« PreviousContinue »
The influence in both cases cannot be otherwise than good. Every hour thus spent, especially by young people, is so much gained in mental culture, and in that self-respect which is a valuable guard against loose conduct.
County of Lanark.-It was a wise provision of our Legislature to enact a Law compelling every child, within certain ages, to be sent to School for at least a portion of every year; but it is much to be regretted that this wholesome legislation has not yet taken a firm hold of the people.
Th radical changes intended to be produced by the School Law which came into force in February, 1871, are gradually being developed in this County, and evidences are not uncommon of an increased vitality in School affairs. Yet there are many drawbacks to advancement, and paramount among all is the unfitness, so commonly to be found, of the men selected to administer the School affairs of the Section. With tho experience that I have had in this matter in my contact with many Trustees of rural Sections, and with a knowledge of the many evils resulting from the Sectional System altogether, I welcome with delight the prospect of the projected Township Board System.
The substitution of Township Boards of Trustees for Trustees of Sections is being universally discussed now, as the one thing useful to give the required impetus to the cause of Education; and it is one amendment to the School Law which will engage the attention of our Local Legislature during its present Session. Without presenting to your notice the numerous and incontrovertible arguments in favour of this projected system, allow me to lay before you somewhat succinctly the disadvantages of the present Sectional, and the advantages of the Township Board, Systém.
1. It encourages badly-divided Sections,—many being too small to maintain a good School, and the School House not being located in a central position.
2. It does not offer a proper supervision of the Schools on the part of the Trustees.
3. It results in Teachers being engaged frequently through some local influence, on account of some family connection, or from the fact that they reside in the Section, and consequently can be engaged at a cheaper rate.
4. The small and poor Sections are an excuse for the employment of cheap and unqualified Teachers, and for not furnishing the adequate School Accommodation which the Law requires.
5. Many Sections are left without Schools.
7. The Section system results in a constant change of Teachers, to the great injury of the Schools.
One prominent feature in the new School Law is that which insists upon every Trustee Corporation providing adequate accommodation for all the children of School ago resident within its Section or Division. There is great necessity for putting this Law into force in this as in most Counties. I am now able to report a considerable advance in this respect. Ten School Houses, most of them Stone and Frame, are either in course of construction or will be during this year; many others have been repaired and made more habitable, while in other instances land has been purchased for Play Grounds, and Out-buildings erected.
Two examinations for granting Certificates to Public School Teachers have been held during the year,-in the months of July and December last. At these eighty-three Candidates presented themselves, of whom forty-five succeeded in obtaining regular Certificates; three Second Class, and forty-two, Third Class. This number, together with seventy-seven certificates granted in 1871, fifteen old certificates, good until annulled; and four Normal School Certificates, make a total of one hundred and fortyone regularly qualified Teachers,-a number more than sufficient to fill all our Schools. While we can congratulate ourselves on numbers,—and in this respect we are in advance of many other Counties, yet I cannot close my eyes to the fact that many of those who have succeeded in obtaining Third Class Certificates have proved themselves to be ansuccessful as Teachers, and it would be well, I think, if there were a Regulation render
ing it imperative for Trustees to obtain the sanction of the County Inspector before engaging a Teacher holding a Certificate of the lowest grade. I know instances where Trustees, having applications from Teachers holding Second Class Certificates and First Class until annulled under the old system, have, nevertheless, engaged those holding Third Class, and that, too, in Sections where they knew that the children were well advanced, and where they had been in the habit of engaging a superior Teacher. For $50 or a $100 a year they sacrifice their best interests, and for "hiring a cheap Teacher," they are set down as benefactors of the community.
Two examinations for admission of Pupils to High Schools were held during the year, at which ninety-five Pupils were admitted to pursue the Course of Study afforded by these Institutions. Care has been taken in these examinations to admit those only who were prepared to go on with the High School work, particularly as in the system about to be adopted of "payment by results," not only the average attendance, but the absolute standing, or state of efficiency of the Schools, will be taken into consideration. The High School Inspectors have already been preparing the way for this system.
