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Education, should be, so far as we know, an exception to this rule. On this subject there is not in any of our public libraries even a tolerable collection of books to be found by the student who wishes to investigate either its history or its principles. The reason is easy to be found. Whatever we may say of modern progress, the fact is bardly yet recognized by the English and American mind, that there is any such thing as an art, much less a science of Education. In the minds of most men, even of scholars who call themselves enlightened, there still lingers the picture of the pedagogue of olden time, armed with birch and ferule, whipping the parts of speech into unwilling little boys. To them, teaching is still a mechanical trade, and all teachers, save perhaps here and there a Dr. Arnold, persons to be looked down upon, and ranked among the vulgar.
But the world moves, and elsewhere it bas long been acknowledged that education is a science and teaching a liberal profession. One would think that it would not be difficult to prove the art which bas for its object the development and training of the human faculties, to be something better than a base mechanical employment. It hardly needs much argument to show that there must be some interest in the question, how, in the various nations of the world, and through all the periods of past time, the problem of bringing up the next generation has been solved. Based at it must be upon psychology, intermingled closely with, all other social, and even political problems, the true philosopher will be found to be the last man to despise it. And as a profound and interesting problem it has long been recognized in Germany. The philosopher Kant did not disdain to lecture on "pedagogics.” The work of Fichte on the education of the German nation stirred the hearts of his fellow-countrymen to their depths, in the times of the liberation-war. The most genial of Germany's humorists bas made education the subject of an admirable volume, and we might name more than one grave and learned history of education in the German language; while the philosophers, Herbart and Beneke, have raised up elaborate education-systems upon the foundation each of his peculiar philosophy. One would think, too, that the labors of Martin Luther, the application of the eighteenth century. revolutionary doctrines to the subject made by Rousseau, the practical experiments of Pestalozzi, not to speak of English Milton and Locke, were enough to give a dignity to this neglected topic. It might be supposed, too, that the history of free schools in our own Republic, was a subject deserving of notice at the hands of our public book collectors.
Our thoughts were turned to the subject by examining the miscellaneous collection of volumes which represent the department of education in the, in most respects, admirably well appointed library of the Boston Athenæum. We do not know that it is any worse off in this department than its neighbors — in all, education is represented merely by the aggregate of such volumes as drift in, as it were, on the tide. Nowhere is any attempt made at completeness.
The above mentioned library, for instance, in its long list of foreign periodicals, does not include a single foreign educational journal. It does own, thanks to the efforts of its librarian, Mr. Poole, the well-known author of the Index to Periodical Literature, complete sets of the old American Annals, and Journal,
now so difficult to obtain, though it has only an incomplete set of the lectures of the American Institute ; and how hard it is now to form a complete one, those know who have tried. We doubt if any library in the country, save the city Library of Boston, has a full set of the English Minutes and Reports; or that any save that of Brown University, whose President, Dr. Sears, is well acquainted with the value of German educational literature, has a copy of the great educational cyclopædia of Rost and Palmer. We should like to see a copy of John Brinsley's Ludus Literarius, with Bishop Hall's preface, published in 1627; but we doubt if America could furnish one; or of the famous work of the Middle Ages, Le Castoiement. We should like to see brought together that long list of books, mentioned the other day, in the Edinburgh Review, on the education of Idiots - a branch of the art of teaching of wide and extensive application. And somewhere we should like to see collected a long list of modern English works on the subject which we might name, but which only the fewest teachers can now-a-days afford to purchase.
We trust the time will come when the subject will not be treated with the neglect and almost contempt it is apt to meet with now, and when it will be thought worth while not only to gather together all works illustrating our own remarkable educational history - a field in which the Hon. Henry Barnard bas done so much good service in his Journal—but to treat the subject as it deserves, as a science worthy of holding an honorable place in the Librarian's catalogue, and of drawing its fair share from bis funds.
GLEANINGS FROM EDUCATIONAL REPORTS.
We have to thank many friends, in all parts of the country, for kindness in favoring us with copies of State, City and Town Reports. No documents are more welcome, for they are the only means by which a journalist can keep himself acquainted with what is going on outside the narrow circle to which his own observation must be confined. We rarely examine a report, but we find some new fact or some valuable paragraph, and we propose to make it a part of our duties to lay before our readers, such passages from these documents, as seem interesting or noteworthy.
