« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
seeks! The questions arising here are still matters of experiment. The greatest amount of ex cathedra declaration will not avail to convince the public judgment. The solution and its acceptance must come by the usual process of a fair opportunity for trial, a thorough test of results, and a general acquaintance with them. None of these conditions yet exist. Hasty or partial conclusions will not bring them. The progress in the last forty years has been great, and encourages every welldirected endeavor. All who inquire in this direction may well turn their attention to the figures presented in the accompanying tables, so far as the question of sex appears. An extended opportunity for their study is afforded.
Turning to the tables of illiteracy, curiosity will be interested in observing that in 1850, in Maine and Wisconsin, the illiteracy of the sexes was equal, there being 3,000 of each. In New Hampshire there were twice as many illiterate men as women, there being 2,000 of the former and 1,000 of the latter. In Rhode Island the ratio was two to one, the men being the more intelligent. Vermont had 7,000 illiterates, the males exceeding the females by 1,000. In 1860, in Maine, the sexes were still equal in their illiteracy. In New Hampshire there were 2,000 males and 3,000 females unable to read and write. But these facts cannot be pursued far without meeting those reaching beyond curiosity and arousing the deepest solicitude of the patriotic and philanthrophic mind. In the total adult illiteracy of the country, as reported in the census of 1860, there were 1,364,236 males and 1,588,003 females, the number of the latter exceeding the former by 223,767.
Here, at the very base of the pyramid of our national intelligence, we are met by this appalling fact, that women, even in this land where they are most favored, are not so generally trained in the rudiments of learn ing as men. Passing upward to secondary instruction, it will be noted that, however imperfect this is for men, it is much more frivolous, lacking in thoroughness, and occupied with so-called accomplishments for women. A few separate first-class institutions have been established for them after the most serious struggles. In spite of the great good they have accomplished, many still doubt and sneer. Endowments are few and limited. Secondary training for women, offered in institutions established by the State, is chiefly in the direction of preparation for teaching afforded in normal schools. In some of the academies, where females are admitted on an equal footing with males, an excellent and thorough work is done. The same remark is becoming more generally true of the institutions of this grade established for the separate training of females. But their opportunity, more multiplied and more productive of results than any other, is in the high schools of the graded system. , Where these exist, as they do in almost every city of the country, females have an equal opportunity with males, and, in a very large number of high schools, constitute the majority in attendance as well as of graduates.
Near Newton Centre, Massachusetts, a horticultural school for women has been opened. Where opportunities offer, she is succeeding admirably in telegraphy and in schools of drawing and design. The free art school in Cooper Institute, for women, had during the last year 231 pupils; in the wood engraving school, 25; and in that for telegraphy, 82. Her triumphs are becoming more and more numerous in all the work connected with letters and books. Leaving all doubtful disputes to those who have an opportunity for them, all educators and philanthropists may unite in the conviction that every woman in the land should have the opportunity for education which her faithful and successful discharge of the responsibilities and duties devolving upon her requires.
Examining the opportunities for the participation of woman in superior education, we find her greatest disadvantages. Oberlin and some other colleges have admitted her to the same course of study with men, and given her the same. diploma. There is an increasing tendency to do this, and yet, with the most ardent advocates, there is apparently some misgiving about the results. Dr. Raymond, president of Vassar College, expresses a very general conviction when he observes that a liberal education for women is not, in all its details, precisely the same thing as a liberal education for men. Professional and technical education for woman progresses slowly, and is embarrassed by surprising distrusts. Her facility in the use of the needle has long since ceased to to be challenged by a doubt. In the days of apprenticeship the girls were put to learn the trades which had for their object the preparation of the wardrobe for either sex; but apprenticeship has passed away, and no appropriate schools have been devised to take its place. The superiority of woman in nursing the sick is universally acknowledged, and all the delicate and complicated responsibilities of that service are thrust upon her, while no opportunity is afforded for special training for it. Compelled in every pursuit which she undertakes to gain an honest livelihood, to produce work of equal merit to that of man, in nothing save teaching is she afforded the same opportunity for preparation, while her compensation, generally less, is often one-half below that received by man for similar services.
Next to the normal school the commercial and medical colleges are doing the most for woman's special education. Limited experiments have been attempted here and there, seeking to provide special instruction and training for woman in various other industries.
So great is the necessity of accurate and complete information in regard to the illiteracy of the country to any well-considered discussion of the educational necessities of the hour, that I have republished from Dr. Barnard's report on education in the District of Columbia, in the accompanying papers, an article on the subject, with carefully preparea tables and views.
These tables, prepared with great accuracy, and bringing within a small space and in a new form the statistics of illiteracy for two decades, form an interesting study for the political economist. Though reprinted just as the results of the ninth census are about to be made known, they are none the less indispensable for the purposes of information and comparison.
PROSCRIPTION OF RACES IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION.
