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, allowed to pass out at the south end of the building through a mock chimney, or it may pass into the real chimney. Others may prefer that the chimney should stand in the center of the roof, and answer both the above purposes; but the openings for ventilation should occupy the same position in either case, so that the air after being heated may be conducted to the back part of the school-room, and be breathed while psssing
The smallest school-room should not be less than eleven feet high; one of medium size should not be less than twelve or thirteen feet high, and a large school-room should be at least thirteen or fourteen feet high.
The school-room should be as “ wide as it is long,” or euen wider; that is, it should be as far across from east to west as from north to south, or even farther. A school may be more easily governed in a room so shaped than in any other. The distance across from north to south may be a trifle farther than from east to west, and do but slight harm; but a long, narrow school-room for a school of all grades, is a thing to be dreaded, and especially so if it is a low room.
The rostrum or “ teacher’s platform » should be from four to six inches high, from four to five feet wide, and should extend quite across the
Pupils who are busily employed at the black-board are liable to step off or fall from rostrums which extend only part way across. I knew two pupils whose spines were seriously injured in this way.
The black-board should be five and one-half feet wide, should extend across the north end of the room, and the bottom of it should come down within eighteen inches of the platform. All the space along the side walls not occupied by windows, should be black-board of the same width as that across the end, and it should come down within eighteen incaes of the floor.
The outer door should not open directly into the school-room; and the most common plan for preventing this is to cut off by a partition, from five to ten feet of the south end of the school-room, making an entry or two of them if there are two outer doors. Now, I do not like this plan for two reasons: I have noticed that both boys and girls are more inclined to misbehavior while in the entry than while in plain view of the teacher; and the entry is always cold and is not a fit place to keep the outer garments in during school hours; for the child just from a warm room, who puts on a cold shawl or overcoat, is not wholly free from danger of "taking cold.”
A better plan, one that would correct both of these faults, is to construct a very small entry just large enough in each case to accomodate the opening and closing of the outer door, but not large enough for a
2-[VOL. II.-.No. 2.]
play-room. The inner or entry door should be folding, self-closing noiseless and cheap.
All the vacant space along the south wall may be rendered very useful by fastening to it two rows of hooks for hanging hats, bonnets and outer garments. The upper row of hooks should be six feet from the floor, and the lower row three feet from it. Clothing hanging upon these hooks is always warm and may be put on at any
moment without endangering the health of the pupil. The southeast and southwest corners should each contain from three to five shelves for dinner pails, etc. For such school-houses I prefer the single entrar.ce with a large door.
The most convenient school-room that I have seen, considering the number of pupils in attendance, is one whose location and internal arrangements are in accordance with the above suggestions, and whose dimensions inside are twenty-nine feet from north to south and thirty feet from east to west.
BY MRS. C. S. HARRINGTON, BRODHEAD.
Mathematics is the least dependent, the simplest and the easiest of all the sciences; and that branch of mathematics which we call arithonetic is so useful, if not necessary, in the majority of pursuits and avocations, that its value is almost universally recognized.
Every member of a school is expected, sooner or later, to know something of arithmetic, although he is, perhaps, entirely ignorant of the structure of his native language, the geography of his own country, or the history of the nation to which he belongs. The necessity of arithmetical knowledge being thus universally acknowledged, there still remains a question as to the manner in which such knowledge may be most readily and thoroughly acquired, with the least expenditure of time and labor. The study of written arithmetic, without being preceded or accompanied with mental arithmetic as a separate branch, is often advocated as most economical and advantageous.
Being an earnest dissenter from such views, I will briefly cnumerate my reasons for considering mental arithmetic as essential in any course of study, whether confined to the narrow limits of a mixed schcol, or broadening into the more generous culture of higher institutions.
Whether we judge the merits of this study by its practical utility, or as a discipline of the intellectual powers, we can accord to it no mean rank. A person who has learned to perform the simplest operations with numbers in his mind readily, as he only can by repeated practice, will find very frequent occasion for the use of his ability in this respect
when paper and pencil cannot be conveniently employed. And when by a course of careful training one becomes acquainted with the principles of fractions, in all the complications involved in mental arithmetic examples, written arithmetic is already more than half mastered, although he may never have made a single figure; for, in the solution of every problem, in the absence of set rules, he has been compelled to deal directly with the principles upon which mathematical rules are founded, and consequently, when he commences the study of written arithmetic his mind is only traveling familiar paths, and his progress will be intelligent and rapid. Thus as a preparatory measure, this study is wisely economical of time and labor.
As the chief and primary object of all study is the healthy and vigorous development of mental capacity, any study that brings into activity many of the highest intellectual powers, and is, at the same time, broad in its adaptations, and thoroughly practical, should be efficiently taught in each school, and duly appreciated by teacher and pupils.
