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J. B. THOMAS, of Butte,
L. C. VAN ALLEN, of San Joaquin, J. H. WELLS, of Calaveras,
Miss R. H. HILL, of Santa Cruz,
ISAAC UPHAM, of Yuba,
The report was accepted and adopted.
On taking the Chair, Superintendent Moulder returned his thanks for the honor conferred upon him by the Convention, and expressed the hope that their deliberations would result in mutual benefit, and the advancement of the cause in which all were interested.
On motion of Mr. D. K. Swim, of Calaveras, the President appointed the following
Committee on Order of Business.
CHAS. H. PARKER, of El Dorado, HENRY B. JANES, of San Francisco, Dr. GIBBONS, of Alameda.
During the absence of this committee from the Hall, President Moulder, at the request of several members, entertained the Convention with an account of his recent visit to the Public Schools of the Atlantic States and Canada,
He drew a comparison between the condition of our Schools, School Funds, etc. and those of the Eastern States. The Institute which they are now attending, was based upon the plan of those so successfully in operation on the other side of the Continent.
In some of the States, they have an Assistant State Superintendent-in Wisconsin, for instance, the distinguished Henry Barnard—who spends his time “ on the circuit,” holding Institutes in each county, and the benefits of his plan were marvelous. In the remotest districts its effects are felt. Teachers are waked up, schools start off with a new vigor, parents become interested, and Popular Education receives fresh impulses. There, the Institute is made an “instruction” in the morning—and then the interest depends on the Instructors; and a Convention in the afternoon, when the interest depends entirely on the Delegates. Of course we cannot closely imitate the broad style of the Pennsylvania system, considering how meagerly our Legislature provides for all school purposes. That is the practical matter for friends of Education in California to attend to. We must have the Legislature educated to more faith in the Public Schools. When our legislators believe with Horace Mann, that every invasion upon the domains of ignorance is, pro tanto, an invasion upon the domains of crime, they will not haggle at expending as much upon the schools as upon the State Prison. In this State, thirty-two thousand dollars a year is deemed a large sum for the schools, and one hundred thousand dollars none too much with which to take care of our State criminals. Our State Fund will grow to be magnificent at some future day, but the interest of it, which is all we are now permitted to use, is a mere pittance, and utterly unequal to the work that is required by the good of society to be done, in the way of educating our children.
He called attention to the way in which the committees which have the schools in charge, in the Legislature, are constituted --often of men from counties that have but a few schools, and those, perhaps, of the poorest kind. This should be remedied.
He spoke with warmth of the condition of the Canada schools; of the munificence of the appropriations—one million five hundred thousand dollars annually for their maintenance of their excellent Institutes, Libraries, and Normal Schools. The liberality toward the schools of Illinois and Indiana, too, was highly complimented. In conclusion, he said that though in his tour he had often seen finer buildings, more elegantly and completely finished, more elaborately furnished, he had nowhere seen schools that in proficiency, or efficiency, were superior to those of San Francisco.
On motion, Mr. T. J. Nevins, the first Superintendent of Public Schools of San Francisco, was invited to a seat on the platform among the officers of the Convention. Mr. Nevins expressed his acknowledgments.
After the conclusion of his remarks, it was suggested that the Convention should hold its next session at the High School Building on Powell Street, that members from the interior might thus have an opportunity to examine the new and improved school furniture, the diagonal method of arranging the desks, the apparatus, etc. and further, might be relieved of their restraint by the familiar presence of the school-room. .
A motion was subsequently made in accordance with this suggestion, but was lost by an almost unanimous vote.
On motion, Mr. T.C. Leonard, of San Francisco was appointed Assistant Secretary.
Mr. Janes, Chairman from the committee, reported the follow
Order of Business.
Music, at opening and closing, under direction of the President.
On Reading, Spelling, and Defining ;
On School Architecture, Furniture, and Apparatus;
On Rules for a Permanent Organization.
