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mation are greater, and knowledge perhaps is more within his reach; but in country places, poverty positively cuts the teacher off from all opportunities of improvement, except he makes the Penny Magazine his oracle. These things have been felt by many, but by none so acutely as the masters themselves. We are glad that there are those of their body who have spirit enough to come forward, and if they can do no more, at least, to record the difficulties under which they labour. It is gratifying to find, that out of the mass of teachers in London and its environs, there are at least some, who are men of intelligence, and who would wish to improve their minds, and make provision for those casualities which peculiarly effect those engaged in the unhealthy trade of teaching. It affords us pleasure to find that a society is now formed for the purpose of affording a further education to teachers; at the same time, we regret, that the objects in the first circular, addressed to the teachers, were not carried into effect.
The following is a copy of the circular to which we allude
"British School, Brentford, August 27, 1834.
"DEAR SIR, A Brother Teacher on the British system, is requested to draw your attention through this medium, to a plan for benefiting the cause of education, and for advancing the interests of the masters of British schools. "It has long been felt that the office of a British School Teacher, instead of being considered an honourable and respectable station, is often looked upon in an inferior and disreputable light, and that from the scanty remuneration generally afforded the conductors of British schools, they are quite unable to improve their minds in a degree sufficient for them to take up instruction on a comprehensive basis, whereby their schools might be so improved as to make them popular; much less to meet any adverse circumstances that may overtake them, or to make provision for the future.
"It appears, then, expedient that some measures should be taken, which would raise the British School Teacher to a higher degree of intelligence, and enable him to take that station in society to which the increasing importance of his office entitles him, and to meet those vicissitudes to which Divine mercy may be pleased to subject him.
"It has hitherto been deemed sufficient for the British School Teacher to bring his pupils through those attainments which are little more than mechanical, viz. Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. But the time has arrived when much more than this will be demanded by the public, viz. the cultivation of the moral faculties, and the formation of character. It must be his, not only to expand the intellect, but to soften and improve the heart-to cultivate the sympathies, the feelings, and the affections—and, by the aid of gospel light, give principles and motives to action to the rising race; but before he can do this with effect, he must himself become the recipient of a much higher degree of knowledge than can be obtained by him in his present circumstances.
"It must never be forgotten that we have to educate the mass of the people, and that while high attainments, purely intellectual, are not necessary, yet there are no limits to the cultivation of the moral faculties. To us, education may be defined as the development of the immortal part of man, consequently education should always be more particularly directed to the elevation of the moral powers; but as the moral powers are affected both by the physical and intellectual ones, and as they act reciprocally upon each other, it is necessary to study man both as a physical, an intellectual, as well as a moral and accountable being, before we can succeed in the great object we have in view, viz. the moral regeneration of man.
VOL. I.-March, 1835.
"It is therefore necessary that the British School Teacher should take up education as a science, in which the science of mind, or more properly, the science of man, should be his study. Presupposing him to be well acquainted with the glorious scheme of salvation revealed in the sacred volume, he must make himself acquainted with the physiology of man, and the adaptation of external nature to his organization. In connection with this he must take up the mind and the understanding, its nature and properties, more particularly with regard to the communication of ideas; and lastly, but in conjunction with all these, he must enter upon the science of morals in unison with the light of the gospel, and from these branches of study form to himself data upon which to act in the great and important work in which he is engaged.
"The intellectual powers of the teachers thus raised, education would then make rapid progress, while the teacher himself would acquire an irresistible moral force, and be speedily elevated to his proper post, he would be able to impart that tone and importance to education which it undoubtedly wants, and without which it must fail to make those moral advances among the people which the peculiar character of the present times demands, and to which, under the Divine favour, society must chiefly look for the permanent improvement of mankind.
"To carry these ideas into effect it is proposed-
'I. To establish in a central part of the metropolis a Library, to consist of the best works of a physiological, intellectual, and moral character: a Reading Room, in which the members and their friends might meet at specified times, and where Lectures on those branches of knowledge of advantage to them in their studies or professions might be delivered, with the aid of such scientific apparatus as could be procured.
II. To establish a Magazine, to be published monthly, which shall be called "The British and Foreign Educational Magazine,' its object being the dissemination of all kinds of knowledge connected with the mind and its progress, both at home and abroad, and which shall be the organ of the society, and open to the contributions of all sects and parties, upon every subject connected with moral and religious education.
III. To appropriate, yearly, a certain sum from the profits of the Magazine, of which every member will be the agent in his own particular district throughout the kingdom; and also to obtain quarterly subscriptions from the members, for the creation of a fund to be applied to the relief of members when sick, or out of situation, and to secure to them an Annuity in OLd Age.
