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The spirit of inquiry, which has of late years extended to every thing connected with human improvement, has been directed with peculiar earnestness to the subject of education. In our own country, the basis of whose institutions is felt to be intelligence and virtue, this topic has been regarded as one of no ordinary interest, and has excited a zeal and an activity worthy of its importance. By judicious endeavors to adapt the character of instruction to the progressive requirements of the public mind, much has been done to continue and accelerate the career of improvement. These very efforts, however, and this success, have produced the conviction that much remains to be done.
A periodical work, devoted exclusively to education, would seem likely to be of peculiar service at the present day, when an interest in this subject is so deeply and extensively felt. At no period have opportunity and disposition for the extensive interchange and diffusion of thought been so favorably combined. Science and literature have their respective publications, issuing at regular intervals from the press, and contributing incalculably to the dissemination of knowledge and of taste. But education-a subject of the highest practical importance to every school, every family, and every individual in the community-remains unprovided with one of these popular and useful vehicles of information. A minute detail of the advantages which may be expected to result from a periodical VOL. 1.
work such as is now proposed, we think unnecessary. With the success of other publications of the same class before us, we feel abundant encouragement to proceed in our undertaking.
A leading object of the JOURNAL will be to furnish a record of facts, embracing whatever information the most diligent inquiry can procure, regarding the past and present state of education, in the United States, and in foreign countries. An opportunity will thus be afforded for a fair comparison of the merits of various systems of instruction. The results of actual experiment will be presented; and the causes of failure, as well as of success, may thus be satisfactorily traced, and be made to suggest valuable improvements.
The conductors of the JOURNAL will make it their constant endeavor to aid in diffusing enlarged and liberal views of education. Nothing, it seems to us, has had more influence in retarding the progress of improvement in the science of instruction, than narrow and partial views of what education should be expected to produce. Intellectual attainments have been too exclusively the object of attention. It is too common a thing to consider a man well educated, if he has made a proper use of the common facilities for the acquisition of learning; though the result may have been obtained at the expense of his health, and with much neglect of that moral culture which is the surest foundation of happiness. In many plans of education, which are in other respects excellent, the fact seems to have been overlooked that man possesses an animal, and a moral, as well as an intellectual constitution. Hence the total neglect of the requisite provisions for the developement of the corporeal system, and the confirmation and improvement of health, the only foundation of mental as well as of bodily power. The moral department of education has too commonly been restricted to an occasional word of parental approbation or reproof; or, at the best, to efforts limited by the sphere of domestic life. The natural consequence of the restrictions thus unjustly laid on education, is, that we often find, in the same individual, a learned head, but a debilitated body, and a neglected heart. Education should, we think, be regarded as the means of fitting man for the discharge of all his duties: it should produce vigorous and hardy bodies, trained to powerful action, and inured to privation and fa
tigue; hearts formed to all that is pure and noble in moral principle; and minds prepared for efficient exertion in whatever may be their department in the great business of accomplishing the purposes of human existence. Under these impressions, we shall give to physical education that proportion of our attention which seems due to its importance. Moral education we shall consider as embracing whatever tends to form the habits and stamp the character. The influence of example, in the sphere of daily intercourse, we regard as the most powerful instrument in the formation of moral habits. In no light do we contemplate the progress of education with more satisfaction, than when we view it as elevating and purifying the great body of the community, and thus affording to the attentive and reflecting parent, the pleasing assurance, that his efforts with his children at home, will not be counteracted by contaminating example abroad. Particular attention will be paid to domestic education, or that which emanates from parental and family influence; nor shall we neglect personal education, or that which consists in the voluntary formation of individual character.
The subject of female education is one which we deem unspeakably important. We have no hesitation in expressing our conviction that it has not yet received the consideration which it merits. Whatever concerns the culture of the female mind, extends ultimately to the formation of all minds, at that early and susceptible period, when maternal influence is forming those impressions which eventually terminate in mental and moral habits. But the theme is too full of important and interesting topics to admit of discussion in a prospectus. There is no department of our labors, from which we anticipate a higher gratification, than our endeavors to aid the instruction of the female sex.
Our efforts shall be directed chiefly to early and elementary education; because it is, in our view, more important than that of any other period or department. At the same time, we shall not omit the higher branches of science and literature, nor the training preparatory to professional pursuits. In particular branches of instruction, we have no favorite theories to obtrude. To what is of old standing, we have no hostility arising merely from its being old. Novelty we shall always regard as an indifferent circumstance, rather than a recommendation. But explanatory, practical instruction, under whatever name it may appear, we shall be happy at all times to aid with our best exertions.
As our pages are to be devoted to the cause of education, throughout our country, an earnest and cordial invitation is given to persons in every quarter, who take an interest in our labors, to assist us by the communication of useful and interesting matter.
*** Since publishing our prospectus, and taking a nearer view of our undertaking, we have felt that it will be necessary to allow ourselves more space. It will be impossible for us to do justice to our subject, without introducing a greater number and variety of topics, than we anticipated. We propose, therefore, that each number shall contain sixty-four instead of forty-eight pages: the price to be four dollars a year. For the difference of price, arising from this circumstance, our readers will, we hope, find themselves amply compensated in the additional quantity of interesting matter with which they will be furnished.
The change of our title will not, we hope, be viewed as an ambitious assumption. It was suggested by our desire to avoid any impression that our work is local in its character or design. We wish to subserve the cause of education, not in our state or country merely, but throughout the continent.
A FULLER statement of our views and purposes, than could be given in a prospectus, would perhaps be acceptable at the commencement of our work. A compliance with custom in this particular, is peculiarly requisite in our case; for, in some instances, the plan of the Journal seems to have been misunderstood.
A work such as we have proposed may occasionally call for force and independence of mind. But we are far from supposing that our success is to depend on attempting to pull down old, or build up new systems. There is a deep and strong tide of opinion already undermining all that is useless and cumbrous in instruction. The current of improvement is already flowing; and all that any individual can claim, is the merit of assisting in giving it the most advantageous direction. Our office is not to rouse a dormant attention. Already there is everywhere a stirring of the public mind, and a fervency of public effort, which make it too late for any candidate to hope for the honor of being ranked as a reformer. All that can now be reasonably expected, is the satisfaction of contributing a proportion of service to so good a cause.
In our own attempts we shall aim but little higher than to record the advances of improvement, as they present themselves in the history of instruction; and we shall do more, we think, by recording what is done, than by inculcating what ought to be done. Our method of suggesting improvement will be to describe it as it exists, believing that the way will thus be best prepared for its adoption.
A point to which our attention will be particularly directed, is, the adaptation of instruction to the formation of moral habits; for we would never forget that the chief value of education arises from its success in creating and diffusing happiness—such happiness, we mean, as is worthy of man.
Under these impressions, we shall not feel that we are descending to points too minute, when we endeavor to aid the earliest stages of mental developement, by pointing out books, plans, and amusements, which have been found useful even in the nursery. There seems to us to be no danger of beginning instruction too soon, if it is begun in the right way, and with expectations sufficiently moderate. We shall therefore think nothing beneath our notice, which may contribute, in the least degree, to the happiness and the improvement of the youngest child. We shall bestow particular attention on children's books. Works of this class have a powerful