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merely lending the sanctions of law to a time-honored usage. A quarter, or three months, in a common school, would still be one week more than according to common usage it now is in our higher institutions of learning.
The following extract, from the report of the inspectors for Saline, Washtenaw county, is deemed worthy of consideration. In speaking of their township library, they say:
“The law appears to be deficient in regard to fractional districts, there being no way for such districts to obtain their books. It should be the duty of the inspectors to attach fractional districts to whole districts, when necessary, for library purposes.” I think the change suggested would render the 31st section of the school law more simple and equitable. One part of a fractional district is frequently situated in a township possessing a library, while the other part is in a township possessing no library. Each part of fractional districts might be attached to an adjacent whole district, in the same town, for library purposes; and the director of the whole district might be authorized to draw from the township library the equitable proportion of books for his own district, and the fraction attached thereto. In case of joint districts, teachers are sometimes rejected by the inspectors of one town in which a district is in part situated, and subsequently certified by the inspectors of the town in which the other part of the district lies. To obviate this difficulty, the teacher should receive his certificate from the inspectors of the township to which the director is required by law to make his annual report.
PART V. MEANS OF INCREASING THE USEFULNESS OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
There are many prudential means of improving our schools, in addition to those already considered. I will at this time allude to but a few of the more important ones.
Teachers' Associations. Wherever these associations have existed in the history of the past, intelligent practical teachers having a "zeal according to know!. edge,” have known their advantages. It is but recently that the public mind has adequately appreciated them. Wherever their operations are known and felt, their utility is acknowledged.
The following is an extract from a circular issued at this office in October last :
“To School Teachers. - Teaching is both a Science and an Art. The teacher, to be successful, needs not only himself thoroughly to understand the branches he proposes to teach, but he should also be apt to teach. There is probably no class of men who can so much improve themselves, and increase their usefulness, by forming associations for mutual improvement, as School Teachers. Such associations have, within a few years, been extepsively formed in different portions of the Union, and especially in New York and New England. Their tendeney uniformly has been to promote a healthy, social feeling among teachers; to magnify, in their own estimation, the great work of educating our country's youth; to increase their attachment thereto, and better to prepare them for the successful discharge of their duty as educators. By addresses, reports and discussions each has been enabled 10 avail himself of the experience of others; and thus all have had an opportunity of improving themselves in the Art of Teaching. The superintendent accepted an invitation to address the Teachers' Association of Lenawee county, ihe 29th of September. Their meeting, although not very numerously attended, was an interesting and a profitable one. This is the only Association of teachers in the state, of which he has any knowledge. There may be others. It is hoped there are. However this may be, he would respectfully, though earnestly, recommend their organization in every county of the state, with auxiliar town associations. If the teachers will move early in this matter, the superintendent will engage to meet them in every county, if his life and health are spared, during the ensuing winter, provided they will signify their desire to have him do so, and will call conventions at such times as he shall name for the several counties. Such an arrangement will enable him to embrace them all in a regular tour.”
Since the publication of the circular from which this extract is taken, several "Teachers Associations,” and Educational Societies have been organized in different counties of the state. I learn from the Eaton Bugle, that the Educational Society recently organized in Eaton county, has just held an interesting and profitable two days' session. The constitution provides for one vice president in each township of the county, who is also president of the township associaLion auxiliar to the county association. I have recently received
several invitations to attend educational meetings in counties where associations have been organized, and from others where they havo not been, which I shall do myself the pleasure to accept as soon as I can consistently with the discharge of other duties.
The proposed amendment of our school law would operate favorably upon such associations in counties and townships.
So far as I have the means of judging, our State is ripe for rapid improvement in the department of popular education.
Should a call be given for the organization of a College of Teachers in the early part of the ensuing summer, I am fully satisfied it would be promptly responded to from every part of the State. Professors in the University, principals of branches, and teachers of common schools, would unitedly engage in so noble an enterprise.
The principal of the branch at Pontiac in his recent report to this department, says: "I earnestly wish there might be a more free communication between the different branclres, which might result in the uniform adoption of the best plan of instruction, the best course of studies, the best set of text-books, &c., which their united wisdom and experience could devise.” Equally encouraging communications haye been received from several sources.
