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measures, which, although good in themselves, and, perhaps, the best that can be done for the present, may yet prove an obstacle to future complete success. Festina lentè: we frequently get along fastest, by moving slowly. Let us weigh the matter well. If we gather together the more intelligent and richer districts only, the measure fails where it is most needed; for it is much to be feared, that the others will thus be permanently excluded, and, being too much scattered to form a union among themselves, our system of permanent schools will be on too small á scale, to exert much beneficial influence on the whole people. We shall have a part of our youth well educated; but, all around us, will be scattered those pestiferous nests of ignorance and vice, already alluded to. No! In commencing the glorious work of reforming the community through the medium of the schools, let us determine to take high grounds. O! let us not allow selfish motives to urge us either to precipitancy, or to the adoption of contracted views. Let us wait with patience, till our little community is fully prepared ; at the same time taking every legitimate course to hasten this preparation. Wherever two or three are met together, let the subject be canvassed ; at the town and district meeting, as well as in private society ; let it be discussed in public lectures ; and, above all, let that powerful engine, the press, be wielded in its behalf. Let our flag have this motto, and let it be nailed to the mast : A permanent school in every district for the smaller scholars; one (or two) good central schools for the older classes. *
* In New England, towns generally contain about thirty-six square miles; and therefore should, and probably do, have from twelve to twenty schoolhouses. But it appears from the abstract of the Massachusetts School Returns, for 1837, that the average number in that State does not exceed ten schools in a town, and that a considerable number of towns contain from two to seven districts only. In these small towns, of course, some modification of the central school system would be necessary, before all its advantages could be realized. In some situations, there might be a union of two towns, in respect to the central school. This plan, however, could not, perhaps, be adopted in all cases ; as it is probable, that some natural impediment has given rise to those minute subdivisions of territory. In the worst possible case, however, where a school for the larger children could not be support
PHYSICAL EDUCATION, CONTINUED.
It would be unreasonable to expect, that all the following suggestions on the subject of school lots and schoolhouses, however much they may be approved, will be universally, or even generally, carried into effect. In many instances, poverty will be pleaded as the excuse. But this cannot be an available plea. For, where the district is poor, the land is generally of triling value; and, as to the slight difference of expense between a good and a wretched schoolhouse, it certainly is not to be put in competition with the health of the children. Leaving entirely out of view the intellectual and moral evils connected with the inferior building, true economy would dictate the erection of a good structure, sufficiently spacious for the evolutions of the school and the health of its inmates.
Our duty, however, is in no wise altered by this circumstance. If only a few school lots be arranged, a few schoolhouses be constructed, in a better taste than formerly, our design will be, in a great measure, accomplished. For the constant tendency of mankind is towards improvement. We never go backward. And it requires only a few good models, scattered through the country, to bring about, in a very short time, a manifest change for the better, every where.
School lots should always be in a pleasant and healthed, independently of the primary schools, great benefit would still result from the substitution of a permanent female school, instead of the alternating system. There can be no doubt, that, under a competent permanent instructress, the pupils would be better educated before they arrived at the age of twelve, than they now are altogether. If there be any districts really unable to support a female school ten months in the year, they ought to receive the necessary assistance from the State treasury. Suicidal, indeed, would be the policy that would refuse it.
ful situation, and never less than half an acre in extent. The public road is, surely, a very improper, in fact, dangerous, place, for large groups of children at play; and yet, if there be no ground attached to the schoolhouse, they must either use that, or trespass on the neighboring property,-a temptation to which we should be careful not to expose our youth, especially at school, where every evil influence should be sedulously avoided. By all means, then, let them have liberal space for exercise and amusement.
The lot should be enclosed by a neat and substantial fence, with two or three openings, sufficiently large to admit a man, yet narrow enough to exclude cattle. There should be a gate, or a part of the fence should be so constructed as to admit of being taken down in Winter, to admit teams with wood, and a horse and snow-plough,* to clear a passage from the highway to the schoolhouse door. The lot may be ornamented with a row of trees inside the fence, and two or three small, irregular groups of the handsomest native forest trees, scattered, without order, in the grounds.
On the south side of the schoolhouse, there should be a border of flowers ; and the east and west sides of the building should be decorated with roses and honeysuckles. It would be well, to have this little spot of cultivated ground covered with straw and boards, in Winter, and, every Spring, dug up and well manured by the committee, leaving the after-culture to be managed by the scholars, under the direction of the teacher. In the lot, there should be a circular swing, † and a few poles and ladders for gymnastic exercises.
These little accommodations for the children will probably appear trifling to many readers, and altogether unworthy the notice of a writer on education. Nothing, however, should ever be considered a trifle, which can, in any measure, exert an influence on the moral character of youth. Children must and will have their amusements. And it is right that it should be so; for God has placed an abundance of innocent pleasures within our reach.
* A snow-plough may be made of two pieces of plank eight or ten feet long, joined at an acute angle, with one or two round sticks passing through, to strengthen them. A horse, attached to the apex, will clear off the snow in a few minutes.
| The circular swing is made, by placing two horizontal beams or yards, at right angles to each other, on the top of an upright shaft, so fitted that the beams will turn easily on the shaft. From each of the four ends of the beams a rope is suspended, the lower ends of which reach to within four, five, or six feet of the ground. Four children seize on these ends, and run round and round, leaping and hanging by
the rope. The shaft may be twenty feet high; the longer the beams or arms are, the better, as that increases the circumference of the circle.
Had He intended otherwise, He would never have decorated Nature with such splendid hues ; endowed flowers with such delightful fragrance ; furnished us with the natural music of the grove ; nor given us tastes, which can be gratified without the slightest rebuke from the conscience. But, unfortunately, when left entirely to themselves, youth will frequently engage in amusements, hurtful to the temper, leading to gambling habits, or connected with cruelty to the brute creation.
Such are games of violent competition, or of chance; the practice of torturing insects, or of setting dogs, cats, and chickencocks, against each other. It is a matter of the first importance, then, that children should acquire a taste for the beauties of Nature ; which nothing is more likely to awaken, than the cultivation of plants. In another respect, its tendency is useful. The flower-bed is a beautiful embellishment for the farmhouse; it is one of the cheapest and most refined of the sensual pleasures ; tends to inspire a love of home; and is seldom, if ever, connected with such as are grovelling in their essence, or degrading in their tendency. How very much more desirable is such a taste in the community, than the mean competition for showy and expensive furniture and dress, the silly aping of city fashions, which the influx of wealth is spreading through the land! Were the agricultural population sensible of their own value and importance, they would set an example to the community, in place of copying, at second-hand, the follies of Paris and London.
Construction and Internal arrangement of Schoolhouses.
It would be impracticable to describe a schoolhouse, which would serve as a model for every situation, and
every kind of school.
But some general principles may be laid down, which will easily admit of sufficient modification to suit every case.
In the first place, the building should be substantial, and constructed of the best materials. A good schoolhouse adds to the value of every house and farm in the district, and that in a much greater ratio than the mere difference of expense between a good and a poor one. Brick or stone would be preferable, where easily to be procured ; but, whatever be the material, let the building be thoroughly constructed. The form should be oblong, and, if possible, one of the longer sides should front the south, this exposure being both warmer in Winter, and cooler in Summer, and affording better means for a steady light in the schoolroom, as will be presently shown. At the east or west side, should be the woodshed, at least as large as the schoolhouse, so as to afford room for the children to exercise in, in bad weather. It should be closely boarded, with a window on the east or west, and a door on the south, to serve, also, as outer door to the schoolhouse. On three sides of the woodhouse, the boards near the ground should be fixed with hinges, to be raised up in Summer, for a free circulation, to season the wood, of which a full supply of the best to be had (which is always the cheapest) should be laid in, towards the close of Winter.
The underpinning of the schoolhouse should be stone and lime, to prevent the cold air affecting the floor, so as to chill the children's feet. The walls of the schoolroom should not be less than ten feet high, to prevent injury to the health in cold weather, when the room is shut up,
from re-breathing the same air. * With the same view, there should be a constant supply of warm air flowing into the room, which may easily be thus obtained : Let there be a double bottom to the stove, the lower fitting closely to the
* See Report of the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, on the subject of schoolhouses. It is much to be desired, that every State, that either possesses, or proposes to institute, a system of public education, should publish an edition of this admirable treatise, for gratuitous distribution.