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FORTY-THIRD ANNUAL MEETING
American Institute of Instruction.
The sessions of the Forty-third Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Instruction, were commenced in the hall of the Grammar School-house in Lewiston, Maine, on the evening of August 13, 1872, at 7.45.
The meeting was called to order by the PRESIDENT, ABNER J. PHIPPS, Esq., Assistant Secretary of the State Board of Education of Massachusetts, and was opened with prayer by Rev. Mr. FORD, of Lewiston.
The record of the proceedings of the last annual meeting was read by the Secretary, D. W. Jones, Esq., of Boston Highlands.
THE PRESIDENT then introduced Hon. M. T. LUDDEN, who, in behalf of the Mayor, he being absent from the City, and of the Chairman of the School Board, also unavoidably absent, extended a hearty welcome to the Institute. He took occasion to express his deep interest in the cause of education, and the labors of the American Institute of Instruction in particular, and the desire of the citizens to co-operate heartily with the members in their present deliberations, as well as to learn from them that which may be of great value to the schools of the City and the State.
THE PRESIDENT responded as follows:-We are here, Mr. Representative of the City Government and of the School Board of the City, in compliance with an invitation,
very warmly extended, on the slightest intimation that an opportunity to hold a meeting of the Institute in this City would be acceptable, soon after our annual meeting at Fitchburg; and for that invitation, so cordially extended, in behalf of the Institute, I desire to extend our thanks. I thank you, sir, for the kind words of welcome that you have just uttered, and for the assurance that our presence among you gives you pleasure, and that your interest in the great object that has brought us together is in sympathy with our own.
We do not come to promote the interests of any social or benevolent organization, as do the many persons whose presence you have witnessed in your streets to-day; we do not come to promote the interests of any political organization, as will many others who will assemble here during the coming weeks; for politics are excluded from our deliberations. But we come to discuss, calmly, intelligently and profitably, I trust, the great educational problems of the day, the practical, living questions that occupy the thoughts of thinking men, questions which relate to the great interests of education throughout our land. We come to consider what has been done, what is doing, and what should be done to promote these great interests, than which none can be more important. We have come, sir, most of us, from a similar meeting in Massachusetts, in whose capital, sessions of the National Teachers' Association were held for several days last week. And the fact that those sessions were continued for several days, and that many of those who attended them came from a great distance, will, in part at least, account for the small attendance comparatively at this meeting.
You have alluded to this as being an American association. Such is its name. We have representatives here to-night, I see, from Washington, from Illinois, from Ohio, from New Jersey and from several other remote States, as well as from our own New England. And yet, it is not in its strict sense, I am sorry to say, an American association. It has been confined in a very great measure to the New England States, and it gives me pleasure, sir, to say that Massachusetts has
done nobly for this Institute. Indeed I would say here, and I take pleasure in saying, she has most generously contributed to maintain this Institute; we have for thirty-six, or more, successive years received an annual appropriation, amounting in the aggregate to $13,000; and she is the only State that has contributed a cent for the interest of the Institute.
But I will not occupy time in giving expression to sentiments which might very naturally be expected on this occasion, but will again thank you, sir, and those whom you represent for the cordial hospitality extended to us, and would invite you to be present, and the citizens of your city, who are interested in the object for which we are convened, to attend our sessions and participate actively in our deliberations.
Gentlemen of the Institute : It is not my purpose to make any protracted remarks to you; having spoken of the objects of the Institute and what has been accomplished by it in the past, at the last annual meeting, I shall not dwell upon the subject, and indeed shall not make some remarks that I intended to make, owing to the peculiar circumstances under which we meet, from the inclement storm, most of you sitting with damp feet and damp clothing. I think, therefore, it would be inopportune for me to occupy any considerable time.
Certain matters of business were then referred to, and Hon. J. L. Pickard, Superintendent of the Schools of Chicago, was introduced as the speaker of the evening.
ADDRESS OF HON. J. L. PICKARD.
Hon. J. L. PICKARD commenced by alluding to a remark of the President, that it might seem strange that no representative from Maine was found on the programme as a speaker during the exercises of the meeting, saying he thought he might himself be permitted to represent Maine. He thought a small portion of it belonged to him, since when a boy he had spent some years in cultivating its fields, and had traversed certain portions of it from morning to night, following the plow. Inasmuch, too, as it was in this city
that he received his early education, he thought he could claim some personal interest in the place, and perhaps the place would be willing to grant to him the privilege of representing it to-night. (Applause.)
MR. PICKARD then recounted in an interesting manner the events of his school-days, after an absence of more than thirty years. Among the recollections that came back to him with most freshness were those of his school-mates and early teach
The characteristics of the latter were given somewhat in detail, as well as several incidents connected with his playfellows, and reference was made to a scar still borne upon his forehead, made by a wild, untamed boy who, at recess, undertook to show his power. Having given these and many other incidents in his school life here, he said that of the ten teachers whose instructions he thus received, for a longer or a shorter time, only one is still following the business of teaching as a profession, although, a majority of them he believes are living.
This brought him to the main topic which he wished to present; namely, The Hindrances to making Teaching a Profession. He said, of these ten men and women, nine have gone into other employment. Why? They were preparing themselves for the work of teaching in theology, or for practicing medicine, or for eligible marriage. Theology, medicine or marriage claimed their thoughts more than the school; and the fact is a sufficient answer to the question, where are tbey? Respectable and respected men and women in the departments in which they labor, men and women prominent in the spheres they have chosen for themselves, men and women that I loved as teachers, and who had unusual power as such, I think, yet slipping out of the work as teachers and taking other which they deemed better. Why? If I call your attention to some of the hindrances to making teaching a profession perhaps we shall not lose the time of the evening.
First, I mention one difficulty that we cannot control. A large majority of the teachers of this country are of the sex
that forbids their continuing teaching as a life work. Noble and earnest and faithful as these are as teachers, they are still noble and faithful and earnest as wives and mothers. And this fact, that a large majority of our teachers are females, is directly in the way of making teaching a profession. The few men who are employed, are constantly having their relative number diminished ; and the effort is continually made to secure places for women, that have been occupied by men. Women are doing the work well; but they are encroaching upon our department of work. Their numbers are relatively increasing and will still increase. Where can we find the material, then, out of which to make a profession ?
Another hindrance in this direction is, the estimate put by society upon the historic school-master. Shakspeare gives us as a type of the school-master of his day," a man who has gone to a feast of words and stolen the scraps.” Shenstone describes one whom he knew, as anything but inviting in personal appearance, as anything but a pleasing sight to the children whom she taught. Dickens gives us Squeers as a type of the school-master, that barbarous old customer, who loved treacle so much, or molasses, who loved sulphur at certain seasons of the year so well, that every child must take it. Irving gives us as a sample of the teacher of his day one who was long, lean and lank, appearing, with his clothes hung loosely about him, as he went up and down in Sleepy Hollow, like a scarecrow. And so on all through, when we take the history of the school-masters and school-mistresses of the past, we find them satirized.
Now are these all historic? Are there not some actual school-masters who give color to these descriptions ? Certainly, if not found in this neighborhood, you need not go far West to discover them. When traveling in Wisconsin on one occasion I stepped into a public school-room. I was attracted by the peculiar appearance of the master, who secured silence soon after I entered by stepping to the table and thumping upon it with a stout stick and shouting “ dry up,” here! (Laughter.) Very good advice perhaps ; but he found