« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
His Labors and Sacrifices.
would amount to a yearly expenditure, on the part of the district, of only about ninety dollars. In most districts, the sum expended was less; not more than seventy or eighty dollars. It was scarcely possible, therefore, to hope to find a district ready to pay more than one hundred dollars a year.
Application was made to a large and comparatively liberal district for a school, to teach it for one hundred and eight dollars a year. The offer was unexpected, but so highly gratifying, that an effort was made to get a vote to accept it. The only difficulty was in regard to terms. For eleven months—with a vacation of one month, they were willing to give ninetynine dollars ; and one individual more public spirited than the rest, proffered another dollar; making up the round sum of a hundred dollars. This sum, on reflection, was deemed sufficient, and the school was commenced and continued.
It is often said that men labor according to their pay; and as a general rule, the saying may be true. But though paid at a low rate for teaching a very large and, at first, a disorderly school, the teacher of whom we are speaking is believed to have labored with as much diligence as any teacher of a common school in that vicinity. We might even say more. He devoted himself so exclusively and so earnestly to the school, in thought and deed, by night and by day, that he wore himself out in this single year more than during any five years of his whole life besides. Indeed, he actually lost his health by the effort, and came very near losing his life. Low as school teachers' wages were, and as the price of labor in general was, at that time and in that vicinity, there can be no doubt that he earned, and ought to have received for his year's labor, at least two hundred or two hundred and fifty dollars. His employers even seemed more than half convinced of this; for though they could not get a vote to continue the school another whole year, they gave him eighty dollars for six months of the winter next following:
Nor was it his whole time and strength alone that this teacher devoted to the welfare of his pupils. He actually purchased a small library for their use, and gave them many valuable presents besides; and in these two ways expended no inconsiderable share of his already too limited wages.
During his second term in this school—that of six monthshe conceived the plan of obtaining a more liberal education. As his means did not permit a full collegiate course, a shorter one was thought of. It was at length decided that he should study one of the professions ; chiefly under the eye of a private tutor ; spending only six months at the university. The object was twofold ; first, to prepare himself for teaching more suc
Teaching at Six Dollars a Month.
cessfully ; secondly, to have another employment for life, as a dernier resort; that is, in case of the complete failure of his bealth in teaching ; of which there was, at that time, considerable danger.
The diligent study of a profession three years gave him a fine opportunity for mental discipline and improvement. All this time his heart was set on the business of teaching, rather than on any other employment. And no sooner had he received his parchment,' than we found him taking charge of another school.
Here again was sacrifice. Though qualified, according to the laws of the land, for the pursuit of a profession which was universally regarded as lucrative; though somewhat involved in debt by his course of study; and though pressed by his friends and relatives, to several of whom he was under many obligations, to bury his love of teaching, and be at once more respectable and more useful than he ever could be while thus employed ; he did not allow himself to hestitate for one moment to do what he believed to be his duty. It is not, indeed, known that any one urged upon him, directly, the consideration that teaching a district school, as things then were, would never enable him to free himself from debt and support a family ; yet it is scarcely possible that such a consideration could have escaped him ; and circumstanced as he was, the temptation to yield to it would have been great.
And yet, as we have already said, he did not hesitate. He was burning with zeal to improve the condition of common schools ; and his zeal had been increased by the appearance, about this time, of the first volume of the · Journal of Education. He began
He began with the central school in his native town. It was in the spring, and the compensation for a female teacher, in the district where he made application, was usually a dollar and fifty cents a week, or six dollars a month, and board. He applied for the school on the same terms; and though his application occasioned some surprise, it was not rejected.
Having expended a small sum for books and for furniture for the school room, he immediately began his labors. Every thing went on, for a time, quite favorably. Every body wondered, it is true, at the circumstance of a man, with the honors of the university' in his pocket, engaging to teach twentyfive or thirty children at six dollars a month, with the privilege of begging his bread from door to door,' when he might, as they supposed, just as well be receiving a compensation or salary of a thousand dollars a year. But they knew almost as little of his purposes and plans for the benefit of mankind, and of his resolution to spend and be spent' for them, as if he had not been brought
Sacrifice of his Health.
up among them. The truth is, that a person of this description is always a stranger, even among his best friends. It is exceedingly rare for hcaven to raise up more than one person who is willing to be a Christian indeed, and to make truly Christian efforts and sacrifices, in the same neighborhood ; and those who are not of the same character with such a man, can no more understand, or even sympathise with him, than if he were of another nation or tongue.
But our teacher pursued his course unmolested; which, considering his many peculiarities and innovations, was more than could have been predicted. In the families where he boarded, he was in the highest sense of the term, a missionary; imparting information and encouraging inquiry, and endeavoring to elevate, everywhere, the parental estimates of the importance of common schools. Some, notwithstanding the general stupidity, were, as the consequence of his efforts, awaking; and he was already beginning to look forward in the hope of reaping the reward of his labors, in the entire reformation of the schools of his native town.
