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Normal Schools in Holland.
But we have spoken frequently, and sometimes at length on this subject. Our present purpose is to introduce another speak
It is the Rev. Charles Brooks, of Hingham, Massiuchusetts. In his lecture before the American Institute of Instruction, published in the last volume of that Society's proceedings, we find the following sentiments :
Cousin, who has given the whole force of his powerful mind and benevolent heart to the subject, says thus, in his · Report on Prussian Instruction :'-“The best plans of instruction cannot be executed except by the instrumentality of good teachers; and the State has done nothing for popular education, if it does not watch that those who devote themselves to teaching be well prepared.' Again he says, In order to provide schools with masters, competent and conscientious, the care of their training must not be left to chance. The foundation of Teachers' Seminaries must be continued.' He adds, — In each Teachers' Seminary the length of the course should be three years. The first should be devoted to supplemental primary instruction; the second to specific and more elevated studies, and the third to the practice and occasional experiments in the primary schools, which should be annexed to every seminary.' In his report he frequently says, that the Germans and Prussians believe these Seminaries to be the life-blood of the whole school establishment; and then adds with new emphasis, these words : 'I shall never cease to repeat,-as is the master, so is the school.'
· Philosophy and experience establish the truth of this Prussian maxim. Take the best town-school in New England, and put into that school a stupid, selfish, incompetent master, and he will assuredly run it down. Take the most backward school in the State, and put into it an intelligent, conscientious, purposely prepared teacher, and he will soon lift it up to himself. All streams flow level with their founts.
But to return to the testimony of Cousin. He has just sent me four pamphlets, which, in the letter accompanying them, he calls fragments of a journey which he took six months ago into Holland, and a full account of which he is just publishing. He says, This last work will be more useful to Americans, than any thing I have yet written on elementary instruction. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Harlem, he examined the several educational establishments; and the same sentiments appear in every place concerning the indispensable importance of Teachers' Seminaries. He obtained the opinion of the most celebrated philosophers, as well as the most successful directors of normal schools, some of them having been thirty years in the service; and these are the words :
-Holland has, by degrees,
Course of Instruction in these Schools.
come to the apprehension of the value of Teachers' Seminaries.'
Of the establishment at Harlem, thus alluded to, Cousin, in one of the pamphlets to which Mr Brooks refers, thus speaks.
• The primary normal school of Harlem, is a day school. Every pupil in it receives a regular pension from the king, with which he supports himself in the city. No one can be admitted under the age of fifteen.
· Pupils come from all parts of the kingdom. They are ad. mitted on the reports of the inspectors, and named directly by the minister. The director takes them on trial for three months, during which he becomes acquainted with their characters, and judges of their capacity. After these three months, he makes a report to the minister, and on this report, the pupils are finally admitted ;--then truly begins for them the normal school.
'There are forty pupils in all. The whole course lasts four years. As the object is not only theory but practice, and as pupils are prepared to obtain the highest grade, and that grade cannot be obtained in Holland under the age of 25, it has been supposed that four years were not too much to complete the entire course of studies and exercises necessary to form the perfect schoolmaster. Most of the pupils, therefore, remain at the normal school four years; but they are not obliged to remain there so long, for though pupils are prepared for the highest grade, very few aspire to it. The great object of the State is the supply of the inferior schools ; it is for their good particularly, that the normal school is established, though it imparts higher instruction.
1. Studies. Among the different branches of study, there are three; the science of education, (pedagogie,) history, and natural philosophy; which, being considered more difficult than the others, are taught at two different periods of the normal course. The other branches, such as natural history, geography, calligraphy, drawing, singing and mathematics, are taught
once, and in succession. "As to religion, it is not taught according to the text book of any particular denomination ; but as the basis of all denominations is the history of the Bible, this is regularly explained, and all the moral maxims added, which may present themselves on the occasion. No,' said the director to me, we have not even a special course of morality. I do not understand what is meant by teaching morality, nor even natural religion. This would be metaphysics. But the spirit of morality and religion is constantly instilled, by all the masters, on all occasions. All the masters, we may say, teach morality; but no one teaches it according to any particular communion. We receive here Catholics, Protes
tants, and even Jews; but the latter attend only to the lessons on the Old Testament. The Jewish pupils become in time the teachers of the special schools, established by the Jews, for the children of their creed.'
• In these words of M. Prinsen, the director, we have the most striking feature of primary instruction in Holland, viz.: the absence of all special instruction in religion, or even in morality, in the education of one of the most moral and religious communities in the world. The German practice is very different, and this difference arises from the opposite nature of these two excellent countries. In Holland, they avoid every thing which has a theoretic and speculative air, as an idle luxury, especially in education. They are attached to reality, that is to say, to the formation of fixed habits by constant exercise. In Germany, on the contrary, where the genius of speculation predominates, there is not a single elementary primary school, where christian truth, which is made for the ignorant as well as for the learned, is not under the simplest forms, taught in its most general principles, and in its meral consequences, as the firm foundation of public and private morals. I incline to the side of Germany.It seems to me that this absolute separation of school and church is no better than their confusion. There is a juste milieu which Holland is far from having realized. But I go on to describe ; I shall discuss at another time.
