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and kindling alternately as the weak wind lifted and let them fall." We might quote at greater length, but this will suffice to give an idea of a style over-bright perhaps with flowers. Such a picture, to use the expressive language of Milton, is
"A wilderness of sweets."
The study of Botany as a means of cultivating taste has a value not only in relation to rhetoric and poetry; it is accessory to the arts of painting, sculpture and architecture. It necessitates familiarity with graceful forms and beautiful colors. There is nothing in the choicest works of the old masters worthy of more careful study than the lines of beauty to be found in many of our humblest plants. We submit it as our unaffected conviction, that many of these delicate blossoms are worth as much at least as plaster casts and geometrical blocks in cultivating the eye and improving the taste. It may be a fault in the estimation of those who favor the rule and square that nature deals exclusively in curves rather than straight lines. Still it should not be forgotten that the Greeks (no mean authority in such matters), coincide with nature in this. It is said that in the Pantheon, their choicest specimen of architecture, there is scarcely a straight line, even the fluting of the columns and the steps of the portico being in curves. There is nothing more irregular than a forest, and yet it is the model of a gothic cathedral. It is evident that the artist and the architect will not be harmed, but rather benefited by observing the forms of trees, shrubs and herbage.
As with form, so with coloring and shading. "None of us appreciate as we ought," says a leading art-critic of the present day, "the nobleness and sacredness of color. Nothing is more common than to hear it spoken of as a subordinate beauty-nay, even as the mere source of sensual pleasure. But it is not so. It will be found where color becomes a primal intention with a painter otherwise mean and sensual, it instantly elevates him and becomes the one sacred and saving element of his work." If this is so, and we do not doubt that it is measurably true, well may we exclaim with Thomson:
"But who can paint
Like nature? Can imagination boast
Amid its gay creation's hues like hers?"
For beauty of color, as for beauty of form, we may justly "consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not neither do they spin, and yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
With regard to the moral and spiritual worth of such tastes and studies, it is enough to say that the appreciation of beauty about us in daily life and the appropriation of it in beautifying our homes brings perpetual benediction. If we can rise further to the conception of the thought so nobly expressed by Young, that
"The course of nature is the art of God," then
"The meanest floweret of the vale
The simplest note that swells the gale,
A PLAN TO HARMONIZE OUR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM.
By Principal JOHN W. ARMSTRONG, D.D., of the Fredonia Normal School.
The public school system of this State consists mainly of the common schools, high schools, academies, and normal schools. There are also colleges and universities supported, in part, by the State. These, with all other schools, supported more or less nearly by the State, either are or ought to be, to that extent, parts of the educational system of the State.
All are concerned in the prosperity and efficiency of the schools. The public instruction of the State affects every citizen. The present system has not worked harmoniously.
This paper is not written for the purpose of investigating how or why this friction originated, or how it is maintained; but only to propose a remedy.
In venturing to do this, it is assumed that the only way in which permanent good to the people can be accomplished, is to arrange and modify every part of the system so as to have every agency do its own work, in its own place; each contributing to the efficiency of every other and to that of the whole.
This is the proposed remedy:
FIRST.-CONCERNING THE NORMAL SCHOOLS.
1. The Normal Schools shall do all the training of teachers which is paid for by the State; but shall give no academic instruction.
2. The training shall include all the methods and practice required to graduate in all the present Normal Courses.
3. The time of training allowed for the Elementary English Course, shall be at least one year; for the Higher English and Classical Courses, half a year for each in addition to that allowed for the Elementary English Course.
4 Schools of Practice, of sufficient size, shall be maintained by the State, in connection with each Normal School. All the expenses of these schools shall be borne by the State.
5. The Normal School faculties shall be reduced to (for each school) a Principal, a Teacher of Elementary Methods, one of Higher English Methods, one of Methods in the Natural Sciences, and one of Methods in the Classical Studies. For a time, one of the other teachers might do the classical work. These four or five teachers, with six assistant critics for the Schools of Practice, will be force enough to do all the work required to graduate two classes each year, until the number of Normal pupils becomes much greater than it is now.
6. A complete syllabus of all the studies required to entitle a candidate to be received into the Normal classes shall be prepared by the Normal schools, under the direction of the State Superintendent, and shall be furnished to every school preparing candidates for the Normal classes, and to every person who may desire such a guide to his preparatory studies.
7. The Normal Schools shall judge of the sufficiency of the scholarship of every candidate in the subjects of the syllabus.
SECOND.-CONCERNING THE ACADEMIC PREPARATION OF CANDIDATES FOR THE NORMAL COURSES.
1. The Regents of the University of the State of New York, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, shall select and appoint such institutions as they may judge necessary to give the instruction needed to prepare pupils for entering the Normal courses.
2. A school commissioner's recommendation, passing the "Regents' Examination," and an appointment by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, shall entitle the candidate to enter the institution designated in the appointment; and the same appointment shall admit such candidate, when sufficiently prepared, to enter the Normal classes.
3. Each school so designated shall receive not to exceed fifty pupils as State appointees for Normal academic instruction.
