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Graded schools in the United States of America online

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Head Mistress of the Skinners' School, Stamford Hill










IN view of the growing interest in Secondary Edu-
cation in the United Kingdom and the important
problems awaiting solution, the Gilchrist Trustees
decided in the early part of 1893 to send five women
teachers to America, for. the purpose of studying
and reporting upon Secondary Schools for Grirls and
Institutions for the Training of Women in different
parts of the States. The Trustees made their
intention widely known, and invited the governing
bodies of the various women's colleges and associa-
tions of teachers to submit to them names of per-
sons specially qualified. The Trustees received in
this way a list of some of the ablest and most ex-
perienced women teachers in the country. After
careful consideration of the qualifications of the
numerous candidates, the Trustees selected the fol-
lowing five, and awarded to each of them a travel-
ling scholarship of 100 to enable them to spend
two months in the * United States in prosecuting
their investigations: Miss A. Bramwell, B.Sc.
(Lecturer at the Cambridge Training College), Miss


S. A. Burstall, B.A. (Mistress at the North London
Collegiate School for Grirls), Miss H. M. Hughes
(Principal of the Women's Training Department,
University College, Cardiff), Miss M. H. Page (Head
Mistress of the Skinners 7 Company's School for
Girls, Stamford Hill), and Miss A. Zimmern (Mis-
tress at the High School for Grirls, Tunbridge
Wells). The five scholars visited America during
last summer, and presented to the Trustees carefully
prepared Reports, of which one viz., that by Miss
Page is presented to the public in this volume.
The Trustees have aided in the publication of these
Reports, because they believe that a knowledge of
the educational systems and experiments which
have been tried by the English-speaking people
over the Atlantic cannot fail to be of interest and
value to those engaged in attempting to solve the
educational problems of the United Kingdom.

Secretary to the Gilchrist




THE following brief Report of the work undertaken
by me through, the help of the Trustees of the
Gilchrist Educational Trust has of necessity been
written hurriedly, in the midst of the daily pressure
of heavy work ; and is, I feel, totally inadequate
either to show the benefit I have personally re-
ceived or to give anything like a systematic account
of Education in America.

Travelling from the Atlantic to the Pacific, as
far north as Montreal and as far south as St. Louis,
I felt again and again that to know American
Education would need more years of study than I
had months in which to see and to hear. A
Western State I found to be a different country
from an Eastern State ; the former seemed bound
by no traditions, governed by no conventionalities,
narrowed or hampered by no class feeling, whether
as regards people or work ; and as u necessity is the
mother of invention," so a new State evidently
must be the parent of fresh experiment in every
profession, business, or trade.



The whole country is so huge, the possibilities so
enormous, and the resulting conditions so diverse,
that beyond the broad principles of government
which underlie the organizations of education, I
have found it impossible to give generalizations.

I felt, both before starting and increasingly
during my tour, that statistics were cold and hard,
and although very necessary in their place, were
not the main points for me to seek out in a
visit. I therefore endeavoured to enter into
the life which is being lived in the Schools, to
realize where possible the actual difficulties to be
contended with, and the aims kept in view by
superintendents and teachers ; and while I visited
schools so far as time and strength would allow, I
attached more importance to interviews with super-
intendents, teachers, and secretaries, than to cursory
inspection of schools.

At the close of my Report, I append a list, but by
no means an exhaustive list, of the schools and
institutions I visited, and of those friends who so
kindly gave me their time and much valuable infor-
mation ; and if ever this Report should reach their
eyes, I should be glad for them to know how much
I appreciated the generous way in which they so
liberally placed their time at my disposal. Especially
have I cause to thank Dr. Harris, the United States
Commissioner of Education, Professor Spice, of


Brooklyn, and Miss Cropsey, of Indianapolis, for the
courteous and untiring aid they rendered me, and
Professor Fitzpatrick, Superintendent of Omaha
City Schools (Nebraska), for the exceedingly kind
way in which he helped me, not only in educational
matters with advice and introductions both in the
Eastern and Western States of America, but also
as regards routes of travelling, and many other
details which are so frequently causes of hindrance
to a traveller in a strange land.

As regards the introductions kindly given by Dr.
Fitch, I much regret that I was personally unfor-
tunate. With but a few exceptions, the friends were
away from their homes at the times of my visits.

I propose in the following Keport merely to state,
in as concise and connected a form as I can, those
facts which came directly under my own cogni-
zance, particularly as Dr. Fitch has so admirably
stated the general laws of government in his "Notes
on American Schools and Colleges," of which book
one School Superintendent remarked to me, " It is
the best and most correct account of our American
education given by an outsider." But, although I
feel I cannot attempt any general account of the
system of education in America, I also feel that a
few words in reference to it are necessary, in order
to make intelligible the School expressions which I
shall be obliged to use.


