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please confer a life annuity at the end of a given term of service, say twenty or twenty-five years, and we shall have laid the foundation for a permanent rather than a floating profession. Uneasiness and uncertainty in regard to salary is one of the most disturbing agencies in our work. Nothing depresses personal enthusiasm so much as to be constantly harassed as to one's financial concerns. It is all wrong that we should be forced to our wit's ends to make our salaries cover our annual expenditures, and then forced into a heated, feverish term of excitement lest the next year's income should be reduced and we compelled to make new terms with the landlady and she in turn reduce her grocer's bill proportionally. It is a high crime and misdemeanor for the State to ask us to expend our best energies in the instruction of her youth, and then require us to use the balance in solving the problem of how to make the week's wages meet the week's necessary expenses. To remedy this enormity, equally an injustice to the teacher and to society, we need first a competent and impartial board to judge of the qualifications of those who may enter the profession, as in law, medicine, and theology. When once over the threshold, we want the protection of provisional and life certificates, and the assurance of a comfortable living so long as we continue to give our services for the good of our fellows, and when we have served our day and generation in school work, to have a sufficient reserve against “the rainy days” of the teacher's life.
It is most gratifying in this connection to quote from a distinguished English authority, the Bishop of Manchester, as to the comparative worth of American teachers. After referring to the want of more complete appliances for the training of teachers, he says, 6. There is a greater natural aptitude in American than in English women for the work of teaching. They certainly have the gift of turning what they do know to the best account; they are self-possessed, energetic, fearless; they are admirable disciplinarians, firm without severity, patient without weakness. Their manner of teaching is lively, and fertile in illustration; classes are not apt to fall asleep in their hands. They are proud of their position, and fired with a laudable ambition to maintain the credit of the school, a little too anxious, perhaps, to parade its best side and screen its defects; a little too sensitive of blame, a little too greedy of praise. I know not the country in which the natural material out of which to shape the very best of teachers is produced in such abundance as in the United States.” In the midst of much that would tend to discourage us, it is encouraging to refer to the testimony of so valuable a witness.
SOCIAL STATUS OF THE TEACHER.
There is one compensation which we enjoy to a large degree in this country which is denied to the teachers of most other countries, and which may properly be referred to here. It is the high social rank and privileges of our profession. The teacher is shut out from no society merely on account of being a teacher. More likely than otherwise, the avenues to social life are more easy of access by reason of the training and culture which our educators, men and women, possess. In England the teacher stands on the social level of the hall servant. Often he must join with the business
of teaching the work of beadle, parish clerk, verger, or sexton. Quoting from Bishop Fraser on this point: “As to the character and repute of the teacher's profession in America, it certainly stands very high. The teacher of the homblest district school occupies a far higher social position than the teacher of an elementary school in England. All hangs upon the teacher's personal character and qualifications: as far as his profession is concerned, he is on a level with anybody. I was occasionally invited to visit their homes. They appeared to me to live in a sort of cheerful and refined frugality, able to exercise a hearty but inexpensive hospitality.”
Standing on such high vantage-ground, the American teacher should not rest satisfied with ordinary attainments and results. Much has been done, more remains, to satisfy our ideal of the truly successful educator. It is the special work of the American Institute to shape and energize these educational forces, to quicken to higher attainments in professional life, to release our systems from the dead weights of incompetency in high and low places, to give to our profession the functions of permanency and power, to secure for it the proper rewards which an intelligent society should ever render for intelligent service. May the labors of this session tend to the most practical results in these directions, and may you all find it the occasion for a larger and broader outlook over educational fields, even as from the summit of Mt. Washington you can feast the eye on the broad landscape which stretches away over mountain-peaks, hill-tops, valleys, rivers, towns, villages, and farms in the west, as well as toward a limitless ocean of azure on the east.
By HON. J. W. DICKINSON,
SECRETARY BOARD OF EDUCATION, MASS.
SUCCESS in the application of any plan of labor, mental or physical, requires unity of action. If the labor is performed by many agents, unity of action is possible only so far as the many are brought under the direction of one controlling power. Upon this principle is founded the philosophy of superintendence in the various departments of human labor. The necessity and economy of an efficient supervision is nowhere more apparent than when considered in connection with the public schools of a country. There is not an educator, whose opinion has any part in forming that concurrent opinion which must be taken as a rule of action, who does not advocate a thorough and universal system of school supervision. The question, therefore, whether or not such a system should be established, need not be discussed. The system is already established ; and so universally does it prevail, that there is not a public school in the land that is not shaped or affected in some way by an authorized supervision. But as there are now many in this country holding authority over the schools, who have neither the time nor the opportunity to know what are the requisites of a good school, and to establish the necessary conditions to its existence, the supervision we have is not always intelligent in its kind or systematic in its application.
From a knowledge of these facts there may arise two questions : –
1st, What kind of superintendence do the schools demand?
2d, How shall the right kind be obtained ?
And, first, the schools need a superintendence that shall accurately determine how many of them a town can with the best results maintain. Great waste will follow if the number be too many or too few. In the first case, the teacher must be of the cheaper kind, and the schools must be short; in the second case, the work will be so great in amount that thorough teaching is impossible. There are towns in this Commonwealth where schools are supported for from three to eight children; and the authorities of the town and the parents of the children are in many cases to be persuaded that it is a wise economy to pay money for the transportation of children over the country far enough to reach a good school, rather than subject them to the unmeasured personal loss they must inevitably experience from a poor one, though it is found at their door. In other towns there are schools with seventy, eighty, or even ninety children, under the care — we can hardly say under the instruction - of a single teacher; and the town authorities and the tax-payers need to be persuaded that it is poor economy, in order to save the expense of another school, to subject themselves to the utter waste of the money expended on the one now maintained, and the children to the irreparable loss of time and opportunity for proper instruction.
Another answer to the question may be: Such a