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on Saturdays, when no Jews are present on account of their sabbath; but the truths common to all religions, are intimately interwoven with all the branches of instruction; and to these the others all stand related.
The distribution of time is generally two hours in the morning, and two hours in the afternoon for ordinary scholars; and two hours in the evening for young people that have left school, and gone to some occupation, but are still desirous to be perfected in what they have learned. This evening school is an institution of the greatest utility, not only confirming the benefits of the other, but also withdrawing the youth from infinite sources of disorder and corruption.
It remains to be stated, how it is, that so many children are taught at once to read and write, a thing so difficult, that it is hard to imagine, at an advanced age, how it could have been acquired in childhood.
The smaller scholars are placed on benches one behind another, and opposite to a black beard. The master has his letters on small blocks which he attaches successively to the board, by grooves or any other mechanism. That which strikes and amuses children the most, is best. He directs their attention to the form of each letter, and teaches ther its sound, beginning with the vowels, and proceeding to the simple sounds of the diphthongs, and then to consonants, simple or compound, which are designated by their sounds, by adding only an c mute. Forty or fifty children look on at once, and pronounce together; and repeat in the same manner when prepared, easy syllables and words which the master exhibits to them in the same manner. The ignorant are thus taught without the weariness of personal attention, and without the risk of being scolded. Whole words are read together in chorus, and it is then only that books are given to them, and they are made to read singly: in this exercise, they are even made to read at hazard, in order that the eyes of all may be obliged to follow the reader.*
Writing follows nearly the same process: forty or fifty children, furnished with little slates and pencils of talc, follow with their eyes whatever the master traces on the large board. From simple strokes they are conducted to letters, and thence, (as soon as they can name them,) to syllables and words, at first agreeably to the model, and afterwards from dictation. As they advance in orthography, they are exercised in correcting, verbally, phrases pur
* It is almost needless to remark, that the manner in which reading is taught in the schools of Holland, bears a near resemblance to that of Lancaster. It is the same with writing, but with this important difference, that in the new method, reading and writing are simultaneously taught, and consequently the children experience less difficulty, and learn more rapidly. Dr. G.
posely written with faults, upon the board. Questions are finally put to them, which they are obliged to answer, in writing; and thus they are led on to the art of composing letters, and such other essays as the people have occasion to practise.
We have stated that, while they are learning to read and write, the choice of their lessons affords them an infinite number of useful ideas. Care is taken to impress these ideas on their minds by questions, varied and repeated in every form. Other questions lead them to the definition and propriety of terms, and to the distinguishing of apparent synonymes and homonymes. Upon none of these subjects is the master abandoned to his own imagination; for the numerous books furnish him with all possible questions.
In geography, they commence with a plan of their own city or town, drawn upon a large scale on the wall, and they are made to distinguish the cardinal points and directions of the streets. They are next shown a map of their canton, then of their province, and thus by degrees they proceed to the map of the world. All these maps are large, and but few places are marked upon them in order that their first ideas may not become confused; and it is only towards the conclusion that they are taught from common maps. A summary idea of the sphere finishes geography, instead of commencing it, as in almost all our books.*
What is the most astonishing, is the calmness and rapidity with which all this is executed. The master has scarcely need to speak, except to ask his questions. The pupils have signs for every thing which they wish to ask for. When a question is put, all those who think they can answer it, raise a finger, and the master selects the respondent: in a word, nothing is heard but what the lesson rigorously requires.
This tranquillity and decency of manner, are one of the principal objects of education. All the children are obiiged to present themselves with hands and faces washed. In coming in, even the smallest know how to slide into their places, without saying a word. In the schools for the poor, where they are furnished with books and
paper, the first on each bench, at the end of the lesson collects all that has been employed on his bench: in the other schools, each child has a little box in which he places his own articles, and their ambition is excited to keep every thing in the best order. Not even a hat-nail is left neglected by Dutch precision.
* We cannot permit the mention of the method of instruction in this department, to pass, without earnestly entreating the particular attention of every parent and every teacher to this plan. The first lessons in this branch can be given by parents themselves; and in the present imperfect state of school-books on geography, this would perhaps be the most successful mode of elementary instruction. When the aid of parents cannot be conveniently obtained, teachers should endeavor to supply, by oral and practical lessons, whatever is deficient in the books used at school.-Ed.
These details may appear trifling; but there are none of them which do not tend to influence the habits of a whole life. Far, then, from despising or neglecting them, we should incline to study more profoundly all the circumstances connected with them, well persuaded that a vast number of these particulars ought to be spread into all the schools of the empire, where they would produce the most marked effects upon the manners of the lower classes.
The attention of so great a number of children is supported by two principal means. The first consists in the choice of what is said to them, and in endeavoring to interest them. In the commencement, the teachers play with them; and, when once they can read, instead of giving them, as with us, only one book, and which very often they cannot understand, a variety is presented to them, which always contain something new, and adapted to their age. The second means is a mild emulation, which is carefully preserved from degenerating into unkindness. The first scholar of each bench keeps a list of the good or bad answers of each of the others, and of all their faults. This statement is every day posted up, and the account of each day noted at the end of the week. The name of the best scholar of each class is honorably ex. hibited; and in a particular place also the name of the worst. When the town committee, or the superintendent of the canton arrive, they give to the best scholars certificates which they show to their parents. At the end of the year, also, examinations are made and prizes given. A wise employment of these means has justified the entire abolition of corporal punishments.
