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REPORT OF THE SECRETARY.
The summary included in the report of the State Board of Education, and the State tables immediately following, give a comprehensive view of the condition of the public schools during the last school year, ending July 31, 1899. The statistical reports of the Board of Commissioners of Public Schools of Baltimore City, and of the School Commissioners of the several counties of the State, present, in minute detail, the facts concerning the schools, and show the receipts and disbursements for their support.
A copy of the usual circular requesting supplementary reports, dated November 23, 1899, was inailed to each County Examiner in the State.
The following are the supplementary reports that have been received to January 1, 1900:
ALLEGANY COUNTY.—John E. Edwards, Examiner.
During the past year we erected and furnished twelve schoolhouses, two six-room brick and the balance one and two-room frame buildings. Four more are in course of construction, one four-room brick, one three-room frame and two two-room frame. The greater number of these replace old buildings.
The course of study in our County High School has been strengthened and advanced, and now includes full college preparatory work. Especial attention will be given to the study of English Classics. There are three departments—Ancient Languages and English, Modern Languages, Sciences and Mathematics. The enrollment is 8o.
The Teachers' Institute, January 1-6, 1899, was a success, and was well attended, very few of our teachers being absent, and these chiefly on account of sickness,
CHARLES County.— Thomas M. Carpenter, Examiner.
In reply to your letter of the 23rd, I would respectfully state that I can add but little to the information given in the tabulated report. The schools for white and colored children were opened for nine months of the school year. The enrollment of pupils shows an increase of about five per cent. over that of last year, although the average attendance is somewhat smaller, which is
doubtless due to the severe blizzard of February last, which prevented a greater mass of the children from attending the schools for more than a month.
Sixteen schools are now supplied with libraries of from twentyfive to one hundred volumes, consisting of books of reference, biography, history and fiction. The influence of these libraries is apparent in every school where the pupils possess this advantage, as is shown in the greater general knowledge of the pupils and the judgment displayed in their work in the schoolroom. The library is very helpful to the teacher, but, unfortunately, it has never received that aid and encouragement which it so justly merits. The various school districts seem not to appreciate its worth; the School Board is unable to foster it alone, and, indeed, frequently dare not comply with the law without encroaching upon the funds which are absolutely necessary to keep open the schools for nine months of the year.
The County Teachers' Institute, which was held in the Town Hall at La Plata, was attended by all teachers in the county, and its beneficial effect has been most strikingly illustrated in the school-room, where the many valuable hints on the profession of teaching, from the Institute Conductor and other distinguished educators, was thoughtfully impressed on the minds of the teachers, and its practical effects are clearly apparent in the rapid progression of the schools.
The vaccination law has been rigidly enforced, and 110 child is now enrolled who has not presented a certificate of vaccination. Whilst this has had the effect of keeping a number of children out of the schools, we deemed it expedient to conform strictly to this provision of the sanitary law.
In conclusion, I will say that, whilst we have many difficulties to overcome, our schools, in the main, are doing fairly well; our teachers are earnest and enthusiastic workers, patiently waiting when the legislators of our State will increase the appropriation in order that they may receive a just compensation for their services, or a compensation that will accord with the dignity of their profession.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY.- W. B. Burdette, Examiner.
I herewith submit the Annual Report of the Public Schools of Montgomery County for the year ending July 31st, 1899.
The schools were kept open from September 15th to June 15th, giving the teachers an increase in salary over the previous year. We regret to say that the average attendance and the enrollment of the pupils for the past year was less than last. This is due largely to the severe winter and the presence of contagious diseases in various parts of the county.
The school property is only in fair condition. Many of the houses are in need of repair and others to be replaced with new ones. A small number of the schoolrooms are without sufficient blackboards, charts and other helps that the teacher needs. These things are gradually being supplied. Four new houses were built and two were enlarged during the past year.
TALBOT COUNTY.-Alexander Chaplain, Examiner. The statistical part of our report of the Public Schools of Talbot County for the year ending July 31st, 1899, exhibits an increased enrollment in both the white and colored schools. This is gratifying, though in a few districts the schools are overcrowded. Additional accommodations in new buildings and enlarged school houses at the beginning of the scholastic year, still leaves, however, two or three points without sufficient room for the steadily increasing school population. At these points the enrollment of pupils is too large for one teacher to handle with any degree of efficiency, and suggests graded schools with additional rooms and additional teachers.
As a body our teachers worked during the year with uniform industry, zeal and efficiency, and they fairly earned the grateful thanks of school officials, patrons and pupils. The sympathetic and responsive spirit of the teachers made the work and instruction at the meetings of the Teachers' Association and Teachers' Institute both effective and enjoyable.