4. Each pupil, before being admitted to the preparatory studies, shall give a pledge to teach in the public schools of the State of New York at least one year for each year of instruction and training received from the State.
5. The time granted by the State for preparation to enter the several training courses, shall not exceed, for the elementary English course, one year; for the higher English course, two years additional; for the Classical course, one year added to the higher English course.
6. The State shall pay to the schools designated, for giving preparatory instruction to those designing to enter the Normal classes, at the following rates:
For the elementary English studies, at the rate of forty dollars for a school year.
For the higher English and Classical studies, at the rate of sixty dollars for a school year.
7. Should the exigencies of the pupil so require, this course of instruction may be interrupted by teaching or other business, by permission of the principal of the school which the pupil attends.
8. The studies pursued by the State pupils, in the institutions designated, shall be exclusively those contained in the syllabus of preparatory studies, and in the order there designated; each course being kept distinct, except that the higher English and Classical studies may be pursued together.
9. The academic institutions whose separate organization and control, at the outset (in furtherance of the plans of the State in creating Normal Schools), were surrendered more or less fully to the Normal School Local Boards, shall be especially eligible to the work of preparing pupils for the Normal classes; and in them the number of State pupils shall not be limited to fifty, whether the connection of the institutions with the Normal Schools be maintained or not. In no case, however, shall a pupil, already educated by the State in an academic Normal department, be claimed as entitling the institution to a fresh allowance for tuition.
10. None of the above provisions are to be construed as affecting the powers and duties of school commissioners in any way; or as rendering any one ineligible to appointment in a Normal School, who has not prepared in a designated institution. All who are sufficiently prepared, no matter how, are eligible to appointment.
THIRD. GENERAL PROVISIONS.
1. Any pupil who may desire to abandon the course of study or training, or any Normal graduate who may desire to abandon the profession
of teaching before he has taught as long as the State requires, may be released from his obligation by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for sufficient reasons, and on reimbursing the State for the expense of his education and training, or such part of it as the Superintendent may judge to be equitable and right, after deducting for the time already spent in teaching.
2. Graduates of colleges, in the scientific or classical courses, or in any other course covering the preparatory studies of the several Normal courses, shall be admitted to the Normal Schools on the same conditions and terms as other students, except that they shall not be examined on any of the studies on which they have passed at college.
They will, however, be required to be prepared on all the studies of the Normal syllabus, whether contained in their college course or not.
FOURTH.-RIGHTS OF NORMAL GRADUATES.
1. All vacancies of teachers in the public schools of the State shall be filled, as far as possible, with Normal graduates.
2. All vacancies in the faculties of the institutions designated to give Normal academic instruction to State pupils shall be filled, as far as possible, with Normal-collegiate and Normal graduates.
3. All vacancies in the Normal School faculties shall be filled, as far as possible, with Normal-collegiate and Normal graduates.
FIFTH. THE ELEMENTS OF HARMONY IN THE PLAN.
1. Confining the work of educating to the academic institutions, and the work of training to the Normal Schools, will make rivalry, in any bad sense, impossible between the two classes of schools.
2. Paying the academies fair rates for the tuition of State pupils will give a new interest and vitality to these institutions, as well as greatly increase the inducements of pupils to become candidates for the profession of teaching. This will be further promoted by bringing these facilities to a hundred centres instead of to eight.
3. The same provision, by bringing a large increase of State pupils to the academic departments, more or less attached to the Normal School organizations themselves, or even entirely distinct from them, will enable the villages, which donated the Normal School buildings to the State, easily to revive and maintain their academies on a higher and surer basis than ever.
4. Providing employment in the public schools for the Normal graduates will, at once, greatly increase the number of candidates for the training schools, and soon fill them to overflowing, making the one cause secure the prosperity of both classes of schools.
5. The arrangement to provide professional training for the graduates of colleges, and to open to them far more fully than now the best positions in the State, will combine the interests of the colleges, in an important degree, with the whole educational system of the State.
6. The operations of all these provisions must, therefore, combine to greatly increase the number of well-prepared teachers; and thereby to speedily produce a marked improvement in the character of the public schools, while the general adoption of the Normal syllabus, and the wide range of distribution of these teachers in schools of all grades, must greatly tend to harmonize and unify the whole system.
1. The introduction of this plan would affect the internal operations of academies and high schools so little, that the change could be felt only in the direction of increased health and vigor.
2. The same is true of the common schools.
3. The Normal Schools would be greatly affected; but in a direction which would exactly define their work, and enable them to greatly improve it especially in the higher departments.
Rejecting all the classes but the training classes would greatly reduce their numbers at first; but after one year they would greatly increase, and soon begin to overflow. Instead of graduating twenty or thirty each year, they would soon graduate one hundred.
The Normal School changes could be made without any popular commotion; and, if one year of preparation be given, with a far less reduction of numbers.
4. It would advance the great problem of unity towards a solution. The temple of Janus would soon be opened, and the Two Faces of our educational system would be united to One Head.