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At present our schools are taught by the books of persons who never received a commission to write books for the common schools. The expenses for text-books are only surpassed by the expenses for fencing. Both might be reduced to one-third of the present cost.
Suppose the text-books for Wisconsin or Illinois were written and published for any of these states, after proper examination by a committee, a prize paid for the one adopted, the printing and binding given to the lowest bid, the adopted book introduced into every school, what a, great difference would this bring into the present mode of buying and changing books?
And if there should exist uniformity in text-books, how easy would the Normal teacher, or the agent, find his task of instructing the teacher at the school or at the Icstitute.
The form could easily be given, but the proper spirit should not be wanting. An ardent desire of doing our full duty, love for the work of education, a heart full of love to the scholars under our charge, and especially a keen realization of our great, everlasting responsibilities, will be necessary to success.
But I am afraid that my letter is growing too lengthy. My sincere thanks for your kind remarks. If you should find time to correct me, I would thankfully receive your suggestions.
Next Monday we open the summer term of ten weeks. By the 26th of June we shall close; but no vacation for me, for we build the hall, which will occupy all my time. Most respectfully yours,
J. WERNLI. P. S. In the future I will try to enter the methodics with more and cooler arguments.
WANTED_A BETTER SYSTEM.
BY A DANE COUNTY TEACHER.
Independence in thought and action is one of the things to be aimed at in instruction. Every teacher knows that this can be secured to the pupil, only as he is made to depend upon self, instead of upon teacher or classmate. To insure this self-dependence in scholars, coinmunication, as far as possible must be dune away with in the school-room. In a school of sixty pupils, whose ages range from twelve to twenty years, I know of no better way to prevent communication than to place them upon iheir honor with respect it. With no reward for “ perfect,” save that which is innate for doing right, no punishment for “imperfect," until there be flagrant violation of a wholesome rule, I fail to see
inducements to falsehood which must not be met at every age and in every phase of human life.
With younger scholars I should fear results; but the youth of twelve is as morally responsible for his acts, in some things, as the man of thirty, and where can he be made to feel and assume this responsibility better than in the school room? While I shudder at the thought of placing temptation in the path of any, still if scholars are taught that they are responsible for their acts, not to the teacher, but to themselves, and to their Maker, that in a society like the school room, sacrifice must be made for general good, that they are laboring--not to secure the smile of approbation, or to avoid the frown of displeasure, but to develop immortal powers, I can but believe that the evils arising from the self-reporting system will be as few as in any other, and that they will be concomitant, rather than induced by the system. The question in the school room is: how can the greatest good be secured to the greatest numbers. To conduct a recitation with energy and success, requires the undivided attention of the teacher; hence, pupils are, of necessity, left to act their own pleasure to a certain degree, or classes are neglected. Why noi then call them to an account fur the deeds done through the day?
I practice this system, not because I have all faith that it is the best, but for the reason that in my experience it has best accomplished the object sought; and until something better for doing away with communication in school be presented. I cannot agree with “Old Maid," that “ Any teacher knows, or ought to know, that the self-reporting system is a great error in teaching."
THE ART OF SECURING ATTENTION.
PY J. S. GALLAGHER, BLOOMING GROVE, WIS. By attention I mean fixidity of thought, the concentration of the whole mind upon one subject at a time: that effort of will by which we are enabled to follow what we hear or read without losing a particle of the meaning to be conveyed.
I do not doubt that to many the thought occurs: This indeed is the one thing which I most want. If I could only secure attention, what an admirable Teacher I should make! How happy I should be in my work! How much success and usefulness would follow my efforts! Now this is a very natural reflection, but it will be my object to prove
that it is not a very sound one, and that attention must not be looked upon as the condition of our being good teachers, but rather as the result of our being so.
Let us first of all acknowledge to ourselves that attention such as we
want to get from pupils, is a very hard thing for them to give. You and I, even when we have the strongest sense of duty urging us to attend to a subject, often find that it is next to impossible to chain our thoughts resolutely down to it. The memory of yesterday's pleasure, or the business of to-morrow will intrude on our minds. I think it important at the outset that we should be aware of these two simple facts: First, that fixed attention is a hard thing for any to give; and second, that it is hard to require it when not given. For you know, as teachers, that however hard it may be to gain attention, we must get it if we are to do any good at all. It is of no use to tell pupils things which go no deeper than the surface of their minds. Let
tell Iyou first how you will not gain atten:ion: You will not get it by claiming it by demanding it as a right, or by entreating it as a favor. Depend upon it that attention got by threats, by authority, by promise, or indeed by any external means, is not a genuine, effective thing. The real attention, such as alone can serve the purpose of a teacher, must always be obtained by that which is worth a child's hearing; and it must be said in such a manner that he shall feel it worth his hearing. Let me here mention one or two merely mechanical devices for maintaining attention; of course these are not the highest, but they sometimes are useful, nevertheless: For instance, children need change of posture. The restlessness which is often complained of in pupils is not a fault, but a constitutional necessity. It is positively painful to them to remain in one attitude long. We ought to be aware of this, and occasionally, when attention flags, let the whole school stand for a short time, or go through some some simple exercise in gymnastics, or engage in anything that will produce or require movement. You will often find that in this way your school will be refreshed. When the body. has had its lawful claim.s recognized, the mind will be more at leisure to deyote itself to the lessons. The sense of weariness will disappear and the work of teaching proceed with more cheerfulness. I might mention other methods of securing attention but this is sufficient, as teachers of experience can devise methods of their own.
