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SELECTIONS FROM REPORT. The committee congratulate the town on the general prosperity of Common Schools in this town, and the universal interest which the subject of Common School Education is exciting through the whole community.
Your committee feel, that there has been an improvement, this year, in our schools, so far as it regards the fundamental studies. The importance of read-' ing, spelling and writing, can never be overrated. Give a man a thorough knowledge of the spelling book, the ability to read fluently and understandingly, a good knowledge of figures, with the skill of writing a fair legible hand, and he is prepared for almost any business. The art of spelling has been, of late, regarded as a branch of minor importance,-a branch to be studied by small scholars only. This mistaken notion, your committee, regarding as a fundamental error, have made an effort to correct it, and have reason to believe their efforts have not been in vain. In a government like ours, the perpetuity of whose institutions depends upon general intelligence, the ability to read understandingly, correctly and gracefully, “ is a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
If the science of reading were more thoroughly taught in our schools, we feel assured, that the number of reading men would be far greater, and a much greater fund of information would be diffused through the community. A taste for reading is acquired in youth, and if not then, it is very rarely acquired in after-life. Many scholars have undervalued these branches.
Another obstacle to the improvement in our schools is the irregular attendance of some of the scholars. Your committee have made a computation, and find, startling as may be the fact, there has been a loss, in the aggregate, of 1,250 weeks, or between twenty-four and twenty-five years of schooling. Of what avail are good teachers, if children are not present to be taught ? Every parent should feel, that it should be no trifling cause that should detain his child from school. It is, at most, but a small gain to the parent, but an incalculable loss to the child. Let there be a united effort made to remedy this defect, and all will be benefited, from the least to the greatest.
Another great hindrance to the improvement of our schools, is the want of interest felt by the parents.
The importance of popular education we need not enjoin on your consideration. The Father of our Country, in his Farewell Address, speaking of the basis of a free government, says,—" Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential, that public opinion be enligbtened." *
Parents should strive to coöperate with the teachers, and imprint on the tender mind the principles, the teacher has instilled. A single word, dropped by the parent in the hearing of the child, discountenancing the conduct of the teacher, may set in motion a train of measures, which will entirely destroy the usefulness of the school. Let every parent, then, stand by good order, and lend his aid to render pleasant and profitable the laborious occupation of a teacher. Let every parent impress on the mind of his children, that “order is heaven's first law;" that the authority of a teacher is just, necessary and expedient, and that they shall suffer the penalty of a broken law at home, if they escape at school, and the government of a school would be comparatively trifling. * * *
SCHOOL COMMITTEE. JAMES KIMBALL, HORACĘ P. WAKEFIELD.
(1) Population, 2,047. Valuation, $594,038 20.
Number of Public Schools, 12. (2) No. of Scholars of all ages in all the Schools—In Summer, 393—In Winter, 401. (3) Average attendance in the Schools—In Summer, 311—In Winter, 320. (4) No. of persons between 4 and 16 years of age in the town, 464.-No. of persons under 4
years of age who attend School, 57.–No. over 16 years of age who attend School, 43. (5) Aggregate length of the Schools, 69 mths.-In Summer, 45—In Winter, 24.
(6) No. of Teachers in Summer -M.-F.11.-No. of Teachers in Winter-M.-F. . (7) Average wages paid per month, including board To Males, $24 75.-To Females, $11 95. (8) Average value of board per month Of Males, $800.-Of Females, $5 62. (9) Average wages per month, exclusive of board—Of Males, $16 62–0f Females, $6 28. (10) Amount of money raised by taxes for the support of Schools, including only the wages of
Teachers, board and fuel, $1,000. (11) Amount of board and fuel, if any, contributed for Public Schools, $ (12) No. of incorporated Academies, ,-Aggregate of months kept, Average No. of
Scholars, Aggregate paid for tuition, $ (13) No. of unincorporated Academies, Private Schools, and Schools kept to prolong Common
Schools, 1.--Aggregate of months kept, 10.-Average No. of Scholars, 56.-Aggre
gate paid for tuition, $225. (14) Amount of Local Funds, $ .-Income from same,
Books USED.-Spelling-Webster's. Reading-New Testament, Worcester's Series of Books, Intelligent Reader, Child's Guide. Grammar-Smith's. Geography Smith's and Olney's. Arithmetic-Smith's. All others-Parley's and New York Primers.
