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schools, testifying to this fact. Many a committee has said that the high school paid for itself, from the influence it had on the other schools.
Another influence is the elevating, happy, and purifying influence upon the community itself. How is it? The boys and girls of the town are in the school. There is a common interest of the parents in the school. These boys and girls come home with their books, and there is discussion and conversation, and thus an influence is going out upon the parents and other children of the family. The poor father and mother, whose early opportunities were not, perhaps, equal to learning to read, whose bright and earnest boy, or bright and beautiful girl, is in the high school, have their ideas of life and duty elevated; and thus the influence is good. The faithful and accomplished and earnest high-school teacher need not feel that he is in a low position, for he is arousing the whole community to a higher life.
Again, the high school grows out of our peculiar institutions, and is perfectly adapted to them. It is one of the beauties of the system that it is a common school, the people's school, if you please, the people's college. I think all colleges are the people's, but this peculiarly so. Like the magnet, its power reaches all obscure and hidden places, and brings out what otherwise would have been useless to the world. You and I know what is the feeling of the poor boy, when he has the first aspiration for a better education than he can get at home, and, without a penny in his pocket, looks out to find the place where he can get help. The high school stands right at the door of all such boys and girls, and it is open, and they are welcome. There are the library and the books and the influence that attract; and you will find the boy on his way to college, and the higher places of the earth, who, otherwise, might have been a drone on the earth. That is the
best system which educates the rich and poor together. The poor boy will say, “I will work as hard and be as high as the son of the rich man; and the rich will learn to respect and honor and love the poor boy. Thus it is that these schools are adapted to the institutions of our country. They are democratic schools, and give better ground of distinctions in society than all the race of shoddyites, whose influence will soon die, for the war is ended. We want institutions of education that are conformable to and supporters of the institutions of the country. Let us uncloister them, and let education be as free as air and light; and if the high schools help do this, God bless the high school! (Applause.)
When I see the rich giving a hundred thousand dollars here and there for other institutions, I say, “ Better give it to the high school.” I am not opposed to private schools. We must have them for certain reasons, which need not be named. We must have our Andovers, and our Exeters, and Willistons. But my idea of the best system is, to have our schools graded up to the high school, and then to have these academies founded by rich men; and then, with the colleges above them, our system is complete, because we also have a national life, a public life, a social life, which after all is the best educator.
One or two words by way of caution. There is a tendency to try to educate the children in the lower grades of schools too fast.
The parents are anxious that their little ones shall be able to ologize before they can spell. They are too anxious to put them on the track to the high school too soon. Children should learn to spell before they learn the formulas of algebra. I think there is great wisdom in what the distinguished Edward Everett said a few years ago, that “ a boy who can spell well and read well and cipher well, and write a good, plain, honest, round hand, is well educated." I must confess that if all these requisites are a test of a good education, there is reason to fear that not all the gentlemen who go out of college are well educated; for I have read some very bad handwriting from such. To call the marks crow-tracks would be a slander upon the bird.
I have already said that the high school is an outgrowth of our institutions. In 1647, by the same statute by which the Puritan Fathers of New England established the common school, they also provided that every town which had been so blessed by God as to have one hundred householders should “set up” a school to be taught by a master competent to “ fit ye young men for ye university.” What was then established has existed from that day to this in Massachusetts, although we had less than a dozen such schools in 1837. Our people had gone abroad to educate their children, and had to a larger extent forgotten the high schools of the fathers. We have now about one hundred and twenty of these schools in our State; and when we have one hundred and twenty more we shall be pretty well prepared to fit our boys for “ye university,” whether it be Harvard or Yale.
Hon. Nathan Hedges, of Newark, New Jersey, inquired if Mr. White would recommend educating the sexes together in the same classes, or only under the same roof.
Mr. White replied. I would either educate them in the same classes or under different roofs, but prefer that they be educated together.
Mr. Hedges. My judgment has always been in favor of keeping the sexes together.
Mr. White. I can make no distinction. The sexes grow up together in the family. The school is but an extended family, and why should they not meet together in the school? They
are to live together in society, and why should there be nuns and hermits in American life?
Prof. Greene, of Brown University. There can be little more said on the subject of high schools unless some argument can be produced against them. The arguments in favor have been presented, and the subject has been exhausted. I would confirm some of the points already dwelt upon. I know of no valid argument against the establishment of high schools where it can be done. I wish to say a word on the subject of preparation for college. There are exceptions on both sides as to the preparation made for college at high schools or academies. Those fitted for college at academies are usually young men from the smaller towns, who go to college with very imperfect elementary instruction. They go from the district-schools without the drilling which scholars receive in a town where they go from grade to grade, as they do where there is a high school. In many cases you will see their penmanship is bad; their spelling is very bad; their knowledge of elementary arithmetic is bad; and their knowledge of geography is bad; for the reason that they have paid but little attention to them in school. And the kind of instruction they have had is such that they are not, and cannot be, well prepared in the common studies. This deficiency we do not see to such an extent in those young men who come from a town where there is the primary, the intermediate, and the grammar and high school. There we find the children well drilled in the elementary branches. They write a good hand. They present a page with paragraphs, where there will not be a single blemish in spelling. They show that they have been well drilled in all the elementary branches upward. We have marked this in all our examinations. Though we have had from academies many well drilled in the common-school studies, yet we find young men from the high schools generally better prepared than the young men who come from the academies.
Another point is the influence of the high school upon the quality of the education in the town. We find many who present themselves for teaching who are not qualified; they are employed because they can be employed cheaply. But we find an elevation among them from grade to grade, until we find some who have reached a very high eminence. From these various grades we must make our selection for our schools. How high up shall we go to select teachers for district schools, the grammar or higher order of schools, unless we have established a high school? We shall not reach a very high point. No school supervisors will be willing to pay a sum to employ teachers very far up in the grade of excellence. The result will be that teachers will be called upon to teach whose horizon is not very extended.
If a high school can be established in the same town, from the necessity of the case we must ascend to a much higher point to obtain a teacher properly qualified. The result. will be there will be presented to that town a model of a much higher order than can be possibly obtained without the assistance of a high school. The teacher of the high school, coming as he does into relations with the other teachers of the town, will exert a direct influence upon all the children of the town. The teachers of the town must often appeal to the high-school teacher, and consult with him, and receive instruction and guidance from him in relation to the various studies. The teachers will be therefore better teachers, from the fact that there is a model of a higher order than they have known before.
The very words used in the high school, the conjugation of the Latin verbs, and the recitations of the high school being