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not be so familiar with the particulars of grammarschool studies as are those who come to me directly from the grammar schools. Hence, in determining results, I do not rely wholly upon the percentages obtained by the candidates.
The written examination can be safely trusted to show whether a candidate knows how to express his thoughts in good English, constructing sentences in accordance with the principles of grammar and rhetoric, not omitting care for orthography and punctuation.
The written examination can also be made to reveal the candidate's theoretical knowledge of the ways and means of developing the mental faculties and of imparting knowledge. Such theoretical knowledge has a value that can hardly be over-estimated, and should therefore be possessed by every teacher.
In what way can the possession of actual skill in teaching and in exciting mental activity, and of the power to govern a school, be satisfactorily ascertained ? Surely not by a written examination, for, as every one will admit, a person may hold the wisest opinions in regard to what ought to be done in these most important departments of education, and may discourse upon them in the most eloquent and convincing manner, and yet, in actual practice, may dismally fail. This is no uncommon experience.
How, then, can the desired information be obtained ? If the candidate for an appointment have had no experience in teaching, the only satisfactory method is to give him a trial in the school-room. Something of probable success may be presumed from the known and certified characteristics of the candidate ; but the test in the school-room is the only reliable one. If the can
didate have had experience in teaching, trustworthy evidence concerning his success can usually be obtained ; and if he be in present charge of a school, a visit to his school, made by a competent judge, will reveal more in regard to his skill as a teacher and his power as a disciplinarian than can possibly be ascertained by a formal examination. So far as this skill and this power are concerned, I would give more for a half-day's observation of a teacher's work in the school-room than I would give for any amount of examination papers.
In regard to the last of the qualifications of the teacher that were named, physical health and power of endurance, I have time to say but a word. It is obvious that a teacher ought to have such health as will permit him to labor for his pupils, cheerfully, hopefully; and such power of endurance as will enable him to accomplish without interruption as much work as can justly be required of any teacher. The measure of the requisite health and endurance is not Fairbanks's scales or a patent lifting machine. Were that so, there would be some eliminations from the ranks of teachers. To ascertain a candidate's physical competency, I know of no better way — in addition to ordinary observation — than to obtain the professional testimony of a good physician.
In closing I have simply to add that the examination of teachers is a work of great delicacy and of the utmost importance; and that on the part of the examiners it demands perfect impartiality, the most careful judgment, a thorough knowledge of human nature, of the laws of mind, and of the principles of teaching, and a practical acquaintance with the application of those laws and principles to the education of the young.
By L. ALONZO BUTTERFIELD,
BOSTON, MASS. The problem of a universal alphabet has periodically excited much interest among philologists for many generations. This universal alphabet must necessarily be a phonetic alphabet, having distinct characters to represent distinct sounds. The philologists of Europe have attempted to select characters representing the same or similar sounds in various languages, as the basis for a universal alphabet. They found, after a considerable investigation, that the characters multiplied beyond their convenience, and other difficulties increased in like manner.
One of the most notable attempts to form a universal alphabet, previous to the discovery of visible speech, was organized by Chevalier Bunsen, in 1854, when an assemblage of European philologists was convened for that purpose at the Prussian Embassy in London. After four meetings the conference adjourned without having accomplished anything further than ascertaining that at that period the requisite physiological basis for such an alphabet was yet to be discovered. The results of the conference were embodied in a set of resolutions concerning future investigations.
Alexander Melville Bell, F. E. I. S., F. R. S. S. A., professor in Edinburgh University, had made the study of sounds and their symbolization one of his favorite pursuits for more than twenty years before the elementary classification, on which the subject of visible speech is based, was perfected.
All articulation depends upon the parts of organs used in speech, and the relation of these parts to each other. Mr. Bell discovered the universal phonetic basis of language by a careful and experimental study of all the organs and parts of organs used in articulation, and all the positions and relations in which they are adjusted in the production of speech. Mr. Bell discovered the principles of the alphabet early in the year 1864, and shortly afterwards invented a set of physiological symbols in which all languages can be written. He gave to each organ, and part of an organ, used in articulation, a distinctive symbol pictorial of the part used ; also the relations of the parts to each other he symbolized in a similar manner, so that each symbol in the alphabet indicates to the eye what organs or parts are used, and the definite positions in which these organs or parts are placed in the production of any element. Each letter or symbol representing any sound is therefore pictorial of the exact positions of the organs used in the production of that sound; thus there is a direct association of the form presented to the eye with the sound presented to the ear.
Ordinary characters or letters are the visible forms by which sounds of speech are conventionally expressed. These letters have no relation to sound. The associations are entirely arbitrary. In different countries the same letters are associated with different sounds. That which we call “P,” is “R” to the Greek and Russians; our “E” is “A” to the French and Italians, and many others; our “I” is their “E”; our “A” is their " Ah,” etc. Besides this international diversity, a variety of sounds are associated with a single letter in the same language, and no alphabet contains a single character for each sound. In this respect the English language is very imperfect. We have various sounds represented by the single letter 66 A,” as in the words take, art, ball, ask, and hat; also we use the letter “E” to represent various sounds, as in the words be, met, her. We have the letters “G” and “S,” each representing more than one sound, and we have no adequate means of describing those sounds. We sometimes use the terms “ sub-vocal” and “aspirate,” but these are indefinite terms. We often have them described in text-books as “hard” and “ soft," but this description in itself is meaningless, for what to the French ear may be soft, by the German ear may be considered hard. In the alphabet of visible speech, every letter has a fixed phonetic value, which is the same in all languages, every sound its own appropriate symbol, and each part of every letter has a definite physiological meaning.
There are two sets of organs used in articulation, the upper and passive set, consisting of the upper lip, upper gum, centre of hard palate, soft palate, etc.; the lower and active set of organs, consisting of lower lip, point of tongue, top of tongue, back of tongue, etc., which move toward or against the upper set in the act of articulation.
In visible speech the character or symbol used to represent the English “P” indicates to the eye that the