High SCHOOLS AND GRADED SCHOOLS. There is a growing sentiment among progressive school men that the public schools of the United States ought to be distinct. ively American. And aniong our educators there are now two high school parties: The one advocating the contrivance of, a purely American system of free development; the other contending for a complete co-ordination of the high school and the college. Members of the party of free development claim that the best equipment for life is the legitimate aim of the high school, and that preparation for college should be confined to a separate and, if possible in large cities or towns, distinct department. Many large cities and towns have compromised between the two high school parties and have given pupils the choice between two or more courses. In these large cities and towns the party of co-ordination with the college has, of course, ceased to claim the high schools as properly belonging to the class of schools called in America preparatory schools, where they would exclude, except as incidental subjects, the branches of study not traditionally required, or likely to be required as a basis for college work.
Popularly, we think only of a literary training in the public schools. But logically, pupils are entitled to musical, artistic and manual and industrial education. They are entitled to be trained from the very beginning for life's work and life's joys.
The older view of education is exclusively intellectual, or as consisting merely in the increase of knowledge, for the indi. vidual. But the growing tendency, along the line of the American idea of free development for the high school and the large graded schools, is to substitute society for the individual as the educational unit. The social estimate of education is based upon the contribution which it makes to the social efficiency of the individual, the additional value which it gives him as a member and servant of the social body. To society it does not matter what the individual knows, but only what the individual does and what the individual is. The courses in the high school and the large graded schools, according to the view of the party of free development, should infuse into the public school a practical element, effecting closer connection between it and life.
Because for the majority of the people, especially for the people without property, the public school is so little a preparation for life and action, are so many of the parents without any. thing more than a passive interest in it.
The step taken by the University of West Virginia not only of accepting all graduates of good high schools, but also of conferring the highest degree without any knowledge of either Greek or Latin, meets with the highest approval, we trust, of all advanced and advancing educators. The advocates of free development for the American high school confidently look forward to a time when all the colleges will accept all graduates of good high schools.
THE KINDERGARTEN. As economic conditions press more and more heavily upon us, it is sad but true that pupils drop out of school earlier. Statistics show that pupils remain in school but very few years, few of them more than five or six years. Half of them drop out of school on reaching the age of eleven, a third of them on reaching the age of ten.
To meet the present condition with reference to the growing tendency to drop out of school in the fifth year grade and the sixth year grade, it will be necessary for the State to reach down lower, as to age for pupils, and to organically unite the kindergarten to the public school system, and to make manual training and self-activity the center of education around which all other school exercises shall be systematically grouped.
Kindergarten methods are the grandest revelation for all teachers who are not blinded by presumptuous ignorance, to see what had hitherto been revealed only to the few whose free minds had swept beyond the range of fettered thought. They are the “open door to the introduction of the pupil from school to life and action; and it is with pleasurable pride that we announce the purpose of our School Board to introduce, if not estopped by present legislative enactment, at least kindergarten methods into the schools of our county, both white and colored, For our colored schools this is more important, if possible, than for our white schools, and for them we would particularly emphasize the “open door” to life and action through manual and industrial instruction.
COLORED SCHOOLS. We have been active in building large and properly equipped school houses for colored children, and school facilities for them now fairly meet their needs, except at one or two points. Their teachers are gradually improving both in scholarship and teaching ability, and the frequent meetings of their Teachers' Assocition gives us opportunities for developing the training class work begun in the Normal Institute, which was held for five days just preceding the opening of their schools for the present scholastic year on the rith day of September.
The Teachers' Institute for Colored Teachers was conducted upon the plan of the “Summer School,” with teachers' training classes, emphasizing the work of instruction in how to teach reading and other branches of study. The lecture plan was discarded, except one lecture given by me each day in the general session. Indeed, my inclination is towards the belief that the lecture plan, unless the teachers are provided with thoughtfully prepared syllabi that are pedagogically and psychologically sound in matter and arrangement, is the worst possible plan of teaching anybody, and must prove a fruitless means of educational improvement for our teachers and the unification of the schools of the State in matters of method and management.
CONCLUSION. Dr. Harris says: “Careful students of the history of education have noticed the fact that its reforms swing from extreme to extreme.” There was a time when our schools were conducted somewhat upon the so-called “Pueblo Plan,” which has been described by its advocates, in the discussion of individual instruction, as having the pupil “work as an individual, promoted as an individual and graduated as an individual." The element of recitation was almost entirely unknown, except as an occasional perfunctory and mechanical performance. Now the pendulum has swung to the other extreme and many of our schools have degenerated into recitation rooms and the teacher to a machine for hearing recitations.
Instead of teaching, study and current investigation, it is one weary round of recitation from morning to evening. The pupil must study at home, and what teaching is done is performed by the parent.