One of the efficient means of kindling the interest and claiming the attention of children is the power of using good and striking illustrations. Now how many of us are there who can tell a story well, or who can so describe a thing which we have seen that those who hear our description shall think they can almost see it too? Yet a person is not a perfect teacher until he can do this, and no appeals to the reason and feeling of a child will be as effective as they might be unless we can also appeal to their imagination. Need I remind you how constantly this principle is recognized in the Parables of our Lord and Saviour? How he delivered to us (indirectly) truths through the me
2-[Vol. II.—No. 7.]
dium of things that our eyes may behold; doctrines and principles and deep lessons which otherwise his hearers could not have perceived? We all have noticed what interest a child will take in seeing a picture or hearing a pleasing story told. But some may say that picture-teaching is rot beneficial. Such I would refer to the great Teacher himself. We are apt to listen most attentively to something taught to us indirectly. It is for this reason that indirect teaching, which is wrapped up in stories, often secures more attention than teaching of a more direct and didactic kind.
But some prosaic readers may say, “ This is more the attribute of the poet than the teacher. Therefore I must learn to do without it.” I cannot help sympathizing with any one who speaks thus. We all inay mend ourselves a great deal in this respect if we try. Suppose we always keep in view the necessity of rendering our teaching more vivid, and are always on the watch for material by which it may be made so, I believe we shall thus take a step in the right direction; at least, any teacher whose heart is in his werk may do all this, and may become a very interesting instructor without being a poet, and with: out peculiar natural gifts. But one of the chief safeguards of attention, after all, is to determine that whatever we teach we will not go on unless we carry the whole class with us. It is far better to do a little thoroughly than a great deal unsoundly.
We are, I hope, brought by these reflections within sight of the one great rule on whic!not merely all attention, but all true success in teaching depends, viz: we must try to feel with the children to understand their nature and to discern what is going on in their minds. Do not half the faults of our teaching arise from want of thorough acquaintance with the little ones and a want of a true insight into their mental and moral nature? Does not this ignorance on our part lie at the root of much of the inattention of which we complain? We must not set up a man's standard to measure a child by, but always ask ourselves, what is proper for me to say. Such a teacher will be sure to win attention, and when he has won it will be likely to keep it.
THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES.
[Mr. B. W. REYNOLDS, Principal of the Madison High School, has obligingly furnished us with the following full answer to a question in the Query Box.--EDs.]
The Supreme Court of the United States consists of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justicus. The Chief Justice is Salmon P. Chase of Ohio. The Associate Justices are as follows: Nathan Clifford of Maine,
Samuel Nelson of New York, William Strong of Pennsylvania, Joseph Bradley of New Jersey, Noah H. Swayne of Ohio,
David Davis of Illinois, Samuel F. Miller of Iowa,
Stephen J. Field of California.
The United States are divided into nine circuits, as follows: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, constitute the First Circuit; Vermont, Connecticut and New York, the Second Circuit; Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, the Third Circuit; Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, the Fourth Circuit; Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, the Fifth Circuit; Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, the Sixth Circuit; Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, the Seventh Circuit; Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Nebraska and Minnesota, the Eighth Circuit; Cregon, Nevada and California, the Ninth Circuit. The Justices of the Supreme Court are allotted to these several circuits by order of the Court. Justice Clifford is allotted to the First Circuit; Nelson, to the Second; Strong, to the Third; Chase to the Fourth; Bradley, to the Fifth; Swayne, to the Sixth; Davis, to the Seventh; Miller, to the Eighth; and Field, to the Ninth.
In each circuit there is also a Circuit Judge, in accordance with a law approved April, 1869. The following are the Circuit Judges of the United States:
1st circuit, Geo. F. Shepley, Portland, Me.
9th circuit, Lorenzo Sawyer, San Francisco, Cal, Each circuit is divided into districts. There are five districts in the seventh circuit, Indiana constituting one, Illinois two, and Wisconsin two. There are in the United States forty-nine districts, in each of which there is a district judge, making in all sixty-seven judges in all the United States courts. The district courts have exclusive and original jurisdiction in all cases of admiralty and bankruptcy. The district and circuit courts have concurrent jurisdiction in all criminal cases, except those which are capital, which are tried by the circuit court. An appeal will lie from the discrict to the circuit court when the amount in controversy exceeds fifty dollars, except in cases of bankruptcy, when it is five hundred dollars. An appeal or writ of error will lie from the circuit to the supreme court, when the amount in controversy exceeds two thousand dollars. There is no appeal or writ of error from the judgment of a district or circuit court in criminal cases. Circuit courts have jurisdiction in law and equity, in cases in which the amount in controversy exceeds five hundred dollars, and when the parties are citizens of different states, one of the parties being a resident of a state other than the one in which the suit is pending.