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a school is taught, who shall inquire into the condition of such schools, examine the scholars, and give such advice to both teachers and pupils as he may think beneficial.” (Section 74.)
The importance of an authorized and intelligent visitation of the public schools, is recognized in every system of public instruction, in this country and in Europe. If this importance be such as to demand recognition and provision in every public school law, then surely it demands that the work shall be steadily and faithfully performed. If not needful for the best interests and success of the schools, let the law be abrogated; but if it is necessary and valuable, then let the requirement. of the law be bonestly fulfilled.
No long argument can be needed to prove the necessity of some suitable supervision. The magnitude of the interests involved, the number of laborers employed, the inexperience of many of these teachers, the peculiar character of the work to be done, all demand a faithful and intelligent superintendence. The best plan of supervision would, evidently, be by an officer who should devote his whole time and energies to this work.' With a field large enough to occupy him constantly, he would gather skill by experience, and his visitations, made with regu. larity and system, would produce the maximum of good results.
But even our present system is capable of a good not ordinarily attained by it; and until a better can be introduced, this should be made as efficient as possible. Let the visiting inspector secure, as far as practicable, the company of the dis. trict officers in his visits to the schools. Under the legal duty of examining into "the condition of the schools,” let him carefully note the condition of the school buildings and grounds, the seating and apparatus; advising, if necessary, with the board for the improvement of the same. Let him next examine both into the methods and the thoroughness of the teaching. The first may be learned by requesting the teacher to proceed briefly through several recitations, with different grades of pupils, in his ordinary manner; the second, by himself ques tioning the pupils in the various branches studied. Care must
be taken not to alarm either teacher or pupils, by a show of authority. Let them rather be made to feel that the inspector comes as a wise and sincere friend, to do them good. Let him notice faults only to aid in their removal, and excellencies in order to confirm them.
The inspector should examine the daily record to see that it complies with the law, and to ascertain the regularity of ato tendance, and use liis influence to secure a fuller and more constant attendance of all the pupils of the district. In each school he will find something worth copying, some excellent rule of order, or general exercise, or mode of teaching a particular study. Let him recommend this to the other shools in his township, and thus make common to all, the good in each Let his counsel to the teacher be in private rather than in public, and be given as the advice of a friend rather than as an official injunction; but let him not hesitate to speak plainly and sternly where some gross and serious fault is wilfully permitted.
Some inspectors have effected a great change and reform i the schools of their township by appointing township meetings for the teachers, to be held one evening each month, and by thus engaging the several teachers, mutually, in the work of improvement.
Inspectors may also examine into the condition of the district libraries, whenever they exist, and by advising for their better management, may bring these useful agencies of education into more just favor. In brief, whatever concerns the schools of his township, or the proper education of the children, should receive his most thoughtful consideration. He is the constituted guardian of these great interests, and on the wise and faithful discharge of his duties the well-being of large numbers of children, and of society itself, depends.
I cannot forbear to notice here, also, the duty of the Township Inspectors, in making the annual reports, on which this department, and the State at large, must mainly rely for all knowledge of the working and wants of the school system,
While some of the reports of the Inspectors are models of excellence, full and accurate, there are others so marred with obvious errors as to be almost worthless. Most of these errors are doubtless made in the district reports; but the Inspectors should see to their correction, and when practicable, make the reports conformable to the facts. As an instance of the carelesness with which these reports are sometimes made, under the head of “District taxes," raised “to pay teachers' wages," nearly one-half of the township reports were evidently incor. rect, some including under that head, the rate bills, though a separate column was prepared for this item, while others reported as district taxes, the whole amount of wages paid to teachers. The ready courtesy with which the Inspectors have responded to the requests of this department for various information, encourages the belief that they will do whatever lies in their power to remedy these defects.
TEACHERS' INSTITUTES. During the year, eight of these useful gatherings were held, and with an interest and success not surpassed by those of any previous year. The times, places, and attendance of these Institutes were as follows:
The attendance at the same number of Institutes held in 1860, was 1251; but when it is reflected that these Institutes
were held for two weeks each, while six of those held the past year were held only five days each, it will be seen that there has been rather a gain in the attendance. The Institute at Saline happened to fall upon the same week with the State Fair and the National fast, and owing to this, came considerably short of the numbers that had engaged to attend.
It had been proposed to hold fifteen or eighteen of these Institutes the past year; but the embarrassed state of the treas. ury, and the troubled condition of the country, forbade. Several sections of the State were accordingly disappointed, after receiving some encouragement to expect Institutes. It is hoped that during the coming year the wants of the State may be more nearly met in this respect.
The experience of the year has added another testimony to the value of these agencies to traia teachers, and to awaken the public mind to the importance and value of education. The most full and gratifying assurances of the utility of the exercises, and of the good accomplished, have been received, both from the teachers who have attended, and from the citizens of the places in which they have been held.
The following brief account of the daily exercises of one of the Institutes of the autumn series is here given as a sample of the work done. The limited appropriation made for the Institutes of this series, prevented the employment of the ordinary number of lecturers, and diminished somewhat the variety and completeness of the course of instruction.
On the evening before the opening of the Institute, a public lecture was given, as usual, by the Superintendent, to a large audience, on the subject of Moral Education. The necessity and practicability of some higher moral culture were shown and the evils and dangers infesting or threatening our schools were explained:
Monday, 9 A. M.—The Institute was called to order and opened with appropriate religious exercises. Over one hundred were already in attendance, and, early as was the hour, several teachers had come more than twenty miles that morning to be present at the opening. After enrolling the names, followed some general remarks instructing the members as to attendance, attention, note-taking and their general duties in the Institute. A spirit of good order and earnest attention was thus invoked at the outset.
101, A. M.-Prof. Welch, principal of the State Normal School, lectured on primary teaching, explaining the object lesson, and giving, as illustrations, lessons to the institute, on the eyes and hair. Great interest was shown in the exercise.
114.-The Superintendent introduced the subject of arithmetic, explaining the various systems of notation, and giving some methods of teaching notation and numeration.
2 P. M.-A general oral exerciso in numbers was given to show the method of drilling pupils to habits of rapid calculation.
3 P. M.-Prof. Abbot, of the Agricultural College, gave a lecture on the English grammar, and the two methods under which it might be studied.
4 P. M.-Prof. Welch resumed the subject of primary teaching, explaining what faculties of the child should be addressed, and giving illustrations of the mode of teaching.
In the evening, Prof. Abbot delivered a lecture to-a crowded audience, on the history and forces of the English language.
Tuesday, 81 A. M.--Devotional exercises, the Institute reading the Scriptures, in concert.
91 A. M.-The Superintendent resumed arithmetic, explaining methods of drill on elementary operations, and giving the practical mode of teaching weights and measures.
101-Prof Welch lectured on primary teaching in reading and spelling, in connection with object lessons.
114.-Superintendent discussed Addition and its proofs, giv. ing modes of drilling the pupils to rapidity in the processes.
2 P. M.-Prof. Welch; primary spelling by sounds. 3 P. M.-Prof. Abbott; essential elements of the sentence.
4 P. M.-Prof. Fisk, of the Agricultural College, lectured on physical science, showing some of the properties of heat, light and electricity.