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rected. Instead of this, how often, and much to be regretted is the opposite course taken by parents ; thus in a measure paralyzing the efforts of the teacher, and inflicting a permanent injury upon the school. In many schools there are turbulent spirits that need subduing; and proper subjugation cannot be accomplished without the co-operation of the parent. “Schools are often rendered inefficient by the apathy of parents. There are some children who are docile, modest, and respectful. These are rightly trained at home. They love and obey their father and mother. Their parents are reasonable, and second the labors of the teacher, and make his duties pleasant. There are others in our schools who are rude, disrespectful, insolent, conceited, and self-willed. Over such the teacher has little permanent control. The reason is obvious: they are just what they have been made at home. Parents would do well to reflect on the fact that their children are their advertising medium; they exhibit, in their spirit, temper, and conduct, fac similes of themselves. The teacher may know the type of one or both parents before he sees them.”
Truancy and Absenteeism.—The greatest hindrance to the full benefit of our Common Schools is found in the large number of absences and tardinesses of the scholars. This evil is not by any means peculiar to this town; it is a prominent subject of animadversion in some hundreds of reports of school committees, all over the State. It is an evil, we allow, which cannot be entirely remedied, but can be essentially lessened by the co-operation of parents with the teachers. The children from some families are allowed to go or not to go school, as suits their fancy; some are almost invariably tardy; many are allowed by parents to be dismissed at recess, or before. In one of the schools, this pernicious, and to the school, ruinous practice, has been carried to the extent of nearly neutralizing the efforts of the teacher. This school commenced with twenty-seven or twenty-eight scholars, and closed with only twelve. The evil has been so general, and in some cases so fatal to the interests of education, that the committee came to the conclusion that some remedy ought to be attempted, to stay the evil. They have, therefore, taken the labor and incurred a small additional expense, in order to show by tables the number of absences and tardinesses of each scholar belonging to the several schools, that parents, and all interested in schools and the education of the young may see for themselves how large, in the aggregate, is the amount of time lost to the scholars in our schools. These tables, it is hoped, will serve not only the purpose of stimulating parents to greater fidelity in requiring their children to be punctual in their attendance at school, but will be useful for future reference, and of great historical value. They will be perused with eager interest in after years, by those who are now children, but will then be men and women. With how much interest will be read the names of former school-mates, with their recorded habits of punctuality or remissness. It will probably be found that the early habit of promptness at school, or the reverse, as it may be, will be carried into the active business of life, and will mark the character of the individual in all his various avocations and business transactions.
Primary Schools.—It is worthy of inquiry, whether sufficient importance is attached to the Primary Department in our schools. Special attention should be given to the selection of teachers who are fond of children, and who will make good impressions upon the young minds under their charge. “ Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined ;” and no one, with perhaps the exception of the parent, has so much influence in keeping the twig straight, of giving the right direction to the minds of children, as the schoolteacher. It is in this department that good or bad habits in reading and deportment are formed, and it is a mistaken idea that “any body will answer to teach a Primary School.” On the contrary, the very best teachers should be employed, and liberally compensated. In no period of life does the child need more skilful training than during the days spent in the Primary School. After a colt has once been well broken by one skilled in the business, a less skilful hand can afterwards manage him. “Few situations in life require so much discretion, so much energy, so much tenderness, so much self-control and love, as that of a teacher of small children.” Our most important are our earliest years.
Deportment and Morals.—It may be a question of much importance to both parents and scholars, whether sufficient attention has been given by teachers in our public schools to the inculcation of good manners and propriety of conduct among the scholars, both in-doors and out. It is a branch necessary to a finished education, and one, we apprehend, that has been heretofore too much neglected, both in the school-room and in the family, Children should be taught, both in the domestic circle and in the schoolroom, that good manners are essential to their success in life. The perfect scholar and the perfect gentleman, or lady, should be inseparable. Refined and graceful deportment is a sure recommendation to the favorable consideration of the world.
It is feared that many of the absentees from our schools are acquiring a street education which will fit them for any thing but good citizens. Said a State prison candidate awaiting his sentence, “Sir, I had a good home education ; it was my street education that ruined me. In the street I learned to lounge; in the street I learned to swear; in the street I learned to smoke ; in the street I learned to gamble; in the street I learned to pilfer. O, sir, it is in the street the devil lurks to work the ruin of the young.” In most villages there are street schools, and our own town is not among the exceptions. The teacher, above referred to, has a large number of apt scholars, who are making rapid progress in all the branches of education usually taught in the street. We would like to see a street school register with as many absent marks as are found on some of our Common School registers. It would be well, we think, for parents to keep a record of the absences of their young sons from home during the evenings of the coming summer. The question may be asked, How shall we train our boys to spend their evenings at home? We answer, Make home the pleasantest spot and the dearest one on earth to them. Do all in your power to add to the cheerfulness and attractiveness of home. Take pains to get up pleasant and profitable amusements for them. Regard them as members of the family, and give them a place around the table with their sisters. It will require some sacrifice of ease and quiet, to keep your boys at home evenings; but is not their welfare worthy any sacrifice a father or mother can make? If home is made attractive, boys will have no desire to stray into the street.
