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A GRADED SCHOOL is a school in which the pupils are divided into classes according to their attainments, and in which all the pupils of each class attend to the same branches of study at the same time.*
Number and Division of Grades. In all cities and large towns, there are numerous transfers from one public school to another. As pupils from different schools are thus brought together, it is often found that those who are equally advanced in one
* "All the pupils in any one class attend to precisely the same studies and use the same books. In each room there will be a first and a second class, and it is important that the identical pupils which constitute the first class in one branch should constitute the first class in every branch pursued by the class. By this arrangement, while one class is reciting, the other is preparing for recitation, and an alternating process is kept up through the day, affording the pupils ample time to study their lessons, and the teacher ample time to instruct each class. This is what is meant by a graded and classified school."—Ira Divoll, Superintendent of Schools, St. Louis.
"The due classification and grading of the schools is but the application to the educational cause of the same division of labor that prevails in all well-regulated business establishments, whether mechanical, commercial, or otherwise. It is not only the most economical, but without it there can be little progress or prosperity." —H. C. Hickok, late Superintendent of Public Instruction of Pennsylvania.
branch of study are very unequally advanced in other branches. This creates constant confusion and inconvenience in the classification. Hence the importance of some uniform system of gradation in all the schools of a city or town.
It is obviously unreasonable to expect one school to make the same progress, in all cases, as another more favorably situated; but it is not impracticable so to arrange the course of study, that there may be certain stand-points in it, at which the pupils shall be required to reach a given standard of attainment in all the parallel branches, and from which no one shall be allowed to advance in one branch before all the other branches are brought up to the same standard. At these particular points, it is plain that the pupils will be together in all the branches in all the schools; and if these points are made sufficiently numerous in the course, a pupil may pass from one school to any other in the city or town, at any time, and he will find some class equally advanced with himself in all the studies.
In classifying the pupils of cities and large towns, it has been found convenient to divide all that belong to the Grammar and Primary Schools into ten grades-four Grammar Grades and six Primary. In smaller towns a less number of grades will be found more convenient.
In order to give efficiency and value to a graded course of study, it is important that the divisions between the successive grades should be plainly and sharply defined. Special cases may sometimes occur, in which it will be necessary for a time to relax
the stringency of this rule; but these cases should be made as few and brief as possible.*
In the course herewith presented, the number of pages or chapters belonging appropriately to each grade, can not be given with exactness, since the text-books adopted in different cities and towns do not always correspond, either in the number of volumes or in the extent to which the subjects are carried. The divisions of the several branches in the present course, are made as definite as the circumstances will allow. They are the result of systematic experiments extending over a period of several years, together with a careful study of the classification adopted in a large number of cities and towns.
No pupil should be advanced from one grade to another, till he has first sustained a thorough and satisfactory test-examination on all the branches of the grade from which he is to be transferred. These examinations by the Superintendent or Principal, at frequent and regular periods, comparing the attainments of each grade with a fixed and known standard, will try every teacher's work, and award to the most deserving the credit which justly belongs to them.
General Directions accompanying the Graded
"Other things being equal, the closer the classification the better the school system."-H. F. Cowdery, Superintendent of Schools, Sandusky, Ohio.
"The advantages of the union school arise chiefly from the grading. The more perfect, therefore, the grading, the more certain and marked will be the success of these schools."-J. M. Gregory, State Superintendent of Schools, Michigan.
Course. Of the large body of teachers engaged in public schools, many of whom are inexperienced, and all of whom are controlled, in a greater or less degree, by habits formed under a variety of different influences, it is not to be expected that all will reach the same standard of excellence, nor is it desirable that all should attempt to reach this standard in precisely the same way. The individuality of each teacher must be preserved, and his originality and invention should be constantly tasked. There are, however, certain principles which belong to every good system of instruction, and the teacher who claims the privilege of rejecting these because he thinks he can teach better in some other way, is an unworthy member of the profession.
Public-school teachers are as faithful and progressive as any class of persons in the community, and yet cases will constantly occur in every city and town, in which suggestions repeatedly given by School Directors and Superintendents, are repeatedly forgotten. The power of habit is strong, and will, in many cases, reassert its claims even against the best intentions to resist it; and there are always some whose sympathies are not fully enlisted in their work, and who need to be admonished by a uniform standard of duty, kept always before them.
In preparing these directions and observations, the mere correction of errors has not been my highest object. I would fain hope that they may be the means of aiding all classes of teachers in their efforts to introduce improvements and advance the standard of excellence in their modes of instruction. I
have taken special care to give no directions that will check the enterprise of progressive teachers, and I believe that no one will be found to act against any thing except positive errors and inferior methods of instruction.
On the various and somewhat numerous points to which these suggestions relate, they are offered as a substitute for a constant visit from Superintendents and School Directors.
Practicalness in Teaching-Oral Instruction.The regular course of school studies, in most cities and towns, is already sufficiently extended, and yet it is notorious that pupils leave the public schools lamentably deficient on a great variety of subjects connected with a sound practical education.
It is found impracticable to introduce the study of physiology in the Grammar Divisions, with an additional text-book and a course of daily recitations; and so most of the pupils complete their course without any knowledge of the important functions of the lungs and. heart, and the general laws of health. We can not add the study of mineralogy and geology to the course; and pupils go out from the schools without any satisfactory knowledge of the materials employed in constructing the flagstones on which they walk. We can not introduce natural philosophy; and most pupils leave without any definite knowledge of the principle involved in rowing a boat, or even in floating it. We can not. add chemistry; and pupils leave without being able to explain the rising of a loaf of bread, or the burning of a common fire.