« AnteriorContinuar »
posited. But in such cases, the outside door is usually left open, the rain and snow bent in, and the scholars in haste to get their own clothes, frequently pull down as many more, which are trampled under foot. Moreover, the dinners are frozen, and not unfrequently they are devoured by dogs, and even by the hogs that run in the street. But the majority of school houses are not furnished with an entry; and where there is one, frequently not even a nail can be found in it, upon which a single article of clothing may be hung. Neither are there nails or shelves for this purpose within the school room. Scholars generally are obliged to throw their clothes across the desks, upon the seats, or into the windows.
School houses should be so constructed as to contribute to the health, comfort and convenience of both teacher and scholars. They should, then, be made of larger dimensions than they usually are. And especially should provision be made for their ventilation, which should be frequent and thorough. Every child, even the youngest in school, should be furnished with a seat and desk at wbich he may sit with ease and comfort. The school room should be so seated as to allow every child to pass to and from his seat without disturbing any other. This end can be accomplished with short desks to accommodate two scholars, as is represented in one of the plans for school houses in this report. It can, however, be better accomplished with long desks and pivot chairs, by allowing sufficient space in rear of the seats, for scholars to pass to and from them, without discommoding others.—[Ira Mayhew, Sup't, 1848.
We do not seek splendor for our school houses. Justice will be satisfied, and children will not complain, if we make them simple and cheap; for cheapness and simplicity are not incompatible with the most perfect convenience and comfort. Log houses we have and must have for years; but, because it is a log house, it must not be, of necessity, a prison or a barn. Nor is the veriest economy any bar to correctness or neatness of construction. Many a school-house, log, frame and brick, has cost double what was necessary to render it far more convenient and comfortable than it is. Whether it costs one, three or six hundred dollars, situated in city, village or corner of a town, every school house claims, as a matter of right, certain indispensable things to make it answer its purpose, and these comport with economy.
In the first place, its location should be healthy. This is a matter of judgment, not one of the pocket. And while, at the time, a healthy location costs no more than an unhealthy one, economy of health, in the long run, renders the first vastly the cheapest. I'hat is a point on which there can be no dispute. One who has studied the subject long and thoughtfully, Mr. Mann, would build the school house where some sbeltering bill or wood mitigates the inclemency of winter; where a neighboring grove tempers the summer heat; remove it a little from the public highway, and from buildings where noisy and clattering trades are carried on; and above all, rescue it from sound or sight of all resorts for license and dissipation.” In tra
versing the State during the last two summers, many such locations were observed. Michigan abounds with them.
The next things to be considered are the materials and construction of the school house. These depend somewhat upon the resources of the district; but in all districts, the money voted should be made to buy the greatest possible amount of convenience and comfort. If one hundred dollars, it should not be all expended in materials, leaving nothing for construction. The first question should be-What material is the best and cheapest, logs, hewn timber and boards, or brick? If, in the particular locality, logs are the best, decide upon loys; but do not select, cut and lay them without reference to quality, neatness, comfort and health. Logs, as nearly equal in diameter as possible should be selected. In placing them one upon the other, care, above all things, should be taken to expose the smallest possible number of crevices, so that the labor and expense of chinking be measurably saved. With proper attention, it is easier and much cheaper to make an air-tight log house than a frame one.
If hewn timber and boards be decided upon, let the best be selected. So of brick. Who, in selecting bricks for his dwelling house would prefer, as a matter of economy, miserable, soft, limestony ones to such as consist of good clay, and are well burned? The same hints will answer for school houses that cost more than the sum named. In all cases, let it be a maxim to make the most of the money raised.
