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A resolution was presented by Mr. Warner, that a committee of three be appointed by the President to confer with the Superintendent of Public Instruction to present a plan for grading district schools, and to procure legislation necessary therefor. Adopted.
A paper on “Teachers' Examination was read by Mr. Fred Glafke, Jr., of Mendon.
The paper was discussed by Messrs. Tappan, of St. Clair; Dryer, of Muskegon; Hepburn, of Osceola; Gulley, of Van Buren ; Taylor, of Ottawa; Glafke, of Mendon, Laird, of Tawas; and Downie, of Muskegon.
A motion was made by Dr. Cubbage, of Saginaw, that a committee be appointed to confer with Superintendent of Public Instruction, in regard to first grade certificates. Carried.
The President appointed Messrs. Hepburn, Palmer, and Cubbage.
The following committee was appointed to confer with Supt. Estabrook, regarding a plan for grading district schools: Messrs. Orr Schurtz, of Baton; C. L. Bemis, of Ionia; and S. B. Laird, of Iosco.
The examiners met at 1:30 to listen to Mrs. Jaynes, of Kalamazoo, speak on the new features of the temperance legislation.
Mrs. Jaynes spoke for more than an hour in favor of putting a book in the hands of every pupil, young or old. She next presented a list of text-books which she endorsed and those which she did not.
In the discussion of this paper, Messrs. Grawn, of Traverse, and Baker, of Big Rapids, favored teaching temperancephysiology in the lower grades of the schools orally. The teacher guided by a text-book and full of enthusiasm for the work.
The sense of the meeting was shown by the applause which followed their remarks.
Mr. Bemis, of Ionia, next read a paper on Supervision of District Schools."
The general tenor of the paper was that the Secretary should instruct young teachers in methods of teaching and discipline, and seek to arouse an interest in schools among the patrons.
In discussing the paper, Prof. W. A. Drake, of Hillsdale, said: I don't think it necessary to make a normal institute of myself. Having licensed a teacher, our duty is merely to see if they are filling the bill.
There is no uniformity in the schools of my county. I would spend at least one-half day in each school. I sometimes feel it my duty to sweep the floor, raise the windows, reduce the school to order, and correct the incorrect expressions on the black-board. My chief thought is to find out if the things I have certified to in that teacher's certificate are true.
I can't do much for a teacher in a short visit, when her only knowledge of teaching is academic or high school knowledge.
I was especially pleased with Mr. Schurtz's paper. It was a good one. The things said against it were good, but not true.
I would refuse another license to those found unable to teach. I would insist on knowing whether or not the teacher attended the institutes; 10,000 out of 15,000 teachers in the state do not attend the institutes. I think they should study some work on pedagogy, and should present theses on the subject. I would not give notice of my visit, but surprise them as much as possible, and take no time listening to apologies.
Baker, of Mecosta, asked Mr. Drake if he worked for the Reading Circle.
Drake: I am sorry to hear that question. I have not done my duty in this respect, but promise to do better in the future.
Cubbage, Saginaw: Would ask Mr. Bemis what he would do if a teacher persisted in practicing the methods which he condemned ?
Bemis: I would refuse a certificate next time. I give notice of visit so that I may get the board and people out to an evening meeting and explain to them what I think is best for the school.
Tuck, of Mecosta, asked about boards in one county endorsing certificates granted in another.
Church: In cases where we are acquainted with the board we do this. State Supt. Estabrook next made a few remarks in which he said:
There never was an opportunity in this State to do so much for district schools as now. There was some confusion concerning the operation of the new law, arising from the failure of the senate to give it immediate effect. But all counties are now in line. I would again ask you as far as possible to make your visits by townships, and have a teachers and patrons' meeting on the Saturday following your visits. We should adopt some uniform methods of examination. Have the same branches for higher grades. Have a general uniformity in marking. Make the basis of examination according to the questions. Some questions are sent out to act as a tonic. Prof. Estabrook next made an eloquent plea for the Reading Circle.
The teacher should know more than just enough to teach. General reading broadens culture and increases knowledge. The secretaries can do much to aid this work.
Palmerlee, of Lapeer, asked for an outline of work in physiology.
Supt. Estabrook : No course has yet been mapped out. There is danger of creating a reaction in regard to this matter. I believe in teaching temperance, but not in forcing text-books upon our grades where they cannot be used. The law does not mean that the physiologies should be used to teach reading, but to be used when pupils can already read intelligently.
