Mr. Hammon H,. Buck
Mr. Hammon H,. Buck
Mr. H. H. Buck, division superintendent of
After the scourge of cholera came those of drought and grasshoppers. The ignorant, fatalistic barrio people seemed, in some districts, to abandon themselves to what they considered the will of God, and refused to take measures for their own salvation. The councilmen of one town argued that it was a mistake to kill the grasshoppers which were destroving their crops, alleging that for every one killed 10 more came into existence. This should not be taken as a reflection on the intelligence of the people of Cavite Province, as in the same town where it occurred there was no lack of men who tried to convince the council of their mistake, but when a poor countryman would see miles of grasshoppers in procession, the leaders filling, in a few hours, the pitfalls made to destroy them, and the remainder trooping over the bodies to attack the hopes of the year's work, it was difficult for him to believe that there was not something supernatural in such a calamity.
Ladronism, always a factor in
Furthermore, the constabulary officer is very often not in accord with the policy of the government, and frets under the restrictions imposed by law. Complaints of abuses are too often taken as a sign of disaffection on the part of the one who complains, instead of an honest effort to remedy an evil. The result of this is men who in military times rendered great aid to the government are now generally discredited by the constabulary and are, for their part, thoroughly disgusted with the turn affairs have taken.
On the other hand, the best friend of the Filipino must admit that the people of
The school funds for the year 1903, as estimated from the revised land assessment, are $13,297.55, against $9,040.83 for the year of 1902. This increase is the result of the raising of the land valuation by the provincial board of tax revision, established under Act 582 of the Civil Commission. A fairly intimate knowledge, however, of the conditions existing in the province leads me to fear that the collection will fall far short of this estimate. It seems particularly unfortunate that there should be any increase in the taxes at this time, when the people are relatively far less able to pay them than last year. Moreover, from the very nature of the duties of this board, injustices are inevitable when any such general increase is brought about; and there seems to be no means provided whereby these mistakes may be rectified. Clearly, if the purpose of the tax revision was to equalize the burden, it has signally failed in its end; while if to increase the revenue, indications are that this year, at least, the result will fall much short of the expectations.
In the supervision of expenditures of school funds there has been a certain degree of looseness on the part of the division superintendent, which it has been found necessary to correct. Not that illegal expenditures have been allowed, but the superintendent has in his office no data by which he can tell the amount of money on hand at any stated period. To remedy this circulars have been sent to the various presidentes asking for a current account of expenses at the end of each month.
The relation between the different municipalities and the division superintendent in regard to the expenditures have been of the most pleasant sort. As a rule, before increasing the monthly expenses, even in the case of the salary of a teacher, the council is communicated with and given an opportunity to advance any objection which they may have. By these means the division superintendent has been able to get the benefit of their more local knowledge and generally to act with their support and approval. An effort is being made in some towns of the province to save sufficient funds to construct schoolhouses, but with the constant demand for schools in the barrios and for increases of salary on the part of the Filipino teachers, it is difficult to tell how much the present should be sacrificed to the future.
The number of American teachers in the province has decreased by reason of resignations and transfers from 28 to the present number of 21. Of these, two resigned-one on account of ill health which necessitated his return to the States, the other on account of marriage. The remaining five were lost through transfers.
Most of the teachers in the province seem to be satisfied with their work and their prospects; though the loss from resignations during the coming year will probably be larger than during the past twelve months, as many of the teachers will finish the term of their contract and return to the States to continue their studies or accept other positions.
There has been considerable difficulty at times in finding suitable stations for ladies, and the majority of the complaints have been on this score. Under the existing conditions, it is certainly not advisable to increase the number of female teachers. The relation between the American teachers and the patrons of the schools has invariably been pleasant. The presidente of Indang, who has always shown himself to be a good friend of the government, remarked, "The American teachers of
I attribute the success of the teachers in this particular to the remarkable absence of race prejudice in all relations between them and the people. This removes the principal barriers to a perfect understanding, and the superiority of intelligence and education of the American teachers is made more apparent.
