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SCHOOL TEACHERS IN CONFERENCE.'....

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SCHOOL TEACHERS IN CONFERENCE. AN INTERESTING PAPER. Mr. T. Higman (president) occupied the chair on 'Saturday last at the monthly meeting of the Barry District Teachers' Association, held at the Holton Schools. He was supported by Mr. J. It -Thorpe (secretary), and among those present were the Misses Fleming, M. J. Morgan, H. Williams, "Rawlas. McNab, Merriman, Lister, Davies. and Williams, and Messrs. Keat (Cardiff), W. H. Taylor, T. Ewe-bank, E. T. Williams, F. W. Sud- miersen, F. H. Edwards, and J. Evans. THE WELSH UNIVERSITY. A letter, containing several resolutions respect- ing the above, was read from Mr. H. Lewis, Llan- gollen, but it was decided to lay it upon the table. lIIR. A. J. WILLIAMS, M.P., AND THE SUPERANNUA- TION OF TEACHERS. The Chairman drew attention to the debate which had taken place in the House of Commons on the previous night respecting the superannua- tion of teachers. He was pleased with its recep- tion by the Hense. Th; Secretary infcnüord the meeting that lw h:vJ writtau. ta Mr. A. J. Williams. M.P., respecting Sir Richard Temple's mstion, and that gentleman had replied assuring the association that he would be in his place on the day in question. THE TEACHERS' IDEAL." Mr. F. W. Siidmerson then read the following paper The subject I have chosen for my paper this afternoon is one which vitally concerns us all. It is no less than an attempt to realise the true aim of a teacher, what the real standard by which a teacher's work is to be guaged consist in, and by which, though tardily, he will ultimately be judge. I have writtea this paper, not in the spirit of one who deems that he has discovered any new tiling" or of one who feels qualified by .length of experience to speak upon such a topic. It is in the character of a learner, and not of a .teacher, that I address you this afterneon.. To many it may seem almost a presumption on my part to choose such a theme in my first address to this association. I would remind such, however, that it is the special privilege of the young to look upon a world, bright with radiant hope, a world that beckens forward the young veyager on its seas, with a glad smile of wel- come. To him the world is God's workshop, .a place in which it is the supremest delight of his --to toil. The fields are white with harvest for ihiiXL. Youth is the time for labour and hope. As time passes by the brightness ''that never yet was on sea or land," but only in the buoyant spirit of youth, fades gradually away. The ideal becomes trammelled to the real. The exigencies of the present, the cramping restrictions placed upon a '.profession which in itself is full of needs for -.restraint, crush out the hope ef the future, and -make the spirit that erst was accustomed to rejoice u in the bright look-out, but a dead mechanical grinder of the educational mill, a mere factor of 4 s. d., forced to turn out his pupils every year as WORTH SO MUCH PER HEAD, ,-in order to satisfy the business instincts of men -who know nothing of the true nature of educa- tion, but regard it as but another species of busi- ness transactions. We live in an age of progress.^ New ideas, new discoveries, new applications of -old knowledge are facts of hourly experience. So much is this the case that we almost cease to 'wonder when we hear of any fresh development in any of the branches of physical and social science. Education is, too, in its transition period, though 'in maay respects it is far behind the other sciences. Progress, rapid progress, is in every other profes- sion and walk of life, yet in this, which I may justly call the highest of the professions, the pro- gresis. if in many cases it can be called progress at .all, is a halting, unwilling, backward-looking .movement. There ara some School Boards—since in this paper I am concerning myself more closely with the elementary teachers—which seem to be -imbued with, and to exist only for, the purpose of grinding out, in no-matter-what way, the maximum possible meney from each child, who regard educa- tion from a financial point of view, and who estimate THE RESULTS OF A TEACHER'S LABOURS -not by the impetus which the character of the teacher has had upon the moral development and true culture of the child, but by the results of an • examination, which regard merely conformity to a ritrid standard of exactness in coming up to a so- called examination test, as the highest point of a "teacher's success. A farthing per head earned less lhas meant, and still means for -many teachers, censure and threats of dismissal. No account is taken of that unseen growth and inner de- velopment of the child's character, of vthat slow moulding process whereby the whole soul of the child is kindled into a living flame, eager to spend days and sleep- less nights in pursuit of that knowledge which to kim is become more precious than rubies." In this rough, illogical test there is no room