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Longfellow on International Copyright.
FROM A LETTER TO MR. WILLIAM DULLES, JR., DATED OCTOBER 8, 1878.
Whatever is just is
for the benefit of all; and I
providing, between England and America, that "a Copy=
right tatten out in either
The Public-School Problem.
THE statement is made editorially by THE CENTURY, "We need [in our public schools] less ambition and more thoroughness; less of the what and more of the why," and the question is asked, "Who is to teach the American people this?" My answer is, that a large part of the people are already convinced of it. If the genuine evils of the present system can be shown still more plainly and a remedy for them suggested, surely the progressive American spirit may be trusted to apply it. One of the best instructors in the country asserts that "in no work to-day is there so much quackery as in the so-called educational work of the schools."
Of what is the public-school system accused? As Herbert Spencer forcibly states it, "The wrong things are taught at the wrong time and in the wrong way." Whether this sweeping assertion is entirely true or not, it is certainly true that our schools teach too many things at the same time, even if - which is not the case - every one of them was taught as it should be.
There is no time given in our schools to the development of a strong and symmetrical body; no time to allow the reasoning faculties to draw the breath of
life; no time for anything but to crowd the memory with facts, the why of them all being as utterly unknown to the pupil as it is to the wooden desk upon which he piles his many books.
There is no need to argue the statement that the health of many children suffers in this process of holding the metaphorical nose and pouring instruction down the metaphorical throat. Why should the word of the majority of parents, teachers, and physicians be doubted? Because a child does not drop dead or have a fit on the spot, it does not follow that he is uninjured. Even ignoring all physical evils resulting from this cause, what vast and dreadful mental damage is done him by the starvation of his reasoning faculties in proportion to the stuffing of his memory, by requiring him to grapple with many subjects, some beyond his intellectual strength, and even, under such circumstances, to do the work of a year in six months' time!
Teachers are not responsible for this state of things. They are, in common with their pupils, the victims of this great crime" the assassination of intellect." Teachers work for wages as do the other laboring classes of the community, and in this special pro
fession the supply is always in excess of the demand. The overworked and discouraged teacher has her choice of evils, to resign her position and with it her bread and butter, or to keep it and make the best of a bad matter.
The remedy for this condition of affairs lies in the creation of a public sentiment against the universal and destructive "cramming" process. Let a strong public sentiment demand a reform in this matter, and the reform will follow as surely as the earth will continue to revolve upon its axis.
The courses of study for our public schools and the amount of time to be given to each branch are planned by committees, trustees, and boards of education. Generally they are the most influential and honored men of the community. They spend gratuitously much time and labor in the interests of the schools. But it is not enough that they should be moral and "wellmeaning" men. They should comprehend the duties required and possess the necessary sort of ability for their performance. The overseers of these great mental mills should at least be as familiar with their workings, and as good judges of the quality of the material produced, as the foreman of a woolen factory would be. It is a stupid and illogical procedure to elect to such positions men who, though they may be skillful manufacturers or successful merchants, know little or nothing of the laws of mental development, and possess no practical knowledge of school-room work.
Caroline B. Le Row.
IS IT not plain, in order that the student of average ability shall obtain the power and intelligence that is expected, in view of her so-called advantages, that either the years spent at school must be extended, or some more efficient methods of acquiring knowledge must be employed? As to the former, every teacher of private schools knows that no more time will be allowed. The years granted to the school-girl are grudgingly given, and often from these much time is pilfered by social distractions.
Persuaded that some direct means must be found for the development of more intelligent and efficient working power, and aided by the observation and experience gained in contact with the minds of nearly two thousand pupils, I was led to conclude that the power our pupils need lies in the ability to concentrate the attention. Then arose the question, How may the powers of perception and of concentration be gained at school, and made to become habits of the mind? Plainly, in no other way than by regular and systematic training to this end. Then was formulated a variety of exercises, to be practiced by the pupils from ten to twenty minutes each day, with no effort at learning or memorizing, although these would be attained, but solely to the end of acquiring the power of attention.
To insure quickness and accuracy in seeing, the reversible blackboard may be made a valuable auxiliary. A collection of figures, groups of circles or marks for unconscious counting, lists of words, and long sentences may each be presented for an instant, and the pupils be required to write or to repeat precisely what they have seen.
VOL. XXXV. - 110.
