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that he cannot treat of religion without giving his own views. That he has stated his own views, he admits ; that it was right for him to do so, he argues ; and that he shall continue to do so while he has the honor to be a public teacher, he declares. To this, while Prof. Atkinson is a teacher in a public institution, the Watchman and Reflector objects, be his opinions orthodox or heterodox.
Personally, we esteem Prof. Atkinson very highly, but we think him entirely wrong in the position he has taken. We do not understand that a professor of English literature is bound to express his opinions in the class-room upon every subject treated upon by English writers. It takes nothing from his claim to be an “honest thinker," that he leaves something to be expounded by professors of science, philosophy, or theology. Nor need it detract from his dignity, if, when he is asked questions which unwisely lead into other departe ments of study, he should simply say that to answer such questions would lead to discussions which had better be carried on elsewhere.
It is the settled policy of Massachusetts that all her public educational institutions shall be free from sectarian bias; and this in the interests of education, and even in the interests of religion itself. Teachers may belong to whatever sect of Christians, or to whatever body of non-Christians they will, but in their class-rooms and schools they must conscientiously hold back from sight their theological, or lack of theological opinions, and honestly do the special work assigned them. The same course of reasoning that makes it the duty of Prof. Atkinson to announce his anti-supernaturalistic views of religion to a class he is guiding in the study of literature, will make it the duty of every High School teacher and Grammar School teacher under the same or like circumstances, to announce his peculiar religious views whatever they may be. Let such a course be followed, and our public school system will very soon come to an end.
We believe in “freedom of teaching." We are enjoying it. In the subjects we teach, we are perfectly free to proceed according to our own notions, and follow our own methods. But because young people are sent to us for certain specified purposes, we do not claim, nor wish, the freedom of teaching them our peculiar political, philosophical, or theological opinions.
It is but just to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to add that the government of the Instiute have unanimously adopted the following resolution :
Resolved, That in giving instruction to the pupils of the Institute, by lectures or otherwise, no professor or teacher shall inculcate any particular religious tenets or belief, or shall advocate or oppose any creed or doctrines held by any class or denomination of Christian believers.
THE BIBLE IN SCHOOLS. The Commonwealth, a newspaper ably conducted, and alive to present issues, says :
The Massachusetts Teacher is among the best publications of the kind, but the editorial in the March number on “ The Bible and the Schools” (insisting upon the Bible reading) is well calculated to please Catholics, and the editor's request to them not to be displeased is quite superfluous. No one can displease them in that way. The Catholic leaders are trembling in their shoes for fear that this cause of complaint will be removed. They want sectarian schools. Only so can their ascendancy over the Catholic population be maintained permanently. To remove the Protestant badge from the public schools would be to cut their claws. Nota bene.
Is it upon this principle that the Commonwealth accounts for the following from the New York Tablet ?
To us, godless schools are still less acceptable than sectarian schools; and we object less to the reading of King James's Bible, even in the schools, than we do to the exclusion of all religious instruction. American Protestantism of the orthodox stamp is far less evil than German infidelity.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION. The thirty-third Annual Report of the Board of Education is not behind its predecessors in interest, and indicates that the motto of the old Commonwealth is still" Progress." The inadequacy of the supply of trained teachers from our Normal Schools is shown, -one hundred and sixty, the number of graduates a year, being but a small part of the number required for our schools. The large majority of teachers now annually employed are graduates of our High Schools.
Schools and provision be made for a six months' course of instruction in these schools for those who desire to become teachers, the normal system will become diffused throughout the State. Increased appropriations for the current expenses of the Normal Schools are recommended, and also the enlargement of the buildings at Bridgewater and Salem. The Board are unanimous in favor of free drawing schools.
