Imagini ale paginilor

ognize their value in a more practical manner than it has heretofore done. Why cannot the State maintain a corps of efficient institute conductors for the purpose of visiting each county in Oregon at least once a year? These conductors could regulate the length of their visits according to the size of the county and the number of teachers in attendance at the institute. Ten of them, divided into two bodies of five each, could devote sufficient time to the educational interests of each county during the year to accomplish untold good both among teachers and school patrons. Under the present system institute work is left too much to haphazard. In sparsely settled counties, remote from great educational centers, the county superintendent himself undertakes the task alone, but he cannot bring about the same results as a trained corps of professional educators who have made teaching a life study. His efforts may be meritorious and well intended, but he cannot reach the teachers with the force and effect which experienced institute conductors command.

These views lead me to think that institute work should be under the direct control of the State and a system established whereby each county could be visited at regular intervals by State institute conductors whose duty it would be to instruct teachers in all branches of school work and to develop in parents, school officers and patrons a keener interest in the public schools.

CLERKS' REPORTS. Inasmuch as the district clerks' reports are the original sources from which the superintendent of public instruction obtains his information concerning the educational welfare of the State, it is essential that they should be prepared with great accuracy. Yet, is there a county superintendent in the State who can truthfully say he has not been at times plunged into the deepest despair when preparing his annual report from those of the district clerks? The financial statement is the rock upon which many of the clerks go to pieces. It is like evolving order out of chaos, reconciling their receipts with their disbursements. Not infrequently the latter appear greatly in excess of the former. The only remedy for this state of things is a closer inspection of clerks' reports by school directors. When submitted to the annual meeting the report should be closely scrutinized by the board and all errors eliminated before it receives approval. This would obviate the necessity on the part of school superintendents of returning reports for correction.

TEACHERS' EXAMINATIONS. Under the present law regulating examinations for teachers' certificates in Oregon there is no provision limiting the length of time to be allowed applicants for the preparation of their papers on the different subjects of examination. The result is candidates do not exert themselves to complete their papers with even moderate quickness and spatch. Where time is not essential, some candidates will vainly endeavor to solve a problem that is beyond their capacity, until their ideas begin to wander away into other channels, the problem is lost sight of, and when the superintendent attempts to collect the papers he finds that some are ready for a new subject, while others are bat litile more than half way through with the old one. It is very embarrassing to the board of examiners to have a dozen teachers waiting on two or three tardy ones, and that, too, after allowing from two to tb ree hours for the subject in hånd. Candidates look upon it as a grave injustice if the superintendent calls in papers before they are finished. Yet, what else can be do? It would relieve the county examiners of much embarrassment if the State board would specify on the question papers the time to be allowed in each branch.

TEACHERS' QUALIFICATIONS. The art of teaching is to a great extent acquired, and unless teachers avail themselves of every opportunity to learn, both by personal contact with lead

ing educators at the institute and by regularly perusing the highest authorities on educational inethods, they will fall behind and the cause of education will suffer. Nature, however, must do her share by implanting the qualities which one looks for in a successful teacher. There must be zeal, earnestness, indomitable perseverance, enduring patience, a kind and even temper, perfect selfcontrol, the power to assert authority, the ability to note and take advantage of psycological conditions, school room tact, a friendly disposition toward the young folks and an earnest desire to furnish them with an example of morality.

In respect to these qualities the teachers of Sherman County will compare very favorably with those of any other county in the State. Some few lack the experience necessary to insure the best results in the school rooms, but all are possessed of an honest desire to advance their pupils in every possible way.

TEACHERS' PERMANENCY AND CONTINUITY OF WORK. One circumstance that retards pupils and discourages teachers is the fact that in many districts the school term lasts but three or four months. During that time the pupils are making good progress and at the close of the term both pupils and teacher are deeply interested in their work. Then the teacher leaves to seek another school and the pupils discontinue their studies for six months, maybe a year. Thus the teacher never gets a chance to make more than a beginning and the pupils are given every facility to forget most if not all of what they have learned during the term.

TEACHERS' REGISTERS. Teachers cannot be too particular in regard to the manner in which they keep their registers. Yet in some districts teachers have been known to neglect entirely the keeping of registers, while in others the pages of the record books were covered with blots and erasures and otherwise disfigured. Pupils will not learn lessons of neatness and accuracy from registers kept in such a careless fashion.