One thing, however, shocked our habits in the Dutch schools; and that is that girls are admitted along with the boys. But we were everywhere assured that no inconvenience from it had ever been remarked; and, as this custom prevails not only in the schools for the poor, but in all the village schools, where parents pay a good price for tuition, and where they might of course otherwise dispose of their children, we have been obliged to give faith to this testimony.
Children on leaving these schools are much sought after, both for domestic servants and apprentices to trades; a proof that their education stands high in public estimation.
Nothing further remains with respect to the history of primary instruction, than to explain in what manner schools so numerous can be furnished with masters sufficiently capable; and it is here, in a particular manner, that the established system manifests itself in all its fecundity.
They have no need of normal classes, nor of seminaries for schoolmasters, nor of any expensive or complicated means contrived in other countries. It is in the primary schools themselves that masters are formed, and that without requiring any particular expense.*
The Society of Public Good has also the merit of having first contrived this simple and efficacious method. It grants to the best pupils gratuitous instruction, and permits them to remain in the schools two or three years longer than others, on condition of their engaging in the business of instruction. As the condition of schoolmasters has become, by degrees, more honorable and lucrative, as the schools have advanced in improvement, the number of competitors has increased in the same proportion. Those two or three additional years of study, are employed in the enlargement and perfection of their knowledge; and these young people afterwards become assistants to their masters, and teach the younger scholars; they then pass to the station of sub-masters; and as the inspectors of the cantons are constant witnesses of their zeal and success, they recommend them according to their merit, to places which may be vacant, and continue to watch over them, for their advancement agreeably to their deserts. When there is no other mode of nomination, a rivalship of skill is instituted; and then their merit alone recommends them. The career is so certain, that there are some, as we have been told, who pay for the privilege of commencing their trade under good masters.
It was in 1800, that this method was employed for the first time in the free schools of Amsterdam; and there have already been obtained a first master, eight first sub-masters, and all the adjuncts actually on duty. Many instructers have also issued from these schools, for places in other cities and villages.
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE PUBLIC LATIN SCHOOL IN BOSTON.
[The following sketch of this ancient and venerable institution will, we think, be highly gratifying to most of our readers. It is taken from ‘Prize Book No. IV of the Public Latin School in Boston', a publication equally valuable to the student of American history, and to the friend of improvement in education.)
It is grateful to look back upon the picture of primitive, but enlightened simplicity exhibited in the early history of New England,
* This is one of the many practical advantages of mutual instruction. The training of teachers is an essential part of the system ; and as far as p:imary education is concerned, a separate institution for the benefit of instructers is rendered unnecessary. Ed. VOL. I.
and to arrest, as far as possible, the progress of decay by which its already indistinct lines are rapidly faiding from our view.
There appear to have been no public accounts preserved of the first three years after the settlement of Boston; and those of the first half century often resemble Arabic more than modern English writing; and can now be read only by the antiquary. The first entry on the book of records of the town is of a date no earlier than “1634, 7th month, day 1.” During the remainder of that year, the chief business of the public meetings appears to have regarded the most obvious and immediate necessities of an infant settlement, as the allotment of lands, care of cattle, direction of highways, and similar municipal regulations; ecclesiastical affairs, which constituted the most prominent feature in the character of the Fathers of New England, being transacted in the church, and forming no part of the Records of the town, as such. But they did not suffer a longer period to elapse, than until the 13th of the 2d month, (viz. April, 1635, before it is stated as a part of the transactions of a public meeting, “Likewise it was then generally agreed upon that our brother Philemon Pormont (or Purment) shalbe intreated to become scholemaster for the teaching and nourtering of children with us.” To Mr. Purment was assigned a tract of thirty acres of land at "Muddy River,” now, it is believed, a part of Brookline, and the grant publicly confirmed, with others, in 1637.
That this person, however, was not the only individual of his profession within the new town, appears from an assignment of a "garden plott to Mr. Danyell Maude, schoolemaster, upon the condition of building thereon, if neede be.” It is not certain he kept a school within the town, nevertheless; and from the mention of “The Schoolmaster,” incidentally, ten years after, it would seem that Mr. Purment was alone in that office.
The General Court of Massachusetts having, at a previous period,* granted to the town of Boston several of the Islands, with which the bay is so beautifully interspersed, the Records state, that in 1641, "It's ordered that Deare Island shall be improved for the maintenance of a Free schoole for the Towne, and such other occasions as the Townsmen for the time being shall thinke meet, the sayd schoole being sufficiently provided for." Capt. Edward Gibbon was soon after intrusted with the care and use of the island, "until the towne doe let the same.” Accordingly, in 1644 it was let for three years, at the rate of seven pounds per annum, expressly for the use of the school. In 1647, at the expiration of this lease, it was again let for seven years, and the rent was now “four
* Town Records, vol. 2 on the first written leaf,