« PreviousContinue »
in morphology. The testimony of the teachers is uniform in regard to the great interest manifested, the stimulus imparted to them in other branches, the increasing power and disposition to observe natural objects, and indirectly, the wholesome disciplinary effects.
I have called attention to this branch (and also to music, hygiene, and drawing), by preparing questions in the rudiments of botany, the answers to which would be suggestive of work to be done (and the questions themselves were designed to awaken curiosity in the applicant), and presenting them to each teacher at examination, with a request to read, and answer all he could.
Let a few teachers speak for themselves, and others will indorse:
Of all general work done, in our common schools, I think work on botany the most difficult, because there are so many things to be kept in view during the recitation. The following objects I try never to lose sight of:
1. Establish a perfect freedom between the pupil and teacher, so that the pupil will talk freely. 2. Cultivate the pupil's love for the beautiful. 3. Arouse the curiosity of the pupil so he will desire knowledge about the object. 4. Teach him to see all there is to the object in hand. 5. Impress the habit of truthfulness, by insisting upon an exact description; 6. Use the power he has acquired over his hand in the drawing work, to reproduce it.
All this cannot be accomplished without study, as to the how. As this study of botany is now being introduced into our schools, great care should be used in its introduction that we do not so disgust the district as to have the "coming man " forbidden to teach it. This can be done either by not being well enough informed to make it interesting, or by making a hobby of it. Although I have found this study the most difficult, yet it is enjoyable, to both teacher and pupil. It opens up a new world to the pupil.
It is necessary that we have a definite plan and follow it closely, so that we may have for the next teacher a record of just what we have done, and intended to do the next term. Below is an outline of work upon which two terms can be bestowed with profit, by first discussing the object in class, putting the name in with the spelling lesson for the next day, then writing sentences about it in the language work, the day following:
Parts of plant.
A list of plants,
and in which
I teach botany in this way: I take some plant the children are familiar with, and talk about its formation, growth and habits.
EMERY HILL. I am giving daily instruction in drawing and botany. The drawing class all have drawing books. The pupils take much more interest in all their work, since they have become interested in these two studies.
ADDIE EVERETT. Supt. W. T. Harris, of St. Louis, says upon this subject:
"The subordinate studies, music, drawing, and natural science, reinforce and improve the instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and do not impede or interfere with the pupils' progress. Natural science furnishes rest and diversion from the regular course of study, by being taught in a radically different manner. The lesson is a relief to the pupil, and a corrective to the teacher's methods." River Falls.
H. S. BAKER.
A MORNING AT QUINCY.
Seeing is believing, and although the pamphlet lately published by Mr. Charles Francis Adams on the improvements which three years have made in the Quincy school system, gives many points for study, the conclusion of the whole matter can best be gained by seeing his results. So a seven thirty-five train carried me out this morning (from Boston] on the Old Colony road to the little town that will have to be re-christened. Indeed, its proper title now is the Mecca of school teachers, for the same morning train carries out parties of young teachers from Boston, sent out by their school directors to "see into" the new system which is beginning to be established in the primaries of the city; parties of New Yorkers and a few Philadelphians, all bent on" observing," which is the new way invented for teachers to learn. Arriving at Quincy just as the town clock was striking eight, and there being as yet no local guide book published for the town, I asked the first intelligent porter on the platform which was the way to the primary school, any primary. "That lady will tell you," pointing to a brisk young woman just taking her seat in one of the omnibuses, and who wore a white apron over her alapaca dress and carried an arm-full of books. [The teachers in Quincy, as I learned afterwards, are allowed to carry books, if they wish to.] “Yes,” she said, "on my errand being made known, "she could tell me something about the schools." "Which do you call the best ? " " There is no best," said
the brisk young woman, they are all alike. I advise you to go to the Codington school, because it is nearest the station; otherwise I should be very glad to have you come to mine, but that is quite the farthest off and something of a drive."
So to the Codington school I went, though it might have been the Washington, or the Wollaston, or any others that were almost as near. The school house was locked, but there were at least fifty boys playing under the elms and maples, and presently little girls, walking decorously in twos, began to turn into the school enclosure. The boys were driving and tooting all over the yard, and the little girls were exceedingly “proper," which brings its own physiological comment with it. But there wasn't a school book to be seen. No satchels, no atlases nor books under the arm. You might have thought it was a holiday, but for the appearance of a sweet-eyed young lady, who was introduced by the chorus of boys to me as Miss Morse. To Miss Morse I stated my errand, and she was kind enough to make out a sort of time table for me that I might catch up in the different rooms
I as much of the day's doings as was possible before the noon bell and the noon train came along. In her room, which was the point of departure in the morning, and still before the nine o'clock bell had rung, I found a pupil teacher looking over the slates of her dictation exercise the day before, not marking the child for errors, but marking the errors for the child.
