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language yet?” “Why, no, indeed! How could he ?" 66 What is expected of you in arithmetic?" “ Subtraction and multiplication." “And can Johnnie work all problems or examples in these two rules ? » " Why, no; this is only the second week, and we are not expected to finish these subjects till the last of the term.” “Has Johnnie had any influence brought to bear on him that will make it difficult to master either one of these subjects ? » “I think not; how could he ?” “Which is harder to build, subtraction tables or character ?” 66 Character, no doubt.” “And yet you thought it strange that I should expect the subtraction tables in two weeks, when you are looking for the character in eight days." A change begins to come over her face; I continue: “By whom are our schools supported ?” “ By the people,” she answers.
Why do the people support them, some of whom have no children ?" “ That all may receive an education,” she answers. “And why do they desire that all should receive an education ?” Her answer is, “ That all should become better and more useful citizens."
66 Is there any danger of the good element in our schools becoming bad citizens" She replies, “As a rule, no.” “Is there any danger of the bad element becoming bad citizens ?” “ Yes,” she says, there is danger.” “Then,” I ask, “ how can you best serve the State, by teaching the good boys the subtraction tables or by teaching the bad boys kindness, love, sympathy, and a due respect for the rights of others !” “Certainly the latter," she answers. “ Then, will it not be better to keep Johnnie in the class, so that while you are teaching Henry the “Good' his subtraction tables you may also be building up the character of Johnnie the · Bad,' who will soon master the tables when ohce made to have a liking for better things ? "
I am rewarded by seeing the face that but a few moments before was the picture of despondence now covered with smiles of hope and joy, and I say to myself when alone, “Surely the time spent in studying such a work is far from being wasted."
Hence, you see, I am in full sympathy with the bad boy, on the other hand. I have in mind at this moment four pupils who were as faithful workers as any I have ever had, and, morally speaking, were beyond reproach. One of them, a perfect little lady in every respect, was obliged to pass through a saloon every time she came to and from school, as there was no other way of reaching her home. These children worked faithfully every day; gave undivided attention, and, one of them particularly, asked more common-sense questions than any of her classmates. They were not all members of the school at the same time, and hence were at different times candidates for admission to the high school. They each failed, one of them lacking something like fourtentus of one per cent. of receiving the required seventy-five per cent. average. Another lacked two-tenths of one per cent., another eighttenths of one per cent., and I now recall still another who lacked but eight one-hundredths of one per cent.
None of these children were admitted to the high school, since they did not obtain the seventy-five per cent. average at the annual exam. ination.
(5) Then, I protest with all the force that within me lies, against the practice of not promoting a conscientious, hardworking, faithful pupil, who, because of, perhaps, a little indigestion, over-auxiety, or sleepless night, caused by over-excitement brought on in anticipation of the forthcoming test, may lack a few tepths of one per cent. of answering correctly the ten pet questions, which, if answered correctly, give no idea of the real power and skill of the mind of the answerer.
I can give you a chapter here from real life, illustrating my meaning. A few years ago a young lady was transferred from one school to another. In the past everything had depended on her class average. A few weeks before the term examinations began she became pale, nervous, and irritable; her new principal noticing this, asked her the cause, when she expressed surprise at his having noticed anything unusual in lier conduct.
She then frankly acknowledged that the forthcoming examination was worrying her greatly. She said that this being her first examination in this school, she was particularly anxious to have a high class average. The principal smiled and replied, “Should your class happen to have a low average, I presume you will have been a failure.” “Yes,”
Ι she answered, “I presume I shall have been." Her trembling voice and downcast eye spoke louder than her words.
