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person able to devote his whole time to that work, and until such arrangements can be made, our efforts to make our schools what they should be will be but partially successful.
Drawing.--The scholars have, as a rule, made fair progress in this art. Several of our teachers have made good use of their drawing classes in their exercises before the Teachers' Association.
Of this branch in the High School the principal says: “ The work done by the class in drawing is deserving of special notice. Drawing has been regarded as a science based upon principles difficult to comprehend and rules not easy of application, but the readiness with which the members of this class grasp and apply the principles presented, the taste and skill developed, show that drawing from objects and designing in their elementary forms are not the difficult and abstruse matters formerly supposed.”
A class of those unable to attend the day schools was opened on December 21, 1874 ; twenty-one names were registered the first night. The class has met once a week since then, and the average attendance has been about sixteen. · For the Committee.-WILLIAM TODD, Chairman ; M. M. LLOYD, Secretary.
Your committee take great pleasure in announcing that they consider the schools of the town in excellent condition. A manifest improvement in the methods of teaching and discipline is apparent in nearly every school. The old method of book language verbatim is gradually disappearing from our school-rooms, displaced by the wiser and much more sensible plan of recitation by topic largely in the chosen language of the pupil. We are gratified at the apparent attention the matter of reading is receiving. Great progress in this branch has been made in many of our schools the past year, and we would say right here that it is desirable that this important branch of education should receive still greater attention than has already been bestowed upon it, as gooil readers in our communities are the exception, rather than the rule, even among the best educated. Those dull, monotonous and expressionless sentences and paragraphs of our schools of former days, we are happy to chronicle, are fast giving way under our efficient corps of instructors. Other branches might be enumerated and particularized upon, but this is unnecessary.
We are in great measure indebted for the progress which we think we have made to the valuable hints, suggestions and instructions to ourselves and teachers from Prof. G. A. Walton, Special Agent of the State Board of Education. It is our opinion that, in towns like our own, without a superintendent, his services are important, and we have no doubt it would be wisdom on the part of the State to double the number of such agents.
School Committee.-EMERSON GEER, CHAS. E. MERRICK, N. T. SMITH.
What has largely contributed, no doubt, to the success of our schools, is the fact that we have been able to retain many of our teachers for successive terms. This is to be attributed in part to the more generous appropriations of the town, which have enabled the committee to offer somewhat better pecuniary inducements, though it cannot be said that we have yet reached the maximum of high wages. Even the past year the town has suffered by competition in this direction. We should be glad if intelligent citizens could see that it would be good policy to supply the ineans by which the length of our schools could be increased by at least a month in the year. It will be observed, by reference to the table of statistics, that although several male teachers have been employed, their wages have been the same as would have been the wages of females, had they been employed instead, a fact which some may regard as a step in the right direction. It has been the policy of the committee to act on the principle of “ equal rights" to both sexes.
The town may well congratulate itself on the improvement, during the past few years, of its school architecture. An almost complete revolution has been made in this direction; and whereas it might have been truly said, not long since, that we had scarcely a good schoolhouse in town, we are now able to say that we have not an absolutely poor one. Health, comfort, proficiency of pupils, demand that our school-houses be kept in thorough repair. A broken pane of glass endangers the life of one sitting near it. Valuable lives have been sacrificed by exposures which would not have been but for the penuriousness of school districts. The necessary risks of orerheated or underheated rooms; the inequality of warmth ; the peril of bad air ; the sudden changes of temperature, are all bad enough, without adding to the dangers by neglecting to provide places as thoroughly suitable as possible for the education of our children. When so much is being done for the protection of the brute creation; when the horse and other animals are cared for by state legislation, shall we suffer our children to be exposed to disease and death, which are the almost certain result of causes which are at work secretly, but surely, in many of our school-rooms to-day?
At the same time, let the places where our children spend so much of their time be attractive in an esthetic point of view. Many of our school-houses have a most neglected appearance, quite to the discredit of those whose duty it is to care for these things. Books are not the only educators. Everything on which the eye rests helps in some way to produce an impression on the mind. The grand mountains, and the beautiful landscape of our town, have done as much to cultivate the taste and inspire the minds of many who have honored the town by their learning and eloquence and culture, as living teachers. Pictures and flowers within the school-room; trees and flowers with. out; little efforts at adornment, are all teachers, and they do their work most effectually. It pays well to make our school-houses something more than plain, unornamental piles of lumber. Make them beautiful, tasteful, comely, and worthy of the purpose for which they are built, and the fruits will appear in increased refinement and true cultivation.
School Committee.-MARTIN S. HOWARD, James M. Foster, Alonzo B. Newell.
H AMPSHIRE COUNTY.
