« PreviousContinue »
partment, or two, as a distinct school, or as part of a secondary school, or an ordinary district school, and for the whole year, or part of the year, something of the kind is required to meet the wants of the whole community, and relieve the public schools from impotency. Unless it can be engrafted upon the public school system, or rather unless it can grow up and out of the system, as a provision made for the educational wants of the whole community, then the system will never gather about it the warmth and sustaining confidence and patronage of all classes, and especially of those who know best the value of a good education, and are willing to spend time and money to secure it for their own children.
4. Intermediate Schools or departments will be needed in large districts, to receive a class of pupils, who are too old to be continued, without wounding their self-esteem, in the school below, or interfering with its methods of discipline and instruction, and are not prepared in attainments, and habits of study, or from irregular attendance, to be arranged in the reguJar classes of the school above.
Connected with this class of schools there might be opened a school or department, for those who cannot attend school regularly, or for only a short period of the year, or who may wish to attend exclusively to a few studies. There is no place for this class of scholars, in a regularly constituted, permanent school, in a large village.
5. Supplementary Schools, and means of various kinds should be provided in every system of public instruction, for cities and large villages, to supply deficiencies in the education of individuals whose school attendance has been prematurely abridged, or from any cause interfered with, and carry forward as far and as long as practicable into after life, the training and attainments commenced in childhood.
Evening Schools should be opened for apprentices, clerks, and other young persons, who have been hurried into active employment without a suitable elementary education. In these schools, those who have completed the ordinary course of school instruction, could devote themselves to such studies as are directly connected with their several trades or pursuits, while those whose early education was entirely neglected, can supply, to some extent, such deficiencies. It is not beyond the legitimate scope of a system of public instruction, to provide for the education of adults, who, from any cause, were deprived of the advantages of school instruction.
Libraries, and courses of familiar lectures, with practical illustrations, collections in natural history, and the natural sciences, a system of scientific exchanges between schools of
the same, and of different towns, these and other means of extending and improving the ordinary instruction of the schoolroom and of early life, ought to be provided, not only by individual enterprize and liberality, but by the public, and the authorities entrusted with the care and advancement of popular education.
One or more of that class of educational institutions referred to under the head of school attendance, as "Reform Schools, “Schools of Industry," or "Schools for Juvenile Offenders," should receive such children, as defying the restraining influence of parental authority, and the discipline and regulations of the public schools, or such as are abandoned by orphanage, or worse than orphanage, by parental neglect or example, to idle, vicious and pilfering habits, are found hanging about places of public resort, polluting the atmosphere by their profane and vulgar speech, alluring, to their own bad practices, children of the same, and other conditions of life, and originating or participating in every street brawl and low-bred riot. Such children cannot be safely gathered into the public schools; and if they are, their vagrant habits are chafed by the restraints of school discipline. They soon become irregular, play truant, are punished and expelled, and from that time their course is almost uniformly downward, until on earth there is no lower point to reach.
It is only in large cities that a gradation of schools, as complete as has been sketched above, can be introduced. In the largest class of village districts, three grades of schools will be required. As far as practicable, there should be such an arrangement of the districts and schools of a town, as to admit of the establishment of Primary Schools, under female teachers, wherever forty pupils, under ten years of age, can be collected, and one or more secondary schools, under well qualified male teachers, for scholars over that age. When the sparseness of the population will not admit of even this gradation, the school terms should be so arranged that during the warm months the district school shall receive only the young children, and in the winter months, only the older scholars.
Even if Primary Schools are not conducted always after such methods and by such teachers, as we desire, the separation of the young children, and the elementary processes of instruction, from the older pupils, and higher branches, will be of great benefit to both, and largely diminish the multiplicity and variety of cares and duties which drive one-half, at least, of the young men and young women, who would make our best teachers, in disgust from this sphere of labor.
The following provisions of the new school act were framed with especial reference to the introduction of these and similar
principles of classification, into the organization and arrangements of the schools of a town or district, as far and as fast, as the circumstances of the population, and the state of public opinion would allow.
1. Every town is clothed with all the powers requisite to establish and maintain a sufficient number of schools of different grades, at convenient locations, for the education of all the children residing within their respective limits.
2. Every school district, when properly organized, can accomplish the same object, within their respective limits, by a vote of the majority of the legal voters, with this condition, that the amount of any tax on property, or of any rate of tuition, to be paid by the parents of the scholars, shall be approved by the committee of the town.
3. No village or populous district, in which two or more schools of different grades, for the younger and older children respectively, can be conveniently established, can be divided into two or more independent districts, without the assent of the Commissioner of Public Schools.
