“Our Local Schools,” from the June 16, 1916 issue of The Monroe Journal.
Read before Wednesday Study Club April 26th, and published by request.
The mothers and fathers of Monroe should take more interest in our schools. If the parents were more interested, the children would be also. Surely they should visit the schools often and show their interest. Where our children spend 6 hours every day, 30 hours every week, 184 hours every month and 1,620 hours ever school year, there we should be interested—in the buildings, the grounds, the teachers, the superintendent and the school board—and none should be satisfied until the very best results possible have been attained.
Those who visited the school building during the county commencement were obliged to have been impressed with the many good points about our schools, and realized that there are good, conscientious teachers and a wide-awake superintendent in our schools from the appearance of the neatly kept rooms and the splendid exhibits. Especially was the grammar school building clean and well lighted, but entirely too crowded and seemingly ill arranged. The high School building is abominable for school purposes. An up-to-date building would appeal to our young boys and girls.
One very noticeable thing about our schools this year is that all—teachers, pupils, parents and superintendent—are striving to work in harmony, which is a wise move. It was too bad that there should have been so much confusion and so much talk—“telling tales out of school”—for a year or so and we should be happy that there has been a change.
Now the needs are legion. The board should be the back-bone of the school. It should be composed of our best informed, best educated, the deepest thinkers, and most progressive man the town affords, regardless of denomination. One of your own men, who lives in another town, in asking about our schools in Monroe—the church trying to run them.” Now it isn’t exactly the church, but the three leading denominations as the Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists call themselves here, and, there MUST be SO MANYT of the board of the three denominations, and so many of the teachers—and if the superintendent is Presbyterian one term the next one must be a Methodist or a Baptist. For example, the two superintendents preceding the present one were Presbyterians. They were both good Christian men and thoroughly acquainted with their work, the last one being very progressive. He meant well, but as Monroe isn’t, or wasn’t progressive, and he wasn’t a Baptist or a Methodist he was a misfit and a mistreated man. None stood by him except the Presbyterians, when he should have had the sympathy and co-operation of all.
Our present superintendent is wise and has brought About one great redeeming feature and that is keeping the troubles and trials to himself and the school this year is very successful, but when the time comes for a change the next superintendent must be a Baptist—unless all the members of the different denominations, in the meantime, wake up and realize that they are CHRISTIAN PEOPLE and that the one great thing in the sight of God is that all followers of Christ are Christians (the essential thing), and that all denominations must lay aside pride, prejudice, envy, jealousy and all those things, and all work together as becometh Christians, and that we must look to God, who is the AUTHOR and FINISHER of every GOOD THING, for guidance and direction if we wish success. Not only is this the trouble with our schools, but with Monroe. It is all right for the Christian people of Monroe to work for the betterment of the town and the proper way is for Christians to work together and have mass meetings in the court house during the week and have the ministers make lectures and addresses. It is because we are Christians that we want to have a clean town and work for the uplift of this generation and generations to come. Monroe will never get together any other way.
But back to our schools.
After electing the best board possible it is its duty to look about and take pattern from the best school boards the state affords and follow their rules and regulations and take an interest in the superintendent, the teachers and all the school children, and then after the superintendent is elected, he should have a voice in electing or recommending the teachers, for surely he knows who are competent much more than the board.
There should be weekly teachers meetings and the superintendent should know just what each teacher’s work for each week has been.
All teachers in city schools should be experienced teachers and they should get their experience in training schools or in country schools. In the country, children are not usually so hard to control and there are not so many attractions and distractions for either teachers or pupils.
The teachers should not only know the subjects which they are to teach, but should know how to study the nature and disposition of children. They must teach children how to study. When a child once knows how the hardest work has been done for both teacher and pupil. The teacher must not do all the talking—in fact, she should do only the very least, but make the pupils do the explaining and reciting, and she must not try to each all she knows the first year. The teachers must learn the gospel of the second mile, that is, if need be, do extra work after school hours.
In the schools today more attention should be given to the “three Rs”, Reading Riting and Rithmetic. Have you noticed how many poor readers there are today among the children? It is distressing.
As to writing—from appearances one wouldn’t think it taught at all. The board should decide upon what kind of penmanship is to be taught, and then see to it, that it and none other is ever taught in the school.
Arithmetic. When a child reaches fractions, then he should have a male teacher. Very very few women can teach arithmetic. Why? To be sure they can solve problems and understand mathematics as well, perhaps, as the men, but they cannot teach it—because a woman never reasons very much—her mind is soon made up without much reasoning, and in teaching mathematics to a child it must be taught to reason form the beginning. Therefore a man should be employed to teach mathematics from the fourth grade to the eleventh. All the Latin should be taught also by a male teacher.
Then, two very important teachers should be added to our schools—music and art. Our country has never produced musicians and artists as other countries, as we have been studying. All the schools all over our land should begin at once the training of the children in there two important things. Music taught correctly from the first grade and all the children taught how to sing correctly and all good music taught would soon bring a great change in our nation. The two channels by which our minds are trained are the eye and the ear, and it stands to reason that both of these should be trained—and so they could—the ear by music and the eye by drawing. In drawing the child is taught to be a close observer, the straight and curved lines, the lights and shadows, and later, coloring, all train the child’s eye as nothing else can. It teaches children to be close observers in all things, especially in nature, and can anything be found to rival nature?
If drawing teaches our children to see correctly the straight lines, the curves, the lights and shades, and to be close observers, wouldn’t they soon know the best in everything? And the ear trained by pure musical tones their understanding would be more perfect and they would soon only like to listen to the beautiful and good and then their minds would be filled with grander and nobler thoughts, and not many years hence America would be producing great musicians and great artists.