Page images
PDF
EPUB

the different districts of the State. No means have been found more effective than this, for calling the attention of the people to the importance and extent of the subject, and for diffusing information respecting it. These meetings have been held in this city, in Newport, Bristol, Warren, Woonsocket, East Greenwich, Valley Falls, Chepatchet, Olneyville, Scituate, Fruit Hill, Pawtuxet, Foster and Kingston_in all in fifteen different towns. They have usually had two sessions, and in some instances they have been continued with unabated interest through two successive days. All but two of these meetings have been attended by the President of this Institute, and most of them by the State Commissioner, and by some of the members of this Executive Committee. In these several towns, not only have the meetings been well attended and aided by the teachers and resident citizens, but in many cases the officers and members of the Institute have been received with a respect, and entertained with a hospitality, which the Committee take great pleasure in acknowledging, both on their own personal account, and because they regard it as a cheering indication of the interest which is felt in the cause of education.

At the meetings which have thus been held, it has been the aim of the Committee to elicit from teachers and citizens who might be present, information respecting the local schools, and also to present views and facts pertaining to the most important elementary interests of education, and to the modes of managing common schools. Of the subjects which have been thus discussed, the following may serve as examples, viz:

“How parents can cooperate with teachers."

“ The value of a sound public sentiment on the subject of education.”

“ That the whole community, and not a part, should be educated." “ Methods of disciplining and managing schools.” “ The necessity of a gradation of schools." “Methods of securing good teachers."

“ Public schools the only available method of educating the entire community.”

“ Importance of educating the young morally as well as intellectually."

“ Methods of teaching reading."
" Methods of teaching spelling."
" Music as a branch of education in schools."

“ That a State, in order to make the most of its resources, must know how to use them.”

“ That a State will increase in wealth in proportion to the intelligence of its population.”

Upon all these subjects, which form but a small part of those presented for discussion at the meetings of the Institute, it has been the aim of the Committee to elicit the views of experienced teachers, and also of citizens of every profession and every occupation, in order that the best results might be obtained, and the opinions and sympathies of all classes of the community might be united, in what we have desired to render an engrossing subject of attention throughout the State.

II. Another means which the Executive Committee have adopted in the accomplishment of the objects they have had in view, has been the establishment of a semi-monthly publication, known as the Journal of the Rhode-Island Institute of Instruction. This journal has been placed under the charge of Henry Barnard, Esq., the State Commissioner of Public Schools, with the assistance of T. C. Hartshorn, Esq., the Treasurer of the Institute, as business agent. Mr. Barnard has consented to assume this new labor, in addition to the duties of his office, and has already issued, including the extras, five numbers, which have been circulated among the subscribers through the State. In connection with these numbers of the Journal, and under the same auspices, a series of “ Educational Tracts” has been commenced, Five of these “ Tracts” have been already published and circulated. The subjects to which they relate are,-1.“ The Condition of Education in the United States, with an outline of the School Systems of Connecticut and New York.” 2. “Education in its relations to health, insanity, labor, pauperism and crime." 3, “ The School System of Massachusetts." 4.“ Plans for School Houses.” 5. “ Hints to teachers on instruction in reading.” The end which was intended to be accomplished by the publication both of the Journal and the Tracts, is the diffusion of valuable information, and the inculcation of sound views concerning common schools, not only among teachers and those immediately concerned in their management, but among all classes of citizens. It is the earnest hope of the Committee, that these publications will receive the attention of the friends of education in all parts of the State, in order that if possible the views and the facts whcih they contain, may reach every family that has children to be educated, and every citizen who has a vote to give, or an influence to exert in relation to public instruction.