4. The trustees of any district may employ, without consulting the inhabitants, an additional teacher for every fifty scholars, in average daily attendance.
5. Any two or more adjoining primary school districts, may establish and support a secondary or grammar school, for the older and more advanced pupils of such districts, for the whole or any portion of the year.
6. The legal voters of any school district may determine the period of the year in which the public school shall be kept, and may define the age and studies of the children, who shall attend at any particular period of the year, provided these regulations are not inconsistent with the regulations of the school committee of the town.
7. The school committee of every town are authorized and directed to prescribe a system of rules, among other objects, for the classification, books and studies of the public schools, and unless these rules are corfformed to by the teachers of any school, or the trustees of any district, they cannot draw any portion of the money of the state or town. Appendix, Number xv.
8. The Commissioner of Public Schools, by public addresses, personal communications with school officers and teachers, and by means of Teachers' Institutes, and in other practicable ways, must diffuse information of the most approved methods of arranging the studies, and conducting the discipline and instruction of public schools.
Among the results which may reasonably be anticipated from the establishment of a gradation of schools, in every large district where the number of children will admit of it, the following may be specified.
1. The number of children attending the public schools will be increased from about one-third, or one-half, to at least twothirds, or three-fourths, of the whole number of the recognized school age. The primary schools alone, if located where young children can conveniently attend, and continue through the year, will increase the attendance at least one-third, beyond the present average, and the number beyond that, will depend on the character of the school, or schools of a bigher grade.
2. Private schools of the same relative standing with the public schools will be discontinued, while those of a higher grade, if really called for by the educational wants of the community, will be improved. The best teachers in private schools will find employment equally lucrative and respectable in the public schools.
3. A larger number of female teachers will receive permanent employment, and the demand for male teachers, except of the highest qualifications, will be reduced, while both male and female teachers will receive more adequate compensation for their services. Additional inducement will thus be held out to young men and young women of the right character and qualifications, to become teachers for life, and the expense, loss of time, want of system, and other evils growing out of the constant change of teachers in the same school, will be diminished, if not entirely removed.
4. Every thing which is now done for the education of chil. dren in the district schools, will be better done and in a shorter time, under the proposed classification. The younger children will no longer be subjected to the neglect and discomforts which they too frequently receive, and the primary studies will not be crowded one side to make room for the higher branches. On the other hand, the older scholars, having been well taught in the elementary studies, and receiving more of the time of the teacher, and having better facilities for study, will reach the present standard of school attainment at twelve instead of sixteen years of age.
5. The course of instruction will be rapidly extended and improved, so as to be more complete, thorough and practical. Physical education and comfort will be better attended to, by a practical recognition of the great principles of health and the human constitution, in school-rooms, and methods of instruction and discipline adapted to each grade of schools. Intel
lectual education will be commenced earlier,-prosecuted on a system, and continued to a later period of life, and in every stage, with the advantages of books, methods, and teachers adapted to the age and proficiency of the several schools and classes. Moral education, including all those proprieties of conduct, language, and thought, which indicate a healthy heart, and tend powerfully to nourish and protect the growth of the virtues which they indicate, and which are the ornament and attraction of life, in the highest and the lowest station of society, will receive more attention, and under circumstances more favorable to sliccess. Children will come early, and continue through the most impressible period of their lives, under the more genial influence of female teachers, who care more for this department of education, and possess a peculiar power in awakening the sympathies of the young, and inspiring them with a desire to excel, in these things. Besides, if the plan of gradation is thoroughly carried out, there will be more time to be devoted to special instruction in each department of education, under permanent teachers of the highest qualifications.
6. Promotion from a lower class to a higher, in the same school, and from a school of a lower grade to one of a higher, in the same district, will operate as a powerful and unexceptionable motive to effort, on the part of individual scholars, of the whole school. Where the promotion is from several schools, under different teachers, and diflerent local committees, and is based on the results of an impartial examination, it will form an unobjectionable standard by which the relative standing of the schools can be ascertained, and indicate the studies and departments of education, in which the teachers should devote special attention. With schools classified ac. cording to the studies pursued in them, and rising in the scale of compensation paid to teachers, as the character of the instruction rises, the principle of competition will operate favorably by holding out to the faithful teacher below, the certainty of promotion to a more lucrative place.
7. The expenditures for education will be more economically and wisely made. The same amount of money will employ the same number of teachers, a larger number of females, and a smaller number of male teachers, each for a longer time, and the scale of compensation will be graduated more nearly to the value of their services. Even if the sum expended on the public schools is increased, the increase will be less than the corresponding increase of scholars, and the aggregate expenditures for public and private schools together, will be greatly diminished.