REMARK.-On the first side of the blank the aggregates only are carried out; and not the items of the respective districts.
SELECTIONS FROM REPORT. * Your committee would here, however, respectfully submit
, whether it be not clearly the duty of the prudential committee, or the teacher, to advise the school committee of the opening and closing of the school in his district. If the school committee are not to have an opportunity of discharging the duty of inspecting the schools, the town might well be spared the trouble and expense of electing and paying such mittee.
Females, if they have not more learning, have more of that which is as necessary, aptness to teach, and in point of government, your committee think they fall little, if any, short of those of the stronger sex. Your committee would here express it as their decided opinion, that the small districts would find their account in employing females, in both the summer and winter schools. They would have as good, if not better schools, and of much longer duration, the expense being but about one half that of a school with a male teacher.
The winter school in district was kept by a teacher with whose literary qualifications your committee were not altogether satisfied; but having rejected one or two other candidates presented before us, for the same school, and finding, at a very late day, and near the time fixed for the opening of the school, that the committee must approbate this one, or take the selection of teacher into their own hands, your committee finally concluded, with great reluctance, to issue a certificate. This school was tolerably well governed, and the aspect of it, when last visited and inspected by your committee, was somewhat more promising than they had seen reason to expect. Your committee could not fail to recognize in the teacher a state of feeling towards them, that did him very little honor, and your committee no harm.
In the examination of candidates, your committee have endeavored to do their duty, and come up to the letter and spirit of the law. In one or two instances, they may have failed. Whenever an unfit person has been first offered, your committee have rejected the person and endeavored to shield the town from useless, and worse than useless, expenditure. Whenever the rejected candidate has been again presented, as has happened in several cases, your committee have been prevailed upon, in some two or three cases, upon a second examination and after a review of studies, to grant him approbation. In those cases, the committee may be thought not to have done their duty to the town, as the law provides, that, in case a district prudential committee may fail to provide a school or teacher, the school committee may employ a teacher for the district. This your committee did not choose to do, and in this, perhaps, they erred. Your committee, when called on to examine candidates, have been particularly careful to ascertain their literary qualifications, especially
whether they manifested a thorough acquaintance with the spelling book and the principles of good reading. We have also been anxious to ascertain of those, whether they understood distinctly what the laws require of a school teacher to teach and inculcate, and what not to teach, and where a candidate betrayed ignorance on this head, your committee bave done what they could to enlighten him. *
Your committee will now proceed to designate a few defects and improvements
First of all, your committee beg leave to submit, as a clear defect in the means of education in this town, the smallness of the amount of funds raised for the support of schools. Our town cannot most certainly sustain good schools without funds. If we would have schools of high standing, or of a long continuance, we must expect to pay for them. The grant, for the past year, is smaller than that for the year previous. If we cannot consent to increase our annual grant, it is respectfully submitted, whether, in these days of light and knowledge, we shall be found, year after year, diminishing it.
Your committee would submit the propriety of having the teacher contracted for at an earlier day, by the several committees, than they now are. The chances of securing the best teachers would thus be presented, and your committee saved the unpleasant and embarrassing task of an examination, pressed upon them at a late day, perhaps the very morning fixed upon for the opening of the school, when they must either approbate or disappoint the district and all parties concerned.
Your committee pass from this to the state of our houses for schools, for, in two of our districts, there are no schoolhouses, the schools being kept in dwelling-houses, and, in the Northeast district, the schoolhouse is little better than none, being exceedingly ancient and in a ruinous condition, unfit altogether, on the score of convenience and health, for the use to which it is applied, either in summer or winter, without great and thorough repairs. Some of our schoolhouses are too warm, some too cold ;—in many, the air, when the house is warm, is noxious and unhealthy, from want of proper ventilation. Fresh air could, at a very trifling expense, be admitted into such houses, thus saving the school from a smoky house, and furnishing a comfortable and healthy abode,
Another great defect, in many of our schoolhouses, is the narrowness of the seats, especially for the younger children. It demands a speedy remedy,-it may infict
upon a weakly child an injury not easily recovered fromn, &c. In passing from this subject, your committee would say, you want better teachers,—teachers of a higher grade than even the best you have had. We have said, you have had good ones the past year, and we mean no offence to those when we say, you want still better. You must have still abler teachers, if you desire to lift high among you the standard of education, and you can have them, if you will only demand them,-demand them, we mean, by an offer of such compensation as will effectually secure them. You have now just as good teachers as you ask for, and are willing to pay. Ask for better ones and pay them, and you can have them.
