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must make her reading broader, her studies deeper than the adopted text-book and supplemental reader. The spirit of inquiry, of investigation, and experiment should be encouraged—a careful observation of methods and results, and the sound deduction of true means and methods. This rests largely with the principal. The reputations of to-day are not won in the highschool and college, but in the children’s room; nor by the self-seeker, striving ever for a higher place, but by the self-forgetful worker, who sees in her little ones the promise of true, upright, honorable men and women for whom her best is all too little. The thoughts that I have thus tried to present are not the results of any fine theorizing, and hardly the conclusions of any formal reasoning, but rather a simple record of what daily comes under my observation. How often have I seen a teacher, a whole school, lifted from the low level of weak purpose and dead performance to a truer realization of the educational ideal, receiving the breath of life from the living principal, become earnest, faithful, and zealous of good work. No longer are their pupils turned upon the street, lost to all hope or chance of a worthy citizenship, but with an ever-growing self-control and an increasing interest in the studies, made attractive by a more pleasing presentation, are seen pressing forward into the higher grades, perhaps to the high-school and college, and surely to a worthy manhood or womanhood. And some, too, have I distinctly in mind of bright souls and of high promise who, for the lack of this inspiration and upholding, have seemingly parted with their former zeal and grown weary of their unrecognized efforts, fill in the slow-going hours with half-hearted work and meager results.
It makes little difference what stuff a teacher is made of, she can not long stand out alone in good, earnest, honest, healthful endeavor against the blighting miasma of an incompetent, unfaithful, unreliable principal. The pupils themselves soon inhale the unwholesome air, and no longer respond to the touch of her quickening spirit, grow careless of their conduct, negligent of duties, and forgetful of their own good names and the fair fame of their school. No investigation is needed to learn the character of such a school; like the darkness of Egypt, it can be felt. We no longer have the little school-house under the hill, with its single teacher, principal and assistant in one, working out her own success or failure; but each is a part of the one great system. The principal alone can make or unmake it. The work, which in part I have outlined, no one can do but he. Much is asked of him, but no more than I often see performed ; a high ideal is marked out for him, but only because I have witnessed its realization and made it my thought. It is this that makes me feel, and feel confident, that of our seventeen hundred teachers and ninety thousand pupils in our schools in Chicago, soon to be the men and women of our country, and, I trust, her pride, many to the last hour of their lives will look back with loving hearts and grateful thoughts for the right impulse, the worthy direction, and true inspiration they received at school through the wise control, the kind interest, and the healthful influence of their school principal.
To many an earnest, enterprising principal, wholly devoted to the success and progress of his school, it doubtless sometimes occurs that if he were left free from the limitations of the course of study, unhampered by the rules of the board of education and without the annoying interferences from the superintendent's office, he could make a truly good school.
And equally true is it, I think, that not a few class teachers feelingly realize at times that could they have entire and full control of their rooms, unmolested by the questions and suggestions of the principal and his frequent examinations, she could wield a power and influence over her loved and loving pupils that should advance them in learning, intelligence, and moral strength, which should insure their future success in life, and make of them the fairest jewels in the crown of her rejoicing.
But the thoughtful teacher should soon comprehend that to the generous appreciation and sometimes kind forbearance of the principal is due much of her present success and the opportunity for giving to her class the best she has to give.
The visit of the superintendent, instead of an annoying interference, should be looked forward to with pleasure, with the hope that some useful remark, some timely and suggestive question may give her thought a wiser direction, afford some helpful aid, and awaken a deeper interest in the pupils, which shall prove an inspiration, an encouragement, amid the endless toils and trials of a teacher’s life.
The rules of the board are but needful guides in directing the management and work of the schools, bringing them all into one harmonious whole, free from jarring discords and incongruous results; and far from limiting the efforts of worthy teacher or school, the outline of study may well be the most useful and efficient helper in directing the endeavor of principal and teachers to the most beneficial results. No course of study is the mere haphazard, spasmodic effort of any one man, but a cultured growth, the result of many experiences, and the combined thought and wisdom of many doers and thinkers. In carrying out this course under the direction of the board—judging from the methods of our larger cities— there seems to be a wide divergence of opinion as to the true work of the superintendent, a matter the more to be deplored, since the fact of superintendency has become so universal. Not only in the cities and large towns, but in the counties and country villages, the desirability of this supervision has ceased to be a question; and it is of the first importance that his service should be in the right direction, if our schools are to reap that rich harvest of good which alone can warrant the inevitable outlay which his employment necessitates. The superintendent has become an important factor in our American schools, and if they are advanced and improved, the glad results are to come from the wise thought and broad nature of the superintendent, aided by the cheerful and generous co-operation of principals and teachers. The real, efficient supervision of the individual school, with its fifteen or twenty teachers, must be made by the principal, and the principal alone; he only can, by daily or more frequent visits, know of the work of the teacher in the different subjects and of her influence over the pupils with their different characters and previous training; he only, by happy hint and timely suggestion, can lead the timid, thoughtful, earnest girl out of her depths of despond into the light and life of intelligent, fruitful effort; he too alone can best know of the merits and demerits of the several teachers, their application, industry and promptness, and their influence, through their personal character and instruction, upon their pupils and the community—the people who rely upon them for the proper education and development of their children, their hope. The principal is the unit of the school through whom the superintendent must make his influence felt, and without whose sympathetic assistance not much good can come to the school, the district, and the ever-waiting citizens. Not but that many a school without board of education and superintendent may show earnest and faithful work; that here and there from the little house under the hill—like that near which we each had our little spring from which we drank unadulterated water, and from the grove behind gathered the lady's-slipper, and the wild lily from the meadow in front, to the disgust of the mower whose Scythe became entangled in the trampled and twisted grasses—from such may have come some of the foremost men and women of our land. There, too, is the school at Rugby, which yet under Arnold had many ways that would not be tolerated to-day; and Dr. Taylor, of Andover, alone in his thorough, accurate, minute drill, very far, however, from the approved instruction of the present time. His art died with him.