Education in the United States is national in the
sense of being provided for by the laws and of
drawing support from the taxes, but there is no
federal system of education, only "a number of
separate systems. Each State has its own educa-
tional laws, and raises, appropriates, and distributes
school funds in its own way."

" In one respect only has the Central Government
concerned itself with education. In 1785 it was
ordained that in all new States hereafter to be
added to the seventeen then existing, a special
appropriation of one-sixteenth of the public land
should be reserved for the purpose of supplying a
school fund. There are now forty-two States in the
American Union, but many of them sold the lands
in order to defray the initial charge of erecting
schools, and comparatively few now enjoy the rent
or use it as a permanent revenue for maintenance of
the schools.

" They all require further aid from State or local
taxation. The State of Indiana has the distinction
of having husbanded its resources with exceptional
discretion and ability." " Notes on American
Schools and Colleges," pp. 15, 16.

Each State has its own State Superintendent of
Education, and he usually appoints the County
Superintendents. The business of the County
Superintendent is to divide the county into school


districts according to the population of that part 7
and to arrange generally for the education of the
county. But the State delegates to cities the con-
trol of their own schools ; hence the schools in two
cities in the same State may be as different in
detail as are the schools of two different States.
Nevertheless, I found a certain amount of unifor-
mity in all the schools that I visited. All have the
Primary Grrades passing on to the Grammar Grades,
and above the Grammar Grades the High Schools,
which last may lead to college life, but may also
lead to business life.

The term " school " is used in America in two
senses, first as the building, second as we use the
word form or class.

" Grammar School" is an historical term; and,
though it has lost its old meaning, which came from
the old English Grammar Schools, it is retained
in use.

The following was my route :

New York, Brooklyn, Vassar, Springfield, North-
ampton (Smith College), Boston (Wellesley College),
Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Indianapolis,
St. Louis, Kansas City, Leaveiiworth,0maha, Denver,
Bonanza, Maiiitou, Tacoma, Seattle, New "West-
minster, Winnipeg, Chicago, Niagara, Toronto,
Montreal, New York.

In conclusion, Ivmtaggto add that only one who


has been able to enjoy the privilege of travelling
over some previously unknown country, with the
definite purpose of observing and studying the
methods, manners, and effects of the education of
that country, can at all realize the enormous amount
of benefit given and received by such generous
Travelling Scholarships as those offered last year
by the Trustees of the Grilchrist Educational Trust.



Preface iii

Introduction v

General Plan of Work 1

Nationality 2

Freedom of Behaviour 9

Co-education 10

Foreign Element in Schools . . . . . .17

Compulsory Education 18

Teachers and Teaching 19

Appointment of Teachers 21

Boards of Education 27

School Buildings 30

Courses of Study 32

Manual, Technical, and Technological Training . . 55

Drawing 61

List of Interviews, also of Institutions visited . . 68

berals m %

General Plan of Work.

As the work I especially undertook in connection
with the Grilchrist Scholarship was the study of the
Graded Schools, at each place I visited I sought
first the School superintendent, and learning
from him which were the most typical schools,
visited them ; afterwards, in so far as time allowed,
visiting hap-hazard any schools which I might
pass, and then comparing them with the schools
specially recommended. By this means I was
enabled to see those schools in which the special
aims of the superintendent were presumably carried
out according to his wishes, and also schools in
which the principals were less fortunate. Some
general points struck me in these visits.



The evident desire to cultivate in the children
the idea that they are but individuals of one
nation and that a very great nation. This seemed
to me to be evident in the way in which the
children are marshalled together to pass out of the
building in regiments ; the way in which lessons
in civil government are given, by which the duties
of a citizen are inculcated into the minds of the
pupils ; and the way in which the special national
holidays are utilised, by being made show days for
the school children, and oration days for their

On one occasion " Commemoration Day " I
was present at the ceremony.

The children boys and girls together marched
out to the drums beaten by some of their own
number, then filed past the school building, where
a large concourse of people were assembled, paused
to sing National songs, listened to a stirring oration
from an old soldier as to the bravery of the soldiers
who fell on both sides in the war between the
North and the South, and whose fall they were
" commemorating," and, finally, after a National
song sung in full chorus, the children departed to


carry wreaths and baskets of flowers wherewith to
decorate the graves of those soldiers who were
buried in their immediate vicinity.

In many States they celebrate " Arbor Day," by
way of calling attention to the trees of their
country, and encouraging care and love for

I give the following extracts from the " Arbor
Day " circular issued by J. F. Crooker, Esq., School
Superintendent at Albany.

" Chapter 196.
u An Act to Encourage Arboriculture.

" Approved, April 30, 1888.

" The people of the State of New York, repre-
sented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as
follows :

" Section 1. The Friday following the first day
of May, in each year, shall hereafter be known
throughout this State as Arbor Day.