The duties of the American teachers are coming to be more and more those of a supervisor. In some places the Filipino teachers submit the work which they will do on the following day and suggestions are made by the American teacher touching the work and methods of presenting it. When the American teacher visits the barrio schools or the classes under the control of the Filipino teacher, he tries to ascertain if the work has been faithfully carried out. Where men have sufficient grasp to supervise successfully, great improvement is noted both in the Filipino teachers and in the results accomplished.
The decrease in the number of American teachers has been partly offset by an increase in the number of Filipino teachers and a great improvement in their ability and interest.
The past experience of the Filipino teacher furnishes no criterion by which he is able to properly conduct a school; all methods and ideas of teaching and even subject-matter taught are so completely changed that it is necessary to begin at the very bottom and instruct him in the rudiments of the profession. It easily follows that young teachers of unformed habits are, as a rule, the most successful. The only exceptions are some few men of unusual ability and perseverance.
It is the policy of the division superintendent to weed out as rapidly as possible the men who show that their usefulness is past and replace them with young and promising teachers. It is necessary in doing this to be careful not to get ahead of public opinion. When the people clearly understand that a certain teacher is a real detriment to the school, they easily transfer their allegiance to a new man of better ability.
The salaries of the Filipino teachers have been increased, generally in pace with their progress, though there are a few exceptions where, on account of lack of funds, it is not possible to properly reward good work. The proposed plan of appointing a number of Filipino teachers to be paid from the insular treasury will furnish the means to thus recognize especial merit.
In planning the work for this school the superintendent decided, inasmuch as it was a teachers' school, to admit none but teachers and aspirants. In very few instances was this rule violated. Believing that the main need of the Filipino teachers is a thorough education in the common branches, the greater part of the time was spent in the study of arithmetic, geography and English, and with the most advanced
The Filipino teachers were encouraged to organize, hold debates, and practice parliamentary rules, considerable enthusiasm being evinced in this direction. Socially, the time was enlivened by several entertainments and " bailes."
In the teachers' class during the present year the work taken up in the normal institute is continued by following a course of study more or less general throughout the province. In the normal of 1904 this work will be reviewed, examination given, and certificates awarded to those who pass creditably. Thus, by three or four years of conscientious application, a Filipino teacher may acquire a fair common school education and be able to take up other lines of study.
The advantages of this system are very apparent; definite direction is given to the work, and the teacher is made to understand that he belongs to an organization; means thus being furnished whereby the spirit of emulation may be aroused and made to serve a good purpose.
When one considers that nearly all of the ladrones come from the rural districts, the work in the barrios seems of overshadowing importance. The poor, ignorant laborer or small farmer, unaccustomed to the formalities of law and ignorant of his rights and duties under the government, usually suffers abuses from the more powerful with a dumb, resentful silence, until, goaded beyond endurance, he commits some crime-the only means of redress which he knows-whereupon he is considered an outlaw and a fugitive from justice. For others the processes of law are a dim, terrible mystery, and, rather than be involved in its meshes in even a civil suit, with one of the " principales," they take to the hills, where there is at least a semblance of equality. Making a little education general, rather than highly educating a few, eems the more logical means of eradicating these conditions. However, giving the class of instruction received from the schools in Spanish times will do little toward uplifting the people and making theni familiar with our form of government; and before any great advancement can be made it is necessary to educate teachers to send into the barrios. Thus it is that the main effort has been spent in building up solid schools in the town before placing much emphasis.on the work in the rural districts.
There are at present 14 barrio schools in the province. In these I have included not only schools in barrios properly speaking, but those in the smaller towns where there is no American teacher stationed, but where the schools are under the supervision of a teacher of a neighboring town.
The amount of time spent in the barrio schools by the American teacher depends a great deal upon the number of schools under his charge and their distance from the "poblacion." In some, the American teacher gives instruction three times a week; others are inspected once a month or even less often.
