A Grammar School Principal

by Laurel | February 6th, 2013

29 Dec 1884

Wilbur Fisk Nichols

Wilbur Fisk Nichols

Wilbur Fisk Nichols and the Work He Has Started for Holyoke Schools.

The principal of the Hamilton Street grammar school is one of the progressive instructors of young children in this part of the state, and he is recognized as such by those who come in contact with him or investigate his methods of teaching. He has had published one text book and has prepared another, so that is is nearly ready for the printer. Both have been thoroughly tested in the Hamilton Street school and are in use in the other schools of the city. Mr. Nichols impresses one as a teacher who first of all studies the children who come under his care, and by doing so he has been enabled to prepare courses of study that have been successful. His first efforts were in the study of geography. The ordinary text books on the subject are complex in their arrangement and do not lead the pupils to think closely if at all. Mr. Nichols attempted at first to prepare a series of topics that would enable the teachers under him to give the proper instruction in the subject and the result was a complete course of study. Before it was arranged there had been a lack of uniformity in the method of teaching the subject, but the aim of the work is to present the whole subject by topics and they are all presented in the same order. A brief outline is given for the scientific study of a continent based on structure and slope. Statistics are sparing handled and natural curiosities are introduced to aid in the work. then by the use of compositions there is an introduction to language work and it is begun in the primary grades with successive steps for older pupils. This work has been published by D. C. Heath & Co. of Boston and is in use by all the pupils of Holyoke, and as a reference book in many cities. Among these are Detroit and New York City.

But the principal work of Mr. Nichols in the past two years has been in the line of arithmetic. The course for five grades has been completed and will be published in a short time. it has been tried in the Hamilton Street school and is found to work well. In preparing it at the suggestion of Superintendent E. L. Kirtland, Mr. Nichols visited bankers, manufacturers, mechanics and other workers to find out the methods employed by each class in performing mathematical problems. None of the school books teach arithmetic in this way. Mr. Nichols visited the schools of your city and talked with Superintendent Balliet, whom he considers to have the best method of teaching numbers or arithmetic. Cambridge is the only other city in New England that has a similar course. In the course that has been prepared in typewritten copy there are 300 lessons for every grade up to the sixth and it will be carried along for all the grades. In the lower grades, the simple problems of arithmetic are introduced and the more complex questions come in due time. Mr. Nichol’s scheme is to show the pupils the similarities in problems and not to emphasize the difference, as is done by most authors. From common arithmetic it i an easy step to teaching the pupils to measure and use the measurements in actual problems and in this respect Mr. Nichol’s course has a great advantage over the methods followed in the years gone by. It should prove a great thing for Holyoke, where there is a demand for practical men and a school course built up on the methods followed in real life should be a success. Mr. Nichols has been doing a good work in the schools of a part of the city where the best is needed. The plan is to train the reasoning powers as Mr. Lawrence’s nature course trains to observation.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.



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