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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin

Chapter XIII: The county school system,   pp. 78-90

Page 81

Mr. Edes has also thought cut and intrc2tccd certain activities and custcms
calculated to increase tne interest of pupils, teachers, and parents in the work done,
through the influence of ccmpetitive effort, which finds its manifestation in local
and other exhibitions-a plan that has proved its value by raising the average of
scholarship throughout the county. For a number of years previously there had
been scme small school exhibits at the annual county fair, but the work is now better
systematized and more far-reaching.
This ccmpetitive exhibition work begins in the rural schools the pupils in each
being encouraged to use their best efforts. The, best examples are then selected
from each school for exhibition in a community fair, of which 16 will be held this
spring, each in a different community in Dunn County, and those winning prizes,
or favorable mentions, are reserved for exhibition in M{encmonie at the time of the
graduation exercises of the eighth grade in the city schools, occurring usually early
in June. The winners in the city exhibition are accorded the honor of having their
work exhibited in the annual state fair held in Milwaukee. Thus, the interest of
the children in their studies and related work is greatly and healthfully stimulated,
and there are few who will not strive their best to win the approbation of their
teachers, parents, and other judges, and perhaps have their efforts praised by the
general public of their own and other localities.
The system not only includes examples of work in the ordinary studies suitable
to such representation where the presence of the pupil is not required, but also
takes in literary and musical contests and athletics. Each school decides for itself,
with respect to the literary and musical contests, what kind of selection it can best
give; the local winner then competes in the ccrnmunitv contests, and the winner
there competes at the county fair, the" Fair" contest being held in the evening. At
the fair, also, races and other forms of competitive exercise, have been introduced
recently for the older people to take part in, the spirit of friendly emulation existing
among the children, being thus extended to the parents and others.
For these Fair competitions a special building was erected in September, 1924
on the pattern of a modern rural school, the ground plan measuring 34 x 34 feet,
not counting the entrance portion of 10 x 16 feet. It has a basement, in which are
the furnace and play-room, while on the ground floor are the library and class room
in which the pupils' work is exhibited. Some of the material for this building was
donated by business firms, both in and out of the city, the county board also making
an appropriation, and the balance of the cost being raised by the schools through
entertainments of one kind or another.
Another practice has been introduced by Mr. Edes with the view of increasing
the efficiency of the teachers, and which has been carried on for the last three years.
A group of teachers---usually some 12 or 15, accompanied by the superintendent,
or one of the two supervising teachers- will pay a visit to some selected rural school
during school session and observe the work of the teacher in charge. Then after
the pupils are dismissed a general discussion is held, helpful suggestions being often
made by which all prescnt may profit.
Parent-teachers' organizations have also been formed in some ccmmunities,
at which talks are made for the purpose of advancing community work, especially
in regard to the schools, and to bring the teachers and parents of the children into
closer touch with each other so that all mav be interested and work together with a
ccmmon aim.
All these activities are in accordance with the most modern methods of educa-
tional work, and present a striking and happy contrast with those in use in pioneer
days when the rod was regarded by most teachers, and many parents, as the most
effective means of stimulating scholastic effort on the part of the pupils. It was
a method in use for many centuries in practically all countries, for a proverb that
has been deciphered from the monuments of ancient Egypt reads: "The ears of a
child are on his back," and classical literature reveals that the same stimulus was
used by schoolmasters in Greece and Rome. The temptation to play truant under
such circumstances was but natural. Modern society, in this country at least, is
to be congratulated on its more humane methods, which make the path of learning

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