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and so general an interest in the subject of elementary education, not only on the part of teachers, but of the community at large, and particularly of parents,—I have never seen manifested on any such occasion. The attendance of mothers, who listened with the most earnest attention to the proceedings, seemed to be one of the surest evidences that the subject of popular education had, in Rhode-Island, reached the hearts of those who are naturally its truest and firmest friends.
Circumstances connected with my health, have caused me to become an observer of the condition of education in the States of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and, recently, in Rhode-Island. In all parts of this country, however, which I have had occasion to visit, I have seen nothing that equals the efficacy and the spirit of the measures which have been adopted here, for the systematic establishment and diffusion of general education, as a public concern. Circumstances, sir, are peculiarly in your favor, as regards such operation. The compactness of your territory, the unanimity and vigor of your public measures, the definite and personal character of the exertions which are so indefatigably used by your agents, all contribute to ensure the effectual accomplishment of every good end in this great undertaking.
I speak with emphasis of the unanimity of the general procedure on the subject of education in this State, as a most auspicious circumstance; for you are aware that no slight impediment to the advancement of the interests of education elsewhere, exists in the unhappy divisions of feeling between practical teachers and the friends of popular instruction. Here there seems to be a happy exemption from such a state of things. Teachers, parents, and official men, appear to act in perfect concert, and to vie with each other in zealous and active exertion for the promotion of the general cause.
Were your State Commissioner not present, on this occasion, I could not abstain from congratulating every friend of public education here, on the character of the measures by which, in his official capacity, he has laid the community under so peculiar obligations. Of that gentleman, and of your City Superintendent, I can only say, at present, let their works speak for them.
But, sir, I cannot resume my seat, without the utterance of a few words expressive of the feelings with which, as an individual, and as an humble friend of popular education, I have enjoyed the opportunity of observing the operation of your system of public schools in this city. I have, within the week, visited all the Grammar schools; and my visits have yielded me the highest pleasure which, in such circumstances, I have ever enjoyed. The attention of a visitor to your schools must be struck, at once, with the superiority of your arrangements for health and comfort, the thorough attention to the physical provisions of air, and space, and light, which are all so important to the well-being of children and youth. Nor is there less to admire in the cheerful and genial spirit of communication between teacher and pupil; combining, on the part of the instructor, so much considerate kindness with so much of strict order and efficient control. I cannot but congratulate every parent on the happy aspect which public instruction in this city presents. Were I a parent, in a situation inducing deliberation as to my place of residence, and regarding my decision as one to be controlled, in any degree, by opportunities for my children's education, I should no longer hesitate in my preference, after observing the state of things which it has been my happiness to perceive existing here.
But it is time, sir, to draw these desultory remarks to a close. I would willingly substitute for them a statement of facts in detail, in answer to such interrogatories as yourself or other friends of education may think proper to make. I could not, however, forego this opportunity of expressing the pleasure I have felt in observing the operation of the well-concerted measures adopted for the diffusion of general education, throughout this state, and in this city.”
We publish the following Report, submitted to the meeting, in the State Ilouse, Jan. 21, 1845, at which the Institute was formed, as part of the documentary history of the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction.
At the suggestion of Mr. Barnard, State Agent of Public Schools, a meeting of teachers and friends of education, was held a few weeks since in the City Council Chamber, for the purpose of considering the subject of a State Society for the promotion of Public School Education. Mr. N. Bishop, Superintendent of the Public Schools of Providence, was called to the chair; and after discussion by several individuals, it was voted: that Messrs. Kingsbury, Bishop, Perry, Day, and Stimson, be a committee, to take the subject into further consideration, and, if it be deemed expedient, to report at a future meeting. That Committee, having given the subject a considerable share of attention, beg leave to present the following
REPORT. Whatever doubt may exist in regard to the influence of popular education, in other countries, there can be none, in regard to the United States. Here it may be assumed as an axiom, that the people, ihe whole people, should be educated. Our institutions, civil, political, and religious, all imperatively demand it. How shall it be done? is the only question that admits of discussion. To this question unly one rational answer can be given-chiefly by public or common schools.
Whatever influence may be exerted by the Press, by the College, and High Schools, in advancing education,—and we have no doubt but that influence is great and indispensable; it is not for a moment to be supposed, that these means are sufficient io educate a whole people. History does not present a solitary example of a country or province, where education has been universal, without some instrumentality analagous to Common Schools.
Literature and Science may flourish, where only the wealthy few are highly educated. It is possible that the few, by monopolizing the emoluments and privileges which superior knowledge confers, may, while the many are toiling in agriculture or mechanic arts, rise to higher attainments, and cause Science and Literature to take deeper root and to bring forth mature fruits. Though such fruits might bring blessings with them, the genius of our Institutions requires rather the diffusion than the accumulation of knowledge. It was the boast of Henry IV. of France, that he would take care that every peasant should be in such a condition, as to have a fowl in his pot.” It should be the care of our country that every child should be cducaled.
