The Problem Of Language
Some interesting comments of the solution of the language difficulty in the public schools of the islands are contained in the reports of Normal Inspectors to Superintendent Atkinson. There are few, if any, countries in the world where so much diversity of language confronts the teachers as in Hawaii, and two of the inspectors express the opinion that in quick solution of the problem of speech Hawaii leads the world.
Inspector J. K. Burkett, of the First and Fourth Circuits, says:
“When we consider how mixed is the population, from how many nationalities our teaching force is recruited, and how the whole is mixed as it were in the crucible of English, bringing forth not a garbled and provincial English speech, but one based upon the best models, the outcome is truly marvelous. There is probably no country on the face of the globe which has succeeded in solving this difficult problem of speech, so quickly as this has. The work of the schools in my districts has been directed to the thorough instilling of English, colloquial English. But though English is the foundation and the study most carefully and thoroughly instilled, it is not the final end of our effort. The course of study is carefully followed, and we have every branch given its full due. Some schools may be more successful than others, some teachers command better results than others, but the whole school system of these two districts stands at a very high average. I would like before closing to register my unqualified sentiments of satisfaction with the teaching force of the districts, and would say that few places in the Union can show as able and as energetic teachers as we have. Especial credit must be given to those who have had no other advantage than the education of our own schools, completed in the Honolulu Normal. These young men and young women have proved what local work can and will do, if properly guided and earnestly carried out.
“I look for a great future for education in these Islands. With much toil and much careful thought, many most difficult problems have been solved and a most valuable foundation has been laid. Upon this a magnificent super-structure will be raised which will do honor to the Territory and its people.”
Charles W. Baldwin, Inspector for the Third Circuit says:
“In conclusion I may say, though the Inspector feels that he has failed in much, that failure has been due to the facts already set forth in this report—the need of methods more in harmony with those of our Normal school has been so great that almost his entire attention has been towards the accomplishment of that object. While there is yet much to criticize, of the schools as a whole it is certain that they are a decided step in advance of the work that was being done when the Inspector first undertook his new duties. Of the future it may be said that, if our present educational system is allowed to remain untrammelled, that we will excel all schools in methods for teaching English; and nowhere on earth will teachers be found better fitted to handle non-English speaking children.”
(Hawaiian Star, 3/5/1903, p. 7)