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superintendence as will secure a proper grading of the schools. The schools are to be graded, not according to age, nor height, nor race, nor the accidents of birth and wealth, nor wholly according to any visible standard which the unlearned as well as the learned may see with their physical sight, but according to the power and training of the minds of those who are to be classified. These marks are invisible except to those who have made them an object of special study. They are invisible to the many; but they are of more importance in the classification than the possession of mere information, or the ability to repeat accurately words that have been committed to memory.
But not only must the number of schools be determined, and the pupils in them arranged in classes according to their best ability to learn, but proper courses of studies must be constructed ; and there is need of such superintendence as shall be wise enough to construct them. These courses must be so made that the pupils may have presented to them appropriate and orderly topics of study. A good course of studies is the product of wisdom and experience. To produce such a course, one must understand the modes and the order of activity the mind is able to exert, and the proper objects of thought to present as occasions for the different activities the mind produces as its powers unfold themselves. He must also understand the relations elementary holds to scientific knowledge, and the effect that the pursuit of any branch of study will have on the character of the mind, in leading it toward the state called education. With all this knowledge in mind, and with a successful experience in applying it, a course of studies may be made which will call the mind to such an exertion of its powers as to furnish it with useful information and with practical training, If this work is done by those who think that the term 6 practical” applies to knowledge only, or that the pursuit of ornamental branches of study is not as necessary to the future well-being of the scholar as the pursuit of those branches which relate to the physical necessities of life, then the work in the schools will be degraded, by directing it all toward the accomplishment of an inferior end.
No one but an intelligent educator would be likely to introduce, into a course of studies to be taught in a common school, any branch of learning that does not offer such information as man, considered to be a plıysical being merely, would need to know. If the aims of our schools are low, it is because those who have authority to give to them their character are not aware that the ability to provide for personal wants, to perform well the duties of private and public life, and to secure for one's self the best ends the human mind is capable of choosing, is not the result of mere information of any kind, but of that training of the mind which the pursuit of a well-chosen and rightly arranged course of studies is adapted to produce.
The value of a topic of study depends upon two things : first, upon its relations to the mind, by which it awakens such a vigorous and prolonged activity as will result in a right mental development; second, upon its relations to other topics, by which it furnishes that elementary knowledge which is necessary to the acquisition of other knowledge. The intensity of activity awakened by an object of thought will depend on its adaptation to occasion such knowledge as is interesting and necessary for the mind to know. The duration of it will be modified by the amount of new knowledge the topic offers as a reward for study. All these things must be considered in choosing the topics that are allowed to enter into a course of studies. Then, after the choice is made, the topics chosen are to be arranged in the course so as to meet the wants of the mind as its powers are developed, and so that the student will be permitted to master the elements of a science before he is required to master the science itself. Not much of all this work is now done for our common schools. It never will be done until the supervision of the internal work of the schools is committed to educated men, and to those whose duty it is to give their entire time to school affairs. .
Not only must the school superintendence secure a proper course of studies, but it must also direct the teacher to the best method of teaching the branches of study constructed into the course. A method is the way of doing anything. There are two methods of teaching. One establishes such relations between the learner and the objects of his study as render the acquisition of knowledge possible, and mental training the sure result of the activity exerted in acquiring knowledge. The other, ignoring the laws of the mind, and the true end to strive for as the result of study, violates all the principles of teaching, puts the mental powers of the pupil to sleep, and creates an abiding distaste for study. It is said by many who fancy they are contending for freedom from those artificial formalities which arise from a blind following of artificial rules, that methods must have their origin in the minds of those who use them, or they will be mechanical and unnatural. The saying expresses much that is true, but more that is false. As the mind is the object to be taught, the principles of teaching must be found in the nature of the mind. If ideas are awakened for the first time only by the presence of their objects ; if the teaching of language implies the previous teaching of all that language expresses ; if mental training is an effect whose only cause is the right exertion of mental power; if the human mind in all its acts and in all its growth is subject to immutable laws, – then a true method of teaching is not an invention to be made by every teacher for himself, but a discovery to be found only by those who study for the principles upon which a rational method must be founded. A method of teaching taken on from the outside, as is done by mere imitators, or a method that is communicated from one mind to another directly, without reference to principles, as is done by those trained and taught in some of our training schools, is liable to degenerate into an empty formality. On the other hand, a method founded on the known laws of the mind, although as fixed and philosophical as the laws themselves, yet in its application will furnish an abundant opportunity for the free exercise of an inventive genius. In teaching, there will always be occasions for native genius and acquired skill to express themselves in contriving new means of illustration, in obtaining and preparing objects of study, and in all that which may be classed under the general head of manner. Two teachers using the same method will differ widely in their manner. One will burden his teaching with many words, and awaken more ideas than his pupil can convert into knowledge: the other will endeavor to conceal himself as much as possible, doing
no more than is necessary to direct the mind of the learner in the investigation of the object of his study. One will teach with his mind wholly absorbed in the subject he is presenting : the other will give constant attention to the individual wants of him who is taught.
We must not hope for a radical change in the present methods of teaching, if there is no outside demand for it; nor must we hope for an intelligent demand, except it shall first be made by educated men, and by those educated men who have been set apart and commissioned to study teaching for its philosophy and its methods.
But the external conditions of a good school may all be supplied, and the school itself still have no existence; the good teacher may be wanting. The schools demand a superintendence which shall secure good teachers. Until the good teacher appears, all hope for good educational results will be disappointed. There are four kinds of causes that contribute to the production of a school:
1. There is the material cause, consisting of pupils and the means employed in teaching.
2. The formal cause, or the plan in accordance with which the school is to be organized, the course of studies made out, and the methods of teaching determined.
3. The final cause, or the reason why the school should exist.
4. The efficient cause, or the teacher who produces the school itself.
It is because the teacher produces the institution called the school, and makes it accord with his own character and conduct, that he should not be wanting