Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

THE CONDUCTORS of the institutes have discussed 'quite fully this fall the course of study for the ungraded schools published in the institute syllabus. Very many teachers have been convinced that this course, or one similar to it, can be introduced into their schools this season; and they will make an effort to do so, in consultation with their school boards and county superintendents. Two points in this scheme can be easily secured by the teachers, — the examination of their pupils in the studies of each form or section during their terin or at its close, and a faithful record made of the examination for future use. With these points establishe , a large portion of the labor necessary for the introduction of this course will have been performed. We are greatly pleased to see the intelligent interest in the better organization of country schools, as shown in nearly all parts of the state. This reform will be somewhat slowly &ccepted, but it will surely be put into full operation in the next ten years.

MR. WESCOTT brings to completion, in this number, the series of articles kindly furnished by him. We trust they have awakened new interest among teachers and others in a most interesting branch of natural science, and one in which the writer of the articles is evidently a skilled adept. After printing our first forms, including his article, we received the following title, to be added to the list of authorities in Entomology: Boisduval and Guenée's Species Général des Lépidoptéres, 7 vols. octavo.

Prof. Wooster's pamphlet on the same subject, elsewhere noticed, is oppor. tunely made known to our readers. See the notice.

We cannot too earnestly call renewed attention to the matters discussed by Trof. Chittenden, in his paper on School Hygiene. By incessant effort, until public sentiment is fully aroused, a much needed reform can be brought about. We hope teachers will help to give wide publicity to the paper, and other ardicles bearing on the subject.

The questions answered this month in the Official Department in regard to the "compulsory law” are specimens of a series of questions that will naturally arise, where there is thought to be occasion to take action under it. We make here the general suggestions that school officers and the friends of the schools as far 20.5 possible, justify such action by first doing all in their power to make the schools efficient and attractive — in short what they ought to be. Where this is done, and where a good healthy sentiment prevails, it will have the effect ofttimes to render any action unnecessary. Prevention is much better than cure. With a pleasant school-house, well located, properly seated, lighted, warmed, and ventilated, with all the needful appliances, and above all, with a kind, skillful and earnest teacher, there will seldom be found any permanent absentees. If there are, it must indicate most extreme poverty, ignorance, or degradation; a condition of things that can be better reached perhaps by charity and humanity than by any legal process.

MR. T. D. PLUMB, of this city, has for sale blanks embracing teachers' contracts and certificates the legal from. We would call the attention of school officers, including superintendents, to his advertisement.

Prof. Salisbury has promised to inaugurate a new department for the JourNAL, commencing next month. Perhaps we might call it the department of current history. It is to be remembered that the world is all the time making history – that events are yearly, daily transpiring, which will form a part of the records of permanent history, and it is desirable to note such events, to distinguish between them and the ten thousand trivial incidents that make up a good share of the contents of the newspaper. This winnowing process, well done, is a good service to community, and we think the professor has not only an aptitude for historical studies, but for making this separation; and therefore confidently expect that the new department, whatever he my call it or make it, will prove of interest and value to all our readers.

A NEW DEPARTURE IN MASSACHUSETTS.

It has long been a growing conviction among practical, discerning men, that our schools do not, as a rule, accomplish the work properly which they are expected to do. We have heard prominent citizens in this state complain of this, and go so far as to assert that even a boy who graduates, as it is somewhat ambituously termed, from a high school. is fit really for nothing; neither reads, writes nor spells as he should do; as to grammar, cannot compose a letter properly, uses in actual life both ungrammatical and vulgar slang expressions; is greatly at fault in his arithmetic and geography, and while he is thus deficient, has by no means gained an equivalent in the smattering of higher branches on which his “ diploma” is based. As a result, he is not well prepared to do any. thing. All this is no doubt a description of more extreme cases, but is too true of too many, and it must be confessed that the practical results generally reached in our public schols are by no means what they should be. What is the remedy?

In Massachusetts, where it was supposed the schools were among the best in the country, the difficulty has been grappled with in one instance, and after six years' trial of a different method of procedure from that in common use, great and obvious improvement is claimed. We quote from the Nation:

