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others for not accomplishing what no power on earth could accomplish in its entirety with the means at our command ? How many parents, if they are honest with themselves, feel that even with two or three children they sometimes fail to sound the depths of the several natures — fail to determine by what means they will best attain a given end — fail to develop all that is best and to repress every evil tendency ? May I not put the case more strongly? Does not the nature of one small child often perplex the most earnest father and mother, to say nothing about an advisory board of grandparents, uncles and aunts ? And yet a parent can deal with his children in the light of what he knows of his own nature reproduced in them, and he has them in his own care thru several of their most im. pressionable years; while we must often work in the dark, and after home training (or in some sad cases, a woeful lack of it) has set its seal upon many undesirable hereditary traits.
A realization of any child's complexity of nature, and a full comprehension of what is demanded of schools and teachers will, when considered in connection with one prevailing condition, explain the existence of much that is unsatisfactory both to teachers and to the public. The former can only suggest and hope for a remedy. The latter can apply one if they will.
3. THE WORK REQUIRED.— We are told, and we believe, that instruction in the subjects named in any course of study is but a small part of the benefit that a pupil should derive from his second experience, and yet those subjects are sufficiently numerous to require much time for their presentation. In our higher grammar classes, at a definite time which is allotted to each, systematic instruction is given in composition, grammar, arithmetic, spelling, history, physiology, civil government, reading, declamation, music, drawing, penmanship, and physical culture. In the lower grades two or three of these subjects are omitted, but as the children are younger and more helpless, the task does not lose quite all its difficulties, even there, as the teachers of the primary schools will testify. Each branch is to be carefully taught, and all over the country there is an increasing demand for such individual teaching as will enable a pupil to be promoted at any time during a term, without reference to the advancement of his companions. But over and above all this, the lofty aim of the ideal school is placed before us, and we accept it as our own. We believe that the child himself should be studied
- that we should know him well enough to enter into his feelings, and promote bis mental and moral growth. The regular school-day consists of about four hours and forty minutes. In this short period, instruction and explanations are to be given, lessons are to be recited; and, should the "Home Study Bill” become a law, all studying is to be done. Besides all this, some good literature is read to the pupils, and some general information concerning current events is worked in as opportunity offers.
4. THE BEST WORK IMPOSSIBLE.–Our courage is great. We struggle bravely with the difficulties of the situation. We might succeed fairly well, were it not for the one condition which has been alluded to. One teacher is to accomplish all this with forty, or fifty, and, in some cases, sixty or seventy children. That one fact makes everything but the presentation of certain studies an absolute impossibility. A skillful teacher can give, indifferently well, a certain amount of instruction to even fifty or sixty pupils, but an angel from heaven could not develop and train, and understand, and sympathize with, and teach, and study with them all,or with more than a very small proportion of the number. It is a safe assertion that in any large class a teacher knows little about the nature or feelings of more than a third of those committed to her charge. When the rest leave the class at the close of a year, they are virtually strangers to their instructor. We become acquainted with a few thru their exceptional brightness or attractiveness. We learn to know a few others because they compel our attention. Every teacher realizes that many friendships affording some of the most genuine pleasure of a busy and anxious life originated in the understanding of motives and character that would forever have remained unrevealed, had not their possessor been temporarily a transgressor of the law. Thru real acquaintance comes an opportunity to give real help and encouragement. But the average pupil has a right to as large a share of thought and interest as his very bright or very restless companion, but he fails to receive it, and is so far defrauded.
Even if by some miracle we could know the children better, and understand their needs more fully, what could we do individually for so many? If even the Great Teacher felt virtue go out of Him when He gave of His strength to heal one of the afflicted, how can we, with all our limitations, give genuine sympathy and needed assistance to the multitudes whom we long to help? When we truly understand something of a child's difficulties, of the peculiarities of his disposition, or the unpleasantness of his environment, his case cannot be dismissed with a word. He must be thought about and worked for; but thinking and working are exhausting, and any failure in our strength reacts on the children.
5. THE REMEDY.—The whole line of thought forms a circle, and we come back to the starting point. No person should be allowed to teach more than thirty pupils, and twenty-five would be better.
