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after division would contain just as many grades of pupils as the one district contained before division. And if the one district tefore division contains nine grades of pupils, then the two districts after division would contain nine grades of pupils each, or eighteen grades for the two schools; and should each grade or set of pupils recite four times per day, according to the prevailing idea of the parent, we should have thirty-six recitations per day in the one school before division, and the average time for each recitation would be nearly twenty minutes, as they would be divided between two teachers; and in the two districts after division, we should have seventy-two recitations each day, or thirty-six for each school, and the average time for each recitation would be nearly ten minutes. And further, the opportunities for imparting instruction, for creating interest in the minds of pupils, for correcting errors, for making general suggestions and for training, etc., is more than doubled by continuing the school in one district, dividing the school into two departments, etc.; for it takes time to call a class, time to get warmed up with the subject to be treated of, and time to dismiss a class; so that the last five minutes is really worth about as much as the first ten. Hence, large districts, large schools and large classes are necessary to the better success of our common schools. School-districts should be so large that those pupils who live upon the outskirts of them will have two miles to go to school by road, and in come cases in which we can do no better by certain residents, even two miles and a half.
Yet some will say, “oh, that will never do, for little children cannot go two miles and a half nor two miles to school in winter!” We admit that in winter little children cannot go so far to school, and we maintain that in our country districts, they should not go, however short the distance, from abcut the first or middle of November till the beginning of the spring term, and that it would be better for all concerned if all the small pupils in the district under eight years of age, perhaps, were kept at home during the winter; for it seems to me that school should commence the last week in August or the first week in September and con. tinue without vacation till Christmas week; then, from the beginning of the school till the first or middle of November, the roads are generally, good, the weather is moderate and the days are long, so that even small pupils can go this distance to school; but at the end of this time they will be tired and somewhat in need of rest, and may be kept at home till the beginning of the spring term with little harm to them; for if children'are properly taught at school in the fall, they will study at home in winter. But as they leave school many larger boys and girls who have till now been busy upon the farms, in the work-shops, in the kitchens, etc., will be through with their work and ready for school, and they should come at once. Now, most of these pupils are found to be
s backward”; and at best they can go to school but little longer, not more than one two or three winters; so it is but right that they should have every advantage that the school affords and all the attention that the teacher or teachers can give them.
At the beginning of the Spring term they will go to work again and make room for the little ones, and the fine weather will make good roads, and the long days will give them plenty of time to go to school two miles, or even farther, as a fer may have to do. Better go this distance and find every convenience and necessary aid, a good teacher, a good school, strong in numbers, wide-awake, doing well and desiring to do better,-than to go but forty rods and find an inconvenient room, uncomfortable seats and desks, no charts, no outline maps, no outhouses, etc., a poor teacher, a poor school, weak in numbers and influ. ence, sluggish, doing almost nothing, and not trying to do well nor much. Better support such a school as the former at a slight expense in proportion to the amount of property taxed (or even at a great expense), than to support such as the lattter at a heavy expense in proportion.
Too many country districts in Grant county support such schools as the latter. Hickory Grove for one of many instances has nine school districts, when it needs but four, or five at most. But soon I hope to see a change for the better ; yet let us not go to the other extreme and make our districts too large. In a fer instances this is the case now. Let us limit to such size that those pupils who live farthest from the schcol-house will have little or no more than two miles to travel, The best and most effectual remedy for this and many kindred evils, is to adopt the town system ; that is, “to make the town a unit for educational purposes as it “has been found the true unit for almost every other purpose.
The reason for my thinking that our schools should begin the last Moeday in August or the first in September, and continue without vacation till about the 20th of December, is that the sixteen weeks preceding Christmas week are the best time in all the year for study and school; the next best time is from the close of New Year's week till about the 20th of March; and the “ third best” time is from the first or second week in April to the first or middle of June. From the middle of June till the last of August there is no time suitable for school for any except adults.
A five or six months schocl, I think, should begin the first Monday in September and continued till Christmas week, then close for two weeks vacation, after which the school should be completed without further interruption. With this arrangement small children can attend till the first or second, and sometimes till the third, week in November. By
this time many large pupils who could not come before, will enter the school. Welcome them, and allow the little ones to remain at home, is my suggestion,
I think that a seven, eight or nine month's school should begin on the last Monday in August and continue sixteen weeks (till Christmas week) 'without vacation, then close for two weeks, after which the “ winter term” should begin and continue till about the 20th of March. If this does not complete the school, it should be completed after a three weeks' vacation. Then the first vacation will come during the holidays when a large portion of the pupils will be absent at least a great part of time if we were to try to teach, and the next will generally come when it is too muddy to have school. And if a nine month's school, it will close before the extremely hot weather,and the third term will be principally given up to the small pupils.
When large districts and large schools do not prove more profitable than small ones, the fault is in the administration of their affairs; something is lacking on the part of the school board or of the teachers, or of both board and teachers, (and many times parents may be included); but the theory and the plan are correct.
BY D. E. THOMAS, MILWAUKEE ACADEMY.
