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EXTRACTS FROM THE REPORTS OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL
INSPECTORS IN REGARD TO THE OPERATIONS OF THE NEW ACT OF 1871.
Although the Chief Superintendent of Education, in each of his Annual Reports has given large extracts from the Reports of the Local Inspectors of the Public Schools, yet I have not hitherto reproduced them in these Volumes, chiefly not only because they can be seen in extenso in the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Assembly for each year, but also because the Chief Superintendent has, in his Reports, given a general summary of the facts stated in these Reports, as well as the Remarks and Suggestions made by the various Local Inspectors in regard to the Schools.
However, on the passage of the comprehensive School Act of 1871, I thought that it would be desirable to show from the Extracts of these Reports what was the general feeling in regard to that Act, and what was its influence and effect in stimulating an increased local public interest in the Public Schools, as affected by the New Act, and also in increasing the desire, on the part of Trustees, to improve the condition and character of these Schools.
The Report of the Inspectors of the Grammar Schools, (which I give in a separate Chapter of the preceding Volume), enters fully into the condition and prospects of newly created High Schools and Collegiate Institutes.
It will be seen from the Extracts which I give from the Reports of the Inspectors of the Public Schools, that not only has new interest been awakened in regard to these Schools, but also in regard to the new and practical subjects of instruction which the new Law has prescribed shall be imparted in the Schools, so as to fit the pupils, in after years, for success in the various departments of life which they may choose. This awakened interest has been the more marked in regard to the subjects of mechanical and natural Science, the effect of the introduction of which in the Programme of Studies for the Public Schools has had a most beneficial effect in inducing Teachers to fit themselves better for the discharge of their duties in regard to the teaching of these subjects in the Schools, aided, as they have been, by the provisions in the New School Act for raising the character of the Profession of Teaching, and by giving the higher grade of their Certificates of Qualification a fixed and permanent value.
I have not attempted to give, in detail the extracts from the local Inspectors' Reports which treat of the dark, as well as of the lighter, shades of what they report as the former condition of these Schools, but I have chiefly confined myself to giving, in condensed form, such portions as state what has, thus far, been the beneficial effects on the Schools of the operations of the New School Act of 1871. In doing so, I have been able to
incorporate in this Chapter of 31 pages, about 80 of the same sized pages of the Parliamentary original Report. The following are the extracts :
County of Glengarry. During the year 1872, I started a Teachers' Association, which has held three Meetings and has done ome good. In connection with it we established a Teacher's Library containing at present ninety Volumes, and expect before long to have it enlarged.
The Meetings of the Association have started an “esprit de corps” among the best Teachers besides a determination to improve. At the end of the year, (1872), we held Competitive Examinations in each of the Townships for the best Pupils in each Class in the different Schools. At these $120 worth of Prize Books were distributed. They have been productive of much good. If the Councils grant the requisite amount of money we will hold the Examinations yearly.
We have had 5,000 Reports for Parents on the progress of Pupils printed, to be sent out periodically from the Schools.
County of Stormont.-Some of those who were the loudest in condemning the School Law are now its strongest supporters, and are even urgent in recommending that its requirements be stringently enforced. The people generally are satisfied with the Regulations, and cheerfully co-operate with the School Authorities in promoting the necessary improvements.
The Programme and Limit Table have established a standard by which Teachers are to be guided in the promotion of their Pupils into more advanced Classes; but the generality of the Schools in this County have not yet been brought into conformity with the Programme.
The irregular attendance of the Pupils at the Schools is not only a great hindrance to the progress of the Pupils immediately concerned, but it also interferes with the proper management and discipline of the Schools, and is a subject of general complaint on the part of the Teachers.
A fruitful source of contention is afforded by the question of School Section boundaries. The formation of a Township Board of Trustees would completely remedy this unpleasant and anomalous state of affairs.
County of Dundas.-I must express my satisfaction with the growing anxiety of Trustees and people, to meet the requirements of the School Law, neither must I forget the advancing progress of Teachers, both as to the amount of knowledge possessed, and the capability of imparting that knoweldge to their Pupils.
