[ocr errors]

rules used by another person in constructing his language. Above all, his book should not be partial; it should exbaust the relations and uses of words in sentence-making, and give the rules necessary to construct every form of every part of speech, and these rules should be so stated as to be exactly true. Such a book may be difficult to be found, perhaps it is not yet written; if not, some man will yet arise possessing the genius, the honesty, and the courage to write it.

I can not close this already long letter without alluding to the article of your worthy contributor "S. A. N.," because I think a point omitted from his production bears on the subject of yours. Before supplying the omission, it may be worthy of remark that it appears difficult to reconcile his assumption that the modern languages are equal to the ancient in cultivating the memory and developing the judgment, with his statement that “few so master the dead languages even after years of study that it becomes a pleasure to continue their study; while, on the other hand, the same or even less labor devoted to modern languages gives a familiarity with idioms and words that makes further acquaintance not only pleasant but profitable." If the modern languages are so much more easily acquired, it must be because they tax the memory or judgment or both less ; hence, discipline them less.

But it appears to me that high among the advantages to accrue from a study of foreign languages should be placed the following:

1. An approximation to a correct division of the principles governing the construction of our own language into those belonging to general grammar and those special to the English.

2. A broad conception of the fertility of the human intellect in devising expedients for the expression of thought.

It will readily be seen that these advantages can be secured most readily by studying next after our mother tongue, that most unlike it in the genius of its structure. Of the languages mentioned by “S. A. N.,” the one best meeting this condition is probably the Greek. The Latin, however, differs very widely in construction from the English, while it is the source whence is derived a larger component of the English than that from the Greek. Adding these considerations to those adduced by you in reply to “S. A. N.,” we should say by all means place Latin before French or German, and commence Greek before Botany and Physiology. If but one foreign language can be studied, let it be either Latin or Greek.

Yours truly,


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

School Officers' Department.



In a school of the past winter, consisting of sixteen scholars, were found twentyfive classes, while in another school of the same number of scholars were found thirty classes, each of which must be daily exercised. We were informed by the teacher that she could not consistently make the number of classes less, and that it was only by dint of skillful management that she could make a complete round in six hours. But, in a school that is properly classed, sixteen pupils may be taught a principle in the same time that would be required to present it to each of four classes of four each ; 80, in the latter case, the puj can have but ten minutes for his recitation, while in the former he receives an exercise of forty minutes. We believe that seventy or eighty scholars brought together in one house, and there divided according to their rank, into two schools, each under the care of a teacher adapted to its particular need, would be better taught at less actual expense than is now possible while we find them in several different schools, each embracing every grade.-Mass. 28th School Report.

The above extract clearly shows the disadvantage of ungraded schools. The great diversity in the progress of the pupils necessitates a multiplicity of classes, to each of which the teacher can give but little attention. It is true that this evil is usually much greater than it need be, but when the classification of an ungraded school is made as perfect as possible, the number of classes is still too great to admit of thorough instruction. But how can the principle of gradation be introduced into our township schools ?

Three plans have been suggested and tried with more or less of success. The first is to enlarge the sub-districts so as to embrace pupils enough for two schools—one for the older and one for the younger pupils. This plan is feasible wherever the population is sufficiently dense to afford the requisite number of pupils without embracing too much territory. We are glad to observe that the organization of graded schools in sub-districts is increasing. If the system could be made general in a township, all the sub-districts alike enjoying its advantages, the chief obstacle to its adoption would be removed. The more sparsely settled sub-districts now often oppose the organization of graded schools in the more densely populated neighborhoods, because the system is not to be general.

A second plan is to unite two or more adjacent sub-districts, and form a central school for the more advanced pupils. This leaves the primary schools within

easy reach of the smaller pupils, and is, therefore, adapted to more sparsely settled neighborhoods than the plan of bringing the two grades of school into the same building. The older pupils can attend school from a considerable distance without much inconvenience, and the sessions of the school can be arranged, both as to time and duration, for their special accommodation. It is to be regretted that the school law does not provide for the organization of graded schools on this plan.

The third plan is to organize a central school in each township for the more advanced pupils of the several sub-districts. This plan is fully provided for

by law, and is generally feasible. The objection to it is the great distance the pupils from the more extreme portions of the township are obliged to go to reach the school-an inconvenience which is offset by the superior school advantages enjoyed. We regret that so few townships have given this system a trial.

We commend this subject to the earnest consideration of school boards and directors, believing that the introduction of the principle of gradation into our country schools will greatly enhance their efficiency and success.

[ocr errors]



We commend the following sensible advice taken from the Wadsworth Enterprise, to boards of education and school directors :

The time for engaging teachers to take charge of the winter schools is about at hand, and a few suggestions may not be out of place.