The principal then said, "My dear child, go on with your work, and if you do as well in the future as you have been doing in the past, I shall be perfectly satisfied with your results, and shall not care whether your class average is forty or twice forty per cent. By the way, do you know you might havo a class average of pinety per cent, and be a failure, while on the other hand the average might be forty per cent. and you be a perfect success?" "Why no!" she replied, “how can that be
“ possible?" "I'll show you," said the principal, turning to the class of little second-year pupils; “Children,” said he, “I'm going to teach you a new lesson to-day. You may repeat after me, Geography is a de. scription of the earth's surface. Say it again. Again. Once more. Now, who can tell me what is geography? Willie may tell me. May, tell ine. Class, tell me. Johnny may tell."
“There," said he, turning to the teacher, “they know that, don't they ?" "Yes, there's no doubt they do.” “Then if I were to give
“ , " them an examination, and the first question was, “What is geography ?! you would admit that it was a fair question ?” “Yes, certainly."
“ Very well. Children, an island is a body of land surrounded by water."" Tbis was repeated and recited as before. “Now," said the principal, the second question will be fair if asked as follows: What is an island ?" "Yes, perfectly fair.” "And if the children answered as they have answered me now, you would give them perfect marks ?" “ I
certainly should.” “Very well, I shall now prove to you that they know absolutely nothing about the subject." He then began questioning them as to how many had ever seen a geography. Up went their bands. When asked about how it looked, they answered "A description of the earth's surface.” The question was then put, “What is a geog. raphy itself?" The definition was again repeated. When asked how large they thought a geography was, one thought it was as large as his fist, another as large as the desk, still another thought it was as large as the blackboard, when at that moment a little fellow in the back part of the room with the most intense earnestness pictured on his face, raised his hand and exclaimed, “Oh! I know, sir; I know! I know!" "Well, my boy, what is it?" "It's a great, big, live nanny-goat.”
There was not a smile upon his face, nor did any members of the class laugh, evidently thinking his answer was right. The little fellow, no doubt, had some time heard that goats were a destruction to the earth, hence his error.
Think of a child being promoted after such a test, with perhaps an average of 75.1 per cent., while the conscientions child who works faith. fully during the year is left behind as he receives bnt 74.9 per cent.
Such a system simply impresses upon the minds of the pupils that it is not our daily life that is of importance, but that all is to be summed up at the eleventh hour, when it will be determined, regardless of our every day record, whether we are to be rewarded or punished. Is it at all surprising that hundreds and thousands of our young men learn to take the chances when they come in contact with the world, inasmuch as their whole education has tended to impress thein that such is life? God be praised that be bas allowed us to live to see the day when such a system has been forever banished from our beloved city. And, oh, what a change in the atmosphere of our schools. We now teach things; not words. Instead of one text-book in history, we are using all we can find, besides reference books. Some that have been on our shelves unused for years are becoming so worn as to necessitate the purchase of new ones to take their place. I may as well stop right here, as there are so many grand improvements, “ The which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the
I books that should be written.''
(6) I protest against the ridiculous farce of subjecting the first-year pupils to any formal or official test taken from text-books in order to ascertain who shall or shall not be promoted, or to find out the competency of the teacher.
By so doing there is impressed upon the minds of the young teachers, who generally have charge of these pupils, that the first and only thing for them to do is to give the children a certain amount of book knowledge.
Had we the examining of these little folks we should find out the ability of the teacher and the progress of the pupils by such questions as these:
6 Flow do you like your school ?” “ When should you start forschool 999 6 How should you fix your hands and face before starting ?" 6. What should you do to your shoes ?” “What just before coming into school?" “ Let me see you take your slates out," “ Clean your slates," “ Show me how you hold your pencils when you write," " Put away your slates," “ Tell me some nice little verse you have learned,” “What is a tooth. brush ? " When should it be used ?” “ You may get ready for an indoor recess," " Take your recess," "Attention," “ Stand,” “Sit down," "> 66
9966 6 Stand, and pass to your line," " Pass to the yard,” 56 Place your slate on the teacher's desk, each one in turn,” “What is the first thing your teacher says to you in the morning ?" These are a few of the many things I would ask the first-year pupils, in order to test the competency of the teacher and the progress of the children, rather than the following: “How many bones in the human body?” “What is a scalene triangle 3" What in the room may be said to be semi-transparent ?" “ Write by the Arabic notation 16998," “ Express the same by the Ro. man method,” “In which hemisphere do you live ?” “ What is language
” proper?" etc.
