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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1905, Part I
([1905])

Report of superintendent of Indian schools,   pp. 385-414 PDF (13.4 MB)


Page 409

REPORT O      SUPERI TE    DEXT    OF1 INDIANi SCHOOLS.         409 
the Indian work. At various times I have endeavored to point out what in
my opinion 
were the errors into which those charged with the duty of devising methods
to civilize the 
red race had fallen. After considerable investigation and study I became
firmly convinced 
that the most essential, the most imperative, need of the Indian Service
was to devise some 
scheme by whch the Indian upon the reservation would be compelled to give
up his life of 
laziness and to take up useful tasks. 
During the past few years marked improvement has been noted in the methods
fol- 
lowed in the Indian schools, and I desire to congratulate you upon the success
that now 
attends your efforts. The life of a teacher is hard at best. To succeed in
the profession, 
besides the usually admitted qualifications, the teacher must have that peculiar
talent for 
imparting knowledge which can hardly be overestimated. Really good teachers
often suc- 
ceed in their work in spite of bad system and improper methods; but when
they do it, it is 
only by the greatest sacrifices of time and of health. With advanced, or
I might say up-to- 
date, methods the work of the teacher is much simplified, and the successes
to be obtained 
are more numerous and much greater. To follow out a proper system makes the
teacher's 
work a pleasure-the scholar's work a profit. I shall not say that the methods
in the 
Indian schools are perfect, but I do know that they have been immensely improved
in 
recent years, and with the same energetic, systematic, sympathetic, and intelligent
super- 
vision they will continue to improve. The object of all the efforts of our
Government in 
this field is to make good American citizens of those placed under your charge.
I am of 
those who believe that the good in the Indian character should be developed
and cultivated 
and the bad eliminated. 
THE ADVISABILITY OF CONDUCTING NORMAL SCHOOLS TO TRAIN TEACHERS FOR THE SPECIFIC
PURPOSE 
OF INSTRUCTING INDIAN CHILDREN. 
John D. Benedict, superintendent of schools in Indian Territory.-The greatest
need of 
Indian education to-day is a corps of teachers trained to understand Indian
life and environ- 
ment, its habits of thought, its possibilities, its prejudices, its peculiarities,
and its tenden- 
cies; trained in the kind of knowledge which the Indian needs to know; trained
to do the 
things which the Indian should learn to do, and trained in methods of imparting
needed 
knowledge in such a manner as will appeal to the mind of the Indian child.
We hear much 
nowadays of nature study and miniature gardens in connection with public
school work. 
If such knowledge and training are of worth to the city-bred child, how much
more impor- 
tant is a practical knowledge of nature and agriculture to the Indian child-the
child of 
nature. He is in close touch and sympathy with nature. Instead of educating
him away 
from his home life, the school should train him to a better appreciation
of his home advan- 
tages and should inculcate in him a desire to improve, to beautify, to elevate,
and enjoy his 
home. To carry out this work successfully it would not be necessary to build
and maintain 
separate normal schools, but normal departments might be established in one
or more of 
the Indian boarding schools, not too far from the reservations. Besides furnishing
a normal 
course for teachers, it might be advisable to establish training classes
for prospective matrons, 
nurses, seamstresses, cooks, and possibly for farmers and horticulturisfs.
These profes- 
sional courses would attract many of our bright Indian boys and girls, giving
them an oppor- 
tunity to qualify themselves specially for positions of usefulness among
their own people. 
The following are among the reasons for establishing normal'schools to train
teachers for 
the specific purpose of instructing Indian children: First, the Indian child
needs to be 
studied and understood. He is not a white child with a copper-colored skin
and straight 
hair, but a child of quite another and a different mental foundation. Second,
the inherited 
tendencies of the Indian child, his aspirations, his motives for action,
all are so different from 
the white child that his teacher should have a training in a special school
where all these 
peculiarities can be studied and made the pedagogical basis for methods of
teaching as well 
as the subject-matter of teaching. Third, the Indian race is an old race,
a mature race, a 
race of fixed habits-a race that has fossilized. These things should be understood
by those 
who are to be their teachers, that their teaching may be fitted to those
to be taught. 
Fourth, because all Indians are landowners it goes without saying that along
those lines 
their teachers should have a special training, which no normal or other school
within my 
knowledge now gives. This alone is an entirely sufficient argument for the
establishment 
of Indian normal schools. 
S. M. McCowan, superintendent Chilocco Agricultural School, Oklahoma.-Normal
schools should be established to train teachers for the specific purpose
of instructing Indian 
children, because (1) Indian youth are born and reared close to nature and
love her ways; 
(2) because they have land and should be taught to cultivate it with a view
to making a 
living thereby; (3) because they will not hold their land and work it unless
taught to love 
the work and to make a profit from their toil; (4) because the vast majority
of our teachers 
know nothing about farming in any of its branches and care less, thereby
consciously or 
unconsciously instilling a dislike for the farm in the highly impressionable
minds of their 
pupils. 


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