Wisconsin. Dept. of Public Instruction.

Suggestive studies of school conditions; an outlined study in school problems for women's clubs, parent-teacher associations and community organizations online

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contest between classrooms to see which can report on the greatest number
of books within a year.

Pupils may be encouraged to read by individual reports on books read,
by a "library hour" (the hour at the close of the Friday afternoon session
to be given over to reading and telling stories), by the formation of a read-
ing circle (write the Wisconsin Teachers' & Young People's Reading Circle
Board at Madison, Wisconsin,) by debates on topics of current interest,
reports on current events, use of general material in reading lessons peri-
odically (abandoning reading textbooks and having one pupil read to the
remainder of the class from a selected library book), and in many other

If possible, let the children organize into a club to use and discuss what
they have been reading. If there is a member of the club who enjoys such
work, let her organize a "story hour" for outside of school hours for the
younger children. This work may also be done in connection with the
village or city library. If possible, get pupils in upper grades to start
individual libraries of their own.

4. Cooperation with Public Library

The city or town that finds and applies the best modern ideas is the best
city to live in. In books, journals and reports are to be found all of these
best ideas. The library is the source of such constructive material. In
any library may be found through half an hour's reading, desultory or
directed, material which will yield suggestions for the betterment of

The library school or public, should put interesting information in
usable form and should circulate it. The people of the community should
l)e encouraged by special invitation, repeated frequently, to make use
of library facilities in the answering of questions on whatever subjects.
In one Wisconsin city about fifty different magazines are circulated
through school children to parents in the various homes. These magazines
have been secured without charge from the subscribers after they have
finished reading them and information as to the possibility of obtaining
them is disseminated through the school children.

Among the agencies through which free books, bulletin material, and
other information may be received by Wisconsin club women are:

Package Library, Extension Division, Madison, Wisconsin

Free Traveling Library, State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin

School Service, Department of Public Instruction, Madison, Wisconsin.


1. Length of Service

A good teacher is unquestionably the most important single element
in a good school. It is a matter of direct concern to the parents of each
pupil that the teacher should be a person of ability, living in agreeable
and inspiring surroundings. The teacher should be a respected and prom-
inent member of the community. There are probably few cities in the
United States in which teachers are given working conditions even approx-
imating to the ideal. What are the facts about your village or city?
- Get the total of different teachers who have worked in the local schools
at any time during the past ten years, including those now teaching.
Give under the name of each one the number of years he or she worked.
Make a table giving the number working one year or less, two years, three
years, up to those having remained in the school for ten years or over.

I'in.l out the total number of teaching years in the local schools for the
past ten years. Thus, if ten years ago the school employed five teachers,
and for the past three years it employed six, the total number of teaching
years would be 10 x 5 or 50, plus three years of the sixth teachers' time,
making a total of 53 teaching years. Divide this total teaching years by
the total number of teachers who have worked in the local schools, thus
obtaining the average teaching life of teachers in your community. On
the average, how many new teachers are employed each year?

A good teacher always does better service in a school the second year
of teaching there than the first year, and the third and fourth years than
the second. What does this record of teaching show as to the local
schools? Does it show a body of workers who stay in the school and
increase their effectiveness from year to year, or does it show that as a
rule teachers serve for a short time and then leave for other fields?

There will found hardly a school in which the average length of service
is not too low — three to four years or less. If one or two teachers have
had an unusually long term of service, they should be omitted in calcu-
lating the average service. Teachers should be induced to stay, and if
this organization can be the means of a long term of service for teachers,
it will have been of great help to education in the community.

2. Reasons for Leaving

Using the list of teachers in topic 1, find out in each case where a teacher
has left for what reason this was done. Group the reasons under two
heads :

a. Unpreventable reasons (sickness, death, marriage, etc.)

b. Preventable reasons (higher salary, larger town, social life, stimulus
of new surroundings, incompetence in present position, petty quarrels
in district, etc.)

50 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

3. Relation of Teacher to the Coiiimunity

Take up separately the reasons for leaving listed above as preventable,
omitting "incompetence in present position", and discuss in the light of
them the following t()])ics:

Are teachers welcome and made Lo feel that they are a part of the life
of the town? Are unnecessary restricticns placed upon their freedom, such
as would not be placed on workers in other fields, which hinder their leading a
happy life in the community? What agencies other than the church
make teachers feel at home? What can this club do to make the com-
munity more pleasant as a permanent dwelling place for teachers? Dis-
cuss the teacherage or teachers' cottage (see U. S. bulletin "Teachers'
Cottages") and discuss with the teachers the advisability of this means
of giving teachers a real home to live in.

4. Supervision of Teachers

Supervision and suggestion are found a fruitful means of eliminating
incompetency in teaching. Principals should make regular and frequent
visits for the purpose of finding out what work is being done in the various
grades and for making helpful suggestions where there are opportunities
for improvement.