Our forefathers laid us under deep obligations, therefore, when they consecrated the Common School to the education of the people. Oughi we not deeply to regret that within our own State, that mission has not been fully accomplished. There are those among us who cannot read or write. Never stould the friends of education rest, till this stain is wiped from the escutcheon of the State. Though we hail with delight, the deep interest now beginning to be awakened in different parts of the State, still it is an important question, what further can be done to give our Public School system, an impulse so vigorous, as to send its fullest blessings to the most secluded district.
Light must be diffused in regard to the subject. Parents must be roused from apathy by having the evils of ignorance and the blessings of knowledge placed before them; the connection between crime and ignorance must be shown; ii must be demonstrated that knowledge not only leads to higher elevation of character here and better hopes of a future life, but it must be proved that an intelligent, educated man will earn more money than an ignorant one; the incompetency of teachers must be exposed, and public sentiment must be made to demand better; in short, we should all be brought io the full conviction that good public schools are a powerful safeguard of our country. In view of these, and similar considerations we deem it expedient to form, at ihe present time, a State Association for the promotion of Public School education. Respectfully submitted, for and in behalf of the Committee.
SOME OF THE MODES IN WHICH TEACHERS CAN IMPROVE THEIR
SCHOOLS THIS WINTER.
(Continued from page 49.) 7. They can enlist the coöperation of their pupils, both in the gorernment and instruction of the schools, by securing early their confidence and affection.
We cannot express our views on this point more practically, than by publishing the following extract from an Essay* read before the Teacher's Institute at Woonsocket, by Mr. Farnum, Principal of the Elm Street Grammar School.
If the teacher would have his pupils cherish the right sort of feeling toward him, he should cultivate in his own breast the right sort of feeling towards them. He must rise far above that state of mind which would lead him to go to his task in the morning, like the ordinary laborer, to plod through the routine of another day, with no other view than to wear away the time and obtain another day's wages. He must rise far above that state or mind which contents itself with stimulating the pupils to effort by whatever means, for the sake of a good appear. ance, an
of winning for his school a brilliant reputation. He must cher deep and abiding sense of the vast importance of his office, of the momentous consequences of good or evil, which must arise from the faithful or unfaithful fulfilment of his duties. He should look upon his pupils as so many immortal beings, committed to his care during the most critical portion of their existence, to receive such training as shall fit them for happiness and usefulness in after life. And, though a preparation for the future is the primary object of the school, he should not forget that the present happiness of his pupils is a matter of no trifling consequence, when it is considered that this happiness is dependent to no small extent, upon the efforts of a single individual.
By such reflections as these should the teacher strive to cultivate a lively interest in his work, and an affectionate regard for the present and future welfare of his pupils.
All the requirements of the teacher should be reasonable. The pupils' tasks should be such as to afford a reasonable amount of time for recreation; if they are required to be in school at 9 o'clock, without fail, the doors should be open in inclement weather for a reasonable time before, so that children may not suffer
The subject of the Essay was—“ The cultivation of a favorable state of feeling in the School and in the District.” We hope to publish the rest of the Essay in a subsequent number of the Journal.
by standing in the cold or rain, if in their fear of being too late, they find themselves too early; if no scholars are admitted late, rare cases of absence arising from tardiness should not be judged too harshly; while good order in every thing must invariably be insisted on, the teacher will need to guard himself carefully against unreasonable requirements here. At the examination of a certain school, I noticed that the pupils uniformly sat with their hands clasped together on their desks. This continued, if I mistake not, during the time that I spent in the school, which was more than an hour, and I inferred that the children were required to maintain that position of the hands during the half day. If so, I think the teacher should have asked herself whether the requirement was reasonable; and perhaps she might have been aided in her decision by trying the experiment during some leisure half day herself.
The teacher should be cautious in judging of the faults of pupils: above all, should he be careful not to attribute blame where there is none. The feelings of a good hearted boy or girl are often lacerated by an undeserved reprimand. Much watchfulness is due here; we are liable to suppose that to be a fault which is no fault, or which, if a fault, was committed by some other pupil : a pupil who has toiled with the utmost diligence to secure a lesson, but has finally failed, may have his spirit crushed by a brief, but to his tender feelings, severe reprimand from the teacher. We can have no safety here, except in avoiding harsh expressions altogether, both in tone and in meaning. Beside the danger of applying such expressions where they are not deserved, they, in my opinion, rarely do any good, but generally do harm, even where they are most deserved. A boy may be a lazy scoundrel, but it will not be likely to make him a good scholar to tell him of it in so many words, especially if it be done rather bluntly. We should guard against magnifying the faults of our pupils; we should make due allowance for the thoughtlessness of children, and for the temptations which surround them; and we should take care that no greater punishment be inflicted in any case, than the nature of the offense, and the good of the pupil and of the school require.
