Massachusetts. Board of Education.

Annual report of the Board of Education online

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town is this, viz. : How shall we make our schools such that tbey shall
secure the desired ends ? To answer thb question we beg leave to ofier
I suggestions.

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First. We must have more and better teaching. It requires but a
very limited range of acquirement to enable a person to hear a recitation,
especially if nothing more is included in it than precise verbal statements
in the exact language of the text-book. It is nothing bat a sheer misap-
plication of language to call such a mere mechanical process teaching.
It lacks its first essential element, and is as powerless to stir the intellect
of the pupil as moonbeams are to penetrate and melt the massive icebergs
of the Polar Sea. Teaching to be teaching must have in it what the old
Methodist divine told a young brother who had just commenced preaching
his sermons lacked, ** more likes," or in other words, to be diversified and
made intelligible by illustration, simple but apt Obviously the interests
of our schools demand more teaching and less mere "' hearing ** of recita-
tions, and if our schools are ever brought up to that standard by which
their superiority will be indisputably established, it will be in great part
due to the warm and generous cherishing of our school system, and hj
retaining in our schools as teachers only those who know how to teach and
who we are satisfied do teach. The services of such a teacher for a sin-
gle term will do more to give character to a school in the results secured,
than can be accomplished by another though the school were continued
the whole year round, and as a matter of economy merely the town would
be greatly the loser by the &ilure to retain such a teacher, even though it
involved an increase of compensation equivalent to twice the amount for
which one of an ordinary character could be procured.

Second. More attention should be given in our schools to the manners
and habits of our children.

Formerly special attention was given to propriety of conduct and the
rules of decorum out of school hours, and when away from the teacher's
observation. Children were systen^atically taught to pay respect and def-
erence to age, — ^^ to rise up before the old man and honor the hoary head.''
Indecencies of speech or behavior, profaneness and disreputable conduct of
whatever character were regarded legitimate subjects for the teacher's
attention, and as a consequence parents had little fear that their children
would be contaminated by social companionship at school. And the need
of such supervision now is all the more urgent from the fact, that in many
of our schools a large majority of the pupils come from families in which
all the influences and associations at home are adverse and prejudicial
alike to refinement of conduct and character. The teacher who would see
the earliest and richest fruits of labor bestowed, has here the most prom-
ising and hopeful field in which to exercise the energies of mind and heart,
and were it not seemingly invidious, we could name particular schools
which by general consent furnish the most ample illustration of the truth
of this remark.

Third. A more rigid discipline is demanded in our schools.

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Obedient parents are every day to be met, bat this is not the age of
obedient children.

" Do you see that child ? " said a French courtier to his friend. ^ That
child rules the realm." *^ How so,** said his friend. *^ That child rules his
mother ; his mother governs his father, and his father is nominally king of ^
France,'' was the reply. Unaccustomed to the practice of submission to
parental authority at home, the restraints of the school-room are irksome,
and quite too often their restiveness under control is kept from breaking
out into open defiance of the teacher's authority only by a salutary fear of
punishment. It should be fully understood, that within certain limits the
teacher is sole and undisputed master of the situation and the executor of
his own will, and up to that point where those limits are reached, no inter-
ference with the teacher can for a moment be tolerated. The regulations
that are indispensable to the orderly arrangement and proper control of
the school are, and of right should be in the teacher's hands, and it surely
needs no argument to show that there also should rest the necessary means
for their enforcement ; otherwise they are divested of their sanctions, and
have only the power and influence of simple advice. The injudicious and
nnwarrantable interference of parents with the discipline of the schools,
in two or three instances, has well-nigh neutralized the good that would
otherwise have been accomplished, and will doubtless operate to the disad-
vantage of whoever may have the charge of them the ensuing year.

Fourth. The improvement of our schools -demands greater regularity
of attendance.

