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THE TEACHER'S MISSION.
BY CLARA A. DIXON, RIPON.
In a recent address before the State Teacher's Association of Minnesota, Bishop Whipple, speaking as a teacher to his fellow teachers, says: “ The teacher is to mold the future citizen of the state, and the culture at which he aims must be the cultivation of all that makes humanity—the education of the whole man.”
What a responsibility, then, rests upon teachers. The results of our labors are not all compassed in the present, but reach far into the future; for the present is spent mostly in seed-sowing, which, if the seed be good, and the sowing properly done, will be the prelude to a rich harvest of golden sheaves; while otherwise, only tares will grow. Every one exerts an influence upon the world which will live long after he has passed away. Hume and Paine sowed seeds of infidelity and immorality for coming generations. And Luther, Knox, Edwards and Wesley, though 'dead, still speak words of truth to living souls. This is equally true of the teacher's influence. Euclid teaches geometry to the young of to-cay; Kepler astronomy; and Solon is still teaching the nations law and order.
If we are faithful, the future honors which our scholars shall win, will also honor us, for we have helped them to their places of trust. As we shape the twig, so it will grow a stately tree. Likewise, in our band of little ones, we may find those elements of character, which, if properly moulded, may develop into the coming man, in some hour of our country's need, as truly as did Washington, Lincoln or Grant. If we succeed in awakening a hidden life, whose beauty shall be unfolded in unostentatious labors of love, though their names may never be widely known, our labors will not have been in vain.
It is not by great acts that we shall make our scholars noble men and women. The sculptor does not reach the highest work of his art while giving his heaviest blows, and his roughest chiseling; but only by his careful and gentle touches. So by the gentle and skillful touches of the chisel in our hands, are we to bring the youthful minds and characters into forms of beauty and worth, more valuable, as more enduring than the most exquisitely wrought marble bust. In every lesson, and in each daily task, there is a silent influence on the lives of children, more potent than we have ever dreamed; while the possibilities in that direction far outreach our power of conception. The facts, fully realized, notwithstanding the responsibility involved, will impart to teaching a real pleasure all unknown to him who fails to apprehend them.
We must adapt ourselves to our scholars, bend so near them as to come into mutual sympathy, and then take them by the hand and lead them step by step, till they can stand where we stand, and still cry “ Excelsior." We should not be fearful of ambitions spirits; but only fear lest we fail to give them the true direction. We too often hear it remarked that such and such scholars, in school, are very hard cases; and the teacher is duly cautioned how to proceed in managing them. Accordingly a strict line of conduct is marked out to be pursued with these unruly ones; and before the term closes, they are regarded as the concentration of all that is evil.
That teacher has not found the key to such hearts. Let the same scholars come under the rule of a hand that knows how to guide, and under the glance of an eye which mirrors a heart that can both understand aud sympathise with them, and they at once become tractable. This is the reason why a lady's gentle touch often dues more for fractious youngsters than all all the weight and gravity of awe inspiring masculinity. It has been well said that there is more skill shown, and a keener pleasure experienced in reining a spirited and mettlesome steed, than in urging on the most docile and best tempered family horse. So there is ever intense delight in holding the rein over boyish impulses so gently and firmly as not to be felt, and yet so surely that it will be obeyed.
Self-government is the corner stone on which we may build, of even such rejected material, a beautiful and useful structure. But as we cannot impart knowledge till we have first attained it, no more can we teach self-government till we have first learned to govern ourselves. But having learned this, we can so teach our scholars that they will come to feel and accept their individual responsibility; and we shall find in the general harmony and good order which we have secured, that we have struck the key note of good government in school.
It is related of a certain king, that his success in governing his kingdoin consisted in the easy freedom with which he consulted leading men of every grade, and when they had unconsciously imbibed his views, very gracefully accepting them as their suggestions, so that the nation felt that their plan had been adopted. Something of this would not be inappropriate in our method of governing. Most certainly, while we endeavor to make our scholars feel that they must share largely in the responsibility of a good, or a poor school, we should also cheerfully yield to them a large share in the credit due when the school is well conducted and successful.
We believe that teachers will find these principles to be uniformly correct. But uniformity in the mode of applying them would prove a failure. It will not do to classify our methods as some physcians do their remedies to meet already classified diseases. Rather let us carefully study the particular character of each abnormal mental or moral condition, and studiously adopt that method that is clearly indicated in each and every individual case. In the skill which we manifest in this direction will sie our best success in training the young, and in fulfilling the important mission of the teacher.
