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The Rural School

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Said Col. Francis Parker, of tbe Cook County Normal, "Nowhei-e ou earth has a ohild snoh advantagea for elementary education as npon a good farm, where he is traiued to love work and put hie brains into bis work. The best tangbt school in a deusely populated city an never eqnal in eduoative value the life npon a good farrn, intelligently niauaged." The ohildren in the schools of a densely popnlated oity, cirotimscribed as they are by artifioial surroundings, are ent ofï to a larga extent f rom the great Book of Nature that is open on auy ordinaiy 80acre farm. The end and aim of the city and country sohools are identioal - the tarning out of intelligent, conscientions, patriotic citizens. Bat the citizen of the oity is a successful laborer, mechauii, business or professional man, wbile the citizen of the oountry is nu equally snnoessful farmer. ïhe country school of today is for the oountry boyandgirl, while the city scliuol seoms to be able to digest and assiinilate botn oountry and oity childrea with equal ease. But the result is, however, that the city children become oity citizens, while the tendency of the city education and environment is to keep the country ohildren fcom returning to the farm when their school days are over. The probleïn ol how far the city sohool should be "oountrifled" or to wbat estent the oonntry sohool should be "oitifled" is at the present time an open question. The pathway of the oity eohools leads toward the professional schools and universities and this avenue is the one usually taken by the boys and girls ol the oountry schools who are able to pursue advanoed oourses. But only 10 per cent of the boys and girls ever aoquire an education beyond the eighth grade, wbile only 10 per oent of tbis 10 per cent ever enter a college or uoiversity. These statements are simply to oí11 atteution to the faot that che present and fature farmer has not had, and is not reoeiving, any professional training for bis life work as are the men of other professions. We must except, of conrse, thoBe who pursne work in agrionltnral ooileges, but this means of supply does not at present ahirruingly tbreaten to overrnn the country witb praotical farmers. The Grange, the Farmers' Clnbs anc the Farmers' Iostitntes have done and are doing rucoh to iill tbis lack bui their work must neoessarily be of the "correotive" rather tban "formative' kind. To what extent can and should the work in our rnral schools be made to familiarizo the children of the country with tbeir own snrronndings and witb the inevitable action of the laws of nature, whiob will assist or hinder thein in their future lives as farmers and oitizens? For the purpuse of discussion I sball admit taking an extreme po sition, but I believe it is not wholly uutenable. The elemente of geology, mineralogy, meteorology, botany, zoology, pbysios, chemistry and literature may be made as familiar to the average eighth grader as the principies of grammar and arithmetic. And these subjects are those wbioh touch along the line of his future life. No costly cabinets or expensive apparatus and text books are necessary. The materials surround every soboolhouse or are found in every neighborhood. The loams of Lima and Augusta, the clays of Northfield, Superior and Lodi, the sands and sand bilis of Lyndou and Sharon, the artesian wel Is in York and Pittsfleld. In Dextei and Sylvan the gravel beds and surronndings wbich are the lemnants oj stranded glaciors ; the efi'ects of erosión and the formation of the river bottoms along tbe Uuron, Saline and Raisiu rivers and the numerous and very generally distributed oreeks and large drains, are only hints of the many lessous in geology and mineralogy, some of wbioh sarround every schoolhouse. The study of plant life is intiinatuly conneoted with tbe preceding. Noi the colleoting and systematio classifioation of a lot of wild flowers in an her barium to be laid upon the topshelf for monse nests, bufc the stndy of the mode of germination, propagation and growtb of grasees, grain and vegetailes, usefol shrubs and plants, methods of fertilization and cross-fettilizatiou, grafting and favorable soils; plant diseases and their prevention and cnre, etc. Leseons in zoology would be imrnensely belpfnl to the present and 'ature farmer Studies of all the doruestio animáis, short histories of the different broeds, and the adaptatiou of different produots to their varying needs. Wbat birds are our friends and wby? Of what use are angle-worms beside makiug good fish-bait? Of toads, flies, suakes; of the insucts, wbioh are useful and whioh injuriouR? Net a day passes in a farmer boy's life without the applicatiou of some of the laws of physics. Sc coinmon indeed are tbey be stops not to inqoiie the "why." The applieation of th laws of the lever in the use of the long or short handled fork is oue. Why does the farin gate swing more easily wbeu slid baok nearly to the vertioal braoe, or the load of hay tip over less easily when on the truoks thau on the high wagon. Why does a tub of water in the oellar prevent freezing in the winter and help to keep the room cool in summer? What ia the mechanioal advautage of the crowbar, wrench and hammer, or the wheels and oranks of the binder, fanning mili or grindstone? What is the ohetnioal and physioal aotion of heat, light, air and moisture on the various kinds of soils, grains, trees and vegetables? These and hnndreds of other everyday aots and sights might be as well understood by our boys and girls as their rnnltiplioation tables or the nse of verbs. And tbe natural outoome of a knowledge or these subjeots is insvitably a desire for more reading and good literature. One of the tests of our education is the kind of books we like to read. If a oraving for good books is established in school, whon our boys and girls grow to be men and women they will be likely to have good libraries in theit homes for they have been taught what the best things are and will rnake an effort to obtain them. In what haa preceded I have advauoed no new scheme, no "trying to olimb up some other way" nor have I, nor wuuld I, say one disparagiDg worc regarding our present system or its plication by our[large oorps of oonscientione, entbusiastio teachers. I wish the boya and girls to have all tbat is laid down in our Course of Stnriy and tbat tbey wbo shall complet6 all their school room work in the distriot scboo! and settle down to life's dutiea on. the farm shall go forth with a solid foundation on which to bnild their fature intelleotaal, pbysioal and rnoral edifioe. As oue of onr best modern ednoators baa said, "Whatever else toe course ol stndy may do, let it breathe hope for the country boys and giils; not tbe hope that, to be realized, must be livec in the city, but let it rouse theanticipatious of a life that bas its baokgrounc in the sunsets, the hills, the wooda. the orchards and the waviug grain fields o: tbe country. A genuine life, intelligently lived, can alone bring culture Wbetber the instrument of living ia the plow or the pen, it rnatters but little the furrow well turned and tbe line well written are botb fundamental and abolutely uninterobangeable in human soRÍaív. Connty Commissioner of Schools.


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