With that number, considerable studying could be done at school under the direction of the teacher, and the home study, which sometimes requires parents to remember that they have children, when they vain would be simply society leaders or club and lodge members, might lose its terrors. Personally, I should regret to see the habit of earnest study at home become one of the lost arts. With a different and less-pitying attitude on the part of many parents, the recollection of quiet, studious hours in the shelter of home would be among the most cherished memories of a child's after-life. Such hours are certainly less nerve-scattering than the dancing parties, card clubs, fraternities, theaters, street corners, and street companions, which make home reading, home study, or anything that savors of home life, a tiresome interruption to the pursuit of pleasure. Still, excessive home study is undesirable, and with large classes it is difficult to avoid it; for work must be done, and even if time could be found, studying in crowds has never get proved practicable, except in the case of a few pupils gifted with exceptional powers of concentration.
All over the country are springing up private schools to which not more than a dozen or twenty boys are admitted, with several teachers for even that small number. In our public schools we do not hope to see such a foretaste of the millennium as that, but if the people could believe that their children were daily losing many of the benefits to which they are entitled, a gradual but steady improvement would soon be manifest. The belief would need to be a living one, for fewer pupils to each teacher would mean more schoolhouses and more teach. ers. Those aids to progress would in their turn mean the increased expenditure of money, and the most superficial observer knows that the only magnet warranted to draw forth an unusual amount of money is intense feeling or some decided personal taste. Most people love their children, and, if they possess any means whatever, will spend freely for dress, for jewelry, for their amusement, or for their relief when the shadow of illness falls upon them. Yet, if a miserable old schoolhouse that is a daily menace to the health, and hindrance to the advancement of its occupants, is to be, in the dim future, replaced by another, a mighty wail goes up from hundreds of well-to do parents, who spend more on their children in one year for the purchase of candy, jewelry, and unsuitable finery, than their increased tax levy would amount to in ten. There is no lack of money when people really desire to use it. It is only our shameful indifference that prevents its proper employment.
If we all truly believed that additional classrooms should be provided every two or three years, until children were no longer taught in masses, small but wellappointed buildings would arise as if by enchantment, for no magician's wand was ever half so potent as the will of the people exerted for the salvation of the children they love. The lives about us — the well-being of the boys and girls who are dear to us the great work that can be done for them if the best within them is reached and understood - these things should move us with mighty force, until we are ready to strive, as the true of heart have always striven, to prove our faith by our works.
The day we long for may never gladden us with its noontide brightness. The fair dream may never for us be quite a reality. The most beautiful visions are the ones that forever elude the grasp of our outstretched hands, and shine afar to lead us on from hight to hight. But we may all, by thought and word and deed, hasten the dawning of that better day, striving with all our might to make our unfulfilled hopes the glad realities of the men and women to come.
Neighborhood Co-operation in School
The "Hesperia Movement."
BY KENYON L. BUTTERFIELD
Frum Review of Reviews. The gulf between parent and teacher is too cow mon a phenonienon to need exposition. The existe ce of the chasm is probably due more to carelessness, to the pressure of time, or to indole: ce than to any more serious delinquencies; yet all will admit the disastrous effects that flow from the fact that there is not the close intellectual and spiritual sympathy that there should be between the school and the home.
Whether or not this failure of teacher and parent to come to a close and perfect measure of sympathetic co-operation is more prevalent or less prevalent in city than in country is not of great importance in this discussion. The purpose of this article is to describe very briefly an attenupt which is being made in the state of Michigan to bridge the gulf – to create a common standing-ground for both teacher and parent - and on that basis to carry on an educational campaign that is hoped will result in the many desirable conditions which, a priori, might be expected from such a union. At present the movement is confined practically to the rural schools. It consists in the organization of a county “Teachers and Patrouis' Association," with a membership of teachers and school patrons, properly officered. Its chief method of work is to hold one or more meetings a year, usually in the country or in small villages, and the program is designed to cover educational questions in such a way as to be of interest and profit to both teachers and farmers.
So far as I discover, this movement is unique; at least, no educator in this State has been able to point me to successful organizations with similar purposes in other States. But even if such associations do exist elsewhere, there is no question that the movement is indigenous to Michigan,-its founders worked out the scheme on their own initiative, and to this day its promoters have never drawn upon any resources outside the State for suggestion or plan. But if the friends of rural education elsewhere shall be attracted by this method of solving one of the vexed phases of their problem, I hope that, instead of referring to it as "the Michigan plan,” they will describe it as "the Hesperia movement.” For the movement originated in Hesperia, was developed there, and its success in Hesperia was the reason for its further adoption. Hesperia deserves any renown that may chance to come from the widespread organization of Teachers and Patrons' Associations.
