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Concerning The Schools

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(Publiphed by permiss Whlt üey, by the man.igera erf '■:■ Fair.) L:i:hes aud Geutleineu . A few weeks ago it was my privilege ! to witnesti a procession of more tban 15,000 cbilrlreu. Today I see assem bied au different occasion several thousand more. Wheu we look about i as and see men deying tbe authority of tbe govermuent aurl oiigaging iu the wanton destrnctiüu of life aud property, as we saw ouly too plainly a few mouths ago, we wonder if any of those children who eugaged in that great Snuday school parade iu Detroit a short time since, each oue of wboui carried the United States flag, or any of these who are assembled here today, wil] ever be guilty of such crimes aud open defiance of law and order, and a sense of our responsibility as teachers comes over us more forcibly thau ever before. We are anxious uot so inuch as to how we shall best teach arithmetic, grammar, geography, and all the other branches of the school curriculum as we are as to how we may train up the boys and the girls, too, to become good citizens. The rnany natonalities we find in our conglomerated civilizatiou make the problem indeed a difficult one. We wonder how many of these riotons strikers in Chicago and elsewhere have ever received any training for good citizenship in the public schools? If they had all received such training we might well despair. But we are encouraged when we kuow that very few of them could even speak our grand mother tongue, much less had ever been trained to love and honor our flag aud f ree iastitutions. Oar hope of defense froin anarchy lies in oar public schools and in the enforcement of our compulsory educatioual laws. We must have the best schools possible, and then must keep the children of all colors, all creeds, aud all nationalities in them, and we shall find that "Caucasian, Coptic and Malay, " Hungariau, Pole, Germán and French all make good citizens, when put through the amalgamating process of the public schools. We have been striving to find out how to do things ro the best advautage, as well as to fiud out what to do. We . have been study ing school systems aurt . the methods of doing thiugs employed by others, but ouly until very reoeutly has anyoue struck the root of the whole , matter by beginuing a study of the ohild hiruself. The subject of child study is one of the ruost fertile fields for tion. We must know what the child knows and bnild upou it. We must observe how the child'smind acts when acting uaturally and assist it to act in he natural order. The child knows a great deal about a great many things when he enters school. He knows a great deal about arithmetic; he has played with his blocks and marbles aud will undoubtedly be able to give his teachers many points on the "combinationsfrom one toten." He knows a great deal about geometry ; watch him wheu school is dismissed and see him demónstrate the propositiou that, " A. straight line is the shortest distance between two poinis. " So he has a little practical kuowledge of a great many things, and we have only to guide him aloug the lines he has already started. He is a natural patriot, and if propery handled, will make a most excellent citizen. We need to limber np our course of study so that he may be given an opportunity to develop his heaven given f acnlties. We need to teach patriotism more though we have to teach arithmetic a little less. We are, I think, beginuing to admit that there is i little something of importance aside from arithmetic, grammar and geography. We are beginning to admit that it doesn't hurt a boy or a girl either - and a very young one at that - to know a little something of history and of our government ; of literature aud our great writers ; of drawing, music, geometry, physics, astronomy, botany and almost every other subject, and, children, you need not "wait uutil you grow up before you oan understand these things," as so many of us have often been told we must do. We need to kuow more of the relative values of studies. We have been uutil recently entirely neglecting to teach a good practical kowledge of how to wire our owu language in order that we inight find time to crowd the childreu's minds with technical gramnmi and diagraming - the most indefensibie of all fads that human ingenuity or v anteo slrill p.ver iuvented. We have been teaching a rnultitude of rules and eormulas in aritlmietic, and witlij the founger pupils the most óf whom leave school before they are twelve years of age, eutirely neglecting the study of history and literature which would tend to make better citizens and créate a taste for good reading. Do not think for a moment that I argue that these old foundation stones should be utterly deinolished. By no rueans, but the point I wish to make is, there are other things of equal or greater importauce that should have a place in our school curriculum. We need to limber up our courses of study so that the children may be prepared "to have life and to have it more abundantly. ' You fathers and mothers should become interested in these questions. You should know what your children are feeding npon, and see to it that none others are more favored thau they. You should live with your children and neai them, for when father and mother both live near the children then the children are comparatively safe. The one point, then, in the new eduation, if indeed it be new, is to keep the child and the student and the teachei too, in touch with their environment and to rnake that environment the bes possible. Isn't one reasou why some o us are such poor teachers that we ai completely out of touch with tbc chi! dren and the worïd in general? This v i muy af oue timo lnive been thouglit to be a necessity. Indeed, even now fhere ure some who wonjd have the teacher wholly apatr ironi the thonght and the aotivities üf the thinking, active world. tt was only a fe%v days ago that I saw ■ somethiug to this eifsct in oue of our so-called educational-journals. I quote as üearly as I eau remeinbei' : "A teacher should in uo o.ise express himself pablicly or too freely in private apon the questions that are agitatiug the public mind. " Of what use is the teacher auyway, and why is he tolerated iu this world of woe? The ideal teacher, theu, accordiug to I this staudard is oue who never thinks upon a public questiou, or if he thiuks uever expesses hiuiself upou auy question of religión - I daré not say of deuomiuationalism - of goveruuieut or of social policy. He is asked to make good citizeus of his papila, but he must not under any circuiustances teil them what coustitutes a good citizeu ; he must teach patriotism, but he must not be patriotio enough to condeniu