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expression. The artist is the man who does the common thing in an uncommon way because of the delight that comes to his soul from the labor of doing well and for the happiness of others the thing that he has to do. It will be well for us when there is more of such art in the homes of our land. Its results are beautiful, whether in the painted picture, or in the stately edifice, or in the humble garden of the poor. Intelligent effort directed to the beautifying of the common things and of the common toil may do for our race what all the sharpness and shrewdness of the mental gymnasium could not do, in making an education mean contentment and happiness rather than a mere striving for the top.
To live intelligently and usefully is an art. To live intelligently, usefully, happily, and hopefully is the supreme art. When we discover that in learning this art all lovely things are also necessary, we shall gather from our school garden its finest fruits. We shall with greater wisdom bring into our school life less of the formal and purely disciplinary, and more of the training that tends to a higher culture, more generous thoughts, and to a finer realization of our noblest aspirations.
SUBJECTS, ARTS AND COURSES FOR
CELESTE E. BUSH, NIANTIC, CONN.
Of the subjects that specially concern the profession of teaching, two,—courses of study and school economy,-bear upon my topic, and we shall gain a clear
field sooner by discussing the second before the first. How is the "common," or "ungraded," or "rural," or "district" school differentiated from that of the city? As a "district” it probably has narrow interests, and a slender support; as “rural” it has probably suffered from the social and industrial conditions that have borne so heavily on agricultural communities within the past fifty years; "ungraded” usually means taught under a poor system and by cheap and inefficient teachers.
But these poorly-supported, isolated, inefficient schools are, beyond others, the reliance of the nation since no people was ever strong without a strong, intelligent rural population.
The rural town, with its scanty means and sparse population, can never give its children schools equal to those of rich and populous towns; nor should it be expected to do so, since the State is the responsible unit in education and the State should therefore see to it that all its towns maintain good schools.
Given such aid and supervision by the State as will secure equal educational rights in all the towns, how shail we plan courses of study suited to rural schools ?
The value of an education, or of a life, lies in the worth of the ideas formed and the force and accuracy with which those ideas are expressed. The ideas that are of most worth come from the common things of life,-food, clothing, shelter for the body; human companionship, ordered freedom, and wholesome pleasure for the mind. Courses of study should be based on these ideas and expression for them found in the practise, of fine or useful arts under the direction of competent teachers.
For the equipment of a system of schools there is needed, besides the existing plant of school children, funds, houses, and officials, first, a body of educators; second, libraries; third, laboratories.
The educators should consist of supervisors, licensed teachers, and pupil teachers in training. For the training of supervisors there ought to be post-graduate courses at the universities parallel, with those in law, medicine, and theology. Normal schools already provide for the training of teachers, but each pupil teacher ought to have a probationary course before receiving a license to teach. Libraries hold for us the world's store of knowledge and experience and a library, well chosen if not large, is indispensible to a good school. A laboratory is anything that offers an opportunity to work out or show out our ideas: it may be no more than a square yard of garden, or a bench of tools or collection of food or textile materials. A rural school may not be able to coilect so large a library as its city sister, but its laboratory can be better, for the whole environment is a laboratory.
Given a body of competent and well-organized educators, properly housed and equipped with libraries and laboratories and there is no difficulty in grading rural schools effectively from kindergarten through a high school course and in shaping their courses of study along the lines of ideas of the most worth. The good old “three R’s” are not so much subject matter as tools of education which any normal child of ten should be able to use with facility. So many and so valuable are the subjects that can be concentrated within the limits of geography that a pretty complete education might be given through this course alone. History should begin in the kindergarten with Bible stories, myths, and folk tales and only end with the high school, concentrating literature, civics, and oral reading. Arithmetic, weeded of useless matter, offers opportunities for simple surveying, land and other measurements, common book-keeping and accounts, and the simpler problems of algebra and geometry. No more than a year is needed for English grammar if it is not begun too early, and that study may carry rhetoric and the rudiments of Latin. The school life itself should be a constant object lesson in civics. These simplified courses of study leave time and strength for learning and practising the useful arts, sewing, cooking, use of tools and many another which many pupils must learn in school if at all.
If it is true that there is no self-government by an ignorant people; and that a strong, intelligent rural population is the dependence of every nation: then to the teachers of the "common" schools, beyond any other class of persons, is entrusted the defence of this Republic.
IMPROVEMENT OF SCHOOL EDUCATION
IN RURAL COMMUNITIES.
G. T. FLETCHER, STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, NORTH
The country town has been and must continue to be an important influence in national life. Seventy-five years ago New England towns were largely rural communities, the occupation of the people mainly agricultural, life simple and sturdy, the people intelligent, industrious, prosperous.
The district schools were generally under the management of intelligent school committees who employed the best teachers available. These schools furnished opportunities for securing a practical education and, with the influence of a home industry and frugality, worthy citizens were trained. In recent years there has been an exodus of the people from the country towns to the cities and manufacturing centers, causing a serious loss to rural communities in population and property valuation; the schools as a natural result suffering in number of pupils, interest, and efficiency, while the schools in the cities and larger towns were improving. Consolidation of schools by conveyance of pupils to convenient points has proved to be an advantage in many cases. But the plan is not always feasible in towns of large area, scattered population, poor roads, and severe winters. The country town must become more prosperous financially, before much improvement can be made in its schools. There are encouraging signs of better times in many rural communities. Improved methods of farming, the higher prices of products, the purchase of abandoned farms by men of wealth for investment and improvement, the coming of summer visitors, add to the valuation of the towns and to the income of the people. A more important influence in the growth of country towns is the coming of people to make homes for themselves and their children. When the number of children increase, good schools will be provided. The coming of new people to take the waste places will bring life into towns that have been in a state of de