“ It will surprise many people, no doubt, to be told that Massachusetts is, in the matter of common-school education, ' living on its past reputation,” and that half of the proportionately large sum it spends for this purpose yearly is money not so much thrown away as fatally misapplied. This, nevertheless, is what Mr. Charles Francis Adams, Jr., asserts in his account of a radical and successful experiment recently made by the school committee of the town of Quincy. The committee found, in 1873, that “most of the pupils who have finished the grammar course neither speak nor spell their own language very perfectly, nor read aod write it with that elegance which is desirable.” This was a mild statement of the results of the ordinary routine teaching in these schools, Mr. Adams says, and it is probably quite as applicable to other towns than Quincy in Massachusetts and out of it. “The whole thing was a sham,” Mr. Adams exclaims of the regular school examination, in which pupils show to such apparent advantage and with the superficiality of which every one is familiar; "it was, in a word, all smatter, veneering, and cram.” The committee concluded to attempt a wholly new departure. Instead of the stock superintend. ent, “usually some retired clergyman or local politician out of a job,” they found a gentleman fresh from Germany and full of enthusiasm for teaching

a

as a

science.” They tempered his transports in one or two regards, and then gave him carte blanche to try his system. This system consisted in the absence of system. The number of studies was reduced in the first place. The grammar, reader, speller, and copy.book were then “hustled out.” Reading at sight and writing off-hand were aimed at; “ children were to learn to read and write and cypher as they learned to swim, or to skate, or to play ball.” In the first two grammar grades were combined instruction in reading, writing, grammar, spell. ing, history, and geography. General reading, even to magazine articles, was put into the pupils' hands. The scholars read first and then wrote of what they had read. Spelling came with practice, just as walking and talking do. In short, the system introduced was “a complete negation of the whole present common.school system.” Of course this seemed to take away the breath of the old-time masters,” but its results were, according to Mr. Adams, excellent. “Not only was there a marked improvement in attendance, but the attendance was cheerful.” The children could read at sight and could write a simple letter easily, although not one in ten knew what a noun was, for example. The cost of the improved instruction was one-fifth less than the old had been. There are probably few patriotic people who will not be interested in Mr. Adam's account of this revolution, of which we have space to give but a meagre outline

as he says, Americans believe the common schools to be “the ark of national salvation.” Accordingly we refer our readers to the little pamphlet, which Estes & Lauriat have just published, wherein Mr. Adams has collected this essay and two others germane in subject, under the title "The Public Library and the Common Schools: Three Papers on Educational Topics.'

“Several things should be borne in mind, however, in reading Mr. Adam's paper. The Quincy experiment was tried under unusually favorable conditions. The committee were in effect a commission, and they evidently enjoyed the confidence of their tax-paying townsmen in an unusual degree; they were not snbject to removal before they had fairly tested their plan, to be succeeded by another committee inimical to it. They were peculiarly fortunate in their selection of a superintendent. It is probable that their teachers were better than the average, and had a certain elasticity and adaptability. It is still more probable that they were themselves men of acumen, experience, and public spirit. Furthermore, they were pioneers, and naturally possessed of a wholesome zeal. Moreover, the method enhances the importance of the teacher greatly with text-books abolished, everything, indeed, may be said to depend upon the ability and aptitude of the teacher. Such a superintendent as Mr. Parker could doubtless teach teachers how to teach."

NEW PUBLICATIONS.

THE GREAT SPEECHES AND ORATIONS OF DANIEL WEBSTER: With an Essay

on Daniel Webster as a Master of English Style. By Edwin P. Whipple. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. With a New Porirait. 8 vo. Cloth, $3.00.

This is a happy combination: Webster, the massive, profound thinker; Whipple, the brilliant, incisive essayist, as his exponent. Webster's Speeches and Orations are amoug the classics of the language. His is one of the great names that will live to the end of time. Dividing great orators into the two classes of those who reach and move men chiefly by intellectual fervor, and those who impress and sway them by intellectual strength, Webster belongs de. cidedly to the latter class; Henry Clay to the former. Clay reached chiefly the sensibilities, the emotions. Webster aimed at the reason, the moral convictions. He began a speech - we have had the pleasure of hearing him — with modera. tion, with dignity, and with grace. There was no urgency, no vehemence, no

haste. Your feelings were not consciously stirred, at first, but your assent was challenged by clear statements, in which he so greatly excelled, and in logical, convincing argument. You felt that the orator was greater than his subject; that he was not putting forth all his strength; that a reserve lay behind, to be called out, if needed, and that he was calmly sure of his positions. It is true that mankind at large will always be more easily affected by that which is superficial and sensational than by that which is calm and convincing, but the effect is not lasting. Webster as an orator built on solid foundations.

From his first entrance into public life, Webster evinced the greatcess that was to rest upon his name. He took his seat in the House of Representatives at the early session called in May, 1812. In his maiden speech, in support of some resolutions introduced by him asking information as to the grounds upon which war had been declared against Great Britain, the clearness of statement, the breadth of learning, the power of argument, and unmistakable evidence of oratorical power exhibited, not only arrested but riveted the attention of the House. Chief Justice Marshall at once predicted his future greatness. The Dartmouth College case raised him to the pinnacle of forensic fame, a position from which he was never displaced. Mr. Seward once said that the fifty thous. and lawyers of the United States, though interested to deny his pretensions, conceded to him an unapproachable supremacy at the bar.