FAILURES IN TEACHING-CAUSES OF. These may be accounted for in many ways. Frequently they are due to lack of interest on the part of the parents. In many cases parents are too ready to listen to the complaints of their children without waiting to hear the teacher's side of the case; they withdraw their children from school for some trivial cause. Then, again, parents keep their little ones at home to help in domestic work, or they are lax in enforcing the punctual attendance of children at school. All these causes contribute much to render the teachers' efforts abortive. Parents need the awakening influence of institute conductors just as much as teachers, and unless there is a perfect bond of sympathy between parent and teacher the school cannot be an unqualified success.

Failure on the teacher's part generally proceeds from an inability to interest the pupils in their work. Some teachers are cold and mechanical in their methods and inspire the pupil with indifference if not a positive dislike for study. Too many persons adopt the profession of teaching merely as a stepping stone to something else, consequently, they take no pride in their work. The daily routine of the school-room is to them nothing but drudgery, the children nothing but a positive bore. Better that all such teachers be weeded out as rapidly as possible and their places filled by earnest, progressive workers.

SCHOOL VISITS BY SUPERINTENDENT. The majority of the schools visited in Sherman county during the past year furnished convincing evidence that zeal and energy were doing good work among the pupils. The children appeared to be most enthusiastic and it was a pleasure to note the readiness with which they responded when called on to recite a lesson or answer a question put to them by the teacher or superintendent. In some of the schools there was a lack of discipline noticeable, and the methods of the teacher were inclined to be loose. These were schools where the teachers employed were young and inexperienced.

CONDITION OF SCHOOL HOUSES. Lack of proper ventilation seems to be a characteristic of many of our country school houses, open doors and windows being the only means of purifying the atmosphere of the schoolroom. In most other respects the condition of the school houses of Sherman county is good.

CONDITION OF SCHOOL PREMISES, APPARATUS, ETC. Considering the fact that Sherman county is only in its infancy, its school officers deserve credit for the manner in which they keep their school premises. Many of the school houses are newly painted and are surrounded by a neat wire fence, the out-buildings and grounds are reasonably well attended to, trees being planted around the school house, and the apparatus and furniture are in most cases suitable to the requirements of the school.

COURSE OF STUDY FOR COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The course of study in vogue at the present time is ample enough to cover all branches of knowledge in which pupils attending the country schools of Oregon should receive instruction. Some of the text-books in use might be changed with advantage, but the branches taught are such as fully meet the needs of our district schools.

AVERAGE ATTENDANCE OF PUPILS, ETC. The average attendance of pupils in the schools of Sherman county does not compare as favorably with the annual census as it should do. There are *03 persons of school age residing in the county, whereas the average daily attendance is only 428. The number of resident pupils enrolled in the public schools is 564, thus it will be seen that there were 239 who did not attend any school during the year. The only reason that can be assigned for this state of things is that the county is a new one and many of the residents are not in a position to give their children, especially the elder ones, such schooling advantages as they would if they were differently situated. Many children are obliged to remain away from school in order to assist their parents on the farm.

TARDINESS, TRUANCY-CAUSES OF. Cases of tardiness and truancy are due to either or both of two causes, viz.: failure on the part of the teacher to awaken in the pupil such an interest in his studies as would stimulate him to punctual attendance, and indifference in the parents.

TEACHERS' READING CIRCLE OF OREGON. Most if not all of the teachers in Sherman county are members of the reading circle.

OREGON SCHOOL EXHIBIT AT THE WORLD'S FAIR, 1893. It is of the utmost importance that Oregon's educational resources be represented at the World's Fair. Literature concerning the public schools of the State should be extensively circulated amongst visitors to the exposition, and a room should be fitted up with charts of various kinds, showing the educational status of each county. For instance, a chart could beprepared for each

county, giving a brief description of each school district therein ; the number of legal voters; number of children enrolled for school purposes; average salary paid male and female teachers, and other information of a like nature. Photographs of the colleges, academies, and smaller school buildings of Oregon should be procured and hung up on the walls of the rooms aforementioned. Each county would, no doubt, cheerfully furnish these pictures at its own expense.

ARBOR DAY, OBSERVANCE OF. The observance of Arbor Day in Sherman county was confined to a few districts, but in these there were very instructive exercises rendered both indoors and on the school grounds. The following, from a local paper, the Moro Observer, gives an idea of the manner in which this day was observed by the pupils of the Moro school :

*Last Friday being Arbor Day was observed with suitable exercises in our public school, a large number of visitors, school officers and patrons being present. Miss Christopher, the principal, bad her pupils well trained, and the programme was rendered in a very successful manner. The literary exercises were given in the Baptist church, after which four trees were planted, one being dedicated to Whittier and one to Washington. Appropriate remarks were made by Mrs. Captain Moore, J. 0. Powell, and others."