The reports of the visitors of the Normal Schools show these institutions to be in a fine condition. Boarding-houses have been established in connection with the schools at Framingham and Bridgewater. The number of scholars in attendance during the past year has been, at Framingham 146, at Bridgewater 162, at Westfield 172, at Salem 216; total 696. The number of last year's graduates is 164, nearly all of whom are now successfully employed in teaching. Every one of the fitty graduating from Westfield is now teaching in Massachusetts.
The reports of the President and Principal of the Clarke Institution for Deaf Mutes at Northampton are deserving of especial attention. The experiment of teaching mutes to articulate is likely to receive in this institution a thorough trial. The results thus far are very encouraging. Those who lack patience in ordinary school work will do well to read Miss Rogers's report.
The report of the Secretary of the Board, Hon. Joseph White, is, as usual, instructive and practical. His long experience has given bim a thorough knowledge of the workings of our school system, and his wise suggestions from year to year have aided in its improvement. After explaining the legislation of 1869 in reference to the Public Schools, the Secretary devotes a large portion of his report to the duties of Towns and School Committees. These are briefly but plainly stated, and if performed according to the Secretary's ideas will give good school-houses, good equipments, and good teachers to every town in the State.
His closing remarks in regard to school supervision we commend to every friend of education :
“ I think no intelligent man, looking upon our school system from my standpoint,' will fail to agree with me in regarding the superintendence of the schools as the central point of weakness or of strength. It is, indeed, the spinal cord of the system. If, as in the living organism, there be weakness here, the whole system will give signs of corresponding weakness. If, on the other hand, this be sound in health and full of life, then a normal energy and force will be sent through every tissue and nerve, and the system will accomplish freely and fully its destined end.”
“No matter how lavish the expenditure of money, and how well appointed and even elegant the school-houses, how ample the provision of books and every needed appliance for illustration, still, if there be weakness and incompetency in the supervision, the teachers will also be incompetent and ill-assorted, the schools will be without classification and in disorder, and the studies will be pursued, if pursued at all, at bap-hazard, with no intelligent reference to a proper end. Instead of success there will be failure; instead of satisfaction there will be mortification and disgrace.”
• The sole inference which I wish to draw from this imperfect discussion, and to press upon the thoughtful attention of my fellow-citizens in every town, is this: that in all their plans, labors, and sacrifices for the maintenance of their Common Schools, — the people's colleges, — they never fail to place the 'general charge and supervision' of them in the most competent and trustworthy hands."
MEETING OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION.
The Middlesex County Teachers' Association held its seventeenth Annual Meeting, at Brighton, on Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9. The Town IIall in which the exercises were held, was densely full, and the good order, and interest manifested in the discussion, tended to render it one of the most successful conventions held in this County for a long time.
The meeting was promptly organized ; E. B. Hale, Superintendent of the Schools of Cambridge, President, and H. P. Makechnie, of Somerville, Secretary pro tem.
The first exercise after the organization was a discussion, “ Defects in the course of Study in our Common Schools."
It was opened by Mr. Chase, of Watertown. He argued that one of the great defects in our grammar-school course, is the great amount of time absorbed by Arithmetic and Grammar. Our children are put too early to learning abstractions and are fed too largely with them. He deplored the arbitrary standards adopted for admissions to the High Schools, on account of their influence in narrowing and and corrupting the teaching. Mr. Sheldon followed with very much the same views. Up to the age of eight the child should be taught to observe. Ile questioned the propriety of adopting a course of study for this period. Everything which would tend to cultivate the perceptive faculties should come within the range of his mental vision. He should not be circumscribed, but be allowed to roam through all nature. Up to the age of fourteen, is the period of conception, of forming mental pictures; this is the age for History and Geography, but not for pure abstractions. He deprecated, therefore, as did the previous speaker, the great amount of time spent in Arithmetic and Grammar. Mr. Burbank, of Lowell, said a hearty “ amen” to the remarks of the previous speakers. Professor Tweed, Superintendent of Schools in Charlestown, agreed with the speakers generally; thought that a greater amount of time was spent in Arithmetic than there was any occasion for, but thought Grammar had been a little abused. He thought much that was taught as Grammar was not Grammar. Distinctions were made and classes recognized which did not belong to English Grammar.