There are thousands of children in our country this very day who have no idea of the true value of an education. Their idea of it is to get a per cent. in an examination. “What are you studying for, chil- . dren ?" asked a certain examiner in one of our largest cities a few days ago, when with one voice the class shouted, “ Marks !"
If given their choice in knowing much and ranking low in their class, or knowing little and ranking high, they would unhesitatingly choose the latter. We know of a young lady who not many years ago had an average of ninety-nine per cent. in five studies and nearly went into hysterics because she did not get one hundred per cent.
What was the trouble here? She longed to outrank somebody. She wanted to say she stood higher than somebody else did. We know many, very many others who did not care whether they knew a subject or not, if, by any hook or crook, they could answer a suficient number of the questions to obtain the seventy-five per cent. which entitled them to promotion. The only incentive these children ever had was, “ If you don't study you won't pass.” The forthcoming examination was the first, last, and only thing used to incite them to effort, and this was used from the beginning of September till the last of June.
Oh, the lying, copying, cuff-defacing that has been done at these an. nual, to-decide all, farcical, examinations.
My pen is too feeble, my vocabulary too limited, my patience too weak, my abhorrence too great, to undertake a description of them.
Aud now in conclusion let me ask you not to misjudge me. Do not think me so swinish, so long-eared, so narrow-gauged, so old-fogyish, as to do away with the all-important element in teaching knowledge and increasing mental power, viz, the drillsund testing exercises. I should use them every day of my life, since such exercises, as Dr. White
says, “arouse interest, increase attention, and add an increased energy and persistent mental action." Nor would I underrate the value of the written examination when supplementing it with the current work of the school, and used in the same spirit, and with equal common sense as the oral test," for when thus used “ the written test is a most valuable means of school training."
MR. LITTLEFIELD: Mr. President and Fellow Superintendents-I can add little to what has been so well said in this discussion and nothing to the substance of what I have said upon the subject of examinations elsewhere, possibly in the hearing of some present. If, however, one may assume that his remarks are remembered, he may further flatter himself, with the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, that his thoughts are for repeated use, like a carpenter's tools, and not like so many postage stamps, each to be only once uttered.
Examinations are a conspicuous feature in modern school methods. At their best they are a process of teaching as well as of testing. The recitation, like the merchant's petty cash account, must be balanced daily; the examination, like his trial balance, covers a longer period; both are necessary to good book-keeping. Reviews are considered in. dispensable in some form ; judicious examinations are reviews, pure and simple, with an extraordinary power added to compel attention. Useful as are the innumerable helps for teachers, in their proper place, there is still very little room in school hours for ready-made instruction. The clothing for each child's mind must be fitted to order; recitations are the process of measuring, cutting, and making-examinations that of trying on to wear. The best teachers are least confined to routine methods; and, if left free, are able to use the very odd individualities of their pupils as avenues for instruction. In teaching, as in other affairs, results must constitute the chief criterion of success. Examination day, with its conclusive measure of results, corresponds to the dividend day of a corporation, to the harvest home upon the farm. It is not a sufficient test of a good teacher to find him using good methods from time to time; it is not fair to judge a pupil by the brilliant or the dull acquittal be may make of himself in recitation upon the spur of the inoment; both ought to be judged also by the staying quality of the instruction imparted. Scholars must be trained to grasp and hold, not only the lessons of the day, but the whole subject analytically, covering the study of months. Recitations cultivate critical power in matters of detail ; examinations the power to generalize with breadth of view. The former must be daily to prove constant study, the latter infrequent in order to give time for the assimilation of whole subjects, both being kept subordinate to the instruction as aids and measures, not as ends in themselves.