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training to which they have there been subjected, will be, in no small measure, their future scholarship. If this early training has been imperfect, however faithfully the student may perform his collegiate duties, he cannot wholly free himself from the difficulties which have thus been brought upon him. On the other hand, when all this previous work has been properly performed, each branch having received its appropriate attention, and at the proper time, the student is prepared to reap all the advantages which a well-digested collegiate course is calculated to furnish.
The College is also dependent upon the School for the habits of study of its students. Before entering college the pupil has spent from six to twelve years in the different departments of the schools. In this long period, habits will have been formed which it will be difficult to change. If these are what they should be, the previous teachers will deserve no small share of the praise for the student's subsequent success; and so, if these habits are the opposite of what they should be, to the same previous teachers must be attributed a considerable portion of the blame of his final failure.
In both the particulars now mentioned, it will be seen that the influence of the previous schools upon the College, is just the same as that of the lower schools upon the High School. The amount of this influence is believed in both cases to be greatly underrated, and the tendency is too common to attribute all the imperfections of a young man's education to the institution, whether school or college, where his course was nominally finished; whereas, in truth, every school in which he has been enrolled, and every teacher who has attempted to give him instruction, has contributed to the final result.
A third particular may be mentioned, in which the influence of the school upon the college is too great to be overlooked. It is an influence not affecting the scholarship of the students, but their number. The question whether a lad shall receive a liberal education, is very frequently decided by the teacher of the school. This is done in different ways; sometimes by direct advice. A teacher who has imbibed a prejudice against collegiate institutions, learns that a bright lad among his pupils has a half-formed purpose of obtaining a liberal education. He endeavors to dissuade him-magnifies the difficulties to be encountered-tells him that such an education will do him no good, and that he will be better off without it. Or, without taking ground thus positively against a college education, he may, by doubt and insinuation, accomplish the end quite as effectually. The ingenuous boy has confidence in his teacher, and the noble purpose is nipped in the bud. A word of encouragement, on the other hand, would have cherished and strengthened the purpose, and in after years that instructor might perhaps have seen his former pupil taking his place among the magnates of the Republic, a dispenser of blessings to his country and the race.
The same ends are often accomplished without any direct effort on the part of the teacher. Is he incompetent, possessed of little knowledge himself, and poorly fitted to impart that little, how can he stir up the dormant energies of those entrusted to his care?-how
instil into their minds that thirst for knowledge, which constitutes one of the strongest guaranties for future improvement? He stands before his pupils a sort of personification of education, and no wonder they have no desire to go farther. Contrast with him the man of large and varied acquirements, of ripe and polished scholarship, and possessing, besides, that enthusiasm in his work, that power of enkindling in the breasts of his pupils a strong desire to know, which is second to no other qualification of the most successful teacher. Can genius long remain latent under such influences? As part after part of the rich domain of knowledge is explored with such a guide, will there not spring up an irrepressible desire to go farther-to make still wider explorations? The higher the culture, and the more varied and accurate the attainments of the teacher of the school, when associated, as they should always be, with intense enthusiasm, the greater will be the number to be seen urging their way onward from grade to grade, till they have possessed themselves of the highest advantages that our great educational system can offer.
But what is the influence of the College upon the School? Keep. ing in mind that the College is the highest department in the system of general education, it is manifest that, wherever correct views are entertained of our educational machinery as a whole, the College must act with magnetic force upon the pupils of the other departments. Prominent among the reasons urged for the establishment of High Schools in our towns and cities, is this-that the High School will exert a powerful influence upon the lower schools, by inciting their pupils to greater diligence and faithfulness in their studies.The argument is equally applicable to the College.
Again, it is urged in favor of the establishment of High Schools and Academies, that they will furnish teachers. This argument, too, whose truthfulness will not be questioned, applies with equal pertinency to the College. The College benefits the School by training up and sending forth those that will become teachers. It seems hardly necessary to say, that I do not mean to affirm that the knowledge and intellectual discipline obtained in College, are all that the good teacher needs; and yet there are not a few who seem to think, that because the young graduate does not at once equal the teacher who has had the experience of half a score of years, therefore a College education is no help to a man who would become an instructor. It requires strong logic to show the connection here between premise and conclusion.
A College is not a Normal School, though it may have such a department. And it is no more to be blamed for not doing the work of a Normal School than is a High School. The province of each of them is, not to educate a young man as a teacher, any more, or any less, than as a merchant. Each has for its appropriate office the communication of knowledge and the development of the whole mind, and not that of initiating into the mysteries of teaching as a profession. This last is the province especially of the Normal School; and when such a school shall have been established in our State, let every candidate for admission into the corps of teachers, be
required to certify that he has been in attendance at that school, or some other, at least one term.
