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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Hampton Negro Conference. Number III. July 1899.
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more patient than the men. Is there not some way by which these people can be reached and helped by their more fortunate brothers and sisters?
Still more important is it for us to consider the teacher in his relation to the parents. In the North this matter is adjusted by law; the children are obliged to go to school, but the law does not touch it in the South. In some sections there is an utter indifference to education, and these poorly paid teachers often have to persuade the parents that it is worth while to send their children to school. How can the teacher be helped to reach the parents? There is too much of a gulf between the average Negro teacher and the masses of his people, and this ought not to be. The teacher should be close to the children, he should bear them in his heart, and, as it were, carry them in his arms. One who does not believe this should get out of the schoolroom; it is no place for a teacher who is indifferent to every interest of the child.
We have to consider also what means can be adopted by which our people shall insist on the selection of teachers for merit only. Teaching should be divorced from politics, as well as from church and personal influence; we need to inspire the people with the idea that they must have a certain teacher because he is the most capable that can be found.
Another suggestion concerns the means for lengthening the school terms which are now, in the South, from three to eight months long. If we expect to reach better results we must have longer terms, and I am glad to say that a successful effort is being made in this state to bring about this result. I believe that this matter of education is the vital feature connected with the development of the South.
Character of Education Needed
The first to take part in the discussion of the report on education was Prof. Kelly Miller. In regard to the kind of education needed by the colored youth of the South, he said, "Education should prepare young people to live the life that is possible to them. Pupils should be trained with special reference to their future work, whether it is to be law, medicine, farming, or what not. If we look over the field today, we find about one percent, or four in a thousand engaged in the higher lines of work, requiring higher preparation. We have left nine hundred
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