for that larger development of child-life, that widening ..of his range õf thought, that contact with minds o-reater than his own. This is no room for this, I repeat. And if there is no room for this, how is •" education" possible. Education is, properly, builclillll up." But how little ''building up" is there in our schools? Not what is best fu the ,child, not what will enable him to take his place in ■the large world outside, and to bring with him 'into his allotted sphere of labour an enthusiasm and energy because all labour has become for him a noble God-like work, not a moral earnestness of .character and purpose to labour for the good of his fellow-workmen, but the aim becemes what will pay best for the examination. The great study of the teacher's life becomes, not the slow mysterious developement of the child's faculties, but the often MORE MYSTERIOUS WHIMS OF AN INSPECTOR, \who, ignorant of all the laws of child-life, falls back on the common refuge, that he is paid to administer the Code, and nothing but the Code." So by this inflexible, unalterable Code is all educa- tion to bs conducted. What fulfils the strict letter of the Code is well. What does not is far from well, and, however essential it is from the child's ,-point of view is harmful to the teacher's, for is it not so much time lost from attain- ing of the one criterion of his labours, the increasing of the merit grant. I may doubtless be reminded that such thing are rapidly passing away. So at one time I thought ithey were. A case, of an exceedingly painful nature, occurred but a few months ago that serves ta show that these things are not things of the past are rather things of the living present, and are likely to last into the distant future. I am about to refer to a case that I can personally speak of. It is not without a feeling of shame at my native place that I refer to the case of Mr. aseden. of Middle-street Schools, Brighton. I ,B I cau remember, Mr. Chairman, hearing the praises of this school loudly sung when I was a scholar in .-one of the lowest standards of aochoolin the same •town. This Middle-street School was one that .-earned for itself a name throughout the whole district. The parents of children thought that they could not do any greater good for their ..children than to send them to this school. The scholars from there have achieved success wherever they have gone. They have gained distinc- tion in art. literature, and science. Several are now Graduates of univarsities, or pursuing- their course of study for some of the learned professions. One is already, though quite a young man, sub- editor of a daily paper. I mention but a few wlXi I have known. The great bulk of the scholars ware, ef course, unknown to me. But I am sure from the tone and moral earnestness of that school, that, wherever they have gone, the Middle-street boys have left behind them a grand record. • Mr. Baseden is a man now in the decline of life, but still full of energy and vigour. This is a venerable and noble appearance, one to inspire boys with respect. And they all loved their chief. He was a living force amongst them. and under his guidance boys achieved successes in THE HIGHER BRANCHES OF KNOWLEDGE that were almost unparalleled in the days before ftihe establishment of higher grade schools. For over 27 years was this living and impelling force exerted, not for the srood of those boys alene, but, indirectly, for the good of all. Last year the grrant fell about -1d. per head, I think, and forth- 2 with this man, who had always stood in the van of educational pregress, was called upon to resign. If large Beards are tfass imbued with this mer- cenary spirit, what can we expect from the smaller Boards, wkose expenses are proportionally greater 1 There is 110 alternative for the teacher. He must trample down his high ideals to meet the require- ments of the hour. This prostitution of an ideal in this most important work cause to every teacher, who is worthy of the name, a real wrench. Though there is no choice in the matter, yet the teacher ought, and must, if he would not become a mere machine, to revert again and again to the great true principles of education, and to the height and nobility of the most sacred of callings. The true aim of the teacher is not to turn out a walking encycloposdia or a universal storehouse of informs, tion, but a soul eager for knowledge, and eager, above all, to take his place in the great battle- field of the world, and te do, not merely his duty, but to sacrifice himself for the wel- fare of the great masses around him. No one here, I am sure, would deny that this is the aim of all true educatisn. In this is summed up the great future, not of England aloiae, but ef the whole w»rld. If the millenium is ever to come, it can but come by the teacher's labours. A golden era, when education should have shown to each man his true relation to the world, and how he is to fit himse]f for that, and with siaeerest desire and. labour to endeavour to accomplish it, opens before the eyes