These exercises, it must be understood, are as distinct and apart from the work of learning lessons as are gymnastic exercises from the habits which follow their use, and, like such physical exercises, are to be considered only as means to an end.
Various and multiform are the means to which the awakened teacher may resort to quicken the minds of her pupils, and to obtain that all-important result of attention-accuracy in seeing and hearing. One of the most renowned of French educators was accustomed to require the boys under his charge to run with all speed past the shop windows of the streets, and on returning to write the names of all the articles exposed to view. It has been proved that the power to concentrate the attention may be cultivated and strengthened to such a degree, the mind becoming more and more obedient to the will, that pupils thus prepared are able to learn lessons, within their comprehension, in less than one-half of the time formerly required.
I venture to assert that a very large part of the time spent in studying lessons in school and at home is wasted for lack of early training to habits of perception and attention.
Instead of vexing the mind of the delinquent with persistent questioning, for the mere sake of "hearing the lesson," an endeavor as hopeless as that of trying to pump water from an empty cistern, let the teacher first make clear the meaning of the lesson, emphasizing with marked distinctness the principal points; this done, require the learner either to write or to repeat the precise words, or words of the same meaning, which she has just heard. This requirement, be it understood, is not for the sake of committing the words to memory, but is a means of holding the pupil's entire attention until she has full possession of the lesson to be learned. To know that the results must be produced at once will stimulate the dullest mind to its full measure of activity, and in the effort to recall the exact meaning, and the corresponding words, all other issues must be laid aside: the teacher is calling her to a quick account, and there is no escape.
The teacher will find it expedient to set apart, each day, short periods of time, varying in length from ten to twenty minutes, according to the age of her pupils, for the single purpose of developing and strengthening those faculties which will, at last, enable them to study, according to the true meaning of the word.
In order to show how much may be accomplished by training the mind to accuracy in hearing, when the power of attention has been acquired, some examples, by way of results, are here given. In my school were assembled about forty girls from fourteen to eighteen years of age. A poem by Wordsworth, consisting of twenty-four lines, was perfectly recited by the entire class in seven minutes; the teacher, as is her invariable rule, read each verse once only. An extract of seventeen lines from one of Charles Lamb's stories was accurately repeated after nine minutes. Twentyone lines read from Washington Irving's "Sketch Book" were instantly reproduced without an error. A part of the description of the battle of Waterloo by Victor Hugo was read aloud once, and the listeners immediately recalled thirty-six lines, or four hundred and sixteen words, precisely as they had heard them; and this was done without the least mental strain. The power had been acquired by a slow and
systematic process of training, lasting but a few min
utes at once.
Many specimens of good literature have been learned in a minute portion of the time which would be found necessary to the untrained student.
It is undeniably true that the mind retains longest that to which it gives the closest attention; therefore, it need be no matter of astonishment that the pupils are able to recall selections, or lessons, thus learned, after months or even years have passed.
Classes in history, literature, and art have been conducted with little use of text-books. There have been readings, lectures, and familiar talks on the part of the teacher, the oral method having been found to impart more of the substance to be learned than the pupil could gain from the mere study of the book. Many examples might be given proving the efficacy of a system which strives to develop to the fullest extent, in each individual, the power of attention and concentration.
With this important part of the mental machinery in efficient working condition, the judicious teacher, ever watchful of the physical welfare of the youth intrusted to her care, will gladly dispense with many brain-wearying hours for her pupils, and will rejoice in being able to afford them sufficient time for play and physical development. She will not insist upon a verbal recitation, in order that she may “hear a lesson," but will require of the scholars an oral or written account of what has been learned in listening to her instructions, and as the result of their own research and observation.
In a school where the pupils are daily exercised to the end of securing habits of attention, much time will be economized, more instruction will be imparted, fewer text-books will be used, a clearer and broader intelligence will be secured, by direct contact with the teacher's mind; and last, but by no means least, a truer sympathy will exist between teacher and pupil.
The Education of the Blind.