Here, in the midst of his career, his health failed. He was obliged to leave his employment and resort to one better adapted to promote health. With the advice of the best physicians, he engaged in the labors of the other profession for which he had qualified himself.
Yet even here, he did not forget his favorite field of reform. Though he could not actually teach, he encouraged teachers. He threw open his doors and invited them all, of both sexes, at set times and at all times, to come to his room. He loaned them books, visited their schools, both privately and officially ; spent much time in conversing with them; and encouraged, everywhere, the introduction of a new spirit, new methods, and new school books. So that even while ardently engaged in another laborious profession, he was silently working a reform in a very different department.
At the end of two or three years, he found his health restored, with a prospect of its continuance. The question now arose in his mind, whether he should remain where he was, or return to teaching. Friends, whom he consulted, advised the former. He had just become established, they argued, in a useful profession ; and there was scarcely an individual who would be willing, for a moment, that he should leave them, especially to engage again in school teaching. Above all, how could he, they seemed to say, so demean himself? How could he think of it, for a single moment ?
However, his sphere of action was at length relinquished. In
one week after he had found a suitable person to supply his place professionally, he was found engaged in a district school, and instead of receiving the thousand dollars a year, accepting of fifteen dollars a month and his board; which was, as usual, among the families. This school was now for some time the scene of his sacrifices and missionary labors.
Many years have elapsed since his return to teaching, during the whole of which time he has been laboring, in one form or another, for the cause of education, and particularly for the benefit of district schools, with scarcely a sufficient compensation to procure his daily bread ; yet, as he assures us, he has never to this hour regretted-no, not for a single moment—his labors and sacrifices. On the contrary, he rejoices in them, and thanks his Heavenly Father for placing in his power the means of making them. Employments of a more lucrative kind have frequently offered, but a sense of duty has hitherto prevented his engaging in them. He has chosen poverty and self-sacrifice as his portion for life, rather than to relinquish what he deems the cause of God and his country.
We might have related other anecdotes besides the foregoing. We might have spoken of his engaging as a teacher, at ten dollars a month, and board himself: of his gratuitous purchases of books for his pupils, of gratuitous evening schools, &c. Enough bas been said, however, to show that there are opportunities for teachers to make self-sacrifices; and that there are those in the world who are ready and willing to be offered.'n
DISTRICT SCHOOL MISSIONARIES. No. II.
In the number of Parley's Magazine for September last, we find an article entitled Children's Friends, of which the following is an extract.—The person alluded to is Theodore Dwight, Jr. of New York.
• One of our correspondents, who spends the greater part of his time in doing good, has lately written us a long letter, and told us about some experiments he is making among children. He is in the daily habit of going into the schools of his neighborhood, the Sunday Schools, Week-day Schools and Infant Schools; and, with the permission of the teachers, instructing the children. Sometimes he teaches them to sing, at others, he converses with them, and asks them questions on other subjects. Natural history, in all its branches-geology, mineralogy, bota
What the Friends of Children may do.
ny, and zoology-he is very fond of; and sometimes he teaches them about the human body, or, as it is called, anatomy and physiology. In a letter of his, lately received, after saying that he was instructing, in the ways above mentioned, no less than 800 or 1000 children, he remarks as follows.
"" I wish we had a few thousand experiments now making in all parts of our country. One person, male or female, who would step out in each village as the Children's Friend, might do a good deal of good by spending for them two or three hours a week. My Saturday afternoon singing meetings are interesting, being sometimes connected with a walk, and always intermingled with snatches of instruction in natural history, morals, religion, life, manners, &c. Will you ask your readers, in all your publications, to begin at once, experiments of this kind ? I should be very glad to have them send the results to me, Corresponding Secretary of the American Lyceum."?
We wish, too, most heartily, that a few thousand of these experiments--charities we would call them, rather-were at this moment going on, in all parts of our country. Is there not one person, male or female, to every school district, who might find the time—and who is qualified-to step out, and by spending two or three hours a week in the school, nobly stand forth as a Children's Friend ?—We have spoken of qualifications for this charitable work; but we regard a love of doing good, and especially of doing it to children, as the principal qualification. Find but an individual who sees the condition of district schools to be as it truly is, and loves the souls of his fellow men, especially the young, and if he can possibly spare the time, he need not hesifate on account of any other qualifications. He cannot fail to do good.
His mere presence in the school room will do good. Children are apt to be interested in that which interests their adult parents and friends, and what does not appear to interest the latter, is not apt long to interest the former. There are hundreds and thousands of primary and district schools in the United States, into which no parent or friend, no, nor even any stranger -except, perchance, the visiting committee-ever enters from one year's end to another. The presence, therefore, of one individual of the district among them, daily or even weekly, will afford them some encouragement.
But he can do more than encourage the teacher and pupils by his presence. He can give them now and then an encouraging word. Even his looks may do them good. How many a time, has the kind Inok, attended by a kind word, urged the tardy youth up the hill side of improvement ?