened, if the professional pride of all has declined a little, is it much to be wondered at? I believe a revival of educational interest is needed in our city, and if the Board of Education can do something to bring about so desirable a result, they will by so doing reflect credit on themselves, and confer a benefit upon the schools under their charge.
A CITY NORMAL SCHOOL.
In my last annual report I tried to call the attention of the Board of Education to the necessity of having a Normal School established for the training of teachers. Up to the present time, however, members of the board have been unable to see the matter in the same light that I do. I think it is a disgrace to our city that we have no school within her limits for preparing young men and women, who wish to devote themselves to the profession of teaching, for their work. I venture to say that there is not on the American continent to-day, a city of 250,000 inhabitants where some sort of a Normal School has not been established. I know that as we are now situated every dollar expended for the support of a really good Normal School would repay the city tenfold in the greater efficiency of the teachers who would be trained in it. Every person who has a particle of educational sense, must see that for lack of Normal School instruction the department is losing every year ten times as much as it would cost to sustain a good Normal School in our city.
The State Normal School at San Jose is, under its present able management, doing a noble work for the cause of education in California. But we need a school of our own in this city for the special training of teachers for our graded schools. I do not think that the Normal School ought to be conducted in the High School, nor taught in connection therewith. I think it would be better to have it in some school in which all the grades are taught. In that case the teacher of the Normal Class could take the teachers in training into the classes of the different grades and there show them how to teach practically, by taking charge of the class himself and showing his pupils how to apply the best methods of instruction. If candidates for the positions of teachers in the public schools were well trained in such a school, we should have much more teaching and much less experimenting done in a large number of our classes.
TOO MANY PUPILS ASSIGNED TO A TEACHER.
I have no reason to change or modify my views on this subject during the past year. I would reiterate my opinion, as expressed in my last report, that not more than forty grammar pupils, nor more than fifty primary pupils, ought to be assigned to any one teacher.