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the duties of my appointment, »f meetings, which I have contin. .ently as my strength would allow,
sed to come together on public of the state, for familiar and practins, on topics connected with the or. ution of the school system, and the and discipline of public schools. (Ap
hese meetings have been numerously at's have proved useful in awakening public
ating information as to to the best modes : education. When the meetings already held, more than five hundred addresses will
myself, and others invited by me; and at will have been held in every large neighborin in the State. ation and written communications. i devoted to public meetings, in my circu. e, was spent in the school-room, and in 1 h teachers, school officers, and the frier
gislative or local action on the subject. This I aimed to do as follows:
1. By personal inspection and inquiry.
Since my appointment I have visited every town in the state twice, and those towns where improvements were in progress more frequently; have inspected upwards of two hundred schools while in session, scattered through every town, in small and obscure as well as in central and populous districts ; have conversed with more than four hundred teachers of the winter or summer schools, as to their methods of classification, instruction and discipline, and the extent of co-operation received by them from parents and school committees; have questioned and examined children in the schools and out of them, to test the results of their school education; have had personal communication with the school committee of every town, and improved every opportunity to learn from the friends of education generally, their views as to the practical working of the system of public schools.
2. By circulars addressed to teachers and school committees.
More than one thousand circulars, (Appendix, Numbers i. and 11.) embracing the most minute inquiries respecting the external and internal arrangement and management of schools, the size, population, pecuniary ability, parental and public interest in education, of each district--the location, construction, furniture and appurtenances of school-houses--age, sex, education, experience, success, and compensation of teachers,-the attendance, classification, studies, books, apparatus, methods of teaching, discipline, length of school, time and length of vacation, and other topics relating to the public schools—the number, grade and influence of private schools, lyceums, libraries, lectures, and other means of popular education-were addressed to teachers and school committees in the several towns, inviting not only statistical returns, but a full and free expression of views of existing defects and desirable improvements. These circulars were so framed as necessarily to direct the attention of those into whose hands they should come, to certain causes which impair the usefulness of the schools, and suggest improvements that would make the existing means of education more efficacious. Although answers were not returned in all cases, enough were received from such a number and variety of districts, as to substantiate or modify the result of my own personal observations.
3. By the official returns and reports of school committees.
The annual returns of the town school committees to the Secretary of State, although imperfect, show the working of the school system for a period of six years in some important particulars, while the annual reports which the same committee in some of the towns have made, but not published, respecting their own
proceedings, and the condition and improvement of the public schools under their supervision, throw much light on the objects of my appointment.
4. By statements in public meetings.
In the meetings which have been held in every town in the state, called by public notice, and open to free discussion, many interesting and important facts respecting school-houses, the non-attendance of children at school, the variety of school books, the character, qualifications and habits of teachers, have been stated on the personal knowledge of the speakers.
These are the principal sources which I have consulted for information respecting the means and condition of popular education in the State, and the information thus obtained is the basis of such plans and suggestions as I have elsewhere, or shall herein propose for immediate or permanent improvement in the system and the schools.
II. As at once the condition and source of all thorough, extensive and permanent improvement in the public schools, under the laws as they were or in the laws themselves, I have aimed to disseminate as widely as possible, by all the agencies within my reach, a knowledge of existing defects and practical remedies, and to awaken in parents, teachers, school committees, and the public generally, an inquiring, intelligent and active interest in all that relates to the advancement of public schools and popular education. Among the means and agencies resorted to for these objects, the following may be specified.
1. By public lectures.
Immediately after entering on the duties of my appointment, I commenced holding a series of meetings, which I have continued from time to time as frequently as my strength would allow, of such persons as were disposed to come together on public notice, in the several towns of the state, for familiar and practical addresses and discussions, on topics connected with the organization and administration of the school system, and the classification, instruction and discipline of public schools. (Appendix, Number 111.) These meetings have been numerously atiended, and the addresses have proved useful in awakening public interest, and disseminating information as to to the best modes of improving popular education. When the meetings already appointed have been held, more than five hundred addresses will have been made by myself, and others invited by me; and at least one meeting will have been held in every large neighborhood in every town in the State.
