Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

in no small degree to the condition of the public schools. They reciprocally influence each other. You may elevate the public schools by improving the colleges, no more surely than you improve the colleges by elevating the public schools. Let the schools deteriorate, and the fountains which supply the colleges will dry up. The influence of the common schools in discovering and developing the rich treasures of intellect most frequently found among the hills and valleys in the rural districts, thus increasing the number of college students, as well as advancing their standard of scholarship, has not been duly appreciated.

My duties give me the privilege of mingling freely with all classes of society. Increasing observation heightens my respect for the people and for popular sentiment. My sympathies are with the masses, who more and more, from year to year, enlist my heart and efforts.

I am sorry to find among them often a prejudice against the college, a feeling not to be met with disdain, and which no wise man will ignore; because, however unfounded, it proves injurious alike to the people and the college. No institution in this country can afford to treat public sentiment with indifference and contempt. The people are ready for argument, and open to conviction. Now, no men in this land can do so much to conciliate public feeling, in behalf of our higher institutions of learning, as the instructors in our colleges, and in no one way so directly as by evincing a hearty sympathy with the people's college - the common school.

For the American Institute the college has already done much. President Wayland assisted at its organization, and gave the introductory lecture at its first meeting. I find that ten of the lectures in our printed volumes were given by presidents of colleges, and thirty-four by professors. Nearly thirty years ago, Professor Olmsted gave a lecture before this association, on the “ Common-school System of this State ;' and again, just twenty years ago, he held up before the Institute his “ Beau Ideal of a Perfect Teacher.”

Standing under the shades of Yale, it is proper to say that to Professor Olmsted belongs the credit of first publicly advocating in America the necessity and advantages of a seminary devoted exclusively to the training of teachers. In an oration given in 1816, while a tutor in Yale, he aimed to show that the secret of the great defects in our school education was the ignorance and incompetency of the teachers, and that the only remedy was “a seminary for schoolmasters.” Eight years before, he had been a teacher in the common schools, and, for two years after his graduation, Principal of the New London Union Academy. His views, original with himself, were formed from actual knowledge of the defects of public instruction. His normal-school plan involved a two-years' course, admission upon examination, and free tuition. He took all means to urge his project upon the attention of public men and prominent friends of education.

His hesitation in accepting the appointment of Professor of Chemistry in the University of North Carolina, arose from his reluctance to abandon his long-cherished scheme for the establishment of a normal school. This was nine years

before De Witt Clinton, of New York, James G. Carter, of Massachusetts, and Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet, of Connecticut, simultaneously moved in this matter.

In this connection, mention should be made of the two prize essays on education by Professor Noah Porter, of the educational books, essays or lectures, by Professors Hooker, Thatcher, and Gilman. The silver voice of the lamented Silliman was twice heard at the meetings of this Institute in advocacy of public instruction. It is an omen of good that Yale College is represented on your new Board of Education in Connecticut by one professor' and several graduates, and also in the responsible office of the Secretary of the Board.

Were we assembled at Cambridge, it would be fitting to speak more at length of Everett's ten eloquent addresses in behalf of popular education, and of the repeated lectures of Presidents Walker, Felton, and Hill, in this Institute and elsewhere on the same subject; and last, though not least, of an ex-governor, who is the youngest member of the Massachusetts Board of Education, if we may judge by his zeal and manifold labors for common schools, besides the duties of a laborious professorship giving during the last year, twenty-eight days and nine lectures to the cause of common schools, with no reward save the gratitude of the teachers, the pupils, and the public, who have caught some measure of his enthusiasm.

Gratefully acknowledging, then, our obligations to the college in the past, we earnestly ask for the more general espousal of the cause of popular instruction on the part of the professors in our higher institutions of learning.

While each may well give his time and strength to his specialty, whether in mathematics, science, language, or literature, the utmost devotion to any one department need not sever one's sympathies with the people, nor take the semblance of aloofness and isolation, nor prompt the satire,

" In cloistered state let selfish sages dwell,

Proud that their heart is narrow as their cell."

Our profession has by no means faltered in this crisis in our country's history. The teachers and scholars from our normal schools, academies, and colleges, have been foremost in responding to the call of the country. Illinois early furnished a normal or teacher's regiment. More than two thousand teachers and students from Massachusetts have joined the army. Entire classes enlisted in some of our Western colleges. Five hundred and twenty-five of the members and graduates of Harvard responded to the call of the country, of whom ninety-three gave their lives for the preservation of our Union. Williams inscribes two hundred and forty names on the honored roll of heroes and martyrs ; Bowdoin, two hundred and fifty; Yale, seven hundred and thirty-seven. The same noble and self-sacrificing spirit has characterized the members and graduates of all our higher institutions of learning. Winthrop and Shaw represent thousands like them, whose history and heroism show the consistency of culture and refinement with the highest military virtues.

There has been a common impression that learning and refinement were unfavorable to personal courage. On the opening of the war State Prison convicts and reckless felons were counted the bravest soldiers, but Sing Sing Zouaves did not verify these predictions. Experience soon proved that the better the man the better the soldier. The highest mental and moral discipline steadies the nerves and strengthens the muscles for the conflict of arms.

“Scholars as free, as debonair, unarmed

As bending angels, that's their fame in peace;
But, when they would seem soldiers, they have galls,
Good arms, strong joints, true swords, and Jove's accord,
Nothing so full of hate.”

At the close of this terrible war, it is timely to ask what have been its effects upon the cause of education.

This war has in a remarkable degree quickened the pulse of benevolence in behalf of schools, academies, colleges, and seminaries.

More has been contributed within the last three years for the cause of learning than for thirty years previous, and this, too, in the midst of the most pressing calls and liberal responses for the Christian and Sanitary Commission, as well as for bounties and war taxes. In my own State, the appropriations of the several towns and cities for public schools during the last year exceeded those of the previous year by more than one hundred thousand dollars; and I am confident that the amount raised by taxation for the same purpose during the present year will be found, when the returns are made, to exceed even that of last year by more than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

The war has awakened among our youth a stronger love of country, a higher appreciation of our institutions, an ardent devotion to the government, a clearer knowledge of the principles upon which it is founded, and the means by which it

may be preserved. The stars and stripes have new meaning to our children. The dear old flag, procured by dime gifts from the pupils, waves over many a district school-house. Colored crayons in skilful hands have placed it on still more blackboards. In but one instance within my knowledge has that flag been rudely torn from a school-house. That midnight deed of a rebel sympathizer only made the new flag that soon waved in its place still dearer to those pupils burning with indignation at the outrage.

The sympathies of the pupils in our schools, their thoughts and prayers, have been for the government. In the morning petition for the country they have joined as reverently in the school as in the sanctuary. With heart as well as voice they have sung, “ God bless our native land.” That doing begets feeling, and service promotes patriotism, has been verified in the schools, as by thousands and thousands their little hands have been cheerfully, and yet sometimes tearfully, sewing bandages and scraping lint for our wounded. No manifesta

« ForrigeFortsett »