« PreviousContinue »
5. Visit them at school.
These duties, and others growing out of them, perform faithfully, and you will find a most abundant reward in the increased interest of your children, and their growth in knowledge and virtue.
With affectionate regard,
TEACHER. [The above letter will be put lished as one of the series of “ Educational Tracts,” and can be procured by teachers for distribution among the parents of their pupils, at the bookstore of D. P. Daniels, Providence, at the rate of one dollar per hundred,-about the cost of press-work and paper. We would also refer them to a Lecture by Jacob Abbott, before the American Institute of Instruction, in 1835, “On the Duties of Parents in regard to the schools where their children are instructed;" to another, before the same association in 1940, by D. P. Page, now Principal of the State Normal School at Albany, « On the Mutual Duties of Parents and Teachers ;” and to the Prize Essay, “ On the Duties of Parents in relation to their schools," written for the Essex County Teachers' Association, by Edwin Jocelyn, and published by Ives and Pease, Salem. We shall publish extracts from this Essay in our next Extra. The Lectures by Mr. Abbott and Mr. Page, can be found in the annual publication of the Institute. The greater part of Mr. Page's Lecture is re-printed in the second volume of the Connecticut Common School Journal, which can be found in any of the “ Libraries of Education.”]
EDUCATED MEN AND THE EDUCATION OF THE PEOPLE. We had thought of preparing an article on some of the ways in which professional, and other liberally educated men in Rhode Island, can promote the improvement of society around them, when we found the work done to our hands by Dr. Bacon, of New Haven, in his Oration before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Dartmouth College, in which he discusses “the duties of liberally educated men in our age and in our country.” By a liberally educated man, as here spoken of, is meant one whose faculties have been disciplined, and whose mind has been expanded and quickened, not only by that kind of knowledge which is, or at least should be common to the citizens of an enlightened country, and by that which is essential to his own particular occupation in the world ; but also by an enlargedcircuit of free study in the various departments of learning and science. A man may be liberally educated, and yet not have seen the inside of a College edifice, or enjoyed the helps and excitements of a public Institution,
Let us now contemplate the educated man as a member of a local community. He is a neighbor among his neighbors—a citizen among
the inhabitants of the city, town, or village, in which he has his home. In this relation, his usefulness depends altogether upon his falling gracefully into his natural position and station. If he considers himself as belonging of right to a superior and ruling order in society, and puts on airs accordingly--if he expects that his opinions will be received any further than they are commended effectually to the good sense, the judg. ment, and the taste of his neighbors,-his usefulness will be of small account. If he feels that educated men are to constitute a secluded class in society, and are to have their associations, sympathies and enjoyments exclusively or chiefly among themselves, he will soon be sadly lonesome: and no man who cuis himself off from sympathy with his neighbors, or who cannot associate with them on terms of neighborly equality, can hope to do them much good. But if on the other hand he becomes a neighbor among his neighbors--a citizen among his fellow citizens-interesting himself in all their interests, then he becomes, in proportion to his talents and attainments, a radiant point of salutary influences in that community. He will not indeed lead them and command them by mere authority, but his influence upon them will be quiet, unobtrusive, and therefore unresisted-steady, persevering, various, and therefore powerful. He will not accomplish-nor if he has good sense, will he attemptany great and sudden revolution ; but after a while, changes will begin to be developed. The schools wil be found to have improved, and it will be seen that the children are becoming a more intelligent generation than their fathers. Presently the village library begins to be more numerously supplied with more valuable books, and the value of it begins to be more appreciated. There is more reading in the families of that village, and the books read furnish themes of conversation and inquiry. An increasing number of families have ascertained that not only a weekly newspaper, but some monthly or quarterly periodical is among the necessaries of life. A lyceum, or some such arrangement for the promotion of intelligence by mutual incitement and mutual instruction, makes its appearance. All this, and more of the same kind, comes on so slowly that few observe the successive steps of silent progress; and none perhaps are distinctly aware to whose influence the changes are owing. But all this indicates the presence of cultivated mind gently and steadily acting on other minds, and by the easy excitement of a natural sympathy awakening and leading the spirit of improvement. At the same time, other changes are taking place under the same influence. The dwelling of an educated man is not distinguished from the dwellings of his neighbors by any signs of pretension. The interior is not made enviable by any remarkable splendor or costliness of furniture. But without and within, there is something which indicates the presence of taste and refinement. There is a simple neatness which, as it does not strike the ob servation very forcibly, charms the more because it charms insensibly. • How pleasant this is.' says every one who passes by, 'how clean, how comfortable.' And so the visitcr admitted to the