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THE TWENTY-FIRST ANNUAL MEETING OF THE RHODE ISLAND
INSTITUTE OF INSTRUCTION.
PROVIDENCE, FRIDAY, Jan. 27, 1865. This society met to hold its annual meeting in the Richmond Street Congregational Church at 10 o'clock this morning. A very large number were in attendance.
The President, William A. Mowry, Esq., called to order; and opening devotional exercises, reading scripture and prayer, were conducted by Rev. Elias Richardson, of this city.
Rev. Mr. Richardson welcomed the teachers of the Institute to the place of meeting and to the hospitalities of our city. He said it was a pleasant duty which he was called upon to perform, and he wished he might discharge that duty in a manner befitting the occasion. To do so would simply require a faithful expression of our own hearts; first, in relation to the cause in which they were engaged, and in the second place in relation to the teachers as representatives of that cause. When he considered the peculiar circumstances in which our country is placed, the great and recent development of population and patriotism, the sacrifices which the people of this country and this State have made, he could assure his fellow teachers, that when we count the glories of our beautiful land, and consider the excellenceis of our people, we shall remember that these results are due to the ceaseless perseverance and patience and self-denial in a larger measure to this class of laborers than to any other. We welcome you, said the speaker, to these sacred precincts; we welcome you as fellow laborers with the ministry, laying largely the foundations upon which we work.
The teachers' work called for the exercise of almost unlimited patience, and for the time being seemed to be inadequately rewarded ; but a day was coming when they should be rewarded and among the servants of God, and if so be that there is a spirit of fidelity to the Divine Master, the teacher will occupy as high a position among the children of God as any class or profession that appear around His Throne. And would not the reward which will satisfy you then be similar in its nature to that of the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom we read that he should see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.”
The offerings that will especially appear glorious around the Throne on High, will be those gathered from the American people who have stood so near the Throne of Glory, and yours the reward to feel that this is so largely through your own efforts.
The President gave a slight sketch of the history of the Institution, stating that since its organization in 1844, it had held ninety-two meetings. He also gave an encouraging account of its progress, the results of its labors, its present condition and progress.
The following Committees were appointed :
On Resolutions—Messrs. Davis, of Providence ; Tefft, of Kingston; and Coon, of Hopkinton.
On the Rhode Island Schoolmaster-Messrs. Manchester, DeMunn, Cady, Snow and Adams.
On Nomination of Officers—Messrs Bicknell, Gamwell, Eastman, Manchester and Thurber.
Prof. Joseph Eastman, of East Greenwich, gave a lecture upon the “ Duty of the Teacher to Himself.” The principal aim of the speaker was to urge the teacher to such an improvement of his leisure hours and of the time which rightfully belongs to himself as would develop the highest mental culture, and thus be prepared to be the most efficient, and exert the largest and best influence upon society and in the sphere of his profession.
Dr. Chapin, our School Commissioner, announced that a meeting of superintendents and all officers of schools had been held this morning and an organization effected, and that Mr. Kendall, who had addressed that meeting, would speak before this body.
Mr. Kendall spoke more than half an hour upon the various educational influences that were at work in society, and the great need of coöperation among all school officers in city and village, in order that a right direction might be given to educational forces, the dangers to the young pointed out, evil influences counteracted, and more prevailing results of intellectual, moral and religious education attained.
Adjourned till 2 o'clock, P. M.
The Institute met at two o'clock, pursuant to adjournment.
The annual report of the Secretary, Mr. A. C. Robbins, was read, received, adopted and ordered to be placed on file.
The Treasurer, Mr. N. W. DeMunn, presented his report, which was received and referred to the Auditing Committee. The receipts of the year amounted to...
.. $242 81 Expenses. .................................................
....................... 104 57 Balance to new account............
$1,198 24 The President remarked that it was desirable that as many of the teachers of Rhode Island as possible should be interested in one of the two great National Educational Societies, and at his suggestion,
Prof. Greene, President of the National Teachers' Association, spoke of the objects of this National Society, and of the advantages of attending its sessions. Rhode Island was largely represented at its last great meeting, and its high-toned character, composed as it is of the first educational talent in the country, makes it desirable for all interested in the great work of education to attend its sessions.
