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because acquainted with astronomy, geology, statistics, and civil and natural history; and who can teach arithmetic better, because masters of the higher mathematics. So, too, a knowledge of Human Physiology may be required in a teacher, in order to secure the health of the children; because, on health depends their ability to go to school at all, and much also of their ability to study when in school.
CAPACITY TO GOVERN.
The committee must also make special inquiry as to the capacity of each candidate for the government of a school.
No ambiguous indications, on this point, will be given by the general air and manner of a candidate, the expression of the countenance, the tone of the voice, the firmness or fickleness legible in the eye, the self-esteem, or the servility proclaimed by the natural language.
When a candidate has taught school before, and has succeeded in maintaining good order, without the use of improper means, or without the use of proper means to an improper extent, this fact is strong evidence in favor of a capacity for government. Especially is it so, if the general circumstances and condition of the schools are substantially alike.
Visiting a school in which a candidate may be engaged, and actually witnessing the manner in which he conducts it, is also a valuable means of ascertaining the same fact.
But it is supposed that neither nor all of the above methods can supercede an actual questioning of the candidate as to his views of the principles on which a school should be conducted. It is of primary importance to know whether the fundamental idea of government, in his opinion, is the will of the teacher, or the applause of the neighborhood—which may be for one quality in one place and for another quality in another-or the good of the governed-whether on the one hand he would succumb to resistance and be driven away before rebellion, rather than to strike a blow; or, on the other, whether he would flout the docile, and be capricious towards the obedient, to prove whether there exists in them an unreasoning and unconditional submission to his claim of sovereignty.
If a candidate has no views respecting the great principles on which the government of a school should proceed, the committee cannot affirm that he has a capacity to govern. If such a person has any capacity, it must be in a latent state; but the committee must be satisfied, not of a possible or potential, but of an actual capacity; it must be in a developed state.
Probably few provisions, if any, in the statute book, have been more efficacious and serviceable in improving our schools, than the one which requires committees to examine teachers—as a few considerations will abundantly show.
There are annually employed in the Public Schools of Massachusetts, between five and six thousand different persons as teachers. I suppose it to be indisputable that no section of the Union, of equal
population, supplies so large a proportion of young men for the professions, and for the various departments of educated labor, as New England; and among the New England States, Massachusetts, in this respect, is doubtless pre-eminent. The Public Schools of many towns, and the large number of highly respectable academies and private schools, carry forward a numerous body of young men and women to such a degree of literary attainment as enrolls ihem in the list of candidates for school keeping. Students in our colleges; ambitious young men, who are looking forward to some other employment, actually more lucrative, and, in public estimation, more honorable, and who must obtain a little money as a means of securing their ultimate object; many mechanics and farmers, possessed of more than ordinary intelligence and attainment, and who were renowned, when they went to school, for doing all the hard sums” in the arithmetical text books; all these have been condidates for public school keeping: Added to this, the average rate of compensation given to teachers in Massachusetts has far exceeded that which has been given in any of the neighboring States. Hence, in the autumn of the year, hosts of adventurers flock hither from Maine, from New Hampshire, from Vermont, and from Connecticut, in quest of employment as teachers in our schools. Some of these are full, not only of enterprise, but of talent; but, under such circumstances, it would be strange indeed, if among the fine gold there should not be found something of dross. All these are competitors for our public schools. They often exhibit recommendations of a highly imaginative character-recommendations which prove the good will of their signers, far more than their good sense of their trustworthiness; for it is well known that the facility with which such recommendations can be obtained is the scandal of our people. What barrier, then, but the vigilance and intelligence of our school committees, sball prevent our schools from being invaded by practical immorality, by literary imposture, and by an inaptitude for all government except the government of fear and force? What but the fidelity of school committees shall prevent sound knowledge and high talent from being thrust aside by ignorance and pretension? The interests of all good teachers, emphatically the interests of the rising generation, demand, by every consideration that can appeal to patriotism, to philanthropy, or to the sense of religious obligation, that the legal duty of examining teachers should be performed without fear or favor, or exception. It has happened a thousand times, that prosperity or adversity has shone or frowned upon the schools of a town—like sunshine or frost upon the early flowers of spring, as it has been blest or cursed with a faithful or a neglectful school committee.
Yet it cannot be denied that for every public consideration demanding a thorough examination of teachers, there is a selfish one which resists it. Individuals in a district or a town, who, in their own minds, have appropriated to themselves the ensuing term of the schools, may, by munayement or collusion, secure the choice of a
committee, who, either through inability or favoritism, will make the examination only a polite and facile ceremony of introduction into the school; or, what has not unfrequently happened, the expectants will secure the choice of a prudential committee, who will open to them the door of the school house without any examination at all. Sometimes it is not difficult for a person, through his relatives and friends, to create an apparent public opinion in a district, which sball seem to demand that the individual shall be selected to keep the school who has bimself been the fraudulent autbor of the factitious opinion that points to bim. All persons, too, who are intending to obtain a school, but who are fearful of the results of an examination, will, of course, be opposed to the principle of the law which requires an examination, and will therefore be ready to aid those who strive to evade it-Massachusetts Regulations.
NEW YORK AND RHODE ISLAND REGULATIONS.
The examination of persons wishing to teach as principals or assistants, the granting of certificates of qualification, and the annuling of such certificates, are among the most important duties devolving on the school committee, and on their faithful performance the efficiency of the law mainly depends.
The inefficiency of the former school system in many of the towns was owing to the fact that the duties of examining teachers and visiting the schools were too generally neglected or ill performed.