IV. To solicit the patronage and subscriptions of the benevolent Friends of Education, to enable us to carry these plans into effect, several of whom have already offered their cordial co-operation and support.'
At the request, therefore, of several teachers, who have honoured me with the pleasant task of making you acquainted with these ideas, I have to solicit your co-operation, and that you will reply to this letter within a fortnight from this time, stating your views upon the subject, and any suggestions for its extension or improvement, preparatory to a General Meeting of the Teachers in and near London, which will shortly take place.
In conclusion, be assured that an era is fast approaching, which shall place education on a higher and firmer basis, and that British School Teachers have now the opportunity to engraft themselves firmly upon the public mind, which opportunity may not again be offered them; for so soon as education becomes worth following as a profession, as most assuredly it will be, men of higher pretensions than ourselves will attempt to supplant us, and reap the fruits of our labours, after we have borne all the heat and burden of the day. Lose then no time in corresponding with one who is happy to subscribe himself, Your sincere Friend."
This was transmitted to every British school teacher in London and within ten miles. It brought a variety of letters in reply, all, without exception, in approbation of the objects it proposed, and professing co-operation. A variety of meetings were subsequently held, a plan was sketched out in accordance with the views of the writer of the letter, with the exception of the publication of the magazine, which was abandoned; rules and regulations were drawn up, and nothing seemed wanting to complete the undertaking, but the approbation of the Committee of the Parent Society. The following letter was accordingly drawn up and signed by the temporary Secretary, which was transmitted to Mr. Dunn, the Secretary of the British and Foreign School Society:
"To the Committee of the British and Foreign School Society.
"I am deputed by the Provisional Committee of a society now forming among Teachers on the British system, called the British Society of Teachers, to lay before you the objects they have in view, and to solicit your aid to enable them to carry the same into effect.
"The design of the society is to enable all those who are really desirous of becoming efficient teachers, to educate themselves for their profession, and to afford the means of provision beyond the reach of want in sickness and in old age. The means adopted to carry out this will be found in the enclosed printed circular, addressed by me, at the request of many of our teachers, to the masters of the metropolis and its vicinity, and which have been unanimously agreed to with the alterations in the margin.
"I am, gentlemen, instructed to say, that the members of the society are anxious that their efforts should be primarily directed to qualify themselves for the important work in which they are engaged, that they would prosecute their design in a spirit strictly religious, and that they are determined to advance only on the broad basis of Christian charity, allowing, in accordance with the great principle on which your society is founded, any teacher of good moral character to become a member, who shall acknowledge the Holy Scriptures to be the rule of his faith and conduct. I would, therefore, respectfully submit to your Committee, whether such a society be not calculated importantly to advance the interests of your society, and the cause of universal education. You are well aware, that in all systems every thing depends upon the teacher's ability. That the very worst system in the hands of a man of mind may be made to perform wonders, and the very best system when under the direction of ignorance and inability will fail in its objects. To raise, therefore, the mind of the teachers of your schools, is to raise in proportionable degree, your system and society in the estimation of the public.
"At the present moment, there are many of your masters who are unqualified in every particular, save an acquaintance with the mere mechanical elements of knowledge, to superintend the education of youth; men who make Committees disgusted with their establishments, and who ultimately bring about the irrecoverable ruin of their own schools and themselves.
"For your teachers, therefore, to take up education as a science; to be willing to devote themselves in their leisure hours to its study; to endeavour to canvass, discuss, classify, and adapt the chaotic mass of information relating to the conduct of the mind and of the morals to the purpose of instruction, is, in my opinion, no mean step in the glorious superstructure now raising by the friends of human improvement, for the mental and moral advancement of man. "It is not too much to assert that the public teacher should be in a district only second to the Minister. He has an object quite as important, and no less difficult than the teacher of religion, though twice as laborious. If it is the
province of the one to call the sinner to repentance, it is of the other to endeavour to nip sin in the bud. If one would impress the doctrine and moral precept, the other must call forth the faculties that will have to receive that doctrine. If one would show the unreasonableness of vice, the other must prepare the understanding for such reasoning. But more than this, for as the "child is the father of the man," are there not moods of mind, shades of character, and impulses of feeling that can only be rectified in youth, and which if not carefully and permanently rectified then, grow up into giants too great for human laws to control. And shall raw youths, or poor, ignorant, and despised men, be expected to perform the mighty work, and to reform the character and manners of an age, with the poor modicum of knowledge they possess? It is absurd to suppose it; and vain will be the hopes and wishes of the pious regarding the prospects of education, and, to a certain degree, futile their exertions, till really talented teachers, men of thought, of strong intellectual power, and tutorial tact, shall become public instructors.