interior, says to himself, • How pleasant, how clean, how com ortable. It is not long before a taste for the same kind of comfort begins to show itself in some of the neighbors. Had a retired epecu'ator from New York set down among them to play the nabob, they would have envied him first, then laughed at him, and then perh-ps would have ruined themselves in attempting to imitate his extravagant fashions. But a neat railing to enclose the clean door-yard, the removal of the pig trough from its primitive position near the front door--to some other part of the establishment, a little shrubbery, neatly trimmed, a simple trilis to support sume clambering flowering vine-such improvements are not expensive. The comfort, too, of perfect tidiness within is the cheapest of all comforts. And when this taste begins to spread, it grows as it spreads; it reacts to promote the refinement from which it springs, and in process of time, the village, the whole township, begins to be spoken of for its neat and simple beauty, and the air of unpretending refinement which is thrown over it. Simultaneously with all this, there has been, in that community, a development of public spirit. The school houses are well seen 10,—the place of worship is made commodious and attractive,--the highways are kept smooth and clean,—the village green, instead of being a naked spot, parched by the sun, and intersected by cart-paths, is enclosed and planted, the sleeping-place of the dead is guarded from the growth of thorns and weeds, and made tranquil with the shade of trees. The people value with a livelier sensibility their common reputation and their common interests. They are increasingly ready to adopt every social improvement. Demoralizing customs are more readily renounced. The dramselling tavern, where idlers and smokers corrupted each other, is understood to be a nuisance, is frowned upon, decays, and disappears. All this is not because an educated man is lord of the manor; it is not because his dictation is the law; it is not because he occupies the most important offices of trust or honor, but it is in no small measure because of liis natural, unassuming, steady influence as a neighbor and a citizen.
NORMAL SCHOOL AT KRUITZLINGEN.
The following notice of the normal school of the canton of Thurgovia, in Switzerland, is taken from a “Report of Dr. Kay and Mr. Tufnell, on the Training School at Battersea, England," in which they give an account of their visits to the best normal schools on the continent in 1841. Vehrli, so honorably spoken of below, was a pupil of Pestalozzi, and for many years conducted “the poor school,” as it was called, of Dr. Fellenberg at Hofwyl. In referring to European normal schools, we do not hold them as models for the organization of similar institutions in this country. To be successful here, they must be organized and conducted in harmony with our system of education, and our civil and social institutions,
The normal school at Kruitzlingen is in the summer palace of the former abbot of the convent of that name, on the shore of the Lake of Constance, about one mile from the gate of the city. The pupils are sent thither from the several communes of the canton, to be trained three years by Vehrli, before they take charge of the communal schools. Their expenses are borne in part by the commune, and partly by the council of the canton. We found 90 young men, apparently from 19 to 24 or 26 years of age, in the school. Vehrli welcomed us with frankness and simplicity, which at once won our confidence. We joined him at his frugal meal. He pointed to the viands, which were coarse, and said, “I am a peasant's son. I wish to be no other than I am, the teacher of the sons of the peasantry. You are welcome to my meal: it is coarse and homely, but it is oflered cordially.”
We sat down with him. “These potatoes," he said, "are our own. We won them from the earth, and therefore we need no dainties, for our appetite is gained by labor, and the fruit of our toil is always savoury." This introduced the subject of industry. He told us all the pupils of the
normal school labored daily some hours in a garden of several acres attached to the house, and that they performed all the domestic duty of the household. When we walked out with Vehrli, we found them in the garden digging, and carrying on other garden operations, with great assiduity. Others were sawing wood into logs, and chopping it into billets in the court-yard. Some brought in sacks of potatoes on their backs, or baskets of recently gathered vegetables. Others labored in the domestic duties of the household.
After a while the bell rang, and immediately their out-door labors terminated, and they returned in an orderly manner, with all their implements, to the court-yard, where having deposited them, thrown off their frocks, and washed, they reassembled in their respective class-rooms.
We soon followed them. Here we listened to lessons in mathematics, proving that they were well grounded in the elementary parts of that science. We saw them drawing from models with considerable skill and precision, and heard them instructed in the laws of perspective. We listened to a lecture on the code of the canton, and to instruction in the geography of Europe. We were informed that their instruction extended to the language of the canton, its construction and grammar, and especially to the history of Switzerland ; arithmetic; mensuration ; such a knowledge of natural philosophy and mechanics as might enable them to explain the chief phenomena of nature and the mechanical forces; some acquaintance with astronomy. They had continual lessons in pedagogy, or the theory of the art of teaching, which they practised in the neighbouring village school. We were assured that their instruction in the Holy Scriptures, and other religious knowledge, was a constant subject of solicitude.