In an article in the Feb. No. of the JOURNAL, I find the old method
Ι of teaching young children to read, if not vindicated, at least partially defended. After the wonderful results of the “word method," in various parts of the country, I am surprised at any public defense of the a, b, ab method, and although I shall not attempt to “cut the safe path across,” dig the “level cunnel under,” or produce the “terrible ex. plosive” mentioned, I will endeavor to produce a few of the many undeniable reasons why the word method is preeminently to be pre. ferred before all others. Primary reading has had its steps of progress like every other science. Long ago the difficulties of the alphabetic method-difficulties which the writer of the article mentioned above, seems also keenly to have felt-were fully appreciated. The unmeaning (to the mind of the child), shapes of the letters, and the consequently great length of time it took to impress them upon the mind of the child, and the poor results that were attained after the letters had been learned, beset the path of the teacher, to destroy his patience and courage, and clouded the mind of the pupil with a distaste for school and books. As a remedy, came the phonic, a better, but not the best, method. It was an improvement, because it presented something tan
gible to the young mind. It was a brace to memory. But the word method, comes as the boon of the children of this generation. It has not made any “royal road” for them, but it has lifted from them an immense amount of unnecessary, because unfruitful, toil. Its chief advantages may be classed under a few heads:
1. It begins at the right place. It takes into consideration the knowledge the child brings from the nursery and begins to build upon that.
It thus recognizes one of the first principles that the teacher must ever have in mind, i. e., all teaching must proceed directly from the known to the unknown. It also recognizes the principle that the young mind deals exclusively with the concrete and only attains a capacity for the abstract in more mature years. Hence it does not thrust upon it the abstract and unmeaning syllables, “ ab, eb, ib,” but leads it out from what it knows to what it does not know, by taking words, the names of objects familiar to the child-mind, and arousing an interest in them, a thing which never was and never could be done under the alphabetic method. And thus it is in harmony with another great principle of our profession, that study should be rendered attractive, which, with those before mentioned, is seen to be fundammental to the teacher's work.
2. It is the Most Expeditious Method.—This, of course, must rest upon experiment, which will show, as it is daily showing, that wherever it is intelligently taught, it takes much less time than is required by the old method, even after the letters in the abstract have been learned, and it will throw the letters into the bargain, since the child will have unconsciously learned three in about the same time that it would have taken to learn them alone in the old way. If we wished to render a child acquainted with twenty-six other children, we should not, I appreeend, call them up one by one, and charge the name of each upon the memory of our young pupils, but place hiin among them, and let him take the much more rapid method of learning them himself in his own free way.
3. It is the most correct method. It totally does away with that drawling of words which has always been so prevalent under the method of "spelling out” each syllable. This is the result of not allowing the pupil to dwell upon the word, but to grasp it at sight. I must here notice the objection that is sometimes made to this method, that it is productive of poor spellers. Unfortunately for the objection, it is sustained by neither theory nor facts. It is almost universally the case that we judge of spelling by the looks of the word. Hence it is that, of late, written spelling has so largely taken the place of the oral method.
It is the Natural Method. It takes the child where it finds him, and it always finds him thinking of concrete wholes. I conceive this to be the dangerous place in the whole life of the child to miss one link in the chain which links the known to the unknown, because at this time he is least able, unaided, to supply that link himself. The place of this missing link will be easily seen. The word method takes a word known to the child and teaches him to recognize it transferred to the paper. The chain here is unbroken. The alphabetic method commences at a point, the letters, which, setting aside the power of comprehension, is as far removed from his mind as the science of logic—since it has absolutely no apparent connection with anything he knows, and approaches the point at which the child left off by a long circuitous route which the pupil often manifests no disposition to become familiar with because it has no possible attrections for him. It will be seen that the alphabetic method makes synthesis precede analysis, another most unnatural thing. You would not present a child with a leaf and then a branch, and then a log and roots, and tell him that these put together make a tree, but lead him forth where the beauty of the woods would have some attractions for him and let him think, as he was wont to do, of concrete wholes. It is evident moreover that every one must come to the word method at least whether he will or not. Whoever thinks of letters when he reads even though he meets a strange word ? Words are recognized familiar faces, and in practice we always treat them as wholes. Nature is the teacher's best guide, and we cannot do better than too keep the ear close to her whisperings.
PHYSIOLOGY IN THE COMMON SCHOOLS.
BY W. HAND, LOWVILLE.
In order to successfully combat an evil it is necessary to understand its nature. A general is taken at a disadvantage if he does not know the condition and nature of the enemy with which he has to deal. A reformer must study the nature of the evil practices which he attacks ere he will find the vulnerable point and make his attack effectual. An educator, wishing to arrest the evils of any system of education, must study its defects, or his efforts are vain.
Sickness is an evil to which all are subject. Why, then, should not all be educated to understand its causes, and thus work at the root of the evil. Can this be done without introducing physiology into the common schools? · Assuredly not; and the better the masses understand their physical organization and the laws of health, the less sickness there will be owing to a disregard of these laws. Sickness follows a violation