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first experiment, as stated in the brief notice given of it in the last annual report of the president, were so satisfactory, as to induce the committee on the statutes to authorize its further extension. After the lapse of another year, the president is prepared to speak with greater confidence than before, and in terms of more decided satisfaction. As it was last year stated that the senior class had never before been so steadily attentive to study up to the close of the year, so it may be said at the present time that the diligence of the class throughout the whole year has been to a very marked degree satisfactory. The officers have noticed a greater manifestation of interest in the subjects studied than has been observed in former years; and they agree, it is believed, in ascribing this result to the fact that the studies are voluntarily chosen. It is not perhaps practicable for us for the present to give to the elective system a larger extension than it has already received. In order that, among the studies submitted to the choice of the student, it may be practicable to select any desired combination at will, it is necessary that the scheme of attendance shall be so arranged that the hours allotted to all these studies may be different. In Columbia College at present, the exercises occupy only three consecutive hours in the morning of each day, giving to each class fifteen hours per week. Of these fifteen hours, about half must be devoted to the required studies of the course; so that only seven or eight at furthest remain available for the optional studies. In consequence of this, it has been found thus far impracticable to construct the scheme so as to prevent different optional studies from falling upon the same hour; but the studies coinciding have been generally those between which the election would naturally fall; and thus the latitude of choice maintained has been greater than would at first appear. The plan is one, however, which can be carried no further; and it would be better if it were not carried so far. No remedy presents itself for this difficulty, but to extend the exercises over a larger number of the hours of the day; and this is what, ultimately, if the system is maintained, will have to be done. But in making such an extension, it will inevitably happen that there will occur occasionally hours in which a class or portion of a class will have no exercise; and for the profitable employment of these at such intervals, it is impossible at present to make provision. This would be no embarrassment but rather an advantage, if accommodations could be found in the college building for the unoccupied classes, so as to enable them, with the aid of their textbooks and other authorities, to read up the subject of the ensuing lecture. In fact, after considerable observation of the varying practices of colleges in the distribution of their time, we are clearly of opinion that it is much more profitable to the student to alternate study with his lectures or recitations, than to prepare all his exercises for an entire day at once, and afterward give his attendance in the class-rooms for three consecutive hours. As the long-continued strain upon the mental faculties in continuous study is wearying in one way, so the long-continued bodily confinement in successive classes is wearying in another. By breaking up these protracted periods, and alternating briefer seasons of active effort with intervals of comparative repose, it seems reasonable to believe that more beneficial results may be secured, as it respects both the culture of the mind and the health of the body. It is an advantage enjoyed by colleges in which students and instructors reside together and form a compact community, that any division of the day which seems best, may be adopted with equal convenience. This advantage may also be enjoyed by colleges in country villages, whether they provide lodgings for their students or not; for neither students nor instructors, can, in such places, be remote from the academic centre. But the same is not true in large cities, though to a certain extent it may be made so, by providing, as just suggested, convenient apartments in which students may study in common during the intervals between the academic exercises.
In the numerous occasional discourses which he has been called on to prepare and publish, Dr. Hopkins has expressed his views on a great variety of educational topics, specimen of which we give
Inaugural Discourse, 1836.
By education, I mean, not merely formal instruction, but any system of excitement or restraint the object of which is to effect some definite change in the physical, intellectual, or moral character of man. The term, I know, is often used, in a broader sense, to include every thing in external nature, and in the circumstances of the individual, which can exert an influence upon him, whether intended to exert such influence or not. That there are circumstances in local situation, and in the structure of society, the influence of which can not be avoided, and which yet often control the character and destiny of the young, there can be no doubt. Climate, the form of government, childhood spent in the city or in the country, in luxury or in poverty, and perhaps more than all, early and casual impressions caught from first associates, operate imperceptibly, but irresistibly, in modifying and giving variety to character. But though the influence upon the mind of causes beyond our countrol, may be an interesting subject of speculation, just as is the influence of gravity on matter, and though these causes may form a part of that tutelage under which in the providence of God his creatures are put, and we may, if we please, call it the education of circumstances, yet if we regard the common use of language, or if we would define a practical science, we must include in the term Education, only those circumstances over which we have a control, and which we can and do bring to bear upon man with the intention of effecting a particular end.