The quality of instruction given by the Filipino barrio teachers depends upon his ability, his knowledge of English and method, and the success of the American teacher as a supervisor. It ranges from that of an old-fashioned Spanish teacher to that of an up-to-date class room. When practical the barrio teachers hold school four hours in the morning and attend teachers' class in the afternoon. The people in the barrios are, generally speaking, more anxious for instruction than those in the towns. In some communities they have, with their own effort, erected buildings; in others suitable houses are furnished by the barrios at no cost to the municipality. Where such a strong desire for education is evinced, improvements in the " poblacion " school are being postponed and the money spent in the barrios.
During the present year the growth will be mainly along the line of barrio schools; teachers of fair ability are available, and with a land tax merely equaling that of last year considerable enlargement will be possible.
The school commenced with an enrollment of about 25. This increased slowly till it reached a maximum of 80 in November with a daily attendance of 70. For the month of March the enrollment was 72 and the percentage of attemdance 92.5. The bulk of the pupils came from the neighboring towns, the more distant being scarcely represented. This seems to argue the necessity of establishing a secondary school in the southern part of the province.
Of the 72 enrolled last March 64 have returned, 2 have gone to the Liceo de Manila (one of them because he wished to take a commercial course), 2 bad to go to work, 1 is prevented by lack of means; the reason of the absence of the other 3 is unknown. This year the school opened under more advantageous circumstances. A commodious building in
The towns of the southern part of the province continue without representation. A preparatory class for older pupils with little or no knowledge of English has been organized and proven popular. At present nearly 50 are enrolled. These are drawn mainly fromn the class that has not hitherto patronized American schools.
The spirit of the school is good. A debating society has been organized among the more advanced pupils and a baseball team is preparing to arrange games with other schools as soon as the weather permits. This year the enrollment of girls is over 30, against 9 of last year. Embroidery is taught and proves quite an attractive feature.
The teaching force of the high school now consists of 3 American teachers and 1 Filipino, with a music teacher extra. Another American teacher will soon be added and an industrial man is very much desired.
METHODS, BOOKS, ETC.
Although even in the primary schools much time is spent on branches other than English, this, it must be conceded, is and will continue to be the one requiring the most serious thought and attention on the part of the teacher, and hence the most important. The other studies present no difficulties radically different from those encountered in the States, while the teaching of English to Filipino children is an art that has to be learned by each new teacher before he can reach even a low average of proficiency.
As a rule the teachers of this division have made great progress in method of teaching. The tendency to emphasize reading at the cost of conversation is gradually being eradicated, and with the advent of books adapted to the work greater improvement is to be expected. It is to be regretted, however, that all the effort hitherto spent in preparing special text-books has been in the line of reading books. No one, apparently, has thought of getting out an outline of lessons in conversation.
I notice that the best teachers in the province have discarded books to a certain extent and evolved for themselves a set of language lessons better fitted for the work than any text-book obtainable. From the fact that these systems are almost identical in their general plan we may deduce the possibility of there being an ideal order in which words and grammatical forms niay be introduced.
No one denies that certain words and forms are needed earlier in the life of a child than others, nor that there are certain words and forms the knowledge of which comes logically before that of others. It is the recognition of these facts, together with correct judgment of what should come first, and patience and ingenuity in drilling into the children the knowledge of these words and forms, that distinguishes between a good teacher of conversation and a poor one.
Much help would be given new teachers and those not fully acquainted with English construction, as the Filipino teachers, if a work containing lessons in conversation were published. Meanwhile, as there is no such work gotten up by the department, I would recommend the purchase and distribution of a book entitled "Progressive Lessons in English," by Mr. Sampson, English teacher,
In summing up the work for the past year it must be noted that in spite of the decrease in the number of the American teachers the attendance at the end of the year was more than for any other month in the history of the schools of the province, that of March, 1903, being 2,487.
During the present year, with the organization of the barrio schools, the number of children receiving instruction in English will undoubtedly be greatly increased. The spirit manifested by the people toward the schools is most friendly, while the class of instruction given is rapidly proving its superiority to any other obtainable. During the present year, provided we are spared cholera and locusts, and if the ladrones continue reasonably quiet, we may expect, in spite of hard times, great advancement in all lines of education.