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RHODEISLAND INSTITUTE OF INSTRUCTION.
The JournAL OF THE RHODE-ISLAND INSTITUTE OF INSTRUCTION will be published on the 1st and 15th of every month, until a volume is completed by the publication of twelve numbers.
Each number will contain at least sixteen pages in octavo form: and in addition, from time to time, an Extra will be published, containing official circulars, notices of school meetings, and communications respecting individual schools, and improvements in education generally; and one of a series of “ Educational Tracts," devoted to the discussion of important topics, in some one department of popular education.
The volume, including the Extras and “ Educational Tracts," will consti. tute at least three hundred pages, and will be furnished for fifty cents for a single copy; or for three dollars for ten copies sent in a single package; and at the same · rate for any larger number sent in the same way. The subscription must be paid on the reception of the first number.
HENRY BARNARD, Commissioner of Public Schools, Editor.
THOMAS C. HARTSHORN, Business Agent. PROVIDENCE, March 1, 1846.
PROGRESS OF EDUCATION IN OTHER STATES: In this and the succeeding number of the Journal, we shall aim, in, the language of the article setting forth the objects of this periodical, « to give information of what is doing in other states, with regard to public schools, and other means of popular education, with the view of keeping alive a spirit of efficient and prudent action in behalf of the physical, intellectual and moral improvement of the rising and all future generations in the State.”
MASSACHUSETTS. In Number 3, of the Educational Tracts, we have given an outline of the history and present state of the school system of Massachusetts, with statistical tables made up from the Abstract of School Returns for 1845, together with remarks from Mr. Mann's Ninth Annual Report, showing the actual condition of the common schools, in several important particulars. We continue our extracts from the “ Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education, together with the Ninth Annual Report of the Secretary of the Board.”
STATE NORMAL SCHOOLS.
The situation of the three State Normal Schools is, in a high degree, flourishing.
The school at Bridgewater, under the charge of Mr. Tillinghast, assisted by Mr.. Greene, is, as the visiters report, conducted with much wisdom. It was apparent, at the examinations, that eminently successful efforts had been made to render the
pupils thoroughly acquainted with all the branches, in which it will be their business to teach; and the promptness, and precision of their answers, were, in a high degree, grafying.
Careful attention, evidently, had been paid to the morals, and general deportment of the pupils; and the visiters were satisfied, that the School is carrying out the beneficent design of its establishment.
The number of scholars, during the past term, has been eighty, viz.. sixty males, and twenty females; and when the new edifice shall be completed, on, or before, the first day of July next, it is expected that the instruction of an increased number of pupils will add to the usefulness of the institution.
The Board are interested in learning the fact, that the annual convention of the Alumni of the institution is held in Bridgewater, for the purpose of promoting the cause of education. More than two hundred of the pupils of the school have been present on these occasions; and as scenes, for the renewal of former acquaintance, for the imparting of lessons of experience, and, as affording opportunity for the educational appeals and counsels of ihe distinguished friends of the cause, they are regarded as important auxiliaries in the work of education.
The School at Westfield is also reported by the visiters, as conferring great advantages upon those who are enjoying its privileges. It is, at present, under the charge of the Rev. Emerson Davis, assisted by the Rev. Perkins Clark.
The examinations of the School were highly satisfactory. No special, previous preparations had been made for them. No parts of the different studies were allotied to the pupils. They differed from an ordinary recitation, only in extending over all the studies which the pupils had been pursuing, during the term; thus affording a satisfactory opportunity of ascertaining the thoroughness of their instruction, and the accuracy of their knowledge.
At the present time, the School may be considered as increasing in numbers, as, it is believed, it is winning its way to public favor.
The Normal School, now at West Newton, continues to sustain that reputation for exact instruction and thorough discipline, which it owed, when at Lexington, to the successive exertions of its principals, Messrs. Peirce and May.
The School was opened at West Newión for the reception of pupils in September, 1814, and the average number in attendance for three terms, has a little exceeded sixty-two. During the present term, now about to close, there have been sixty-eight pupils. The demands upon the principal for Nor.nal Teachers, have increased, and at the last spring and summer terms, Mr. Peirce had more applicaitions than he could supply.
