At its first meeting the Board of Trustees appointed a committee
with Armstrong as chairman to recommend a course of studies for the
Literary Department.1 Throughout the whole period of the Institute
the Board kept up a strict supervision of this kind, assuming a
function now universally left to faculties. Just what studies were
pursued will appear in the account of the examinations given below.
The Board of Trustees also supervised examinations through
committees of their own appointing, but often including members not
of their own number. These examinations were oral and public, in
accord with the general practice of the day. Especially in the private
schools and seminaries the public examination was considered the
most important event of the school year as well as the best test of the
school's proficiency. In every recitation both student and teacher had
the examination in view. Girls were trained to answer all of
"Magnall's Questions"; while boys were drilled on the genders of
Latin nouns so as to be able to meet the terrible ordeal of the
examiners on the great examination day. It was really the school
rather than the scholars that was affected by the showing made. And
the glory of that school was great if an examiner of high degree, a
governor or a judge, could be secured who knew how to ask the right
kind of questions, or if uncertain as to what questions were proper to
take the list which the teachers were doubtless ready to provide. And
the cup of the teacher's joy was full if the examiner was kind enough
to write out and publish in the Raleigh Register an account of the
wonderful proficiency displayed by the students, a sufficient proof of
the industry, ability, and scholarship of the faithful teachers, and a
reason to employ the same teachers for the next year.2
1 Proceedings, p. 2.
2 Many such accounts may be found in Coon's Documentary History.
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