It requires a rare combination of excellencies to make a good teacher a teacher of a school. It is hardly too much to say, that success a high degree of success- -is a more difficult attainment in this than in any other of the occupations of life. One of these excellencies, and certainly one of the first importance, is knowledgeknowledge of the subjects which our children must be taught. The more knowledge the teacher has the better, other things being equal; for it is a rare complaint against him, that he knows too much, or too well. The best teacher is never satisfied with his present attainments--he is always learning. The more he learned when a pupil, the higher is his starting point as a teacher. Now some things taught in College are certainly more immediately available to the teacher than others, but there is not one which it is not for his interest to know there is not one which our best instructors, whose early opportunities were limited, are not studying for themselves, as they can snatch fragments of time from the pressure of their daily duties. Should it be said that it is better to pursue these studies thus than under instructors, then we may affirm the same of other branches lower down on the scale, till, in the end, we shall shut up every school house in the land.
The principle, that attainments in the higher studies qualify for the better understanding of the most elementary branches, is acted upon universally. The man who instructs the most advanced classes in the High School, is the Superintendent of the Primary Schools, the teachers of which instruct under his direction. So in the very center of educational progress, on the soil where good schools_flourish best, such thoroughly educated men as Horace Mann, Barnas Sears and Henry Barnard, are appointed State Superintendents.
Once more Colleges repay the Schools by scattering abroad through the community a class of men who are always found to be the warmest supporters of good schools. Liberally educated men, without exception, are anxious that their children should be well instructed. They are always foremost in employing well qualified instructors, and most ready to give them an adequate compensation. Their countenance and support may be depended upon when the teacher has to contend with the prejudices of the narrow-minded and ignorant. Their judicious suggestions for the improvement of his school, will always meet his approbation and encouragement. When our noble system of free schools is attacked by the demagogue under the plea of economy, the educated man will be found among its most earnest and successful defenders.
Of the Committee of Public Schools, in South Kingstown, R. I., for the municipal year ending June, 1852.
There are few duties which a town owes to itself and to the country, more important than the education of its youth. The proper development of their intellectual powers, the acquisition of knowledge, mental discipline, and moral culture on which the formation of character and future usefulness greatly depend, are entitled to the earnest attention and liberal provision of our citizens. For the cultivation of good manners, the establishment of virtuous habits, and the improvement of the social state we rely in a great measure on the proper training of youth in common schools. Whatever be the sphere of labor which they may occupy in future,-whether they engage in the honorable business of husbandry, or in mechanical and manufacturing employments, or in nautical and mercantile pursuits, a thorough acquaintance with the elementary branches of education will greatly facilitate their success, and their progress to respectability and honor. All classes of our youth should be qualified to fill with propriety and credit to themselves and the State, any post of duty which they may choose for themselves, or to which they may be called by their tellow citizens. The welfare and perpetuity of a republic like ours, demands this preparation of the rising generation.
It is highly gratifying to perceive, that the people of this town do appreciate more and more the value of education; and that there is among them an increasing carefulness to secure teachers who are fully competent to this great work. It is now generally understood and realized, that in school-teaching, as in mechanical operations, it is not good policy in any respect, to employ bunglers, who spoil the materials on which they work. It is perceived and generally felt, as we believe, that incompetent, leaden-minded teachers, whose literary attainments scarcely equal that of many of their pupils, occasion a waste of precious existence, and a waste of public money.
VISITATION OF SCHOOLS.
At the time of our election to the highly responsible duties of a school committee, the town instructed the chairman to
perform the duties of superintendent of the schools by visiting them twice in the winter term, and voted a certain sum as a compensation for these services. In compliance with this specific instruction, he visited all the schools as near the commencement of the term as practicable, with the exception of one, (No. 11,) where at the time no teacher was engaged.— The second visitation was near the close of the schools, and was made to all the schools, excepting four, of which three were in remote parts of the town and closed sooner than the chairman expected. In addition to this, he visited most of the schools during the summer term. While prosecuting this labor he became more and more convinced of the importance and utility of it. The state of the schools, the manner of conducting the exercises, the discipline and progress of the pupils are in this manner well ascertained. It makes teachers feel more deeply their responsibility, and stimulates those under their instruction to greater diligence. Favorable opportunities are thus afforded for imparting counsel or giving hints to each as circumstances may require, and the chairman has acted accordingly.
The town has a territory equal to four towns of the ordinary size in New England, and has twenty-one districts and twenty-four schools. As the time of the required visitations occurred at the most unpleasant portions of the year, viz.: at the beginning and about the close of winter or early in the spring, when much of the weather and the roads are bad, it was impracticable to visit them all within a fortnight of their commencement and their close as the law recommends. For the convenience of performing these very desirable visitations, it would be well to have them all commence the winter term about the same time, for instance, in the first half of November.
While most of our school buildings are neat and commodious, there are a few which need to be remodelled and fitted with desks of the improved form; and two, (Nos. 4 and 5) are entirely too small for the number of scholars, which exceeds sixty in each.
Nearly all the school rooms are furnished with a handsome map of the State, and also one of the United States. Beside these, many have Mitchel's outline maps. Quite a number are supplied with clocks, and some with globes and thermometers. A few only are destitute of blackboards. And yet surprising as it may seem, but very few of our school houses have a shovel and tongs, or chairs for visiters, or even one for