Imagens das páginas

wishes of the parents shall demand it. The public interest awakened by the union school has in many cases, indeed, led districts to the erection of costly and commodious buildings for its accommodation, and the rapid progress of the pupils has influenced the delighted parents to add a high school to the system; but these are rather outgrowths than essential conditions of the gradation.


The advantages claimed for the graded school over the common district school, arise chiefly from the grading, by which term is meant simply the dassification of the pupils into separate departments or grades according to their ages, studies, and attainments. In a district having a hundred pupils, these papils, under the common school system, will be assembled in one room, and distributed into the various classes according to the studies they wish to pursue and their degree of advancement in those studies. If an assistant teacher is employed, it is simply to hear a portion of the classes. In some cases the school, where too full, is divided into two common schools, and the second teacher becomes the teacher of the second school. Under the graded system, the younger children, the beginners, would be placed in a primary department under one teacher, while the older and more advanced would constitute a higher department under the principal teacher. When additional teachers are employed the number of departments will be increased and the grading be made more perfect and useful.. Each grade is supposed to be preparatory to the next higher grade, so that each pupil must complete the studies prescribed for the lower grade before he can be properly admitted to tho. succeeding one. The pupils are thus expected to pass through all the grades or departments in regular succession.

The advantages of this latter system are manifold and evident.

lst. It economizes the time of the teachers. Suppose two neighboring schools each having a single teacher, and twenty

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

similar classes ranging, in studies, from the Alphabet to Algebra. Let these two schools be united into one-the two classes in Algebra becoming one class, the two higher Arithmetic elasses merging into one, and so on through all the classes in Geography, Grammar, Reading, Spelling, &c. Evidently there will still be only twenty classes though enlarged in numbers. Each teacher, instead of teaching through the entire range of studies, and minutely subdividing his time among twenty classes, is required to teach only ten classes, and of course gives a proportionally longer time to each class and each pu. pil. A further division of the grades, leaves still less classes to each teacher and multiplies the time given to each class.

2d. The teaching will be better. The teacher confining his attention to fewer studies, and having more pupils to instruct in those studies, becomes necessarily more skillful in teaching them.

3d. Each class of pupils will receive its due share of time and attention. In a school composed of large and small scholars and with numerous classes, if the solitary teacher begins in the morning as is usual, with the older classes, the little pupils must wait till they are weary before getting any instruction, and their instruction is generally crowded into odd times, of a few minutes each. In a graded school, they will have a teacher to themselves, and can be instructed while they are fresh, and the best hours taken for their exercises.

4th. The school arrangements and exercises may be better adapted to the ages and capacities of the different classes of pupils. The primary department, with its frequent changes of classes, its interspersed concert exercises and songs, its briefer and more animated exercises, and its more frequeat and longer recesses, may be made both more healthful and happy, and far more profitable for the younger pupils. At the same time the advanced scholars, relieved from the presence and noise of the little ones, are left in quiet for their severer study and longer recitations.

5th. With this better teaching and more suitable arrangement, the pupils will be both more thoroughly instructed in each study, and more rapidly advanced in a course of studies. In a good graded school, papiis will be ordinarily as far advanced at twelve years of age, as in common schools at sixteen, and altogether more thorough and intelligent scholars.

6th. The time of pupils being thus economized, a much larger number will be prepared and enabled to pursue higher branches of learning, even without increasing their stay in school.

7th. The graded school affords facilities for teaching the higher branches. Four teachers in a graded school will give both common school and academical instruction to a number of pupils whom they could barely instruct in common branches, if divided into three distinct schools.

8th. The high school grades, when added, stimulate the pupils of the lower grades. In this respect the union high schools are of much higher utility than the old fashioned academies. These latter were totally independent, and unconnected with the primary schools, and the great mass of the common school children never expected to enter them. But all the children in the lower grades of the union school look forward with hope to the time when they shall be qualified to enter the higher grades. Thus the very presence of the higher grades is a perpetual stimulus to all the grades below them.

9th. The advantages of higher education are by this system offered to all the children of these union districts without regard to parentage or wealth. And in this respect the union high school is vastly more in harmony with the genius of our political institutions, than is the academy, which is necessarily exclusive and aristocratic.

10th. Graded school districts being larger and more popu. lous are able to have longer terms of school, without adding to the burdens of the people. While the common primary schools of the State are kept open from 3 to 8 months each year, averaging less than 6 months, the union schools are taught from 8. to 10 months.

11th. The graded school, providing for the instruction of a much larger number of pupils in the same school, allowing thus of larger and abler districts, permits the erection of more commodious buildings, and the provision of better apparatus of instruction. A large and convenient building which will accommodate 300 pupils, will cost less than the several school houses requisite for the same number of children, if distributed into primary districts.

12th. The graded schools, by their dignity and permanency, invite a much higher class of teachers; and in this way they have been of incalculable value to the public school interests of this State. The union school that requires four or five teachers, will be able to employ as principal, a man of liberal learning and cultivation; and the influence of his superior ability will be felt to the lowest department, and by the youngest pupil of the entire school. Even the cheaper and inferior teachers, employed in the subordinate positions, are enabled to do good work under the advice and direction of an able principal

13th. The association of several teachers in the same school is another advantage, since they mutually aid and stimulate. each other. The solitary teacher of the common district school, with no opportunities for daily consultation with those engaged in the same business, must lack one of the strongest incitements to activity and eminence in his calling.

14th. The graded school will be better and more easily governed than the common primary. Not only does the higher character of the teachers employed, and the presence of several teachers in the same school, insure this, but the division of the school into departments, ntade up of children of nearly the same ages, allows the government of each department to be adapted to the age and capacity of the pupils, and renders it simple and easy. This is a point of no small value or importance.

15th. The animating and inspiring influence of large numbers belonging to the same institution, and engaged in common

studies, is another advantage of the graded school, of almost immeasurable value. This influence is felt by both teachers and pupils, stimulating them to an activity rarely known in the small and isolated district school.

16th. The larger interests involved in the graded school also demand and insure more attention on the part of school boards. The contrast between the apathy of common school boards and the activity generally manifested by the trustees of the union schools is interesting and instructive.

17th. The presence of a great school also excites a higher regard for education among the inhabitants of the graded school district. This is amply proven by the more general desire of the parents for the liberal education of their children, and by the readiness of the people of these districts to tax themselves heavily to build fine school houses and make free schools.

18th. The more thorough and almost perfect supervision of the schools practicable in the graded school districts must not be omitted in this enumeration. By making the principal teacher the superintendent of all the departments, as ought always to be done, and allowing him daily, so much time as is necessary to visit the other departments besides his own, a supervision the most active, intelligent and useful is kept up, and the most beneficial results are secured.

19th. Finally the graded school is the most economical, as well as the most efficient form of school yet discovered. Taking into consideration the kind and amount of work done, and the length of school terms, the union school will be found much cheaper than the common primary school, and its high school department than the private academy of equal grade and efficiency.

In view of the foregoing advantages and others that might be added, I cannot doubt that it is the wisest policy to organize graded schools wherever there are pupils sufficient to give employment to two teachers,

The direct and reactive influence of the graded schools upon

« AnteriorContinuar »