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8. The privileges of a good school will be brought within the reach of all classes of the community, and will be actually enjoyed by children of the same age, from families of the most diverse circumstances as to wealth, education and occupation, Side by side in the same recitations, heart and hand in the same sports, pressing up together to the same high attainments in knowledge and character, will be found the children of the rich and the poor,—the more and the less favored in outward circumstances, without knowing or caring for the arbitrary distinctions which distract and classify society, With nearly the same opportunities of education in early youth, the prizes of life, its fields of usefulness, and sources of happiness, will be open to all, whether they come from the mansions of elegance and wealth, or the hovel or the garret of poverty.
9. The system of public instruction, improved in the several particulars specified, will begin to occupy the place in the eyes and affections of the community, which it deserves, as the security, ornament and blessing of the present, and the hope of all future generations. The schools will be spoken of, visited, and provided for on a liberal scale. School-houses will be pointed to as creditable monuments of public taste and spirit. Teachers will receive a compensation equal to what is paid the same talent, skill and fidelity employed in other departments of the public service, and will occupy that social position which their character, acquirements and manners may entitle them to. The office of school committee, instead of being shunned, or at best, barely tolerated by those best qualified to discharge its duties, will be accepted as a sacred and honorable trust, by the intelligent, enterprising and influential members of society. Parents of all classes will take an honorable pride in institutions to which, under all circumstances, they can look as the safe and profitable resorts of their children, for as good an education as money can purchase, at home or abroad. The stranger, interested in the moral and social improvement of his race, will not only be invited to visit the busy marts of trade, and the workshops where the wind and the wave have been harnessed to the car of industry, and made to perfect the triumphs of the loom, the spindle, and the hammer,--and to those institutions which a diffusive and noble charity may have provided for the orphan, the poor, the insane, and even the criminal, but to those schools where the mind is educated to discover new modes of applying the labor of the hand, and the gigantic powers of nature to useful purposes, and above all, where happy and radiant children are trained to those physical, intellectual and moral babits, which bless every station, and prevent poverty, vice and crime.
These results have all been realized in the public schools of Providence, since their re-organization in 1839 ;---(Appendix Number xv.)—the number of scholars in attendance has been more than doubled ; more than thirty private schools of different grades have been discontinued ; the number of female teachers in the public schools have been increased from ten to upwards of fifty, with an advance of salary; the compensation of male teachers has been increased more than thirty per cent.; the course of instruction is more complete, thorough and practical, and no better can be had in any private schools; while the expenditures for public schools has been increased in consequence of the demand for more schools, the expense for each scholar educated is less than before, and the aggregate expenditures for education in the city, including private and public schools, have been reduced by many thousand dollars annually ; the privileges of these schools are not only nominally free to all the children of the city, but in the schools of each grade are to be found scholars from families of every occupation, and degree of wealth; the citizens are justly proud of their school-houses, teachers, and the condition of their schools generally; and men of the highest intelligence, wealth, and social and professional standing, are willing to devote time and attention to the administration of the system. The influence of these improvements has been already extensively felt in every part of the State. Providence, Warren, Newport, Bristol, and Pautucket, have already adopted substantially the same system, with results corresponding to the nearness with which they have carried out the plan in its details, and made the schools at once good and cheap.
In consequence of the length to which the consideration of the two preceding subjects have extended, the suggestions which I proposed to make on the course and methods of instruction ; the principles which should be regarded in the preparation and selection of text-books, and the best modes of securing uniformity in the schools of the same town, or the same section of the state ; the uses of apparatus and means of visible illustration ; school discipline ; the qualification and improvement of teachers; and the supervision and support of a system of public schools, will be deferred to another opportunity. I will only add in reference to school books, that the diversity which now exists is a serious evil. It multiplies the number of classes in the same study, and diminishes the size of each class. It increases the number of recitations, and shortens the time which the teacher can devote to any one. It prevents the introduction of those methods of teaching which operate so happily on large classes. It increases the labors of the teacher and diminishes its value. It adds to the cost of education, from fifteen hundred to two thousand dollars annually, without yielding any profit to any body, except the authors and publishers of the books. As soon as a proper examination of some new books can be made, and the school committee of the several towns consulted with, measures will be taken, which it is believed, in the course of one or two years, will bring about a uniformity of books, so far as the same is desirable, without imposing any considerable expense upon parents, from the substitution of new for old books.*
With a few remarks on the condition and improvement of public education, in reference to the three classes into which the population of the State is distributed, and I will bring this Report to a close. First in the order of nature and of political economy, comes the agricultural class.
5. Agricultural Districts.
Although in Rhode Island, it is second in point of numbers to the manufacturing and mechanical interest, yet here as well as elsewhere, the agricultural population will never cease to be of the highest importance to the dignity and strength of the State. It is from the rural districts, that the manufacturing population recruits its waste, and draws the bone and muscle of its laborers, and much of the energy of its directing force. It is from the country, that the city is ever deriving its fresh supply of men of talent and energy, to stand foremost among its mechanics, merchants, and professional men. It is on the country that the other interests of society fall back in critical seasons, and as a forlorn hope in moments of imminent peril. Just in proportion as the means of intel. lectual and moral improvement abound in the country, and co-operate with the healthy forces of nature and occupation to build up men of strong minds, and pure purposes in strong bodies, do her sons fill the high places of profit, enterprize and influence in the city and the manufacturing village. Whether the country parts of Rhode Island have done as much as they might, or as much as similar portions of the other States of New England have done, in supplying the steady demand there is for educated and professional talent in the community, can be best answered by those who are familiar with her local and individual history.