As for construction, whatever the size contemplated, let proportion exist throughout-always bearing in mind that health requires at least a certain height between the floor and the ceiling, and a certain quantity of space for each scholar. With good health, a child may accomplish any amount of study and make it useful to him; without health, every mental acquisition is a curse. All writers agree as to the necessity and humanity of allowing every scholar a certain quantity of pure air; but they differ slightly in the precise amount. The general opinion, however, seems to be that the minimum cubic space for each child should be one hundred and fifty feet. Thus, if the area in which he sits be three feet square, the height of the room should be sixteen or seventeen feet. This is the smallest allowance compatible with good health.
Another important item is light. And here it may be said that, while in the old and populous villages of other States excess of light is the burden of complaint, a deficiency of that material is the prevailing evil of our interior towns, especially in log school houses. This fact was constantly forced upon my attention during the official tour of the past summer. Log houses, and many frame ones, stood out upon the public road with but a solitary inlet for the glorious light of day; and this, in very numerous instances, consisting of six seven by nine panes (they should be called pains,) of glass thrust into a single sash like the one eye of Polyphemus. It is often said of man, that he is the creature of circumstances; and if any one circumstance exercises over bis mind a predominant influence, it is na
ture when presented to himn in her brightest and most beautiful aspect. And what can spread cheerfulness over a school like sunlight streaming through two or three windows? Who blames a child for "playing truant,” when the penalty for attending school is an almost utter deprivation of that which gives life to inanimate, and diffuses gladness through all animate nature? The severest punishment that can be inflicted upon a felon is incarceration in a dark cell. Sol. itary confinement is nothing, comparatively, if light be only vouchsafed. There is no reason in the world why log school houses should be stinted of their light. What are four or five dollars in comparison with cheerfulness, contentment, happiness?
Too much light, on the other hand, is as bad as too little; for it may injure the eyes beyond cure. And in school house where the desks are attached to the walls, children directly opposite every window are fearfully exposed to the consequences of this excess.
The sun's rays should never fall directly upon the eye. If children must be compelled to face the window, the least that humanity can do for their safety is to elevate the window still somewhat above their heads. Curtains of a proper texture essentially modify the light and relieve the eyes.-(F. SAWYER, Jr., Sup't, 1843.
There are, perhaps, in the majority of school houses, a pail for water, cup, and broom, and a chair for the teacher. Some one or more of these are frequently wanting. I need hardly say every school house should be supplied with them all. In addition to these, every school house should be furnished with the following articles: 1. An evaporating dish for the stove, which should be supplied with clean pure water. 2. A thermometer, by which the temperature of the room may be regulated. 3. A clock, by which the time of beginning and closing school, and conducting all its exercises, may be governed. 4. A shovel and tongs. 5. An ash pail and ash house. For want of these, much filth is frequently suffered to accumulate in and about the school house, and not unfrequently the house itself takes fire and burns down. 6. A woodhouse, and well supplied with seasoned wood. 7. A well, with provisions not only for drinking, but for the cleanliness of pupils. 8. And last, though not least, in this connection, two privies, in the rear of the school house, separated by a high close fence, one for the boys and the other for the girls. For want of these indispensable appendages of civilization, the delicacy of children is frequently offended, and their morals corrupted.—(IRA MAYHEW, Sup't, 1848.
EDUCATION OF TEACHERS. "As is the teacher, so will be the school,” has become a proverb. In our efforts, then, to advance the interests of education, we should look carefully to the character of the teachers employed in our primary schools; for the schools will never advance beyond the attainment of their teachers. Teachers, then, should be models of excellence. They may possess a sufficient amount of learning to pass a
creditable examination in the branches usually taught in common schools, and still be poorly qualified to take the charge of schools. Instructors of youth should be thorough scholars, it is true. In addition to this, they should be apt to teach. Moreover, their personal, intellectual, social and moral habits should, in all respects, be what their scholars may safely copy. To qualify teachers for the proper discharge of the duties of their profession, they need a specific training. An academical institution, or a college, whose graduates are not good school teachers, should no more be condemned as a literary institution, than one whose graduates are not good lawyers, physicians, or divines. The graduates of literary institutions should be good scholars. They are then qualified to enter advantageously upon a course of professional study. A mere graduate, or scholar, can hardly be supposed to be better qualified to teach school, than to practice medicine. I should place as high an estimate upon the judgment of a man who would employ such a person as a family physician, as upon the judgment of one who would employ bim as the teacher of his children.
