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When we think of the weak child nature, we can understand how very difficult it is for children to center their thoughts upon seemingly unattractive subjects,—they who are ever ready to turn to every distraction, and they who linger around, and cling more steadfastly to the gay and brightly coloured pictures. But the attraction we require is far different than that which the children must have. So I have considered the following points:
1. The Teacher and the Pupils.
3. The School-room.
4. The Play-ground.
How often has a teacher, when she entered her new school-room, looked around at the four bare walls and the rows of vacant seats, and not felt a sadness creeping over her, and a longing for something brighter! Then just imagine, if you can, how much more desolate a child who has not yet learned self-control, aside from play and freedom, must feel in such a room. Is not this feeling of desolation increased if he must behold sitting behind her rigid desk another forlorn looking person? But we must never allow our minds to dwell upon such a lonely scene, for there is no good in it whatever but rather harm.
The first thing which we need to think about is, how we can remedy this state of affairs. This change can only be brought about by the co-operation of the teacher and the pupils; but it is the teacher who must first make herself attractive, by being pleasant and cheerful. No matter what she may have to trouble her elsewhere, it must not enter the school-room with her. There must be a cheerful face, a smile and a pleasant word for all. She must show an interest in the welfare of the children, and in their homes, enquire occasionally for those at home, always ask about the absent pupils. Try to make the children comfortable while at work, and see that they are properly prepared for leaving school,-especially the little ones need this attention. When work goes all wrong, encourage by quietly and pleasantly explaining the way to do it. No matter if it has been explained, it has evidently not been understood. The teacher must first ascertain if the fault is in herself. There are also many more points which might be considered, but I think these are sufficient to make the teacher at
tractive. Mr. Hughes, in his book on "Securing and Retaining Attention," says: "The teacher must be attractive. Sunshine promotes growth, character sunshine develops sympathy and consequent attention."
We do not ask the pupils to be attractive, for they always are; children are naturally cheerful and are easily drawn to agreeable people. Just think of the effects of the attractive teacher.
Well, the two very important effects are: 1st. That feeling of desolation and loneliness has passed away; 2ndly. The children are drawn to and love their teacher. "First impressions are lasting;" and when a child once perceives that it is in HIM that his teacher is interested, and that it is HIS welfare which she is working for, his friendship is gained.
Now, if this were always so, there would not be so much trouble with Rules. A child would not meaningly break a rule, if he understood that it was for his own benefit, and that the teacher is not enforcing it to be arbitrary. Then, to meet the requirement of obedience, the rules must be few and well explained, positive and well enforced. Children desire to be where pleasantness reigns, so there will be no difficulty in getting such rules obeyed. What boy or girl is there who does not like to be well governed? Thus there is an attraction in judicious government in school as elsewhere. Again, how can the school-room be made attractive? Surely there was nothing enticing in that gloomy picture I first mentioned.
If there were a few pictures to break the barrenness of those walls, and a few plants to decorate the windows, that pleasant teacher and those happy children would not look so much out of place.
How are we to manage this difficulty? We must use tact here, as well as elsewhere. I will just tell my own way of doing it.
About the third or fourth day of school I introduce the subject in this way:
How many of my pupils think that our school-room is as pretty as their homes? (Not a hand will go up.) How many would like to help me in making it more home-like? (Every hand now goes up.) Then look at the walls and tell me if they are like those at home. There will be several answers, and among them is heard: "There are no
pictures here." Now I say to them: "If you will look at home for some pictures, and bring them to school with you, to-morrow, we can have some on our walls too." Of course I have it understood that we are to choose out the most appropriate ones.
The next day they will bring their pictures, and we set to work, make our choices, and arrange them orderly and neatly. As soon as we are able to get some drawings and maps done, I find room for those on the walls too. Pupils like their work appreciated and take pride in doing more.
I deal with the plants in much the same way. Those who have none at home bring pots, the others volunteer to give them some cuttings, thus each pupil has a share in the decorations. The floor is kept also free from all untidiness. Now we are ready to pass on to the play-ground.
