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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/869

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

ment what is the law in that State respecting the appointment of teachers, but from what our contemporary, the "Illinois School Journal," says, some teachers, and other school officials as well, have only too strong a hold on the positions they fill. "One of these,"—we quote from the "Journal"—said the other day: "Why should I read books or bother my head to study about teaching? What will it profit me? My place is secure. I have as many friends as my principal or superintendent has. Let him try to remove mo if he dare." "There is much of this spirit," continues the "Journal," "in the schools, especially in the large cities. It is not among the teachers alone. It is among principals and superintendents as well. These people long since ceased to study and grow." So, hero is the dilemma: If the teacher has no security of tenure, he has no encouragement to throw himself heartily and earnestly into his work. If, on the other hand, he has, either through legal enactments or through his political associations, a firm hold upon his place, he is in danger of lapsing into the condition of mind and general disposition above described. It may be said that security of tenure, in the sense understood by the teachers, would not mean exemption from proper official supervision and authority, or an absolute right to employment in spite of proved disqualification; but, admitting this, it is still clear that, under such a system, the difficulty in the way of getting rid of indifferent or even of seriously deficient teachers would be very great. The "Illinois School Journal" says distinctly, and, as we think, truly, that we shall only be able to improve the schools when we have learned how to improve the teachers. What kind of material is offered, under the present system, for the teaching body we learn from a further article in the same periodical by a gentleman who states that he has been for years a member of the State Board of Examiners. "Experience," says this authority, "shows that many candidates fail on common English branches, particularly arithmetic and reading. . . . The papers show such deficiency in form as to indicate that teachers are extremely careless in this respect. The arrangement of work, the carelessness in regard to paragraphing, and even the use of capital letters, shows gross neglect of the proper usages of written language. Some show that they learned their spelling late in life, and that, when hurried, they revert to some juvenile form. . . . The worst and least excusable mistakes were in the definition of common words. Defining a noun by a verb, a verb by an adjective, an adjective by an adverb, was altogether too common. The derivation of words was hopelessly, painfully ridiculous." The examination papers in connection with which all this occurred are appended to the article from which we quote; and their extreme simplicity makes the statements of the article only the more surprising. The history, geography, arithmetic, and etymology are well within the compass of any fairly-taught lad of twelve or thirteen. Samples of the answers given are also furnished; and all we can say is that they well deserve a place beside Mark Twain's famous collection. One candidate who, in the paper on pedagogies, was asked to "define the terms subjective and objective as used in mental philosophy," answered that "we treat a topic subjectively when we take what we know of a subject and explain, without having any special object in view." Evidently, all that this individual knew of his "topic" would not have afforded a basis for much explanation, with or without an object in view. A very noticeable feature is the thorough dishonesty of many of the answers. Being asked to give the etymology of the word "urbane," one candidate said it was from ur, outside, and bane, city; another that it was from ur, a city,