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Common School Missionaries.
He can do good by conversing occasionally with the teacher. There is often no sympathy, nor any intercourse, between the proprietors of a public school and him whom they have selected to stand in their places six or eight hours a day, and give instruction by his example, and by his precepts and lessons, to the immortal minds of their children. These things, indeed, ought not so to be. But since they are so, it is a great mercy, as well as a great public charity, in a benevolent person-known more or less to the pupils, as he must be, if he resides in the same school district-to step in, and not only see and converse with the pupils, but suggest valuable hints to the teacher.
But this is not all that can be done. A thinking person will be able to give a lesson now and then, as was done by the gentleman mentioned in Parley's Magazine. If he cannot instruct in music, geology, mineralogy, botany, zoology, anatomy or physiology, he can do so in something. Let him relate a story, or anecdote of some place or object he has seen, or let him give an account of some book he has recently read. nothing more, let him get the teacher's permission to read a selection from the newspaper, throwing in an occasional remark.
We have alluded, in the last instance, to the necessity of the teacher's permission. It is indispensable in all cases to have this. Indeed, most teachers rejoice in such aid and assistance; but if there are any who do not, it is easy to discontinue our visits, and call on those who do.
It is impossible for those who have never made experiments of this kind to conceive of their value. We talk of the benevolent enterprises of the day, but we scarcely know of any which are more important than those we are describing. We talk about giving money, by dollars and by thousands ; but time spent in doing good is worth more than money. We talk of the heathen of distant countries, and we do well. Benevolence in every form, giving money where we can give nothing better--missionary labors in China or New Holland even-all are good, very good. But time, and advice, and effort in behalf of the common schools are far better. We envy not the philanthropy of him who sees, any where on the earth's surface, a more important missionary field than the district school.
Nor does it require very great learning, or effort, or sacrifice, to do good in these schools. It is true, that ministers, and physicians, and lawyers, and other learned men,--especially those who have had the charge of families and schools of their ownif they really have their hearts engaged in the work, may do more than some other people. But there are few who cannot
Such Missionaries are Needed.
do something. In schools which are conducted solely by females, how welcome would the presence, and encouragement, and suggestions, and occasional lessons of a philanthropic female friend, in the neighborhood, often be ? Are there no such philanthropic females ? Are there not some in every district ? There are certainly some who might find leisure. And would not their leisure hours be as well filled up in these efforts, as in bestowing extra attention upon their persons or their dress; or in reading novels; or in going to theatres or balls; or in sighing over distant and sometimes half imaginary evils, which they cannot remove ? It is due to the female sex to say, that their sympathies are more easily roused in behalf of those who are enveloped in ignorance and superstition, or who are suffering in their bodies or their minds, than those of our own sex. Shall it be said that these sympathies are easily roused to remove ignorance, and vice, and suffering, at a distance, but not that which is near their own doors ?
If ever there was a time since the world began, when missionaries were needed-holy, self-denying men and women-it is the present. If ever there was a wide or important field for missionary operations, it is the family, and the district school. If ever good could be done in both departments of this great field, not by money so much as by time and influence, it is also the present. It is so because the family and school are almost every where, and by every body, overlooked. It is so because many despise and slander them, and say all manner of evil against them ; and if they can get money enough in any kind of business which is called respectable, (even though it were founded on fraud) will take their children out of these nurseries of vice, as they call the common schools, and send them to private schools, and suffer the former, instead of their laboring to make them, as is their Christian duty, nurseries of virtue, to run down, and become a thousand times worse than they were before. Lastly, now is a favorable time for missionary efforts of the kind we have mentioned, because there is a tide of good words just now setting in favor of efforts of this kind. There is a great deal beginning to be said in the community of the importance of taking the teachers of our children by the hand, and recognizing them as our equals, our friends, our most worthy associates, visiting them, inviting them to visit us, &c. Let us show forth, then, by actions as well as by words, that we regard teachers not only as human beings, but as friends, and brethren, and benefactors; and let us make the school room, next to the parlor, the pleasantest, happiest, most profitable place for our children.
Review of Sullivan's New Work.
75 But the efforts of Mr Dwight are not the only missionary efforts which have been made among us in behalf of common and primary schools. We know of several others; and we trust there are many of which we do not know. We hope Mr Dwight has received accounts of this kind in great numbers. We wish, most heartily, that he and others, who possess facts of this
description, would transmit them for insertion in the Annals of Education.
It is now nearly twelve years since we, ourselves, have been more or less in the habit of making these experiments. We have always found both teachers and pupils glad to receive us ; and apparently encouraged and benefited by our conversations and lessons. We often revert to these missionary efforts-insignificant or trifling as the public are apt to regard them—with very great pleasure ; accompanied, however, with feelings of deep regret, that circumstances do not give us more leisure to prosecute them.