Wisdom, prudence, good judgment, are necessary to carry out the County Supervision Law. Make it so popular that no legislature can repeal it. The secretary who is opposed to the law on principle should resign.
The question was asked what would be done if parents refused to buy books or allow pupils to study the subject ?
Supt. E.: The law is mandatory, but boards have no authority to compel patrons to purchase text-books.
Taylor, of Ottawa: The law requires examiners to meet the Saturday following the examination; this is before the papers can in many cases be examined.
Supt. E.: Wait until the examination is completed. The following resolution was introduced by Mr. Baker and adopted: Resolved, That it is the sense of this association of county examiners that the work of the Michigan State Teachers' Reading Circle is of such importance that every proper encouragement should be given to its advancement, and we as secretaries hereby pledge to the movement our hearty support. Supt. Howell stated that the Reading Circle Council would probably be increased to seven members, and that this body would be asked to elect three of its members to the council, and suggested that three be named.
Messrs. Bemis, Baker and Drake were so named.
Supt. Bemis offered the following resolution, which was adopted unanimously:
Whereas, We, the secretaries of the county boards of Michigan, feel that it would be a benefit to us and our work to have some paper by means of which we could exchange views, present new ideas, and become better acquainted; therefore be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of this association that the MODERATOR be the official organ of the secretaries of the county boards of school examiners.
The following officers were elected : Pres., Prof. W. A. Drake, Hillsdale; Sec'y and Treas., Mr. C. L. Bemis, Ionia.
WEDNESDAY MORNING SESSION.
Conference meeting called to order by Chairman Drake. In absence of Secretary Bemis, Clapp was chosen Secretary, pro tem.
Talk opened by Baker, followed by Haskins, Warner, Spofford, Brown, Black, Dryer, and others, on dates and methods of holding examinations, in which there was a variety of opinions, but the general sense of secretaries was that the time is too short for holding examinations and granting certificates as required by law.
Motion made that the dates named by the department for furnishing questions remain as the dates for holding examinations, and amended, that one day's examination be held two weeks previous to the regular examination, which was carried.
The remainder of the session was devoted to a discussion of the question, “How shall secretaries proceed to do the most they can to benefit their schools?”
The following examiners were in attendance:
LIST OF MEMBERS.
J. H. Belknap.
G. H. Francis.
GRADING COUNTRY SCHOOLS.
SECRETARY ORR SCHURTZ,-EATON COUNTY.
In considering the question of providing a system of grading for the country schools we do not go far before we meet with some very stubborn facts. Those of us who have had experience in graded school work will find almost a new problem confronting us when we attempt to put into practice rules that worked so favorably under the conditions that usually surround graded work. The elements that enter into the problem of grading the country schools are very different, or rather so many more enter into it that the problem becomes very difficult of solution. In fact it becomes a new problem and one that thus far has not been solved. In attempting to solve it we can copy after few, if any, who have found the same difficulties surrounding them and discovered a way out. It is true we may make use of certain well established principles and theories, but we are sure to discover sooner or later that theories that grow and flourish in one kind of soil will not bear transplanting to another. Often these theories will take root, flourish and produce fruit if the new soil has been carefully prepared for them. All the elements of success may be present, but, unhappily, the one that attempts to put established theories into practice may not understand or he may fail to appreciate the fact that elements of failure are present almost in equal force, and that the latter must be eliminated, or at least carefully guarded against, before he can reasonably look for encouraging or permanent results.
It is unreasonable and characteristic of poor judgment to formulate a minute system for carrying out some great undertaking and then deliberately neglect to study carefully all conditions favorable and unfavorable to the successful working of such a system. A general plans a campaign in conformity to well defined principles of military tactics. Without such preparation he might better remain in camp, or let chance decide his battles for him. To lay out a definite plan of action to the minutest details and then stick to these details when the conditions and surroundings are completely changed, would be, manifestly, an equal piece of folly. A commander who would deliberately plan a battle all from theory and without acquainting himself with every condition that might possibly confront him in executing his plans would be an object for pity and contempt. A people who would formulate a government for themselves without regard to their peculiar civilization, desires and necessities would not yield obedience to their own laws. The form of government might be a model one in every respect, under which another people