Why, one will say, of course that is attractive. No, like the school-room, it must be made so. During intermissions the teacher must be seen on the play-ground. Sometimes I suggest a game before the children have marched from the room, while they are waiting in their lines to pass out. They rush to the game as soon as outside. When I see the play lagging I at once propose some other more exciting if possible, and join in it myself. The hilarity of a pleasaut game is much more attractive to all, than that murmur of discord and mischief, which is so likely to creep in if the boys are left to their own devices. I find, that after a lively play, my boys and girls are as ready to form their lines for entering the house as they were for leaving it.
Now, to sum up; we find the requisites for an attractive school to be:
A cheerful and kind teacher, a bright home-like schoolroom and a play-ground resounding with mirth and happiness. The results of the attractive school are: obedience, kindness, cheerfulness, and a desire to attend school, together with a love for work as well as play.
HULL, June 5, 1899.
The fourth regular session of the Ottawa County Teachers' Association was held in Aylmer Academy, June 2 and 3. The Friday evening session was well attended, the
school-room being filled to its utmost capacity. At eight o'clock; the chair was occupied by the President, and a highly interesting and instructive programme was rendered. The addresses of the evening were delivered by the Clergy of Aylmer. Rev. Mr. McNicoll spoke on "Morality in the School," while Rev. Mr. Taylor dealt with the subject of "Sociability of the Teacher." Inspector Gilman, whose name did not appear upon the programme, was also called to the platform and addressed his remarks to the pupils, of whom there was a large number present. The evening programme was made very attractive, being varied with choruses, recitations, drills, &c., which were admirably rendered by the pupils of the Academy.
Saturday's sessions were fairly well attended, and the papers read were excellent, while the discussions which followed the reading of each paper were exceedingly helpful. The papers read were as follows:
"Class Management "-Miss Loynachan, Chelsea.
"How to make School Attractive"-Miss Keezar, Cantley. "Fractions "--Inspector Gilman, Aylmer.
"Securing Attention "-Mr. C. Adams, Hull.
Primary Reading"-Miss Ferris, Buckingham. "Morals "-Miss Ross, Hull.
Early in the year, the Association offered three prizes to Elementary Schools sending in best specimens of school work in map drawing, drawing, and composition from grades II., III. and IV. As a result several schools sent in specimens of such a good quality that the judges had some difficulty in deciding to whom the prizes should be given. After being at their work nearly all day, the committee presented their report as follows:
1st. North Eardley School-Miss Whelan, Teacher. 2nd. Cantley
The prizes were large pictures in oak frames. Our Queen; 2nd, Dominion Coat of Arms; Deer.
1st prize, 3rd, Wild
Saturday sessions closed at 4 p.m., by singing the
Practical Hints and Examination Papers.
BY MISS ELIZABETH HARRISON, PRINCIPAL OF CHICAGO KINDERGARTEN COLLEGE.
The three points to which I would call your thoughtful consideration are: First, What is education? Second, What can be done for the child between the ages of three and six by way of really educating him? Third, What preparation does the kindergarten need for thus training the child?
First-What is education? All education worthy of that name aims to prepare the child to meet life and its problems in a better, more rational way than he would be able to meet it without this education. All thinking educators agree that this preparation must include not only the training of the child's muscles, that he may have complete control of them and thus make his body the servant of his soul, but also the training of his senses in such a manner that he shall be able to take into himself clear impressions from the outside world, upon which depends so much of the definiteness of his mental concepts. Nor is the training of his powers of observation, his judgment, his memory and his imagination, all. He must learn also that greatest lesson in life, how to deal with his fellow-beings, what his relations are to the rest of mankind, and what are the duties arising from them. To the exact degree in which he has learned this lesson do the obstacles vanish from his pathway. If this is education, let us turn now to what part of it can be given to the child between the ages of three and six. This is the free, creative, play period of the child's existence. He has passed out of the passive, receptive period of infancy and is not yet ready for the eager, acquisitive period of childhood. Play is his natural atmosphere, and play is his delight. His soul opens out to impressions which may come to it in the guise of play. No effort is hard or disagreeable if it helps to make more real to him his play. This is why the kindergartner, understanding the wholesome, lovable condition of this age, seizes upon its most salient characteristic and educates by means of play. When the child is trying to fly like a bird, to leap like a frog, to pound like a blacksmith, to saw like a carpenter, to march like a soldier, his every muscle is unconsciously coming under control, for he