not fail to perceive, that a sound body is as indispensable to a man's comfort and happiness, as is a cultivated mind to his usefulness and respectability; and when we consider—what every one knows, alas ! to be too true--that the seeds of disease are often sown in the school-room; that the props of health are knocked away, to add fuel to the fires of intellect; we must admit, that the preservation of health is an interest which demands, and should receive, a careful supervision. The man who should expend his whole fortune, in splendidly furnishing a decayed and tottering mansion, would be the very personification of wisdom, compared with one who should enrich the mind at the expense of that which contains it.

While, then, the altars of God's temples—which temples we are—are surrounded by earnest worshippers, ardent seekers after knowledge, how carefully should the foundations of these temples be guarded against the worm of destruction, and their pillars against the hand of violence and the decay of neglect !

But if that which relates to the physical nature of the young requires attention, much more does that which concerns their moral nature. The safety and enduring prosperity of every people depend upon their moral sense.

“Righteousness exalteth a nation." An active, sensitive conscience, impelling a mind well instructed in the path of duty, distinguishes the thoroughly educated from the mere delver in books. Virtue is infinitely above learning. The most splendid exhibitions of intellect cannot supply the wants of a soul devoid of true principles of action.

Intellect may, indeed, erect towering castles and splendid palaces; it may gird a continent with belts

of iron; may break down the strong barricades of nature, and join ocean to ocean; may speak with the tongue of lightning; may teach the child to sport with the fiery bolts of Heaven; with its snowy sails it may sweep its way over the foaming deep to the ends of the earth; or, as an eagle, it may soar aloft on the wings of the wind; with its piercing eye it may look out into the distant regions of space, and gaze on worlds and systems of worlds beyond number, or with its mighty hand it may grasp the universe and weigh it as in a balance ;-all this it may do, and much more; and yet if it be uncontrolled by a lofty sense of right and duty-a deep and active consciousness of obligation to God and man, it becomes a magazine, which may scatter death and destruction, whenever Passion applies her flaming torch.

Intellect made a drunken Alexander, a corrupt Bacon, an immoral Burns; but something more was necessary to form a Washington, a Newton, and a Wordsworth. It may create painters and poets, orators, statesmen, philosophers; but it must go hand in hand with Virtue, to make the truly upright, honest man–the firm, devoted Christian.

The influence of schools, in forming the character, cannot be overestimated. The effects of association, of the precepts and example of the teacher, are great and lasting. It is, therefore, of deep importance, that those qualities should be cherished among the young, while passing through our schools, which, in after years, will be most conducive to the welfare of society; that the teacher should appeal to proper motives; that he should not endanger the future happiness of any one under his charge, for a little present success;

[ocr errors]

that he should lay no rude or unskilful hand upon the delicate springs of the soul.

In view, then, of the necessity of proper moral training, and of the vast influence of schools in regard to it, all must concede that this great interest requires a watchful supervision.

We conclude, therefore, that school supervision, to be full and effective, should comprehend, as far as possible, all that relates to the body, the intellect, and the heart.

II. Our second question is,- What is the work a Supervisor should perform ? This relates, of course, to the several interests just considered. In promoting the first of these, he is to see that suitable edifices are prepared for the accommodation of children; that in situation, size, and arrangement, they are adapted to promote the health and comfort of their occupants, and to afford the teacher all desirable facilities for imparting instruction. The prosperity of a school depends, to a considerable extent, upon its house and grounds. A commodious room, a spacious yard, an eligible situation, add much to the enjoyment of the youthful mind, and prepare it for the more cheerful performance of its duties. In former days, the veriest hovel answered for a school-house; while, in regard to situation, the proximity of swamps and frog-ponds seems to have been thought necessary for the harmony and well-being of the school. Although that state of things has nearly passed away, there are still many places where the hand of improvement is needed. Authority, or advice, has here a work to perform.

It is also the work of supervision, to see that the

physical powers of the young are not injured by too severe application to study, or by the infliction of improper punishments. Enthusiastic students, eagerly ambitious to excel; and regardless of nature's wise laws, not unfrequently pay for their temporary success the penalty of shattered health. I have known a school to be for a time suspended in consequence of the effects produced by undue mental excitement. In the strife among teachers for preëminence, there is now a strong tendency to this evil. The mind is urged too much.

There are some kinds of corporal punishment, the use of which an overseer of schools should prevent. I refer not to the infliction of the rod in the usual way. As seems to be generally conceded, the rod, like arsenic, may be administered in certain desperate

The most direct, indeed almost the only road to the consciences of some few children, appears to run along the vertebral ridge. A rod for the fool's back. Reasonably used, it causes no lasting physical effects. As a philosophical little boy once said, in regard to the pain of a threatened castigation, -" It don't last long, sir." Not so, however, when the pupil is compelled to stand with a finger upon a nail in the floor, causing a rush of blood to the brain ; or to extend a heavy weight in the hand, doing violence to the muscles of the arm and the chest, or to remain in an entry, exposed to severe cold; or, as a famous book-maker recommends, to swelter under the heat of a roasting fire. These, and similar punishments, may do permanent injury, and ought, by diligent oversight, to be prevented. Doubtless few, if any, experienced teachers now resort to such means to



secure diligence and order; but a large proportion of instructors, especially in small, retired districts, are young and inexperienced, some of whom may still have recourse to these, or like severities.

In furthering the intellectual interest, the examination of teachers is a work of the last importance, and of extreme difficulty. Upon the decision of the examiner rests the character of the schools. In his hand is the power to elevate them to a lofty standard, by granting the teacher's prerogatives to those only, whose minds are well stored with knowledge, who have searched out the hidden springs of human nature, have minutely explored the whole field of labor, whose hearts are fired with zeal, and energy, and perseverance; or to degrade them, by suffering ignorance, unskilfulness and cupidity to usurp the government of the youthful mind. It is no small thing to intrust the destinies of many to a single guide. Habits, good or bad, once farmed, are lifelong possessions. The school-room is a nursery of habits. The young are there trained to be thorough or superficial in all they do; to reason correctly or falsely; to receive every thing advanced, however absurd, as truth, or to in vestigate for themselves; to bow to the supremacy of law, or to resist authority; to be generous, or selfish; forgiving, or revengeful; just, or unjust. These habits, early established, characterize the whole future life. Is not, then, the selection of those who are to form these habits, a matter of vast importance ?

It is a work of extreme difficulty. The most learned are oftentimes unable to impart their knowledge to others, while the man of less attainments, may, by his superior tact and energy, more than supply his

« ForrigeFortsett »