It will be recollected, that during the session of the Legislature, for the year 1845, a Memorial was presented by Charles Sumner, Esq., and others, as a Committee of the friends of Education, setting forth the utility of the system of Normal Schools, in the training and preparation of teachers, and the want of proper accommodations at two of the three schools, in buildings, apparatus and libraries. The memorial concluded, by urging upon the Legislature the appropriation of the sum of $5,000 to be placed at the disposal of the Board of Education, for those purposes, on condition that a further sum, of the same amount, to be obtained by contribution from the friends of the cause, should be placed at their disposal for the same object.
It will be remembered, also, to the honor of the enlightened liberality of that Legislature, that, in accordance with a unanimous recommendation of ihe Committee on Education, to which Committee it was referred, the prayer of the memorial was granted; and the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Council, was authorized and requested to draw his warrant for the sum of $5,000, in favor of the Board, when the same sum shall be placed at their disposal by the memorialists;—the two sums to be appropriated, by the Board, in providing suitable buildings for the State Normal Schools, and for purchasing apparatus, and libraries therefor.
A satisfactory assurance having been given, that the sum to be raised by the aid of the memorialists, in order to entitle the Board to the liberal appropriation of the Legislature, would be placed at their disposal, it became an important question, as to the towns in which the two schools should be permanently located. Upon this question, an amicable and an honorable contest took place between two towns, in the south-eastern, and two towns in the western parts of the Commonwealth; and the very liberal offers, which were made to the Board, as a part of the sum of $5,000, before referred to, and also for the purposes of convenience and ornament in the vicinity of the school buildings, by the citizens of the towns of Bridgewater and
Plymouth, and Northampton and Westfield, were cheering evidences of the kindly feeling of those citizens towards the cause of learning, and their high estimate of the value of these useful institutions.
In ultimately fixing upon Bridgewater as the location of one of the schools, and Westfield as the place for the other, the Board were governed by considerations which, in their opinion, were decisive in favor of each of these towns. They are, each of them, central and easy of access. The prices of board are exceedingly low, and the inhabitants have manifested the highest interest in the success of the schools and the welfare of the pupils.
It may not be improper here, to mention the amount contributed by the two towns in which the schools are permanently located.
In Westfield, the town, in its municipal capacity, appropriated the sum of five hundred dollars towards the before mentioned sum of $5,000, and the further sum of $300, to be expended in constructing walks, and in raising and ornamenting the grounds in the vicinity of the site of the building. Individuals of that town subscribed six hundred dollars for the first of these objects, and a further sum a little exceeding six hundred dollars, for the second object.
A further sum of $1,500 was raised hy School District No. 1, in that town, to be applied towards the erection of the edifice, on condition that a portion of it may be used as a model schoolroom for the instruction of the children of the district, to be connected with the Normal School, under the general superintendence of its Principal.
An eligible site has been purchased for the building, at a cost of five hundred dol. lars ---the owner of the land having remited to the Board one half of the estimated value. Contracts have been made for the completion of the building, within the means placed at their disposal, and the building will be ready for occupancy early in the ensuing summer.