2. By conversation and written communications.
The time not devoted to public 'meetings, in my circuits through the state, was spent in the school-room, and in personal interviews with teachers, school officers, and the friends of ed
ucation, where an opportunity was presented for applying the general views advanced in my public addresses, to the circumstances of a particular school-house, school district or town. The time and labor thus spent, although out of public view, and although no public record of the amount, or of the results can ever be made, I feel to be as serviceable to the objects contemplated in my appointment, as any portion of my official labors. In this connection I can add, that besides preparing and addressing over four thousand printed circulars, I have written upwards of one thousand letters, in replies to inquiries addressed to me, or on subjects connected with the improvement of the schools.
3. By circulating tracts, periodicals and documents relating to schools, school systems and education generally.
In the absence of any periodical devoted to education in the state, I commenced the publication of a series of " Educational Tracts,” (Appendix, Number iv.) for gratuitous distribution. To secure their general dissemination, under such circumstances that they would be likely to be read, and in families which they might otherwise not reach, arrangements were made by which upwards of ten thousand copies were stitched to the Farmer's, and the Rhode Island Almanacs, which were sold in the winter of 1844-5. Want of time, and the pressing nature of other duties, have prevented my continuing the publication of the series as originally contemplated.
Arrangements were also made with the publishers of the Common School Journal, edited by Horace Mann, Secretary of the Board of Education in Massachusetts, and of the District School Journal of the State of New York, edited by Francis Dwight, Superintendent of the Common Schools of the city and county of Albany, by which a large number of these excellent Journals for the current year were subscribed for in different parts of the state. These two Journals contain all the official school documents of their respective states, in which the most judicious and vigorous measures have been taken to perfect the system of public instruction, as well as a variety of interesting and valuable articles, original and selected from the pens of experienced educators, calculated to assist, inform, and interest school officers, teachers and parents every where, in the work of making common schools more useful and complete.
In addition to the above works, I have secured the dissemination of a variety of other books and documents, (Appendix, Number vi.) which were calculated to make known the nature, extent and results of the efforts now making to devise, extend, and perfect systems of public education on both sides of the Atlantic ; to form and assist good teachers by making them acquainted with improved methods of school government and instruction; and especially to enlist the more active, generous and vigorous co-operation of parents and the public generally, in this work. Among these works, as the most valuable single volume now before the public, and which should be in the hand of every teacher, and school committee in the state, and the whole land, I would particularly mention the School and School-master, the joint production of Prof. Potter and George B. Emerson.
But the circulation of these and similar documents, and of educational periodicals published out of the State, even more extensively than has yet been done, can never supply the place of a periodical published here. Peculiarities of local convenience and interest render such periodicals desirable in each state; and in this State, and at this time, when great efforts are making in different towns, and in districts widely separated from each other, to improve the schools, and when important alterations have been made in the organization and administration of the whole system, such a periodical is indispensable as an organ of communication between those who are laboring in different departments of the same field ; and for official direction and explanation to those who have the local administration of a new system, involving great variety and some complexity of details, in its first starting;
4. By establishing a library of education in every town.
As a permanent depository of the most valuable books and documents relating to schools, school systems, and particularly to the practical departments of education, I have nearly completed arrangements, to establish a library of education (Appendix, Number vi.) in every town, either to be under the management of the school committee of the town, or of some district or town library association, and in either case to be accessible to teachers, parents, and all interested in the administration of the school system, or the work of the more complete, thorough and practical education of the whole community. Each library will contain about thirty bound volumes, and as many pamphlets. To these libraries, the Legislature might from time to time hereafter, forward all laws and documents relating to the public schools of this state, and at a small annual expense, procure the most valuable books and periodicals which should be published on the theory and practice of teaching, and the official school documents of other states, and thus keep up with the progress of improvement in every department of popular education. These libraries will be made much more valuable for purposes of reference, by an index to the various topics discussed in the several volumes and pamphlets which it is my intention to prepare as one of the series of Educational Tracts.
5. By recommending and aiding in the formation and proceedings of associations for the improvement of public schools. The object aimed at was to bring the friends of schoo