We can not be too careful with regard to the training of our youth, and as much of the future man is moulded in the school-room, it is a matter of great importance to procure good teachers, that the youthful mind may be properly directed, Errors formed in youth, (and often by the negligence of the teachers,) will remain with a person frequently to the end of life, and if nothing more will produce frequent vexations. We want teachers who understand human nature, as well as those who understand the branches of education. To govern a school successfully, a teacher must possess this quality to a certain extent; and he should endeavor to educate himself in this as well as in other directions. When a teacher can be hired who is known to possess this qualification in addition to a thorough education, he should be much preferred to one who governs by a sort of cold, mechanical process, accompanied by more or less of fear. An article it is said will generally bring what it is worth; but until school officers learn to feel their own responsibility fully, we fear true merit in a teacher will not demand the premium it should. A good teacher should be hired, even if your school is small or the district poor. These are only evidences that you have neglected duty in the past, and certainly are not excuses for employing any but good teachers. We know of one instance the past summer, where a lady teacher was engaged to teach at four dollars per week and board herself! The directors seemed to think they did not need a good teacher because their school was small, and then seemed to think if they could get one for nothing, they were carrying out the spirit of their positions. Good teachers should always be employed at fair wages, and they will be found to be cheap in the end; poor teachers are dear at any price, and should never be permitted to retain the charge of a school after their incompetency is discovered.

With a good teacher you want a good comfortable house; one large enough for the number of pupils it is expected to accommodate, and furnished with all the necessary conveniences. Directors should pride themselves in having the


school-house and all its surroundings neat and tidy, and endeavor to keep them.

The school-room, next to their own hearth-stones, should be made the dearest place to the youth of our land-surrounded with attractions that will carry pleasant memories through life. This can be done, and if it is not, we fear somebody is woefully to blame.

With a good teacher and good house, you should not let the matter rest. Your own presence at the school should not be neglected; for, by short, frequent, and impromptu visits, with encouraging words to both teacher and pupils, you can add an impetus to education, which may be felt many years after. Cheering words are never lost, and none other should be used before a school. Remember, too, that your teacher has heavy cares and responsibilities, and needs your encouragement. Evil reports may reach you, but don't believe them; they may, however, justify you in making a personal investigation, but this should not be done in a fault-finding manner. Tale-bearing is one of the geatest evils in the school-room, and should not be encouraged under any circumstances. As “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” so continual watchfulness and care are the price of good schools, and eventually of an intelligent and prosperous people.

[ocr errors]


Hon. Henry Barnard, National Commissioner of Education, has issued a circular soliciting “the coöperation of superintendents, teachers, and administrators of schools of every name and grade, in his efforts to collect and diffuse information as to the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and respectfully asks the freest communication of plans and suggestions respecting the organization and management of schools and school systems and methods of teaching, and the ways in which the Department can promote the cause of education throughout the country.”

A second circular expresses the Commissioner's desire “to obtain, as early as practicable, accurate but condensed information of the designation, history, and present condition of every institution and agency of education in the United States, and of the name, residence, and special work of every person in the administration and management of the same.” A schedule of the information sought will be furnished on application.

Any communication in response to these circulars, or which concerns the business of the Department, marked “official,” and addressed to Hon. Henry Barnard, Commissioner of Education, Washington, D. C., is entitled by direction of the Postmaster-General, to conveyance by mail free of postage. We hope that the Commissioner's invitations may meet with a general response.

The Commissioner issues monthly an official circular" of educational in telligence. The August circular (No. 3) is devoted to information respecting the “Educational Land Policy of the United States."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

No one familiar with the history of educational discussion needs be told that there exists a wide-spread conflict of opinion respecting the relative value of discipline and knowledge as educational results. One party in this controversy urges that the value of every study or tuitional method is to be measured primarily, if not solely, by its worth as a means of mental discipline. The other asks, “What will be the practical use of its facts in the shop or in the store, on the farm or in the factory, in managing a railway or a bank? This radical difference of opinion runs through all our school work, and leads to a wide divergence in school instruction and management.

The first great step, therefore, in establishing a rational curriculum of study and instruction for our schools, is to settle this controverted question; to determine the proper subordination of discipline and the facts of knowledge. Before, however, we can determine which of these educational aims shall be subordinated to the other—in other words, what shall be our guiding educational doctrine—we must agree respecting the true function or object of education. This is the fundamental question, the starting point in all investigations of this subject. A mistake respecting the true object of education must vitiate all reasoning concerning the relative value of means and methods. The standard of measurement being wrong, no confidence can be placed in the correctness of such measurement. Manhood tested by avoirdupois is one thing ; by noble and god-like endeavor quite another.

Herbert Spencer, in a remarkable essay on education, says:
How to live? that is the essential question for us.

Not how to live in the mere material sense only, but in the widest sense. The general problem which comprehends every special problem is—the right ruling of conduct in all directions under all circumstances. In what way to treat the body; in what way to manage our affairs ; in what way to bring up a family; in what way to behave as a citizen; in what way to utilize all those sources of happiness which nature supplies—how to use all our faculties to the greatest advantage of ourselves and others—how to live completely. And this being the great thing for us to learn, is, by consequence, the great thing which education has to teach. . To prepare us for complete living is the function which education has to discharge.

We accept this as a comprehensive and exhaustive statement of the great end of education, embracing as it does a complete preparation for those duties of life that relate to man as an individual, as a member of society, as a citizen of the State, and as a subject of divine government. Complete living touches all these relations of man, and meets their every requirement. Whatever preparation for life stops short of this measure, is just to that extent incomplete and imperfect, and, as a consequence, that education which best prepares man to meet all these obligations, is of transcendent value.


« ForrigeFortsett »