The following extract from Vehirli's address at the first examination of the pupils, in 1937, will best explain the spirit that governs the seminary, and the attention paid there to what we believe has been too often neglected in this country-the education of the heart and feelings, as distinct from the cultivation of the intellect. It may appear strange to English habits to assign so prominent a place in an educational institution to the following points, but the indication here given of the superior care bestowed in the formation of the character, to what is given to the acquisition of knowledge, forms in our view the chief charm and merit in this and several other Swiss seminaries, and is what we have labored to impress on the institution we have founded. To those who can enter into its spirit, the following extract will not appear tinctured with too sanguine views:
" The course of life in this seminary is threefold.
“I place the family life first, for here the truest education is imparted; here the future teacher can best receive that cultivation of the character and feelings which will fit him to direct those, who are entrusted to his care, in the ways of piety and truth.
6. A well-arranged family circle is the place where each member, by participating in the other's joys and sorrows, pleasures and misfortunes, by teaching, advice, consolation, and example, is inspired with sentiments of single-mindedness, of charity, of mutual confidence of noble thoughts, of high feelings, and of virtue.
“In such a circle can a true religious sense take the firmest and the deepest root. Here i: is that the principles of Christian feeling can best be laid where opportunity is continually given for the exercise of affection and charity, which are the first virtues that should distinguish a teacher's mind. Here it is that kindness and carnestness can most surely form the young members to be good and intelligent men, and that each is most willing to learn and receive an impress from his fellow. He who is brought up in such a circle, who thus recognises all his fellow men as brothers, serves them with willingness whenever he can, treats all his race as one family, loves them, and God their father above all, how richly does such a one scatter blessings around! What earnestness does he show in all his doings and conduct, what devotion especially does he display in the business of a teacher! How differently from him does that master enter and leave his school, whose feelings are dead to a sense of piety, and whose heart never beats in unison with the joys of family life.
“Where is such a teacher as I have described most pleasantly occupied? In his school amongst his children, with them in the house of God or in the family circle, and wherever he can be giving or receiving instruction. A great man has expressed, perhaps too strongly, “I never wish to see a teacher who cannot sing' With more reason I would maintain, that a teacher to whom a sense of the pleasure of a well-arranged family is wanting, and who fails to recognize in it a well grounded religious influence, should never enter a school room."
As we returned from the garden with the pupils on the evening of the first day, we stood for a few minutes with Vehrli in the court yard by the shore of the lake. The pupils had ascended into the class-rooms, and the evening being tranquil and warm, the windows were thrown up, and we shortly afterwards heard them sing in excellent harmony. As soon as this song had ceased we sent a message to request another, with which we had become familiar in our visits to the Swiss schools; and thus, in succession, we called for song after song of Nageli, imagining that we were only directing them at their usual hour of instruction in vocal music. There was a great charm in this simple but excellent harmony. When we had listened nearly an hour, Vehrli invited us to ascend into the room where the pupils were assembled. We followed him, and on entering the apartinent great was our surprise to discover the whole school, during the period we had listened, had been cheering with songs their evening employment of peeling potatoes, and cutting the stalks from the green vegetables and beans which they had gathered in the garden. As we stood there they renewed their choruses till prayers were announced. Supper had been previously taken. Aster prayers, Vehrli, walking about the apartment, conversed with them familiarly on the occurrences of the day, mingling with his conversation such friendly admonition as sprang from the incidents, and then lifting his hands he recommended them to the protection of heaven, and dismissed them to rest.
We spent two days with great interest in this establishment. Vehrli had ever on his lips :-— We are peasants' sons. We would not be igno. rant of our duties, but God forbid that knowledge should make us despise the simplicity of our lives. The earth is our mother, and we gather our food from her breast, but while we peasants labor for our daily food, we may learn many lessons from our mother earth. There is no knowledge in books like an immediate converse with nature, and those that dig the soil have nearest communion with her. Believe me, or believe me not, this is the thought that can make a peasant's life sweet, and his toil a luxury. I know it, for see my hands are horny with toil. The lot of men is very equal, and wisdom consists in the discovery of the truth that what is without is not the source of sorrow, but that which is within. A peasant may be happier than a prince if his conscience be pure before God, and he learn not only contentment, but joy, in the life of labor which is to prepare him for the life of heaven.