III. During the autumn, previously to the opening of the district schools for the winter, the Siate Commissioner adopted the measure, which in other states had been attended with most valuable results, of holding meetings of teachers for the purpose of interchanging views respecting the best modes of teaching and managing schools. These meetings, which have been known by the name of a Teacher's Institutes,” were held under the direction of Mr. Barnard, with the aid and co-operation of this Committee, at Woopsocket, Scituate, Kingslon, and Newport. At these several places, the teachers came together in considerable numbers, from the neighboring towns, and spent several days in discussing the principles, and practising with each other the most approved methods of common school instruction. No meetings which have been held in connection with the interests of education, it is believed, have excited so deep an interest as these gatherings of teachers. Indeed from the eminently practical character which was given to them, they deserve to be regarded as a species of Normal schools, in which newly appointed teachers were made acquainted with the results of large experience and varied acquirements, and in which all were more deeply impressed with the importance of their vocation, and the magnitude of the social and moral interests entrusted to their care. The benefits which have resulted from them, may even now be traced in the improved discipline, in the more thorough instruction, and in the pervading spirit of many of the schools of the State.

IV. In addition to the measures which have been enumerated above, the Executive Committee have adopted one other, which they deemed in some degree necessary, in order to give efficiency and success to the means they had already employed. In prosecuting their labors, they constantly experienced the want of some person, practically acquainted with common school instruction, and favorably known to the people of the State, who might be able to give his whole time to the work which this Committee are charged with accomplishing. They accordingly appointed Mr. William S. Baker, of South Kingston, to act as the agent of this Institute, in promoting the objects for which it has been organized. Mr. Baker having had ample experience as a teacher, and being in every other way well qualified for the service to which he was appointed, has been for several months engaged in labors, in conjunction with the Commissioner, and under the direction of this Committee, which have every where, it is believed, been attended with the most gratifying success. He travels from town to town, converses with the people at their homes and by the wayside, visits the schools, holds meetings of the parents, and in every other practicable mode, seeks to sustain, and still farther to extend, the interest which the people of Rhode-Island have begun to feel in the schools which are to educate their children.

Such is an outline of the measures which the Executive Committee have adopted for accomplishing the purposes of this Association. They have been devised and carried into execution in accordance with the spirit of the constitution, and have been directed to the single object of increasing the facilities, and raising the standard of common school education in this State. How far this object has been accomplished, within the year now closing, it may be impossible very accurately to estimate. They who labor for the education of the young, must wait for a future day to develop the results of their labors. No striking changes-no brilliant consequences are to be expected. The seeds only can be sown-the harvest is to be reaped, and the sheaves are to be gathered, by the hands of other generations. The Executive Committee, however, find reason to believe that the work which this Institute is engaged in promoting, has made some progress during the year which has passed. It has been their aim to second the judicious legislation which has been so unanimously adopted by the General Assembly, and to aid the Commissioner of Public Schools in performing the arduous and important work with which he is charged; and they hope that, by the information which has been diffused, and the general sentiment which has been created in the minds of the community, an impulse has been given to the cause of popular education, which will continue to be felt for many years to come.

In addition to the measures which have thus far been prosecuted by this Association, the Executive Committee bey leave to refer to two others which they hope may be adopted, and to some extent carried into execution during the year that is commencing. These are1. The establishment of popular lectures as widely as possible in the villages, and school districts of the State. 2. The founding of town

libraries, to be composed of books suited for the instruction of the people, especially of the young, in the several branches of useful knowledge. Both these measures hold an obvious connection with the objects of this Association, and would undoubtedly contribute important aid in raising the standard of general education. How far they can be accomplished by any efforts of this Association, we leave for the members of the Institute, or a future Executive Committee to consider and decide.

The importance of the education of the people—the object for which this Association was formed-cannot be estimated too highly. By the side of it most other public interests appear small and transitory; This stands out before every other, and challenges the attention and the efforts of all who would advance the present prosperity, or the future fortunes of the State. To train the rising generation to knowledge and virtue, to raise up intelligent, true-hearted citizens, who shall understand their rights and their duties, and shall guard the honor and the interests of society-these have always been regarded as the highest ends which enlightened policy can aim to accomplish. But great and important as these objects are to every community, they assume a still graver importance to us as citizens of RhodeIsland. Our prosperity and progress as a sovereign State-our position and our influence as a member of this growing confederacy of republics, must depend, not upon the extent of our territory, the numbers of our population, or the natural wealth of our soil, but upon the character of our citizens. It is this alone which can give us a voice in the councils of the nation, and a worthy name and place among the states of the union. Our aim should iherefore be, to be strong in high-minded, heroic men. These constitute a state ; without them, no advantages of nature, no monuments of art, no battlements of physical force, no achievements of manufacturing or agricultural industry, will be able to maintain its honor, or perpetuate its renown.