In respect to education, the country has advantages and disadvantages peculiar to itself. The sparseness of the popula
According to the returns received from teachers, (Appendix, Number xiii.) which are not complete, there were in twenty-three towng, one hundred and twenty different kinds of school books, in the following studies, viz:-fifty-three in spelling and reading; nineteen in arithmetic; seven in geography; ten in grammar; two in composition; six in history; four in penmanship and drawing; three in book-keeping; six in algebra ; one in surveying ; four in astronomy; four in natural history; and four in mental philosophy.
tion forbids the concentration of scholars into large districts, and the consequent gradation of schools which is so desirable, and even essential to thoroughness of school instruction. The limited means and frugal habits of the country preclude the employment of teachers or professional men, of the highest order of talent and attainments, and thus, both the direct and indirect benefits of their educational influences are not felt. The secluded situation and pressing cares of daily life, foster a stagnation of mind, and want of sensibility to the refinements and practical advantages of education.
On the other hand, country life has its advantages. There is the bodily energy and the freshness and force of mind which are consequent upon it. These are secured by the pure air, the rough exposure, the healthy sports and laborious toil of the country. Hence boys bred in the country endure longest the wear and waste of hard study, and the more exciting scenes of life. There is the calmness and seclusion which is favorable to studious habits, and to that reflection which appropriates knowledge into the very substance of the mind. There is freshness of imagination, nurtured by wandering over hill and dale, and looking at all things growing and living, which, unsoiled and untired as yet in its wing, iakes long and delighted flights. There is ardor and eagerness after eminence, which gathers strength like a long pent fire, and breaks out with greater energy when it has room to show itself. Above all, there is often, and may be always, a more perfect domestic education, as parents have their children more entirely within their control, and the home is more completely, for the time being, the whole world to the family. Wherever these favorable circumstances are combined with the advantages of good teachers, good books, and the personal influence of educated men, there will boyhood and youth receive its best training for a long life of useful and honorable effort. But in these agencies of education, the country portions of the state are greatly deficient, -relatively more deficient than manufacturing villages. The teachers are almost universally young men, with no education beyond what can be obtained in ordinary district schools, inexperienced in life, and in their own proses. sion, with no expectation of continuing in the same school more than three or four months, or in the business any longer than they can accomplish some temporary object, and without any of that interest and pride in their schools, which springs from local and state attachments. Even when they are well qualified, by knowledge, age and experience, and feel a more than ordinary interest in improving the schools, because they are the schools of their town or state, their connection with them is so transient, and the impediments from poor schoolhouses, backward scholars, irregular attendance, diversity of ages, studies and books, want of interest in parents and committees, are so great, they can accomplish but very little good. The deficiencies of the schools are not supplied to any great extent, by school, or town, or circulating libraries, or by courses of popular lectures. In 1844, there were but three libraries, containing twelve hundred volumes, in the agricul. tural districts of the State. These belonged to proprietors, and were accessible to less than one hundred families. There was not a single lyceum, or course of lectures open to the agricul. tural population, distinct from those which were established in a few of the manufacturing villages. From the want of such facilities for nurturing the popular mind, and the fact that clergymen and professional men from the city and large villages are seldom called into the country, there is less of that intellectual activity, of that spirit of inquiry, and desire for knowledge, and of that improved tone of conversation which the discussions and addresses of able and distinguished men, in the lecture room and the pulpit are sure to awaken, and which constitute an educating influence of a powerful and extensive character, in large places.
To supply these wants in the agricultural districts, public education in all its bearings, must be continually held up and discussed before the people. The lecturer, the editor, the preacher, educated men in public and private life, should do all in their power to cherish and sustain an interest on this subject. The direct and indirect results of such an education as can be given in good public schools, such as have been sustained in other parts of New England, under circumstances as unfavorable as exist in any portion of this State, upon the pecuniary prosperity of a family of children, should be largely illustrated and insisted on. It should become a familiar truth in every family, that the father who gives his children a good practical education, secures them not only the means of living, but of filling places of honor and trust, in the community, more certainly than if he could leave to each the entire homestead. The young man who has been so well educated in the public schools, with such special training as Teachers' Institutes, and a Normal School supported in part by the State, could impart, that he can step from the plough in the summer, to the school-room as a teacher in the winter, or into any kind of business which requires a thoughtful mind, as well as a strong and a skillful hand, will, before he is thirty years of age, be in the receipt of an income greater than any farmer in one hundred can realize out of the best farm, if owned in fee simple, with his own labor bestowed upon it. But to give such an education, the country district schools must be improved. Better school-houses must be provided. Accomplished female