Thursday, March 26, 2015
Education Part 4
This chapter is about the education that my mother and grandmother took part in at one point; The Normal Institute.
By an act passed by the General Assembly of the State of Iowa in 1873, the county superintendents were required to commence and each year hold a teachers' institute at some convenient point in each county, for the drill of those who were teachers or who intended to teach.
The design was to furnish teachers an opportunity to review and enlarge their knowledge of the branches to be taught, to acquaint themselves with improved methods of instruction, etc; also to awaken an increased desire for self-improvement in knowledge and skill and power to control others, and to give them more confidence and ability in managing the affairs of the public schools. For the purpose of defraying the expenses incident to such gatherings, the institute fund was created, to which the State pays $50 a year, the balance being made up by the $100 examination fees paid to the superintendent. While there is no law compelling teachers to attend these Normal Institutes, yet each applicant for teacher's certificate is required to give good and sufficient reason for not being in attendance.
These Normals have always been well attended and admirably conducted by superior instructors. It is owing to this fact, with others, that the grade of teachers in this county is what we find it today-high in point of excellence. The teachers go forth from their training school, and profiting by what they have learned from the experience of others, they are better fitted to do good service in their own school room.
In conclusion, it may be added that the schools of our country have wonderfully improved since our fathers and mothers were school children. While the old log cabin school room with its puncheon floor and rough slabs for seats, and the back log brightly burning in the fireplace, afforded much for the pen of the poet, we are only too glad to be educated in a milder manner. The easy school desks and seats, the light, warm and airy school house of today, are a decided improvement. The poet may sing of the vine and the brook, and our fathers may tell of the fearful flogging they had in the eastern and middle states; of the teacher "boarding around," and schools paid for by subscription, but give us the modern Iowa public school system, wherein boys and girls are managed by intellect and not by brute force, and where all may be educated by a public fund.