of every teacher at some moments of his Lfö, when the vexatious restraints of the present have for a moment faded from his consciousness, and the future with its grand and far-reaching possibilities OPENS BEFORE HIS EYES. T« him, then, it seems that. in face of the rude diseord that the real makes with his ideal, to aid, even if it be but in an infinitesimal degree, in that great and glorious struggle for a nobler concep- tion of education, is worthy the sacrifice of a life- time. He becomes content to sink himself in this great labour, to lose his individuality in that of his pupils, to labour for their advancement, to regard their triumphs as his triumphs, their defeats as his defeats, and te reckon his own successes as of no account if they do not aid him in mere successfully accomplishing the great mission of his life. This is being and has been accomplished now by many of the noblest of our noble calling. Their namos do not live after them in many cases, but their works surely follow them. The noblest sti' rings in many of the noblest minds of our day are due to men who acted their part on this theatre of a world, though their part was but that of the prompter, on whom the audience bestows never a thought. They were content that it should be so. and they would not have it other- wise. These are the salt of the earth," and if the great possible fu uro of the world's history is to be attained, it can be attained in no other way than this slow training of the child's mind, to the great- ness of the labour tp which he is called. The gratitude and praise of one's scholars, though tardy in coming, is in itself sufficient. Those who have read that truly educational speech made by Dr. Westeotfc on the 23th of January at Camp Hill, Birmingham, will not readily forget the graceful and affectionate tribute which he paid to hie former teacher. They will not readily allow it to escape from their memory, but will cherish it as a powerful inventive to continued labour. Referring to his teacher, John Prince Lee, he said, When, therefore, I desire, as I do now, to express the loftiest and most earnest wishes for the success of this foundation, to which I owe the preparation for my own life's work, it is natural that I should look back to my own master, James Prince Lee, the greatest, as I believe, among the great teachers of his time, for the guidance of my thought and when I look back upon all he did, and all he sug- gested, in the light of my own long experience as a teacher, I seem to be able to discern something of his secret, something of that secret of the teacher's influence at all times. Let rae try to toll you, as simply' as I can, what I recall. First, then, he claimed that we should be from the very first his fellow-workers. He made us feel that in all learning we must be NOT RECEPTIVE ONLY BUT ACTIVE, that the true learner learns only if he thinks, just as the teacher can teach only as he learns. He encouraged us t6 eollect, te arrange, to examine such simple facts as lay within the range of our own reading, that he might always use the results in dealing with some larger problem. In this way, little by little, we gained a direct acquaintance with the instruments and methods of criticisira, and came to know something of the confident joy in using them. We were delighted to discover a little thing' which we each csuld severally do, something which we could render as a service, some offering which we could make to the fulness of the work in which we were engaged." Here the ideal became the real. But under what different conditions are we compelled to work. The examination becomes everything the rest, which is in reality the whole, becomes nothing. Take, for instance, the subject of Geography. If any subject of the elementary school lends itself to the kind of teaching as that which Dr. Westoott describes, and which is in reality the only true teaching, the subject of geography does. Instead of giving a good broad knowledge of the world, of the conditions and means of life of its inhabitants, of the great economic laws upon which the growth of any nation depends, the whole endeavour be- comes to learn the exact height in feet and inches of all the mountains in the world, the lengths of its rivers, and the population of its cities know- ledge, whatever its worth may be, which will vanish within a few weeks after the examination for which it has been so elaborately prepared. What knowledge has the child of the great laws which regulate the relations batween capital and labour ? Do not think that I am asking for the teaching of political economy in schools. That is a subject demanding a maturer intellect than that possessed by the child on the point of leaving our care. But surely he can be got to see some of the great principles upon which that science is based. In these days of strikes and trades unions we do nothing to equip our children to understand THE GREAT QUESTIONS AT ISSUE. The consequence is that when they leave school and begin their daily toil, they are guided in