The Report was accepted, and a resolution passed, directing its publication, together with the Report of the Treasurer, which was read and accepted, in the Journal of the Rhode-Island Institute of Instruction.

310

3

R. I. Institute of Instruction,

In account with THOMAS C. HARTSHORN, Treasurer: 1845,

DR.
1845,

CR. Jan 24th, H. Sabin's bill for Hall,

Jan, 23, Cash of

of sundry members, $27 37 March 1st, John Aylsworth,

4 50 May 3rd. Daily Evening Transcript, 3 22 April 5, " of Mr. Giddings, collected 6 26, Boston Journal of Education, 1

by him at Woonsocket, 29 50 " Postages pre paid,

44
" 25, "of Abraham Payne,

15 New York School Journal, 50 June 30, i of Dr. Perry, Newport,

50 June 30, J. Atkinson's bill,

1 50
Aug. 19, "of John Kingsbury,

9 Aug. 19, Teacher's Advocate,

2 Sept. 15, H. H. Brown, 3 30

885 87 * 23, Postage of Circulars,

44 1846, Jan, 1, Wm. Simons,

5 50 " Knowles, Vose & Anthony, 12 33

T. C. HARTSTORX, Treasurer. Cash to New Account,

42 64

(

Total,

985 87

A committee consisting of Messrs. King of Newport, Gammell of Warren, Davis of North Providence, Potter of Kingston, and Judge Brayton of Warwick, were appointed to nominate officers for the year ensuing. During their absence, remarks appropriate to the occasion were made by Rev. Thomas Shepard of Bristol, Mr. William Russell of Boston, Rev. Mr. Vernon and Mr. Updike of Kingston, and President Wayland, Prof. Caswell, and Mr. Bishop of Providence.

The following officers, reported by the committee of nomination, were then elected for the year ensuing :

John Kingsbury, President.
Wilkins Updike, Vice President, for Washington County.
Ariel Ballou,

Providence
C. G. Perry,

Newport Thomas Shepard,

Bristol John J. Kelton,

Kent Nathan Bishop, Corresponding Secretary. J. D. Giddings, Recording Secretary. Thomas C. Hartshorn, Treasurer.

Directors-William Gammell, of Providence; Joseph T. Sisson, North Providence ; J. B. Tallman, Cumberland, L. W. Ballou, do. J. S. Tourtellot, Glocester; Amos Perry, Providence; Caleb Farnum, do.; Samuel Green, Smithfield ; George C. Wilson, do.; W. S. Baker, Kingston ; T. R. Hazard, Portsmouth. The Institute then adjourned.

J. D. GIDDINGS, Secretary.

The following report of Mr. Russell's remarks, noticed in the above record of the proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction, is copied from the Providence Journal. Mr. Russell was introduced by the President to the meeting, as a pioneer in the work of educational improvement, having been the editor of the Journal of Education, commenced in Boston in 1826 ; one of the founders of the American Institute of Instruction, in 1830; an early advocate in the work of introducing Infant and Primary schools, and for twenty years a laborer in various ways, and in different states, in the field of education.

"I should have been glad to hear from others, possessed of more local information than myself, a more full and exact statement of the progress of popular education in your State. But if any testimony which I can offer as an eye-witness of it, at the meetings of teachers recently held in various parts of the State, is deemed of sufficient moment to present, I shall take pleasure in rendering it, as an expression of the deep-felt gratification which I experienced, in attending those meetings. I was present at those which were held at Scituate, Woonsocket, Newport, and Kingston, and must say, that so deep

« PreviousContinue »