It has been well said, that manners easily and rapidly mature into morals. Unless the moral part of our nature be educated, it is of little avail to cultivate the intellect; it will only arm the child with power to do evil. Care should be taken by the teacher to cultivate in children a strict regard for truth and honesty. The duty of the school teacher is not fully performed while the culture of the heart and conscience is neglected. The law of our State enjoins it upon teachers to “impress upon the minds of children and youth committed to their care and instruction, the principles of piety, justice, and a sacred regard to truth, love to their country, and all those other virtues which are the ornament of human society, and the basis upon which a republican constitution is founded.”
School Committee.-A. J. GOULD, SAMUEL C. JACKSON, SAMUEL H. BOUTWELL.
At the close of another school year, it is fitting that we should thankfully acknowledge and congratulate our fellow-citizens upon the fact that, while our land has been racked by an intestine struggle unexampled in the magnitude of its operations and the importance of its issues ; and while we, in common with the citizens of other free States, have been called upon to contribute largely for the support and defence of the great principles now at stake, this community has been enabled to continue to its children, without interruption or retrenchment, the enjoyment of those educational advantages which are our pride, and which have, in the field as elsewhere, given to the sons of Massachusetts a deserved prominence. In educational matters this town early showed a deep interest. It is stated in the last (24th) Annual Report of the Board of Education, that “it is not known that a school committee's report had been read in open town-meeting before the year 1830. Concord claims the honor of leading in this custom.” There are on file, in charge of our town clerk, school reports for every
year since 1805. That of the year following has upon it the endorsement, “ Accepted by the town at its annual meeting, March 11, 1806;" proving conclusively that it was "read in open town meeting."
We have considered the various interests of our schools so fully in our previous remarks that but little need be added. But we feel it a duty to call the attention of the town to the district system, as in operation here. We view it as a relic of the past. It was, we doubt not, when adopted, the best possible means of advancing the cause of education, and has served its age; but while we admit that some advantages not otherwise attainable may result from it, yet it is burdened with defects of a character most injurious to the best interests of education ; and we hope that after a careful consideration of the subject, it may be thought best to give to the town the entire charge of our schools. It would then be the duty of the town to build and repair our school-houses when needful--a duty which, considering the interests involved, should be a pleasure; but which, we fear, judging from the reluctant action of districts, is not always viewed in this light. Under the arrangement contemplated, teachers would be hired by the town committee; and with their knowledge of the character and standing of each school in town, they should be peculiarly fitted for that service. The change proposed is not an experiment, it having been adopted by a large proportion of the towns in the State, and, so far as we know, with entire success; and we think that action of this nature would be progress in the right direction.
And this question, which is of vital importance to each of us, may be asked: How may we, with the greatest hope of success, encourage and assist our youth in their attempts to gain an education? We must provide them with comfortable, commodious and pleasant rooms. With teachers, selected not alone with reference to their intellectual qualities and attainments, but including with these a pure morality and a deportment which it may be safe for our children to copy. An aptness also to impart, is requisite; for without this the advantages just named are almost valueless. A teacher of this character is cheap at a high price; and one who does not in some measure approximate to this is dear at any price. And further we would say, parents must, by visiting the schools, show their interest in the progress of their children in their studies, encouraging the teacher also by the exhibition of interest in the result of his labors. And above all, parents should be very cautious in the expression of unfavorable opinions of teachers, if they have formed them, in the presence of children. And if it shall appear that the teacher has erred, go to that teacher, and, in private, endeavor to accommodate your difficulties. If this shall prove unavailing, then lay your case before the committee, and in no case before the school. And, in conclusion, we would say, the condition of our schools, though not all we could desire, is perhaps all that could be expected. We have had, in most cases, faithful and competent teachers, and our opinion of their work is before you.
School Committee.-P. W. BARNES, Moses KIMBALL, SAMUEL KIMBALL.
Committees.-- Able and faithful committees, both prudential and superintending, should be appointed to perform those duties which are delegated to them by the laws of the State. And in the performance of their various duties they should realize that much of the success of the schools depends upon their faithfulness and devotion to duty. The labors of the two boards are directed towards the accomplishment of the same object, and they should work together in harmony, in order to fulfil, most completely, the purpose for which they are chosen.
Teachers.—The selection of teachers, well-qualified in all respects, is, in the minds of nearly all persons, the most weighty matter connected with the success of our educational system ; but, as we have referred to this matter before, we will only say, that the public opinion upon this subject has been found to be correct, as a general rule, though a good teacher may, under some circumstances, fail of accomplishing the full amount of benefit desired, and which would have been secured under other circumstances.
Parental Co-operation.-There is another subject to which we would like to refer before closing, and that is the influence of the family training upon the welfare of the school, and the necessity for co-operation on the part of parents and all others who have the care of youth, in order that our schools may be in the highest degree successful. The family must be regarded as occupying the front rank among the means of educating the young. Its influence is almost unlimited, either for good or for evil, and it is a wonder that so many apparently entirely overlook the subject, or are not sufficiently alive to its importance. The school is secondary and can do but little, if unaided by the genial influences of the home circle. That a child should obey the wholesome regulations of the school, no one will deny. And good order has long been proverbial, and is one of the first requisites to a prosperous school. But how can those scholars be expected to be orderly and obedient in school, who are, to a great extent, their own masters out of school? Regularity of attendance is another characteristic