The President stated that he would announce the appointments upon the various Committees on Text-Books, through the medium of the morning papers.
He announced the Instructor before the Institute for next day, Hubert Burgess, Esq. Subject : “The Best Methods of Teaching Writing and Drawing.”
On motion, at half past five o'clock, P. M. the Convention adjourned.
TUESDAY, May 28, 1861. The Institute was called to order at ten, A. M. by the President, who introduced the Instructor of the day, Mr. Hubert Burgess. Mr. Burgess then delivered the following address upon
The Best Mode of Teaching Writing and Drawing,
REMARKS ON WRITING, WITH A DESCRIPTION OF BURGESS' SYSTEM. I have been invited to attend this meeting for the purpose of making a few re marks, for your consideration, on the subjects of Writing and Drawing.
I have been, for the past four years, engaged as a Teacher of those branches, in San Francisco, and, during that time, it has been my endeavor to discover, if possible, some means by which to modify the difficulties always experienced in learning and teaching those branches.
I have taken notes of ideas which have occurred to me upon these subjects, and, at length, have succeeded in compiling two systems, differing very materially from those in present use. These systems have been submitted to those gentlemen in the city supposed to understand these matters, and their opinions have been unanimously in their favor, as being better suited to assist both Teacher and pupil than any other books which they know to have been published for the same purpose.
I believe one of the objects of this Convention to be the selection of text-books for use throughout the State. My remarks will be confined to explanations of these systems, and my object is to have them used in the department of Public Instruction, if considered worthy. The Board of Education have adopted that upon writing, for use in this city.
Notwithstanding the importance of writing as a part of every person's education, there does not seem to be any general understanding as to the best method of teaching it. This, I believe, arises from the fact that the subject does not receive the amount of consideration which is due to its importance.
It appears to me that, in order to succeed as a Teacher of such a branch, it is necessary, first, to decide what the principle is upon which the art is based. This determined, a foundation is laid upon which a system will build itself. Have an object in view, and the means to carry it out will, in a great measure, suggest themselves.
Let us consider what is necessary to become good writers, and we shall soon discover this principle.
Undoubtedly, the most important requirement is freedom of hand to guide the pen. By this I mean, the ability to compel the hand to obey the mind; to write rapidly and well. There can be po argument against this, for the act of writing is a mechanical one, and requires practice, and the result of practice is the gaining of more, or less, control over the hand.
Freedom of hand, then, is the fundamental principle upon which the art is based. To be able to write at all proves the possession of some of this power; to be able to write properly proves the same principle to have been more developed.
The next step is to consider which exercises tend most to cultivate it, whether large, or small. It undoubtedly requires some control to make even a small mark in the required direction, and as, undoubtedly, requires more to make a larger one proportionably as well.
It is next to impossible to acquire the necessary freedom by the use of small exercises. The pupil, in making them, invariably rests the hand upon the paper, a habit which becomes confirmed, by its not requiring any effort. In most cases they commence the formation of letters before being able to guide the pen, necessarily making them imperfect, and resulting in very uneven manuscript and poorly shaped capitals.
As the object, then, is to develop freedom of the hand, as much as possible, and as it is a positive necessity to allow it to move with the pen as the writing is done, it appears to me that large exercises, which cannot be done without this movement, should be substituted for small ones.
From the fact that it requires more control to make a larger than a small mark, it seems reasonable to suppose that if a pupil bas had sufficient practice to make the larger ones, he is better prepared to commence wri
better prepared to commence writing than in the other case, It is nothing new to consider the arm, or fore-arm, movement, the main principle of writing. In order to prove that it is so, it is only necessary to visit some of the large business houses in the city, where there are generally good penmen, and notice the position of their hands when they write. In very few cases will they rest upon the paper, but glide over it with the pen as a line is written. Ask them by what principle they have learned to write so well, and the answer will be, by the development of the arm movement.
