Gambar halaman

· Though it was apparent to my mind that the Act referred to could not be at once made practically operative, I favored its passage for the moral advantage of the recognition by our law-making power of the great principle involved. Let justice be done in this matter, though there should be a howl from every mannikin in trousers from Fort Jones to San Diego.


The cosmopolitan schools of San Francisco are a peculiar and pro. gressive feature of our public schools. I do not know who is entitled to the credit of originating these schools. I claim none of it for myself. On my accession to office I found them in efficient operation, and I have had only to mark their development and rejoice in their prosperity. It is an extraordinary fact, that by means of these schools little children in the primary grades acquire a knowledge of the leading modern lan. guages without being retarded in their English course. Formerly it required a fortune to send a boy to Europe to acquire French or German. All that is now necessary in San Francisco is that you should wash his face, comb his bair, give him his breakfast and send bim to Post or Filbert street, to Professor Bolander or Miss Kennedy. Such a fact as this may be alarming to the aristocracy of mere money, but it is very gratifying to all friends of popular education. I am not informed whether or not cosmopolitan schools have been successfully introduced in our Eastern cities. It would not lessen my State pride as a Califor. nian to know that in this, as in some other particulars, we are a step in advance of our countrymen on the Atlantic side.


The establishment of the evening schools in our cities is another instance of gratifying progress in a particular direction. I have previously taken occasion to express my profound interest in these schools. A visit to them not long since impressed me with a still stronger conviction of their utility, and aroused a sympathy in behalf of their pupils to wbich it would be difficult to give adequate expression. The corps of teachers in these evening schools comprises some of the ablest men in the profession, with my predecessor at their head. These able educators could not more honorably exercise their talents than in teaching these schools; and nowhere does the genius of our system exhibit itself more attractively than in these schools for poor boys and toiling men.


Another forward step is the inauguration of the University of Cali. fornia on a basis that challenges the approval of all liberal-minded persons, and promises the most gratifying success. There are two things in connection with our State University that gives me particular pleasure. One is, that it is free to every boy in the State who is prepared for admission. It is a University for the people, not a school only for rich men's sons. This feature of our University has elicited much favorable comment abroad, and our example is already adduced to excite older communities to adopt a similar policy. It is something to be proud of, that we are leading in new and right paths, and that older communities are following. The other thing that pleases me is the manner in which the University is endowed. The endowment of the University, as you are aware, is from the proceeds of the tide lands. This arrangement obviates the necessity of imposing a single cent of additional taxation upon our already tax-ridden people. This surely is a great thinga free University munificently endowed without additional taxation. And there is a double advantage in this arrangement. The tide lands are forever put out of the reach of lobby members, corrupt politicians and plunderers. The biennial scramble for them at Sacramento will cease. They will no longer furnish a corruption fund for venal legislation.


There is a general forward movement all along the line, with here and there a case of constitutional and incorrigible non-progressiveness. There is a lonesome time in store for these antediluvians. The world moves forward while they remain stationary. Soon tbey will find themselves left far bebind, and will only be heard as one lonesome frog croaks a response to another on a cool night in the early Fall. Let them croak, but let the grand column move on, guided by the providence of God as a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, until humanity shall have passed the wilderness of ignorance and error and reached the promised land of universal enlightenment, liberty and happiness.



Old men glorify the past-young men, the present. We are a nation of young men, and as such are liable to err in suspecting that our ancestors were rude and uncultivated, and that we, their sons, are infallible pbilosophers.

In our enthusiasm we condemn the systems of the past, and to make our condemnation more emphatic, rush to the opposite extreme, and by the experience of failure learn that we do not possess the monopoly of wisdom any more tban our fathers did that of error. Truth lies between extremes; but men in searching for it too often either stop before they reach it, or go beyond. What we denominate the curses of mankind are, in fact, misused blessings. Tyranny is not more to be feared and guarded against than anarchy, and liberty is alike foreign to both.

The infidel is not less a Christian than the fanatic, yet we condemn the former and unwisely praise the latter. Inaction and superaction are equally promoters of disease, and starvation will not destroy life more surely than gluttony. Theories often run men mad, and only a surfeit of folly, resulting in manifest injury, is able to bring about a healthful reaction. When the minds of men get to running in grooves, it is almost impossible to convince them of error, however unreasonable the positions they occupy. Men too often reason from false premises to logical conclusions, regarding the form more than the foundation of their argument, and because they do this, the old evil wbich they discard is often no worse than the new wbich they adopt. As educators we have committed an error, not in forsaking tbe somew bat crude and narrow system of the past, but in attempting to make scholars by the too diffusive method of the present. In escaping from the too little, we bave attempted more than we are able to perform, and especially is this true in our ungraded schools.

In these days of lightning and steam, we have forgotten the ancient maxim, “There is no royal road to knowledge," and have concluded that by our new theories some system of mental railroad or telegraph can be established, which shall supersede the old pony express stage coach mode of acquiring learning; in short, that by simply working this modern educational battery, our American boys and girls may become skilled in art and science, masters and mistresses of literature, accountants, vocalists, calesthenists and gymnasts — and all tbis is expected of them, not only in our graded, but also in our ungraded schools, where, as some one has said, men and women will attempt to teach from the A B C in a line to the A B C of a triangle, and the result is just what we ought to expect, our children learn a little of everything but not much of anything.