Want of books,-books level to the capacity of children,—is another defect in our schools. Books abound in our schools ; indeed, there are too many and too great a variety, but books, such as children can understand, are rarely to be found in our schools.
Your committee would here submit, whether something cannot be done, in the several districts, towards procuring some slight apparatus, such as globes, &c., with a small library, consisting, if thought best, as well of school, as miscellaneous books, adapted to the taste and capacity of youth. Your cornmittee are of opinion, that this would very much increase the interest of the children in, and promote the usefulness of, Common Schools. Your committee would suggest, whether a small sum could not be raised in each district, for this purpose, by subscription, without a resort to taxation; and most earnestly would your committee here recommend to parents and guardians, and others having the charge of children, and, indeed, to all, to cultivate a feeling of deeper interest in the welfare of our Common Schools. We talk of the importance of our schools ;-We want to feel it. It is on our tongues ;-we want it in our hearts. It is constantly in our mouths, that the welfare of our children, the welfare of
our country, rests upon sustaining our schools,-a foundation, upon which every thing dear to us rests; and yet we act as though they had scarce any connec. tion with us or ours. We must awake and arouse ourselves to this great subject. Parents and others must enter our schools more frequently, to give strength and efficiency to the teacher's efforts, and encouragement to the children. The teachers and the children both want to be made to see and know and feel, that we take a deep interest in our schools. It is the deadness and supineness of the parents and others, in a word, the people, that gives to the school-room such a dead and doleful aspect. Infuse life into the one, and you change the other into an abode of cheerfulness, which our children would gladly seek, instead of shunning it, as they now do.
Parents and others can also vastly increase the usefulness and add to the efficiency of their Common School institution, by engaging, heartily and in earnest, in the great work of Home Education. We expect too much of the Common School when we ask it to do every thing for our children. We must do much at home. We must second the teacher's efforts when our children assemble around our own fire-side. Talk to them of their school,—of their studies ;strive to interest them in it;-instil into their young minds the importance of education, and make them, if possible, feel it. * Cultivate among them, at home, sentiments of charity and universal good will, as also a sacred regard to truth. It is here our schools most fail. The paramount importance of the moral culture and training of our children is not sufficiently recognized in our Common Schools. Let parents at home give the more prominence to it. *
SCHOOL COMMITTEE.-Josiah PRENTICE, David Holman.
(1) Population, 619. Valuation, $143,284 66. ,
Number of Public Schools, 5. (2) No. of Scholars of all ages in all the Schools-In Summer, 160—In Winter, 220. (3) Average attendance in the Schools-In Summer, 137-In Winter, 164. (4) No. of persons between 4 and 16 years of age in the town, 173.—No. of persons under 4
years of age who attend School, 12.-No. over 16 years of age who attend School, 45. (5) Aggregate length of the Schools, 19 mths. 7 days, In Summer, 8 21-In Winter, 10 14. (6) No. of Teachers in Summer-M. -F. 4.-No. of Teachers in Winter-M.4F. 1. (7) Average wages paid per month, including board—To Males, $25 10—To Females, $12 87. (8) Average value of board per month-Of Males, $7 88-Of Females, $5 60. (9) Average wages per month, exclusive of board-Of Males, $17 25-Of Females, $7 27. (10) Amount of money raised by taxes for the support of Schools, including only the wages of
Teachers, board and fuel, $400. (11) Amount of board and fuel, if any, contributed for Public Schools, $ (12) No. of incorporated Academies, .- Aggregate of months kept, .-Average number of
Scholars, -Aggregate paid for tuition, $ (13) No. of unincorporated Academies, Private Schools, and Schools kept to prolong Common
Schools, 1.-Aggregate of months kept, 3.-Average No. of Scholars, 30.-Aggre
gate paid for tuition, $90. (14) Amount of Local Funds, $ .-Income from same, $
BOOKS USED.- - Spelling-Cummings' and Emerson's. Reading-Bible, American First Class Book, National Reader, Intelligent Reader, Child's Guide, Child's Third Book. Granmar Pond's Murray's. Geography-Olney's. Arithmetic-North American, 1st, 2d and 3d, Smith's, Adams'. All others-Day's Algebra, Olmstead's Philosophy, Goodrich's History, Worcester's Ancient and Modern History, Watts on the Mind.
