Thus far we have offered a few suggestions to­ward solution of those problems which are connec­ted particularly with the procurement and mainten­ance of a teaching staff in our Protestant Reformed schools!

This, as we have said, is to a large extent a formal and administrative problem.

A far more important matter is that of seeing to it that the teaching staff which we procure and which we seek to maintain as permanently as possible con­sists of qualified Protestant Reformed teachers. Im­portant it is, because if such teachers we do not have, then our entire movement for Protestant Reformed education fails: it is merely outwardly separatistie. And if the separation is only outward, consisting in separate societies, separate boards, separate buildings, separate administrations merely, then it had been bet­ter by far if we had never separated. Our aim must be: 100% Protestant Reformed instruction for Pro­testant Reformed children. From that goal we must never deviate. We may never rest until that goal is attained! Protestant Reformed teachers are one of the prime requisites in the attainment of that goal. For them, therefore, we must seek.

And a few suggestions toward solution of that aspect of the teacher-problem we now make.

As To Qualified Protestant Reformed Teachers

Again the reader must bear in mind that some of these suggestions will be impossible of fulfillment at present because of circumstances. There is a pro­verb that runs, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” And it applies in the present case in a way. We have a teacher shortage. And because of that shortage we are beggars: we have to beg for teachers. And because we have to beg for teachers, we can’t always choose the kind of teachers we would like to have and should have. This is no evil reflection on our teach­ers: they are caught in the same net of circumstances. And in many cases we may be glad when we have tea­chers at all, and should be glad too. But the fact remains that because we are caught in this trap of a teacher shortage, our teachers do not measure up al­ways to the ideal. However, the point is this: the fact that we are enmeshed in this net of circumstances must not deter us from the ideal of obtaining qualified teachers. In time, if we do not keep before us the ideal in obtaining teachers, it is going to be detrimen­tal to our schools and to our children, both from the educational and the spiritual viewpoint.

We therefore must follow a two-fold course. On the one hand, we must keep before us certain rules, principles, in this matter of procuring qualified tea­chers, as the ideal toward which we strive. And on the other hand, we must strive toward that ideal, that is, we must not wait for the ideal to happen merely, to come to us, but we must attain to the ideal. And in order to do so, we must apply the rules which we adopt as much as possible and practicable under the present circumstances and at the same time work to­ward overcoming the circumstances which make complete application of these rules impossible for the present.

And let me warn you: that means hard work for all involved.

The present matter also has two aspects, as we pointed out in our delineation of the problem. There is the formal, educational aspect: our teachers must be teachers. And there is the material aspect: our teachers must be Protestant Reformed teachers. The two are closely intertwined, but we may distinguish them in our treatment.

To the formal aspect we give our attention first. And we would suggest the following.

1.  All other things being equal, preference should be given to the fully trained teacher. This means very definitely that if a school board is able to re­place a partly trained teacher by a fully trained tea­cher, it should do so without compunction.

2.  All other things being equal, preference should be given to a teacher with more teaching ability. This means that if a teacher of mediocre ability, either as to the subject matter as such or as to disciplinary ability, can be replaced by a teacher of higher ability, a school board should not hesitate to take the step. This, of course, will mean “the survival of the fit­test” as far as the teachers are concerned. But let us face the facts, then, both as teachers and as school boards. The school is at stake, not the teacher mere­ly. And no school should suffer because a school board is loathe,—for whatever may be the reason,—to discharge a mediocre teacher in favor of a better one.

3.  Our schools should set high standards as to what constitutes a fully trained teacher. The trend is for the states to set increasingly high educational requirements for teachers. We should not be back­ward in this respect. From an educational viewpoint it is certainly a very detrimental policy to allow a high school graduate to teach primary school children, for example. The very minimum requirement should be a complete normal course. We should insist on nothing but the best also from an educational aspect.

4.  All other things being equal, preference should be given to a full time teacher. I know from experi­ence the detriment of employing part time teachers: for once upon a time I was a part time teacher, teach­ing half days for one semester. It does neither teach­er nor school nor pupil much good, I can assure you, and should be allowed only in emergency. But there are also teachers who can be present fulltime as far as school hours are concerned, but who are never­theless part time teachers for various reasons. There is the case of the teacher who has of his own voli­tion all kinds of side duties and side projects to at­tend to, and who as a result can not give adequate time to his work as teacher outside of school hours. There is the case of the married woman teacher, who has a family to take care of besides a class. Now I grant that at times a school board may be forced to engage such a teacher, but that is not the ideal. And it should be avoided as much as possible. A teacher must be a teacher. .

As to the material aspect of the problem of pro­curing qualified teachers for Protestant Reformed schools much may be said.

On the basis of what we have written in regard to the problem itself, we may point out the follow­ing.

First of all, the measures which we can and must take now toward the solution of this problem are only emergency, stop-gap measures.

We face here one of the major problems of our movement for Protestant Reformed education, as we have indicated. And the problem is far from solved, too.

And the reason is that logically we have put the cart before the horse. Logically you need Protestant Reformed teachers in order to establish a Protestant Reformed school. And that implies that you need Protestant Reformed training of teachers. Ideally, therefore, our teacher training institution should have been established first, and our primary schools last. But what have we done? The history has been that we have established primary schools in several places, and to this date we have no facilities of our own for Protestant Reformed teacher training.

This is what increases the problem of obtaining Protestant Reformed teachers immensely.

And this is what also necessitates being satisfied for the present with stop-gap measures. As long as we have no teacher training facilities of our own, our educational system is not going to run smoothly. It will run, but with great difficulty. It will run like an engine that isn’t hitting on all its cylinders.

And therefore, we should bear in mind, in the second place, that the major solution to this problem is the establishment of our own teacher training faci­lities. This is not the time to fully discuss this sub­ject: we believe that this is a problem all by itself, and hope to discuss it later in this series. But let us now understand that we may not and must not be satisfied as long as our teachers receive their training in Re­formed or Christian Reformed or even outright world­ly institutions. It may be granted that such institu­tions may train teachers. But it lies in the very na­ture of the case that such institutions cannot train Protestant Reformed teachers, that is, train them to be Protestant Reformed in their teaching. You don’t get cookies at a hardware store. You don’t get Pro­testant Reformed teachers from a non-Protestant Re­formed college.

For the present, therefore, we are faced with a serious gap in our educational system. And that gap must be plugged.

I believe too that the gap can be plugged through diligent and consistent effort on the part of all con­cerned. To some suggestions along this line we hope to call attention next time.

But by all means, let us make up our minds not to be satisfied with stop-gap measures. We don’t want a constant state of emergency.

H.C. Hoeksema