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Saturday morning, 9 o'clock. Business Report of the Editors of The R. I. SchoolMASTER. Election of officers.
9.45 o'clock. Lecture by E. A. Sheldon, Esq., Superintendent of Schools, Oswego, N. Y. Subject — Object Teaching."
11 o'clock. Lecture by D. B. Hagar, Esq., of Jamaica Plain, Mass. Subjeet“ A Free and Easy Talk on Ventilation, with Experiments.”
At 2 o'clock P. M., it is expected that Rev. B. Sears, D. D., President of Brown University, will deliver a lecture on “ History.” It is possible Dr. Şears may not be able to be present. Should he not be present this hour will be occupied by another, of which a definite announcement will be made in due time, should it prove necessary.
The subjects of the various lectures will be before the Institute for discussion, as time shall allow.
The exercises of the sessions, day and evening, will be enlivened by vocal music, under the direction of Prof. Eben Tourgeé, of East Greenwich.
The teachers in attendance will be welcomed to the hospitality of citizens of Providence.
It is hoped that free return tickets will be furnished by the different railroads, of which definite announcement will be made as soon as arrangements are completed.
WM. A. MOWRY, PRES'T,) como
Arrangements. Providence, Jan. 2, 1865.
We have had the privilege of reading the advance sheets of the Twentieth Annual Report of Dr. Chapin, Commissioner of Public Schools, and are permitted to make some extracts from them.
It is an admirable report, and ought to be read by every person in the State. The report is like all the Commissioner's efforts. He feels deeply, he speaks earnestly, he writes what he feels and thinks without any circumlocution or study for effect; but yet he does effect much. If his words could be thoroughly appreciated by the people, the evils and stumbling-blocks in the way of public education would be soon swept away. The Commissioner offers his report to the Editors of THE SCHOOLMASTER as his contribution to its pages, and we shall take the liberty to use it largely in future numbers.
By the Report before us, we learn that there are 56,934 children in the State under fifteen years of age, 196 male teachers, 469 female teachers. Average number of scholars attending school in summer, 19,485; in winter, 21,098. Amount of permanent school fund, $397,803.
No. of Scholars.
Cost per Scholar. Providence .........
.. 6,756 ..
$9 61 Providence County...................
7 02 Newport County......in
12 63 Washington County.....
5 32 Kent County.....................
5 03 Bristol County...
9 90 Avarage in the State...........
$7 89 In this number we will give the Commissioner's views in reference to the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction, the R. I. SCHOOLMASTER, and Normal Schools :
- INSTITUTES.—The R. I. Institute of Instruction has holden the usual number of meetings during the past year in different parts of the State. These gatherings have
been well attended both by teachers and the public, and an increasing interest has been manifested in the exercises and lectures. I do not understand how any teacher who has any respect for the dignity of his profession, or any proper appreciation of the responsibility of his office, or any desire to keep alive his educational zeal, and to kindle afresh his enthusiasm, or who has any disposition to coöperate with his fellow-laborers in the noble cause of education, can fail to be often present at these teachers' meetings of conference and counsel, and occasionally, at least, to participate in the discussions. The attendance upon these Institutes always embraces the best qualified, the most energetic, and the most successful teachers : and the intelligent trustee, who is looking for the right man in the right place, will do well to inquire, before he engages his schoolmaster, if he attends the Institute. The measures which are inaugurated will, I think, render the meetings of this association still more effective in their influence upon educational reform.
" THE R. I. SCHOOLMASTER.—This valuable educational journal still maintains the foremest rank in its class of periodicals, and is every way worthy of the increasing patronage of teachers and the friends of education and of the benefaction of the State. Successful efforts have recently been made to increase its circulation, both within and without the limits of this Commonwealth. Flattering testimonials of its value, and of the high esteem in which it is held, have been received from some of the best educators in other States. This is alike creditable to the State, and complimentary to the gentlemen who have the publication under their immediate charge.
“ THE NORMAL School.-Its numbers are small. This is no fault of the school, or of the teachers. It is the misfortune of its location. In an urgent appeal, issued last spring, and in their present report, the Trustees earnestly request your honorable body to consider the propriety and the necessity of removing it to a more central location, where success would be certain—where it would have more increased facilities for accomplishing its legitimate work, viz., to furnish a supply of teachers thoroughly instructed in the principles of their profession, and trained in the discharge of their important duties. The demand for such teachers is constantly increasing, and when this war ceases, it will be imperative both at the North and South. Every where these schools are growing in favor-everywhere they are receiving that encouragement and aid which they so justly merit. The testimony of every educator, and of every educational journal, with which this office is in communication, is unqualified and emphatic on this point. These Normal Schools are distinct in their character; and every attempt to graft them upon a purely academic institution has proved more or less a failure. The experiment does not require to be repeated here. History has proved it a mistake, and no wise man will listen to prophecy for encouragement. The day has passed in which to enter upon a general discussion of the wisdom and economy of maintaining these institutions in any State manifesting an enlightened disposition to educate its youth in the best practicable manner. To do this would be to call in question the integrity of any ordinary man's observation and intelligence. It is confidently hoped that Rhode Island will not be the first to dispense with the advantages of a Normal school.”
