Page images
PDF
EPUB

(4) AS A WELL-INFORMED MAN.

[ocr errors]

The true principal is ever a learner. He may choose to work along special lines. But whatever his taste may be, he must pot stand still. If he imagines that a technical knowledge of the branch be teaches will suffice for all emergencies, a respectable funeral would be a blessing for his school, Mental growth prevents stagnation. Growth may be pro

, duced in many ways; in natural science; in law, ancient and modern; in medicine; in history; in politics; in social science; in any department of mathematics; in languages; in philosophy; in civilization; in literature; in religions; in consular and agricultural reports; in legis. lative debates; in political campaigns; in the science of governments; in magazine literature; in the drama; in the weather; in mining statistics; in political economy; in psychology; in logic; in art; in paint

: ing; in sculpture; in evolution; in manufactures; in commerce; in the habits of insects; in the habits of animals; in travel; in short, in every department relating to man's social, intellectual, moral, physical, æsthetic, or religious nature.

In addition to his educational or pedagogic knowledge, he must get outside of the school room and rid himself of the mere school-master idea, and jostle against the world and join in with one or more of the world movements.

(5) AS A PATRIOT. Patriotism is not taught by politicians and an extreme partisan press. These teach partyism, and their influence upon the national mind of the country is of doubtful utility. Love of country should always transcend that of party. Men whose views are obscured by ignorance and prejudice are dangerous citizens at best. Half the time they are wrong, and owing to their blindness they will not be righted. Where, then, shall we look for the inculcation of those noble and exalted sentiments which should always inspire the American heart, except in the public schools of the country, and who can succeed so well in instilling these truths as the principals of our schools ?

Their familiarity with the underlying principles of our Government and of the governments of other nations, and the rise and progress of political parties, and the development of social and civil questions, eminently fit them for imparting that kind of knowledge which lays the foundation for obedient citizenship.

Entire and hearty sympathy with American institutions is one of the highest qualifications that a principal ought to possess.

4

(6) THE PERCENTAGE INCRUSTATION. The percentage mania is the worst form of acute insanity that can attack either a principal or an assistant. One cousolation exists, however, and that is. the subject is never afflicted with it but once, unless he lingers and passes into a condition rendering recovery hopeless. No other school malady that has ever come within my experience produces such dire effects. I can compare it to no other great upheaval unless I use the language of Chief Justice Marshall in speaking of the French Revolution, when he said, "It was the admiration, the wonder, and the terror of mankind.

Whenever a principal boasts that his attendance, recitations, and "other figured affairs" have reached the highest possible results, there is just cause for alarm.

But one step remains to be taken which could sink the school still lower, and that is for the principal to spend all his time in picking up small bits of paper in the school yard. This is denominated unusual greatness in little things.

The only effective remedy for this stage of imbecility is to break every ideal belonging to this category the principal has set up.

(7) EVIDENCES OF DRY-ROT.

This insidious disease appears under many disguises, but its tendency is always in the same direction and it leads inevitably to the same result-mental decay and brain atrophy.

I will indicate a few symptoms: First, that of the technical grammar fiend, who will spend months discussing the verbs “went" or "drank" in the sentences 6 the dog went mad” or “he drank a bottle of wine." Of course these are weighty questions, but when a principal will waste years of his life upon such tiny matters, we are forced to exclaim, “That a little learning is a dangerous thing."

Sometimes accompanying the grammar disease is that of " catch questions in arithmetic," which branch off into circle squaring and perpetual motion.

Under such circumstances it is clearly the duty of the superintendent or some other friend of the victim to help him to get rid of the predominant idea, and put him on the main track of life and set him moving in other lines.

(8) JUDICIAL. CAST OF MIND.

A principal is called upon almost every day to decide some question involving personal rights, duties, or obligations. As a law interpreter he is known. Frequently the success of his school depends upon his justice and moderation in settling conflicting interests or in barmonizing differences. As a preparation for such duties, every principal ought to be well grounded in the elements of civil and criminal law, as well as in the law of contracts and the law of evidence. These studies have a tendency to produce deliberation in the mind and the habit of sifting matters thoroughly before reaching conclusions. A year devoted to reading in these lines will be time well spent in giving broader views to human actions, and juster and more liberal interpretations to human conduct.