On the black-board Miss M. began at once to rub out the synonyms, in common words, that were written up there, and, talking as she wrote, to sprinkle the long black-board with figures. I shall not give my questions, which she was good enough to encourage, but the sum of the answers. They take "average" at the Quincy schools three times a year, of the showing of the class at that time. "I do not take a daily record for averages, but have in mind the general mental condition of each child and its readiness. I do not crush out errors in spelling, nor make a culprit of the child who makes mistakes. I try to bring him along with the class. Except for persistent carelessness there is no writing over as a punishment. Keep in? We are not allowed to keep a child in. Our regular afternoon session is from two to four, and from four to half past there is a half hour that we take for explanations to bring on a dull child, or encourage it. But it is the class that must bring him along; class averages are the things to judge by. They learn from each other. Each one wants to be right because his neighbor is. He doesn't like to be behind."
Emulation and not punishment, evidently, (I make hasty parenthesis) is the string that is pulled in the Quincy schools. It is only bringing lessons of after life into play a little earlier. A man is not "marked " each day, nor does he have time to make up
he must keep up with the rest or be left behind. Here a small paper of directions was handed to another "pupil teacher," who had came into the room to observe” for the first time to-day, in the division. She permitted me to look at it; it ran something like this: "Watch the children. They are as much yours as mine, to-day. Speak to them if they do anything you do not like to see. Look over their slates during the exercises. Find out their names."
Just here the great bell rang, a boy seated himself at the old piano, and the classes came filing up the stairs to music, forty-five in each division, and six divisions in all. Two pretty little girls with a small bucket went from desk to desk wetting all the sponges. There was one colored boy in the line, very well dressed, but apparently not marked among his neighbors in any other way.
“Now children get your slates all clean," gave time to settle down a little the spirits brought up from the playground. After a vigorous rubbing, but no noise, the bell tapped and the school exercises began. In a very low voice, “The Lord is my Sheperd," was recited, the teacher leading. Then, still in the same subdued and reverent tones, the Lord's prayer was sung, followed by a pretty childish hymn and school song. Then holding up his hand, but without any other preface, a boy got up and said: "On my way to school I saw two men digging. What do you suppose it was for?
(This, the pupil teacher whispered, was the conversation exercise, intended to teach expression and readiness, but also, as it appeared, to use their eyes as they came along to school.) Instantly there was a volley of suggestions, not in disorder, but very much as if on the playground, each child rising, however, to give his opinion. The original boy, however, had to tell that it was a hole for a flagpole, and where it was, at Mr. --'s. Then another boy had seen something else,
s. and another, each little speech beginning with "I saw yesterday," or “” " last week," or "last summer," and occasionally there was a "long bow," drawn by a fanciful child. But, mostly the talk was of the village matters. One boy had information that two vessels out in the bay, two “big steamships," were to be knocked to pieces for their old
WISCONSIN JOURNAL OF EDUCATION.
iron, and instantly, half the class was on its feet, looking out of the windows. (The Quincy school-houses have the advantage of overlooking deep water and the harbor, and the hills in the distance also, which called up references in another class, as will be seen.) “They are Government vessels," put in another boy, and they are going to burn them. They are all rotten, too rotten to go to sea." "Little worms," contributed another, " they are full of little worms in their hulls." "They are going to burn 'em; won't it be fun seeing the fire burn?” Then was something said about " Revere beach " and a burned ship that another boy had seen. Will the iron burn?" asked the teacher. “No; don't you see, explains a young philospher, " the wood all burns and the iron falls right into the water and cools off." It was about a ten minutes' talk in all, the children entirely alert and at their ease, a correction only put in now and then, but entirely in a suggestive way, by the teacher. One notable part of it was that the little girls did not talk. Only one small female towards the close, ventured a modest observation, but the boys had it all to themselves, as older politicians around the town pump and at the cross-roads store are apt to have.
OTHOGRAPHY MADE EASY. At the end of the “conversation," which, with the singing, had occupied just fifteen minutes, the teacher, chalk in hand, stood by the blackboard. “What day is this?" "The 30th day of September.” “Spell thirty," and she wrote it according to their direction, putting a twenty under it. “Now what shall I do to make this twenty twentieth ? " "Rub out the tail of the y" directed a child,
y "dot it for an i and then put e-t-h." Is it the same as the y when I do that -- why don't we keep it y?" "Because the long tailed
— letter doesn't look well — the i is better.” Following this she wrote:
. Mister and Mistress Holden were there.” “Is that quite right? "No, you must shorten it." "How? what letter shall I keep?" “Keep the M and the r and put a dot after the r, to show that there is something left out." Then a child dictated something else for the teacher to write, all the class following on their slates the dictation as they had the previous lines. At the close - pointing to one word after another: "Anybody spelled 'those' any different? Has anybody spelled it another way?" Two or three who had left off the final e held up their hands, looking cheerfully corrected, but not ashamed, Mem: It is evidently not accounted a crime here to make a mistake, and no child is ashamed to acknowledge his or tries to conceal.