Dr. Crane, of East Greenwich, delivered a lecture on the English Language. Under this convenient heading the lecturer remarked that he should discuss some matters respecting words and phrases and syntechnical laws which are in daily use in writing and speaking. After speaking of the nature of language, of the character and extended use of our own English language, and the consequent importance of a correct use of the same, the lecturer spoke of the relations which the history of the individual words bear to the social condition of the people, revealing the manners and customs of the people in the earlier history of the written language more than three centuries ago. As one illustration, Mr. Crane cited the fact, that in the times of Alfred the Great, it was common for noble families to designate their ancestry through their father as the sword side, through the mother as the spindle side, the father accustomed to the profession of arms, and the mother to the use of the loom
and spindle. Such designations threw a flood of light on the habits and manners of the people. Written language enabled us to trace the history of language back for centuries, and on this account the lecturer condemned all attempts to change the orthography of words, or to give them a phonetic character, because, as he claimed, it would neutralize all efforts to trace the origin of words. Taking the word Europe for one illustration from the Greek word “Uros,” broad, and “Ope,” space, which conveyed an idea of its history, while the phonetic method, which reduced the word to four letters, obliterated every vestige of its origin, it was no longer an historic word, fresh with fruit bearing, life and beauty, but only a dry and barren name.
In the construction of sentences, also, there were strong arguments for adhering to established forms of expression. Special reference was made to such as were called idioms, and positive claims were made for the propriety of such phrases as " the ship is building,'' not o being built"; " had better not," instead of " would better not”; “ought carefully consider," instead of “ought to.” “In our midst” was ungrammatical, because it did not indicate the possession of property. It was better to say “under my own signature,” than “ over my own signature.” It was ridiculous to say “I rode after a horse," instead of " with a horse.”
The closing portion of this lecture, which was remarkable for its exact and careful discriminations, was devoted to citations from the poems of Milton and Gray in illustration of the art of word-painting, and of the power and beauty of language as used by these and other eminent poets.
After an intermission of a few minutes, Prof. Dunn, of Brown University, gave a familiar lecture on “ English Composition,” which will be published in full in THE SCHOOMASTER.
The exercises began with singing by the Orpheus Club of this city, whose performances, in connection with other exercises of the evening, added much to the interest and enjoyment of the occasion.
Rev. A. H. Clapp offered prayer.
Rev. E. B. Webb, of Boston, delivered the lecture of the evening. He announced his subject as, “ Given a man-how to make the most of him." Or, said the speaker, given a youth, of good physical power, free from disease, not broken down in the ranks of vice, with fair mental qualities, and, as the world goes, virtuously inclinedhow to make the most of him.
The highest authority says the chief end of man is to glorify his Creator; but how could a man glorify his Creator except by exhibiting the design of that Creator in his existence, as the heavens declare the glory of God by showing in all their sublime movements they obey his law. Philosophy answers the question practically in the same way, and a man could make the most of himself as an agent or instrument for work when all his faculties meet the demands upon them.
Man is a steamer, self-controlled with impulses, desires, happiness, instincts, affections, will and conscience. Take away the passions, and you put out the fires under the boiler; take away the conscience and you destroy the compass; take away the will, and you have a rebel craft trying to get into port without a rudder, and so on. That steamer will make best time, carry the greatest burden, and tread down the greatest wave, when every part of her machinery does its proper work; and the same is true of man.
First, then, in order that man should make the best of himself he should have a sound physical constitution. This the speaker enforced by an appeal to the reason and common sense of his auditors, and remarked that although such men as Robert Hall and Jonathan Edwards had performed prodigious mental labors while afflicted with diseased bodies, yet this was the exception and not the rule, and in favor of the rule the speaker referred to Hugh Miller, Isaac Newton and Lord Bacon. The speaker rejoiced in every gymnasium, in every military drill, and all ministers and school-masters born with sound bodies who did not present themselves as examples of perfect health should vote themselves guilty. They should have constitution enough to make toil easy, and patience enough and perseverance enough to drag the heaviest train and blow off steam all the time.
The speaker passed next to consider how to make the best use of man's mental powers. He quoted from Sir William Hamilton as evidence that the highest mental development springs from exercise: “ The more intense and vigorous the exercise, the more vigorously developed the powers of the mind.” The neglect to use all these faculties brings decay. The common indulgence of the youth of our day in light literature tended as a law of the mind to dwarf mental development, and on this account alone the speaker deprecated it in the strongest terms.
There were imperative conditions, however, to the intense and vigorous mental activity referred to. In action which requires health and blood there must be alternate periods of repose.
