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of the London School Board, " that my plea for liberty to the teacher to teach what is best for the children to learn involves a radical change in the conception which many appear to have formed of the number of subjects named in the Government Code. I look upon them as finger-posts for direction, and not as compulsory invitations to tread in a labyrinth of intellectual paths. My conclusion is that no subject, the teaching of which can benefit the children who attend our elementary schools from four to twelve years of age, ought to be excluded from the possibility of being taught. On the other hand, no attempt can wisely be made to teach children who leave school about twelve years of age as if they could look forward to remaining under tuition until the age of fifteen or sixteen years. It is the attempt to do this which introduces confusion into elementary schools and delays the organization of secondary schools to so serious an extent."
Editorial Notes and Comments.
Those who have had a chance of being present at a Calisthenic Exhibition in which young folks happened to take part, must have come away convinced, not only of the necessity of physical training, but of its feasibility in every school, from the Elementary Department to the High School Class. The palaver of the popularity-seeking educationist is to be met. with in this, as in nearly every other effort to introduce something new in our schools; yet it can hardly be said that even after such palaver has secured its morsel of evanescent applause, there has been no permanent lesson taught. That there is a demand for systematic physical education cannot be questioned; and this not because it looks well, when boys and girls, in uniform dress, are put through their facings, but because the development of child-nature as a whole is affected by the drill itself. The importance of such training in its relationship to the moral and intellectual phases of the child's being can scarcely be over-estimated. Everyone knows that, other things being equal, the better physique wins the race in the ordinary walks of life at least; and though parents are often inclined to think that "the ordinary walk" is not to be the portion of their children, yet the future citizens of the world with but few exceptions are being brought up for "the ordinary walk" all the same, and have to be fortified physically as well as mentally to withstand the ordinary wear and tear of life. Indeed the problem of the honest educationist in this matter of physical training is a simple one, with the sympathy of the million in his favor, as it
is at the present moment. The honest educationist has no unseemly craving for applause; he is practical, and, taking a broad view of every educational movement, to see if there is anything practical in it, he is all the more anxious to get such a movement as this in favour of physical training in our schools away from the palaver of the popularity-seeking educationistaway from those public spirited ladies or over-fussy philanthropists, whose delight it ever is to engage in work which the newspapers glorify, irrespective of its ultimate tendency. It can hardly be said that physical training has been neglected in our schools altogether. Many of our teachers, who recognize in an all-round education more than may be officially taken notice of or paid for, have been careful to introduce this element in their school-work, knowing the indirect influence it has upon the general routine of their schools. The question has not been overlooked in our Normal Schools and Teachers' Institutes. The Inspectors have even come to report on the attention or lack of attention which is being given to physical culture in the schools under their supervision. A text-book on the subject has been in the hands of our teachers for some time, while here and there are to be found gymnasiums attached to the school. There is but one step further to take in the province or country where the system of payment by results has been recognized, and that is to rank physical training among the items of school-work receiving pecuniary recognition. In our province this has been done indirectly; yet some of our teachers may have some suggestions to make whereby uniformity may be secured in all our schools in this connection. We need hardly say that we shall be glad to hear from them on the subject.
-It can hardly be said that our celebration of Arbor Day was a success, except in one or two communities, and we feel justified in returning to the subject of well-kept school-grounds by making a quotation from Garden and Forest. The smallest school yard, says that journal, at least can be redeemed from a bare and unsightly aspect. With painstaking effort a narrow border close to the walls can be brightened with flowers the greater part of the year; luxuriant vines can be trained from the ground to the roof, and window-boxes with plants can be arranged and kept in order without difficulty. Where there is more space out of doors a carefully selected series of shrubs can be depended upon to impart color and freshness to the schoolgrounds from month to month. These suggestions are practical, and are enforced by the obvious moral that it is as important for children to receive lessons in orderliness and natural beauty
outside the doors as within the school-rooms. And from another source we find the following: "The ready objection will be offered that school-children are destructive little barbarians who enjoy trampling on flowers and injuring shrubbery, and that it is impossible to train them to respect and care for the surroundings of the buildings. This is a favorite argument with indifferent teachers who assume that inherent depravity forms the subsoil of the child-nature, and that it is impracticable to enlist the sympathy and support of their scholars in keeping the school-grounds in order. The answer to this objection is that neglect and heedlessness on the part of the teachers and officers of a school inevitably promote indifference on the part of the children. Let the importance and advantages of having the grounds as tidy, orderly and attractive as the interior of the building be enforced by the teachers, and the children will quickly learn to take pleasure and pride in the school-gardens. In the public parks great masses of variegated bloom are unmolested by boys and girls playing around them. This is because there are signs of orderliness and care and a sense of refreshment to the eyes which make an impression on the children's minds. It will not be difficult to educate schoolboys to respect flower-borders, window-boxes, vines and shrubbery, if teachers themselves will display intelligent interest and affection for the school-gardens." There is not so much cause for complaint in Quebec in regard to this matter as there was a year or two ago. A step has been taken in advance, though it is only confined to a few schools as yet, and we trust that further encouragement will be given to the movement of beautifying the school-grounds even in our remote country districts. Our suggestion of a year ago can bear repetition, and we have yet some hopes of seeing it acted upon, as far as Arbor Day is concerned. There is more required than the mere proclamation of the day as a public holiday; and what we would suggest is the placing of the whole matter in the hands of an executive which shall by circular and otherwise make arrangements for the celebration of the day every year in all parts of the province. Nor is this all. Some of our agricultural societies have offered prizes for the best planted avenue or the finest stretch of tree growth on the farm, and this should be encouraged until all our agricultural societies do the same. Even the Government might offer a prize to the village in the province whose main street is the best kept and the most neatly planted. Or, if this would present a difficulty, let the schoolhouse be the objective point for the general competition for the
first period. The school-house is the rallying point of the villagers. They have all an interest in it, and if the govern ment would only offer a premium of a hundred dollars or so to the most pleasantly embowered of our school-houses, with the understanding that no school could compete the second time, we would soon have every school-house in the country situated amid improved surroundings."