"I am quite aware that it is impossible, in the present state of the public mind, to carry my views, with the present teachers of your schools, to so full an extent as could be wished, but great improvement may be made by the means about to be adopted. It is the intention of the teachers to go through regular courses of study on all subjects bearing upon these professions. To pass regular examinations, and to communicate with each other by periodical meetings, by lectures, essays, and conversations, the discipline and internal government of schools, and the methods of teaching, that they may seize on all improvements, and that every improvement may be brought to the test of public discussion among practical men.
"These efforts will, I feel confident, soon be felt in the schools, emulation will be increased among masters, and it is likely that school committees will take an increased interest in their establishments, while the teachers, having your interests and your cause pre-eminently at heart, will, by rendering your system more and more efficient, give it greater claims to public liberality and support. I sincerely trust, then, gentlemen, that you will assist those who are thus willing to improve themselves for the cause of education. They ask your countenance on the ground that it is their duty to ask it, and that it will be your pride to give it them. If the funds of your society cannot be touched for such an object, they would appeal to your private benevolence and the honor of your individual support. Leaving, then, the cause of my poor brethren in your hands, and praying that Divine grace may dispose you to act in accordance with the Divine will, and that the Divine blessing may attend you, &c."
To this appeal a reply was received, stating that "The Committee were at all times willing to promote the interests of their teachers; but they did not think the present plan was calculated to do so." The masters, as might be supposed, were much disheartened at this intelligence, there having been a great confidence in the approval of the Parent Society, and in its assistance. They thought, as was expressed, that they should be doing what would promote both the interests of themselves and of the cause in which they were equally engaged. They were therefore greatly disappointed in finding their plans in part overthrown. A public meeting of the teachers was, however, soon after called, in the City of London School, Farringdon Street, and the original plan was modified and confined entirely, for the present, to mutual improvement and the formation of an Educational Library.
The following resolutions were carried unanimously—
"RESOLVED, That this meeting look upon the debased and degraded condition of the poor of the British empire with feelings of deep regret, and is of opinion that the state of society is such, that without some speedy and powerful remedy, vice and crime will progressively increase, and that the moral character of the poor will sink lower in the scale of depravity; and that one of the most effectual engines for the prevention of this evil, is universal education, and the imparting to every child in the empire a sound and efficient education, founded upon the principles of Christianity.
"RESOLVED, That this meeting is of opinion that advantage would result to the cause of Education and to the Parent Society, by the formation of an Institution among Teachers, whose object shall be intellectual improvement for the science of teaching, in accordance with Christian principles.
RESOLVED, That a society of teachers be now formed, to be called the British Society of Teachers, which shall include TEACHERS ON EVERY SYSTEM, and of every religious denomination; the object of which shall be monthly conferences of the members, the diffusion of all kinds of knowledge on the subject of education, and the formation of a public library of educational books.
"RESOLVED, That the Society be managed by a Treasurer, Committee, and Secretary, and that measures be taken to obtain donations of books, specimens, or scientific apparatus, from the friends of popular education.
"RESOLVED, That the first meeting of the Society, as now constituted, do take place on Saturday, February 15th, at 16, Cornhill, and that the following be the subject brought under the notice of the meeting :—
"ARE THE PRESENT SYSTEMS OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION CAPABLE OF mateRIAL IMPROVEMENT ?"
Such are the present views of the British Society of Teachers. The spirit of improvement is evidently roused in them, but of themselves they can do little; and those who are determined upon placing Education on a more practical and general foundation, are inclined to look to the creation of a new race of teachers from very different elements. But let this society go on, let it advance steadily and gradually, let it show that it is producing practical good, and that those who have joined it for the laudable purpose of improvement, are rising in their knowledge of mind and its properties, of man and his relations, and they may rest assured that assiduity and talent, capacity and efficiency, will always find a field for exertion, and meet with the encouragement and support that they deserve.
NORMAL SCHOOLS OF PRUSSIA.
WE again with pleasure refer to Mrs. Austen's translation of the report of M. Cousin, on Education in Prussia. It appears that there are two kinds of Normal Schools in Prussia, a small and a large. The smaller ones are generally private establishments, and differ from the latter, not only in the number of pupils, but in being the nurseries for village schoolmasters for the very poorest parishes. The objects and plan of a small Normal School may be best gathered from the regulations of a small Normal School at Lastadie, near Stettin.