(9) PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. Promptness, vigilance, energy, decision of character, high and noble aspirations, industry, skill, tact, inventive power, integrity, sincerity, honesty, plenty of reserve power for emergencies, repose in action, ability to dispatch business or work without haste are traits of character, if harmoniously blended with favorable temperaments, which distinguish the most successful managers of graded schools.

EXAMINATIONS.

TEACHERS' EXAMINATIONS.

By M. A. NEWELL,
Superintendent of Maryland Schools.

"Quæque ipse miserrima vidi Et quorum pars magna fui."

[ocr errors]

Why should teachers be examined ?

Because in other professions-law, medicine, theology—a course of preparation is exacted, and the proficiency of the students tested by examination and attested by the examining body.

Who should be the examiners of teachers ? By the same analogy it should be TEACHERS. As the law student is examined by lawyers, the medical student by physicians, the embryo preacher by preachers, so the candidate for the profession of teaching should be examined by teachers. Not necessarily by teachers in esse, but by teachers in posse, those who bare been prored and put on record as having the necessary qualifications for teachers, and among them I place all properly qualified school superintendents. The idea of three farmers sitting down to determine on a teacher's qualifications would be comical if the result were not so often tragical.

What conditions should exempt from examinations?

So far as regards academic attainments, the diploma of a high school or college recognized by the State should be accepted as sufficient evi. dence. It would be advisable, however, for the proper State authorities to publish a list of the institutions wbich sbould be thus recognized.

What need is there for re-cxamination ?

You do not re-examine lawyers, physicians, ministers, after they have received their license to practise or to preach. Why submit teachers to this additional test-to these repeated tests?

The necessity arises in part from the fact that young people often be. gin to teach just when they are beginning to learn. It is necessary that the habits of a student be kept up by external stimulus until the internal stimulus has been brought into action and the habit of study has become a “second nature.” This process of re-examination should have a definite termination. Should there be manifested a necessity for continuing it

[ocr errors]

beyond three or four years, let the teacher and the examination terminate together.

On what subjects should a teacher be examined ?

If the proposed teacher has no diploma from high school or college, he sbould be examined on the subjects he is required to teach, and should be tested also, outside of school text-books, on matters of general information which all well informed persons are expected to know.

Teachers must be expected to know more than they are required to teach, but this surplusage should be of a general not a technical character. In a city not 300 miles from the spot where we stand, a young man, a candidate for the lowest grade of teachers to which men are usually appointed, must, if he has not the college diploma of the city, pass a satisfactory examination (85 per cent.) in history, book-keeping, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, plane and spherical trigonometry, analytical geometry, calculus, physiology, chemistry, natural philosophy, rhetoric, and drawing

In all this inventory, is it not surprising that there is no mention of psychology, of principles of teaching, of methods, of the history of education, of the organization and grading of schools, off the large subject known as school economy"?

Is it not like undertaking to play Shakespeare's Hamlet, the character of Hamlet being left out?

Would it not be better to omit the calculus,” inasmuch as the teacher never gets beyond the elements of algebra, and insert some of the purely professional work, something that will distinguish a professional teacher from a simple college graduate ?

For both academic and professional qualifications, the diploma of a recognized State or city normal school should be an adequate substitute; if it is not so practically, the normal school demands reconstruction.

Should examinations be uniform in the State ? In the county ?

If State uniformity were desirable it is not practicable. A set of uniform questions goes but a short way to the making of uniform examinations. The conditions, too, must be uniform. The standard of marking must also be uniform. The same man may mark the same paper differently at different times, according to the state of his digest.' ive apparatus. It is quite possible for two teachers to take the same questions, and with different examiners, the better shall fail and the worse shall pass.

But State uniformity is not desirable, because if the same standard is set up for all localities, many places that most need a teacher would not be able to find one; even if the salaries are equalized the difficulty would not be removed, for there are districts in every State in which no highly qualified teacher would consent to live for any compensation that the district or the county could give him.

County uniformity we can secure partly, where there is but one ex. amining authority; but even in a county some regard must be paid to

« EelmineJätka »