The loss of a single lesson is apparently butof very slight importance, but
that very lesson may contain cardinal principles, which if misunderstood
or but imperfectly comprehended, will embarrass the pupil in his entire
sobsequent course. We cannot enforce regularity of attendance, but we
hazard nothing in saying that no pupil ever reaches a high standard of
ficholarsbip, or can by any possibility obtain the best advantages that our
schools afford, unless the systematic course is thoroughly mastered and
parsaed from beginning to end without break or interruption. To this
oiore than to any other cause is attributable the incoherent, slip-shod
methods of recitation, mortifying to the teacher, to whom no blame can
attach, and painfully wearisome to the listener, who not unfrequently with-
out consideration estimates the value of the teacher's efforts by their appar-
ent results. We fully believe that one-half at least of the benefits that
might be derived from our schools are thrown away on account of the
want of interest manifested by parents, who either without cause or upon
frivolous pretexts allow their children to be habitually absent from schpoL
So far as the progress of the child is concerned, habitual absence once or
twice a week is well-nigh as ruinous as keeping him from school alto-


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What shall we do with the foreign element in our Public Schools? This
questibn is beginning to excite the gravest consideration on the part of the
friends of education, and we shall be pardoned if we give it some passing
notice. The theory of the State, so far as its legislation has borne upon
the interests of popular education, has been that no exclusive privileges
were to be conferred upon any class, but that all were alike to share in its
advantages, irrespective of race, or dime, or color. Its object is, by avmd*
ing discriminating legislation, to fuse together the incongruous elements in
the State and make us strictly a homogeneous people. We cannot sequester
them from mtercourse with ourselves or our children, without virtually
putting them under the ban, and keeping alive among us a caste prejudice
utterly at war with the sphrit of our republican institutions. What we need
to do with them is to Americanize them, and this can be done only bj a
generous tolerance of their &ults, till their better nature can be awakened
to see the good and right and true. If these results are to be gained, our
schools must be used by all classes, native and foreign alike. And while
we ought not to be indifferent to the coarseness and ignorance and degra-
dation that exists, it were well for us to remember that these evils are not
cured by pharisaic self-complacency or the exercbe of a rose-water phi-
lanthropy which shrinks from personal contact with whatever shocks the
sensibilities or offends the taste. Native and foreigner must be edacated
together, even if the child of foreign parentage does appear at an immense
disadvantage when placed by the side of his native-bom competitor. Mnch
of the superiority manifested by our American children is due to the
favorable surroundings of home, and the withdrawal of those influences
from our schools would be productive of incalculable injury. That there
is really no intellectual disparity between the different classes is folly
proved by the results as witnessed in the schools in Florence, and in oar
own higher grade of schools ; and we sincerely deprecate any course of
action which shall tend however remotely to their separation, or to wid^
the distance between them.

School Ci)mmt«e«.— H. H. Chilson, Wm. D. Clapp, Su>2nsT Stroso, S. E. Brido-



Some of our schools have not kept as long as we have wished,
and while we do not believe in employing cheaper teachers^ we would
surest that the districts expend the whole of their money every year,
instead of leaving a surplus, as is of^en done ; had this been done the past
year in every case, we think we could have reported six months' school in
every district, which would have secured to us a much larger sum from
the State, for the next year ; we wish it understood that whatever money

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is left over by the several districts, does not belong to them individually,
bat goes into the appropriation for schools for the next year to be divided
anew; this has not been the usual practice in this town, but we would
recommend that it be in the future.

School OtnMN£ttee.->ScTH W. Clabk, Stefbbx Hatwabd, Jr^ Thaddeub Bood.


In oar last report we raised objections to serial studies, especially geog-
raphy. Another year of observation has served to confirm us in our
opinion, that it is better to let that study alone till the pupils are sufficiently
advtmced to take the last of the series, and devote some of their earlier
years to the study of the natural sciences. In the education of children,
we should seek fen: mental, culture, preparation for the business they will
be most likely to follow in after life, and general information. The prin-
ciples of the natural sciences are at the foundation, or enter into, agricul-
ture, and the various arts and trades. Yet most of those who stop short
of what 18 termed a liberal education, go into their business ignorant of
these principles. An intelligent teacher can do much to awaken thought
in very young children, and draw instruction for them from things with
which we come in daily contact, and which enter into our very being.
C3UnrM<m.— ELBiJEAB Judd. .