IT is in no spirit of controversy, but from a feeling that the schools and institutions for the blind are placed in a false light, that I enter a protest against certain sentiments expressed in the "Open Letter" entitled "The Blind as Students," in the November CEN
After the faint praise of the opening sentence we are told that the schools "are fearfully one-sided in their training, lamentably limited in their scope." First, let us see what their scope is. That of one, according to the words of the director, taken from its prospectus, is, "in all cases to fit them [the pupils] for usefulness in life, and for maintaining themselves, if necessary, by their own efforts"; of another, "to furnish to the blind children of the State the best known facilities for acquiring a thorough education, and to train them in some useful profession or manual art, by which they may be enabled to contribute to their own support after leaving the institution." There seems to be nothing "lamentably limited " thus far, and these are but specimens of many which might be cited.
sided in their training" is not made very clear. They are charged with conducing to "blindisms," such as "snapping the fingers to indicate the position of the extended hand when about to exchange a friendly greeting or pass an object." How it may have been in time past I am unable to say, but in an experience of three years' teaching, and having witnessed their greetings and hand-shakings scores of times, I have never yet noticed the "snapping of fingers," nor until the perusal of Mr. Perry's letter had I heard of such an expedient. On the other hand, however, I have known cases where pupils have come to the school with blindisms" acquired at home, such as moving the body and making grotesque motions with the hands and arms, which gradually disappeared under the timely and friendly admonitions of teachers and the influence of their new companions, many of whom have gone through the same experience and are on the lookout for these peculiarities in new-comers.
It is true that not all is accomplished that might be wished, but the same is true of the public schools. The course of study pursued in the schools for the blind with which I am acquainted is at least equal to that up to and including the ordinary high school.
Last year a lady, known as a lecturer in an adjoining State, visited a class of blind in algebra. After listening to the recitation, which consisted in solving problems of two and three unknown quantities, from books printed in the ordinary raised type, the time spent in the learning of which Mr. Perry considers 'wholly wasted," she told them that they recited as well as any seeing scholars she ever heard. A young man from the same school last year entered a theological seminary, passing the required examination without a single "condition," while several other candidates, some of whom were college graduates, were "conditioned on two or more subjects. I give these merely as examples of what the institutions are doing educationally. I would not discourage the education of the blind in the public schools, as the writer recommends, if it were practicable. But we must take the facts as they are, and as the case now stands it is unquestionably impracticable. Of this, however, it is not my purpose now to speak.
We are told that our methods are "slow and clumsy." It is only fair to judge of the methods by the results. The young man referred to was congratulated upon his successful examination by a seeing classmate, who said, "If my college had done for me what your little school has for you, I should be satisfied." It is further objected that "the competition at such institutions is always and in every department only with those hampered by a like disadvantage," and that the pupil “needs the constant spur to his pride of seeing those about him accomplishing more in less time, to stimulate his ambition." What stimulus can there be to the ambition of a pupil capable of learning a lesson from one or two readings, in surrounding him with children who, "with fingers crammed into their ears, buzz over a lesson of three pages for the fifteenth time"?
The efficiency of wooden maps and globes in teaching geography is admitted; but "an excellent substi tute may be furnished by any friend at home who will carefully trace the outlines of maps in a common atlas." Whatever these contrivances lack, the native ingenuJust what is meant by their being "fearfully one- ity and aptitude of the pupil must supply." This is
followed by the sagė remark that “after all, the stimulating of these is of far more value than any number of facts or theories crammed into his brain by patent processes." Why should not this hold as true for the "clumsy methods" of the schools in question? Why should the writer take into consideration, at all, the methods of instruction if, as he further says of the pupil, "it is what he is, and not what he is taught, that makes him a success or a failure"? A casual reader would be led to infer that a school for the blind assumes to take in hand any "individual under thirty" and turn him out a" finished specimen of its educational excellence." As, however, the school age is usually placed at from six to twenty years, it will be seen that this does not fall within its "scope."
In short, Mr. Perry, notwithstanding his characterization of the methods pursued in the schools as "clumsy," recommends, especially in the home, the use of the Braille-board for writing, maps in relief, and the typeboard for arithmetical calculations.
These constitute in effect nearly all the apparatus, designed specially for the blind used in the schools, with the exception that here their use is directed by experienced teachers.
J. T. Morey.
PERKINS INSTITUTION FOR THE BLIND, So. BOSTON, MASS.
The American of the Future.