What teachers during the past ten years have left the local school
Ijecause they have been listed as incompetent? Could anything have
been done through supervision to have prevented this?

Get the principal to give a talk upon supervision and its possibilities.
Let each teacher tell briefly what changes in her work or strengthening
of her work she owes to supervision by the principal; how supervision
has helped during her former experience, and what bothersome problems
might be so'ved through closer interest and more frequent visitation.

Does your principal have to teach so much that he cannot supervise?

.5. Training of Teachers

Make a study of the academic training of all teachers now working
in your school — high school graduates, high school with teachers' training
course, county training school, normal elementary course, normal full
course, some college work, etc. Make the same study for each of the
last five years to see whether standards have been going up or down.

How many teachers wish to increase their training? Can the board
grant leave of absence in the case of a good teacher to encourage her
taking advanced educational work with the certainty of a position with
a salary increase when she is through?

Find out in the case of the present teachers how many have attended
summer session courses since beginning teaching work. Find o-ut this
also for teachers during the past five years and compare. Summer work
for teachers is very important as it shows whether or not they are anxious
to keep out of an educational rut and to advance themselves profession-
ally all the time.

One Wisconsin city asks in its contract of those teachers who have been
out in work five years that they take some summer professional work at

The School Teacher 51

college or normal school. This city has a remarkable record as to the
length of time during which teachers fill local positions.

What can the club do to make possible attendance at summer schools,
short courses, institutes, etc., on the part of teachers?

6. Salaries of Teachers

Classify the salaries paid to local teachers in groups by intervals of
$5.00,— less than $40, $40 to $44, $45 to $49, etc. Put the salary on a
twelve month basis — divide the yearly salary by twelve. Now make a
comparative list of other salaried ofTicials in the town whose training and
qualifications are about as high as those of the teaching force. How do
these compare? Find out from the records what salaries were paid to local
teachers ten years ago. The cost of living has gone up 82 per cent during
the past ten years. * Have salaries advanced to a commensurate degree?

In connection with this subject study the analysis of teachers' salaries
and the cost of living prepared by a committee in Oshkosh (see intro-
duction), get one of the teachers to outline her yearly budget, and, if
possible without offending, find out how many of the teachers save. Do
not compare salaries paid in your locatity with those of other localities,
as the question to be determined throughout this course of study is not,
how do our schools come up to those of our neighbors, but, how do our
schools fall short of their possible efficiency?

7. Number of Pupils Per Teacher

No teacher can do her best work with an enrollment of over 40 pupils.
The best number will be found to be about 30. The University of Wis-
consin, according to the U. S. Statistical Report, has one teacher for
every 10^{o pupils. One of the large high schools in the state of Wisconsin
has 28^ pupils per teacher. One city has in its grades 45 pupils per teacher,
and while separate figures for high school and grades are not available
for the state as a whole, it is probable that the average number of children
per grade teacher in the cities of the state of Wisconsin is not much
less than 45. It is an interesting fact that the overcrowding should be
in the part of the school system which furnishes the beginning and the
end of education to a majority of the pupils. (See plate XIII).

Find out the number of pupils under each teacher in the grades. What
is the average? (Add enrollments and divide by total number of teachers.)
Get figures for the high school as well by dividing the total number of
pupil hours which a teacher has by the number of classes taught in one
day, thus getting the average number of pupils under the teachers' super-

Now, determine at what points in the system the large classes come.
Are these points where teachers can handle a large number, or do teachers
of these grades need to do a good deal of individual work?*

*This figure is given in the "Report on Teachers' Salaries and the Cost of Liv-
ing," prepared by a committee in the Oshkosh schools. (See introduction.)

*The law of Wisconsin requires two teachers in a rural school where fi5 or more
pupils attend for 20 consecutive days.


Suggestive Studies of School Conditions


Grade 1

58 children

Grade 2

42 children

Grade 3

46 children

Gr^.de 4

43 children

Grade 5^

38 children

Grade 6

35 children

Grade 7

39 children

Grade 8

31 children

In the high school there is one teacher for each 25 pupils
In the University there is one teacher for each 11 pupils

We can

Hire an assistant teacher for special grade work
Let best high school pupils do practice teaching
Section the first grade




Note: Among the possible charts illustrating this section should be an enlarged
photograph of the 4 and 5 year olds in the kindergarten at play, and, if possible, a
little play-room at the exhibit, in which the children are carrying on their kinder-
garten work under the direction of the kindergarten teacher. If a kindergarten has
not been established, photographs should he obtained from other sources (the Mil-
waukee State Normal School, National Kindergarten Association, etc.) and, if
possible, a trained kindergartener should be secured for the time of the exhibit to
show how the work can be done, with a class of- the local children who might be in
the kindergarten, if there were one.