During the five years of the existence of the State Normal School at Bridgewater, the inhabitants of 'that town have manifested a warm interest in its success, and they have contributed liberally to its means, At the time when it was proposed to erect a building for its permanent accommodation, and, of course, to give a permanent location to the school, not only individual citizens, but the town in its corporate capacity, made liberal pecuniary offers to the Board, on condition that the school should not be removed. The question of location, both of the Bridgewater and Westfield schools, was eventually decided, with litile or no reference to the pecuniary inducements held out by these respective towns, but on higher considerations of general policy and expediency. It is proper, however, to mention, that the rival towns of Plymouth and Northampton, offered the sum of two thousand each, as a bonus to the Board, on condition that the two schools, respectively, might be established within their limits.- Report of the Board
TEACHER'S INSTITUTES. Early last summer, when explaining to that liberal and well known friend of our Common Schools, the Hon. Edmund Dwight, the advantages which might accrue from holding Teachers' Institutes in Massachusetts; and stating my apprehensions to him, that an obstacle to their adoption might arise from their expense, which the country teachers, on account of their small compensation, might feel unable to incur; he generously placed at my disposal the sum of one thousand dollars, to be expended in such manner as might be deemed most expedient for promoting the object. This sum was amply sufficient for a fair trial of the experiment, as will be seen by the following plan: Suppose the number of four Institutes to be decided on ; suppose ten working days to be fixed upon as the time for their continuance; and suppose a bounty of two dollars, towards defraying the expenses of board, to be offered to each of the first hundred who should apply for admission as members,--there would still remain a sufficient sum to pay for rooms, lights, attendance, and so forth, and to defray the actual expenses of teachers and lecturers. It was presumed that a sufficient number of eminent teachers and lecturers could be found, whose personal services would be gratu. itously given for so noble an object ;-an expectation which was not disappointed. Such being an outline of the plan contemplated, it became necessary to decide upon the places where the Institutes should be held. Perhaps there was no great difference in point of eligibility, between many different places in the State that could be named. Still, however, a selection must be made ; and the choice of
one place necessarily involved the exclusion of others. I make this remark, because now, since the Institutes have so admirably succeeded, the question is sometimes put to me, by persons living in different localities, why some town in their own vicinity had not been chosen,
After the best consideration that could be given to the subject, the towns of Pittsfield, in the County of Berkshire; of Fitchburg, in the county of Worcester; of Bridgewater, in the county of Plymouth, and of Chatham, in the county of Barnstable, were designated. A Circular Letter was issued, which was published in the newspapers, and copies of which were sent to school committees in the vicinity.
All the Institutes were included within a period of five weeks, so as, at once, to improve the most favorable season of the year, and to close the latest, before the customary time for commencing the winter schools. Of course, some of the preceding overlaid the time of the succeeding. I was present at the opening of all but one, (two of them commencing on the same day,) and spent as much time at each as was practicable.
As this class of meetings forms a new instrumentality in the history of our Common Schools; and as it promises to be an efficient means in advancing their welfare, some minuteness of detail in describing the manner of their proceeding, may not be improper. If other States will also give an account of their modes of operation, we may be mutually benefited by each other's experience. In describing the manner of opening the Institutes, I speak of those only at which I was personally present.
After the meeting was called to order, a cordial welcome was tendered to its members; a few remarks were then made respecting the laudable and sacred purpose for which they had assembled together, and religious services, appropriate to the occasion, were performed.
It was then explained, that where many individuals meet together, in order more successfully to carry out a common purpose, it always becomes necessary to have some harmony of view, and some concert of action; and, in order to effect this union of purpose and of conduct, it is essential, so far as the general object may be concerneil, that the wills of the whole should be blended together, and become as the will of one man, The following topics were then taken up, sep arately considered, and disposed of:
First, the mischiefs of absence and tardiness were commented upon ;-the interruption of the whole school, occasioned by the late arrival of a portion of its members; the inability of the delinquents themselves to take up the subject then in hand, and follow it out from that point, without knowing what had preceded; the permanent evils of contracting or of indulging a bad habit, and the general annoyance and injustice of a want of punctuality in all the business of subsequent life ;-with such other considerations, more or less expanded, as were deemed pertinent to the topic. The question was then propounded to the members generally, whether, during their association together, they would be present, extraordinary circumstances excepted, during each half day of the session ; and be punctual also, at the hour of opening the Institute;-by the hour of opening being understood the precise hour,-not ten minutes after it, nor five minutes after it, but when the minute hand of the clock divides the dot upon its face into two equal parts. It was also explained that there never was a greater untruth embodied in a current saying, than that it is nine o'clock till it is ten, or one o'clock till it is two; that it might as well be said that it is sunrise till it is sunset, or New Year's day until the last of December. To school teachers, it was said, may we look, more than to any other class in the community, for establishing correct habits among men, on the subject of punctuality. Those members who had resolved to be present each halt day, and also punctual at the hour, were then requested to signify their determination by the uplisted hand-which was unanimously done.