And where is Hesperia ? It lies about forty miles north and west of Grand Rapids - $ mere dot of a town, a small country village at least twelve or fifteen miles from the railroad. It is on the extreme eastern side of Oceana County, surrounded by fertile farming lands, which bave been populated by a class of people who may be taken as a type of progressive, successful, intelligent American farmers. Many of them are of Scotch origin. Partly because of their native energy, pirtly, perhaps, because their isolation made it necessiry to develop their own institutitions, these people believe in and support good schools, the
*FOOTNOTE.- California, under the leadership of ex-State Superintendent Black, held many meet. ings of parents, trustees, and teachers; Superintendent Kirk has carried on the work; many counties notably Riverside, San Diego, Solano, Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Napa, Yolo, Colusa, Monterey, Kings
:- have practival organizations for the co-operation of home and school.- THE EDITOR.
organization of the Patrons of Husbandry, commonly known as the Grange, and many progressive movements.
For several years there bad existed in Oceana County the usual county teachers' association. But, because Hesperia w»s so far from the center of the county, and because it was not easily accessible, the teachers who taught school in the vicinity could rarely secure a meeting of the association at Hesperia; and in turn they found it difficult to attend the meetings held in the western part of the county. A few years ago it chanced that this group of teachers was composed of especially bright, energetic, and original young men and women. They determined to bave an association of their own. It occurred to some one that it would add strength to their organization if the farmers were asked to meet with them. The idea seemed to "tike," and tbe meetings became quit: popular. This was during the winter of 1885–86. Special credit for this early venture belongs to Mr. E. L. Brooks, still of Hesperia and an ex-president of the present association, and to Dr. O. N. Sowers, of Benton Harbor, Micb., who was one of the teachers during the winter named, and who was elected secretary of the Board of School Examiners in 1887. Mr. Brooks writes:
"The programs were so arranged that the participants in discussions and in the reading of papers were about equally divided between teachers and patron18. An active interest was awakened from the start. For one thing, it furnished a needed social gathering during the winter for the farmers. The meetings were held on Saturdays, and the schoolhouse favored was usually well filled. The meetings were not held at any one schoolhouse, but were made to circulate among the different schools. These gatherings were so successful that similar societies were organized in other portions of the country.”
In 1892, Mr. D. E. McClure, who has since (1896–1900) been Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction of Michigan, was elected County School Commissioner of Oceana County. Mr. McClure is a man of great enthusiasm and made a most successful commissioner. He conceived the idea that this union of teachers and patrons could be made of the greatest value in stimulating both teachers and farmers to renewed interest in the real welfare of the cbildren, as a means of securing needed reforms. His first effort was to prepare a list of books suitable for pupils in all grades of the rural schools. He also prepared a rural lecture course, as well as a plan for securing libraries for the schools. All these propo. sitions were adopted by a union meeting of teachers and farmers. His next step was to unite the interests of eastern Oceana County and western Newaygo County (Newaygo lying directly east of Oceana), and in 1893 there was organized the “Oceana and Newaygo Counties Joint Grangers and Teachers' Association,” the word "Granger" being inserted because of the activity of the Grange in support of the movement. Mr. McClure has pardonable pride in this effort of his, and his own words will best describe the development of the movement:
This association meets Thursday night and continues in session until Saturday night, Some of the best speakers in America have addressed the association. Dr. Arnold Tompkins, in speaking before the association, said it was the greatest association and the only one of its character in the United States.
What was my ideal in organizing such associations ?
1. To unite the farmers who pay taxes that support the schools, the home-makers, the teachers, the pupils, into a co-operative work for better rural-school education.
2. To give wholesome entertainment in the rural districts, which from necessity are more or less isolated.
3. To create a taste for good American literature in home and school, and higher ideals of citizenship.
4. Summed up in all, to make the rural schools character-builders, to rid the districts of surroundings which destroy character, such as unkept school-yards, foul, nasty outbouses, poor, unfit teachers. These reforms, you understand, come only thru a healthy educational sentiment which is aroused by a sympathetic co-operation of farm, home, and school.
