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My experience and observation as a School Inspector lead me to think that such is too frequently the case, and that it operates as a serious hinderance to the greater efficiency and usefulness of many schools. I have found the teachers in this county, very generally, earnest and faithful, not unfrequently very successful as teachers and disciplinarians, and comparing favorably with those in other counties which cannot, by large salaries and other allurements, secure the highest order of teaching ability. There are some schools in this county that will not suffer by comparison with the best in the State. There are others which, for reasons already suggested, are very ordipary, and without a more careful selection of teachers, and a somewhat more liberal policy in recompensing good ones, and thus avoiding a frequent change, will always continue so, to the discredit of the towns, and the lasting injury of the children. Of the two hundred and thirty-one teachers employed during the year in this county, only nineteen, or eight and a fourth per cent., have attended Normal Schools,—not all of them graduates,—and their services are, generally, highly appreciated. One who taught the same Primary School for four years was spoken of as "a teacher of superior qualifications, both as an instructor and disciplinarian ; always laboring zealously and lovingly for the improvement of her pupils, and her efforts are attended with wonderful success in securing their love and coöperation, which is a sure augury of successful teaching. A visit to her school is sufficient to satisfy the observer of the superiority of the Normal method of teaching.” Of another, in one of the principal towns, who after graduating from the High School, was graduated from the Bridgewater Normal School, it was said, that "her school progressed finely. Oral and object teaching seem to be the methods upon which she principally relies for imparting instruction, and the result thus obtained cannot fail to prove beneficial.” Much more similar testimony, confirmed by my personal observations, might be cited in favor of Normal School instruction as an important aid in removing this hinderance to the greater efficiency of the schools. But notwithstanding the annually increasing number of better teachers as a result of Normal School and Special Training culture, the supply of competent teachers is still very inadequate to the wants of the schools. It is, then, a very
important question how this want can be better met. The circumstances of a very large proportion of those who wish to become teachers will not permit them, however desirous they may be of doing so, to spend four years, or even two years, at a Normal School, notwithstanding the expense is reduced by State aid, and by cheaper board at the boarding houses connected with three of the Normal Schools. I believe that there are very many of this class who would find means, somehow, to attend a Teachers' Institute, or Normal School, by whatever name it might be called,-continued for not less than two or three months each year, and conducted by the Agents of the Board, with the aid of such experienced, practical teachers, connected with existing Normal Schools or otherwise, as they might be authorized to summon to their aid. A short session of this kind and for this purpose might be held, during the long vacation, in some or all of the Normal School buildings, whose facilities for instruction, and the boarding-houses connected therewith, could be used with manifold advantages. If such short schools were established, it would do away with the necessity for holding such Teachers’ Institutes as are now held, which, from their brevity and the unavoidable superficial character of their exercises, are of far less value than these protracted Institutes would be. I deem the matter of sufficient importance again to commend it to the consideration of the Board.
In connection with this topic, I would venture to make another suggestion, without entering upon a discussion of its merit, having in view the same object,-a suggestion which, I think, I have also previously made. It is, that a Board of Examiners be appointed by your Board, with the sanction of the legislature, to examine teachers, and authorized to give certificates of qualification for teaching the different grades of schools, which might be accepted by school committees as sufficient evidence of qualification, and thus meet the present requirement of the statute. These might, according to the results of examination, be given for a limited period of years, or, to those of superior excellence, for life. I know that very many school committees would gladly receive certificates given by a Board of Examiners of the right qualifications for such service, who would be influenced by no personal or local prejudices for or against the parties examined. Such a system of examination and certification
of teachers has been adopted by several State Boards,—Ohio, New Jersey, California, and others,—and is highly commended as a means of securing a better class of teachers.
There are other hinderances to this efficiency, such as the lack of an intelligent, judicious, impartial and faithful supervision of the schools, a lack of interest on the part of parents, a waste of time in the study of certain branches to the neglect of other more important ones, etc.; but of these I have spoken sufficiently often in previous reports, and will close this report by this brief allusion to them.
ABNER J. PHIPPS,
BOSTON, January 18, 1876.
Gentlemen of the Board of Education :
I respectfully invite your attention to the following Report of the Secretary, it being the thirty-ninth of the series, and, for reasons hereafter stated, as brief as the simple statement of the topics requiring notice will allow.
SUMMARY OF STATISTICS FOR 1874–75. Number of cities and towns-cities, 19; towns, 322, . .
All have made the annual returns required by law. Number of Public Schools, . . . . . . .
Increase for the year, . . . . . . 126 Number of persons in the State between five and fifteen years of age, May 1, 1874, . . . . . . .
Increase for the year, . . . . . 2,227 Number of pupils of all ages in all the Public Schools during the year, . . . . . . . . . . .
Increase for the year, . . . . . 5,093 Average attendance in all the Public Schools during the year,
Increase for the year, . . . . . 6,613 Ratio of average attendance for the year to the whole number
of persons between five and fifteen, expressed in decimals, Number of children under five years attending Public Schools, Decrease for the year,. . .
. . . 169 Number of persons over fifteen attending Public Schools, .
Increase for the year, . . . . . 8,299 Number of towns which report having made the provisions
concerning truants required by law, . . . . Number of different persons employed as teachers in Public Schools during the year; males, 1,169; females, 8,047 ; total,
Increase of males, 91; increase of females, 410;
total increase, . . . . . . . 501 Number of teachers who have attended a Normal School, . Average length of Public Schools, eight months and seventeen days,
. . . . . . . . . Average wages of male teachers (including salaries of High School teachers) per month, . . . . . . .
Decrease from last year, . . . . $5 96