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ERRATA. 32d page, 2d line from the top, by mistake in transferring, the sum given is $5,382.79, instead of $5,882.79.
34th page, 11th line of figures from the top, the sum should be $220.00, instead of $222.00. 53d page of Appendix, 8th column of figures, last line but one, 2,500 was omitted in transferring
The Board of Education respectfully submits to the legislature its Thirty-Fifth Annual Report, the Reports of the Visitors of the Normal Schools, and of the Treasurer, Secretary, and General Agent.
This Board, in the fulfilment of the duties imposed upon it of making suggestions as to the most practical means of improving and extending the efficiency of the system of popular education, has, at different times, urged upon the legislature the necessity of a thorough supervision of the Common Schools. It has been truly said that “ the most important branch of administration, as connected with education, relates to school inspection.” This subject was fully discussed in the report of the Secretary for 1869, and has been referred to in subsequent reports of the Board and Secretary. Their suggestions have been partially adopted, and the necessity of such supervision has been so far recognized that most of the cities and several of the large towns of the Commonwealth employ a superintendent of schools. This agency is “now exerting a more powerful influence than any other instrumentality in perfecting the character and giving efficiency to the schools.” It has been introduced into most of our sister States, with equally beneficial results. While the benefits of the system are enjoyed by over forty cities and towns, the remaining number do not employ a superintendent. Most of them cannot afford the expense, but these very towns are the ones that most need such supervision, for the small towns cannot obtain as able and experienced teachers as the larger and wealthier places, and they have fewer persons of literary attainments able to devote their time and talents to these duties. They are also more heavily taxed in proportion to their valuation than the large cities. The last general court made an appropriation of
$10,000 for the salary and expenses of agents who should undertake this work of supervision. It therefore became the duty of the Board to carry out the policy thus inaugurated, so that every town, however poor or however small, might enjoy the benefits of the system. It has been found difficult to procure gentlemen possessing the requisite qualifications for the duties.
A special agent was appointed by the Board in July last, as the director of art education, and is now engaged in the work of · aiding the cities and towns in carrying out the requirements of .the law of 1870 relating to the teaching of drawing in the Public Schools and the establishment of Evening Schools for the instruction of adult persons in mechanical drawing. His labore thus far have met with gratifying success.
A special agent has also been engaged for a limited time to visit the schools in the western counties, who is doing a good work, and it is hoped that others may soon be put into the field. If the plan meets with the success which is confidently anticipated, it will gradually lead to the establishment of a system of local county or district agents. These will not assume any of the powers now possessed by the school committees or relieve them of any of their duties, but coöperate with them whenever their services are required, by suggesting plans and locations for school-houses, organizing schools, conferring with the teachers, holding meetings for discussion of topics appertaining to their labor, and advising in the classification and grading of schools.
It is not enough, however, to provide superintendents and school-houses and to require compulsory attendance, unless the teachers are qualified for their work. None of us employ an agent or servant to perform a service, who has not some experience or qualification for the position, yet we constantly hire persons to teach our children, who have never had any training or instruction in the theory and art of teaching. The State has built and partially equipped four Normal Schools for the preparation of teachers. The school buildings at Salem and Bridgewater were enlarged last year and now will seat 200 pupils each. Boarding houses have been recently erected at Bridgewater and Framingham, which have been productive of great good, in cheapening the price of board and thereby increasing the number of pupils and bringing them more immediately under the care of the principals. The school at Bridgewater has increased so rapidly, that there is now the same need for enlarging the boardinghouse that there was for its construction. The school at Westfield languishes for want of a boarding-house, more than half of the pupils being compelled to board themselves. The house at Bridgewater should be enlarged, and a new one constructed at Westfield the present year.
The last general court established a fifth Normal School at Worcester. The ground has been selected, plans agreed upon and contracts partially made, and it is expected that the buildings will be ready for occupancy before another year. The benefits that have resulted from the establishment of Normal Schools are so fully appreciated that nothing need be said in their behalf. Between 900 and 1,000 pupils can be taught in these schools, and more than 200 graduated every year.
While the Normal Schools are performing a most valuable service in raising the standard of teaching throughout the whole Commonwealth, their capacity to educate trained teachers has hardly kept pace with the increase of population, and is rapidly falling short of meeting the great increase in the demand for such teachers.
But though more Normal Schools are required, a sufficient number for the training of all our teachers could not be provided, except by a large permanent annual expenditure; nor would this answer the purpose, for a large proportion of the teachers could not afford the time and expense required to graduate, and, moreover, teachers need different degrees and kinds of training for different grades and descriptions of schools. Some other system must be devised. Two plans have been suggested. One contemplates the establishment of several Normal Schools, with a course of three or six months, devoted to a strictly professional course of instruction in the art of organizing, governing and instructing schools. From four to six hundred teachers could be trained yearly in each of these, at an expense not much greater than is now required at the Normal Schools, and they would be much better fitted for their work than are the present large number of teachers who lack special training. This plan has been fully elaborated by one of the best educators in our country, and his recommendation is sufficient to entitle it to the most careful consideration. There are some decided advantages in introducing normal instruction into the High Schools and Academies. These
schools are in successful operation in locations where the pupils live and the teachers are needed. No additional expense would be required for the construction and maintenance of the schools, and a department for this branch of education can be as well established there as in separate schools.
With the view of furnishing teachers of their own schools, several of the cities and large towns have made provision for giving normal instruction to such pupils of the High Schools as desire to teach, either by forming classes for the purpose in the schools themselves, or by establishing Training Schools, auxiliary to the High Schools.
It is believed that many of the Academies would employ competent instructors, and establish such a course of instruction, to be prescribed by the Board of Education, provided reasonable encouragement should be proffered by the Commonwealth.
The experiment might be tried in two or three leading Academies; and, if found to work satisfactorily, it could then be gradually extended.
This system is in operation in New York, and between one and two thousand are annually instructed, free of charge, for four months, in the teachers' classes in Academies selected for that purpose by the Regents. “The results of the instruction given have been apparent in the improved character of the teachers of the Common Schools.”
In 1870, this Board submitted to the legislature “ An Act relating to free instruction in drawing," which was approved in May of that year. By this Act, drawing was made one of the branches of learning to be taught in the Public Schools ; and every city and town having over 10,000 inhabitants was required to provide free instruction in drawing, to persons over fifteen years of age, either in day or evening schools. It is now admitted, by all who have examined the subject, that every one who can learn to write can learn to draw, and that drawing is simpler in its elements and can be more easily acquired than writing. Special instructors are no more required for drawing than for writing or arithmetic. Teachers must learn and teach elementary drawing as they learn and teach other branches. It has been found abroad that teachers can acquire a sufficient knowledge of drawing without any great sacrifice of time or patience.
In order to obtain the advantages of the best methods of instruc