A Normal Cflass.^^We are authorized to say that an advanced class of
pupils will be organized in the High School, where especial attention will
be given to the English branches, as well as to the ^ theory and practice "
of teaching. From our acquaintance with these teachers and their mode
of instruction, we can assure those who are anxious to prepare themselves
to teadi in the Public Schools, an opportunity will be offered here which
they cannot well afford to lose, and we earnestly recommend to them to
avail themselves of its advantages.

Teacher^ Meetings. — By invitation, Mr. J. 6. Scott, a teacher in the
Normal School at Westfield, recently met several teachers and friends of
education, and gave a few lessons on the theory and practice of teaching,
iUnstnUing very briefly the analytical method adopted at the Normal

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School, "^hese exercises excited mach interest; and it was voted to
continue these meetings for mutnal improvement, taking up teaching
exercises, and discassing such questions as bear more directly upon the
the best interests of the schooL The value of these meetmgs cannot be
overestimated. The teachers become better acquainted with each other.
Here they may congratulate each other in their successes ; they can sym-
pathize together in their perplexities. Their interests are identical ; their
responsibilities are the same. Here may be discussed the best method of
governing the school, — the best method of communicating instmction.
School CommiUec-^WAMRBM F. Tarbell, Jouefh L. Wood, £zba B. Wxld.


At the last annual town meeting the sum of $350 was generously
appropriated for the purpose of furnishing certain districts with maps,
books of reference, and school apparatus. A portion of this fund has
been expended, and maps and tablets have been procured, and so far these
wants have been supplied. Reference books and school apparatus will be
supplied so soon as the districts will make suitable provision where they
can be placed and properly protected from injury.

We would also suggest to the prudential ^committees to provide the
Primary Schools, and all the schools where there are young children, with
some suitable school apparatus, such as blocks, geometrical figures, plates,
and even pictures, which will not only instruct, but which will relieve the
tedious monotony of the daily routine of merely reading and spelling.
We have alluded to this subject in the former part of the report, but even
risking a little of repetition, we feel the importance of again calling your
attention to it It may seem to be a very unimportant, as well as an easy
task, to teach young children, and one for which it is generally consid-
ered most any person is competent; yet all those most conversant
with the work of education, who have reflected upon and studied more
thoroughly the subject, assert that this is the period which requires as
much capacity and preparedness as any subsequent time. At this sus-
ceptible period of life, the pupils in these schools need the care of well-
educated and kind-hearted teachers, those who are apt to teach, who love
little children, and who have been well trained for the work ; who have pa-
tience, good temper, and forbearance ; whose very look and tone and action
breathe a sentiment of kindness, together with firmness, and who have
a good stock of practical knowledge, good sense and a fund of resources.

To teach a child to spell a few words or read a few lines in the primer
twice a day, and this, perhaps, done hastily and sometimes with testj
reprimands, or endeavoring to confine the attention to their books for the
purpose of studying, does not constitute, in its true and proper sense, the

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art of teachiog joung cbOdreD. These active, restiess, imitative little
ereatures require an almost specific method of teaching, combining not
onlj the ^best qualitj of instruction,'' but the ability to interest them,
to awaken their attention and incite them to studj, making their tasks
attractive, so that their studies and school duties shall be to them a source
of pleasure and delight

Bckool Committee.— T. Lb B. Stickubt, B. V. Stevbvson, Samuel Alyobd.


The schools of this town are too short. They should be at least eight
months, instead of four or six as now. This would require more money
it is true. But what of that? Let the money be raised and good teach-
ers be employed. What better investment? The parents of one of our
school districts did the^ right thing in supporting a school during the
autumn. We commend this example of well-doing to others in this town.
Let other districts follow in the same steps and have a school in the fall of
the year.