Such a line of conduct as that above described, pursued with an unwavering course, by one whose abilities, natural and acquired, are equal to the station which he occupies, can, I think, rarely fail, in due time, to secure the confidence of all, or nearly all, whose confidence is of much value. But all this, or most of it, is not inconsistent with such repulsiveness of manners as will not fail to leave the teacher without that affection or good will which constitutes the other element in the favorable state of feelings which he would cultivate. If he would gain this, he must add a uniform kindness of manner in all his intercourse with his pupils, and a respectful bearing towards parents. Pupils should be received kindly when they enter school; they should be treated kindly in their introduce tion to their studies, especially if their previous training or their natural abilities are such as to cause them to compare unfavorably with the other pupils ; instruction should always be conveyed in a kind manner, and sympathy should ever be manifested towards those who find their lessons oppressively burdensome. Dis. cipline must be administered with kindness, not excepting even those cases which require severe punishment; for I hold that the one is quite consistent with the other. Pupils should receive a kind word, or at least a kind look, when they meet their teacher in the street; and a parent should not be passed without some remark or enquiry to show that the teacher feels an interest in his child.
This careful attention and this kindness of manner, must not be limited to a favored few, or even to the mass of the school, to the exclusion of any number, however small. I am a believer, to a certain extent, in the common charge of partiality against teachers. It may not be intentional; but the teacher will often be guilty of it, in spite of himself. Some children are attractive in their appearance, and amiable in their disposition and habits, while others are quite the reverse. The former of these classes can hardly fail to receive kind treatment; it comes spontaneously : but it is not so with the latter class; and it is therefore in reference to them that the teacher must watch himself with most care. In some cases it will only require care, simply to see that pupils possessing fewer attractions than the rest, are not overlooked in our efforts to cast a cheering and genial influence around us. But in other cases more than this will be called for. Some children are so repulsive in their character, either from their own fault, or from that of their parents or from other causes, that the teacher cannot treat them
well without a laborious effort; and yet they must be treated well. They are generally the very pupils who need kind treatment at school the most : perhaps they do not receive it at home; if so, it is true they will not feel the want of it at school so keenly as those who are more favored; but whether they feel it or not, they need it more than any other class of pupils; for they are dependent wholly on the school for the training of the heart, and if the better feelings of their nature are not brought out there, they will not be brought out anywhere; and although they may be well instructed in arithmetic and geography, they will grow up with such coarseness of feelings and of manners, as will prove a sad hindrance to their own comfort, if not to that of the community in which they live
The teacher should not excuse himself for harshness or neglect, by saying that the pupil does not deserve to be treated any better. If we have a bad scholar, it is our duty to try to make him a good one; and though we may not be able at once to overcome evil with good, yet we shall be sure to make a bad matter worse, if we allow ourselves to return evil for evil; and sure I am that persevering kindness, applied with special care to pupils of this class, will, in time, bring into the ranks of good scholars, many who would otherwise never have been there, and render the number of the perverse and difficult comparatively small.
Perhaps I may be thought in the wrong when I recommend the bestowing of special care upon particular scholars. But it will be remembered that the subjects of this special care are to be all those who need it: if there is partiality in this, it is a kind of partiality which is not only justifiable, but indispensable to the successful management of a school. It is our duty to instruct all scholars well, and we lay out our work in such a way as will, in our estimation, furnish adequate instruction to the school. The system goes into operation, and the pupils, in general, are found well provided for and need nothing further; but some are always found, duller than the rest, who need and receive instruction, which to the rest is quite superfluous. So in discipline, we should establish a general system, which shall so combine gentleness with energy, as to produce the most favorable results upon the school at large. This system too may go into operation, and we may, in general, be satisfied, and have reason to be satisfied, with the results; but if we look about us carefully, we shall often find exceptions to the satisfactory working of our system of discipline, as we do in the department of instruction. We shall find some scholars who are not doing well, and unless we bestow upon them some extra care, they will cherish such a state of feeling, and pursue such a course of conduct, as will be a fruitsul source of evil both to themselves and the school. In many cases this may arise, as I have already shown, from accidental circumstances, without the fault of the scholar; in other cases there will be the most inexcus ible perverseness; but, whatever be the difficulty, we should spare no pains to remove it; so that we may, if possible, see every pupil moving onwards submissively and contentedly under the burdens of school duties, and the restraints of school discipline.
We shall publish in the next number of the Extra Journal, a - Letter from a Teacher to his Pupils,” soliciting their coöperation in the great work assigned to him to do by their parents and guardians, which will be struck off as Educational Tract, No. 9.
DUTIES OF PARENTS IN RELATION TO THEIR SCHOOL. The following judicious suggestions are taken from an Essay by Edwin Jocelyn, Principal of the Saltonstall School, Salem, which received the prize offered by the Essex County Teachers' Association, out of a donation made to the Association by the Hon. Edmund Dwight, of Boston. 1. PARENTS SHOULD SEE THAT COMFORTABLE, CONVENIENT AND ATTRACTIVE SCHOOL
This is generally done, in a manner,—for the law of the land looks to it;—if it did not, I believe that the omissions would be many. But the school-rooms should be comfortable, convenient, and attractive. A great reformation and improvement have taken place in this Commonwealth, in this particular, within a few years ;
HOUSES ARE PROVIDED.