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talked of at home, will create among
the younger members of the family a desire to do as the older brother or sister does, and go to the high school. I repeat, as the gentleman from Massachusetts has said, it is the cheapest school in the town. If I were a citizen of a town, and had the means of doing it, I would be willing to be taxed treble the amount required to establish a high school for the amount of good it would do. It is better for the small towns to establish a high school than to send off the children.
Rev. Charles Hammond, Principal of Monson Academy, Mass., said, I fear to speak, lest what I say may be construed as an endeavor to controvert what has been said in favor of the high-school system of Massachusetts. I desire not to oppose in the least any effort to advance the interests of any class of schools having for their object the advancement of popular education. I care not how many high schools are established, and I would have the standard of education as high as possible in each one, and then they will truly deserve the name of high schools.
There is danger lest too “high" things be attempted, in many of the so-called high schools. We may try to rise so high as not to rise at all.
The term high school in Massachusetts is not very definite. It represents a school of a very high rank in Boston and its suburban towns and cities. But the law of the State requires towns of five hundred families, or a population of from three to four thousand, to maintain a high school. · And in such towns the high schools are very different from those in the cities. Now such towns ought to have a high school, but not so high as that of Boston or Dorchester, and yet the average wants and the average talent or capacity of any one hundred pupils belonging to the rural schools is equal to that of the average wants or capacity of any one hundred in the city schools. There is then a necessary inequality of privileges between city and country in respect to the real grade or rank of schools, though they may be called by the same name. It is the grade and not the name which gives real rank.
A good high school in a rural town is high in its relations to the district or primary schools, and it must be complementary to the first or lowest grade of the public schools, and aim to accomplish no more than to meet the average
demand of scholarship in the locality for whose benefit the school exists.
It is clearly attempting to do too “high" things, when it is proposed to fit boys for “ye university,” to use the phrase of the ancient laws by which provision was made for the first grammar schools more than two centuries ago.
To attempt this work is suitable for Boston, for Dorchester, for Cambridge, for all the largest cities and towns, perhaps, by means of schools supported by public tax, for they can well afford it; but it is not proper to attempt this work, in these times, in towns no larger than those now required to maintain high schools of the second class. This will be seen at once, if we remember that not more than one in a thousand of all the pupils in the State is destined for college; and the proportion in the country schools is greater than in the city, small as it is. The number fitted for college in the best high schools of the largest cities and towns is small compared with the great number of pupils for the sake of whom the high schools were established.
Now we maintain that it is no argument against high schools that they do not fit a great number for“ ye university," or that they fail to fit the few in the best manner, for they cannot if they would, and ought not if they could ; hence, if that work be attended to as it ought to be, and as it is in the best preparatory schools, then the great majority of the pupils in the high schools will not be trained so bigh as they ought to be in schools graded to meet the average wants of the pupils. In saying this I do not deny that in many high schools young men have been well fitted for college.
But such instances must be rare in by far the greatest number of such schools, and though they may be creditable to the teacher and the pupils, yet they do not recommend the practice in general; for it is clearly beyond the power of a teacher, with not more than one assistant, however faithful or competent he may be, to fit boys in these days for college as they should be, and do what else is required of a teacher of a public school supported by public taxation. In the first age of New England, boys could be fitted at the grammar school for the university, as the “fit” then was, and as “ye university” then was. It is not possible now.
President Haven, of Michigan University. I was glad to hear the remarks of the last speaker. It seems to me that the high-school system is simply the recognition of the principle, that there must be a regular order in the classification of pupils. Then there must be a high school, either in a building by itself, or in a room of a building with other schools. When you allow that general principle, you allow everything that the advocates of a high school demand. Does anybody suppose that the district schools of our country should be of the same character ? In the smaller towns, where a practical difficulty arises, that may be obviated in having not merely a high school, but in having a union school which shall embrace the high-school scholars and some of the grammar-school scholars. That is the system in Michigan. Nobody can be found there who disputes the principle of the high school. In every town they have one. They have a
fine union school building, as noticeable a building as the Church. This is considered essential in every township that has advanced beyond the pioneer state ; and in the union school building there is always a high school, generally occupying one story of the building, and in the larger towns occupying the whole building; and, although I am a native of Massachusetts, I must say, that, if you compare a town of four or five thousand inhabitants in Michigan with one of the same number in Massachusetts, it will be found that we have the best buildings, growing out of the fact that we have a building, not for the high school alone, but for certain grammar classes also connected with it. This enables them by a concentration of power to put up a fine, imposing edifice. If there is a place where this principle has not been recognized, nothing can be done better by this meeting than to arouse such an enthusiasm on the subject as will lead teachers to go forth and incite the people to establish such schools.
It is true that the large towns can have the better schools. But ought not every town to do the best possible ? and ought not every town to grade its schools so as to allow its oldest scholars the best advantages they can offer ? I think this can be done in the small towns.
But the great object of high schools is not to prepare boys for college: it is to give the best possible education to our boys and girls while they attend the public schools. If a small portion of them wish to go to college, let them have the opportunity, as they can have it in almost all our towns. But the larger portion of our youth wish only to obtain as full and symmetrical an education as can be obtained in the best schools of the town. This can only be done by a gradation of the schools; and that implies a high school.
Mr. Hill, of Lynn, Mass., thought we were asked to accomplish too much in the high schools of Massachusetts. We
had better do less work, and do it more thoroughly. Gentlemen have said there is no argument that can be used against high schools. If that be so, still they are a kind of target that many persons aim at, simply because they are high schools, and they will not use any arguments. It is asking enough for the high schools in the smaller towns if they can be the means of awakening a love for study. How foolish it is to demand of us that we shall fit all boys for the countingroom, and all young men and young ladies for teachers, and fit the boys for the university too! I believe, that in every town where a high school has been established, there has been a love of learning excited, and that is enough. Let the teacher of the high school be called the teacher of the higher grade, and not of the high school.
In closing, Mr. Hill quoted what he termed the new beatitude: “ Blessed is the man who makes a short speech; he shall be invited to come again.” (Laughter and applause).
Prof. Hart, of Philadelphia. I have had the misfortune to live where the common school is not indigenous, as in New England, and where the subject of the high-school system has been a constant source of opposition. The high school in Philadelphia was a constant object of assault, not from the ignorant, but the rich and literary, and from politicians. It has been obliged to fight for its life every year. This opposition has come not only from popular prejudice and the influence of the wealthy and learned, but I am sorry to say that the most persistent opposition has come from the teachers of the public schools.
Pennsylvania began under Quaker influences. The Society of Friends have always been and still are of the most liberal ideas, and charitable in their actions; and it was a part of William Penn's policy not to connect education with the colo