1. Facts about Kindergartens

In the number of cities and villages having kindergartens Wisconsin
leads with 142, Michigan is second with 128, and New York third with 92.
In the number of kindergartens New York leads, Ohio is second, and
Wisconsin is third. In the percentage of the total number of children
4 to 6 years old enrolled in l^indergartens in 1914 Wisconsin is the second
of the states of the union. New .Jersey being first. District of Columbia
third, Connecticut fourth, and New York fifth. (Write National Kinder-
garten Association, 250 Madison Avenue, New York City, for bulletins
and pamphlets).

2. The Establishment of a Kindergarten*

In localities where there are a large number of children 4 or 5 years old,
the establishment of a kindergarten becomes a pressing question, as,
otherwise, these children are apt to crowd into school and disorganize the
work of the lower grade rooms.

Look up the number of children 4 or 5 years of age in the district. (See
section 1, topic 1).

Total number of children 4 or 5 years old

Number outside of school

Number inside school

Number enrolled in school 4 years old

Number enrolled in school 5 years old

Get the records of the first grade, promotions for the last two years, and
separate the children into those 4, 5, 6, 7 and above, years old.

How many of the 4 year olds passed into second grade?

How many of the 5 year olds?

How many of each failed to pass?

The first grade teacher should be a member of the committee making
this study. Have her give a talk on the progress of under age children,
bringing out the fact that such children do not progress as they should and
constitute a drag upon the work of the other children in the grade.

*In cities which have kindergartens, this topic should be omitted.

54 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

Take up the children 4 or 5 years old outside of school. What do they
do with their time? How many of them would profit by a kindergarten,
were one opened?

Estimate cost of the kindergarten, total and cost per child. Construct
charts showing the facts outlined above and the remedy — to establish a
kindergarten. (See plate XIV)

3. The Work <>f the Kindergarten*

Where a kindergarten has been established, it is necessary to ])e sure
that the kindergarten is doing the best work possible. If not all chil-
dren 4 to .5 years old attend the kindergarten, its advantages should be
brought to the attention of their parents. If the training of the kinder-
garten teacher has not been adequate, she should be encouraged to
extend this training.

Out of the total number of children 4 to 5 years old, how many are found
enrolled in the kindergarten? How many attend part time? How
great a proportion of its possible pupils does the kindergarten serve?

How many kindergartners have been employed in thf district during
the past five years? What has been the training of these and what
salary has been paid? Kindergartners, as well as grade teachers, should
have the specialized training necessary to fit them for their work.

4. The Montessori Method f

What is the Montessori method? What of its teachings are valid and
what seem invalid? Is the Montessori method being used to any extent
to supplement the kindergarten?

5. Benefits of the Kindergarten

Has the kindergarten fulfilled its purpose? Get a symposium of com-
ments from mothers of children who have attended kindergarten on
"What the Kindergarten Has Done for My Child". Take a group of
20 children who have attended kindergarten and are now attending first
grade; take also a group of first grade children of like age who have not
attended kindergarten and compare the records of the two as to the qual-
ity of work done. Which group as a whole stands higher? Ask the
first grade teacher to speak on the dilTerence between kindergarten and
non-kindergarten children in their abihty to learn to read, to learn to
spell, to do any of the other first grade work. Keep in mind throughout
that this does not mean that each individual child who attends kinder-
garten will be better than every individual child who does not. It is
merely a question of training making a group more efiicient.

♦This topic is to be studied in communities where kindergartens have been

tin connection with this topic use Bulletin U. S. Bureau of Education 1914, No.
28, "The Montessori Method in the Kindergarten."




Out of 140 children 4 or 5 years old, 55 attend school


None pass to second grade

hinder other children

take 2 or 3 years to cover 1 year's work

miss full attention of teacher

cijuse extra expense to school system

Insert photograph of
kinder garden

In Kindergarten

Children are happy

Receive work fitted for their age

Allow grade teacher to give full time to grade children



56 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions


1. Sub-primary

The organization of school systems with regard to the children who
are 4 and 5 years old differs very widely in different schools. Systems
sometimes found are:

(a) Children under 6 attend kindergarten. There is one first grade
and one second grade and children spend one year in each, entering the
first grade at the age of 6 or 7.

(b) There is no kindergarten. All children enter school at 6 or 7 years
of age. No children less than 6 years old attend.

(c) There is no kindergarten — some children under 6 come to school
in the sub-primary class for a shortened session with no technical work
in reading etc. All children 6 or (entering) 7 go into the first grade for
one year, then into the second year.

(d) The sub-primary takes all children as they enter and gives a
year's attempt at academic work. Six year old children are retarded as
all children must take at least two years to complete first grade work.