To qualify a person for the most efficient and successful discharge of the duties of an instructor of youth, he should himself receive his training, from the very first, in the best schools. Weli conducted Union schools, hence become the very best preliminary training places for teachers. But these alone are not sufficient. À regular course of Normal instruction should subsequently be given. This is as important-I may say, as essential--to enable the mere scholar to become a good teacher, as are the exercises and developments of the dissecting room to constitute him a good physician. În addition to these, the latter needs hospital practice with an experienced physician. The former, likewise, needs practice in the model school, under the supervision of a Normal professor. But, neither all teachers, nor all physicians, can avail themselves of such advantages, desirable as they are. They should, however, seek the best opportunities that are afforded them to become proficients.- IRA MAYHEW, Sup't, 1849.
The following regulations, extracted from the editions of laws prepared by the Superintendents of schools of the States of Maseachusetts, New York and Rhode Island, are commended to the school officers of Michigan as embodying the true principles upon which candidates for teaching should be examined.
MORAL QUALIFICATIONS. The committee must be satisfied of the good moral character of a teacher.
No talents, however profound, po genius, however splendid, no attainments, however aniple, can atone for any deficiency in moral character. In the beautiful lan
guage of the law, it is the “duty of the president, professors and tutors of the University at Cambridge, and of the several colleges, and of all preceptors and teachers of academies, and all other instructors of youth, to exert their best endeavors to impress on the minds of children and youth, committed to their care and instruction, the principles of piety, justice, and a sacred regard to truth, love to their country, bumanity, and universal benevolence, sobriety, industry, and frugality, chastity, moderation and temperance, and those other virtues, which are the ornament of human society, and the basis upon which a republican constitution is founded; and it shall be the duty of such instructors to endeavor to lead their pupils as their ages and capacities will admit, into a clear understanding of the tendency of the above mentioned virtues to preserve and perfect a republican constitution, and secure the blessings of liberty, as well as to promote their future happiness, and also to point out to them the evil tendency of the opposite vices."
The scbool committee may be satisfied respecting the moral character of the candidate, by actual knowledge, derived from long personal acquaintance; or, in the case of a stranger, they may have well authenticated testimonials of the fact. The committee should note, in their record-book, all letters or certificates of recommenda. tion exhibited by any candidate, whom they shall approve, with the names of their authors; and, when practicable, the letters and certificates themselves should be put on the committee's files, so that their authors may be held to a rigid accountability for the truth of the credentials tbey have given. If, before the civil tribunals, a man is held to a strict pecuniary liability for accrediting an insolvent as a man in good mercantile standing, or for recommending a swindler as a man of integrity, how much more stringent oughi the rule of a moral tribunal to be, when the dearest and most sacred interests of children are periled by means of false testimonials of good character, whether knowingly or heedlessly given!
LITERARY QUALIFICATIONS. The committee must satisfy themselves, “by personal examination," of the "literary qualifications” of the candidates; that is, they must personally examine the candidates in all the branches they will be called upon to teach.
Even for the lowest grade of schools known to the law, the teacher must be competent to give instruction in orthography, reading, writing, English grammar, geog. raphy and arithmetic. This is the minimum of literary qualification. It is lawful for districts to employ teachers who are compe. tent to teach higher branches; or who are able to teach the required branches better, because they are masters of higher ones; who, for instance, can teach reading better, because familiar with the principles of elocution and rhetoric, and with the etymology of words, from whatsoever language they may be derived; who can teach writing better, because adepts in writing; who can teach English grammar better, because familiar, from the study of other languages, with the principles of universal grammar; who can teach geography better,