Again, a man makes the most and best of himself by the harmonious development of all his powers. It was a common idea that great men were great in one direction as a great mathematician, a great general, a great musician. The speaker did not believe this idea. Shakspeare often exhibited the philosophy of Bacon. The landscape painter must be a geologist, and attainments in any science would be a help to a great military leader. The versatile qualities of the great Napoleon's mind was referred to in this connection. If Plato were a standard, that mind would be best developed which attained nearest to his in all respects; and if we looked still higher, to the Divine mind, that human mind would be best developed that became most like the Divine.
But the highest and noblest powers of man were not his intellectual faculties ; his spiritual endowments soared far above them all. The speaker urged to man himself the supreme importance of the fullest development of his spiritual faculties, and demanded of teachers and all engaged in training the expanding mind that they should not fail to give their best efforts in securing the most ennobling results in the development of the spiritual nature of all under their instruction.
Let us, said the lecturer, take in the whole of man as educators ; let us enlarge our ideas of the importance of moral life and spiritual interests, that we may make the best of ourselves and of those committed to our care.
Adjourned till Saturday morning at 9 o'clock.
SATURDAY MORNING. The Institute assembled at nine o'clock, the President, William A. Mowry, Esq., in the chair. The session was opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Horton, of Barrington.
A verbal report in relation to THE R. I. SCHOOLMASTER was presented by N. W. DeMunn, Esq., giving an account of the efforts of the resident editors in maintaining our State educational journal during the past year.
The following officers were elected for the ensuing year, as per report of nominating committee :
President- William A. Mowry, Cranston.
Vice Presidents—Isaac F. Cady, Warren ; Albert A. Gamwell, Providence; Samuel Austin, Providence ; Rev. Geo. A. Willard, Warwick; Rev. John Boyden, Woonsocket; Benjamin F. Clarke, Providence ; John E. Tefft, South Kingstown; Dwight R. Adams, Centreville; Daniel W. Hoyt, Providence; Joseph M. Ross, Lonsdale ; Charles B. Goff, Providence; Rer. Benjamin F. Hayes, North Scituate; Thomas W. Bicknell, Providence; Samuel Thurber, Providence; Henry S. Latham, Bristol.
Recording Secretary-Alvin C. Robbins, North Providence.
Auditing Committee-Francis B. Snow, Providence; Thomas Davis, Central Falls ; A. J. Manchester, Providence.
Directors—Isaac F. Cady, Rev. E. M. Stone, Rev. James T. Edwards, M. S. Greene, Prof. Joseph Eastman, Francis B. Snow, Thomas Davis, 1. W. Bicknell.
The School Commissioner said there had been handed him the following inquiry : “ Have teachers a right to compel scholars to give up any article in their possession that is a cause of disorder in school?” He would answer, emphatically, “yes." To deny this right would be to allow the school to be governed by the caprice or the 'will of the pupil.
At half-past ten o'clock a lecture was delivered by E. A. Sheldon, Esq., Superintendent of Schools at Oswego, N. Y. Subject, “Child Culture, by the methods of Object Teaching." One of the most marked traits of the child is activity. It should be the aim of the teacher to guide and direct this activity, not to suppress it. The putting children into a school-room, and requiring them to sit quiet with nothing to do, can be considered as little short of barbarism. In order to direct the constant activity of the child, we must know something of the order in which his faculties develop themselves. This order, as given by Dr. Thomas Hill, is, first, the Perceptives ; second, Conception; third, Reason ; fourth, Judgment. The order which Nature has instituted in the acquisition of knowledge, is in strict harmony with the above, and indicates the natural order of studies to be—first, Mathematics; second, Natural History; third, History; fourth, Metaphysics ; fifth, Theology, including Natural Theology and Religion.
The proper education of the senses is the first process in the mental discipline of the child, for how else can any tangible ideas be imparted. If this is neglected in the outset, all after education partakes of a drowsiness,, haziness and insufficiency, which it is impossible to cure. The scnses are capable of almost infinite improvement. Much aid may be given by encouraging that inquisitiveness and curiosity natural to children. Let this course be pursued and the most intelligent parent will find his own stock of knowledge exhausted before the school life of the child commences, for the child learns more during the first five years of his existence than in any ten subsequent years. The teacher should lead his young pupils first to obtain an accurate perception of whatever comes under their cognizance, and secondly by accurate expressions to convey their ideas to others. In the disciplining of the perceptions regard must be had to the several ideas of form, size, place, number, time, sound, order and weight. Lessons in form may be conveyed by calling attention to the more geometrical forms as presented in the surfaces of solids. In color the perceptions of children may be exercised in distinguishing the leading colors, their tints