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Appropriation for School Houses.
again, in 1829-nine years ago—to the city government, that school rooms should be purchased or built, on account of the city, in places where they cannot now be obtained on lease, of suitable character or size.'
This application was not received with favor. The city had still doubts of the policy of erecting houses permanently for the use of these schools.
From this time forth, the record is covered with applications to the city government for the use of rooms not otherwise improved by the city, such as unoccupied rooms in the Grammar school houses, gun houses, engine houses, ward rooms, &c. &c. By this means, many of the poor or bad rooms were exchanged for better. About the same time many new churches were erected with spacious vestries, and many of these were obtained by the Committee for the use of the Primary schools.
But as the number of schools was constantly increasing, and the difficulty of obtaining rooms every day becoming greater on account of the increased value of properiy, the Primary School Board, at their meeting of August 6, 1833-five years ago-and before the visit of Messrs Woodbridge and Fisher, resolved to make another vigorous effort to obtain an appropriation from the city government, for the erection of Primary school houses. Ac cordingly a Committee of ten was appointed to make application for an appropriation of money for the purpose of building and furnishing rooms for the accommodation of Primary schools, whenever suitable opportunity may offer, in any of the districts.' This application was supported by all the influence of the Board, both from without and within the council. In 1834, the city government recognised the principle, and built one house at the expense of the city; and in 1835 an appropriation of $ 12,500 was made ; with an understanding that it was to be continued yearly until all the schools were supplied with suitable rooms. This appropriation has been annually made and expended every year but one, when land was so high, and suitable places so difficult to be obtained, that it was absorbed for other purposes, by the city council.
By these and various other subsidiary measures, which it is not necessary to mention, it appears from a report of the Primary School Committee, to which reference is made in a note to the article on which we are commenting, that of the 78 schools then under the care of the Board, there were only “12 rooms unsuitable or inadequate,' and it is further stated that it is expected that this number will soon be diminished, if suitable locations can be procured (by Committees who have the subject under consideration,) for building new school houses.' Could the wri
Remarks on School Books.
ter in the Annals, if he had made himself acquainted with these facts, have made the assertion that it is a matter of astonishment-utterly so—that individuals worthy of being chosen as School Cominittee men, should slide over these matters from year to year, and only promise, from time to time, to procure better school rooms? The writer in the Mercantile Journal says, 'school rooms of improved construction, have been erected in various parts of the city. Two just completed in Moon street, reflect great credit upon the architect, &c. &c.' The writer in the Annals adds, we are happy in being able to confirm the statements of this writer, in relation to improved school rooms. There is certainly a great deal doing, in the way of improvement, for which credit is due soine where. Do not the facts which we have stated, prove to whom we are indebted, for what has been done-and that if credit is due' anywhere, it is (without any impulse from abroad) to the Primary School Board?
The charge with regard to school books is in these words. • There is great and lamentable neglect in regard to school books and studies. Now a few words only will be sufficient, we trust, to set this matter right. The early records of the Board were unfortunately burnt in the year 1825. The schools, however, when established in 1818, were furnished with the best books then to be obtained. A card, a spelling book, and the New Testament, we believe, were the books originally used. Soon after, they authorized a new spelling book to be compiled erpressly for the schools, which resulted in the adoption of Fowle's Rational Guide. In 1826, an easy Reader was compiled for their especial use, called the · Bosion Primary Lessons, and introduced, with a new Spelling Book in the place of Fowle's, which was found to be too difficult. In the same year, the study of Arithmetic was introduced for the first or highest class, and Emerson's North American Arithmetic adopted for their use. In 1827, a new elementary card for the fourth class, was introduced. In 18:0, another card on the Edinburg Sessional School plan, was prepared by a Committee, and adopted. In 1833, a new Reading Book, (Blake's Reader,) for the first class, in connection with the New Testament, was introduced. Since which time, Arithmetic in all the classes, a numerical calculator, slates for the fourth class, Gallaudet's Mother's Primer, Abbott's Mount Vernon Junior Reader, and Pierpont's Young Reader, have successively been added to the number of books, and to the means of instruction in the schools. If this is proof of 'great and lamentable neglect in regard to school books,' the committee must sit down and bear it with what patience they may. We are nnwilling,' the writer remarks, wholly so, that a school system which has so good a name, should reinain stationary year after
Studies in the Schools.
year.' Perhaps some of his readers may be of opinion, that such stationary movements as are indicated by the above changes, may tend to qualify some portion of the regret so needlessly expressed.
