Imágenes de páginas

it possessed thirteen acres; but it gave three acres to the high school for a building site. Mark well this liberality of acres in a California rural school and execrate the short-sighted, ill-advised, uninformed men who locate their schoolhouse on a measly little town lot. Shall our children be starved for sunshine, air, play room, right here in California? Perish the thought!

The high school, trim and neat, peeps out of a magnificent growth of trees and shrubbery. It has seventy-five students. The principal is Osmun Abbott, who holds a diploma from the University at Jena. He is the leader of a local institute, which meets every Thursday for reading-circle work. This institute is composed of twenty-one teachers, has been running for two years, and has made solid studies of Bagley's and Chancellor's educational doctrines. This work has been of great help to the county.

A Good Example

If I might do so very gingerly and without offense, I would venture to commend Mr. Abbott's example to other high school principals of strength, ambition and initiative. Do not allow yourself to sit around and grumble, good friends, feeling that you are not recognized, that you have no chance, that the Superintendent doesn't appreciate you, that the people are a sodden lot. If you can gather the teachers of the surrounding region into a Local Institute for a year or so, you may do a worthy thing, one that will do the world much good for long years into the future. These neighborhood institutes are often more efficient, more enthusiastic, more helpful than the larger county gatherings.

For the Boys

I would that every boy in California might get this, my message, through his father or mother or teacher, in whatsoever way may best appear:

"Boys, I have just passed through the most horrid and ghastly experience of my life; one that leaves me old and broken and overwhelmed. I went duck hunting with my boy, fifteen years old, along the shore of Lake Tulare, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We were in a two-seated wagon with Professor Baker and his son Lee, both of them intent on giving us a good time. When we started home, the two boys were in the rear seat. Lee loaded his gun and held it for a while, then set it down beside

Victor while he jumped out to open a gate. A jolt of the wagon threw boy and gun together-and crash came a sharp report! I whirled around to find Victor with shattered shoulder, four ragged, bleeding wounds staring at our helplessness!

"We rode for six galloping miles, vainly trying to stop the blood, tortured by his pale face and his pain, a fearful journey! Then came six frantic hours of waiting for a train, trying, trying to stanch the flow of blood, with small success. Then we carried him to the depot; and followed three hours of jolting in a cold and cheerless baggage car, with frenzied watching to see if he could survive the constant loss of blood. And then the ambulance. And then the operating room, a shambles! Where the keen surgeon, up to his elbows in crimson, looked me in the eye and gave me quick choice between losing a big, strong arm or losing the boy! And then days of anxious care, with life or death uncertain from hour to hour, even as I write this-with no hope for anything better than a young life doomed to an empty sleeve!

"It is not easy to set this down, nor pleasant. I do it hoping that a near view of its horror and agony may so impress some of you that your parents may be spared such harrowing experience, that you may perchance save life or limb.

"Make up your mind so firmly, promise it so strongly that you will never forget-that you will never EVEN ONCE ride in a vehicle with a loaded gun! Nearly all accidents with boys and guns are caused that way-by riding with a loaded gun or by taking a loaded gun out or by putting it in the wagon. Don't do it yourself. Don't allow others to do it. If some one else does do it, you get out and walk. Avoid like pestilence a wagon with a loaded gun. Force yourself to this without swerving. It will cost you nothing, but will yield a great reward."

Pencil Sharpeners

Superintendent Lindsay of Fresno County took me out with a nice horse and buggy to visit the Roeding School a week or two ago. The principal showed us her new pencil sharpener. Naturally, we had seen many kinds and patterns of sharpeners for lo these many years; yet here in this rural school we found one entirely new to both of us, and apparently the best that either had ever seen. It was called the U. S. Automatic Sharpener, and cost $3.50. It cuts like a knife and doesn't break the leads. As a general rule a good jack knife, costing about fifty cents, is the best kind of a pencil sharpener for a school.

What to Do

A school trustee has written about the forty-sixty per cent law, saying that his district pays its teacher an excellent salary, fully as much as or more than other schools pay, and that yet a good big balance has accumulated. Now he says that this balance is not needed for next year and the building needs painting and repairs. Therefore it should be used for the good of the district, not saved in the teachers' fund. If not, what should be done with it?

It seems to me that this must be an unusual case. The ordinary district does not come out with any more balance than is necessary to start out the next term. A small balance of ready money on hand, so that all bills can be paid at once, is as good for a school as for an individual.

