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the voice of prudence would direct us to separate the chaff from the wheat ; to adopt what is good, so far as the nature of our school system will permit, while at the same time we retain whatever is meritorious in the old, and to reject whatever is bad and therefore mischievous from them both. In medio tutissimus ibis is a motto of the soundest prudence, and as applicable to the case in discussion as to the numerous others to which it has been so frequently applied. The course, then, which we believe might be followed with entire safety, and even with absolute benefit, would be to adopt into all our schools those points in the monitorial system which, possessing in themselves universally acknowledged excellence, have at the same time the desired power of effectually remedying several of the greatest defects in our common system. That we may be more precisely understood, we proceed to be more particular. We have already stated, in the former part of these remarks, that there is a very great portion of time, in a school conducted upon the ordinary method, which is spent in the most unprofitable idleness. We have observed also that this failing was not consequent upon any fault of the teacher (for the faithful teacher is constantly employed), but because of the utter impossibility of his giving his attention to more than one set of scholars at a time. Now, in cases like this, and where the number of scholars is greater than can be kept in unremitted occupation by the solitary teacher, let him make use of what is infinitely preferable to a wasteful lavishness of time, the monitorial system. Let him select some prominent individuals from a superior class, and appoint them to superintend some useful exercises to be carried forward simultaneously by a whole class. These exercises
should be such, however, as have been previously explained and taught by the presiding master, and of the correct conclusion of which there cannot a doubt arise. Let them be perhaps in arithmetic, in algebra, in written translations from Latin or Greek into English, or from English into Latin or Greek, when the monitors can have the assistance of printed keys. We have practised upon this method with great advantage both to pupils and to monitors. As the particular course pursued has sometimes been thought worthy of a passing inquiry, we will, by your permission, enter into an explanation.
Let there be provided a set of black boards, of such a number as the convenience of the school-room and the necessities of the school may require, each board being about forty inches by thirty. Let them be arranged in a convenient part of the room, at about three feet apart, standing contiguous to the wall, and at right angles with it, and parallel to each other. We have always made use of twenty-four. This number may be enlarged or diminished, to conform to the number of pupils who may be required to use them. When the pupils are stationed at them, each has a separate board, the size and position of which, together with the vigilance of the teacher or monitor, prevent his seeing the work upon the board next before him. To every three boards there is appointed a monitor of supervision, who is selected from among the best scholars in the class. Over the whole there is placed a presiding monitor, who is always selected from the highest class in the school, and who consequently has been through the whole course of instruction over which he is directed to preside. * At
* Whenever the occupations of the teacher of the school will permit, let him be the presiding monitor. He will find this method of teaching and reciting, particularly in the mathematics, the best that can be devised.
these boards are performed numerous exercises in translations; all exercises in arithmetic and algebra ; all those in the practical parts of geometry and trigonometry; and many in the demonstrative parts of the latter sciences; each pupil being required to draw the figure, and to write out the demonstration. It is to be understood also that all these exercises are performed by the pupils entirely without the aid of their text-books, excepting in very extraordinary cases. They are of course never allowed to use them, nor even to carry them from their seats to the boards when about to recite demonstrations in geometry and trigonometry. In long and complicated questions in arithmetic and algebra they are sometimes favoured with them ; but in ordinary cases the presiding monitor alone holds the book, and announces the question for solution. Each scholar then takes the data, as he hears them given out, and afterwards completes the operation. The monitors of supervision also are required to perform all questions upon slates held in their hands, and to exhibit them to the presiding monitor. They afterwards inspect the work of the three individuals committed to their charge, and report if right or wrong to the presiding monitor. It is the chief excellence of this application of the monitorial system, and this particular manner of using the black-board, that each and every question is performed by each and every scholar. And the circumstance of his being unprovided with a book from which to copy his formulas or to obtain his rules, and the fact that he cannot possibly get assistance from any other one than himself, render it certain that he must become, in some greater or less degree, familiar with the subjects to which his attention is directed.
There are very many useful purposes to which a set of black boards like these may be applied, all of which the circumstances of the school and the matured judgment of the experienced teacher will point out to him. He may also, with advantage to his pupils, adopt the monitorial system in cases of reviewing a lesson which has been already recited to himself in geography, spelling, and in the more simple and mechanical parts of knowledge, as has been already remarked.
But we do not feel willing to say to any," Adopt the system of mutual instruction in full, since it is the very best that has been ever devised.” For we should then be saying what we cannot bring ourselves to believe. What then is the course, or the system, which, as a whole, may be safely and advantageously introduced into our schools ? We will briefly explain our views on this subject, and then bring our remarks to a close. In the first place, we believe that the most beneficial course which can be followed, is, that the number of scholars in our public schools should be lessened, or that the number of teachers should be increased. Of the two alternatives we should prefer the latter, and have come to the belief that a method somewhat similar to that recently adopted for the management of the Boston public schools would prove satisfactory and beneficial. That is to say, in the regular organization of a school we would give, as assistants to the principal teacher, one or two or more adults, and as many younger assistants as the exigencies of the school would require. These latter should be persons who had been regularly through the whole course of instruction in the same school in which they were appointed to teach, and under the tuition of the same teacher whose helps they were ap
pointed to be. If we were to take our choice between half a dozen of such young teachers, and one or even two ushers, we should infinitely prefer the former, even at a greater expense. But that they may be obtained at a less is unquestionably true; and of their becoming very competent and skilful we have not the least doubt, particularly if kept in employ for three or four successive years.
Such persons, by thus serving an apprenticeship at the business of instruction, in the positive necessity of which we have the fullest belief, would become infinitely better qualified for the profession than any of our young men, fresh and green from the embrace of Alma Mater. We would be understood as meaning that they should pursue a systematic course of instruction and of study, aside from their regular and daily service as teachers, and that these studies should be directed with a view to the particular situation in which they might be expected to teach.
Such an experiment has been made, and has resulted in entire success; and we can see no reason why the method might not be adopted in every school in the country.
We had intended to say something upon the comparative efficacy of the system of mutual instruction when applied to our common schools, academies, and high schools, and when to our colleges; and to show, that, in our belief, less danger and difficulty are to be apprehended in the latter than in the former application of it. But we feel that we have already trespassed too far upon your time and patience. That some immediate and thorough reform, in these high seasons of reform, is loudly demanded for our common schools, we must all be persuaded. What method of reform shall prove at once the most expedient, the most expeditious, and