MUSIC.-In some of our schools, some attention is given to vocal music, and I hope the time is not far distant, when the science and the art of music will be a regular branch of our common school education. If our Creator had not intended music for the benefit of the human race, why did he give man a constitution that finds so much enjoyment in the art? And why does He hold out the perfection of music as one of the chief enjoyments of the redeemed in heaven?-D. F. REID, Superintendent of Pepin county.
The object of the teacher should be, not so much to impart to the pupil knowledge as the power of acquiring knowledge.
GENERAL REGULATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS. The Normal Institute should be in all respects, a Model School. To make it this, will require the constant and united effort of all its members. It is sincerely hoped that none will attend the Institute who cannot and will not cheerfully make the small sacrifice necessary to secure so great a general good, and that therefore the session may be pleasant and profitable to all.
1.-ENROLLMENT AND RECORDS. Members should fill the Enrollment blanks on entering the Institute, and if for any cause they withdraw before the Institute term is regularly closed, should call for the blank and enter upon it the date of leaving, and the reason therefor.
The Records of the Institute will show the number in attendance with the percentage of absence and tardiness each day, including the absence of members from any Institute exercise. A report of each days' record will be read on the morning of the following day, with names of unexcused delinquents. Written excuses will be expected, giving amount of time lost and reason for absence.
II.-ORDER. The Institute should be an exhibition of thorough good order throughout. Those who cannot, or will not control themselves must fail utterly when they attempt to control others. Abundant opportunity will be given for the culture of the social nature, at fitting times and places, and it should require no effort on the part of the Conductor to have the order ail that can be desired.
III.—GENERAL EXERCISES. A prompt and cheerful compliance with all the requirements of the conductor, will add much to the pleasure all should feel in the work we are attempting to do, and it is hoped that this being the characteristic of the Institute, none will seek to avoid or to be excused from any duty that may be assigned.
IV.- VISITORS. Cordial invitations are extended to all friends of education to be present at any of the Institute sessions, and it is confidently believed that all will recognize the propriety and necessity of refraining from every thing that may annoy teachers or distract the attention of ciasses.
TO CONDUCTORS AND TEACHERS.
MADISON, July, 1872. FELLOW TEACHERS: We are about to engage in a work of very great importance to the educational interests of the state-a laborious work, requiring our whole energies, and worthy of our best efforts. We are to meet, this fall, more than a thousand teachers of the state, claiming their time and attention, from two to four weeks. These will, in the main, be earnest teachers, conscious of their de
ficiencies, and eagerly striving for “ more light.”. Let us not seek to intensify, unnecessarily, this consciousness, for in most cases it is already quite painful enough; but rather let us with kindly words, show that we are friends as well as teachers.
We have no right to claim their attention until we are thoroughly prepared for the work. No meal of husks will satisfy the growing demand for "strong meat." Let us, then, give thorough and systematic instruction, making our chief end the dissemination of better, because more rational, methods of instruction.
Allow me to suggest, in reference to the detail of the work, the following points: 1. Get your institute well in hand, and immediately at work.
2. By your own life and energy infuse life and energy into your classes, and by your own interest in the subjects, compel their attention.
3. With kindness, yet firmness, insist upon the observance of the regulation given on the first paper, enforcing the maxim that teachers should be what they would have their pupils become.
4. The syllabus of instruction is intended to be rather suggestive than obligatory; yet it is desirable, for the sake of uniformity, that it be adhered to as closely as practicable. Circumstances may modify its application very much, and your own judgment must be your guide in reference to the manner and extent of carrying it out. In the minutes of the institute, reported to me, specify particularly how much has been done, and in what directions.
5. It will probably be thought best to have one evening lecture each week, but most of the evenings will be needed for study. An hour or two each week may well be used in a general social gatherings, if such gathering can be devoted to rational social intercourse, and do not take undesirable directions.
6. If one or two literary entertainments can be provided by members of the Institute, witbout distracting the attention from other work, they may be made useful. They should consist of select readings, declamations or discussions.
7. Saturday forenoons may be profitably devoted to general exercises, but should not be used for the regular work of the Institute.
8. Encourage the study of lessons after they have been presented in the Institute, and as far as possible aid the younger members in keeping up their notebooks. Insist upon the books being kept neat and clean.
Finally, by precept, and above all, by example, inculcate continually lessons of promptness, accuracy, thoroughness and industry, feeling that we teach more from what we are than what we know.