If, however, some unusual circumstance had caused an accumulation beyond the coming needs, what then? The clerk might ask the County Superintendent for the names of the best six teachers of the county; then go and visit these at their work, and make up his mind which of them would do his district the most good; then when he could honorably do so offer him (or her) a salary large enough to get him. The best teacher in a county is worth more than twice as much as the average one. Even one year with a splendid woman or man means much to a body of young people. It affects them for life.

Barren Officialism

It often seems to me that we Superintendents take ourselves altogether too seriously in the matter of our official correspondence. I know one good, conscientious fellow whose chief pride is in the exact, systematic, complete manner in which he conducts this department of his work. Every letter he ever receives is carefully filed and indexed-even when Agent Smith writes for a directory or Miss Comely asks for a list of vacancies. Every scratch that he ever writes himself is carefully copied. He grinds the letters through a wringing machine, duplicates them on a continuous roll; then cuts them off separately, numbers them, files them, indexes them and stacks them away in proper order. He loves to tell how he can in a short time unearth from his vast accumulations of debris any letter on any subject from or to any person at any date that was ever written since he was in the office!

Doubtless this is true.
But what of it?

This clerkly work has used up most of his time and the best of his energy. He can't visit schools very much or spend much time with his teachers-his office works piles up too fast. Of what real use to the world is old correspondence? Once in a great while perhaps it gives one a personal satisfaction to prove that Robinson has misquoted what you really said or that Bilkins wrote you what he didn't do, or that Ananias really lied about something. But what does that amount to? The great mass of correspondence is just like the great mass of Talk that comes and goes-ephemeral, its usefulness gone as soon as it happens. Imagine preserving by phonographic records every word that ever was uttered in a Superintendent's office! Wouldn't it be a pretty mess?

Most of the correspondence is the same. Reaching back into the years, dust covered, filling up good space, costing money, using up energy and eyesight-and the whole thing for a dozen. years is not as valuable to the world as one sympathetic smile to a lonesome urchin, or one hour spent in heartening up a discouraged little teacher away out in the wilds.

Then I know another Superintendent who has been in office over ten years and has only kept one copying book and one little letter file and not over fifty letters in both-just a very few formal communications that were necessary to keep. "What's the difference?" says he. "It's easier to say a thing over again than to record it. If I forget what someone wrote, it's easy to ask it over again-when I need it. But ninety-nine times out of a hundred I never need it. Why burden myself with it, then? The janitor needs it to light the fires. Old correspondence is like last year's birds' nests."

Somewhere between these two extremes lies the golden mean, which each must find for himself.

Crabbe Goes Forward

Kentucky has a Crabbe that does not seem to be advancing backwards. He is the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and his initials are J. G. He has issued circulars announcing a Whirlwind Campaign for Education to last for nine days. Twenty-five speakers are engaged and the Whirlwind is to strike every county in Kentucky. The circular says: "These speakers will be talking Education for these nine days; the teachers, the business men, the housewives and the FOLKS ALL will be hearing and thinking and talking Education for these nine days. It is a great op

portunity for our people to hear such interesting and forceful discussions upon burning questions. These are vital questions. There is a great awakening among all our people and these great problems must be solved-right or wrong."

The Easterby School

Here is a picture of a rural school in Fresno County that I visited a few weeks ago. Nearly all the children are of Scotch parentage, illustrating the cosmopolitan character of the Fresno population. The horses, ponies and donkeys are the ones on which the youngsters ride to school. The pavilion to the left is a fine shady place for eating lunches and playing games. School trustees may very well observe this feature. Some sheltered, roofed-in space is really a necessity in hot climates. It saves the



Observe the pavilion and the strange nut tree.

school room and gives the children much comfort and pleasure. It lends to the school ground a home-like air. Try it.

Notice, too, the tree in the rear. I had never seen the like before, so asked Miss Kyne, the teacher, about it. She said they called it a Japanese fruit-nut tree for short, but that its right name was Ostachia vera. There were about a score of them, planted all around the school ground. They were covered with nuts, shaped something like an almond, but only about as big as lima beans. They were very rich and creamy to the taste and the children cracked them with their teeth and prized them highly. The tree is quite handsome, dark green, with great bunches of scarlet nuts. The leaf is somewhat like that or a walnut, and falls off at the first touch of frost.

It was rather disconcerting, to go to a rural school away in an interior county and find there a grove of fine trees loaded with nice nuts, that I had never heard the name of or even dreamed of before! But so it was.

« AnteriorContinuar »