IT has been observed that the bulk of American citizens now engaged in the attempt to free labor from the tyranny of capital were not born in this country; and this fact has been mentioned as if, in some way, it cast a reflection upon the expediency or wisdom of the attempt in question. Native-born Americans, it is urged, trained from birth and by inheritance in the traditions of American independence and in the principles of the Constitution of the United States, would never lend themselves to such "foreign" and aggressive measures as the boycott, the strike, and the bomb. This position, however, will be found upon examination to be both logically and morally indefensible. In the first place, it is much to be doubted whether one native-born American in ten could repeat from memory a single clause of the Constitution of his country; and this ignorance bears practical point in the uncomplaining submission with which most native-born Americans endure insolence, imposition, and robbery that would stimulate to rebellion the least warlike denizens of the effete monarchies of Europe. Our foreign-born population, on the other hand, especially those of recent importa tion, are still instinct with something of the same enthusiasm for liberty and for having their own way which distinguished the Pilgrims of 1620 and the patriots of 1776; they have not yet succumbed to the apathy and timidity which seem inseparable from a prolonged residence in the land of the free. It is not the descendants of the "Mayflower," in short, who are the representative Americans of the present day; it is the Micks and the Pats, the Hanses and the Wilhelms, redolent still of the dudeen and the sauerkraut barrel; and it is to them that a prudent public sentiment will intrust the reins of power and the destinies of the republic. Nor should we stop here. There is a further step to be taken; one which the increasing enlighten
ment of this age will be certain, sooner or later, to force upon us. America, unlike all other countries of the world, is an idea rather than a place; a moral rather than a geographical expression. It is not so much the land, as the principle, of Freedom. To be an American, therefore, it is by no means necessary to be an inhabitant of the United States. In a higher and truer sense, an American is a man of European birth, who renders himself obnoxious to the land or social proprieties of his birthplace. And since, as has been shown, the genuine American spirit deteriorates in direct ratio with the length of the individual's residence in America, it follows that the most genuine Americanism must be that which has been free from this enervating influence altogether. If this reasoning be valid, an amendment to the Constitution should be introduced without delay, providing that no person of American birth or descent should be allowed to hold any political or public office in the United States; that the most recent immigrants should be intrusted with the most controlling offices of government; and that no man shall be eligible for the Presidency unless he can prove that he is an outlaw in his own country, and that he has never set foot in this. Julian Hawthorne.
IN reading the profoundly interesting second paper on the "United Churches of the United States," in the December CENTURY, I was struck by the omission of all reference to an episcopal church (probably on account of its numerical weakness) which, owing to its peculiar history, would have been deserving of mention in Professor Shields's scholarly essay. I refer to the Moravian Episcopal Church, with its historical name of Unitas Fratrum. Taking its rise in the forces set in motion by the Bohemian-Moravian Reformation of Huss in the fifteenth century, and experiencing a renewal under German influences in the eighteenth century, it possesses the oldest Protestant historic episcopate, antedating the Anglican, continuing in an unbroken succession to the present day from 1467, at which time the episcopate was obtained from the Romish Church through the medium of two Waldensian bishops, regularly consecrated by Roman prelates. After a searching examination, the church was legally acknowledged as an "Ancient Episcopal Church" by an act of the English Parliament in 1749, and thus, so far as I know, is the only church whose clergy is officially acknowledged by the Anglican church.
So early as 1840 the late Right Rev. B. B. Smith, the then Presiding (Anglican) Bishop of Kentucky, proposed an organic union between the Methodist Episcopal and Protestant Episcopal churches through the medium of Moravian ordination, i. e., that the Methodist clergy were to be ordained by Moravian bishops, as" this was an episcopate which both churches acknowledged." The two Wesleys, John and Charles, were converted through the instrumentality of the Moravian bishop Peter Boehler.
The Moravian Church, while admitting of the greatest freedom of worship, has a rich scriptural liturgy, which, with its pure historic episcopate, it prizes as its richest treasure.
Although historically an episcopal church, its government is largely synodical and conferential, and thus presents an example of a church combining these two forms of government.
It has from its origin always been of strong union tendencies, and of a truly catholic spirit, ever recognizing, even in times of prevalent bigotry, all sister churches, and standing in friendly relations with them where they would let it. It possesses this same spirit to day, and hails with delight all signs of union in the great denominations of our country, for its churchly watch-word has ever been the high-priestly prayer of Christ," that they may be one."
Paul de Schweinitz.
To the Deaf.
THE conditions and troubles of defective hearing may not interest the general reader, for none but the sufferers themselves have any idea of the burden of sorrow imposed by the impairment or deprivation of the sense of hearing. Nothing save blindness is so hard to bear, especially for those full of ambition, and otherwise capable of the full enjoyment of life.
