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influence over the young mind: they form its predilections, and, not unfrequently, determine its character. This department of our labors will, we hope, be interesting to every parent who is anxious that the mind of his child should be early directed to knowledge and virtue.
Within a few years, public sentiment has undergone a favorable change on the subject of early education. Learning is made easy and pleasant, by the judicious forms in which it is presented; and the disposition of children is cultivated by the milder methods. But, of all the attempts which have been made to render the morning of life a season of pure enjoyment, the system of infant schools seems the most successful. In England, these schools have hitherto been applied to the melioration of the condition of the poor: they have been employed as a substitute for maternal care. There is no good reason, however, why they should be restricted to any one class, whilst they are so well calculated for the benefit of ali. Nor is there any reason why they should not be adopted as valuable auxiliaries to the best parental management; and we are happy to observe the system of these schools introduced in the initiatory department of the high-school of New-York. The establishment of infant schools we look upon as one of the most important epochs in the history of education. We shall use every endeavor to render this subject familiar to the minds of our readers, by communicating all the information we can procure regarding the details of the system, and its progress abroad and at home.
In this era of great and rapid revolutions in society, nothing has yet appeared which seems likely to be attended with more extensive and lasting effects, than the formation of mechanics' institutions. Taking their rise from the legacy of an individual, they have spread over Great Britain, with a rapidity which reminds us more of the operations of the telegraph, than of the movements of a whole people, on the sober subject of education. The mechanic classes of British society, are prosecuting this subject with an energy which begins to make the wealthy and the highly educated feel uneasy for their rank in the scale of mind.
Whilst, in our country, no jealousy of such a kind can ever exist in the minds of the latter class, the same spirit of improvement is active among the former. We shall endeavor to make our pages the vehicle of information on this interesting subject; and, in an early number of our work, we shall present an historical sketch of mechanics' institutions.
A subject of still higher importance to our country, so large a proportion of whose population are farmers, is the establishment of book-societies and lending libraries for the benefit of the farming class, in the country towns and villages of England and Scotland. Our utmost endeavors shall be used, to furnish intelligence concerning these and other institutions, which may be matter of interest to agricultural readers in our own country. The extensive formation of libraries of the above kind, in connection with our already flourishing agricultural societies, will contribute to diffuse still more widely a taste for lectures on chemistry and other sciences connected with agriculture.
The national university of England, now going into operation in the city of London, we consider as an institution highly important, from the immense benefit which it promises to the middle class of British society, and to the interests of that country at large; as well as from the aid which it will afford to the diffusion of science, throughout the world. We shall give an earnest attention to the plans and proceedings of this institution, and report, from time to time, whatever may seem interesting to our readers.
The proposed national university of our own country, we regard with deep-felt interest, and shall consider every article of intelligence respecting it, as important to every member of the community.
The preparing of instructers for the discharge of their duties, is a subject which deeply concerns the well-being of our country. There are decided indications of public sentiment on this topic, which seem to demand much of our attention; and we shall improve every suitable opportunity of bringing forward whatever is conRected with this indispensable preliminary to good instruction.
The spirit of improvement in education, has of late received an impulse too forcible to be withstood. It will go on independently of such assistance as we propose to render it
. But we submit to every intelligent mind the decision of the question, whether a publication devoted exclusively to the subject, is not likely to accelerate the
progress of improvement, and be an extensive benefit to our country. We hardly need to remind our readers that every thing which concerns the character of instruction, in a state of society like ours, is intimately connected with the character of the people, the prosperity of the nation, and the permanence of its institutions.
One word with regard to the class of readers for which our publication is intended. We have no intention of furnishing a work for the use of teachers exclusively. We consider the most important department of education to be that which is, or ought to be, superintended by the parent; and we shall ever bear in mind that our subject is one to which no person should be indifferent. Our wish is to benefit the WHOLE COMMUNITY.
Our best endeavors shall be used to make our pages attractive, as well as useful, to every class of readers; and we proceed to our labors in the confidence that we shall be aided by all enlightened well-wishers to the best interests of our country.
In the perusal of our pages, our readers will, we hope, keep in mind that our undertaking is one which is entirely new. The path on which we have entered is an untrodden one. No precursor has, by his success or by his failures, done any thing to indicate the course which we ought to pursue. We shall therefore have to commit ourselves, in a great measure, to the guidance of circumstances. All that we can promise, at present, is this, that our attention shall be devoted chiefly to the accumulation of facts, and the diffusion of information. In the arrangement of our work, we shall adhere to the plan adopted in the present number, until a better shall suggest itself.
The progress of every literary institution in our country, whether designed for males or females, will be, as far as possible, an object of attention; and we hope that we shall have it in our power to record the advances of improvement in every university, in every college, and in most academies and schools, in the United States. We would here take the opportunity of suggesting to persons who are in possession of information of the kind mentioned, that they will render a service to education, by enabling us to accomplish our purpose.
