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of the Institute are recognized by that rarest of all titles, the plain Mr. During the sessions of the convention and the Institute, the lectures, which had been announced in the public notice of the convention, were nearly all delivered, and the subjects of many of them were ably discussed.
On Tuesday, Aug. 24, the Institute closed its first meeting, having been in session five days. The grand object for which its members had convened had been triumphantly accomplished, and bidding each other a hopeful farewell, they returned to their widely separated homes.
The subsequent history of the Institute is mainly a record of lectures and discussions. Up to the present time, three hundred and one lectures have been delivered. These have embraced every conceivable variety of educational topics, and have been given by eminent men of every profession, and by teachers from every grade of schools. A large majority of the lectures have been published in annual volumes issued under the direction of the Board of Censors; and I venture to affirm, that the libraries of the world contain no series of papers on educational subjects more valuable than the thirty volumes of lectures published by the American Institute of Instruction. A considerable number of the lectures, of direct practical bearing, have been issued in pamphlet form, and many thousands of copies have been gratuitously distributed.
A great number of important subjects have from year to year been ably discussed, more with reference to awakening thought and investigation, than to arriving at authoritative decisions.
But few resolutions relating to principles of education, or to modes of teaching, have been adopted; it having been the wise policy of the Institute to avoid committing itself to views and measures to which many of its members might, perhaps, object. While, therefore, every member has had an opportunity to present his own views, sound or unsound, on subjects under consideration, in most cases no one has been compromised by decisions to which he could not assent.
On one or two important subjects, however, the Institute took an early and decided stand. The project of establishing institutions for the training of teachers, commanded earnest and active support from our Association. In 1836 this project was first brought forward by Mr. Morton, of Plymouth. After long deliberation, an order was offered by Mr. Frederick Emerson, of Boston, to this effect : “ That the Board of Directors memorialize the Legislature on the subject of establishing a Seminary for the Education of Teachers.” The subject was again considered in 1837. Meanwhile, several leading members of the Institute exerted their influence, whenever they could, in behalf of the proposed school, and their efforts, united with other instrumentalities, achieved success. The first Normal School in America was established in Massachusetts. At the meeting of our Association, held at Springfield, August, 1839, Mr. Gideon F. Thayer offered the fol. lowing resolution: “ Resolved, by the American Institute of Instruction, that the establishment of Normal Schools in this Commonwealth receives their hearty approval, and should have the countenance and support of every friend of education.” The record says that “the resolution was discussed by Messrs. Thayer, Carter, and Pettes of Boston, Miles of Lowell, Dr. Osgood of Springfield, Greenleaf of Brooklyn, Mack of Cambridge, James of Philadelphia, and F. Emerson and Horace Mann of Boston, and passed almost unanimously.” At two subsequent meetings, similar resolutions were adopted.
As Normal Schools have been established in a large proportion of the States, and are universally regarded as one of the most efficient educational institutions, it is well that the part taken by the Institute in their behalf, at a time when friends were few, should not be forgotten.
I find that resolutions have been adopted in favor of State Boards of Education, of introducing vocal music into schools, of grading schools, and of making the attendance of children at school compulsory. The result of measures taken by individuals favoring the last resolution, was the enactment of the present truant laws of Massachusetts.
Among the resolutions which have been rejected, I find one which favors the election of school-masters to the General Court, or Legislature, for the purpose of attending to school interests. But either because the pay of legislators was not so large then as it now is, or because the ambition of teachers did not soar so high, or because they thought the chances of an election unpromising, they promptly tabled the resolution.
In 1838, a prominent member, apprehensive — to use his own words — “ that through the immediate abolition of slavery, this country might soon be overrun by hundreds of thousands of free colored adults and children," offered a resolution calling upon teachers to inculcate forbearance toward them, and to instruct them “not only in science, but in the duty of obedience to civil authorities.” I need hardly say that the resolution was rejected, and that the dreaded advent of the blacks has not been witnessed.
A resolution was offered in 1834, calling for the expulsion of James W., a teacher of penmanship, who had received from the Commonwealth an appointment to a very private situation in the Charlestown State Prison. It appeared, however, that Mr. James W., although he had received a certificate of membership, had economically omitted to pay the admission fee, and sign the Constitution, and therefore had never been a member. I am happy to state, that, while many of our worthy members have done much good to the Society for Improving Prison Discipline, no one of them has been subjected to prison discipline for the good of society.
In one respect the early policy of our Association seems at present remarkable. Although one of the chief objects contemplated was to influence public sentiment in regard to schools, yet, during the first seven years of our existence, the public were, in general, rigidly excluded from the meetings. Once or twice only, on the occasion of an introductory address, or the delivery of a lecture especially designed for a general audience, were the public admitted. Again and again were efforts made to open the doors, but not until the meeting in 1838 were they successful. Then, on motion of Mr. G. F. Thayer, the citizens of Lowell were invited to be present. Since that time, the meetings have been open to the public. On what reasons this exclusive policy was based, the records omit to state.
Of the thirty meetings of the Institute, seventeen have been held in Massachusetts, three in Maine, three in New Hampshire, one in Vermont, two in Rhode Island, three in Connecticut, and one in New York. The first seven and the twelfth were held in Boston.
The Presidents of the Association have been as follows : Francis Wayland, three years; Wm. B. Calhoun, seven years; James G. Carter, one year; George B. Emerson, eight years; Gideon F. Thayer, four years, and Thomas Sherwin, John Kingsbury, and John D. Philbrick, each two years.
The Recording Secretaries have been G. F. Thayer, Alfred W. Pike, Aaron B. Hoyt, Thos. Cushing, Jr., Sol
omon Adams, S. S. Greene, Wm. A. Shepard, John D. Philbrick, Chas. Northend, John Batchelder, Jacob Batchelder, Jr., Charles E. Valentine, D. B. Hagar, John Kneeland, and B. W. Putnam. Mr. Cushing served for a period of seven years; the others, from one to three years.
As Treasurer, B. D. Emerson served two years, Richard B. Carter, four years, and the present incumbent, Mr. William D. Ticknor, has faithfully served the Institute twenty-four years.
Of the early members of the Institute, many, including some of the most influential, have deceased. Ebenezer Bailey, Thomas H. Gallaudet, James G. Carter, Josiah Holbrook, Ethan A. Andrews, W.m. A. Alcott, Horace Mann, and many others whose names we revere, have ended their labors, and are now enjoying their eternal reward. But, thank God, we have still with us a goodly company of the fathers of the Institute, whose heads are indeed white with the frosts of age, but whose hearts are still fresh as the flowers that bloom beneath Alpine snows.
I have thus, as briefly as I could, and as well as a few hours snatched from illness would permit, drawn an outline of the history of our Association. The record is one in which we may justly take an honorable pride.
Did time permit, it might not be inappropriate to speak of the progress made in educational affairs during the last thirty years; to contrast the school teachers, school children, school books, school-houses, and school systems of 1830, with those of the present day. But your own imaginations will draw the contrast much more clearly than any poor words of mine.
Fellow Members of the Institute: It is our blessed privilege to-day, to rejoice over the past prosperity of our beloved Association ; it is our duty, and may it ever be