The great majority of the human family, from childhood to old age, are only imitators. Although originality of thought and action may be claimed by many, the real title vests in a number small indeed, so very small that if to those only who are really deserving letters patent of tbeir right should be issued the disappointed claimants would constitute a vast majority.

Of all the knowledge which most of us possess, by far the greater part was received from books and teachers; what we have acquired independently is hardly to be considered, when compared with the great bulk derived from without.

Upon this fact our system of education must be based. For beginners, teachers are more necessary than books, but in many of our schools, the latter seem to be vastly more important than tbe former, and have usurped their places. The question demanding our attention as educators is, what shall we teach, and how shall it be taught in order tbat we may give the greatest amount of thorough instruction to the greatest pumber; shall we present a promiscuous mass of learning at the same time, and present it so imperfectly tbat our pupils shall be mere smatterers, or sball we demand that the studies be fewer, and their education more solid and substantial? We do find a genius now and then, whose mind seems to grasp truths almost by intuition, but this is only the exception, whicb proves the common mind the rule. As the shepherd gives to the weakest of his flock his tenderest care, so the teacher should be so apt to instruct that the dullest of the class may comprehend. If be succeeds in this, his victory is complete. The dunce of the class, and not the brightest, should be the gauge by which to measure how well a subject is understood But a pupil's dullness, from whatever cause, should never be permitted seriously to interfere with the advancement of the class, and this leads me to notice one of the causes of failure in many of our urgraded schools—the want of a thorough system of classification. What is the cause of this evil? It is altogether the fault of the teachers, and may be attributed to one of these causes : ignorance, carelessness or cowardice. Surely, when we consider how essential a proper arrangement and classification are to success, there is no excuse to be found for ignorance. No man or woman should undertake the vocation of teacher without the ability to perform its duties, for by a failure, discredit is brought not only upon the individual, but also upon the profession, not to mention a greater evil-injury to the school. .

County Superintendents should insist upon the most thorough classification possible in the ungraded schools of their several counties, and candidates should be especially questioned and charged upon this subject. The next cause of failure is carelessness, and deserves severe pun. ishment. But while ignorance and carelessness are faults not to be excused, cowardice or lack of independence is the crowning infamy of the profession, and merits a more bitter condemnation by teachers as a body than all other sins which are committed against the much talked of dignity of our vocation, combined.

I believe one-balf, I will say one-third, of the pupils in the upgraded schools of California, who are pretending to read in the fourth reader, cannot read intelligibly in the second; and that many, very many, who are floundering in arithmetic, beyond decimals, do not understand reduction or fractions; and there are many teachers who will bear me out in this opinion. Then why are they there? Because teachers have not the courage to put them where they belong, either from a dread of the tears of the children or the dictation of ignorant, ambitious parents. But you say the Trustees may interfere, and, at the instance of parents who think themselves aggrieved, may ipsist upon pupils reading in a cer. tain book or being in a certain class, the judgment of the teacher to the contrary notwithstanding; what then ?

I answer that in such a case the teacher owes a duty not only to himself, but to the school and to his profession, and that by every considera. tion worthy his notice, he should determine then and there to be supreme or to resign.

I heard a man, in an address before a State Institute, say that teachers, like carpenters, must do their work to suit their employers—that if a patron of his school demanded that his child be taught to read with his book upside down, he would grant the privilege, for with him it was a question in which bread and butter turned the scale. And yet that man was in no way bodily incompetent to earn a living by manual labor. If he had been old and lame there might have been some excuse.

In the very same address he talked in glowing language of the dignity of the teachers' vocation--a vocation which he had expressed a willing. ness to degrade by the basest of servility.

Talk of the nobility of a profession in which men think they must stultify themselves, and debase their judgment to suit the caprice of individuals who know notbing of the machinery of education. There are teachers who permit themselves to be controlled by circumstances, and who are the very slaves of the children they are supposed to govern. Let no man, who is master of bis vocation, tell me that he does not teach as he would but as he is compelled to. I abominate such cant, and the men who use it. They are the sycophants, the Ichabod Cranes of the profession, who, by their cringing subserviency and lack of independence, cover themselves and their calling with merited contempt.

But it may be well to inquire if the complaints of parents are groundless. Is it not true that in many of our district schools pupils are learning but little from year to year; that they begin and leave off, term after term, in the same places, without any advancement in knowledge ?

Why is that boy who is reading in the fourth unable to read in the second; or wby is the girl who reads in the second not reading in the third or fourth?

Because our teachers have not time to drill their classes.
Why have they not time?

Because of the multiplication of text books, and its effect, the multiplication of classes.

Upon whom does the responsibility rest? Upon the parents ? No; for they are not presumed to understand how many or what books their children should study. Is it the fault of authors and publishers, who literally flood the land with text books, causing us to suspect that Solo. mon referred to our age when he wrote, “much study is a weariness to the flesh, and of making many books there is no end?” No; for they would not produce an article for which there is no market; and there would be no market if parents did not purchase; and parents would not purchase if teachers did not recommend. Hence, upon ourselves rests all the responsibility. We have encouraged this multiplication of text books, and now we find that outside of our graded schools many teachers,

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »