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room, over the heads of the scholars, so as almost literally to roast their brains. Who can see the bloodshot eyes of the suffering children without commiseration ?
There is, generally, neither mat nor scraper. In muddy weather, quantities of dirt,-in Winter, a great deal of snow,-are necessarily carried into the schoolroom on the clothes of the children, thus giving rise to filthy, careless habits, in addition to the direct inconvenience. A basin and towel, one would think, were indispensable, where so many young children spend the day ; yet such articles are always among the missing, as plainly appears from the situation their books are in. Even a pail and tin drinking-cup, are not always to be found. Lastly, however far off may be the spring or well, no pains are taken to furnish the school with water, which, consequently, has frequently to be lugged a considerable distance.
Having thus noticed some of the most prominent defects in Physical Education, let us next direct our attention to the culture of the intellect, and inquire, if there be no defects there.
It may, perhaps, however, be proper to observe, that our classification of the subject into the three branches of Physical, Intellectual, and Moral, Education, though extremely convenient, is by no means perfect, or unobjectionable. So intimate are the relations of the body and mind, that, as has been before observed, no effect, of consequence, can be produced in the
without corresponding changes appearing in the other. For instance, it is sufficiently obvious, that the deleterious effects of the alternations of heat and cold in our Winter schools, and the sufferings of children from their painful postures, are not confined to their bodies, but must also seriously affect their intellectual education. Again, a cultivated intellect ply. *
is the only sure foundation for a pure morality, which must ever be at a low ebb amidst intellectual darkness. And, on the other hand, each reflects on and illuminates the other. For as, in a clear intellect, the happiness, arising from religion and a life of virtue, may be distinctly seen and appreciated; so, in a mind, unclouded by passion, the intellect can have full play, and its pleasures are increased in a duplicate ratio. On this account, it is sometimes difficult to decide to which class certain subjects belong. That of Discipline, for instance, has an important bearing on each of the three classes. The same may be said of the subject of Teacher's Seminaries. And the amusements of children would be appropriate either to Moral or Physical Education. There are few classifications, however, to which similar remarks would not ap
But it by no means follows, that they should be abandoned. It is only necessary, that the reader should be cautioned, that such classifications are merely approximations, not strictly correct. The rule we shall adhere to is, that each subject shall be arranged under that head to which it appears most closely related. Under the head of Intellectual Education, the most
, prominent object, the one, indeed, on which all the others depend, is that of the qualification of teachers. Without good teachers, it is vain to look for good schools. And how can we have good teachers, unless they have encouragement, properly to prepare themselves for their arduous and responsible task. In every profession, but that of teacher, employment can be had during the whole year; or, if there be a season when business is regularly at a stand, the emoluments are proportionally greater ; or, matters are so arranged, that one kind of occupation can be pursued at one season, and another for the rest of the year, as in the case of the tanner and shoemaker. In this profession, alone, except in the cities and large villages, no one can gain even a scanty subsistence. For the plan universally practised, of alternating male schools, in Winter, and female, in Summer, renders it impossible for a teacher to gain a living, unless the wages should, at the very least, be doubled. With respect to male teachers, this is comparatively of less importance ; as the college vacations are purposely arranged, so as to allow the students to attend to the Winter schools. But the female teachers are thrown out of employment precisely at that season, when it is most difficult to procure any other. The unavoidable consequence, then, of this alternating system, is, that there is literally no such profession as that of a female teacher. The whole business is conducted by raw apprentices, in place of experienced workmen,-young girls, just grown up, who adopt it, not with any view of obtaining thereby a subsistence, but merely for some temporary purpose. One, for example, wishes to complete her education at a distant boarding-school; a second wants some article of dress, too costly for her parents to furnish; a third is anxious to procure some musical instrument ; a fourth wishes to avoid the necessity of attending to her father's dairy. For objects such as these, school-keeping, for a few months, is the universal resource. And this is almost the sole dependence of the whole country, for female teachers. But what can be expected from inexperienced, young girls, who engage in teaching with views like these ? Is it not rather surprising, that they effect so much as they do ?
* The celebrated botanical classification of Linnæus has the same defect. Several of the classes have been entirely abolished by modern botanists ; and, even in those remaining, several plants have been removed from one class to another.
Nor is this the sole evil attending the alternating system. It does not merely exclude from the profession all who have not other means of maintaining themselves ; but, independently of this, it is a ruinous system. For, when a teacher opens a school, she is, of course, totally ignorant of the habits, manners, and capacity, of her pupils; and they understand as little of her methods of tuition and discipline. Some time will elapse, before the school can work smoothly, before both parties thoroughly understand each other. Should she prove unequal to the task, her engagement will still generally be completed; for, as her incompetency, probably, is not discovered, before the expiration of half her term, most parents will rather submit to the inconvenience a little longer, than give rise to contention in the district, by insisting on a change. It is a common saying, “Her engagement will soon be over. We shall soon have a better teacher.” Vain expectation ! How can we expect a better, when we have only raw, inexperienced, young girls to choose from?
But, even supposing the school to be satisfactory, a considerable part of each term must be lost in organizing, and getting to understand each other; and, before much progress can be made, the term is at an end, and the good teacher must give way to another, differing, probably, in habits, disposition, and methods of tuition, and, of course, as before, profoundly ignorant of the pupils. Would it be possible, for the best trained teachers, with the best system of tuition, to effect much good, under such an arrangement ?
It appears evident, then, if we really intend our children to receive a good education, that this alternating system must be abandoned, and that female teachers, at least, must have permament schools. Seminaries for teachers, alone, can never effect the object. We must be able to show, that a maintenance can certainly be derived from the profession, before we can expect any properly to prepare for it, and before females in middle life, however well prepared, can look towards it as a means of support. When we have done this, many years will not elapse, before we shall have a large body of competent teachers.
Let the office be established, and a sufficiency of incumbents will not long be wanting. A substitute for this alternating system, more economical, as well as more efficient, will be found in its proper place.
Seminaries for teachers have been established in various parts of the country, sometimes as independent schools, at others, as branches of academies or colleges ; but, as yet, the beneficial results have been trifling. The proper object of these institutions, it is to be feared, has been too frequently lost sight of. The plan has commonly been, to extend the knowledge of the students to the higher branches of learning, rather than to instruct them in the art of teaching, more especially the art of
teaching the elements of school learning, -reading and arithmetic. To render a seminary for teachers really useful, the instructer must go back to numeration and the A, B, C, for it is here that the great deficiency lies. *
The practical part, also, is wanted in these seminaries. Theory, alone, is not sufficient. A school of children, of from five to ten years of age, attached to such institutions, is altogether indispensable. Here, also, the capacity of children of different ages must be studied, and the teachers must make themselves familiarly acquainted with the extent of their vocabularies. For want of this knowledge, the most serious yet ridiculous blunders are committed.
In a late visit to Philadelphia, I was invited to attend a lecture from a teacher of some eminence in that city, before the pupils of the public schools. At the appointed hour, I found the directors of the schools assembled, and two or three hundred children of both sexes, apparently between the ages of six and ten.
The speaker, shortly after, took his place, and, to my great surprise and disappointment, delivered a well-written lecture, which lasted about three quarters of an hour, on the extent and importance of the exact sciences !! At the commencement of the discourse, the eyes of the little auditors were fastened on the speaker with an expression of eager expectation and delight. But alas ! it would not do. To them, the language and subject were alike - heathen Greek ;” and soon, very soon, the attempt to follow the lecturer had to be abandoned in despair. Eager expectation was succeeded by listlessness and fatigue, and a most wearisome sitting had the poor little souls to endure.
The effect of such misplaced lectures, as these, cannot fail to be highly injurious to their auditors. They blunt the intellectual perceptions, give rise to habits of dreamy wandering of mind, and are destructive of the valuable
* The French Minister of Instruction makes the same complaint. He stated officially, a few years ago, that “ very few primary teachers who came from the new Normal Schools had learned the secret of good methods, and the principles of rational education.”