And in case some one may set our advocacy aside as a kind of fad, we may quote what is being done in a practical way in the State of Wisconsin. The following paragraph is from a recent Arbor Day circular issued from the office of the State Superintendent of Education: "Reference to the proclamation of the Governor will reveal a purpose of awarding a premium of $1,000.00 to encourage the improvement of the premises of district schools, in ways of tidiness and decoration, between the dates of April 10th and September 30th. This inducement is offered, in part, in recognition of the educational value of Arbor Day exercises with the expectation that it may serve as a stimulus to their proper observance. The reward offered will be divided into seventy parts, giving each superintendent district a distinct prize to be awarded to the district that, within the dates mentioned, will make the greatest improvement in accordance with the terms of the gift. The rewards. will take such form as will make them of enduring value to the school. The offer is made, by the governor in behalf of the schools in rural districts. He, however, desires the city and village schools to make the utmost of the advantages of the day, but thinks they need no other incentive than the desire to beautify their surroundings and enliven their schools with fresh and instructive exercises."
-There is something of the true ring about an article which lately appeared in the Montreal Star, under the caption Science in School." The title might lead some to suppose that the editor was anxious to see introduced into our schools. what has been already laid down in our Course of Study, namely the study of the modern sciences, physiology, botany, chemistry and physics. But the plea in itself is one in favor of a right method in approaching a study of such sciences, and we direct. the attention of our teachers to what our contemporary says: "During the last few years there has been an increasing recognition of the importance of introducing a scientific element into public school education, but up to the present the results of such instruction in science as has actually been given have not on the whole been satisfactory. The reason, according to
certain authorities, has been that scientific facts have been taught in advance of any adequate comprehension of scientific methods. Facts so imparted have but a feeble hold upon the mind, and do not really afford it any useful discipline or training. The proper way, it is urged, to begin, is to practice the young in observation and measurement. They should be taught in the first plaee to see, and in the second to make the most exact quantitative determinations. In the third place only should come the investigation of causes. A pupil who is conducted carefully and patiently through the first two stages will find himself prepared to enter on the third and attack its problems with a distinct sense of power; whereas, one who has not had the advantage of such preliminary training will in many ways be at a loss in the doing of theoretical work. Clever pupils are apt to fret and chafe under the practice which a careful teacher will give them in various operations of, as it seems to them, an almost mechanical character, but if they were wise as well as clever they would feel that hardly any amount of practice in the observation, handling and measurement, or weighing, of things could be excessive. Here, indeed, is where the best discipline of science comes in. Not every one is adapted to be a brilliant theorist, but every one might, one should suppose, learn to be careful in observation and accurate in statement. How few persons, in point of fact, we meet upon whose powers of observation we can wholly depend? How few again who can report a thing exactly as it happened, without any variation or inconsistency of statement! How many on the other hand are prepared to frame theories before they have any accurate or duly corrected knowledge of facts! Man is an impatient animal; women, perhaps, a still more impatient one; both want to do the higher work of shaping conclusions before they have done the humbler work of securing data for their conclusions. Now if scientific method were properly taught in the schools, and if the truth were constantly inculcated that the scientific method is of universal application, we should soon find a decided improvement in the intellectual habits of the community." It may be as well to state here that in some of the more elementary school examinations in England and elsewhere, there is a paper called the "General Knowledge" paper, used as a test of the above kind of teaching, and the writer remembers well the paper of this sort in connection with the examination of teachers in the Old Country and the dread in which it was held by the candidates. Were such a paper to be proposed by the school authorities of Quebec, the man who