" Section 2. It shall be the duty of the authori-
ties of every public school in this State to assemble
the scholars in their charge on that day in the
school building, or elsewhere, as they may deem
proper, and to provide for and conduct under the
general supervision of the city superintendent or


the school commissioner, or other chief officers
having the general oversight of the public schools
in each city or district such exercise as shall tend
to encourage the planting, protection, and preserva-
tion of trees and shrubs, and an acquaintance with
the best methods to be adopted to accomplish such

" Section 3. The State Superintendent of Public
Instruction shall have power to prescribe from
time to time, in writing, a course of exercises and
instruction in the subjects hereinbefore mentioned,
which shall be adopted and observed by the
public school authorities on Arbor Day ; and upon
receipt of copies of such course, sufficient in
number to supply all the schools under their super-
vision, the school commissioner or city superinten-
dent aforesaid, shall promptly provide each of the
schools under his or their charge with a copy, and
cause it to be adopted and observed.

" Section 4. This Act shall take effect imme-


" Arbor Day,

" Superintendent's Office,

" Albany, March 15, 1893.
" Dear Boys and Girls of our Public Schools,

" Another spring is almost upon us, and we shall
soon be called to celebrate the anniversary of that
day which should bring to each one of us so much
of happiness, for Nature will then be putting on
her fresh green gown, as though preparing for a
holiday, and we cannot help being glad and gay if
we will but look for the joyousness and gaiety
that are on every side of us. How beautifully it
has been said of Nature

* ? Tis her privilege,

Through, all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy.'

Listen for it in the freshening breezes that whisper
stories of a happier time to come, and read it in the
opening buds and blossoms that reveal a multitude
of secrets.

" I would urge you, my dear young friends, to
keep your eyes open this year for all those wonders
of Nature which so many people pass by with


careless eye, never dreaming of the beauties that
might be disclosed if they would but attend.
Very true are the words of Ruskin : 4 There is
not a moment of any day of our lives when
Nature is not producing scene after scene, picture
after picture, glory after glory, and working still
upon such exquisite and constant principles of the
most perfect beauty, that it is quite certain it is all
done for us, and intended for our perpetual plea-
sure.' How few persons recognise the charm of our
woods in early spring, when the first flush of wood-
land beauty appears to greet the smiling sun, when
our trees put on that variety and harmony of
apparel to celebrate the return of the spring. Do
you know what trees bud earliest ? and did you ever
see the tiny early flowers of the maples and the
elms ? Observe this year the first tree to bud and
blossom, and make a note of the tree and the date ;
then follow this up with others in their turn. It
is surprising how little most persons really know
about the trees among which they have lived from
childhood. What in Nature ought to demand more
attention from us than trees, in being every-
where present of large size, of picturesque appear-
ance and of general usefulness?


li If you cannot all become accomplished scientists
in this line, it is at least possible for every one to
become interested in and acquainted with the trees
in his neighbourhood.

" I would recommend to your attention this year
a thorough and careful study of our maples. Let
me urge you to study up the question of forestry ;
be instrumental in helping along this great cause.
Those who live in or near farms in the vicinity of
woods or forests should have a watchful eye in
regard to forest fires, which are most frequently
started on farms, and every year burn tens of
thousands of acres of forest land in the United
States. Be practical in this work.

" Our prosperity is dependent, in a large degree,
upon the preservation of our forests. A good
forest is only an aggregated mass of trees. When
we, as a people, come to know and appreciate and
love trees, we shall learn to love forests too ; and
once loving them, we shall appreciate their value ;
and efforts to preserve and maintain them and to
make them useful and productive for all time will
then be a comparatively easy task ; but to do this
you, my young friends, must grow up to love them
and to appreciate their value.


"Perhaps you do not realize how much foreign
governments are doing to preserve their forests,
and how largely forests affect the rainfall, the
climate and the river courses of a country. Some
of our western States have awakened to these facts,
and are putting forth great efforts in forest-tree
planting; Nebraska particularly, so that, she who
was once 'the treeless State ' has become the
pioneer State in this great work, and is now thickly
studded with young forests, the result of setting
out from eighteen to twenty millions of forest trees
a year.

" It was a resident of Nebraska, Mr. J. Sterling
Morton, now Secretary of Agriculture in Mr.
Cleveland's Cabinet, who invented l Arbor Day '
and had it legalized as a holiday ; and we, with"
many other States, have followed the example thus
set us. The custom of tree-planting is not, how-
ever, new, for the Germans have a commendable
habit, as one writer tells us, of each member of a
family living in the rural districts planting a tree
at Wissuntide, which comes forty days after
Easter. The old Mexican Indians also plant trees
on certain days of the year when the moon is full,
and name them after their children ; and the Aztecs


used to plant a tree every time a child was born,
and it bore the name of the child.

