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haps, a comparison of their system with that of similar establishments. It is not my object here to moralise on human weakness, nor to remonstrate with human folly; but, certainly, neither great age nor great wealth ought to be made the ground on which to raise a claim of superior excellence for a public seminary of education. Antiquity, be it remembered, is the infancy of society; and riches, in this case, as in all others, reflect honor on their possessor, only in proportion to the wisdom with which they are employed. Besides, the revenue of a college ought to be viewed in the light of wages, and not in that of an unconditional donation. It originally sprang from the piety or liberality of individuals who wished to promote the education of youth; on which account, it becomes the bounden duty of the members of colleges, to provide, with the utmost assiduity, that the means afforded for the instruction of the young persons committed to their care, shall not only be such as they have hitherto been, but the best that the improved state of information, in modern times, can possibly supply. It continues, however, to be a reproach on some learned societies, that a prejudice in favor of certain modes of teaching is apt to become so powerful, as to withstand every effort to improve them; and that, while every other order of professional men are disposed not only to borrow but to steal improvements from one another, teachers in universities avoid all communication and intercourse, think it beneath them to take a hint which might prove useful, or to profit by the experience of those who may have ventured out of the common track. Such conduct is neither wise nor liberal. Engaged in the same digniiied and important work, upon which the great interests of society so much depend, it ought to be the duty of every public teacher to exert himself to the utmost, whether by adopting new methods, or by improving upon the old, to raise higher and higher the intellectual and moral character of the human being.
I5ut I forbear insisting upon matters so obvious and commonplace. No man doubts that it is incumbent on him to do his duty in the best way that it can be performed. The only difference of opinion is respecting the means; and, to come to a right judgement on this head, nothing more seems necessary than candid inquiry and a fair comparison. In this, as in all other questions as to right and wrong, better and worse, the force of truth must ultimately prevail. HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE FREE SCHOOLS OF MASSACHUSETTS. (Continued.) [From Letterton the Free Schools of New England, by James G. Carter.] The Province Charter from William and Mary, in 1691, ordained that the 'territories and colonies commonly called or known by the names of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, and the Colony of New Plymouth, the province of Main, the territory called Accada, or Nova Scotia; and all that tract of land lying between the said territories of Nova Scotia, and the said province of Main, be erected, united, and incorporated, into one real province, by the name of our Province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England.' In this charter,* all grants before made to any town, college, or school of learning, were confirmed. The laws which had been passed under the colony charter of Massachusetts, for the regulation and support of free schools, were essentially confirmed, the first year after the province charter was received, by the following act of the ' governor, council, and representatives t convened in general court or assembly.'
'And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that every town within this province, having the number of fifty householders or upwards, shall be constantly provided of a schoolmaster to teach children and youth to read and write; and where any town or towns have the number of one hundred families or householders, there shall also be a grammar school set up in every such town, and some discreet person of good conversation, well instructed in the tongues, procured to keep such school, every such schoolmaster to be suitably encouraged and paid by the inhabitants. And the selectmen and inhabitants of such towns respectively, shall take effectual care and make due provision for the settlement and maintenance of such schoolmaster and masters.'!
These together with the subsequent provisions, that grammar schoolmasters should be approved by the selectmen of the town, and the minister of the same, or of a neighboring town, constituted
* lProvided, nevertheless, and we do for us, our heirs and successors, grant and ordain, that all and every such lands, tenements and hereditaments, and all other estates, which any person or persons, or bodies politic or corporate, towns, villages, colleges, or schools, do hold and enjoy, or ought to hold and enjoy, within the bounds aforesaid, by or under any grant or estate duly made or granted by any general court formerly held, or by virtue of the letters patent herein before recited, or by any other lawful right or title whatsoever, shall be by such person and persons, bodies politic and corporate, towns, villages, colleges, or schools their respective heirs, successors, and assigns forever, hereafter held and enjoyed, according to the purport and intent of such respective grant, under and subject nevertheless, to the rents and services thereby reserved or made payable, any matter ol thing whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding.1 [Province Charter.) t Prov. Laws, Chap. 13, sec. 4. all the legislative inteference, which was deemed necessary to carry into effect the whole system. Indeed, laws were hardly necessary for such a purpose, in a community so deeply impressed with the importance of the subject. With such a system, and so executed, few could be found so unfortunate as not to have learned the rudiments of reading, spelling, writing, and arithmetic. The standard of common education, at the period of our history before the revolution, was probably not very high. But it was much, to give to all such opportunities, as enabled them to acquire knowledge sufficient to transact business in the common concerns of life. It was by these means, limited as they were, that a whole community were prepared to know their rights, and to appreciate the free enjoyment of them. The free schools, and the laws for their support, probably acted and re-actcd upon each other. The laws originating in those enlightened minds, which could foresee and estimate their effects, raised the character of the people, by the dissemination of knowledge, to such a degree as enabled them to trace their happy condition to its true source. And the intelligence and improved condition of the country, were the surest pledges, that a liberal construction would be put upon the laws for the schools. During the strong excitement, which prevailed, when the causes of the revolution were hastening on the crisis, the attention, which had been paid to the subject of education, was, probably, for a time somewhat diverted. All attention and interest were absorbed by the momentous questions in agitation, upon the result of which depended the existence of a nation. But when the independence of the country was achieved, and the Federal and State constitutions adopted, the public attention was again turned to the system of free schools. The zeal with which they were now patronised, and the liberality with which higher seminaries were founded, and endowed, evinced that a grateful posterity were not unmindful of the treasure, which had been committed to their keeping.. The constitution of Massachusetts, adopted in 1780, recognises the importance of education in the following words:
'Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of Legislatures and Magistrates, in all future periods of this Commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the University at Cambridge, public schools, and grammar schools in the towns.' With such a clause in the constitution, we should have anticipated dome legislative provisions for education, sooner than at the end of nine years. But the institutions and systems of schools, which had obtained under the Province charter, together with the exertions of individuals, were all the means enjoyed for the diffusion of knowledge before the year 1789. The provision under the colony charter, that towns of more than five hundred families should support two grammar schools, and two writing schools, had been sunk under the Province Charter. By the statute of the 'Commonwealth,' towns of fifty families are obliged to support a school for reading, writing, tic. only six months of the year, instead of constantly, as before; and towns of two hundred families are obliged to be provided with a grammar school-master, instead of towns of only one hundred families, as under the Province law. The State was under some temporary embarrassments, soon after the close of the revolution, which is the only reason that occurs for such a departure from the policy, which had been pursued in regard to schools, from the earliest settlement of the country. The resources of the people were certainly much more adequate to the support of schools, after the establishment of a government among themselves, than while they were kept in duress by colonial dependence; or while they were sacrificing every thing to achieve their independence. But the effect of a law, so comprehensive in the detail as the school law of 1789, cannot be estimated with great precision, without taking into account the character of the people for whom it is intended. If the law is intended to force a reluctant people to exertions much beyond their inclination and ability, it will probably be explained away and evaded, till it is reduced, in some good degree, to their wishes. But on the other hand if the law indulges a relaxation from exertions, which the people have been accustomed to make, and which they have made cheerfully , realising a full equivalent in their own condition, they will execute the law upon a construction even beyond its intention. This was the fact in the case of the school law. What the law neglected to provide for, was supplied in some degree by the exertions of individuals. The laws for the support of the primary free schools have never been executed upon a niggardly and parsimonious construction. The public mind upon this subject has gone much before the laws. They have followed at a large distance, rather than stimulated and controlled any interest. The towns have, in many instances, made appropriations for the primary schools, of twice the sums of money necessary to answer the letter of the law. The schools provided for in the above law, are open to children of all classes, and the expense is paid by a tax on the people. Each town is made responsible for the execution of the laws within its jurisdiction. And, to give interest and efficacy to the system, it is made the duty of the minister and selectmen, or a committee 'appointed for the purpose, to overlook the schools,—to visit them, at least, once in six months,—to employ and approve the instructers,—and direct in the selection of school books. Although there are some instances of negligence and indifference, this duty is generally performed with cheerfulness and fidelity. New England possesses some pecular advantages for carrying into effect its system of education. It is divided into small townships, or separate corporations, of from five to seven miles square. The responsibility of these small corporations is more likely to ensure a more vigilant discharge of their duty, than if they were larger, and the subject of their responsibility less immediately under their inspection. As the population is scattered over almostthe whole territory, and the children are often young, who attend the primary schools, it has been found convenient to divide each town into smaller districts for this object. Thus a school is carried to the door, or at least into the neighborhood of every family. Each township constitutes from four to twelve districts; and none are so far removed from all schools, that an attendance on some of them is not easy. The appropriations for schooling in each town, are adequate to support a school in each district, from three to six months in the year, and often longer. The money is raised by a tax on the property of the town, principally, a very small proportion arising from the polls. It is distributed among the districts, sometimes, in proportion to what each pays of the tax; but oftener, a more republican principle prevails, and it is divided according to the number of scholars. There is one other principle of distribution, which is sometimes adopted, in those towns not satisfied with either of the above methods. That is, they divide the money raised as above among the districts, in the compound ratio of the number of scholars and the tax paid in such district. But this requires so much mathematics, that even those, who acknowledge the justness of the principle, commonly content themselves to do less justice, and spare their heads the trouble of calculation. These appropriations are expended, a part in the summer months for the advantage of the younger children, and a part in the winter months for the accommodation of those, who are more advanced in age, and whose labor cannot be spared by their poor and industrious parents. The summer schools are taught by females; and children of both sexes, of from four to ten years attend, females often much older. In these schools from twenty to forty, and sometimes twice that number of children, are taught reading, spelling, and English Grammar, by a single instructress. In the more improved of this class of schools, writing, arithmetic, and geography are added to their usual studies. In the leisure time between lessons the female part of the school, are devoted to the various