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n. STATE NORMAL AND TRAINING SCHOOL
AT OSWEGO, NEW YORK.
The Normal And Training School grew out of the necessities of the Oswego Schools. From the time of their organization in the summer of 1853 regular Saturday Institutes were held, which all teachers were required to attend for the purpose of receiving instruction in methods of teaching the various branches, and giving unity and efficiency to the organization, discipline, and teaching in the several departments of the schools.
These weekly meetings served their purpose very well, but as new teachers were continually coming in who required careful training in methods, it was found impracticable to keep all properly qualified for their work under this arrangement It seemed very desirable that this special preparation should be completed before the teachers were employed in the schools.
This necessity was more strongly felt when, in the Fall of 1859, the present methods of "Object Teaching" were introduced into all the lower grades. This made it absolutely indispensable that all should have special and careful training in the new methods.
During the first year the Superintendent continued to meet the primary teachers every Saturday for the purpose of imparting the necessary instruction, and giving illustrations of the new methods with classes of children. As this process required to be continually repeated, and as at best it could be but imperfectly done, the Board resolved to establish a school for the practical training of teachers. To carry out this design more effectively, and especially in view of the new methods introduced, the Board resolved to secure the services of a teacher from one of the best Training Schools of Great Britain, where these methods were practiced. They accordingly entered into negotiations with Miss M. E. M. Jones, a woman eminently qualified for her work; and who had been for fifteen years exclusively engaged in training primary teachers in the Home and Colonial Training Institution of London. Her engagement with the Board was but for one year. At their urgent request she was persuaded to remain three months longer.
Aside from the regular members of the Training Class, the teachers in the primary departments of all the public schools received a full course of instruction under Miss Jones. No pupils were admitted into the class who had not previously completed a thorough academic course equivalent to that pursued in the Oswego High School.
A number of active, intelligent teachers from abroad joined the class. These ladies are now occupying important positions in different sections of the country, several of them in Training Schools which have since been established.
The school soon gained an enviable reputation not only for its methods of teaching, but for its methods of training. As the number of foreign pupils rapidly increased, and as there was evident demand for increased facilities for the professional education of teachers in the State, in the winter of 1862-3 the Legislature made an appropriation of $3,000 annually for two years, conditional on the attendance of fifty pupils, and the privilege of sending to the school two pupils from each Senatorial District free of charge for tuition.
In the spring of I860 this appropriation was increased to $6,000, without imposing any conditions as to attendance, except that each Assembly District should be entitled to send one pupil to the school, but requiring the Board of Education or citizens of Oswego to provide suitable buildings and grounds for the accommodation of the school.
These conditions have been complied with in the purchase and enlargement of a building located in the most delightful part of the city, on high and commanding grounds, overlooking the entire town, the lake and the surrounding country. The frontispiece gives a view of this building in perspective. Its entire length in front is 153 feet and in depth 180 feet. The center or main part is built of a beautiful gray limestone found on the shores of Lake Ontario. The wings are of wood. It is designed to accommodate 300 pupils in the Normal Department, and 600 children in the Model and Practicing Schools.
Hitherto the course of instruction in the school has been confined to methods of teaching, and particularly to methods of primary instruction.
The class is divided into two sections. One section receives instruction in methods in the morning while the other is teaching in the Practicing School. In the afternoon the divisions alternate, the section that received instruction in the morning practice, and vice versa. In the instruction the teacher illustrates every point by a lesson with the children. The pupil-teachers are then called upon in turn to prepare a written sketch of a similar lesson, to be presented to the teacher on the succeeding day, when some member of the class is called upon to work out her sketch with the children, under the criticism of the class and teacher.
At the end of each month these divisions interchange. The division that taught in the morning teach in the afternoon, and receive instruction in methods in the morning and vice versa. By this arrangement each teacher instructs a class in a given grade one month in the morning session, and one month in the afternoon, and then changes grades. This affords each pupil-teacher an opportunity of teaching all the subjects of each grade for one month.