East GREENWICH.—The Providence Conference Seminary, at East Greenwich, is one of the oldest educational institutions in the State, being the substitute for the well-known Kent Academy, founded in 1802. Its present organization has existed since 1840; and the Seminary is in a more flourishing condition at the present time than at any former period. It numbers one hundred and seventy-five students, and has a Normal Department connected with it, (embracing forty-five students the present term,) devoted especially to the preparation of ladies and gentlemen for practical teachers.
The teachers and students, with invited friends, had a merry Christmas-time. Presents to the value of $500 were distributed from a beautiful Christmas tree. Toasts, a poem, and music, ali conspired to make it a very happy occasion, and one long to be remembered.
Efforts are being made to relieve the Seminary of its debt of $18,000. We think its friends ought to do it, and we have no doubt they will do so at an early day. · The Spring Term of this Institution will commence February 2d.
LAPHAM INSTITUE, NORTH SCITUATE.—T'he monotony of school life was agreeably diversified on Friday evening, Dec. 30, by one of those exceedingly pleasant social gatherings of the members and their friends, for which Lapham Institute is famous. The occasion was the distribution of presents from a large and splendid Christmas and New Year's tree, which was well loaded with gifts of all descriptions and values. The tree was stationed in the chapel, and, with the gifts, presented a splendid appearance. After spending a short time in social intercourse and promenade, the committee announced that the time for the distribution had arrived. None were permitted to be disappointed, all receiving some token of regard. Among the presents were noticed several valuable books, furs, napkin rings, fruit knives, breakfast shawls, pictures, articles of jewelry, skates, &c., and also a significant image of “ My Məryland.” Shortly after the tree was relieved of its contents a portion of the company made their way to the library, where they were entertained by some fine music. The social closed about 10 o'clock, the evening having been one of unbroken pleasure. Great credit is due to the committee for their excellent management on the occasion.—Providence Journal.
OUR BOOK TABLE.
SUNSET STORIES.—Echoes from the Gun of 1861., A Book for Boys. Loring, pub
This is No. 3 of the series, and the very best. It is delightful, in these times, when so much light, foolish and demoralizing literature is put within the reach of the young, to find a book which is both intensely interesting and highly moral and religious in its character and influence. The characters are all true to life. Hal, Van, Court, Horace, Thorn, Lee, Pat, Mr. Thatcher and Mr. Grey, are all persons whom we have met in our lives and shall again if our lives are spared. Parents. see that your boys read such books, and they will be wiser and better men. We know the authoress, the widow of a highly esteemed clergyman. She has written several books for girls and young ladies ; and nothing which she has written can fail to make the home and the heart better wherever it is read. We hope - Echoes » will have a large sale.
In a previous article on the subject of Grammar, I spoke of the wide-spread dissatisfaction with the present mode of studying and teaching that branch of education. I also spoke of the ability of the scholars which study Grammar, of the difficulties of the study, and of the maturity of mind required to comprehend it. The fact that many persons who know very little of Grammar often use language more fluently and more correctly than those who are considered well educated, was also mentioned.
This latter fact ought to be heeded. Does it not show us that there is something wrong in the present mode of studying it? Grammar professes to teach us to speak and write the English language correctly. Does it? Do our scholars use language with any more ease or correctness than those who have never studied its technicalities? If they do, the difference is not very perceptible. Those use language best who have had the greatest amount of practice, who have been most accustomed to use it. The best marksman is he who has had the longest practice in the use of firearms, and not he who manufactures them, or he who can point out the beauties or defects of their construction.
Scholars will never learn the use of language by taking language to pieces and pointing out the relations of its different parts, any more
than a man will learn to build houses by tearing houses down. He who is expected to do a thing well must have a long practice in it.
“ True ease in writing comes from use, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.”
to If we would secure from our scholars ease and readiness in the use of language, we must give them a continued practice in constructing sentences for themselves, and then show them the errors in their own sentences instead of those in another's. In other words, writing should become a habit, and then the writing of " compositions” would no longer be considered such a hardship in our schools. I say writing should become a habit. I mean by writing, forming sentences — expressing ideas in written language,
Few persons fully comprehend the force of habit, and by habit I do not mean what is called a bad habit or a good habit, but that skill and facility which are acquired by constant practice. It is a principle in political economy that two tradesmen can better afford to exchange the products of their labor with each other, than that each should learn two trades. The blacksmith can buy his shoes of the shoemaker cheaper than he can make them ; so the shoemaker can hire his horse shod cheaper than he can do it himself; because the skill which each has acquired in his own trade enables him to earn more in the same time than he could earn if he should change his business. This is the result of habit. On looking at some file-makers, a short time since, I was astonished at the rapidity with which they would use their chisels and hammers, striking each time apparently the same distance from the last cut. It is practice- habit—that has given them the skill. Indeed, what is a trade but a habit—a skill acquired by practice.
Why is it so difficult for a person to disguise his hand-writing ? Because habit has trained his muscles to move in certain directions, which are not easily changed.
The force of this frequent repetition of the same act is so strong that when the act is one of which our judgment or our moral instinct does not approve, we call it a “ bad habit.”
We do without reflection and almost unconsciously that which we have long been accustomed to do. So strong is this principle of our natures, that the Prophet has taken an impossibility to illustrate the