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Oct 4 1902


The Montreal Herald, Saturday, October 4, 1902

A New Era in Education

The announcement that Prof. Robertson, acting for Sir William MacDonald, has actually taken the initial steps for establishing experimental consolidated schools in the rural districts and for providing instruction in agriculture and nature study, is the best news that has come for many a day not only to educationalists of the province, but to all who take any interest in the welfare of the country at large.

During the past twenty-five years, while splendid strides were being made in equipment and instruction in the schools, in the centers of population throughout the country, education in the country districts has been practically at a standstill. What progress could be made under circumstances where one teacher has to impart instruction to a dozen or so pupils of all ages and degrees of intelligence, and where there is only the constituency which is represented by the handful of children to draw from the major portion of the teachers' salary?

Dr. Parmelee, in a recent report on the subject to the Protestant Committee of Public Instruction for the province, said:

"We have 235 Protestant schools, with an average attendance of less than 10 pupils. Evidently 100 teachers could teach these pupils could they be collected into convenient groups; 214 schools have an average attendance of more than ten and less than fifteen pupils; 100 teachers would be sufficient for them, a saving on the two groups of 252 teachers. No arrangement could ever be made in this province to effect the saving I have indicated, but the facts are a strong illustration of the necessity of amalgamating schools in the rural districts of this province."

The consolidation of groups of little one-teacher schools into one central one would not only bring the indisputable advantages of a graded school, but the money saved by doing away with a superfluity of underpaid and consequently, for the most part, inferior teachers, would not only pay for the transportation of the children to and from school in vans or otherwise, but it would go a long way toward betterment of equipment and increase of salaries for the teachers who are required. With the salaries paid to teachers at present throughout the rural districts of this province, and which cannot be much improved under the present system, the best class of men, generally speaking, are either unwilling to enter the profession at all, or else make it merely a stepping stone to something more remunerative. This is inevitable where the small one-teacher school predominates, and there is almost nothing ahead for an ambitious teacher to look forward to. But the establishment of central graded schools, not only makes possible higher salaries all round, but it provides the encouraging prospect of a principalship some day, with a comparatively comfortable salary attached to it.

New Lines Emphasized

Consolidation not only gives to the country child the ordinary educational advantages which the city child now enjoys, but it makes possible special instruction in the newer lines of learning, such as manual training, agriculture and nature study, which are destined to form an important feature of elementary education in the near future.

At all the great summer schools for teachers held in the United States during the past season, the lines of progress most strongly emphasized were consolidation of country schools, manual training, agriculture and nature study. It is realized by everybody, who gives thought to the matter, that the present course of study is not meeting the needs of the children. The lines of development in the rural schools must be both agricultural and mechanical. Out people must bring a trained brain and a trained hand to the daily labor. Education should be a means not of escaping labor but of making it more effective. The school should actively and sympathetically touch all the social economic interests of all people. And to do this its course of instruction must include manual training, nature study, and agriculture.

While the deepest gratitude is due to Sir William MacDonald for his beneficence in providing the means whereby these new ideas be put into operation, it is also a matter for congratulation that the local commissioners, were it is proposed that experiments be made, have been so ready to co-operate in giving it a trial.

The Farmer of the Future

It makes me envious when I think of the farmer of the future, and the near future at that. It has been the fashion in times past for denizens of cities to expatiate upon the joys of country life, but in our heart of hearts we have felt that these were more than negatived by the inconveniences, the isolation and the hardships which were involved.

With the adaptation of modern methods and science, however, these are being rapidly overcome; and what was once largely fancy is fast becoming fact.

The steel windmill is providing the farmer with his own waterworks system, so that instead of a cramped washtub in a back kitchen, with a dipperful out of the kettle to take off the chill, he can enjoy the luxury of a bathroom, with hot and cold water taps, while an inexpensive acetylene gas plant takes the place of the troublesome and dangerous coal-oil lamp.

The farm telephone, which, by putting the producer in direct communication with the purchaser, enables him to market his good to the best possible advantage, is a paying investment from the very outset, also alleviates the social isolation of his wife and daughter by affording them the means of a neighborly shat, or arranging for a friendly visit. When worked in conjunction with the system of rural mail delivery, which is now actually in operation in many parts of the United States, and must inevitably come into use in every well-established rural community, it makes a wonderful combination. If the farmer breaks a bolt in his machinery he can telephone to his hardware dealer and the rural mail carrier brings a duplicate of the broken part on his next trip, instead of half a day being lost on a special journey to town for it. His wife can order her groceries the same way, and the village shopkeeper can make use of the mail carrier as his "delivery boy," sending out the goods the same day that order is received. By the rural mail delivery the farmer can get his daily paper with the market reports every day, without going to the post-office for it, and keep as well posted on current news as the merchant in the large town. From the elaborately illustrated catalogues of the metropolitan merchants he can sit down and pick out a bill of goods by his own fireside, and send for it with a post-office money order issued by the carrier.

The consolidated school, with its arrangements for transportation of pupils, will bring to the country children the same educational advantages as fall to the lot of city youngsters.

The rural mail delivery will bring a regular supply of newspapers and periodicals, providing the means for increased intelligence; and improved machinery is making the farm work less burdensome each year and affording more leisure for improving the mind, which the counter attractions of city life so often interfere with.

A Canadian Cable Service

The following letter has been received from "A Newspaper Reader," criticizing the use of American dispatches to so large an extent in Canadian papers: "Dear Tatler - Even if your somewhat pessimistic view of the possibilities for Canadian periodicals is correct, and there is not the constituency in the Dominion to support a single national magazine, surely there are enough newspapers in the country to combine for a Canadian cable service, instead of allowing their columns to be flooded by American dispatches, tinted with the yellow of the republic. Yours, etc."


I have not the space or time to discuss in this week's issue the feasibility of an independent Canadian foreign news service, but I can only say that if my correspondent had ever seen the three-line cablegrams into which the Australian papers compress most important foreign news of the day, he might better appreciate the advantage we have in being able to avail ourselves of the splendid telegraphic services of the great American newspapers.


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The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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