Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

there is a correspondingly larger amount of extra labor, sometimes approaching drudgery, which falls to the lot of the teacher in the many papers to be examined and "marked.”

c. Weekly tests.

Better than either final or quarterly examinations, perhaps, are the so-called weekly competitions or tests. Once each week a series of questions referring to any single branch of study is given, and answered in writing. A limited time is set, say one hour, and at its close the papers are collected and marked. Any particular study will be the subject of a test several times during the year. At the end of the year it will not at all be difficult to judge of the pupil's fitness for promotion from the marks received. It may be objected that it is difficult in some grades to find time for weekly tests and also that any given subject is tested so seldom that the program is hardly covered. Still it is undoubted that there is more exactness in rating a pupil according to his weekly tests than according to the examination results. There is no reason either why the two results might not be combined, if the teacher so desire.

d. Average of weekly marks.

All teachers, as a rule, make use of some system of notes or marks. Lessons recited and tasks accomplished are recorded in the class notebook according to a method of notation indicating different degrees of excellence. At the end of the week the marks are considered collectively and the results made known to the pupils. Once a month the marks are averaged, and by means of reports the parents are made aware of the standing of the pupils in their grades. No better method of rating a child's abilities could be devised, and therefore, when promotions are to be made, no further tests need be required. Any pupil who has had satisfactory averages, month after month, is certainly fit for promotion-even if the examination results should prove the contrary. The power to do good work quickly and continuously is preferable to ability to startle by occasional manifestations of pent-up energy.

To determine promotion by weekly marks appears to be the best method thus far considered. It gives each pupil fair and equal opportunities, keeps up his interest in class work day by

day, week by week, and by means of the monthly reports not only invites the cooperation of the parents, but likewise permits them to form a fair estimate of their child's progress and prospects. On the other hand, too much attention to marking may tend to make the class work rather mechanical, and the teacher may degenerate into a sort of tallyman. It stands to reason that teaching is more important than marking, and whenever there is conflict the latter must give way. Neither is it at all necessary or desirable that every lesson, every task, should be recorded. e. Judgment of the teacher.

Finally, promotions may be left entirely to the judgment of the teacher. No one knows the pupils better than the teacher who has been working among them for weeks or months, and no one is more interested in their welfare. However, any man's judgment is open to censure or doubt, and though the pupils promoted will accept the teacher's verdict complacently it may not be the same with those not promoted. To avoid the possible charge of partiality or favoritism, it were well for the teacher to have his judgment based on some tangible evidence, such as the tests or marks spoken of above. It appears that the teacher's judgment is relied upon for promotions in most of our public schools, in which the old-style system of general examinations, emanating from the superintendent's office, has well-nigh disappeared.

Conclusion.

From what has been said above about examinations it must not be inferred that they are to be banished from the classroom. Not at all. Tests of all kinds act as stimulants in school work and sharpen the pupil's faculties. They are desirable and very useful. Examinations are not evil in themselves; they are aids to the teacher, but must not be considered as ends. A teacher may test the class very frequently if such tests excite healthy emulation and earnest efforts. But no teacher should impose tests that crush or over-excite the child's mind; neither is a class being well taught if the ultimate or principal object in view is the passing of a brilliant examination.

In all cases of difficulty arising from promotions it would be well for both teachers and pupils to impress upon their minds the

words of Ruskin: "It is effort that deserves praise, not success; nor is it a question for any student whether he is cleverer than others or duller, but whether he has done the best he could with the gifts he had."

PERSONAL POWER OF A TEACHER IN THE HIGHEST GRADES OF OUR PAROCHIAL AND HIGH SCHOOLS

BROTHER EDWARD, F. S. C., BUFFALO, N. Y.

At the outset of this paper I wish to explain that by high schools I mean those schools that, bearing the name of academy, institute or high school, give in the main secondary instruction. Furthermore, throughout, since my experience has been wholly with boys and the teachers of boys, I have only them in mind.