But whether we consider education as comprising more or less, or whatever division we may make of it, the general principle which we are to regard, especially in its second part, which is positive instruction, is now settled among all thinking men. It is, that we are to regard the mind, not as a piece of iron to be laid upon the anvil and hammered into any shape, nor as a block of marble in which we are to find the statue by removing the rubbish, nor as a receptacle into which knowledge may be poured; but as a flame that is to be fed, as an active being that must be strengthened to think and to feel—to dare, to do, and to suffer. It is as a germ, expanding, under the influence certainly of air and sunlight and moisture, but yet only through the agency of an internal force; and external agency is of no value except as it elicits, and controls, and perfects the action of that force. He only who can rightly appreciate the force of this principle, and carry it out into all its consequences, in the spirit of the maxim, that nature is to be * only by obeying her laws, will do all that belongs to the office of a teacher.
sELF-Education. Inaugural Discourse, 1836.
We hear much said about self-educated men, and a broad distinction is made between them and others; but the truth is, that every man who is educated at all, is, and must be, self-educated. There are no more two methods in which the mind can make progress, than there are two methods in which plants can grow. One seed may be blown by the winds, and cast upon the southern, or perchance on the northern side of some distant hill, and may there germinate, and take root, and do battle alone with the elements, and it may be so favored by the soil and climate that it shall lift itself in surpassing strength and beauty; another may be planted carefully in a good soil, and the hand of tillage may be applied to it, yet must this also draw for itself nutriment from the soil, and for itself withstand the rush of the tempest, and list its head on high only as it strikes its roots deep in the earth. It is for the want of understanding this properly, that extravagant expectations are entertained of instructors, and of institutions; and that those who go to college sometimes expect, and the community expect, that they will be learned of course—as if they could be inoculated with knowledge, or obtain it by absorption. This broad distinction between self-educated men and others has done harm; for young men will not set themselves efficiently at work until they feel that there is an aii important part which they must perfect for themselves, and which no one can do for them.
chief excellencies of A teacher.
And I here mention, that from this view of the subject, it is easy to see what it is that constitutes the first excellence of an instructor. It is not his amount of knowledge, nor yet his facility of communication, important as these may be; but it is his power to give an impulse to the minds of his pupils, and to induce them to labor. For this purpose, nothing is so necessary as a disinterested devotion to the work, and a certain enthusiasm which may act by sympathy on the minds of the young. It is from the decay of this that courses of lectures and of instruction, once attractive, often cease to interest. When a teacher has advanced so far beyond his class, or has become so familiar with his subject, as to feel no interest in its truths, then, however well he may understand them, and however clearly he may state them, he is not all that a teacher ought to be. He who carries the torchlight into the recesses of science, and shows the gems that are sparkling there, must not be a mere hired conductor, who is to bow in one company, and bow out another, and show what is to be seen with a heartless indifference; but must have an ever living fountain of emotion, that will flow afresh as he contemplates anew the works of God and the great principles of truth and duty. This is no more impossible in regard to the beauties and wonders which science discloses, than it is in regard to the more obvious appearances of nature, and the instructor may adopt in spirit the words of the poet—
“My heart leaps up when I behold
It is such an one alone who can know the pleasure of carrying forward a class of ingenuous youth, and watching them as they gain new positions, and take in wider views till the whole prospect is at their command. And when, as sometimes happens, he has a class of an opposite character, and his instructions fall dead, and no interest is excited, it is he alone who can know the anxiety, I had almost said agony, with which, as the prophet of old upon the dead body of the child, he once and again as it were puts his mouth to its mouth, and his eyes to its eyes, and stretches himself upon the class, and finds no life come. And he alone knows how cheerless and hopeless and slavish is the dull routine of his labors after that. There are, it seems to me, few modes of gaining a living short of actual villainy, which a man of sensibility would not orefer to it.