In making such examinations, whether by the whole board, or by the sub-committee, they should inquire first, as to moral character. On this point, the committee should be entirely satisfied, before proceeding further. Some opinion can be formed from the general deportment and language of the applicant, but the safest course will be, with regard to those who are strangers to the committee, to insist on the written testimony of persons of the highest respectability in the towns and neighborhoods where they have resided; and especially to require the certificate of the school committee and parents where they have taught before, as to the character they have sustained, and the influence they have exerted in the school and in society.
While a committee should not endeavor to inquire into the peculiar religious or sectarian opinions of a teacher and should not entertain any preferences or prejudices founded on any such grounds, they ought, without hesitation, to reject every person who is in the habit of ridiculing, deriding or scoffing at religion.
And while the examination should in no case be extended to the political opinions of the candidate, yet it may with propriety extend "to their manner in expressing such belief, or maintaining it. If that manner is in itself bcisterous and disorderly, intemperate and offensive, it may well be supposed to indicate ungoverned passions, or want of sound principles of conduct, which would render its possessor obnoxious to the inhabitants of the district, and unfit for the
sacred duties of a teacher of youth, who would instruct by examples as well as by precept."-[N. Y. Regulations.
Second, as io literary altainments. The lowest grade of attainments is specified in the school law. Every teacher must have been found qualified by examination, or by previous experience, which must have come to the personal knowledge of the committee, to teach the English language, arithmetic, penmanship, and the rudiments of geography and history. An examination as to the attainments of the teacher in these branches might be so conducted as to test his capacity, in those particulars, to teach any grade of schools. Some reference, therefore, must be had to the condition and wants of the district schools as they now are. But no person should be considered qualified to teach any school, who cannot speak and write the English language, if not elegantly, at least correctly. He should be a good reader, and be able to make the hearer understand and feel all that the author intended. He should be able to give the analysis as well as explain the meaning of the words of the sentence, and explain all dates, names and allusions. He should be a good speller, and to test this, as well as his knowledge of punctuation, the use of capitals, &c., he should be required to write out his answers to some of the questions of the committee. He should understand practically the first principles of English grammar, as illustrated in his own writing and conversation. He should be able to write a good hand, to make a pen, and teach others how to do both. He should show his knowledge of geography by applying his definitions of the elementary principles to the geography of his own town, State and county, and by questions on the map and globe. He should be able to answer promptly all questions relating to the leading events of the history of the United States and his own State. In arithmetic, he should be well versed in some treatise on mental arithmetic, and be able to work out before the committee, on the black board or slate, such questions as will test his ability to teach the text books on arithmetic prescribed for the class of schools he will be engaged in.
Third, his ability to instruct.—This ability includes aptness to teach, a power of simplifying difficult processes-a skill in imparting knowledge of inducing pupils to try, and try in such a way that they will derive encouragement as they go along, which must be given by nature, but may be cultivated by observation and practice. An examination into the literary qualifications of a candidate as ordinarily conducted, and even when conducted by an experienced committee-man, or even by a teacher, will not always determine whether this ability is possessed, or possessed in a very eminent degree. Hence it is desirable for the committee to ascertain what suc. cess the candidate has had in other places, if he has taught before; and if this evidence cannot be had, whether he has received any instruction in the art of teaching; or has been educated under a successful teacher; or has visited good schools. In conducting the examination to ascertain this point, the candidate should be asked how he would teach the several studies. He should be asked how 'he would proceed in teaching the alphabet to a child who had never
been instructed at all in it; as for example, whether he would give him words or single letters; or letters having a general resemblance; or in the order in which they are ordinarily printed; or by copying them on a slate or black-board, and then repeating their names after the teacher; or by picking them out of a collection of alphabet blocks, &c., &c. So in spelling. He should be asked how he would classify his scholars in this branch, and the methods of arranging and conducting a class exercise; how far he would adopt with the class the simultaneous method, and how far the practice of calling on each member in regular order; how far he would put out the word to the whole class, and after requiring all to spell it mentally, name a particular scholar to spell it orally; how far he would adopt the method of writing the word, and especially the difficult words, on a slate or blackboard; how far he would connect spelling with the reading lessons, &c.
It will be more satisfactory sometimes, perhaps. to have a class of small scholars present at the examination, and let the candidate go through #recitation with them, so that the committee can have a practical specimen of his tact in teaching each branch of study; in explaining and removing difficulties, &c.
The same method of examination should be carried into reading, and every other branch. It is more important to know that the teacher has sound views as to methods, than that he is qualified as to literary attainments.
Fourth, ability to govern. This is an important qualification, insisted upon by the law, and indispensable to the success of the schools. On this point the committee should call for the evidence of former experience, wherever the candidate has taught before, and when this cannot be had, the examination should elicit the plans of the teacher as to making children comfortable, keeping them all usefully employed, and interested in their studies, his best system of rewards and punishments, and examples of the kinds of punishment he would resort to in particular cases, and all other matters pertaining to the good order and government of a school. In this connection, the age, manners, bearing. knowledge of the world, love and knowledge of children, &c., of the applicant, will deserve attention.
In addition to these qualifications which the law requires, the address and personal manners and habits of the applicant should be inquired into, for these will determine in a great measure the manners and habits of the children whom he will be called upon to teach.
The most thorough and satisfactory mode of conducting the examination is by written questions and answers; it will be desirable, if the examination is conducted orally, to keep minutes of the questions and answers.
The school committee must remember that on the thoroughness and fidelity with which this duty is performed, depends in a great measure the success or failure of the school system. The whole machinery moves to bring good teachers into the schools, and to keep them as long, and under as favorable circumstances as possible.