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are some who are disposed occasionally to make the worse appear the better cause. It is the right of the committee to satisfy themselves that the teacher is honest. I remember some years ago attending the examination of a certain school, where the examination of each scholar was conducted by the teacher. Everything passed off in the most brilliant manner apparently; and I said to myself, “ If this examination has been an honest one, this school is an extraordinary school.” Immediately after the close of the examination, I said to a young lady, a member of the school, “ Did you know what problems in arithmetic were coming to you to-day ?” Said she, “I did.” Now, in a case like thạt, an examination conducted by the committee would have detected the swindling. I know that the master of a school somewhat famous for its brilliant examinations said to his first class one day, “ Boys, when I put a question to you to-morrow, I want you all to raise your hands, whether you know the answer or not, and I will be responsible for picking out somebody that does know it.” Now, so long as cases like these exist, — and they will exist until the millennium, - I say it is the right, and not only the right but the absolute duty of a committee to satisfy themselves that the teacher is honest; for what are the intellectual instructions given by a teacher worth compared with the vast mischief done by a dishonest teacher, teaching his scholars directly to lie ? I hold that it detracts nothing from the teacher's dignity or his rights for the committee-man to conduct, to a certain extent, the examination of his scholars. The dishonest teacher may object; the man who deals in shows and humbugs may object; but the honest man, the honest woman, is glad to have the committee know that he or she teaches honestly.
I will answer the question, therefore, in a single word or two. My views in regard to the proper parties to conduct an
examination are these. First of all the teacher should commence the examination, show what he has tried to do, and, so far as he can, what he actually has done; show the principles upon which he has tried to teach, and the principles upon which he has conducted the discipline of the school. Then let the committee take the school in hand, and ascertain, if need be, what the teacher has failed to do, and whether what he has pretended to do has or has not been done.
Rev. Mr. Morley, of Andover, Mass. There is a fourth method of examination adopted in many of our schools, and which, I think, is gaining favor; and that is to let the pupil examine himself. That is to say, a particular section of the studies being assigned of considerable length, the pupil is required to state all he knows about it. This method, of course, implies the use of the other instrumentalities that have been spoken of. It requires the agency of the teacher and the committee.
I have been in schools where the scholars answered only leading questions in their studies. I do not know whether there is anybody here who has had any experience with Rowell C. Smith's series of books. I had a regular fight for years in Connecticut against those books; and with very few exceptions, I believe they are not now used at all in the schools. His books were constructed on the idea of leading questions, and all the pupils had to do was to say “No” or “ Yes," as a general thing. I remember being requested on one occasion to examine a class in geography. I took up the book, and began at the head. “Well, my little fellow, what are the general divisions of the earth ?” Of course you will all say, “Land and water.” He was perfectly mum, and could not answer. “Well” (to the next), “ what is the largest division of land ?” He could not make any reply. So I went round the class asking questions in the elements of geography, and
I did not get one single answer. They had been taught to answer from the leading questions of Smith's book, and not one replied. I just threw down the book. The teacher took it up and asked leading questions, and those leading questions were answered. What, I ask, did that school know of geography ?
Another way is for the scholars to answer from mere memory; but when the memory fails, there is nothing to fall back upon as a general principle. Another way is for the scholars to answer interrogatively. The pupil, instead of answering distinctly, and saying, “ It is so,” just answers in the form of an interrogation, keeping his eye on the teacher to note his assent to it. There is no independence of thought in such a method as that, and the scholar ought never to be allowed to resort to such a process. He ought to learn to answer from his own independent thought and knowledge.
I was recently present at the examination of a female seminary, whose teacher stood very high. As I went in, the last pupil in a class of nine was being examined in Butler's Analogy. As they got through, a gentleman who was a college graduate made this remark, “ My class did not sustain so good an examination when we graduated as those young ladies.” Well, I repeated that remark to the teacher for her encouragement; and she replied, “ There were only two or three young ladies in that class who knew anything about Butler's Analogy.” Now, you can infer from that fact, that where a teacher examines a school, the committee having no hand in it, he can put the hardest questions to the best scholars, and the easiest ones to the poorest scholars, so that they may appear to know all about their studies, when in fact they know nothing about them.
I would not, as a teacher, I do not, favor a scholar in the least. I think entire honesty requires that I shall not, and
that the scholar should be made to understand it. I was much pleased with the remarks the gentleman on my left [Mr. Hagar] made on this subject. I do not wish to have scholars taught to deceive in this respect; and they are taught to do so when you favor them, and give them easy questions to answer, because they are poor scholars, and they know it.
The method adopted at Phillips Academy, in Andover, is this. The teacher takes the lead, and asks the questions; at the same time, the Trustees assign the place — say in Greek or Latin — that the scholar shall be examined upon. They ask additional questions, if they please; and in that way a very fair understanding is obtained in regard to what the scholars know of the particular subject.
There is no doubt, then, that teachers may be dishonest; that, however honest they may be, the examination should not be left entirely to them, but that the committee or trustees should take part in it. I think our committees are not thorough enough. I think there is too much disposition to be easy, and put in teachers not competent. Committees are not very well paid, sometimes not paid at all, for their services; but they ought to be just as honest as if they were, and not slur over examinations, and in consequence let our schools go down, and in a measure become nuisances. They ought to make thorough work in the examinations. Almost as much, I do not know but even more, depends upon the thoroughness of the committees as upon the teachers themselves.
Prof. Harkness, of Providence, R. I. We are all agreed, I believe, that teaching is a profession. It is certainly time that all teachers should be agreed upon that subject. Moreover, we are all agreed that it is a most important and arduous profession; one which furnishes scope for the highest mental faculties; one which requires the choicest attainments, both intellectual and moral. The teacher is employed to discharge high professional duties; intrusted with many of the most sacred and vital interests of society. Now in the discharge of this duty the teacher must be left independent, free from all unnecessary rules; just as free in the exercise of his duty as a judge upon the supreme bench. The true teacher cannot work in harness like a beast of burthen. The moment you attempt to interfere with his freedom, with the outgrowth of his natural power, you not only degrade him, but you deprive him of all that power which can be of any service to you in the school, and thus peril the most vital interests of your school. The teacher, instead of being a live man, performing his own work in his own way, becomes a cold and lifeless machine; and the school, which should be a scene of life, animation, and enthusiasm, where all the best faculties alike of teacher and scholar are in full, joyous play, becomes a scene of inaction; a place very often enervating, stupefying, stultifying, instead of developing, expanding, and enriching.
It seems to me, then, that it is the right of the teacher, his professional right, to examine his class, and show what has been done. That is the object of the examination, not to show what has not been done. Any man can go into a school and show what has not been done. The teacher has been employed for a definite work, and for the proper performance of this work he is responsible. The teacher, then, alone, has the requisite qualifications for this particular work. Observe what it requires. First, a knowledge of the subject-matter, whether it be arithmetic, geology, or whatever it may be. Perhaps most committees have not the requisite knowledge upon the subjects in regard to which the scholars are examined. What teacher does not recall in his experience many instances in which he was placed in the unpleasant dilemma of being obliged either to correct the mistakes of the com