Teachers are with their pupils from five to six hours daily for forty weeks of the year; not intermittently, but constantly; not merely physically, but with mind touching mind, with soul responding to soul. They stand or kneel with them at prayer, question them during the recitations, examine with them the literary selections assigned for study, bear with them the storm and stress of the mathematical periods, and light up for them the dark pages of history. During the quiet of the study time, as well as during the tumult of the recreation period, the teachers are present to supervise and direct. They meet them in the morning, as they come with minds clear and bright after the night's rest, watch them during the fatiguing work of the day, and dismiss them aweary after a school day of labor. In the cool and energizing days of autumn and winter, when work is almost pleasure, as well as in the balmy pleasant days of late spring and early summer, when nature calls loudest to youth to join her in her most inviting haunts-teacher and pupil meet for their accustomed tasks. What other person is so long a time. with the boy during his responsive hours? Attention is centered on the teacher for a longer period than on any one else. What a power then should the strong teacher not wield over the im

pressionable mind of youth! He should stamp his opinions and views on it more clearly than any other person.

While the work of every class is almost invaluable and the teacher of each of great consequence, it will readily be conceded that the one in charge of the highest grade is the most important teacher in a school. He is so regarded by the pupils and generally so by the principal and the rector. He has to set the cap on the edifice of learning, that it is the province of the particular school with which he is connected, to erect. Sometimes he is the principal, too. His scholars come to him to finish up the work begun in the school; they come at a period of development calling for wisest counsel, warmest sympathy and most correct guidance. Rarely have they any thought of the future; they dislike to think of it; they are content to let Destiny happen along. Beyond the mere performance of actual daily duties, they do not look. Vocation or avocation are matters about which they deliberately postpone thinking. Animated by the desire to form wise and good men-Catholic men-our teacher has the opportunity to step in here in order to awaken and stimulate ambition, to direct thought, to suggest future action, to show ways and means of accomplishing that which pupil and teacher agree is useful and desirable.

Though the good he may do is manifold, I have selected for treatment (a) his power to stimulate ambition to get higher education along Catholic lines in the schools; (b) his power to excite in those who cannot attend school any longer a desire for self-improvement and an interest in all educational and Catholic

affairs.

While not unaware of the enthusiasm evoked to-day in educational circles by the mention of industrial training, and of the crying need of providing some useful and developing occupation for the adolescent, who either do not aspire to the so-called learned or strictly scientific professions or are intellectually or temperamentally unfitted for them, I feel convinced that Catholic youth in general are only too willing to sidestep into the mechanic arts, to remain on the low level of commercial pursuits, in the positions of typist, stenographer or bookkeeper, when their talents fully warrant their aspiring to the ranks of the power

professions. Not less ambition, but more; not low, ordinary employments, but the highest positions of leadership are those to which Catholic schoolboys must be directed. There may be some heresy, some ill-advised suggestion, in the old saw, "Hitch your wagon to a star," when said to the great army in the common schools of the country (for some who think deeply on educational and social matters say so), yet one cannot help feeling that it is just the advice needed in the graduating classes of our Catholic schools; for, because either of the restraint of poverty or a certain lack of appreciation of learning, or the blight of lowly life, or association with the unlearned, there will be for some time to come, little danger of our pupils aspiring too high or stargazing unwisely.

One of the first and best things the teachers of the classes in question should inculcate is the value of an education. Let them show the pleasurable value of it, inasmuch as it gives a more intelligent and enlarged view of life, opens up avenues of thought, prepares for association, either personally or through books, with the great and wise, living and dead, and trains the mind to the habit of attacking and solving the intricate and perplexing problems of everyday life.

Let them likewise place before their scholars the social and economic value of an education in making one fit to take one's place among the leaders who determine the ideals, set the standards of conduct, improve the national mind and the national conscience, ennoble and enrich all life. Can there be any great harm in instilling into the minds of our Catholic boys, just when many of them think their school days are at an end, that "the trained man will demand and will, in the long run, receive his due share" of emolument—that one year, two years, a high school course, a college course, will mean, every year of it, such an ultimate average income as will richly repay them in a monetary way for apparent early losses and will mean ability to do justice to those who may depend on them? The pupil must be made to see that "the whole industrial world seems to have conspired with educational institutions to place a premium on education."

Even supposing that every Catholic college has its lamp trimmed and its oil plentiful, it can serve but little useful purpose

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »