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Club, composed of student-waiters from the Normal School at Bridgewater, Mass.
This most notable meeting adjourned to meet at Fabyan's on Thursday morning, where all safely arrived by rail at 9 a. M., after spending the night at the Summit House on Mount Washington.
THIRD DAY.— THURSDAY, JULY 11. After the arrival of the delegation, which, in charge of President Bicknell, had held an evening session on the summit of Mount Washington, the devotional exercises were conducted by the Rev. A. A. Miner, D. D., of Boston, at 9 A. M.
PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS FOR TEACHERS.
This topic was opened by Mr. Larkin Dunton, principal of the Girls' Normal School, Boston.
In opening this subject, the speaker discussed at some length the defective methods of teaching as formerly practised in all grades of schools, from the primary school to the university. He then showed that the methods of instruction in all grades of schools had been much improved during the past thirty or forty years, but that the improvement had been much more marked in the elementary than in the superior schools, and that this difference was owing to the fact that the influence of the State normal schools had been felt mainly in the lower grades of public instruction. He then proceeded to show, logically arguing from premise to conclusion, that the high schools and colleges required a similar influence to that already exerted upon the lower grade of schools, in order to work in them a
corresponding improvement. After discussing the general theme in its various bearings, the speaker closed as follows:
So it seems to me that there is need of a grade of normal schools of a higher order than any we now have in this country. So far I am decided in my convictions; but precisely what should be the relation of these schools to institutions now existing is not so obvious. I think of but four feasible plans: One is to make them advanced departments of some of the normal schools now organized; another is to make them entirely independent; a third is to make them departments in the colleges; and a fourth is to make them separate departments in the universities. Each of these plans would have its special advantages, and, it may be added, disadvantages. The present normal schools are prepared to illustrate the right methods of teaching children; and this is a branch of the general subject of education that must always attract the attention of those attending professional schools of the grade now under consideration. Here, too, the training of teachers for elementary schools could be constantly observed by the students of the superior departments, itself an important element, and, more than all, a true professional spirit pervades these schools that could not fail to make itself felt upon all within its reach.
And yet, on the other hand, the great worth of these schools must always be the preparation of teachers for elementary schools; and thus their best efforts would be directed, not to the higher, but to the lower departments. Indeed, it is doubtful whether the training of teachers for elementary schools must not necessarily differ so much from the training of teachers for high schools and academies, and especially the training of college professors, school superintendents, and teachers of normal schools, that the combination of the two functions in the same institution would not be in opposition to the general principle of differentiation, as in the law of progress. In other words, is not the work to be done sufficiently special to require a special agency for its best accom. plishment?
In favor of separate schools unconnected with the colleges, it may be said that they could, under this arrangement, pursue one sole purpose without distracting influences from opposing interests. This would have decided advantages. Indeed, one such institution in this country, if it could be properly endowed and separated from all the evil influences of politics and patronage, and be made entirely independent and kept under good management, might, it seems to me, do a noble work for the cause of popular and general education. But the proper conditions of such an institution would be so difficult of attainment that I fear its establishment is not in the near future.
This work could be done in connection with our colleges generally, only through the agency of chairs of educational science. The advantages of this plan would be that its influence would be exerted more or less upon all college graduates, so that all who should go out of college to become teachers, whether in high schools, academies, or graded schools, as well as those who were to become trustees of schools and members of school boards, would have some little knowledge of the science of education. And besides, the reflex influence upon the colleges themselves would be beneficial. The fitting schools would soon be manned with better teachers, and the colleges filled with better trained students. Then the principles of educational science would be so discussed that they would be better understood and applied in the colleges themselves; and this I regard as an important point. It is not wise to assume that every learned professor must be a good teacher, or that his teaching could not be improved by a little attention to the principles upon which it should be based; and I think one able, earnest expounder of educational science and methods in college would induce all the professors to take an occasional scrutinizing look at themselves. But the objection to this plan as the sole agency for this work is that the professional instruction given under it would be lacking in scope and thoroughness. One man could not do the work required; so that even this plan would leave something to be desired.
A school of pedagogics, ranking with or above schools of
law, medicine, or theology, thoroughly endowed, and therefore independent, and having its reputation bound up with that of a great university (like the one honored by the leadership of the gentleman who has just preceded me), would, it seems to me, be the crowning glory of our educational system. From it would go out an influence that, in two generations, would revolutionize the instruction in our academies, high schools, and colleges; that would introduce a new era in school supervision throughout the country; and that would raise the business of teaching to the rank of a noble profession, as the question lies in my mind to-day; I may be wiser to-morrow. I would provide for some systematic professional instruction for teachers in all our colleges; and besides, I would establish one or more superior normal schools in connection with the universities.
POLITICAL EDUCATION. William A. Mowry, of Providence, read a paper on this subject. (See Addresses.)
I was deeply interested in the paper just read, and am gratified to find that this subject of political education, or education in the history or science of government, is receiving the attention of the educators of New England. You have heard, from various sources, of the influence of New England on other portions of the country. Dr. White, of Indiana, very aptly referred to the effect upon the West and upon our civilization of the educational legislation known as the ordinance of 1787, by which the great northwest territory was given means of free education, and its people were started on that career of intelligence and virtue which has continued to the present day, - an ordinance on which depended the perpetuity of the Union. The far-reaching consequences of knowing the fundamental principles of government cannot be understood at once. You must not attempt to measure the value
of your action here by what you see at once. You know compensation often follows slowly even our wisest efforts.
Let me give an instance. I once tried to ascertain how much pecuniary reward certain great educational works, which had been conspicuous, had brought to their authors. I inquired of Professor Stowe what compensation he received for writing his report on education in Europe, which was published and circulated along with others in the West, and which did so much to direct and stimulate education there. He replied that he received $500 from the State of Ohio, and nothing further from those who republished it, but that he felt amply rewarded when, during the late war, he witnessed the great uprising for the Union, and considered how much this loyal feeling had been strengthened by the common schools of the West, of which Ohio was a part.
The author of the able paper just read has illustrated his plan by allusion to methods and topics. Permit me, in connection with the historical fact already mentioned, to call to mind the importance of information in reference to the territorial question. The ordinance of 1787 did not exhaust the responsibilities of America with regard to our territories. The question, What shall be the future of this immense domain? is important, not only for those who are to occupy it in the centuries to come, but equally so for those who live in other portions of the Union. Now the absolute control of legislation for these territories is in the hands of Congress, the members of which are elected by you and their other constituents in the different States. Do you know that for the first twenty years after our possession of New Mexico, there was no common-school system in that great territory to prevent its people from sinking into barbarism? Do you know that at the present time, except the contract between the government and the Alaska Company, which applies to the Seal Islands only, and the laws regulating the collection of revenues as intended by the proclamation of the President, there is no law in the vast territory of Alaska for its 30,000 people, by which they may possess property, build a bridge, make a road, erect a schoolhouse, establish a court, or protect person or property? Consider, in connection with the neg.