(e) Sometimes in addition to the first two grades there is a B II and
an A II both of which take a year to complete.

The first plan is the best and the others poorer in order. The last two
ought never be found as they keep back entering 6 and 7 year olds at the
very start, overcrowd the teacher with work, and spread a normal year's
work over two or more years, thus wasting time.

What is the plan in your school? Make a complete study of its organ-
ization with regard to beginning children. Do the children like this
system? If not, and if it is not a good one, see what can be done.

2. Reading — First Grade

Use Bulletin on Heading by Miss Reynolds published by the State
Department of Public Instruction. Use also the Wisconsin Common
School Manual.

Reading is without question the most important subject in the primary
grades. If children can read easily and intelligently they will have no
trouble with later school work. If they are not given the training which
will make them good readers, their later education becomes difficult and
to a great extent worthless.

It is essential that children read correctly in starting, have plenty of
time for reading, and read much. The amount of reading which children
can do well will be found to vary. In rural or state graded schools, it
is impossible to read as much as in city schools where a teacher has only
one grade. Many teachers find that there is not time enough in the
school year to read more than one, or at most, two books. Other teachers
with an equal number of pupils find that children in the first grade may
profit from reading a large number of primers and first readers. It is

The Lower Grades, 1 to 4 57

not uncommon in the city of Milwaukee for a first grade to read twelve to
fifteen books in the year. The Wisconsin city using the greatest number of
first grade reading texts is River Falls, where from twenty-five to thirty
first grade reading texts are read yearly; but this example can probably
not be emulated by the majority of schools.

With the teacher's permission, visit several reading lessons. Get
from the teacher the number of books which have been read so far during
the year, and the number of pages in all those books. Find out from the
pupils how many, if any, have read a story book- or stories during the
year which were not in the class readers, and find out what stories these
were. Get the teacher to make an estimate as to the amount of ground
the child will cover before the end of the year and ask her to talk to the
club on ways and means for increasing the quantity an quality of children's
reading — more or better texts, more time for reading, etc.

Ask the teacher if the children can do sight reading well and test your
own child on some reading of this sort to see what the quality of his or
her work is. Arrange with the teacher, if possible, for an exhibit of chil-
dren's reading, at which each child in the class reads new material. Be
careful that children are not tested on old material, as often this becomes
merely an exercise in memorizing.

Is there enough material in the school so that the teacher may have
first graders read eight or ten books? If there is not material how can it
be acquired? Primers cost from 25 cents to 40 cents apiece. Often
other neighboring schools will exchange sets of primers not in use or loan
them to your school for the use of the children. Cannot the school
board be induced to buy necessary reading material?

Many schools lack reading material in the school library suitable for
children in the lower grades. If this is the case in the local schools, what
can be done about it?

3. Reading — Other Primary Grades

Make the same sort of study in the second, third and fourth grades.
Note the date of publication of the reading textbooks. Are these books
in good condition? Are they of recent publication?

4. Arithmetic

Some schools omit number-work in the first grade entirely and devote
all their time to reading and busy work. This has been found to work
out well where the children read a good deal, as they get the numbers
from the paging in the reading books, and the elementary combinations
are known to the ordinary child of 6 or 7 years. An alert teacher can
work these in without formal lessons.

The great question to solve in arithmetic is "Is this subject preparing
my child for what he or she needs to know in later life?" There will be
no doubt that the combinations and fundamental processes will do this.
The problem is slightly different in the upper grades, and will be taken
up in the next chapter.

58 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

With the teacher's permission, visit the arithmetic class and describe
the methods used by the club. It may be interesting to arrange with
the principal a number-contest between the 3rd and 4th grades, in which
they count each other down on the multiplication table and other number
fundamentals. Notice the arithmetic texts to be sure that they are
recent and in good condition. *

5. Seat Work

The problem of keeping children busy in school is one of the hardest
to be met by the teacher. She needs a good seat work equipment
and if she has a very large enrollment, a part-time assistant from among
the upper grades or high school. Such a book as "Educative Seat Work"
may be used here to advantage.

Spend a half session in each of the first and second grade rooms. Notice
carefully what the children not reciting are doing. Are they busy or
idle? Has their work a purpose or does it seem indefinite and meaning-
less? Take stock of the seat work material in the schoolroom. How
often is it used? Do the children enjoy it? Does it help at all in their
regular lessons?

If the children are not being kept busy, it is a positive detriment to
them in school work, as they learn to be contented in school while doing
nothing. Talk over possible remedies. Often the better students from
the upper grades or high school will be glad to go down from time to time
to the primary grades and supervise seat work of the children.

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Online LibraryWisconsin. Dept. of Public InstructionSuggestive studies of school conditions; an outlined study in school problems for women's clubs, parent-teacher associations and community organizations → online text (page 5 of 9)