" Let us then take renewed interest in this day,
and in the beautiful custom of planting memorial
trees, remembering that at about the same time
many, many others with us are endeavouring to
repair the beauty of our land, to atone for the
ravages which civilization has made.

"Wishing you a very happy springtime, and
trusting that this year you may acquire a broader
and deeper interest in trees and tree culture,
" I am,

" Yours very cordially,

" Superintendent."

Freedom of Behaviour.

Freedom of behaviour exists in all classes
in America, and seemed to me to be specially
marked in the schools, whether day schools or
Sunday schools. Children in ragged clothes and
without shoes went to work at the blackboard
before the class with apparently perfect uncon
cern. The freedom with which the children
engaged in "busy work" moved about the


whilst the teacher was engaged in teaching the rest
of the form, was striking, and at first sight seemed
to imply lack of discipline or order ; but, since this
freedom of behaviour is accompanied by admirable
order and discipline whenever general orders are
given for the Americans have strong reverence
for forms of law the lack of discipline was
apparent only, for it is clear that such freedom
could exist only where the highest kind of
discipline was exercised.

This national freedom has its drawbacks, for,
entering as it does into the State laws, it is found
that no reforms can go faster than those to which
the people are educated.


The Grade Schools (Primary and Grammar) con-
tain the bulk of the girls and boys of the country,
and in these schools boys and girls have, with the
exception of manual work, such as cooking, sewing,
and metal working, the same curriculum ; for it
is held that girls and boys require the same back-
bone of study, since, whatever their work, they
need equal readiness in using their powers.

In the High Schools also, though at certain points


subjects are elective and optional, the courses of
study for boys and girls are in the main the same.
Co-education, though now so largely practised, is
of comparatively recent date. Some fifty or sixty
years ago, the children who now attend the Primary
Schools attended dame schools or private schools,
while separate schools for boys and girls in the
grammar grades was the universal rule.

When the Public Schools were established, the
present condition of things came as the result of

In Chicago, co-education is universal, except in the
Manual Training Schools. West of Chicago, I came
across no exception to it. In St. Louis separate
education was first tried, but had to give way to co-
education. In Indianapolis co-education is adopted
from the lowest primary grade up to and including
the State University. In the eastern cities the
arrangements of the present day often depend
largely on school tradition. In Pennsylvania co-
education is common in the State, but not in the
older cities, where, in places, a strong prejudice
exists against it, though in the Primary Schools and
in the Grammar Schools there is a strong tendency
towards it. The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn is co-


educational throughout, and co-education is strongly
supported by the authorities. They say men
become more tolerant and appreciative through it,
and they claim it is good mentally, morally, and

East Boston and all suburban districts of Boston
have mixed schools, in which boys and girls work
together. In the Primary Schools at Boston, co-
education is universal with two or three inconsider-
able exceptions, and these only in the lowest
districts, and for the convenience of separating the
backward scholars, mostly the children of poor
immigrants who swarm into the country. In the
Boston Grammar Schools there is every condition of
co-education i.e., there are separate buildings,
separate rooms in the same building, separate sides
of the same room, and indiscriminate sitting. By
the Massachusetts law, the graduating class, or
highest class in the High School, is mixed, but in
Boston there is one exception even to this.

I was told and could see that the girls of a
High School, when educated with boys, have more
dignity, quietness, and self-possession of manner
than those who are educated with girls only ; while
boys, from mixing with girls, show the influence of


wholesome restraint in their manners; otherwise
girls and boys do not seem to have much marked
influence on each other during school years. One
lady remarked that as a girl she took no notice of
boys, except of those above her in age and attain-
ments, though another remarked that she was not
sure that the apparent indifference was anything
more than superficial.

By one authority not wholly in sympathy with
co-education it was said that best results might
follow co-education in the hands of a strong teacher,
but worst results in the hands of a weak teacher ;
but with one exception that of a first year's class
in a High School under a master I was much
struck with the bearing of the American school girl
as being much more self-reliant than that of the
English school girl.

Dr. Harris, Commissioner of Education in Wash-
ington D.C., when superintendent of the schools in
St. Louis in 1870, makes the following quotation
from Richter's " Levana " in his Report of that
year :

" To ensure modesty I would advise the education
of the sexes together ; for two boys will preserve
twelve girls, or two girls twelve boys, innocent,


amidst winks, jokes, and improprieties, merely by
that instinctive sense which is the forerunner of
natural modesty. But I will guarantee nothing in
a school where girls are alone together, and still less
where boys are."

Co-education is not restricted to the schools.
Ann Arbor was the first Co-educational Institute for
adults in America ; but now State Universities are
frequently co-educational, particularly in the West.

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Online LibraryMary H PageGraded schools in the United States of America → online text (page 1 of 4)