Another subject upon which a word may be said, is studies. “A very accurate observer,' the writer is pleased to say, • has remarked of these schools, that the intellectual education is hardly provided for in the least.' This opinion is evidently endorsed by the writer of the article. The bare enumeration of the above books, and the studies connected with them, is sufficient, it is believed, to disprove the assertion. The intellectual education surely is amply provided for, as stated above, for a class of pupils from four to seven years of age. To what extent this provision is used is another question. To judge of this, we remark, that the teachers are the best which the Committee, with the offer of a competent salary, are enabled to obtain ; and most of them are of the highest order. The Committee too, we may venture to say, are faithful in the discharge of their duties; and this is manifest from the report to which reference has already been made. It appears from this, that they made three hundred and fortynine examinations (and these usually occupy two hours,) and four hundred and fortyseven visits in six months,'-- or 3 1-2 of the former to a school, and 6 of the lat. ter, equal to 7 examinations of 14 hours, and 12 visits to each school, in a single year. These are independent of the semi-annual examinations by the Standing Committee. (The Primary Schools in the city of New York, are examined but twice a year, and only about half an hour is given to each examination-or one hour to each in a year.) [f the children of the Boston Primary Schools, therefore, are not educated intellectually, it is no fault of their teachers or committee; and as cause and effect in education are the same as in every thing else, we have reason to conclude that the labor of the teachers and committee is not lost. It is true, the children are not required to study algebra, geology, botany, or Natural history ; but they do learn, and that to great perfection, the rudiments of a common English education ; and are fully prepared at 7 years of age to enter the Grammar Schools of the city, a period in life which is considered with us quite early enough to enter upon the higher branches of study which are provided for them in these schools. The reading of our primary School children, when they enter the Grammar Schools, is as good, as a general fact, as the reading of the same number of clergymen in any part of the United States ; * and there is scarce
* Can this be? But let us hear him through.-Ed.
ly a radical word in the English language with its derivations, which they cannot spell Auently and correctly. We say nothing now of their other studies. If this is not a satisfactory course to the writer who has made the sweeping assertion, that the intellectual education of the children is hardly provided for,' we can only say, that it harmonizes perfectly with the system adopted by the higher schools of the city, to which this is strictly preparatory. It may be well to contrast these with the studies of the schools in the city of New York. These schools are divided into five classes. The 5th class read in books, the rest are taught on boards. When enabled to read a little, they are promoted to the public schools. They are admitted between the ages of 4 and 10! They are taught orally, the arithmetical tables, something of Geography, &c. &c.; also writing on slates.' This is from a recent official source. We leave the comparison to those who are of the opinion that the Boston course is the 'most dull and unmeaning' of any in the country. The same writer
- the moral education of the children is equally neglected. To judge from the Rules and Regulations of the Board, one would suppose the four thousand pupils were destitute of moral natures, and exempt from moral exposure.' On this subject then, we have a few words to say. Those who have made this subject a matter of study, will not need to be told that the subject of morals in our day schools, is everywhere neglected. No books have been prepared for its study, and all our teachers, except in a general way, for want of preparation themselves, are not able, if they were authorized, to make it a subject of distinct labor and care. The Secretary of the Board of Education, in his recent report to the Legislature, makes this a leading topic of remark, and states that it is a universal defect in all our public schools. If the Boston Schools therefore, were deficient in this respect, it would only be in common with all the schools of the country. But a few facts on this head may serve to show that the subject has not been so much neglected as the writer referred to would seem to imagine. In the
Rules and the Regulations, to which he has referred, is contained the following as a part of Rule 1. They (the Instructors) are to pay strict attention to their morals and cleanliness.' In Rule 4, we have the following reference to this important subject. • In order early to impress on the minds of our youth, the importance of religious duties, and their entire dependence on their Maker, the Instructors are desired to open their schools in the morning with prayer. And these rules are enforced by the Committee, and faithfully executed by the teachers. Besides
these, a part of their regular course of instruction is the reading of the New Testament, and from the first to the last, a knowledge of the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer. Now with these facts before us, can it be, or ought it to be said, that ' to judge from the Rules and Regulations of the Board, one would suppose the four thousand pupils were destitute of moral nalures and exempt from moral exposure?' Can it be said, ought it to be said, as the writer of the article has undertaken to say, that as for the moral education of the pupils, any further than can be secured by having teachers whose general character is unimpeachable, it is scarcely thought of ?'. Besides and beyond what we have already stated, it is a fact that ought to be inore generally known, that in 1835, the Board adopted a vote, the first perhaps of the kind adopted in this or any other country, authorizing the introduction of the study of ethics, in its simplest form, as a part of their course of instruction ;' and a Committee was chosen to procure a suitable manual. That Committee have been striving, ever since, to obtain some one to prepare such a book ; but thus far, without success.
Neither they nor the teachers, except in a general way, can work without the proper instruments. If, therefore, they have not done enough, they have done as much as others; and it has not been from a want of interest or exertion in regard to the moral natures or moral exposure of the children, that they have not done more. An extract from the Report of the Primary School Board before referred to, will show the prevailing feeling of the Board in reference to this important subject. They would also express their great satisfaction with the improving moral condition of the schools. The number of truants reported is smaller than heretofore, averaging less than one to three schools. This speaks favorably of the habits of our youthful population. It is ardently hoped that a general improvement may be manifested in this department, commensurate with the interest in its behalf, and that the wishes of its friends may be realized ; so that all the children in our city may be brought within their benign influence, that in years to come, they may rise up and bless the institution which has redeemed them from ignorance, and rendered their lives a blessing to themselves, and a benefit to the present and to coming generations.
I bring these imperfect remarks to a close, with a latin quotation, which will be understood by most of your readers. “Fiat justitia ruat cælum.'