What results have I been able to discover growing out of this work? Ideals grow so slowly that one cannot measure much progress in six or seven years. We are slaves to conditions, no matter how hard, and we suffer them to exist rather than rouse ourselves and shake them off. The immediate results are better schools, yards, outbuildings, schoolrooms, teachers, literature for rural people to read.
Many a father and mother whose lives have been broken upon the wheel of labor have heard some of America's orators, have read some of the world's best books, because of this movement, and their lives have been made happier, more influential, more hopeful.
More than eight thousand people have been inspired, made better, at the Hesperia meet. ings.
Mr. McClure not only revived and extended the movement in his own bailiwick, but the success of the idea as carried out at Hesperia, together with Mr. McClure's ardent advocacy of similar work in other communities, has resulted in the extension of the plan to several other counties. Mr. McClure is a member of the Grange, and he has usually found the members of that organization quite ready to take the lead, from the farmers' side, in the union work. The counties of Kent, Washtenaw, Berrien, Mecosta, Montcalm, Lenawee, Clinton, and Eaton have taken steps more or less well organized along the lines suggested.
It remains to describe the work of the Kent. County association (Kent is the county in which the city of Grand Rapids is situated), for at present that association is thoroly organ. ized and has been signally successful in arousing interest in all parts of the county. Besides, it made a departure from the Oceana-Newaygo plan which must be considered advantageous for most counties. The Hesperia meeting is an annual affair, with big crowds and abundant enthusiasm. The Kent County association is itinerant, and holds several meetings during the year. It was organized in 1897. The membership includes teachers, school officers, farmers generally, and even pupils. An attempt has been made to hold monthly meetings during the school year, but for various reasons only five or six meetings are held. The meetings usually occur in some Grange hall, the Grange furnishing entertainment for the guests. There are usually three sessions—Friday evening and Saturday forenoon and afternoon. The average attendance has been nearly five hundred, about one-tenth being teachers; many teachers as well as farmers go considerable distances to attend. 'There are more invitations from Granges than the association can accept.
So far, the Kent County association has not imposed any fees upon its members, the Teachers' Institute fund of the county being sufficient to provide for the cost of lectures at the association meetings. Permission for this use of the fund was obtained from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Some counties have a membership fee; at Hesperia, the fee is 50 cents, and a membership ticket entitles its holder to a reserved seat at all sessions. The Kent County association also suggests a reading course for its members.
The success of the work in Kent County is due to several factors. Mr. G. T. Chapel, the County School Commissioner, is in very close touch with the farmers. The Grange is strong in the county. The energetic Lecturer of the State Grange, Mrs. F. D Saunders, lives in Kent County, and in addition to being a well-known Grange worker, was formerly an efficient teacher. So, in this county, the educators and the farmers and their leaders are in especially close sympathy. And right there is the vital element of success in this work. The initiative must be taken by the educators, but the plan must be thoroly democratic, and teacher and farmer must be equally recognized in all particulars. The results of the work in Kent County are thus summarized by Commissioner Chapel:
“To teachers, the series of meetings is a series of mid-year institutes. Every argument in favor of institutes applies with all its force to these associations. To farmers, they afford a near-by lecture course, accessible to all members of the family, and of as high grade as those maintained in the larger villages. To the schools the value is in the general sentiment and interest awakened. The final vote on any proposed school improvement is taken at the annual school meeting, and the prevailing sentiment in the neighborhood has everything to do with this vote. And not only this, but the general interest of patrons may help and cheer both teacher and pupils tbruout the year. On the other hand, indifference and neglect may freeze the life out of the most promising school. There is no estimating the value to the schools in this respect.”
The Kent County association has a very simple constitution. It is appended here for the benefit of any who may desire to begin this beneficient work of endeavoring to draw more closely together rural schools and country homes.
ARTICLE I.-NAME. This association shall be known as "The Kent County Teachers and Patrons' Association."
ARTICLE II.-MEMBERSHIP. Any person may become a member of this association by assenting to this constitution and paying the required membership fee.
ARTICLE III.-OBJECTS. The object of this association shall be the promotion of better educational facilities in all ways and the encouragement of social and intellectual culture among its members.
ARTICLE IV.-MEETINGS. At least five meetings of the association shall be held each year, during the months of October, November, January, February, and March, the dates and places of meetings to be de