The collection before us contains forty-three speeches, orations and arguments, embracing the chief efforts of his oratorical powers. An appendix contains his principal diplomatic papers. We do not know of a volume of which Amer. icans should feel more proud, or which can be of more value in forming a lofty patriotism in our young men, while as Mr. Whipple so forcibly sets forth in his admirable essay, the style of his mature productions is “perfect of its kind, being in words the express image of his mind and character — plain, terse, clear, forcible; and rising from the level of lucid statement into passages of superlative eloquence only when his whole nature is stirred by some grand sentiment of freedom, patriotism, justice, humanity, or religion, which absolutely lifts him, by its own inherent force and inspiration to a region above that in which his mind habitually lives and moves."

A NEW METHOD for the Study of English Literature. By Louise Maertz.

Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co. 12mo. `Interleaved. Price $1.00.

The design of this work is stated to be to lead the student in tracing the salient features in the development of English literature; to assist him to discover the causes operating upon that development; to show him the origin and growth of modern forms of versification and composition and the periods of their adoption into English; to help him trace the progressive development of the principal forms of English prose composition, and the origin and progress of the great schools of English poetry; to aid the student to prepare himself for an appreciative reading of English authors; to call attention to the formative influence of early modern continental and classical literatures upon the English literature; to show the influence of English thought and writings upon the development of the political history and the literature of other countries; and finally, to aid the student in fixing the chronology of literary history by

[ocr errors]

association of ideas. To effect this result his attention is directed to the most prominent political events in each period. This general design seems to be well carried out, and the plan was thoroughly and successfully tried before it was published. It evidently lifts the study above mere memorizing into the region of thought. SHAKESPEARE'S KING RICHARD THE SECOND. Edited by Rev. Henry N. Hud.

sop, Professor of English Literature in Boston University. Boston: Ginn & Heath.

A painter may exhibit genius as well in the delineation of nature as in a com. position of his own. Shakespeare shows his power, as well in King Richard as in King Lear, though in the former he follows mainly the facts of history. But “ truth is stranger than fiction,” and to penetrate the subtleties of character in real life, to unfold the intricacies of the human heart, to delineate the true grounds of national well-being, is as high a task of genius and intellect as to create new characters. The great bard has done both as no other poetical writer has done. We expressed our opinion of Mr. Hudson's qualifications as a Shakspearean editor in noticing his Hamlet. Whoever buys the plays he issues secures literary jewels, exquisitely set. HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN. By C. W. Butterfield, author of

“ Crawford's Campaign Against Sandusky," etc., etc. Madison, Wis.: Uni. versity Press Co.

We have given a pretty wide notoriety to this valuable compilation already, by publishing numerous sketches, biographical and historical, in the JOURNAL. The volume as completed is a handsome octavo of 232 pages, printed on fine, tinted paper, and is sold at $1.50 a copy. It is embellished with steel portraits of Chancellor Lathrop, President Chadbourne, Vice President Sterling, and Professor J. B. Parkinson, the first professor elected from among the alumni. Not only every graduate and student of the University will desire a copy of this book, but every intelligent citizen, who has the interests of the university at heart. The institution is fast becoming a just cause of pride to the state. Mr. Butterfield has done his work with admirable taste and good judgment. THE STAR SINGER. By S. M. Straub, author of "Woodland Echoes,” etc., etc.

Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Co.

Mr. Straub has for some time catered very successfully to the wants of the singing world. We noticed favorably his “ Woodland Echoes,” which is still advertised on our cover. The presont compilation, while serving as an instruction book, in the principles of music, is designed more especially for singing schools, musical institutes, conventions and societies. It contains not only a good variety of the more easy and popular pieces, but a number of gems from the works of such composers as Mendelssohn, Righini, Flotow, Benedict, etc., etc. A good many pieces suitable for concerts are inserted; also, duets, songs and miscellaneous compositions, giving, on the whole, a large and interesting variety. TABULAR VIEW AND KEY OF INSECTS, with Check Tablets. By L. C. Wooster,

Professor of Natural Science in ihe Whitewater Normal School. White. water Register Steam Job Print. 52 pp. 8vo. Price 30 cents. Those who have read Mr. Westcott's articles, concluded in this number, or who

« ÎnapoiContinuați »