the formation of their opinions on these burning questions of the hour by men often more ignorant than themselves, and so the blind leading the blind both at last may succeed not in advancing but in ruining the indus- try upon which their prospects depend. What a small place, again, has natural history in our schools. I am not contending now for the purely formal teaching of the divisions and sub- divisions of the animal and vegetable kingdoms. That would be but a return to the unnatural, un- objective. teaching that I have been condemning. Object lessons and elementary science lessons are now embodied in the Code, and thus there is an incentive for the teacher to devote time and atten- tion to the subject; for is it net now an instru- ment wherewith he can acquire for the manage- ment that great necessity and criterion of all edu- cation—its corresponding money value ? But the natural history teaching to which I directly refer is gained not from books, nor—what is still rarer— from specimens collected by the teaeher, but the teaching is gathered directly from contact with Nature herself. In every good school there should be a Natural History Sosiety. Such a society would, from its very nature, be confined more ex- clusively to the upper classes of the school, but I would endeavour to secure the interest of the very youngest in the ssheme. In some of our largest towns these Natural History Societies exist. The great difficulties of town life have not daunted either the boys or their teachers. The management of these societies is exclusively invested in the boys, with, of course, a right of veto invested in the head-master. The boys draw up a programme of excursions into the country. Though living often in towns, these excursions are made of mere nominal cost—often two or three pence will cover the whole. The boys keep their eyes open for anything of an interesting nature that they can discover, and gat4er specimens and bring them home with them. A meeting was held at the school on some evening of the week. The speci- mens are brought together. The boys clect their own officials and chairman. One ef the lads con- tributes a short paper on some object of interest or on some natural history topic. The specimens are afterwards discussed, and named and classified. The teachers, of course, are appealed to in the event of any difficulty. The society gradually forms a museum of its own, and, by public exhibi- tions, &e., gradually gathers enough money to form a small Natural History Library. Cut bono V I may by same—not by teachers, though—be asked. None, I answer, if by "rood" is meant its value as a bringer-in of revenue. None, for its value is above the value of all that money can pur- chase. It is inestimable a possession, not for one examination, but for all time. A love of Nature is A BALM TO HEAL EVERY CARE AND SOOTHE EVERY ANXIETY. It is the handmaid of religion, the perpetual corrector of our wayward moods and passions, the sustainer in life's battle, the calm and peaceful possession in the quietness of old age. These who have read 1f11:h Milln-'i -nus book 1; My School and Sci;<-> tlm.i -ri," 1: > bnon ar.. sed at the few incidental remarks whieh he makes con- cerning his teachers and the scheols in the ordinary sense of the word. The greatest teacher to him was the running stream, the brook in which he could watch the doings of the smaller creation in their little world, the steep hills up which he delighted to climb, and the rocky fore- shore, along whieh he was constantly rambling barefooted, gazing with infinite wonder into the little pools that seemed each like so many separate wsrlds. Nature was Hugh Miller's teacher, the wide world his school. The more our education approximates to nature's course the more it harmonises with nature's teaching- to that degree and to that degree alone is our work a success. To the attentive eye," says Emerson, each moment ef the year has its own beauty and in the same field it beholds every hour a picture that was never seen before, and shall never be seen again. The heavens change every moment and reflect their glory or gloom on the plains bemeath." Again, writing of the iufluenee of nature upon the soul, he says :—" We become physically nimble and lightsome we tread on air, life is no longer irksome, and we think it will never be so. No man fears age or misfortune or death in their serene company, for he is transported out of tho district of change. Whilst we behold unvilled the nature of Justice and Truth, we learn the difference between the absoluto and the conditional or relative. We apprehend the absolute. As it were, for the first time we exist, we become immortal for we learn that time and space are relations of matter, that with a perception of truth, or a virtuous will, they have no affinity." Though all cannot be philosophers, and rise to such trans- cendent ideas as these, yet we can all become ernbued and, what is more, embue our lads with a deep love or nature, feeling assured that if we send forth our boys into the