the couduct of riotous strikers, or to atteud a caucas or to vote for what he thiuks is rigbt. Such folly reminds me of tlu; man who said he liked a oertain church with which he was connected because it troubled itself neither with politics nor religión. Whenever any code of etiquette decrees chat a teacher cannot,with good taste, express au opiniou upon any public question theu that code of etiquette should undergo au immediate revisión. But I fear I am waudering. I spoke of the extensión of the school curriculum in order to keep the children in touch with his euvironment. This implies a progressive spirit ou the part of the teacher. She must avail herself of every favorable opportunity for advancement by broadening her education, by attendiug teachers' conveutious, aud sumnier schools, by visitiug schools, by reading the best literatnre, and by occasionly doing a little downright hard thinking. I wish every teacher woald at the close of each day take just ten minutes to think over what sbe has done, how she has done it, aud why she has done what she thinks she has. She might then be greatly benefitted and avoid many errors. But the duty of Lmproving our schoolsdoes not lie wholly wirh the teachers. You school ora should b ave a very prominent part in it. You can -well affordjto give your teachers a good eqtupment and to mate their suiTOimdings as pleasant as possible. It will par in the better teaching which they will be able to do. Perhaps one thing which may be as helpful as auy, in fact, I know of uothing more directly helpful to any teacher, will be a small but well selected library found in every school house in the connty. You have been fortúnate f or the past few years in having for your comrnissioner a man who bas been interested in this subject, and with proper eft'ort on your part you eau do much iu this line to give your children a taste for good reading. In soine respects the child that is born and educated in our rural schools is fortúnate, very fortúnate. Caref ully pre pared statistics show that 91 per cent. o the successf ui business men of our large cities came from the country, and I onbt not this is true of other cities Yet I would not attribute their succes o the great superioritty of the country chools over our city schools. Ther re two great advantages which tb. ountey boy has. First, he is usually llowed to advance in his work as rap dly as his ability will permit. To stat ü negatively he is not held down by ny grade or class ; while in too many f our city schools, once in a class o orty pupils means a completion of tb ourse with the same pupils, be they dull or be they bright ; for allowing a boy to advance according to his abilit is feit by the parents of the other bo to be extreme partiality - as the Coxey ite feels that he is discriminated agains beoauae you have always been attentiv to your business, have prosperad, whil he, who luis been tramping the country, and deolaimiug against the iujustice of our laws, sees the doors of the poorhouse opeaiug before him. But the man who hus wastes bis time and the boy who ounges and loiters, plays truant aud comes iuto school a few minutes tardy each ruorniug, is discriminated against jy laws more inexorable and irrevocable than rules of the school or acts of congress There are early varieties in children as well as ín puinpkins and potatoes, and those tb it ripeo first should be the ïrst on the market. The bright pupils in every school should deserve an opportunity to exercise their talents as the bright man in the business world ! luis a chance to exercise bis, without auything but an honest and honorable relation to the activities of others. Il' a child does not have this opportunity for free competition, he soon becomes a dawdler, cultivates, per f'orce, habits of inactivity aud is flnally outstripped by those naturally not so keen as himself. He makes a poor citizen when he becomes a man. We need, sir, to limber up our city school system so that the bright boys of the city, aud there are a few of them, may have as good a chance as the bright boys of the country. The second reason I would give why the boy of the country has an advautage of the city boy is that he always has soinething to do. The country boy goes from school at four o'clock to do work about the farm aud to do the chores abont the house. He makes the acquaintance of his father in the field aud of his mother iu the home ; white too many of our city boys go from the schools to the vice of the street aud to the gainbliug aud cigarette of the alley, , awaj from the associatiou with and wise couusel of his father and the benigu j flueuce of his mother. There is uo dauger so great for a man or a boy as idleuess. Mothers aud fathors of the city, if yon vould save the boys give them soniethiufr to do. Buy au ax and a saw and let them work up that wood pile, no tnatti c hjjw.lárge yonr bank account. Let thi'in keep the weeds from the gardeu and the tall graas from the lawu, the j dirt from their owu olotbes and the duet from their own ahoes. Don't do '■ thiug tur them. It pays to teach the boys to work, not su mnch for what they eau do as for what ir does for theiu. If more of our boys could have a piece of gronud, a shop, a place of some kind where they could work off their super - fluous euergy, we should have less occasion for truaut officers aud reform schools. To supply this defect the ' nal training school has been iutrodneeel into soiue of our larger eitiss, but it will f uil of its purpose if it fail to teach the true valuo of work. May the day soou come wheu some public spirited citizeu iu all of our cities, small as well s large, Ypsilauti and Aun Arbor, as veil as Cambridge and Toledo, Minnepo] is and Boston, recognizing that work s one of our greatest blessings, einulatng a Riudge or a Franklin, shall erect lasting monument to himself or herelf by founding a manual training chool in which both boy aud girls may )ecome skilied with the hand and the eye,and may learn that all toil is honorable, and from the kindergarten to the university our educatiou may be one haracterized by work. Whatever, then, be the nature of the raining of the child it is the dnty, the business, let me say, of the school to rain emergeney men and emergeucy women, men and womeu who will have tability of purpose and principie, who vill not be moved by the barking of a log or the howling of tne wind. We want men and womeu who will ïave the "Truc worth of being, not seemitig, 01 öoing eaoh öay tljat jroe by, Some little g:ood- not of dreaming Of afruilt thingï to do by and bv." "Through cpalioe, through envy, througb bating, Asiainst tne world, early and late, No jot of' our oourase a bating- Our part is to work and to w;i It."


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