An honest desire to be fully prepared to meet the requirements of the new standard, has sent many Teachers, who were desirous of continuing in the profession of teaching, to the High Schools in the County, and retained in these and other seminaries of learning those who are preparing for the next examination.
I am happy to say that in every School in this County the authorized Books alone are used. Teachers are becoming more familiar with their contents and the mode of using them.
The change from dull repetition to the understanding and comprehension of every word, of every lesson, of every rule and formula, is slowly but surely going on, and its advantages are already understood and valued.
This year will witness a very large addition to the number of new School Houses. Last year the Trustees acquired, and sometimes at large cost, the ground needful by the Law; and this year they proceed to erect their School Houses.
I am happy to add, in conclusion, that the moral standing of our Teachers is high, and that not the slightest whisper of complaint has reached me.
County of Prescott.—There have been a number of new School Houses built during the year, and others have been repaired.
Now Maps and Black-boards have been supplied in a good many instances.
The Salaries of Teachers are rapidly increasing, and thus a strong inducement is held out to make better preparation for the profession.
I fully believe that the new School Law, if properly administered, will cause a thorough regeneration in School matters, and in a short time materially raise the standard of scholastic education, as well as make it more general.
I am happy to say that fair progress has been made in educational matters in some Townships.
Four new School Houses have been built during the past year, namely, one in Hawkesbury Village, intended to accommodate both the High and Public Schools,-a very fine brick structure costing $7,500,-three in the Township of Longueuil,-one brick, the others wood. Three School Houses have been thoroughly renovated,-two in Caledonia and one in Longueuil. Four Schools have provided themselves with Maps during the year.
Prizes have been given in a few School with good results.
County of Renfrer.-Irregular attendance of Pupils is a serious cause of complaint with every earnest and faithful Teacher, and is generally lamented by Trustees and others. One of the most healthful indications of improvement is exhibited by the fact that a good and healthy tone pervades the entire community in reference to the importance and advantages of education. We would deduce from this fact a brighter hope and a better encouragement for the future of education in this country. A larger number of Parents are truly anxious that their children should be regular in their attendance, and are prepared to exercise considerable self-denial for that purpose; but when they find that it is almost impossible to obtain "hired help,” as a matter of necessity they have to avail themselves of the assistance of their children in the harvesting of their crops. I know of certain parents who lamented this necessity, and who would have much preferred to send their children to School to keeping them employed on the farm, if they could have engaged assistance at almost any price. Many instances might be cited of the remarkable influence which the appointment of a good Teacher exerts upon the attendance. Where an inefficient and dull Tacher is engaged, it is not long before the attendance begins to fall away; and the reverse is the case when an energetic and efficient Teacher appointed.
Trustees are now beginning to open their eyes to the fact that this “cheap Teacher" system has been one of the greatest hindrances to the welfare of their School. It is, therefore, a fact worthy of comment, that the remuneration offered to Teachers of average respectability during the year 1872 has been twenty-five or thirty per cent. in advance of anything as yet offered to the teaching profession.
During the year eight new School Houses have been erected, and several others are in course of erection. The style, arrangement and equipment of some of these are an honour to the Sections interested, and will serve as models of what a rural School House should be. When we take into consideration the wretched and inadequate accommodation hitherto provided in Public Schools, we can easily perceive the necessity for enacting a Law defining the accommodation required, and also providing for the erection of good and suitable School Houses. I am glad that the Chief Superintendent of Education has thought proper to encourage the building of suitable School Houses by offering prizes for the best plan of School Houses, and the best method of arranging the grounds, etcetera.
County of Frontenac. I have much pleasure in informing you that a great improvement has taken place in the majority of the Schools of the County of Frontenac during the past year, owing to the fact that the Teachers generally have adhered to the “Programme of Classification for Public Schools," as far as practicable, and have taken a livelier interest in their duties.
During the year, fifteen new School Houses were in course of erection, some of which have been completed, whilst others are nearly so. Twenty-six were repaired, re-furnished, etcetera; fifteen were enclosed with a substantial fence, etcetera; and quite a number were supplied with Maps, Tablet Lessons, etcetera. Twenty new School Houses will be in course of erection during the year 1873.