Many of the schools of Sherman county visited during the past year afforded me much encouragement in my official work. Teachers appeared to be exerting themselves, and pupils were deeply interested in their studies. One depressing circumstance is the fact that in some districts the school officers do not manifest a sufficient interest in the schools under their jurisdiction. Voters at their annual meeting should exercise the greatest care in the selection of their school officers, being particular not to elect men who are cold and indifferent to the educational interests of the young, nor yet to choose men who are known as “cranks." A man of this latter class can do much to frustrate the good intentions of a school board.

It is particularly discouraging to find a district in which there should be a school in operation but no funds to employ a teacher, and when a meeting is called to vote a tax for school purposes, the penurious ones form a "ring” to defeat it. The people who organize to vote down a sehool tax are, in nine cases out of ten, thoses upon whom the tax if levied would fall the lightest. Upon the county superintendent devolves the task of adjusting differences in school districts and making the educational machinery of his county run as smoothly as possible-no small task in some districts.

GENERAL SUGGESTIONS. At the risk of incurring the charge of iconoclasm, I would suggest that the school laws of Oregon be subjected to a thorough overhauling and the numerous ambiguities eliminaied therefrom. I would begin with section 43, which attempts to prescribe the qualitications of legal voters at school meetings in districts with a population of less than one thousand. That section has given rise to more disputes among school officers and others than all the rest of the school laws put together. Construing the language of section 43 according to its natural and ordinary signification, the reader interprets it to mean that any citizen of this State twenty-one years of age and a resident of the district for 30 days immediately preceding the meeting can vote thereat ; provided, he has property in the district upon which he pays a tax, or has children of school age to educate. He must either have taxable property in the district or have children to educate. Thus the property qualification is unnecessary if he has children of school age. Yet it is universally conceded that the possession of taxable property iu the district is an essential prerequisite to voting. I would therefore suggest that the first clause of section 43 be amended to read as follows: “In all school districts in the State with a population of less than 1,000 a legal voter at a school meeting shall be twenty-one years of age and a citizen of this State, and shall have resided in the district 30 days immediatety preceding the meeting, and shall own property in the district upon which he or she is liable to pay taxes."

Another amendment which I would suggest is an additional proviso in the fifth sub-division of section 54, as follows: "Provided, That district clerks, when making the annual enumeration, shall not include children who, at the time of said enumeration, are preparing to remove into another district where they can be legally enumerated ; and the statement of the parents shall be satisfactory evidence to the clerk of such intended change of residence.”

The foregoing amendments would save a good deal of wrangling and unpleasantness in school districts.

EDUCATIONAL OUTLOOK IN SHERMAN COUNTY. The outlook is undoubtedly good. Larger school houses are being erected and smaller one discarded. Private individuals have, in several districts, donated schoolhouse sites in order to promote the educational interests of the community. The citizens are rapidly paying off their indebtedness, and, unless unexpected circumstances intervene, a period of prosperity is in store for them. Such a condition of things is most favorable to school interests. Taxes for school purposes will more readily be voted, longer terms of school will be taught, better educational facilities will be provided, and, speaking generally, parents will be better able to bear the expense of educating their children.


INSTITUTES. The three days' county institute is now a thing of the past. For the past four years Umatilla county has held normal institutes lasting three and four weeks. The best talent in the State has been engaged for these institutes and much good has resulted from these meetings. Our best teachers usually spend their vacations at some normal or county institute. It would be a great improvement in the art of teaching to pay all teachers an annual salary, provided no teacher should receive a salary during vacation unless he was in attendance at some institute. The progressive movement in the art of teaching, during the past few years, is perhaps due more to the institute than to any other influence. The instructions given, normal methods presented, general disscussions upon various practical questions, the important informal comingling of teachers, promote greatly that professional spirit which is an important qualification of the thorough teacher. If teachers were paid an annual salary, all could attend these normal institutes and the entire scbool system would be greatly benefitted.

LOCAL INSTITUTES. The local institute is equally as important as the annual. These should be held at least once a month. Teachers who prepare papers for these local meetings will be most benefitted. Every teacher should be required to participate in these local meetings. School officers and patrons should be urged to attend. At these local meetings during the past year, the teachers have manifested a great interest in the study of “ Current Events." It is a common saying, and too true, that teachers, as a class, are the most ignorant people. If the teachers will organize, hold more local meetings, study cur

« ÎnapoiContinuați »