To guide correspondents in communicating intelligence such as we wish to receive, we respectfully submit the following questions relative to schools, colleges, &c. 1. When, and by whom, was the school or institution founded? 2. Where is the institution situated ? 3. What is the number of its buildings, and what is their form, &c. ? 4. What are their internal structure and accommodations ? 5. What is the number of instructers, and what are their departments? 6. What is the number of students, male and female, and what are their ages : 7. What is the course of study, and what are the books which are used ? 8. What is the system or method of instruction, in all its details ? 9. What is the number of classes, with their subdivisions ? 10. What is the employment for every hour of the day, for every class ? 11. What are the regulations of the institution, and what is its discipline !--if a school, what species of punishment, mental and corporeal are used ; or when was the latter relinquished ?
12. How is the institution supported, and what are the salaries of the instructers?
13. What are the terms of tuition, or the whole expense of education ?
We may not always succeed in obtaining matter which will furnish an answer to each of these questions. But, in such cases, even partial information will be acceptable.
Additional information, of any sort, we shall gratefully acknowledge. We sball feel much indebted to any individual who will add a history of the seminary or institution of which he gives us an account, with particular reference to the improvements which, from time to time, bave been introduced; so that we may have it in our power to contrast the present condition of our schools and colleges, with that which existed fifty years ago.
ACCOUNT OF THE SYSTEM OF INFANT SCHOOLS.
The subject of this article is one which we take much pleasure in introducing at the commencement of our work. The cultivation of the infant mind is, of all the departments of education, that in which improvement can be introduced with most ease, and with the greatest certainty of immediate and extensive effect. Here, there are none of those obstacles to be encountered, which the prejudices of
ages have successively fastened on institutions devoted to the higher departments of science and literature. The field of labor is new and unencumbered. Neglect, rather than perverted effort, is to be blamed for the slowness of the progress which has hitherto been made.
A new era, however, has commenced in this department of education; and it is with much pleasure that we observe the illustrious individuals who are the active patrons of other benevolent undertakings, entering with spirit into one so important as this. More splendid schemes of philanthropy have been devised for the general improvement of society; but none so rational and so practical, has yet appeared, as the system of infant schools.
We should regard the establishment of schools of this sort among us, as an incalculable benefit to our country; and we shall endeavor to make our account of them as full as possible, in the hope that our pages may thus contribute something towards a result so desirable.
The work to which we are chiefly indebted for our information concerning these schools, is entitled "The System of Infants' Schools, by William Wilson, vicar of Walthamstow. Second edition. London, 1825.'
To render our analysis of this work more satisfactory to those of our readers who have not hitherto received any intelligence on this subject, we prefix some explanatory extracts from the Christian Observer, which, from the commencement of these schools, has been their warm and successful advocate. We would embrace this opportunity of expressing our high respect for this able publication, to which we shall be frequently indebted for intelligence respecting the progress of education in England.
In the Observer for June 1824, there is the following account of the formation of a national society, for the sole object of establishing schools of this description.
It gives us great satisfaction to state, that a society has been formed for the purpose of promoting the extension of infant schools throughout the country. From what we have said on former occasions respecting these institutions, our readers will infer the high value which we attach to them; and we shall feel much pleasure in reporting their future, and, as we hope and anticipate, rapid progress. The meeting at which the society was formed was most numerously and respectably attended, and the subscriptions have been already most liberal. The Marquis of Lansdowne took the chair on the occasion. The first object of the society will be to establish in some central part of the metropolis an institution which, while it dispenses its benefits to the adjoining population, may also serve as a model for imitation, and as a seminary for training and qualifying masters and mistresses to form and superintend schools.'
The Observer for August 1824, contains a statement of the views and the proceedings of the above society's committee.
"The infant-school society has been formed to promote the establishment of schools, or rather asylums for the children of the poor, before the age at which they are capable of engaging in any profitable employment, or at which they may be received into other schools. The proper objects of the society's care, therefore, are children of both sexes, from two to six years of age. Children of this age generally prove, during the working hours of the day, a heavy encumbrance on parents who are obliged to toil hard for a subsistence. One of the society's objects is to lighten the pressure of this inconvenience, and to leave the parents, and particularly the mother, more fully at liberty to pursue some gainful occupation for the common benefit of the family. So convinced are the poor themselves of the advantage of this kind of relief, that in numerous instances Dames®-Schools, as they are called, have been established, in which ten, twenty, or thirty infants are placed under the care of an old woman, by whom they are shut up, perhaps in a close apartment, in order to be kept out of harm's way” while the parents are at work. And for this accommodation parents are willing to pay from two-pence to four-pence a week for each child. The children are left with the dame, and remain under her care, (with the exception, in most cases, of the dinner hour,) until the evening.
It is now proposed to form infant schools, which shall be capable of receiving from 200 to 300 infants, and which, while they secure the same relief to parents, shall be made subservient to many other purposes, important not only to the children themselves, but through them to their parents, and to the community at large. The plan is, in the first place, to provide an airy and spacious apartment, with a dry, and, if possible, a large play-ground attached to it, where, under