« AnteriorContinuar »
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 himn. 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 avlopted 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
the most salutary, can, we are persuaded, be best determined by the united wisdom and experience of the assembled instructors of the country. The present is a most propitious opportunity for the discussion of the entire subject. That this may be but the commencement of a long-continued series of numerous, of useful, and of harmonious “ gatherings of ourselves together” is our ardent wish; and that they may result in the rapid improvement of each and of every establishment in which we are engaged, and in the wide diffusion of the blessings of universal education, is our most fervent petition.
From the Quarterly Journal of Education, No. XX.
In No. XII. of the Journal of Education a general ac-
First, it is not one of the largest, nor one of the smallest; the number of seminarists amounting last year to forty-three. Secondly, it occupies a conspicuous position in the history of public education in Prussia, being the place in which a number of successive experiments have been made, of which the present system of education is the result. Lastly, its internal arrangement is more complete than that of many other institutions of this description, a school being annexed to it in which those who intend to enter the senrinary receive preparatory instruction. We shall therefore prefix a short historical notice of its foundation and progress.