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very valuable work out of young people of seventeen or eighteen who are drawn to the profession by choice and aptitude and who wish to become trained for it. What they lack in maturity and experience they often make up in enthusiasm, in freshness of mind and in tractability. You can easily direct them, and mould their work so as to fit your own plans. Only it is worth while to bear in mind two or three conditions. They should not at first be put to the care of the youngest children. It is a very common fault to suppose that your rawest and least trained teacher should be put to your lowest class, whereas it is in the lowest class that the highest professional skill is often wanted. To awaken the interest and intelligence of very young children is often a much harder task than to direct the work of elders. The easiest part of the work of a school is the supervision of the more mechanical lessons, such as reading and writing, or the correction of sums and of home exercises in the middle classes of a school, where scholars may be presumed to have already been drilled into good habits of work. And this therefore is the department of duty which should first be confided to a young teacher. The function which is known in the French schools as that of repetiteur, who has charge of the minor and more mechanical parts of the teaching is the proper function of such a teacher, not the sole charge of any one department of a school. Then by degrees he may be called upon to give a lesson perhaps on some rule of arithmetic in the presence of a class, and afterwards to teach in succession other subjects properly graduated in difficulty. It is a mistake to exact so much, as is often demanded from young teachers. While in the stage of probation or partial studentship they should not give more than half the day to teaching, and reserve the rest for their own studies. If we expect a
young assistant to spend the whole of the ordinary schoolhours in charge of young children, and to pursue his own studies when school is over we expect what is unreasonable, and we go far to disgust him and make him feel the task to be drudgery. On the other hand an alternation of teaching and learning, of obeying and governing is very pleasant to an active mind; and I think by trying the experiment of what may be called the half time system' the principal of a school may often get better, fresher work—work which he can more completely control and bring into harmony with his own views and plans-out of student teachers than out of adult ushers of the ordinary type.
There is great advantage, whenever possible, in securing assistants of your own training, those whom you have manufactured on the premises, so to speak. And the system of student-teachers lends itself well to the adoption of this course. But we must not overlook the demerits and dangers of this system on the other hand. A youth selected from among your most promising pupils and trained under your own eye with a view to taking office as an assistant, may indeed be expected to be familiar with your own methods and in sympathy with your aims. But it is essential that in the interval between the time of quasi-apprenticeship and that in which he takes permanent office as assistant he should go out either to the University or to some other school for that important part of his education which you cannot give him. In the elementary schools young people are chosen early as pupil teachers, go out at eighteen for two years to a training college and return to an elementary school as assistants before they are qualified to take the sole charge of schools. In theory this is unexceptionable. And if at the training colleges they were enabled to obtain a
broader view of their profession and of life little more could be desired. Unfortunately however at the Normal college they are associated only with others who have had precisely the same training, who come from the same social class, and have been subject to the same early disadvantages. They are therefore from the beginning to the end of their career always moving in the same rut, always bounded by the traditions and the experience of the elementary school, and they know too little of the outer world, or of what in other professions passes for a liberal education. Hence the narrower views and the more obvious faults which often characterize the elementary teacher. For a successful teacher of a higher school we may indeed desire in some cases the early training analogous to pupil-teachership; and some special preparation, either as assistant or otherwise, in the duties of a schoolmaster. But it is important that a substantial part of his training, at any rate, should be obtained in other places than the school in which he intends ultimately to teach ; and among persons who are not intending to follow the same profession as himself.
And for the teacher and for all his assistants, the one The thing needful, is a high aim, and a strong faith in the in- teacher's
aims. finite possibilities which lie hidden in the nature of a young child. One hears much rhetoric and nonsense on this subject. The schoolmaster is often addressed, by enthusiasts as if he were more important to the body politic than soldier and statesman, poet and student all put together; and a modest man rebels, and rightly rebels, against this exaggeration, and is fain to take refuge in a mean view of his office. But after all, we must never forget that those who magnify your office in ever so bad taste, are substantially right. And it is only an elevated ideal of your profession which will ever enable you to
contend against its inevitable discouragements - the weary repetitions, the dulness of some, the wilfulness of others, the low aims of many parents, the exactions of governors and of public bodies, the ungenerous criticism, the false standards of estimation which may be applied to your work. What is to sustain you in these circumstances, in places remote from friends, or in the midst of uncongenial surroundings ? Nothing, except the faith which removes mountains, the strong conviction that your work after all, if honestly and skilfully done, is some of the most fruitful and precious work in the world. The greatest of all teachers, in describing his own mission once said, “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly." And may we not without irreverence say that this is, in a humble and far-off way the aim of every true teacher in the world? He wants to help his pupil to live a fuller, a richer, a more interesting and a more useful life'. He wants so to train the scholar, that no one of his intellectual or moral resources shall be wasted. He looks on the complex organization of a young child, and he seeks to bring all his faculties, not merely his memory and his capacity for obedience, but also his intelligence, his acquisitiveness, his imagination, his taste, his love of action, his love of truth, into the fullest vitality;
“That mind and soul according well May make one music.”
No meaner ideal than this ought to satisfy even the humblest who enters the teacher's profession.
1 “Qu'on destine mon élève à l’epée, a l'Eglise, au barreau, que m'importe! avant la vocation des parents, la nature l'appelle a la vie humaine. Vivre est le métier que je lui veux apprendre.”
Principles, the Guide to Details.
From considerations so high and far-reaching does it seem to you a rather steep descent to come down to the details of school organization, to books and methods, to maps and time tables ? I hope not, for it is only in the light of large principles that little things can be seen in their true significance; and a great aim is often the stimulus to exertions which were otherwise petty and wearisome.