world with this pure love within tkeir hearts the era .f public-houses and lew resorts will soon be at end and die out from pure want of support. Here is a love, a knowledge of priceless value, and at what a small cost of either time or expense. And then think, too, of its direct physical value, which is another of the great wants of a rational system of educa- tion to which I wish to briefly refer. The tendency to-day is to the training of the mind, or, to express it more accurately, the cramming the mind with half-digested materials, which is supposed, popu- larly, to foster the growth of mind, joined with a rigid care for the body. This is a reaction from the intense overflowing ardour which the Re- nascence, the new literary birth of the world, brought to the pursuit of knowledge. The discovery of Greek manuscripts and the immense vista that Greek thought opened to man by extending his past back some thousand years mere, gave an im- petus to literary pursuits. Men eradured fasting, tail, sleeplessness, poverty, everything for the pursuit of the new learning. The enthusiasm has died out now, or rather it has been tempered by time and guided by a wider experience. We are gradually learning now to draw a mean between the old Spartan and Roman education, which centred itself in the physical at the expense of the mental development, and the unbounded enthu- siasm which led to the exclusion of all ideas of the need of physical training. Modern science has paved a. way for this. We know now that SOUL AND BODY ARE NOT TWO SEPARATE ENTITIES, each unconnected with the other, and that one cannot be developed without taking the other into account. We know now the close interaction between mind and body, and that development in one sphere can only be carried on at the expense of the ether, and that. after all one isan only be partially developed if attention is not paid to the other. Our response to stumli from the outer world becomes more energetic and rich in pro- portion to the amount of stored up energy that we have. More and more attention is now being paid to this subject, and regular drill has become a recognised essential in every school. The remedy does net, however, consist wholly in more or less drill. Drill becomes at last a mere mechanical routine, and when it has become lifeless its loses a vast amount of its power. Healthy play and athletics, swimming and boating clubs, are readily formed and help to provide the child with that fund of energy and spirit which it is the teacher's function to direct into its right channel. But it is time that I ceased to trade upon your patience, and I will hasten to draw my paper to a close. Many points remain upon which I had wished to passingly notice. I will but mention one, the omission of which in a paper with this object would be unpardonable. One of the most im- portant of our duties is to cherish in the child the love of literature. We cannot turn out cultured wide-read scholars from our elementary sehoola, nor, as I have been trying to point out, is is desir- able that we should do so. But we can giveH. to them an incentive and a love of reading. Frequent reference to books whilst teaching, reading, or any other subject, a few minutes talk now and again about the books in the school library-for, of course, it goes without saying that every school will have one—will do much ia this direction. While mentioning this subject of literature, I cannot help expressing my regret that a resolution of this association, pointing out to the Public Library Committee the extreme desirability of a teacher's representative being eleated to that body, has been so quietly ignored. I think that it must be due to an over- sight but I trust, for the good of our scholars, that this want may soon be filled up. My aim has been to help myself no less than to help others to get a high conception of our DUTY TO TEACHERS. In the moiaotonotis routine of school life we lose the ideal. Our true aim is to turn out boys ready and eager to fill. up their allotted sphere in life, and it is only so far as we so, only—that is, as far as we steadily and slowly root their intellectual development in their whole development of character and habit, that we are really successful. Herein lies the teacher's temptation. He feels compelled to listen to the passing needs of the hour. He must defer, time after time, to the popu- lar ready-way of estimating that culture that cannot by such means be measured. He degene- rates-he must do it for his very existence depends upon it, from the slow task of building up character to the lower instinct, that, Midas-like, would convert the mind, with all its mysterious, inscrutible workings, into a machine for the creation of capital. We find it easy to reach the standard of the schoolmaster of Tenfeldrockh in Carlyle's Sartor Resartus," and therein lies our temptations. My teachers," says he, were hide-bound pedants, without knowledge of men's nature, or of boys or of ought, save their lexicons and quarterly account books. In- numerable