From the young State of Minnesota, and the far-off city of St. Paul, we get the Annual Report of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Hon. D. BLAKELY, and like almost all the reports from our newer States, it shows how wide awake to the importance of the spread of sound popular education a portion at least of their citizens are, and also how much discouragement the friends of education have to encounter. The state of the common school system of Minnesota, seems to be by no means creditablo. Great difficulties are encountered in procuring a sufficient supply of good teachers; but a Normal Training school is already in successful operation at Winona, and county superintendents are appointed all over the State, who are generally enabled to report some progress. The condition of the school-houses, however, seems to be. anything but satisfactory :- One superintendent reports that, though the value of his has been doubled during the past year, yet many of them are worth less than ten dollars, and one was valued at three cents, with some doubts as to whether that valuation was not too high. Mr. Blakely publishes in his report some very neat plans and elevations for country school-bouses. Mr. Phelps, the principal of the Normal school, gives some amusing specimens of the answers obtained from candidates for admission : Question: How many and what motions has the earth? Answer: Four North, South, East and West. Question : Decline 1 and you. Answer: 1st person who, 2nd person whome, 3rd person whomesoever. .... We trust the State will heed the excellent advice of her retiring superintendent, and not remain long behind in that progress which can alone make the firm foundation of her liberties and happiness.
From the other side of the Rocky Mountains, we have to thank John SWETT, Esq., the able and energetic State Superintendent of California, for a copy of the first Biennial Message of his Excellency, Governor Low, and for copies in English and Spanish of the Annual Report of the Controller of the State. From that part of Governor Low's Message, relating to education, we extract the following excellent passage : —
“To the student in political economy, and to him whose inquiries lead into the hidden sources of State and National wealth, there are no pages of history so fraught with interest as those which treat of the comparative progress of various countries, whose advancement has been hastened or retarded by attention to or neglect of proper educational facilities for the young. In Europe, England and Spain, Prussia and Italy, present notable contrasts when their progress is studied in this connection. Crossing to this side of the Atlantic we are told that one of the earlier Governors of Virginia, in reply to questions as to the condition of his colony, said: “I thank God there are no free schools or printing presses here, and I hope there will be none for a hundred years.” About the time this remark was made the first steps were being taken to establish in the neighboring colony of Massachusetts the college at Cambridge, already endowed by the liberal-minded and far-seeing Harvard. How instructive is the field of reflection here opened as the mind follows for two centuries the development of these great States, started upon foundations so similar, yet developed by principles so antagonistic. Virginia's motto has been: the ignorance of the many promotes the well-being of the few -- while Massachusetts, from her infancy, has proclaimed to the world the great truth that knowledge is power. The teachings inculcated by the experience of these two commonwealths, their relative progress in Christianity and civilization, in the sciences, and in the arts, their average wealth and intellectual advancement, unfold to our newer States no higher truth than that the public welfare is induced in no other way so thoroughly as by judicious investments in common schools."
Coming nearer home, we are indebted to Mr. Abner J. Pilipps, Superintendent of Public Schools for the city of Lowell, for a copy of the Fortieth Report of the School Committee, together with his second annual report. We are glad to find the school committee of this important city approving so heartily the system
of employing superintendents. They say, “In so far as this is a report to the citizens of Lowell, it is proper that the School Committee should express their appreciation of the influence and labors of the Superintendent. Results are already clearly discoverable that satisfy us tbat a wiser or more profitable thing could not have been done for our schools. These results, highly as we esteem the office itself, abstractly considered, we ascribe largely to a rare combination of qualities in the Superintendent whom it has been our good fortune to obtain." And we might add that the outgoing committee of the city of Cambridge, of which Prof. F. J. Cold, of Harvard College, is chairman, express themselves as follows: “ About some things the School Committee are not at present agreed among themselves. Of these we may mention the utility of the study of Grammar as now pursued, and that of the Grammar and Primary pupils passing so many hours in school. In a report which is to be signed by all the members of the committee, such subjects cannot be discussed. We all consent however to refer these questions to our successors. With these we would also put another subject in which we might perhaps come nearer to an agreement. Our schools are now so numerous and require so much attention, the unsettled questions pertaining to methods of education are so various and so pressing, that it would be of great advantage if a general superintendence could be assigned to one competent man. A man of great activity would be needed for the execution of one part of such a duty, and of large information and good judgment for another part. The duties of such an office would be for example what is required of the Superintendent of Public Schools of the City of Boston. Such an officer, supposing him to be possessed of the requsite qualifications, would undoubtedly be of very great use. . . . While making the recommendation, we must call attention to the exceeding importance of making no mistake in the selection of the man, if such an office should be created.”