What in our opinion would be better still, — ^let the good people of Hol-
land provide a suitable building near the centre of the town, and have a
school kept in it three if not six months in the year, for the benefit of all
who can attend, — ^a school in which the common and higher English
branches thay be taught. Such a school may be self^upporting — ^i. e., sup-
ported by the tuition fees of those who attend. Let it be under the care
of the school committee. The whole^ or nearly all of the expense to the
town would be in the cost of the building. This would be trifling in com«
panson with the cost of sending the young people of the town away to
school, at the present price of board and other incidental expenses.

Provide a suitable building, and the way is open for the youog people to
have advantages equal or nearly so with other towns. " Where there is a
will, there is a way."

B(AmI Committee^— Avdrs Southwobth, H. A. MoFablaitd.


Phydcal Training. — ^Although in some of the schook more or less time
has been devoted to gymnastics and singing, we think that as a general
thing the physical training of the scholars has not received the attention
which its importance demands. If the system pursued in our schools is
such that the graduates go out into the business of life with enfeebled con-
stitDtioDs, and an incapacity for the endurance of mental and bodily exer-
tion, our schools are very far from accomplishing what may be justly
r^oired of them. No brilliancy of scholarship will atone for the lack of

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Tigorons health. Let no one think that the time spent in phjsical trttoibg
involyes a corresponding loss in the mental progress of ^be papiL Brief
but frequent exercises in gymnastics awaken the sluggish, and give grate-
ful relief to the mind when fatigued bj siadj^ and fit the pujnl to meet the
difficulties in his waj with renewed energy.

Especial attention should be given to physical training in the lower
grades of our schook. It is not an easy task to manage a Primaiy Sekxd
successfully^ but the teacher who has frequent exercises in gymnastics tod
in singing, will find it much easier to keep the school quiet and orderly, than
one who spends all the time in hearing recitations. If we are trying to edu-
cate children it will not do to ignore their natural instincts* Childrea loye
freedom of action^ but they cannot be allowed to leave their seats; tiiey
love noise, but the schoolroom must be quiet ; they love to eomouniifate
with their neighbors, but the sdiooUroom must not be disturbed by whis-
pering. Now it is not the business of a teacher to eradicate or repress
every natural instinct of a child, but to train and develop kb faculties m
the right direction. Since children love to exeroise their huigs, teach thea
to sing. Nothing adds more to the cheerfulness of a echool than a lively
song in which all the pupils j(Hn. If ^things do not seem to go rif^t,**
(and all teachers will imderstand the meaning of that expression,) a btnt
exercise in singing will generally restore good feeling and a cheerM obedi-
ence. As children And it a great restraint to sit motionless at theur desb
an hour and a half, (and nothing but cruelty can compel them to remaia
so for a long time,) when they become restless they should be allowed to
exercise their muscles in a proper way, either by some simple exercise in
calisthenics, or by marching in order around the room. Especially shoald
teachers remember that they can easily do one thing for the health of thor
pupils which is of vital importance, — they can furnish their roome with a
constant supply of fresh air.

School CommUtee.—OackB, Ely, A. M. Avirill, Snoon Mnxma, Johh E. Chasi,
Hksibt a. Chasb, L. B. Eastmaiv, Jr.


Fault'Jinding. — We do not by any means expect to do away with bult-
finding. It is one of the inalienable rights of every American eitisen, and
especially of the women who are not allowed to vote. But we desire
humbly to make two or three suggestions: Lay the largest share of the
fault-findiog on the shoulders of the school committee. They are used to
it or ought to be. Elect a board large enough and stiff enough in bad:-
bone and upper lip to bear composedly any amount of censure, and mean-
while cheerfully going on to do the best they can for the general good.
They aw much abler and better fitted to bear it than are young and sen-

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satiTe, perhaps iiiexperi«nced teachers. From hick of judgment, or
knowledge, or tact, or from impubive dispoeitions, or from wearied nerves,
they may often make mistakes, aild sajand do thmgs, or omit to do things,
"vrhieh will give occasion for £BMilt-finding.