A State Teachers Association was organized in New York in July last. A weekly Educational Journal was established, which is edited by a practical teacher. This association, with its organ-the Journal
-has already become a powerful engine for good. Auxiliary coun: ty and town associations, are organized in every part of the state. Common school examinations and celebrations are numerous. successor in office in the superintendency of common schools in Jes. ferson county, in a recent communication, says:
66 We have had glorious times this summer. I have attended twenty-three celebrations and examinations, and have had the pleasure and honor of addressing probably thirty thousand people.” This is but a specimen of the manner in which the great work of popular education is progress ing in other counties in that state. What the Empire State has ac. complished, her younger, though not less fair sister, the Peninsula State, may, nope to achieve.
Heaven sells all pleasure, effort is the price." School officers, school teachers, professional gentlemen, and citizens
generally, may here unite their energies, and “ work together" for the improvement of our schools and the elevation of humankind.
Teachers Institutes. Normal schools, designed expressly for the education of professional teachers, are indispensable to the persection of any system of national education. No teacher can be successful in imparting instruction in branches which he does not himself thoroughly understand. Still more: It is not only necessary for instructors of youth to be themselves thorough scholars; they must also be apt to teach. It will be of no avail to scholars hungering for the bread of intellectual life to know that their teacher is a profound scholar, and that in the secret recsses of his own mind all wisdom is treasured upif he is not also ready to communicate. He should be enabled to place before the mind's eye of his pupils a map of his own thoughts, and a transcript of his own most elaborate investigations, which they can both read and understand. To attain this rare art most effectually, a thorough course of professional instruction is requisite. In the absence of such an institution, teachers' associations may accomplish a great amount of good. To these every teacher in the state may have access, while comparatively few would be enabled to attend a State Normal school. Teachers’ Institutes are teachers' associations with protracted sessions. Where institutes have been established, the teachers of a county usually spend about two weeks in session, fall and spring, with a compentent principal and experienced board of instruction, employed by a committee provided for that purpose. The several branches of study ordinarily pursued in our common schools, are reviewed ; the different methods of instruction and rnodes of government are discussed ; and plans are laid for concert of action. Lectures have generally been delivered before these Institutes by prosessional gentlemen and others, who from their devotion to the great work of popular education might appropriately be denominated common school missionaries.
Teachers' Institutes are of recent origin. They were first established in New York in 1843. Last year they were held in 19 counties, and during the months of September and October of the present year, more than 40 such institutes have been attended, in which 3000 teachers have received professional instruction, who are now engaged in teaching, at a moderate estimate, 120,000 children. Would it
not be well to encourage their establishment in this state by legislative provision ? I entertain the opinion that if the state has $25,000 to appropriate annually to the promotion of common school education, it would be productive of greater good to apply one or two thousand dollars, or even five thousand dollars, to assist in defraying the necessary expense of maintaining teacher's institutes in the different counties, and the residue to the support of schools, than to apply the whole to the payment of unqualified teachers, or even to those of ordinary attainments.
The following is an extract from the report of the school inspectors for Saline, Washtenaw county: “The board of school inspectors annually find too many inexperienced applicants. Our best teachers are those who are educated in the town." Similar statements have been received from several towns and counties.
The teacher's calling should rank among the learned professions. The lawyer is required to devote a series of years to a regular course of classical study and professional reading before he can find employment in a case in which a few dollars only are pending. With this we find no fault. But it should not be forgotton that the teacher's calling is as much more important than the ordinary exercise of the legal profession, as the unperishable riches of mind are more valua. ble than the corruptible treasures of earth.
We seek out from among us men of sound discretion and good report to enact laws for the government of our state and nation. And with this, too, we find no fault. It is right and proper that we should
But it should be borne in mind that it is the teacher's high prerogative not only so to teach the rising generation that they shall rightly understand law, but to infix in their minds the principles of justice and equity, the attainment of which is the high aim of legis. látion. While our legislators enact laws for the government of the people, the well qualified and faithful schoolmaster prepares those under his charge to govern themselves. Without the teacher's conser. vative influence, under the best legislation, the great mass of the people will be lawless; while the tendency of his labors is to qualify the rising generation who constitute our future freemen and our country's hope, to render an enlightened, a cheerful and a ready obedience to the high claims of civil law. The well qualified faithful