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fully our public schools, and lead them to produce the best results of which they are capable.
4. The employment of a sufficient number of superintendents to superintend all the schools must be made compulsory.
The demand for an educated supervision of the schools is imperative, and we have no reason to hope for great and good results until it exists. When this supervision is established, Massachusetts will have one of the best systems of common schools to be found in the world.
EXAMINATION OF TEACHERS,
By HON, J. W. CORTHELL,
It is an acknowledged fact that the main-stay of a good school is a good teacher. Build the school as you may, have the best appliances in the land, and with a poor teacher you have nothing but a poor school ; hence the importance of being able to distinguish between the capable and incapable teacher. Yet it is a grave question if too much stress has not been laid upon the examination of teachers.
There are certain points which cannot be settled by any written examination. What written examination can inform you as to the temper of a teacher? Yet this is a very important item, for without a smooth and even temper I doubt if there can be a very successful teacher. What written or oral examination can determine positively if the teacher possesses that quick magnetic sympathy by which he or she is able to reach each individual mind, and so vivify and enlighten the moral and intellectual powers latent in the minds of the pupils ? And the same may be said in regard to the power of governing and ability to impart instruction. They can only be fully tested by personal examination in the school-room, and that should be the work of the examining inspector. The use of examinations, then, is to insure that the teacher has a knowledge of the subjects he is going to teach, and a good theoretical preparation.
Many consider that to be a successful teacher one must be so qualified by nature. Granted, that as a minister, lawyer, or doctor may perchance be born with certain natural qualities which by careful development may result in making of them very successful men, yet with these special faculties there must still be a certain preparation which can only be obtained by experience and study. In the teacher's profession this experience is far too costly for the people, the children, and the parents. Professional training gives the teacher this necessary experience, and enables him, previous to practice, to make experiments in the principles of teaching based upon the laws of intellect, and it is to test this experience that written examinations are adapted. They can and should test the theoretical preparation of the teacher. They can also test in some degree the power to teach, as this power always requires clearly defined ideas on the part of the teacher; for without a clear, concise, and definite conception of the studies to be taught, there will be but indifferent instructors. The question then arises, How often is it necessary to thus examine teachers? I answer, ONCE FOR ALL. In this respect we should implicitly follow the customs of other learned professions. In Germany a candidate for the bar has to pass a rigid examination, and, I believe, passes some sort of examination in America before becoming qualified to practise. But after being a successful lawyer for some years, suppose a self-constituted tribunal should start up and say, We want to examine you to see that you have not grown rusty. I think they would be laughed to derision; but when it comes to the teacher, that is a different matter altogether. He must pass an examination on commencing his work, again after three months' practice, as I believe is the case in New Jersey ; at the end of the year they must pass another examination and then another. And I understand some think of re-examining them again after fifteen or twenty years of service. Why is this? If the teacher is getting rusty in his work, it is the business of the supervisor, superintendent, or others to see to it, and if necessary displace him. But I hold it as just and wise, that having once passed a competent examination, this should be a life certificate to teach. The all-important question then arises, by whom should these examinations be conducted? The representative of the Massachusetts Board of Education stated that there might possibly be many school committees in his State who were incompetent to fill this office, and I am afraid there are many other States in the same predicament. I know of an examining board consisting of three men, who have examined a quantity of teachers, and not one of these ever studied the English grammar, and but one can write his own name.
The examination of teachers should not only be conducted by an educated board, but also by a board of specially qualified school examiners. As an instance of the necessity of this, I may mention a case that came under my own observation of the doings of a so-called educated board. A certain young lady had been refused a certificate by this board to teach. As I knew that she was a well-qualified teacher, I thought I would
inquire into the matter. I found that she had been examined by a board composed of a lawyer, a minister, and a doctor. Further inquiry elicited that each of them had his pet hobby. The minister was a grammarian of " ye olden time,” the doctor a mathematician, and the lawyer was the political adjunct. They accordingly asked her certain grammatical, mathematical, and political puzzles, which not being answered satisfactorily according to their notions, she was refused a certificate. These were educated men, but certainly not skilled school examiners. It requires men of great and versatile experience to be able to ask such suggestive questions as can fully test the general knowledge and capabilities of a teacher. It is very easy to give simple puzzles and test a person's knowledge on particular points, but examining boards have, or should have, a far more difficult duty to perform, and hence should be composed of professional teachers only. Who would think of building a ship, and asking a doctor to examine it to see if it was seaworthy? But you can build your schools, send your children there, and then get men who have not been in school for forty years, and know nothing of modern methods and regime, to go and examine the teachers, simply because some of these men once attended a college. The absurdity of this foolish system is only too evident. The examining board should consist of teachers of the highest ability and success. How shall this desideratum be brought about? The present system of the election of officers by the people does not seem to secure us the necessary men. I would here suggest that perhaps it is not impossible that the appointment of competent men by the governurs of the various States might secure us these better