The subject of communication with each other, while the exercises of the Institute were going on, either by whispering, or in any other mode, was then considered. The well known mischiefs of whispering in school were adverted to; the temptation which it holds out to the introduction of thoughts and schemes unsuitable to the time and place; its incompatibility with the stillness which it is desirable to preserve in every schoolroom; the fact that one cannot whisper unless another is whispered to; and the injustice often done to the latter by diverting his attention, and breaking in upon his train of thought,-perhaps at a critical point in his investigation, when he is just grasping the idea of which he is in pursuit, and which it may take him a half hour to recover; the enticement which it holds out to duplicily and clandestine practices, in order to conceal the act,-thus gradually undermining the moral sentiment even in cases where outright prevarication or falsehood is not resorted to; the experience of teachers themselves in regard to the evils of whispering ;-all these points were rapidly brought into view; and for the sake of setting an example of what a good school should be ; and of doing as they would wish to be done by; all the members who resolved to abstain from communication, unless at the season of recess, or on some such extraordinary emergency as should carry its own excuse with it, were requested to signify it by the uplifted hand. To this, an affirmative response was unanimously given.
It gives me pleasure to add, that at each of the Institutes, where these subjects were introduced at the commencement, an adherence to the course of conduct agreed upon, was almost universal. In one or two instances, a departure from the rule was noticed. At the next opening, the fact of an observed infraction of the compact was briefly adverted to; without, however, any mention of names. The case was spoken of as probably resulting from inadvertence, or forgetfulness, or habit; the duty of watchfulness and self-control was renewedly enjoined, so that, on comparison of ourselves with ourselves from day to day, we might turn life to its highest possible use,-progressive improvement.
The subject of commanding the attention was introduced, -the power of concentrating the mind upon a given point, and holding fit there until its purpose is achieved. It was stated that many distinguished men,-Sir Isaac Newton among the number,—had referred their superiority over other men, not so much to the possession of greater talents, as to the better habit which they had acquired of using their talents,-to their power of bringing the light of all their faculties to a focus, of turning that focal light upon any object, and commanding it to shine steadily there, until all its mysteries had been read by the illumination. It was explained that all objects in nature have their superficial properties,-their properties which lie upon the surface,—and that all objects have also their profounder properties,-properties which are in-seated and occult, which seem to be hidden away from the common gaze, and can be brought out by those only, who will penetrate to the depths where they lie. As a necessary consequence of this undeniable truth, it must happen, that volatile minds, accustomed to skim lightly over the surfaces of things,-to touch many but to penetrate none,-can be acquainted with shows and appearances only; with the outward and changing phenomena, and not with the inward and governing law; while, on the other hand, those minds which have the power of fixing the attention upon objects, will master their inherent properties and attributes, and thus obtain a knowledge by which all the works of nature may be converted into instruments of power and blessing. Among this latter class of men we are to look for great discoverers and inventors, for profound jurists and statesmen, for eminent men in all the varied walks of life. " If a teacher can invest his pupils with the power of fixing the attention, he will conser upon them a benefit as much greater than any amount of mere knowledge he can bestow, as the ability to originate is better than the ability to acquire. As preliminary to fixing the attention of the mind, the senses must be governed. If a teacher would train his pupils to a ready command of attention, he must teach them to command the eye, by looking steadily upon the book, the slate, the black-board, and upon the teacher himself, when he is giving oral instruction. If the eye is suffered to wander, it then receives impressions involuntarily. Those inpressions will command the mind, and divert it from the subject it was considering If the mind does not command the eye, the eye will command the mind. Hence, where the teacher finds the attention of a class to be wandering and fugacious, he should, at first, place them where the fewest possible number of objects will attract them, or distract them. He can, at first, command the position of the head, not allowing it to turn away; he can then command the direction of the eye, not suffering it to wander; and, if he has the talent to make his exercises interesting, he will then command the mind, and the work will be done. The teacher who understands his subject so well as to teach without book, has, in this respect, an incalculable advantage over one who is obli. ged to hold a book in hand, and to consult it at every step. In the one case, the