From the Report of the Watertown School Committee, of which Rev. JOHN Weiss is Chairman, we make the following suggestive extracts respecting the High and Grammar Schools :
“ The High School has been made only a more advanced Grammar School, while the average ability of the pupils has decreased by the admission of too many upon a lower standard. At the same time it has lost entirely its capacity to fit pupils for college. And the multiplication of English studies is so serious a draft on the time of the teacher that some of those which are essential, as bookkeeping, to mercantile pursuits, are neglected, and the pupils cannot be considered by the Committee as in proper training for a business life. The town ought to support a High School that can cover all the ground which pupils may ever be desirous to occupy. There is a desire on the part of parents, which increases every year, that their children may be properly prepared to enter the Scientific School at Cambridge, or the Technological Institute lately established in Boston, as well as the college itself, or the various pursuits of business. The High School, as at present organized, cannot meet that most laudable desire. One, and perhaps two members of the school intend to fit for college. Wbere sball they acquire the requisite drill and information? Shall the parents
be forced to send their children out of town to school? At least two members of the school desire to enter the Technological Institute.' The programme does not give the teacher time enough to fit them properly. It therefore becomes a question if the town will raise its High School to a proper standard and supply it with all the effective means which it now lacks, or leave a few pupils to be cared for out of town. The Committee desire to press this matter upon the immediate attention of the town.
The Committee have to complain that the efficiency of every Grammar School in town is reduced to the bare hearing of recitations, which follow each other in hot haste, as if it were a matter of life and death to get through with a certain number of pages of books in a certain number of terms. The idea of instruction finds too small a place in the incessant routine of hearing of lessons. The pupils have to get their instruction at home. The parents are obliged to take up the office of assistant teachers, in order to prepare the children for the formality of a recitation. Those having parents able, willing and at leisure, do not suffer; the bright children succeed in making a fair recitation, whether they thoroughly understand the lessons or not; the dull ones fail both to recite and to understand. Considering these things, the teachers deserve great credit for the accomplishment of so much. Instead of laying a greater burden of pursuits upon the Grammar Schools, the town ought to provide that the present corps of excellent and faithful teachers should have some opportunities to instruct the children committed to their charge, to explain difficulties to them, to spend time in illustrating rules and problems of every kind, so that the average of each school may be lifted to a higher grade of intelligence."
We return our thanks for copies of the Reports of Chicago, Chelsea, Lynn, Haverhill, Winchester, Charlestown, Nahant, Freetown, St. Joseph, and for that of the State Superinteodent of Maryland. Some of these we propose to quote from hereafter.
MEETING AT THE EDUCATIONAL ROOM.
FEBRUARY 3, 1866. Mr. HUBBARD, of Dorchester, in the chair. A Practical Exercise was given by Mr. HOWARD, of Milton. Subject - Reading.
The discussion was then opened by the Chairman. The subject was, Methods of teaching History. Mr. HUBBARD spoke of the general lack of statistics in relation to the efficacy of different methods. He recommended that a committee be appointed to visit schools throughout the State and collect such statistics. Teachers now have to rely too much on their own observation, wbich was necessarily limited. They often felt sure that they had the best method when a more extended observation would show them that they had not. Every teacher should rely, in some degree, on his own individuality, but still, a knowledge of the experience of others is often useful. He believed that teaching was a science, and that there were truly scientific methods. To secure the best results, we must have the best methods. There are those who say that scholars should not study