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The report was read by Dr. Kneeland. It opened by a historical sketch of legislation in Europe and America. Then followed the opinions of eminent jurists and prominent teachers in regard to this important subject. The report concluded by a recommendation that steps be taken to present the importance of the subject to the attention of the Legislature at its next session. The report was adopted and referred to the Executive Committee for action.
The treasurer's report, read by Mr. C. A. Humphrey, showed that $665.16 had been received, and $361.75 expended, leaving a balance on hand of $303.41, as against $210.72 last year.
Dr. Robins then reported on behalf of the Pension Commissioners. This report will probably appear in full in our next issue.
The report of the Committee on Canadian History, while mentioning the names of a committee representing all the provinces of the Dominion that had been suggested as a proper representation to secure a text book on Canadian History for all the provinces, indicated at the same time how far the original plan had lost something of its character. The prize money is no longer a donation but a mere loan. As the report says: To accomplish the purpose in view the means at the disposal of that committee are the use of $2500 for two or three years, without interest, kindly given by Mr. J. H. Burland, B.A.Sc., of Montreal. The report stated that it was likely that this money would be offered as prizes in a competition for the best history. Further pecuniary assistance, however, was required, because provision must be made to meet the expenses of the Dominion Committee. It would cost about $600 to hold one meeting of that committee, and more than two or three meetings would not be necessary.
The report of the Committee on Examinations in Elementary Schools was read by Mr. McOuat, of Lachute, but as it involved recommendations of a very important character, it was decided that action should be delayed until the report had been printed and distributed among the teachers. A copy of the report, we trust, will be placed at our disposal for insertion in the RECORD. A like action was also taken in connection with the report of the Committee on Government Grants for Superior Education. The discussion on this report, therefore, took place on Saturday morning, when a recommendation which will appear elsewhere, involving a new method of distributing the grants, was ordered to be placed before the Protestant Committee.
Mr. R. J. Hewton, M. A., of Sherbrooke, then read his paper on the "Professional Training of Teachers," which opened up
perhaps the most important question of the day in connection with our schools. Mr. Hewton's plea for the enlargement of the powers of the Central Board of Examiners, and his further plea for an improved and extended system of training for teachers in our Normal School, not only indicated some serious defects in our system, but will lead us, it is to be hoped, eventually to find some remedy for these defects. We expect to be able to give a full report of Mr. Hewton's arguments in a subsequent issue.
Mr. J. S. Tomkins, of Granby, followed Mr. Hewton with a paper on "The best means of Improving the Efficiency of our Elementary Schools." He also took occasion to point out the deficiencies in the management, pecuniary support and inspection of these schools, not so much evidently with the desire of finding fault as to suggest a remedy. The paper was well received and will, no doubt, be placed at our disposal for publication.
Mr. John Whyte, of Megantic, followed Mr. Tomkins on the same subject in a very pleasant address, in which he classified the people against whom the School Commissioners had generally to contend in the country districts. These, he said, included (1) those who did not believe in school education, (2) the property owners who had no children to send to school, many of whom believed that paying money for school purposes was extortion, and (3) the absentee property holder who abhorred all taxes. In fighting against these three classes the zealous School Commissioner often officially comes to grief, being left out in the cold when the time of election comes round. Then the dual character of our school system is another defect which, like the other, seems to be insurmountable. Two schools in one district where one was often more than enough, not unfrequently resulted in neither of them being good for much. Mr. Whyte also entered a plea in favour of a limited course of training in our Normal School for our elementary teachers. He thought that the arranging for a three months' course in the Normal School would do a great deal towards improving our schools. Teachers, he said, generally know enough, but do not know how to impart their knowledge to others in a right way.
Sir William Dawson, having been invited to address the Convention at the close of Mr. Whyte's excellent and practical remarks, referred in fitting terms to the progress education was evidently making in the Province of Quebec.
The Rev. Mr. Taylor, Inspector of schools, in following up the discussion of the questions touched upon by Messrs. Tomkins
and Whyte, traced many of the defects of our elementary schools to one of the primary causes which has been pointed out again and again. Increased grants, as he said, are an urgent necessity. As these grants are at present, the people often care little whether they secure them or not. If the Government will only increase the subsidy as to make it an object to work for a larger grant, then School Commissioners will not be slow to carry out the law in every detail. In connection with this discussion, Mr. N. T. Truell, of St. John, thought that centralization of district schools would be advantageous, as it has been found in Vermont.
During the session on Thursday evening the time was devoted to the reading of the President's Address, and a paper on "Form," by Dr. Robins. As both of these papers are likely to be placed before our readers in unabridged form, it is only necessary to recommend them to the attention of all who desire. to learn, in the first place, what a true education means, and in the second how far the much applauded natural method of imparting instruction differs, or does not differ, from the method of the centuries of which Euclid is held as an exponent.
Among others who took part in the proceedings of the evening were Mr. Jesse Davis, of East Farnham, who sang very effectively a favourite hymn in a voice of much sweetness and compass, and Miss Simpkin and Prof. Stevens, each of whom gave a highly appreciated reading.