But there are comforts even in deafness. We can see the faces of our loved ones, we can enjoy all beautiful sights,— the lovely flowers, the rich landscapes, the glorious sunsets, and all the beauties of nature,— while all arts save music lay their treasures and achievements at our feet. The pleasures of travel, too, are not less to us,- perhaps in many respects they are rather enhanced.
We can make the pen available by correspondence, and so benefit ourselves and our friends. We can use the brush, and enjoy our labor at the easel; and we can employ our hands for our own and others' comfort and happiness in a thousand ways.
Deafness is far more common than is generally supposed, and is especially prevalent among the middleaged. Medical works assert that fully one-third of our population between the ages of twenty-five and fifty are partly deaf, the trouble having come on so gradually that fully one-half of those afflicted are unaware of it until sufficiently advanced to become troublesome.
We believe the best aurists agree that there is no help for hereditary and congenital deafness, or those cases where the nerves are paralyzed. A very common cause of temporary deafness is hardening of the wax of the ear; and the trouble may become serious if not relieved by prompt and proper treatment at the hands of a good aurist. Where such aid is not available, it is safe and possible to remove the wax by putting into the ear two or three drops of pure glycerine three times a day for three days, and then syringing with warm water (as warm as can be comfortably borne) in which a little carbonate of soda has been dissolved. Use a teaspoonful to one quart of water.
The ear being a very intricate, delicate, and sensitive organ, no patent nostrum should ever be introduced into it nor any quack ever allowed to tamper with it. Only the very best aurists should treat it. Many disorders and conditions of the inner parts of the organ are beyond the reach of medical skill. Such cases are disheartening. Obstruction of the Eustachian tube (the tube that connects the tympanum, or ear-drum, with the back upper part of the throat) is a frequent cause
of deafness. Inflammation of the throat, affecting this tube, also causes it. In either case, a good aurist can afford speedy relief by removing the obstruction or allaying the inflammation.
Catarrhal deafness usually disappears when the cause is removed, if the trouble has not become too deeply seated. Early manifestations of deafness should not be overlooked or neglected. Elderly people are often deaf because vitality is declining generally; the hearing, in common with the other powers, shows the approaching weakness and decay of age. Some persons whose hearing is ordinarily very acute are quite deaf when extremely weary.
Rupture of the drum membrane by an accidental puncture, by whooping-cough, or by a blow on the head, is among the causes of deafness. The sudden concussion of air against the delicate tympanum, caused by the discharge of heavy artillery, has often more or less impaired the sense of hearing, and, strangely enough, in some reported cases where the hearing was already weakened, has restored it. Many soldiers were made deaf during the war. The ears sometimes seem entirely stopped up by a severe cold; but let them alone, treat and remove the cause, and the effect will probably disappear.
Climatic causes produce deafness. We have visited a county in central Pennsylvania where deaf people are the rule and those with good hearing the excep tion. In districts in Alpine Switzerland the same peculiarity has been observed. Another cause of deafness is thickening of the lining membranes of the ear, and for this there is no known remedy. It may be constitutional, or caused by ulceration after scarlet fever, or by other diseases; but it sometimes comes on without any known or apparent cause. All that can be done in this case is to palliate the trouble by using an ear-trumpet, or, better still, an audiphone. The latter is now oftenest made in the form of a fan of vulcanite, and being black, and a seeming accessory to the toilet, is in no respect objectionable, as was the large ear-trumpet of former days. There is a very small ear-trumpet made that is helpful. These instruments are of great assistance in hearing lectures and the like, as well as in lending distinctness to conversation.
It has been said that "Deaf people are always proud." Call it pride, if you will; but why needlessly proclaim a misfortune (which, unlike blindness, is not often evident) by using a conspicuous and forbidding instrument? One does not care to emphasize his own personal afflictions for the observation and comment of others.
If people only knew how to talk to the deaf, a great many heart-aches would be saved. First, have a little consideration, and by a very trifling motion, which they readily see and understand, call their attention to you; then articulate clearly and distinctly—not too fast, and not too loud. It is this shouting into the ear of a deaf person that fills him with confusion and sends all the blood to his face; by his wavering and equivocal responses he sometimes hardly gets credit for due intelligence, although he may really be very well informed on the subject under discussion. He had hoped you would speak low and distinctly; he could then have heard you, acted like himself, and been himself; but now all within hearing know he is deaf, think he is very deaf, and look upon him with com