Imagens da página

few months. Washington and Missouri are added to the list of States adopting the “State contract” system. Boards appointed by the governor are to contract with publishers to supply the schools of the State with text-books in the common branches for a period of five years. State uniformity in text-books is a necessary accompaniment of this system. Quite a different policy is that of Iowa. Nothing more extensive than county uniformity is aimed at, and even that is left to the option of the districts. Each district board is authorized to contract for books to be supplied to pupils at cost. (There is no requirement as to dealing directly with publishers.) If a majority of the voters express themselves in favor of uniformity throughout the county, a county board of education, consisting of the county superintendent, the county auditor, and the county board of supervisors, is to select and contract for all books used. The Mississippi law of 1890 differs from that of Iowa in making provisions for county uniformity and county contracts mandatory, rather than optional with the districts. It is made the duty of the county boards of education to provide for the adoption of a uniform series of text-books every fifth year. Teachers are forbidden to give instruction to any pupil who is not supplied with the books thus adopted.

In New Jersey the trustees of all public schools are authorized, by a law of 1890, to provide text-books for the free use of pupils. No vote of the districts is required, as in Michi. gan, but there is nothing to compel the trustees to act in the matter. Nebraska has just adopted the Michigan plan of local option. Ohio has made the supplying of books to indigent pupils mandatory.


The Legislature of Arkansas, at its recent session, passed an act “to improve the teaching in the public schools." This act provides for the establishment of eight normal schools six for white teachers, and two for colored. These schools are to hold consecutive sessions of three months each during

[ocr errors]

the year. The courses of instruction are to have more direct reference to the needs of the rural communities than to those of the towns. There will be at least one school in each congressional district of the State, and it is hoped that the system will exert an influence upon remote districts which could not be reached by institutions located in the centers of population exclusively. The legislative grant for the maintenance of these schools is meager-only $2000 a year for the eight, but it is the first appropriation that Arkansas has ever made for the specific purpose of training her teachers. It is welcomed by the trustees of the Peabody fund, and others interested in the education and elevation of both races, as a distinct ad


In Missouri, provision is made for a teachers' institute in each county, to continue for one month, for the training and licensing of teachers. A State training school is to be maintained for the preparation of institute conductors and instructors.

In Massachusetts and Minnesota, the diplomas of State normal schools are made equivalent in effect to teachers' certificates. A new statute of Oregon defines the qualifications requisite to obtain a “State diploma.”


The firm hold which the State universities have gained in most of the Western States is evidenced by the increasing liberality in legislative appropriations. Wisconsin, for example, has provided for an annual addition to the university income of some $50,000 for the next six years. This is obtained by increasing the State tax. Ohio has made similar grants.

The College of South Carolina has been less fortunate of late. The policy of “economy" introduced by the Farmers' Alliance administration is said to have seriously crippled an institution of which the State has had good reason to be proud.

In Maine, the policy of making State appropriations to the

county academies in the State lias been steadily growing in favor. The granting of subsidies of $500 to $1000 a year to these institutions, in addition to the aid given by the State to over 200 free high schools, can hardly fail to diffuse an interest in higher education, and thereby lead to an increased attendance in the colleges. Such, at least, is the view of prominent educators in the State.

The university extension movement has at last reached legislative halls. On the first day of May, 1891, the Governor of New York signed the bill authorizing the Regents of the university to organize courses of instruction on the university extension plan in the different cities, towns, and villages of the State, and to conduct examinations. The Regents are to establish a sort of central bureau for this work. The entire expense of the lecture courses is to be borne by the communia ties benefited. The headquarters at Albany will somewhat resemble the university centers of England in relation to the general extension movement. Lecturers will be recommended, and various aids furnished. All friends of the movement will watch with great interest the experiment about to be undertaken by the Empire State.







READING. “The logical sequence in learning oral language is: first, the object; second, the idea; third, the word; therefore the same order should be followed in learning to read written or printed language.” This has been adopted by many modern educational writers as the philosophical basis of their methods of teaching elementary reading. I venture to raise the fol. lowing objections to the principle:

1. Visible language is not a new language. In any of its varied forms, visible language is simply a means of representa ing the oral language with which the child is already familiar. The problem of learning to read is not the acquisition of new names for ideas or things. The words in written or printed language are identical with those of spoken language. Oral and visible language are not two different languages, but one language with two modes of representation or expression, one recognizable through the ear, and the other through the eye. Reading is the art of extracting thought from visible language. He is a perfect reader who can acquire thought from visible language as readily as from oral language.

2. The conceptions expressed or represented by visible language are not new. They cannot be new. A word representing an object with which the child is not acquainted, suggests no idea to his mind. The ideas recalled to the mind by visible language of any kind must have been in the mind previously, or they could not be recalled. The thought and the language must have been learned before a pupil can read or recognize them in visible form. The thought and the language remain unchanged. There is no new thought to require a new language, therefore the new form of the language cannot be learned as was the old form (the oral) in direct association with, and as the immediate result of, new thought fresh from new objects. 3. Learning to read is not a means of extending the child's

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

vocabulary. His vocabulary should be increased by systematic
language lessons. It will also be necessary to explain to him
the meaning and use of some of the words in his reading les-
son. Such explanations are in reality no part of the reading
lesson proper. It is a pity that new words should form any
part of the visible language the child is learning to recognize.
When they are found in the reading matter they should be
explained before the child makes any attempt to read them.
The child should not be allowed to try to read any word in
visible language before he is familiar with its use in oral lan-
guage. Language lessons and reading lessons must not be

4. Oral language is natural; visible language, in any form,
is artificial. All children not deaf, learn to speak without di-
rect training No thoughtful parent ever said to a child,
* This is a spoon, or a cup, or a doll, or a chair," while point-
ing to the thing named, with the intention of teaching the
names of things. How utterly absurd such a lesson would be!

Children use oral language naturally. This is their natural way of communicating to others the ideas they have in their minds. If they have the ideas definitely, their language will be correspondingly definite. They use the oral language used by those with whom they associate, English, French, German, as the case may be. They speak the language correctly if they hear it spoken correctly. Correct pronunciation and correct construction are as easily learned as incorrect. Oral lan. guage, being natural, is learned without conscious effort. Visible language, being artificial, has to be learned by con

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

scious process.

[ocr errors]

5. When using oral language the thought suggests the words; in reading, the words must suggest the thought. In oral language the idea must precede the word, because oral language is a means of expressing thought, and a thought cannot be expressed until it has been conceived; and as the clearest conceptions come from real things, the logical order for spoken language must be: object, idea, word. All these conditions are reversed in reading, however, and therefore we cannot logically follow the same process. It is quite true that visible language is, like oral language, the expression of thought; but reading is the recognition, not the expression, of thought. In reading, the idea is received through the word, not the word from the idea, and so we must begin with the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »