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superintendents, principals, supervisors, and other classes of directivo school people. In this they are an carnest of continually better suc. cessors, until their places shall eventually be filled by institutions which give professional training of the highest type.
BY ALBERT G. LANE,
Superintendent of Cook County (111.) Schools. During the last ten years numerous meetings of teachers have been held, for various periods of time, and under several different names. The terms “teachers' meetings," i conferences," " institutes," and "conventions," are commonly used to denote the meetings, continuing from half a day to one week, in which the time is devoted to general lectures, papers on theory and methods of teaching, school economy and man. agement, followed by a general discussion of thoughts presented.
Iustitutes, assemblies, teachers' retreats, summer schools, and suminer normal schools are names applied more generally to gatherings that continue in session from two to six weeks, in which continued instruction is given in academic and scientific subjects, in psychology, theory and practice of teaching, and methods and principles of education.
The verb to institute signifies to begin, to set in operation, to fix, to appoint, to prescribe, to train, to educate, to discipline, to form by instruction.
Then institute, the term most commonly applied to teachers' meetings of every kind, signifies that which begins to set in operation at a fixed time, according to appointment, a prescribed outline of work, the subjects to be so related, presented, and taught by an expert that the teacher may learn how to train a mind so that its unfolding powers inay be quickened and led out systematically by the discipline of repeated correct action and thought.
In Illinois, the statutes provide that the county superintendent of each county shall hold annually a teachers' institute continuing in ses. sion not less than five days at such times as the schools in the county are generally closed. The superintendent is authorized to secure such assistance as he may need, but the instructors must hold certificates of approval from the State superintendent."
There were 13,660 teachers in attendance in 1886 out of 23,000 teacliers in the State. The total cost of these institutes in 1886 was $27,550. The expense is met by a fee of one dollar paid by each applicant for a teacher's certificate or for a renewal of a certificate. Counties are authorized to make additional appropriations. This law was modelled after the Iowa law. Iu that State there were 18,000 who attended in
stitutes in 1886, out of a total of 24,232 teachers, the expense being $49,781. New York reports 18,295 in attendance out of 31,000 teach
The expense was $19,000, which was paid by the State. Pennsylvania 18,000 out of 24.000; cost $38,000, paid by the counties. Ohio 14,000 out of 25,000; cost $20,500, paid by the counties.
Indiana 13,734 out of 14,006; cost $9,000, paid by the counties. The Banner State!
According to the last report of the United States Commissioner of Education, out of 28 States reporting an entire teaching force of 276,000, one-balf, or 189,000, attended institutes.
Some of the States, New York and Pennsylvania, provide by law for the dismissal of the schools for not over one week, and teachers receive their salaries if they attend the institute. The Illinois law provides that the schools may be closed not to exceed five days in the year, nor more than three days in one term, and that teachers shall be paid if attending an institute. This is intended to provide for special extra
. meetings of teachers beside the regular county institutes.
The great body of teachers are employed in rural and small village schools; their education is limited; their means of acquiring special knowledge of school work by association with others at their homes is restricted; their possession of books and periodicals relative to teaching is inadequate; their power to train children is undeveloped and deficient.
About one-third of all the teachers of this country are attending the meetings which are held for special professional improvement. The statistics showing that about 140,000 teachers attended institutes in 1886 indicate the pressing demand for the most skilful, wise, and efficient management of institutes that can be devised, so that this army of men and women who mould and shape the lives and characters of millions of children for weal or woe, may be aroused, inspired, instructed, and fitted to perform the important duties of their high calling.
Teachers' gatherings have been common in many sections of the country for forty years, and have been instrumental in making some teachers realize that their work was one demanding the highest order of talent and the broadest preparation. They have raised in the public mind a limited sentiment of appreciation for skilled teaching, but skilled teachers are scarce. The demand exceeds the supply. The best evidence of advance and growth in professional training for teaching is found in the efforts of teachers to meet the demand for broad, comprehensive work in training child mind. Many of the institutes are very limited in their work, confining the instruction given to the branches upon which examinations are held. In fact, they devote most of the time to a review of the common branches. There are undoubtedly localities where this kind of work is most needed; but the instruction should be given by ex: perienced teachers, who have power to present the work so as to develop true educational principles.
The greatest demand, then, is for a better knowledge of the objects and purposes of an education, and of what constitutes real power in school training
Institute work, as arranged and conducted in many places, does not meet the requirements of the active, progressive teachers; hence they do not attend the meetings.
Many teachers lack a proper appreciation of their real needs. They are able to satisfy a people equally ignorant of the possibilities involved in the training and education of children; therefore they become indif. ferent and do not avail themselves of the opportunities offered for their improvement.
State superintendents are limited by a failure of legislators to comprehend the far-reaching consequences and value of the educational work of the State. Smaller appropriations are made to supervising school officers as a rule than to any other department of the Government. This is true also in counties or districts outside of cities, where officers examine, supervise, and direct teachers.
How'shall the institute work be made more effective?