Hoping for your highest success, and with feelings of deep, personal regard, 1 subscribe myself,
CHAS. H. ALLEN,
SYLLABUS OF INSTRUCTION FOR NORMAL INSTITUTES.
Comprising the work for four weeks.
INSTRUCTION.-A simple classification of the sounds of our language into vocals, subvocals and aspirates, with a knowledge of the basis of classification, is about all that need be given. Supplement this with abundant practice ; in giving the sounds, being careful to secure smooth, full tones. The letters of the alphabet and regular combinations should be gone through, giving the power, and substitute power of each, and the law or idiom governing the same. Ten minutes a day, aside from the practice before reading, is all the time that should be required.
ORTHOGRAPHY. Note-Spell every day, principally by writing. Have words carefully corrected, and distinctly marked. "If a word is missed, have it re-written, not changed. In the spelling record, require all words misspelled, to be written ten times correctly ; if changed, five times. Words misspelled on review, written twenty-five times. Give twenty-five common words upon which to grade, making class “A” and class “B.” Class “B” should have lessons assigned for study.
INSTRUCTION.-Show that good spelling is the result of close observation, and
during the first week illustrate how to study a spelling lesson and how to fix the spelling of words in the mind. During this week complete the classification. During the second and third weeks spell by the use of the Rules for Spelling, prepar ing lists that illustrate the rules, and their exceptions. One rule a day and not more than six rules. In the fourth week study spelling by the aid of word analy. sis, finding derivation, and modifications of words. Give particular attention to the peculiarities of words and classes of words, which cause them to be misspelled. Review the words previously spelled.
READING. Note.--Read every day, the last exercise in the afternoon. Precede the reading by a five minute drill on the elementary souuds, a kind of vocal gymnastics, designed to cultivate the voice. Read in two classes, making the classification from the ability to call words without hesitation and to apprehend and express the thought in simple descriptive reading. Insist upon having the reading lessons studied.
INSTRUCTION.-In class “A” read only four selections; one descrptive, one oratorical, one in meter, and one dialogue, for personation. Read for the thought and feeling, and the best means of conveying tliem. A little attention may well be given to the rules for reading, showing how they are derived and how to be applied. It is also desirable to explain how they are not to be used.
Confine the reading of class B” to the simple descriptive or narrative selections. Read more selections than in class “ A," endeavoring to secure ease and fluency of expression and readiness to apprehend the meaning of sentences at sight, and of paragraphs by once reading. In all the reading exercises seek to inculcate the lesson that pupils need to be trained so as to read attractively and well in the home circle rather than from the rostrum.
ARITHMETIC. Note. One class in arithmetic will suffice. Take a part, say one-third of each recitation, in mental arithmetic. Put the class early in the forenoon, and have it a working class; making accuracy and rapidity considerations of importance. If practicable, have all class work done on paper, and make the form a subject of criticism.
INSTRUCTION.- In the mental exercises, give a series of training lessons to secure the ability to handle small numbers with skill and rapidity. Enforce the attention. In the four weeks, run through from beginning to proportion, and take a few lessons in per centage. Carry the mental arithmetic parallel with the written, as far as practicable. Use no text book, but require written solutions of typical examples, one every day from each member of the class. See that the solutions are logical, clear and short. As the result of this, each teacher will take away from the Institute, amended written solutions for most of the leading cases that should be used in the common schools, and will have acquired habits of clear and logical thought. Do not make mental arithmetic a hobby, nor take the other extreme of neglecting it altogether.
In written arithmetic, devote one week to the fundamental rules, giving much practice in writing integers and decimals. Impress the necessity of learning to add and subtract with rapidity and accuracy. In multiplication and division, give full instruction and much practice in factoring, combining with it least common multiple, greatest common divisor, and cancelation. During the second week study fractions, being careful to apply the principles already discussed. Secure skill by confining the drill to transformations in a few simple fractions until principles and methods are familiar. Have much work on the blackboard and criticise form as well as fact.
Devote the third week to percentage, from interest through. Give, first, training lessons in simple mental examples until the processes of reasoning are clear. Keep prominently before the mind the relation between percentage and other parts. Give problems to be solved and the solution brought to class. Examine work closely. Take the fourth week upon such subjects as may have been raised during the first three, and upon points that may be desired, by members of the class.
GRAMMAR. Note.But one class in grammar should be needed. Let all the exercises have reference to securing the ability to speak and write correctly. Make the class & continual illustration of how this can be done in school.