Important as female education is now admitted to be, it is not perhaps surprising that it did not receive early attention. Men attack evils as they find them, without first investigating secret influences and remote causes. It was natural, for instance, that internperance should first be attacked as it existed in the intemperate, before it was traced back to its source in temperate drinking. And so it was natural that mankind should first attempt to control the waters of society as they found them flowing on, impetuous and turbid, before tracing them up to their source and purifying the springs from which they flowed.
This attempt has been made from the beginning and is still made. It is not even yet understood how true it is, in the body politic as well as in the natural body, that “if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it,” that if one portion of the community be enslaved, or oppressed, or degraded, there will be sown indirectly the seeds of vice, of debility, and of ultimate dissolution; and especially, that if those who hold to us the relations of wives, and mothers, and daughters, and sisters, are restricted, or cramped, or in any way prevented from receiving that expansion of the intellect and of the affections which will enable them to exert an elevating and a purifying influence upon man, society can not reach its full stature and perfection. It is not understood how high those qualities of the intellect and of the heart are, which are needed for the right management of the young, how much light and how much love must shine around the opening bud of early childhood that it may expand in fair proportions; it is not understood how early the ductile material of character begins to grow rigid, so that before the age of eight, or even of six, it generally assumes lineaments to which subsequent life only serves to give greater prominence. In forming that material, man can not do what ought to be done, he can not undo what will be done by a mother who is ignorant or weak, or selfish or unprincipled ; and whatever influence he may wish to exert, will be far more efficient if he has the coöperation of one who can enter fully into all his views—just as the oak will cast a shade that is deeper and more refreshing if the vine that adorns it mingles its leaves with those of every branch, and entwines itself to the topmost bough.
But these truths are beginning to be understood and felt, and there are probably more persons now than ever before, who feel that if we are ever to do any thing effectual for the improvement of society, the proper place to begin at is the beginning—that the influence that presides over the cradle, and the nursery, and the fireside, must be a right influence.
Education in connection with NATURE AND RELIGiox.
No service can be rendered to education so great as to bring it into a closer and more vital connection with religion, and through that, with some form of great and heroic action. But the educating power of an institution is not solely from what that institution is at any given moment—from its buildings, its apparatus, its libraries, its teachers; it also lies much in the influences of nature and of society around it; in the memories of the past, and in its connection with great interests and events. No man worth educating, ever passed through this College without being in part educated by these great mountains. Greylock is an educator. They are of a style and an order of architecture that is very ancient, and, though they cost nothing, are worth more than any ever devised by man. We do not wish to educate merely the intellect, but also the moral nature; to control the associations and to reach the springs of action. Surely there must be a legitimate use of association in education, not superstitious or idolatrous; and we wish to associate literature and science with all that is beautiful and grand in nature, and all that is pure and elevating in religion. We wish to link in minds of the highest culture, sentiments of veneration and honor with humble prayer, and with devotion to the cause of Christ. Oh, sir, if this could but be, if indolence and vice could but be banished from this College, if there could be here two hundred and twenty young men, fully receiving the influences of nature which God has spread around them, and fully yielding themselves to the power of that religion which he has revealed, I would not exchange my position for any one upon earth.
If this institution prepares better teachers for the common schools, they will send back to it scholars better prepared, and it may be able, after a time, to relinquish to the common school some of its branches, and to elevate its own course. If, again, it sends scholars to college better fitted, college, to say nothing of other and indirect benefits, will send back to it better instructors, and may, in its turn, be able to relinquish to it some part of its course. This process has, indeed, gone on to some extent within my remembrance, but it needs to go much farther. I see no other way in which our general system of education can be elevated. We need, and must have, institutions like this, which shall give a thorough preparaton for college in the English as well as classical departinent, and which shall