On Friday morning the programme included the inception of the process for electing officers, a list of whom is given elsewhere, the discussion of Dr. Robins' paper, and "Hints on Teaching French," by the Rev. T. Z. LeFebvre, B.C.L., of Quebec. Mr. LeFebvre seems to have invented a comprehensive method, first, for the giving of a true and stable pronunciation; second for promoting a fluency of reading and translation, and third, for producing a quicker comprehension of spoken French; and, as this method is no mere theory, but one that has been carefully tested and has produced the most gratifying results, the teachers seemed to take the deepest interest in Mr. LeFebvre's explanations.
In the afternoon, while the elections were being proceeded with, Dr. T. Wesley Mills, of McGill University, read a highly practical and interesting paper on the "Teaching of Physiology and Hygiene" in our schools. In the opinion of Professor Mills, physiology was being taught in the schools to pupils whose minds could not grasp the idea, and frequently the subject was taught by teachers who did not know as much as
they might about it themselves. One of the hardest attempts, and one that had proved a total failure in England, in the history of education, was the attempt to introduce physiology into the schools. The "Pathfinder" series of text books on physiology and hygiene, came in for strong condemnation from the professor, who characterized them as being practically useless. Many instances were given, which, the speaker contended, would give the child false ideas. The first and second books he called false physiology and said if hygiene were to be taught in this fashion the effects on the systems of other things besides alcohol and tobacco should be shown. If such subjects were to be taught in the schools at all, they should be taught morally and not scientifically. An interesting discussion followed, in which the president, Principal Masten, Mr. Alexander, and several others took part. The subject was closed by Dr. Mills, in these words: "Advance the moral character as far as you can by all the means in your power, but don't call it physiology or hygiene."
This was followed by a paper on physical education by Mr. W. S. Kneeland, B.C.L., of Montreal. The paper was an exceedingly interesting one, being illustrated by the drill of one of Mr. Kneeland's own classes, boys and girls in partial uniform, who went though their exercises with ease and well trained agility. The discussion which followed was taken part in by Miss Barnjum and Mr. Macaulay, their remarks adding very much to the interest of the proceedings.
The manner in which Miss Matilda Higginson brought the subject of "Elementary School-work" before the Convention has been very highly spoken of, bringing to an end the afternoon's session so pleasantly and profitably spent by every teacher present.
The conversazione in the evening was largely attended, the social part of the programme being preceded by three addresses, a well rendered song by Miss Wilkinson of Quebec, and an admirably executed recitation by Messrs. Warner and Gregor. Mayor McShane was the first speaker. In the name of the citizens of Montreal he bade the delegates welcome, and hoped that their labours here would be productive of good. It had been suggested that the Dominion Association should meet in this city, the commercial metropolis, next year. He could only say that if he were mayor at that time, he would give them as hearty a welcome as he did now, and would do all in his power to make their visit a pleasant one. At the close of Mr. McShane's address it was unanimously resolved that the
Association extend an invitation to the newly organized Dominion Association of Teachers, to hold their first meeting in Montreal during the summer months of 1892.
The second speaker was the Hon. Judge Lynch, and as his utterances have been referred to at length elsewhere, it is but fair that his address should be given in full, as it was reported in the Montreal Daily Witness. This is given elsewhere.
At the end of Judge Lynch's address, Professor Crocket, of Morrin college, was introduced to the Convention. Laying down as a first principle that our schools have to deal more with the immediate mental, physical, and moral improvement of the pupil than with the guiding of a pupil towards a certain business destiny in after life, he proceeded to give a clear and succinct description of the New Brunswick system, over which he had presided for so many years. The manner of distributing grants, the system of inspection and the provisions for the training of teachers, were not only explained but defended, and there is no doubt that his remarks on the latter subject will have some effect in awaking the Province of Quebec to the necessity of making provision for the supplying of all our schools with trained teachers.
At the close of the programme, refreshments were provided, and a pleasant hour spent in the renewing of friendships among the teachers and the promoting of new ones.
The withdrawal of Mr. Alexander's paper on "School Libraries,' from the programme, at that gentleman's special request, provided the Convention with time to turn to the discussion of the Pension Act. The issue of the discussion was the election of two new commissioners in the person of Messrs. Arthy and Masten. The further omission from the programme of the papers to be read by Mr. Parmelee and Dr. Harper, enabled the Convention to turn to the discussion of the printed report of the Committee on the Distribution of Grants, in behalf of superior education, the issue of which discussion is to be found in the following amended recommendation. This discussion virtually brought the Convention to a close.
The first section of recommendation provided that a sum not exceeding one-third of the total amount distributed by the Protestant Committee should be divided between McGill and Bishop's College Universities, in the same proportion as at present. This was adopted without discussion.
The second section regulated the grants to affiliated colleges. It provided that when they did not compete with the academies they should have a grant of $400 each and a bonus for every