During the past year I delivered sixty regular Lectures, to audiences varying from half-a-dozen to one hundred and fifty. Besides these formal Lectures, I have on all occasions endeavoured to make my visits to the Schools both interesting and profitable to the children, the Teachers and the Trustees, by addressing them words of instruction, encouragement and advice.
The Public Examination of children in the presence of their parents and friends is a regulation much to be commended, and one which I am happy to say seems to be on the increase. I had the pleasure during the year past of attending several such exhibitions, and was delighted to find the interest evinced by young and old on this School field-day. Half-yearly gatherings of this nature, consisting of the examination of the classes in the different subjects of instruction; the presentation of the Prizes gained during the Term, and granted according to some thorough and well-defined system of marks, or what is better, according to the Departmental system of "Merit Cards ;" recitations, addresses, and it may be a feast to the children, cannot but be attended with results at the same time stimulating to those struggling up the hill of learning, and pleasing and encouraging to all. I trust Public Examinations of Schools, thus conducted, will be found on the increase.
The principal defects that I observed in my first visits to the Schools were (1) a want of a system of classification, and (2) a lack of a thorough and intellectual mode of imparting knowledge. A judicious use of the excellent Programme of Studies authorized by the Council of Public Instruction, and the habit of simple and familiar questioning combined with lessons on common objects, have already had the happy effect of making a great improvement in the defects above noticed.
No subject has so much engaged the time and attention of Teachers, or been more pressed upon them by Parents, than Reading; yet there is no subject that I have found so little taught. There is a vast difference between hearing a class read a lesson, and teaching them how to read it; between telling them that they are wrong, and showing them how to do right.
Generally speaking, Writing is not commenced with children at as early a period as it should be. In consequence I have frequently found those reading in the Third Book, and occasionally some as far advanced as the Fourth, incapable of writing the simplest sentence either on slates or in copy books. The system that puts the pencil into the child's hand as soon as he has learned the alphabet, and combines a writing lesson with every reading lesson, is one which I have always found attended with the most beneficial results.
There is a lamentable want of the practical in teaching Arithmetic. The Text Book is too much adhered to, is in fact considered as indispensable, and when Pupils are taken out of the ordinary course of its rules and formulæ, they have nothing upon which to depend. I have frequently found those who had worked through all the rules in an advanced Arithmetic, and who were dubbed by the admiring Teacher and Parent
as "smart at figures,” effectually puzzled at solving the question, “what part of a dollar is ls. 8d., (one shilling and eight pence);" and appealing to me in an injured tone that "they had never done sums of that kind."
If the Grammar lesson does not teach the Pupil to "speak and write the English language with propriety," it is certainly not fulfilling the object for which it was designed. Passing over the gross grammatical inaccuracies, which, in spoken and written language, so commonly occur to us, coming from the lips or the pen of those whose education in their youth has been neglected, how often do we find the grammarian so called, the educated, as he would style himself, yes and the educator, making little or no application of the laws of language in the regulation of his speech. It has often struck me as a gross absurdity,—and the conclusion has been forced upon me by the frequency of its occurrence,-to find one endeavouring to impress with all earnestness, upon the wondering Pupils, the intricacies of Grammar, and at the same time outrageously violating its simplest rules and expressions.
In July last I called together the Teachers of the County to attend a preliminary Meeting for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of forming an Association. They cordially embraced my views on this subject, and the organization of the Society was proceeded with at once. It has for its object the discussion of the best methods of teaching different subjects; reading Papers for the information and instruction of the Members; to offer subjects for discussion; and general interchange of opinion. We have already held three regular quarterly Meetings, which have been well attended and interesting and profitable.
ATTENDANCE AND FINANCIAL EXHIBIT OF THE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS OF ONTARIO, 1871, 1872.
in Total amount available for
$ cts. $ cts.
9,147 97 1,743 49
302 00 1,016 00