By securing as institute instructors the best teachers that can be found in the land. By recognizing that both subject matter or direct instruction in the branches to be taught and the laws and principles of mind growth in a child must be presented; that the teacher must see these facts and principles developed in children, and that he must be able to observe true mental laws in presenting work to them. By enlarging the powers of the State superintendent, providing additional assistants, who, with the superintendent, shall be able to systematize, develop, and encourage the institute work of the State.
How create a demand ?
By legal enactment, as has been done in States where officers are required to hold a county institute for at least five days. By petitions of teachers to legislators and county authorities asking for legislation and appropriations. By united action on the part of the leading educators in a State or county, organizing and conducting an institute, using the best local talent, and demanding skilled instructors from the State superintendent or State normal schools, where there are any.
How shall expenses be met ?
No more equitable method has been presented than that required in Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska, and some other States, where each person examined pays a fee of one dollar, the fund thus raised being devoted to institute purposes, and the State or county, or both, aiding by special appropriations when necessary.
in New York, Pennsylvania, and, under limitation, in Illinois, where the time of the institute is during school terms, and the law provides that salary shall continue, by all means let attendance be compulsory. When competent institute instructors have been provided and all arrangements made to give teachers instruction, let attendance be a neces
sity to those who may desire to teach. The officer charged with the duty of examining teachers and issuing certificates has the power to secure a full attendance by recognizing and aiding those who manifest professional skill and ability, but an arbitrary use of power would be unwise. Make the institutes of positive value to teachers and they will attend.
There must be a classification and arrangement of work that will enable teachers to obtain the kind of instruction they need most. Teachers in graded schools should have work bearing specially on the grade in which they teach. Where the number of teachers in graded schools is sufficient to arrange for a classification by grades--as in all large cities, and in counties where there are many graded schools-let there be one or more divisions of primary and of grammar grade work. Where the teachers are mostly from rural schools where one teacher is employed there should be a division into sections so that fifty or sixty teachers shall be in one rocin under an instructor. Those teachers whose schools are largely made up of children in the first, second, and third reader should constitute one section, and those having schools of mostly advanced pupils should constitute another section. This would apply to meetings of one hundred to one hundred and twenty teachers. If a larger number are in attendance, then a closer division can be made, having three sections, making the classification according to the special conditions, needs, and experience of the teachers. In an institute of two hundred teachers from graded schools there should be at least three divisions-primary, intermediate, and advanced sections. In the primary grades the foundations are laid for a child's training. There the work should be the very best that can be given. There the elements of mental philosophy can be applied and their action observed. There more depends upon the plan, thought, and purpose of the teacher, because oral instruction is predominant, and the child must be directed in his efforts. There the habits of observation, memory, and expression are formed. There children begin to obtain thought from books, and they must be skilfully trained that words may bring to them vivid pictures. There most of those who begin the work of teaching are assigned, and they need a foundation of correct educational principles. In the primary section should be presented the practical methods based upon true psychological principles, which may be used in teaching a child reading, language, number, and the employment of the hands in various kinds of constructive works, that shall finally be an essential element in his education.
In the intermediate grades are introduced the beginning of geograply, the first steps in history, and the applications of number. While the same general laws must be observed in teaching, as in the primary grades, the special application of those laws varies, and the character of the institute work changes.
In the advanced grades all the maturer powers of mind are to be aroused. Teachers must be taught how to lead pupils to independent investigation and thought, how to search for information from the storehouse of others' work, how to work more skilfully in applying general principles to specific things, and in developing greater power of expression.
The superintendent or chief officers who are vested with the power to license teachers should have the general supervision of institutes, that they inay
(1) Exert authority or power in securing attendance. (2) Classify with authority. (3) Learn most of each teacher. (4) Be able to recommend to school officers the best teachers. (5) Bear the full responsibility of the failure or success of the work. Who shall teach in institutes?
The efficient and successful instructors in normal schools, because they are supposed to be doing constantly the very work that should be done in an institute.
The most successful and practical teachers in the schools of the State or county, who have by education and experience demonstrated their power to direct and instruct others. Such persons as shall be author. ized by the State superintendent of schools.
A distinctively American system of education has not yet been un. folded. We still study with profound interest the efforts and thoughts of educators of other countries. In many things we are striving to pattern after systems of education born and matured under vitally different conditions and surroundings. The kindergarten and the manual training represent different phases of an educational system. To be understood this must be seen in all its relation to other work. Work is the inheritance of mankind. How to work in the world's material, how to apply forces already known, and how to discover unknown powers, then to analyze and utilize them, is a part of the mission of life. This power of seeing, investigating, knowing, and creating is an inherent faculty in childhood. To a great extent the teachers have ignored these first and natural laws in mental growth.
A great part of our schools are destitute of apparatus to illustrate any subject, and in many of them the teachers are incapable of using properly the charts and apparatus which enterprising agents have been able to sell to the school officers, who knew the school work was deficient and thought these appliances could feed hungry minds.
The workshop should be connected with the institute to enable teachers:
To construct forms and solids to be used as the basis of language, number, and arithmetic.
To learn how to prepare charts for reading, language, number, etc.