SELECTIONS FROM REPORT. * In the first, or centre district, the school was numerous, consisting of scholars of all ages, which greatly retarded the improvement of the whole. Had the younger scholars, up to eight or ten years of age, been separated from the older ones, and placed under the instruction of a female, both divisions of the school would probably have derived double the profit.
The committee have the pleasure of stating, that not a single instance of insubordination has disgraced or disturbed any one of the schools the past year.
The committee deem it their duty here to say, that parents cannot be too deeply impressed with the importance of having well educated females for instructers, in the summer schools; for in these schools is laid the foundation of good reading. Almost every one acknowledges the difficulty of overcoming a bad habit, and habits acquired in youth, are of all others the most difficult to be subdued. If children are allowed to read in a hurried manner, in a low voice, and with an indistinct articulation of the syllables or words, this style of reading soon becomes habitual, and is a very great obstacle to their ever becoming good readers. It is very difficult
, even for men of education, to correct their own faults in the pronunciation of particular words, because they pronounce them from babit, and are not aware of the error at the time of speaking. Children ought to be taught, in their first lessons in reading, to pronounce words so distinctly, that the proper sound of every vowel, which ought to be sounded at all, shall be clearly heard. From such early instruction springs good reading, one of the most desirable accomplishments of an education.
The committee will speak of one fault, which is too prevalent among parents and guardians, and which greatly retards the improvement of the schools, and saps the foundation of good government in them. This fault consists in questioning scholars about the qualification of their teachers, especially when they happen to be new ones; whether they have made a proper arrangement of the classes ; whether they appear to know any thing, or attend to their duty as they ought, and so forth, and so forth. All such inquiries have a tendency to instil into the minds of the pupils, the belief that they are abundantly competent to decide, not only on the qualification of their teachers, but on their whole plan of instruction; and they soon begin to think that they are quite as able to teach the instructer, as the instructer them. When such a state of feeling is produced in the minds of the scholars, disrespect to the teacher is the sure result
, and in many instances disorder and misrule; and very little, if any improvement, in learning can be made. The proper way for gaining the information sought by such inquiries, is by personal inspection of the schools. If parents would visit them frequently, they would acquire not only correct information relative to the government and instruction of them, without such injurious inquiries, but would greatly aid the teacher in the discharge of laborious duties, and more than in any other way, excite in the schools greater efforts for improvement
Children like to be noticed, and their schools, if visited frequently by parents, acquire, in their estimation, a much higher importance, and their ambition to improve is greatly increased. During these parental visits, the exercises of the school should be conducted, as they would be if no visiter were present. The only thing required of the parents, is to sit and be spectators of the performances. This, we should think, would be one of the most agreeable of all visits, especially for mothers, in the summer terms, and for fathers, also, in the win:
SCHOOL COMMITTEE.-JAMES DAY, HENRY Wilson, David G. Davis.
$(1) Population, 1,731. Valuation, $444,605 50.
Number of Public Schools, 14. (2) No. of Scholars of all ages in all the Schools—In Summer, 340—In Winter, 392. (3) Average attendance in the Schools-In Summer, 265—In Winter, 303. (4) No. of persons between 4 and 16 years of age in the town, 474.-No. of persons under 4
years of age who attend School, 42.-No. over 16 years of age who attend School, 70. (5) Aggregate length of the Schools, 44 mths.-In Summer, 24–In Winter, 20. (6) No. of Teachers in Summer-M. -F. 11.–No. of Teachers in Winter M. 7-F. 3 (7) Average wages paid per month, including board—To Males, $2700-To Females, $11 93. (8) Average value of board per month-Of Males, $6 80—Of Females, $5 66.