But one thing we do insist on strenuouslj : If you must find fault with
joor teachers rather than with jour committee, do not do it audibly in the
presence of your children — ^for it will probaUy enhance the very evils you
complain of, by nurturing insubordination in the hearts of your children,
and by discouraging the teacher, who will be apt to hear in some unfortu-
nate moment of your &ult-finding, and her sorely wounded spirit may per-
haps unduly exaggerate your real mean^lg• But if you will not agree to
this, if you will not yield your right to speak yoar mind before the chil-
dren, let us make this rule and let it be passed in ^ committee of the
whole ;" first in ''joint committee'' of husband and wife, and there ratified
by all the adult members of the house, not to make our fiiult^nding audi-
ble before the children until a fortnight before the term doses, and not to
do it then until after consulting the committee. By that time we shall
nsuaUy, by our united, counsels, be able to carry the school to a successful
dose, notwithstanding some actual faults on the teacher's part. If any
serious mistakes or deficiencies are noticed by the parents, it is well, first,
after listening to reports from their children or others, to go into the school,
examine personally for themselves, and secondly, if their minds are not
rriieyed to speak confidentially but frankly with the school committee on the
anbjecC, and let him or them communicate with the teacher.

In conclusion, we suggest the following rules as under consideration by
your committee for the better regulation of the schools.

1. Every teacher shall be present ten minutes previous to the <^>ening
session of the school to see that all things are ready for its commencing
pcmctoaDy and in (»rder.

2. At the appointed time for opening the school, the inside doors shall
be locked, and re-opened at the dose of the devotional exercises ; and all
sdxdars admitted after that time shall be marked tardy.

3. Any pupil who shall absent himself from any examination, due notice
of which has been given to the school, without rendering a satisfactory
excuse to the teacher, shall forfeit his connection with the school and shall
not be re-admitted except by permission of the committee.

4. For flagrant misconduct of any kind, any teacher may suspend a
popil from school, provided that such case of suspension shall be notified
immediately or as soon as possible to the parent or guardian, and also
reported to the conunittee ; and if ratified by the committee, the pupil thus
suspend e d shall be expelled or re-admitted only by the permission of the

8dM Co m mtitu * J owr W. Habduio, Obobob W. Gould, Hombb Dwiort.

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A few remarks are offered as to the proper mode of distributiDg the
school money among the several districts for the support of the schools.

The money is raised for schools as a town expense, for town uses. The
school money when raised on the valuation oi the town, is a common iimd
for the use of the town. The true theory is, that towns exist as sudi, to
maintain their schools as a common benefit, just as they exist to maintain
roads and bridges for the public wel^Eure.

But the principle has long been held, that in the distribution of the
public money among the several districts, the valuation of such districts
was to be rc^;arded to a greater or less extent ; and so the town has ?otdd
to divide a certain part of the school money according to the valoatioD.
Formerly all the money was thus divided, and so long as the districts did
not greatly differ, from each other in valuation, or in the size of the
schools, as they did not when first established, and for a long time afiet,
the distribution was fiur enough, for it conferred nearly an equality of
school privileges upon all the children of the town.

But it should be understood, that school districts were never oiganized
on the principle of valuation, and they have no claims to any rights or
privileges as such on that principle.

The valuation principle ought not to be regarded ; for it is opposed to
the general school policy of the State, which requires that the privil^es
of public education shall be equalized as &r as possible, while 1^ valua-
tion principle tends more and more to inequality, for there is everywhere
a constantly increasing tendency to inequality in the distributifm oi

Online LibraryMassachusetts. Board of EducationAnnual report of the Board of Education → online text (page 33 of 56)