Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/85

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THE OSWEGO STATE NORMAL SCHOOL.

dence as the efficient conservators of our national happiness and prosperity. In the work of the past, the Oswego Normal has played an honorable part; but her mission is not yet ended, nor her powers abated. With youthful energy, both at home and through her graduates,[1] she is grappling with the question of what to teach, a question of not less importance than the how. That more useful and interesting material for study may be brought into schoolrooms, especially in the primary, is to be ardently desired. The best methods applied to trite or useless subject matter can not make school life interesting or valuable to pupil or teacher.

After all that has been done, and well done, no one but a most willful optimist can be blind to the lamentable defects of our schools,[2] The censure for these defects usually falls upon teachers, but does not primarily belong there. Teaching requires insight into and sympathy with child life, a condition spontaneous in but few adults, requiring in most laborious and sustained effort to gain and to maintain it; and a constant effort to advance in scholastic and professional attainments to escape slipping back into the abyss of slothful indifference. Teaching is, of all the professions, the most useful for the public welfare, as it is one of the most laborious and skilled, and should be paid according to its deserts. Recitation-hearing, however, is one of the easiest, least skilled, and most useless of all occupations. In this field, as in others, the public gets the kind of work it pays for. The wages of the rank and file of public-school teachers average less than those of skilled mechanics. As long as the public continues to pay for recitation-hearing, it will not get much teaching; for educational missionaries to work without the ordinary inducements are too few to supply the demand, and will probably continue so until the millennium.

There is need of educational statesmen to secure legislation efficient for preventing the employment of teachers without adequate scholastic acquirements and professional training, as physicians are forbidden to practice without such attainments. Is the body of so much more value than mind or soul that it should have greater safeguards? There is need of educational agitators to rouse and awaken the people from complacent day-dreaming about the schools, to show them that much of their expenditure is wasted through poor work, and to convince them


  1. See work of Mr. L. H. Jones for Indianapolis schools in the Forum for December, 1892; "An Experiment in Education," in Popular Science Monthly for January and February, 1892; and the work of Prof. Barnes in Stanford University.
  2. See articles by Dr. J. M. Rice in the Forum for October, November, and December. 1892.