We have been most successful in conversing with teachers and pupils on subjects connected with physiology and the laws of health. We have invited teachers to our room, and have found them, in many cases, glad to accept the invitation. But we have been most frequently in the habit of giving daily lessons to pupils, at the school room, on the hand, the eye, the ear, the hair, the teeth, the nails, the skin, the stomach, &c. We have seldom found any difficulty of sustaining their attention to these subjects quite as long as was profitable, for one time. We have done enough, at least, to satisfy us of the practicability, no less than the importance of the efforts for which we plead. We beg those who have the time and the means, to make similar experiments. There are those among us, of both sexes-we repeat it—who have abundance of leisure for the purpose, and who, had they the necessary faith in this form of doing good, are not wanting in benevolence.
STUDY OF HISTORY.
Historical Causes and Effects, from the Fall of the Roman
Empire, 476, to the Reformation, 1517. By William SulLIVAN, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, &c. &c. Boston: James B. Dow. 1838. 12mo. pp. 615.
We have often regretted the frequent attempts which are made, to give the young a knowledge of history by means of
compends, however excellent. Even the Universal History of Mrs Willard-what is it but mere statistics, chilled by the continual details of vice and crime? Do these compends often impart the love of study, to those in whose bosoms it had not been already enkindled? On the contrary, do they not, by their perpetual detail of dry facts-dead, wintery trees, without foliage or fruits, scathed by the wind-do they not often leave the student disgusted-sick-of every thing in the shape of a his. tory? And if this is the usual, not to say inevitable result, is not their object-their legitimate object, we mean—in a good measure defeated ?
No one will pretend that it is of much service to study such compends, as even those of Whelpley and Willard, if that is to be, to the student, the beginning and end of the whole matter. How is it to improve his mind, warm his heart, and fit him for action, to recite lessons a few weeks or a few months from a work which consists chiefly of the births and deaths, the intrigues and wars, and the horrid assassinations of a few male and female tyrants, in every age? And yet is not this, too often, the sum and substance of the study of history in our schools ? Does the teacher, in one instance in ten, find the time or the disposition to fill out, from his own mind, or draw out from the mind of his pupils, those collateral facts and incidents, or trace those moral causes and effects, or make those natural and appropriate reflections, without which the study of history is of little practical value?
It is in vain, or nearly in vain, to pursue a course of study which begins and ends at the school room. True, there may be something gained in mental discipline by a plan so circumscribed, and a course so injudicious. But mental discipline, though a highly important part of the business of every school of every grade, is not the whole. The facts and details of all science, the elementary facts at least, are indeed worth something; but beyond and above this, it is highly desirable, we might say indispensable, to acquire, in study, the love of study. While a pupił is reciting to his teacher from history, for example, the teacher should be ever on the alert to awake his interest and excite his inquiry, by explanation, illustration, detail, cross-questioning and review. If this is not donc, if the pupil is not so much interested in the study, for the time, as to be disposed to lay every one with whom he meets under contribution for the accomplishment of his object; if he is not predisposed and inclined to make his favorite topic the main subject of conversation among his companions, and especially in the domestic circle ; and if he is not met, on every hand, at least half way, and cheered, and
Defects in our Class Books.
encouraged, and instructed by those he meets ; if all this is not done, we say, in the case supposed, nothing, comparatively, is done. Now we appeal to those who are acquainted with the usual method of studying history—or indeed, any other branches -in our schools, whether any such effects are often produced ?
True, the teacher, and the parent, and the brother, and the sister cannot, by friendly co-operation for the benefit of the young, teach that which they do not know themselves; and as they are supposed to have studied history, if they have studied it at all, in the current fashion, they are but poorly prepared for a more rational task. Besides, we have no history of man, extending much beyond our own age. The newspapers and journals of the day, imperfect enough though they may be, are yet the only true living history of man, short of the Bible, we have ever had. What are called histories contain little or nothing, as we have already intimated, of manners, customs, domestic happiness or unhappiness. Bad as kings, and princes, and tyrants have been, and bad as they and the world still are, neither kings, princes, nor tyrants have been the world, after all. They have been the mere scum of the world. Below their range—as it is usually called, though we should rather say above it—very different scenes have been acted over. There has been, even here, enough of ignorance, and vice, and crime, but there has also been much of virtue-negative virtue, at least. Could the biography of every individual and family, in every age and nation, be seen as on a map, in the way in which we may suppose higher existences actually do see it, along with much to pain us, how many things should we see to give us pleasure ? How many acts should we see, evincing sympathy and kindness, friendship and love! How many gladsome hearts and joyous bosoms, nay, and even happy cottages and comparatively happy neighborhoods should we discover, scattered, though they were, like oases in some vast desert, yet forming an aggregate of human felicity which cannot be estimated ; and doing much to soften the severity of our judgments, and strengthen the weakness of our faith in the dignity of human nature !
We say, therefore, that were the proper method of studying history well understood, in theory, by parents and teachers, and were there to be a simultaneous and truly benevolent movement on their behalf, there would be many difficulties to encounter. Still, something might be done. Many a teacher and many a parent, by studying carefully what is preserved or really known of men, ancient and modern-by studying, in particular, geogra