At 2. P.M. a discussion occurred upon the “ Best Method of teaching Reading and Spelling to a Class of Beginners.”,
It was opened by an essay by the Lady Principal of the Cambridge Training School, which advocated very strongly Dr. Leigh's method. An essay was also read by Miss — , of Boston, who believed in a medium between the ordinary method and the phonetic, and preferred to mark the different sounds of the vowels by the “ dictionary marks," rather than by Dr. Leigh's system. Professor Tweed also spoke on the question, explaining in some points how he would proceed with young children.
At 3, P.M. a spirited discussion occurred upon “ How far are the defects apparent in the present modes of instruction the result of our systems of examination and supervision ? " Mr. Wheeler, of Cambridge, opened the discussion, claiming that most of the narrow and dogmatic teaching going on in our schools is the result of the system of examinations. He did not blame the Committees 80 much as he did the legislation, which compelled Committees to make tbese examinations. The whole idea, he said, is to educate for the High School. He contended that the teacher is in duty bound to consider his own reputation, and quoted from a recent Report of a Board of School Committee, which said that the reputation of the masters depended upon the percentage obtained by their first classes at the final examination, in support of his position.
He was followed by Mr. Mansfield, of Cambridge, who did not believe in all of the gentleman's positions, and thought it highly proper that there should be supervision, and was not in favor of changing the present methods of supervision until something better should be invented. Mr. Eaton, of Charlestown, followed, supporting the positions taken by Mr. Wheeler. He argued that intelligence alone did not make a man fit to shape the instruction in our schools, and quoted prominent educators, among whom was Matthew Arnold, in support of his po sition. He argued that the defects in our present modes of instruction come in a great measure from this incompetent supervision. He described the teaching done in the schools in Arithmetic, Grammar and History, and illustrated by facts, that it was owing in a great measure to the incompetency of the supervision. D. H. Mason, Esq., a member of the Board of Education, followed, in an eloquent speech in which he entered into quite an elaborate defence of School Committees, and disputed some of the previous speaker's positions. This called out a discussion in which Mr. Wheeler, of Cambridge, Mr. Sheldon, of Waltham, and Mr. Eaton, of Charlestown, joined ; and for a few moments the discussion was considerably warm and brilliant.
In the evening Hon. Joseph White, Secretary of the Board of Education, gave a talk to the Convention on “Compulsory Attendance.” He showed that school attendance had been compulsory since the first settlement of the State. He argued for a law compelling children to attend school at least thirty weeks in a year, instead of twelve, as now. After the lecture Professor A. E. Sloan, of Boston, gave some pleasant and interesting readings.
The Convention assembled again on Saturday, at 9 o'clock, and discussed the question : "Ought Teachers to be represented on School Boards ?" Mr. Smith, of Boston, opened the discussion with a short and pointed essay. He argued in the affirmative, pointing out the advantages to be derived by this radical change in our supervision, both to the teacher and the taught. He was followed by Mr. Sheldon, of Waltham, who questioned the policy of the step, although sympathizing largely with the views of the previous speaker. Mr. Sheldon was followed by Mr Eaton, of Charlestown, who explained the Prussian and Swiss methods of supervision, in which a certain number of masters, chosen by the teachers themselves, sit at the consultations of the School Boards, and thus have a direct voice in shaping and controlling instruction.
After passing the customary resolutions, among which was one deprecating the measure now before the Legislature, to allow towns which desire, to go back to the District System, the Convention adjourned.
THE EDUCATIONAL ROOM. We desire to call the attention of our readers, especially those in and near Boston, to our room in Selwyn's Theatre Building, 366 Washington street. It is light and airy, has a good entrance, and is open daily from 10 to 4.