dead vocables (no dead language, for they themselves knew no language) they crammed into' us, and called it fostering the growth of mind. How can an inanimate mechanical gerund- grinder, the like of whom will, in a subsequent century, be manufactured at Niirnberg out of wood and leather, foster the growth of anything much more of mind, which grows, not like a vege- table (by having its roots littered with etymolo- gical compost) but, like a spirit, by mysterious eontact of spirit; thought kindling itself at the fire of living thaught ? How shall he give kind- ling, in whese own inward man there it no live coal, bat all is bunt out to a dead grammatical cinder ? Such is a goal to which all can readily attain. and the worldi will nod its approval. Out- wardly the results may appear great, but it is often but a I- compost heap," there is often no develop- ment. This accumulation, of knowledge will profit little, and will aid nothing in the develop- ment of the human race. We must endeavor, then, to combine the two-complete" our tale of bricks" in accordance with the populus demand, but take care, especially that the higkei, nobles, inestim- able claims are as much as possible made prs- minent. As time passes the ideal will become the real. To that all things are tending, and the outlook into the future becomes bright with promises. THE EYES OF THE PEOPLE ARE GRADUALLY BEING OPENED. Reforms upon reforms are crowding upon us, [, Teachers must be ready to lead the way into this higher, more rational, system of education. Move and move will depend upon us, for as Bishop Westcott so forcibly put it-a Test books, ap- pliances, methods of instructions, are capable of almost indefinite improvement; but, after all, the teacher far the highest purposes of education is ."chool. It is not the machinery, but the nudity of the teacher, which make a last'ng impression. The teacher is the spring of life and inspiration to his scholars, and that educa- tion is most perfect which kindles within a. passion for studying liberally, for thinking seriously, for serving gladly those whom it trains." I leave the subject with this portrait of one of the greatest of teachers—Pestalozzi. One of his pupils thus describes him," Imag-ille a very ugly man, with rough bristling hnir, his face scarred with small-pox. anil covered wish freckles, an untidy beard, no neck-tie; fancy him panting and jerking as he walked then his eyes. which at one time opened wide to send a flash of lightning, at another were half closed as if engaged on what was going on within his features now expressing a profound sadness, and now again the most peace- ful happiness; his speech, either soft and melodious, or bursting forth like thunder image the man, and you have him whom we used ta call our Father Pestalozzi. Such as I have sketched him for you we loved him we all loved him. for he loved us all; we loved him so warmly that when some time passed without our seeing him, we were quite troubled about it, and when he again appeared we could not take our eyes off him." The Chairman paid a high compliment to Mr, Siidmerson with regard to his paper, and in speak- iJllgujiJon the subject dealt with remarked upon the high standard set with regard to the duties of the teacher. He then touched upon the inspectisn andexaminatiea of the schools, and dwelt mainly upon the unfairness of the whole year's work being summed up in one day's examination, when the physical condition of the child might mar the whole. He did not exactly agree with the remarks of the reader of the paper with respect to the teaching of geography, and pointed out that the minute details never formed the main principle of his teaching. Of course, in the all elementary schools their chief points were reading, writing, and arithmetic. Touching upon the remarks of Mr. Siidmerson respecting libraries in schools, the Chairman reminded the meeting of the fact that there were hundreds of voluntary schools which were without even the necessary appliances, much less a library. In conclusion, he proposed a vote of thanks to tke reader for his able paper. Mr. Ewbank seconded, and referred to the pro- posal that a member of the Teachers' Association should be elected to the Public Library Committee. The Chairman explained that the resolution had been sent-to the Local Board, but no reply had been received. Mr. J. Evans touched upon the idealistic side of the question with regard to inspectors, and sug- gested that a, more liberal use of common sense on their part would be beneficial all round. Mr. Keat considered that there should be a fixed grant for all sahools. In fact. the poorer schools required the grant more than the better ones. After the palling for the Executive of the National Union of Teachers had been disposed of, The Chairman announced that his year of officc was brought to a. close, and at the next meeting he would vacate the chair in favour of Mr. Ewbank, vice-president. A tea and entertainment followed.

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