Now, in order to succeed, particularly in teaching by this system, strict attention should be given to the position of the pupil. Whenever it is practicable, the desks should be as nearly suited to their hight as possible. They cannot write so well if they are too high, or too low. In the former case, the weight of the arm renders it necessary to rest it heavily, thereby destroying the possibility of their learning by the true principle. In the latter case, the head droops forward, and they cannot sit properly if they try.
There can be no objection to teaching both positions, right and left side forward, ås both are useful, but, notwithstanding, the right side is preferable, when practicable, for the reason that the muscle of the fore-arm can rest upon the desk; still, in nine cases out of ten, during life, when writing is required, it will be found necessary to sit in the other position. It is the natural way of writing, and much more attention should be paid to cultivating the most important position.
The left side should be put forward, so as to touch, not lean against, the desk. The left arm should rest upon it, the hand always above the writing, and placed gracefully, which can always be done by allowing it to fall to the paper, without any tension of the sinews, or muscles.
The head must be erect, not allowed to droop. The book should be as far to the right as to be conveniently written upon, for the end of the pen-holder should point to the shoulder, and if the book is too nearly opposite, it will be impossible to make it do so.
The tops of the third and fourth fingers should touch the paper lightly. The muscle of the arm, between the wrist and elbow, should also touch lightly, but young pupils cannot do this, so the wrist should touch lightly instead.
The arm movement is the basis of this system. It consists in the ability to move the hand with the pen as the writing is done.
Large exercises are made use of, in place of small ones, as being better calculated to develop this movement.
Each exercise is of practical use in writing, being nothing more than the elements used in the formation of the alphabets. These exercises should be given to young pupils to do upon the black-board, or slate, to prepare them for the paper. Their names and uses should also be learned.
It is much easier to make an early and superficial show by other systems than by the arm movement. The superiority of the latter is in the result. There are no faults, that I am aware of, caused by gaining freedom of hand by large exercises. There are many, by commencing with small ones, and the remedies which are always applied to correct them, are the basis of this system. I know of no better cure for a cramped hand than large exercises.
There are ten numbers.
Number One-Contains six exercises purposely made so large that the hand, in making them, must move. These, independently of their being exercises, are most important, four of them being the elements used in forming the letters of both alphabets, the straight, loop, oval, and line of beauty. Explicit directions are printed at the head of each page, for the guidance of the pupil. These are also intended to be used by the Teacher, as follows: A certain amount of writing should be required from each pupil, and in order that all should commence the same exercise every lesson, they should be compelled to finish their copies before leaving school.
The Teacher should first make them read the directions in their books, and then illustrate, upon the black-board, what is to be done, and explain the meaning of what is said in the copy. Should they not understand some parts of the directions, it will by this means be made clear; and if they forget, they have only to refer to the head of the page.
This is a new and important feature in the system, both to Instructor and pupil, as they will be in possession of all the remarks which a practiced Teacher of that particular branch could give.
Numbers Two and Three-Contain a capital letter and the last exercise in the first book, alternated. It is not to be supposed the pupil is now learning to write capital letters. It is positively necessary to acquire command over the hand. The letters are intended merely for exercises made so large that the hand must move to do them. In order to save as much time as possible, they have been put into this form, that he may also learn something of the shape of capitals.
Exercises in this form are more interesting than in any other, because the letter is recognized, and its utility understood. They are not expected to be well done; it will be difficult at first to make them at all. The exercise upon the alternate pages is most important, containing, as I before remarked, the two elements used in the formation of the capital alphabet.
These three first books, then, contain large and valuable exercises, given for the express purpose of developing freedom of the hand, with the knowledge of the elements which are used in writing, and the ability to make them. The pupil must be compelled to move the hand, no difference what sort of mark he makes. The copies will necessitate its being done.
Number Four-Contains twenty-four exercises of a different nature, intended to embrace every kind of movement required in small writing. Near the end of the