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cadence for years.
Good schools are a means and a result of general improvement in a town.
The State must aid the needy towns, financially, in the employment of well-qualified teachers and skilled superintendents of schools. This is done most justly and generously in Massachusetts, and as a result there has been great improvement in the schools.
THE ADVANTAGES OF THE RURAL SCHOOL.
PRINCIPAL W. A. BEEBE, MORRISVILLE, VT.
A consideration of the advantages of any line of activity necessitates a comparison of it with some other system more or less closely related in purpose or nature.
So, in discussing the topic before us, we must ask with what is the comparison to be made. In answer to our question there rise, in vision before us, the modern city school building with its admirable equipment and the simple rural school house whither, for a few months in the year, the youth from the country round will wend their way, there to read, to cipher, and to spell. Surely, we are prone to say, there is no way in which this mere out-post of study can surpass in effectiveness that arsenal of learning which adorns the city street. But experience bids us, be not hasty in judgment; not all the gold, with which Mother Earth has stored her pockets, glitters to the eye of inattentive man.
"Life does not consist in the abundance of things which we possess," and
"It is not always to those of the greatest show,
To whom for a favor 'tis best to go.” Possibly among these unpromising surroundings, opportunities may be found which the artificial conditions of the city cannot equal. It is not our purpose to detract from the rightful appreciation of the city school nor shall we attempt to suggest the ultimate solution of the rural school problem, but we wish simply to point out some of the reasons why those of us who are struggling with the difficulties, which the country school presents, may take courage and, with new resolve, determine to make the weeks spent in the meager country school house a means for the development of a noble manhood and womanhood in the rural population of the rising generation.
The country school has a noble heritage. There must be some reason for this success in the past and, if conditions are now similar, we may still hope for like results. In any undertaking, one of the most potent factors of success is an advantage of position. The position of the rural school is such that Nature co-operates with teacher to develop the best qualities of youthful life. The city child must ever study Nature at great disadvantage. Books will prove a help, • thoughtful teachers can supplement these in part, school gardens may arouse admiration, even awaken love for the leaf-clad children of the soil; but one must live in the country; must' feel the dews of evening and watch "the stars, their silent vigils keeping ;" must listen to the song of the lark as, “from his watch tower in the sky, he heralds the return of day," and on the leaves nodding in their noonday nap, if he would hold communion with Nature in her visible forms.” In youth, the powers of observation and imagination are most active. The children of the country are in touch with Nature at every point. Their earliest and most valuable lessons may be received at first hand. Guided by thoughtful questions they will gladly learn;
“Of the wild bees' morning chase,
And the wood-grapes' clusters shine." The power to compare, to generalize, and to draw rightful conclusions will follow as a natural consequence and when the boys and girls go forth to battle with the difficulties of life they will have stouter hearts since they were tempered in the furnace of resistance.
Habits of industry are best formed in the country. The city has its busy stir, its din of motion, but it is in larger measure meaningless. We can trace but a small portion of any activity and can but feebly guess its purpose. How different is the work of the country! From the sowing of the seed to the storing of the garner, every step can be clearly traced and the object of each process understood. The reward of diligence is made evident upon every hand.
The varied work of the country teaches the youth to early assume and bear responsibility. Each member of the family has his allotted tasks for which he is held accountable. This feeling of personal responsibility the child brings to his school work and through its influence will tend to be independent in work and diligent in fulfilling all requirements. As teachers, we
should foster this feeling for it is this, we believe, that makes the country trained youth so desirable in all great undertakings.
The rural school cannot hope to excell in equipment or in method of work. It may be deficient in many ways of training the intellect, but, for arousing the sensibilities and for developing the will, it has natural advantages which it should utilize to the utmost. Long ago it was said, and the years have proved the truthfulness of the saying, that:
"When all is done and said,
The heart outweighs the head." President G. Stanley Hall in an address before the Vermont State Teachers' Association, urged the teachers, on behalf of the colleges, to send them fewer “swelled heads” and more "great hearts.” This is the need of life as well as of the college and in this, we think, the country schools have an unquestioned advantage.
SANITATION AND MORALS IN OUR
B. E. MERRIAM, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS,
BELLOWS FALLS, VT.
At the present time when so much is being said in regard to the Rural Schools, especially those in New England, it is well that we consider une of the most important of the phases of Country School Life, i.e, Sanitation and Morals.
1. Location. In the days of our fathers, and mothers little thought was given to the location of the school house so that we find many of the older ones in places which the educators of the present day would condemn. Yet even though we find an occasional one in a damp and shady place, much can be done to improve the location.
It is useless to say that everything depends upon the teacher; it always does and the location of the school house, while it cannot be changed, may be greatly improved. I shall have in mind the teacher who is to remain two or three years in a school.
Low places should be filled up, stones should be removed, all rubbish in or about the building should be removed and burned. If there is a broken stone wall near, that should be made over. If the building is in a damp place, the doors and windows should be kept open as much as possible in good weather. There should not be a mud-puddle in front of the door. A good walk should be provided. I realize that it will require a little time for the teacher to accomplish this, but she will find her first help in her older boys and girls and through them in the fathers and mothers.
The ideal location is on sloping ground with plenty of light and not shaded too much. There should be plenty of good play room. There should be trees planted each year but none very near the building. In the fall term, at the opening of the year, the teacher should begin to plan for the spring. Flower beds should be made, shrubs planted and stones gathered for walks and borders of beds. Young trees and shrubs along the highway should be noticed so that as soon as possible in the spring trees may be planted.