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there was a reaction in 1874, when French and German were abolished during a revolutionary period of four months. The "restoration" soon followed by act of the Legislature.
The twin hobbies, with Boards of Education from 1854 to 1864, were the annual examination of teachers and the annual elections. Indeed, "annual elections," like bull fights, were in vogue until 1870. "Investigations " raged in 1872 and 1873, while the favorite hobby of the Board of 1874 and 1875 was "rules and regulations."
14. Merits and Defects.-The marked merits of the
1. Convenient buildings.
2. Good discipline.
3. In general, hard-working teachers.
4. Good instruction in Music and Drawing.
5. The purely secular character of the schools.
The marked defects are:
1. Too many pupils per teacher.
2. Too rigid classification.
3. Too much cramming of text-books.
4. Too many lessons for home study.
5. A complicated system of daily recitation records and monthly reports.
6. A lack of professionally trained teachers.
7. The lack of a City Normal School.
8. A lack of thorough inspection.
9. Short terms of office of Superintendent and School Directors.
15. Address of President Davis.-The address of the President of the Board, Andrew McF. Davis, Nov. 14, 1875, sets forth in detail some of the marked features of the city system. The following are extracts:
It is fitting and proper that I should avail myself of this opportunity to say to this audience a few words concerning what this Board, whose term of office is so nearly closed, has done, and also relative to the graded system upon which the schools of the Department are organized.
Under the customs which at present prevail, no report is made by the Board to the people. The only published report concerning the affairs of the Department which reaches the public is the report of the Superintendent. That officer being elected directly by the people, and being only in a measure responsible to the Board, and no report being submitted in published form by the Board, or its
GRAMMAR SCHOOL BUILDING.
Model of three buildings, 1870-71. Cost, $30,000, each. Wood. Capacity 1000 pupils.
Committees, I shall offer no apology for taking advantage of this occasion to say a few words which, under a different organization of affairs, I should have preferred to present elsewhere.
The objects and purposes of this school, as originally organized, were substantially what they are to-day. The means at hand to reach these objects and effect these purposes have largely increased, and the school to-day has before it an enlarged field of usefulness, the circle of which not only expands with the increase of the population of the State and City, but the cultivation of which is vastly aided by the generous sympathies of the public.
The necessity of the school is to supplement the graded system of teaching which prevails in the lower divisions of the Department. To accomplish this, the course of study in the school itself must be elastic enough to aid and encourage in their labors:
I. Those who have successfully passed through the Grammar grades and wish to pursue a higher course of study, whether scientific, literary, or classical.
II. Those who have passed through the Grammar grades successfully, and wish to round off their education in a shorter period; to gather in and appropriate what they can, but who are especially desirous of pursuing with diligence for a short space of time certain scientific or mathematical studies.
III. Those whose education has been acquired outside of our city schools, and whose percentages may show a decided falling off in some of the studies, and an unusual prominence in others.
And finally, those who, from some constitutional incapacity, are unable to pursue with success certain studies beyond fixed points, but who are able to reach a certain grade, yet cannot get beyond it, if the inexorable law of percentages is rigidly applied.
For all of these, and perhaps for others, must a place be found in this school.
Because a young man, with a copious diction and a delicate literary taste, can only achieve the pons asinorum by memorizing the demonstration, shall we keep him lagging behind the army in its advance, or shall we try him now in this place, now in that, until we find the place where he can do the best work and where we can work him to the best advantage?
Because the graded system demands a certain percentage for promotion, shall we keep a pupil, year after year, in the first grade of the Grammar department, who from some mental deficiency is held back from promotion by absolute failure in some especial study? Is it not better to recognize this as one of the defects of a system, excellent in some respects, which is to be supplemented as far as may be by this school?
In order to realize what the defects are that need to be supplemented, it is essential to look at the organization of our schools and observe of what different materials they are composed. We see, side by side, the children of professional men, merchants and laborers; children whose every step is carefully watched, and those whose normal condition is absolute freedom from restraint; we see the rude and the polished; black and white; rich and poor; all patronizing our schools.
For these children, reared under such different conditions, enjoying such varied advantages, disciplined to such different degrees of obedience, is provided a curriculum, rigid, inelastic, and unconscious of any difference in the characters, the surroundings, or the opportunities of the pupils.
At the age of six years, says the law, you may send your child to the public school, and, continues our course of study, whatever his condition of discipline may then be, he shall pursue the following studies, such and such quantities to be given in stated periods and in definite ways. At the age of six, then, the pupils are launched upon the course of study. But how different are their opportunities! While at home, whether at meals or at play, the one child is under the care of educated and refined parents, who maintain a constant supervising influence over their offspring; who do not neglect discipline in mistaken kindness, and who accomplish far more in the process of leading forward the child than can be possible for any teacher in the lower grades.
Side by side with his little playmate another has to struggle along the path alone. His parents earn their bread by the sweat of their brows. There is no time to waste on refinement or cultivation. Here the case is reversed. The teacher is all in all, and much more is accomplished at school than at home in the process of unfolding the mental faculties and developing the intellectual growth.
Suppose that these two children are of equal mental calibre, will their growth be the same under the graded system? If not, what provision is there for such vast, such inevitable discrepancies? For, in this comparison, I have not drawn the strongest possible, nor even the strongest probable contrast. The law of " hereditary tendency" would assert, as probable, that the child of professional or literary parents would have stronger natural tastes for literary pursuits than the child of the laborer. So that the natural tendency would be to make the contrast even more striking.
How in the world can such grave obstacles to the adjustment of the graded system be overcome? How can any rigid system be made to fit such a variety of minds, from the most brilliant to the positively stupid? How can the same nourishment, in quality and quantity, sustain the giant and the pigmy? These questions seemed to me, when I entered upon my duties as a School Director, incapable of answer.
I have found a partial explanation of the matter in this, that in many schools the promotions are so made that the bright and forward scholars do two years' work in one-actually accomplishing this work with ease. In other words, the course of study, as at present arranged, being adapted as near as may be to the best interests of the average intellect under average conditions favorable for its development, must necessarily fall below the capacity of a large number of the scholars. To keep these busy, they must either do two years' work in one, which is accomplished by promotions at the end of the first six months (making advance work of what is review to a portion of the grade), or some other means must be devised to keep their minds active during school hours.
This forcing pupils over two years' work in one, is the only source of relief from the rigid demands of the Manual which I have discov