We beg leave to call the attention of the town to the fact that more than one-fifth (23 per cent.) of its whole appropriation of money last year was for schools; and though the voters are so liberal to schools with their money, it is not pleasant to know how few of them visit the schools to know of their progress. This apparent want of interest in the schools is not, however, believed to be real; for your committee are well aware, from public and private criticisms, that many at least of our citizens think they know how the schools are going on, even if they visit the schools not at all, or only on public days. And it is to this method of acquiring information that your committee desire to call attention. A wayward, disaffected or naughty pupil (who, even though wayward or wrong, should always have a hearing to father's or mother's ear) often is the sole means of poisoning a neighborhood with perverted or even malicious statements about teachers or their management. During the past year, more than one parent has wronged a teacher, simply in believing the child's statement against her or him, and never taking the pains to see the teacher or committee, and find out that “other side” which there is always to every story. Then, when the parents have become slightly disaffected, it is only necessary for them
to believe that the child “isn't learning anything under that teacher," and saying so in the presence of the child, to completely destroy the influence of the teacher, and put the child in such a state that then it will, and can, learn nothing under those conditions. A word to the teacher, or to the committee, under such circumstances, would often help a teacher greatly, and save a child from perhaps the loss of a whole term of study.
“ The only reliable means of forming an intelligent opinion of the character of a school is by personally observing school work, or by information gleaned from those whose frequent visits enable them to judge correctly."
Some of the schools, too, have not been fairly judged, because a bad boy has, in going to or from school, in anger or excitement, used had language. This has often led respectable people to criticise teachers as if they were responsible for profanity or vulgarity away from the school-house and grounds.
There is another injurious tendency in the schools which is affecting our public health. This is the crowding forward of pupils in their studies under the guise of a “high standard.” A serious evil has crept in, which, while but faintly telling on children, still is making its mark on our future health. Too many studies, and too rapid progress in them, is an evil which your committee feel is an evil, and one which they hesitate to attack too severely, lest in the popular mind they should seem to lower the standard of scholarship. The Rhode Island State Medical Society have lately voted that scholars under fifteen years of age should not be compelled to engage in school duties more than four hours during the day, and not obliged to study at all out of school. Acting upon this idea, for the past two terms, all the schools in town have only held three-hour sessions in the morning, and two and a half hours in the afternoon; and could they carry out their ideas more fully in this matter, they would direct four hours of school for the six days of the week, instead of six hours for the five days, thus making a reduction from thirty hours during the week to twenty-four, believing that a two days' abrupt pause in study is as injurious to progress in study as it often is in too much physical exposure.
The prime necessity of our schools, as judged by your committee, is a first-class superintendent. As excellent as are our teachers, their duties and their powers so peculiar, it does need a central head to guide and steady them, though not to command, in a military sense. It needs a man to give his time-his whole time—to the business, since this work cannot be well done by a man who has his own business to attend to before he can watch over the schools, and all belonging to them. No business organization with so much money invested, or so many individuals at work as are engaged in our town schools, would
have this work done by a committee of three, every one of whom has his own affairs to occupy the greater part of the time; and no church with six hundred members could be taken care of properly without a pastor. A number of men could not care for it collectively, and there would be work enough for one man to do to occupy his whole time. A Sabbath school of even a hundred members cannot go along without its superintendent. And your committee do not believe that a man who is simply liberally educated, or has been educated to some other profession than that of teaching, is a competent man for school superintendent, if he has time enough on his hands, because he is not in the practice of his own profession. A man to properly superintend schools needs a previous education in the direction of teaching, both theoretically and practically. The farmer wouldn't engage as his head farmer a man who was ever so good an overseer in a cotton or woollen mill, nor would the merchant employ ever so good an insurance actuary to buy and sell his merchandise. While years ago it was thought that a so-called educated man could at any time edit a newspaper and teach or superintend schools, the present methods of journalism and teaching are so different, and require such special training to become successful in them, that the school superintendent of to-day must have been purposely trained and practised for his duties if he will be successful.
School Committee.-I. F. CONKEY, E. HITCHCOCK, E. A. Thomas.
The permanent establishment, as we hope, of the three-term system in our Common Schools, affords special advantages to our younger children, while it does not lessen the privileges of the older scholars. By a prudent expenditure of the school money appropriated for the coming year, we hope to be able to give thirty-two weeks of schooling, thereby affording those scholars who cannot attend the spring and fall terms of school the benefit of twelve weeks of schooling during the winter term.
High School. We have found it necessary, from year to year, to lower the standard of admission into this school, because we could not otherwise secure a sufficient number of scholars to make the school interesting or profitable to the scholars, or satisfactory to the town. We deprecate the necessity of thus admitting into our High School scholars who ought to remain longer in the Common Schools. How to advance the standard of scholarship necessary for admission into this school, and at the same time furnish from our Common Schools the requisite number of well qualified scholars, has been a long agitated question. We believe in the possibility, as well as the theory, of bring