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Articles: Original and Selected.
THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION.
In the space at our command it would be utterly impossible to give anything like a full account of the International Convention of Teachers held in the city of Toronto last month. While the Convention was in progress the daily papers gave the usual minute reports of the work accomplished, and from the accounts contained in them there may be formed some idea of the greatness and importance of such a gathering to the cause of education on this continent. From the Montreal Witness we select the following careful summing up of the proceedings: "The National Educational Association has been in continuous existence for about forty years. During a large part of that time its annual membership was very small and the attendance but little larger. The First President of the Association was at this Toronto meeting, and as he has attended many of the intervening sessions he has had ample opportunity to note the rate of progress. At first it was slow and discouraging. Education was a State, not a national matter, and the State Conventions easily took the precedence over the national one as a matter of public interest. But nationality of feeling came in like a flood in the wake of the civil war; the National Government established an educational bureau of observation and publication; and soon the National Association began to grow in importance and usefulness. During the years of its development it has
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taken on a peculiar character, which, though by no means stereotyped, has become comparatively fixed. It is old enough to have traditional methods, but not conservative enough to be unwilling to modify them. Its officers are always experienced and able men. No others can come to the front in a body with a membership so large and so intelligent. Of the methods adopted it may be said generally that they are exceedingly effective. The mornings and evenings are given up to mass meetings, and the afternoons to meetings of sections or departments. The number of these sections tends, of course, to increase with the growing tendency of the day to differentiation and specialization. At present they are (1) kindergarten, (2) elementary, (3) secondary, (4) higher, (5) normal, (6) superintendence, (7) industrial and manual, (8) art, and (9) music. To these have been added, in a tentative way," conferences for original research," of which six were designated for this year, only one, however, being at all successful, that held under the direction of Dr. Stanley Hall for the study of mental growth in children. This is a feature of the Association's meetings which will probably grow in interest and usefulness, for it has in it great possibilities of development. The attendance was enormous and was thoroughly international. The membership numbers thousands, and of these, Canadians constituted probably as large a proportion as the population of the Dominion bears to that of the United States. Canadian delegates took a fairly prominent share in the procedings, and to all appearance were quite up to the general average in ability to do so with credit to themselves and advantage to the body as a whole. The various provinces of Canada were represented individually, the largest contingent being from Ontario, and the next largest from Quebec, the Maritime Provinces contributing small but somewhat distinguished delegations. All sections of the United States were well represented, and most of the States had "headquarters," at which local enrolment of delegates was made. On the whole, the vast gathering was thoroughly representative of the continent, from the Gulf of Mexico to the northern limit of inhabited Canada, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. In preparing for such a meeting, it is natural that there should be a good deal of anxiety as to accommodation, and this occasion was no exception. No city in America has ever been subjected to so severe a strain in this respect as Toronto has just endured, but the precautions taken were so effective that the whole mass of visitors were quietly located as fast as they arrived, with far less than the usual amount of friction and
worry. At no time during the meeting was the accommodation at the disposal of the Committee at all exhausted, and many householders, who had blindly offered to take in lodgers, were never required to give up their rooms for that purpose. This satisfactory state of things was due largely to the fact that Toronto has each September to accommodate a large crowd of visitors to the industrial exhibition, but still more to the energetic and intelligent services rendered by the billeting committee which was made up chiefly of ladies. Their experience as charitable workers was of the utmost value to the local management. It is pleasant to be able to record that no attempt at extortion was made except by one boardinghouse-keeper, who was quietly exposed and who narrowly escaped prosecution for obtaining money on false pretences. If any other Canadian city should have the honor and profit of being selected as the place of meeting for the Association, the experience of Toronto might profitably be drawn upon, not merely with respect to providing accommodation, but also with respect to holding the exhibition which has become the constant appendage to the convention. Though it was a marked success this year it might easily have been made still more striking but for two drawbacks, (1) the lack of experience on the part of the local committee, and (2) the trouble and delay caused by the Customs line. United States contributors should have shipped their exhibits a few days earlier to enable the management here to get them in time, and the local committee, if they had their work to do over again, would avoid some mistakes into which they naturally fell. The exhibits were of two classes, (1) school supplies sent on as specimens by manufacturers, and (2) school work, done by pupils. For the former a charge was made with a view to revenue, but the latter was admitted free. As a whole, the display was a very interesting one and it attracted a constant stream of visitors, both domestic and foreign. Thousands of people went to see it over and over again, and it fairly divided with the meetings and the excursions the attention of the whole community. The excursions referred to were a most useful arrangement. A large steamer was chartered for short runs to points of interest near the city, and special rates were secured by the ordinary rail and steamer routes to places more remote. Thousands of visitors took advantage of these sources of recreation, and those who did so went away with recollections all the pleasanter for this agreeable form of diversion. These local excursion rates by regular routes were available for a few days after the Convention, and many strangers were thus able to
visit Niagara, Muskoka, the Upper lakes and the St. Lawrence who would otherwise have been deprived of the opportunity. The number of these who stayed over for this purpose, and also with a view to learn what they could of our educational institutions, was surprisingly large. The people of Toronto have no reason to complain of any lack of appreciation on the part of the foreign visitors. Their feelings were officially expressed in formal resolutions, couched in the most laudatory language, but this was mild compared with the expression of gratitude which dropped from the delegates in private. They had evidently come with the determination to put up with the drawbacks and disappointments incident to such meetings, and when they found few or none they were agreeably disappointed. They were delighted with the weather, with the city, with the meetings, and above all with the prevalent, if not universal, desire to treat them, not as boarders, but as friends. Without any conscious purpose to make the convention pay, the people of Toronto took the surest way to secure such a result, for the general chorus of praise so freely uttered here will re-echo in thousands of United States journals wherever the delegates have their homes. For the manner in which the event came off, great credit is due to the chairman and secretary of the local committee, J. L. Hughes and H. J. Hill. The long experience of the latter in connection with the Industrial Exhibition made him invaluable, and it is difficult to see how he could have been dispensed with. It is not easy to describe in brief space the work of the association during the meetings or praise the results. The public addresses were good in themselves, but they were, of necessity, heard by only a few. Many valuable reports were made by committees, which will be the subject of future action. A step forward was taken in the way of inducing the teachers of America to take charge of the spelling reform movement with a view to decisive action at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. A good beginning was made in round table or seminary discussion. But the best work was done in the meetings of departments, where the attendance was smaller and the audiences were homogeneous. The subject of university extension was one of the most interesting of those so discussed, and it received a decided impulse. So did the work of the kindergarten, which is likely to become more popular and more widely diffused in consequence. One of the most important incidents for Canadians was the formation of a dominion educational association. A large and representative gathering resolved to go into this organization and appointed a council for