• M. Prinsen, with a single coadjutor, conducts the most important courses of the normal school. These courses take place generally in the evening. But this is not the true normal instruction. During all the day, the pupils are employed as assistants, as coadjutors, and even as temporarary directors, in the different schools of the city, according to the degree of qualification to which they have attained. Two thousand three hundren children attend the school of Harlem, and are a permanent trial-school for the pupils of the normal school. These 2300 children are distributed into a great number of schools, so that all the pupils of the primary normal school can be exercised there.
•2. Discipline. This was what I was most desirous of studying, especially in a normal day school. I had seen good day schools in Prussia, but the best primary normal schools, the admirable establishments of Potzdam and Bruhl, are boarding schools. In Prussia, it is generally thought that the boarding school is more favorable to the education of young teachers ;that the director can exercise over them a greater, because a more constant influence; and that by having one or two schools of different degrees, annexed to the normal school, the pupils can
practice in them quite as well as in the schools of the city, separate from the establishment. Such, too, is the opinion of the ablest teachers, and the most general practice in Germany. I do not pretend, however, to decide absolutely between the two systems. Having seen the excellent management of the Harlemn day school, I should say that both were good, according to the country, the times, and especially according to the man who is placed at the head of them ; for I shall never cease to repeat, · As is the master, so is the school.' But the director of a primary normal day school ought to be a man of very great merit, or it is all over with the establishment.
* As for the financial part of the concern, it is very simple.The primary normal school of Harlem costs the State 10,000 forins a year, (nearly $4000) for forty pupils, including all expenses, the maintenance of the establishment, and the pay of the director.
'Such, briefly, is the constitution of the primary normal day school of Harlem. It may be well now to make known the results, and conduct the reader, as I was conducted myself, into the city schools, where the young teachers are exercised. I have seen them engaged in the different services of primary instruction. They teach under the direction of the master of each school, who is generally himself an old pupil of the normal school of M. Prinsen. We surveyed the different degrees of primary instruction, and first, a gratuitous elementary school; then two tuschen-schoolen, or elementary pay schools, then private schools, nearly corresponding to our higher primary schools, the Burgerschulen of Germany. I was much pleased with the activity and intelligence of these young teachers ; but what struck me most, was the authority of M. Prinsen. As director of the primary normal school, he controls these young teachers ; as inspector of the district of Harlem, he controls the masters themselves; and all these schools, pupils and teachers, of all degrees, and all conditions, are as subject to him, as an army is to its general. Every thing moves at his word; every thing is inspired with his mind and his soul.'
But we quote once more from the lecture of Mr Brooks, as it appears in the late volume of the Institute ; merely adding that Mr B. is laboring, almost incessantly, to arouse his countrymen to the importance of this great object.
Cousin again says: “I place all my hopes for the education of the people in these seminaries.” In Holland they judge four years as not too much time for a young man to prepare himself aright for the great duties of a schoolmaster. Prussia has fortytwo of these institutions. Holland is supplied with them.
Mistakes of Parents.
Austria is introducing them, and has between twenty and thirty. France is doing the same, through the influence of Cousin, and will soon have eightyfour. England too is waking up to their value. Having just received from the Secretary of the Borough Road School in London, their annual Report, I quote from the • Appeal for the annual subscribers in aid of the normal schools, under the care of the British and Foreign School Society.'— Their words are these : The importance of teachers being properly trained for the work of instruction, is now generally admitted.'
• Is it not time that this republic, whose safety and renown, we are constantly assured, must depend on knowledge and virtue ; is it not time for such a community to provide for the fit education of its children, as well as monarchies and military despotisms?
• I want that something should be done. I want the whole mass of American children to be American ; which means freedom-enamored, intelligent and good. Let us not rest until all are led to dwell upon the high table-land of light, liberty and truth; and not, as now, be traversing to and fro in the twilight and gloom of the intervale.
• Look abroad over this country! Is there no need that something should be done? See how the love of money is elevated into a doctrine, and preached by fathers to their sons, even as a cardinal virtue. Mammon's golden wand is striking the land with spiritual impotency. Then there is infidelity which subverts nature, and pulls down providence, and blots out hope ; and then there is licentiousness which is fevering the blood, and intemperance which is maddening the brain. These, with their whole attendant family of ills, are threatening our blood-bought liberties, our national prosperity and our domestic altars; and where, where is the effectual remedy, but the school-house ?'
ERRORS IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION.
[In the First Annual Report of the American Physiological Society, we find the following strong language in regard to errors in physical education. Some of the remarks, it is true, are not so applicable to country towns, as to the large and crowded city; but we greatly mistake if there is not more or less of truth to be found in every paragraph-of truth, too, which will apply to all the circumstances and conditions of human life.]