It was said by an eminent man that “the one desirable, safe, certain, attainable quality, is the quality of attention.” If this be true, mental arithmetic is one of the best means for its cultivation. When the
pupil is required to repeat an example after hearing it read but once, the only way to avoid failure is by close and continuous attention; and repeated effòrts in this direction will eventually enable him to bring his obedient powers to bear, not only on mathematical questions, but all others with potent efficiency. In keeping all the conditions of a question in mind, together with the words in which such conditions are expressed," the purveyor of reason,” memory, is constantly strengthened and carefully. improved; and having no precise instructions of a rule on which to lean, a self-reliance and independence of thought that cannot be too highly estimated, are being necessarily attained. As the object is always to reach results by the most direct route, the methods of thinking are characterized by accuracy and rapidity, thus making still further additions to the stock of mutual resources.
A proficient in this branch must deal far more with the why than how, and hence there can be no self-deceptive surface work, no mental haziness, but every idea must be clear, and every conception well defined. These mental solutions of arithmetical problems enforce the concentration of power upon a certain point, a fixed holding of the attention, a continuity of thought not furnished by any other school exercise. Logical habits of reasoning are acquired by continually using the successive steps in each solution, as a premise from which to educe a conclusion, until the final result is triumphantly reached.
And not least among the advantages of this study is the practice of expressing, in concise and accurate language, the simple or complicated
mental processes involved in each solution. This power of expression should not be undervalued, for it implies an advanced position of the mind, from which it takes a retrospective view of its own operations; and it also indicates a systematic arrangement of clear and definite ideas. “I know but can't tell,” so often heard in school and elsewhere, may not be wholly untrue, but it is evidence that some vague shadow of a conception has been mistaken for knowledge, and that, before any proper expression is possible, the mental machinery must perform a finishing process, to be continued till every outline of thought is clearly and perfectly defined. The study under consideration compels that plain, distinct thinking which results in ease of expression.
What other study is, at once, so practically useful, and so important, as a thorough mental discipline?
THE “ TOWNSHIP SYSTEM."
BY N. H. HIOLDEN, SUPERINTENDENT OF MONROE COUNTY. There are few things of such vital interest to humanity, and that perform as important a part in determining the social condition of a community, or a people, as its system of schools. And, it is a fact, of which despotic rulers, as well as republican statesmen, are becoming cognizant; that the strength and prosperity of a nation, are great or small, in proportion as the masses are intelligent; and that no superior classic attainments of the wealthy few, can compensate in society, for the wretchedness attendant upon an ignorant multitude. We are high or low in the human scale, as our minds are enlarged by a knowledge of the sciences, and the wisdom of past ages, or are left in the simple condition as formed by nature, without the accumulated wisdom of centuries of experiment and study. And in view of these and other facts which conclusively demonstrate that education determines our place in the world, both as a nation and as individuals—determines whether we are savage, civilized or enlightened; rank among the highest, lowest or intermediate; it becomes us as individuals alive to the first great interest of the children of the land, and which should be, and is the first interest of every parent, to do everything that is reasonably in our power to improve and make more efficient our school system, as well as to do what is necessary to obtain the best results from the schools as they
Allowing that the present school system of the state is susceptible of improvement, the question arises; what is the desirable change, and what can we individually do towards effecting it?
At a convention of county superintendents of schools, convened at
Madison, December 27, 1871, which I attended, the question of school districts was discussed at length; and from the information there obtained, and from carefully reviewing the reports of the superintendent of public. instruction for the years 1868–69 and 1870, I am satisfied that the “township system” as now provided for by statute, but left to the option of eacl. town to adopt or not, would be a material improvement.
Space is too limited to give more than a very brief outline of this statute, which can be found in the school code or session laws of 1869, and which should be in the possession of every district and town clerk. This statute, makes each town, one district, so far as relates to the expense and supervision of schools and the hiring of teachers, but leaves it sub-districted as now, for the purpose of separate schools.
Each of these sub-districts holds annual meetings to elect a clerk and to express its grievances and desires. These clerks constitute a town board of school directors who have entire control of school property, and make all needful provision for the schools. They elect from their own number a president, treasurer and secretary, who constitute an executive committee who hire teachers and perform other duties. To the secretary is given the general supervision of the schools of the town, and under the direction of the board of directors, he shall grade the schools and assist the teacher in classifying, and is required to visit each school twice during each term. All persons interested in this educational work should examine this “town system” as provided for by statute, and if persuaded that it would be an improvement, take the necessary steps to give it a trial.
1st. It would produce a uniform rate of school taxation, making school privileges more equal without imposing excessive burdens upon any individuals.
3d. It would create a more efficient school board for selecting and assigning teachers.
3d. It would secure for the schools better teachers. 4th. The schools would be uniformly and better graded and classified.
5th. It would tend to improve school-houses, and provide each of them with what is essentially useful.
6th. It would dispense with a large number of district officers and lessen the aggregate expenses of schools.
7th. It would promote uniformity of text-books.
Sth. It would allow of a central school, of a higher grade, for the benefit of those desirous of studying higher branches, than are now taught in common schools.
9th. It would assure an efficient system of school supervision for each town.