The friends of universal education will be struck with the numerous indications, still remaining, of the proscription of races in elementary education. The fact is one especially deinanding the attention of the nation. It strikes at the vitals of every interest. If peoples come to us our only hope of self-preservation is in their education. In some of the States where school systems have been long successful, as in Illinois and Indiana, the prejudice against the colored population slowly disappears. In a late report of schools in Indiana it is observed in regard to the colored population, that "after being denied all use of the school fund, and thus taxed, they have been under the necessity of levying on themselves an additional tax to build their own school-houses and for the entire cost of their tuition.” The school law of Nevada provides that “negroes, Mongolians, and Indians shall not be admitted into the pub. lic schools, but the board of trustees of any district may establish a separate school for their education, and use the public school funds for the support of the same." This interdict mainly effects the negro race, since neither Mongolian nor Indian children, except a few living in white families, manifest any desire to attend the public schools, and, there being but few colored people in any single locality, the permissive provision is practically inoperative. But one colored school was attempted in the State during the year, and it was soon discontinued on account of extraordinary expense, and, as a consequence, the superintendent states, “we have growing up among us a class of juvenile pariahs, condemned by our State to ignorance and its attendant vices."
In California children of African, Indian, or Mongolian descent, whose education can be provided for in no other way, may be permitted, by a majority vote of the trustees, to attend schools for white children, in case a majority of the parents of such children make no objection.
The attempt to establish a day school for the Chinese in San Francisco proved a failure. The board of education therefore opened an evening school for this class, which has been successful. The whole number of pupils enrolled was 277; average daily attendance, 274. The school is doing good. It is estimated that the Chinese pay about onetwentieth of the taxes in the city.
The most striking indications of this proscription of races in elementary education appear in the reports of those States and cities where slavery has been lately abolished. In the cities, however, the proscription is less manifest than in the country districts. In Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans the colored pupils are supplied with school priv. ileges in the public systems, while in the country districts of the States in which these cities are situated the prejudice against colored education amounts well-nigh to a prohibition; and there is not among the people that knowledge of the benefits of elementary education to all classes which is needed to overcome the notions inculcated in the interests of slavery against the education of colored laborers; some employers, in their ignorance, holding that a knowledge of reading and writing would decrease the efficiency of their colored employés.
TEACHERS AND THEIR PREPARATION.
All educational improvements concentrate themselves upon the work of the teacher. He is professedly the educator. The young are specially and formally committed to him for certain hours during a long period of their youth. They bring to bim their various natures, and the effect already received from parents, from home, from the surrounding community, and the influences of material nature. With these germs of character placed in their hands, the teachers make the nation. To no other class is the future of America so fully committed. Therefore, what he character of the American teacher is in the various grades of instruction, how he is prepared, what he proposes, what he does, and with what instrumentalities he labors, most deeply concern the body politic. This statement of the responsibility and public concern that centers in the teacher implies no disparagement of the influence of the parent, the pulpit, the press, the forum, or any of the other mighty educational forces. These, with the exception of the parent, operate chiefly upon the adult mind. Legislators, who determine the very framework according to which justice among the people is administered, can only make laws; the pulpit is limited to those who can hear intelligently; the press, to those who can read understandingly; but the teacher determines to what extent and in what degree there shall be any intelligent reading and hearing, and, in effect, largely shapes the sentiment which decides whether the law shall be a living or a dead letter.
The action of the General Government in the past, chiefly manifested in granting lands for common schools, universities, or colleges of ag. riculture and the mechanic arts, has never distinctively considered this important agency in determining the character of the nation. The rewards of the most skillful instruction have never warranted the profession in making special expenditures in its own behalf, either in the establishment of schools, the production of literature, or the acquisition of skill. The work of teaching among us has been too much a mere makeshift, something to be resorted to when nothing else could be done. Large-minded educators, however, alive to the considerations here suggested, have induced various States at first, (those taking the lead in reforming school affairs,) and afterward others, as they became disposed to elevate the character of their citizens, to establish schools or provide spe. cial instruction for the training of teachers. These schools, however infelicitously, are described as normal. All intelligent sentiment on the subject considers them essential. The importance of extending correct ideas, the inadequacy of what has already been done, and the lively interest felt in what should be done, especially in those States just now establishing systems of free common schools, have led me to introduce two papers covering branches of this subject. No friend of good training can fail to be quickened and aided in studying them.
If any one will examine the publications of the General Government, he will be surprised to find the multiplicity of documents, each more or less directly aiding every other profession, to observe how few have ever been issued at all specially adapted to improve the methods of teaching or the qualifications of teachers. The two hundred thousand men and women engaged in the various departments of instruction, it would seem, would themselves constitute a class worthy of some attention in this particular, even aside from the importance of their responsibilities. But when it is remembered that through them especially the character of the nation for the future is to be modified, elevated, or degraded, how are all objections overcome, and the supreme importance of appropriate publications for their benefit enforced? Their success or failure must determine whether the universality of suffrage is to be safe or perilous; whether the reception upon our soil, or the enlargement of our borders by the incoming of foreign peoples, is to destroy the essential character of our ideas and institutions of liberty, or whether there is to be in the nation a capacity thus to receive and at the same time to assimilate to itself all coming peoples and commonwealths; whether America is to lead or fall behind in the march of human progress.
No nation excels the United States in the benefits derived from voluntary associations. The summarized reports of these meetings, though of necessity given here in a condensed form, show a very general and gratifying interest in the educational questions of the day on the part of these instructors. A glance over the topics discussed will show how varied and all-embracing are the subjects suggested and comprehended by the term “ Educational.” It is unfortunate that the able papers presented at these meetings are so often never published.
Massachusetts successfully introduced the principles of subdivision into her State teachers' associations. Several of the national associations at their last meetings effected a similar arrangement. Should they thus succeed by securing a degree of diversity sufficient to comprehend all classes of professional educators, teachers in elementary and secondary schools, professors in technical and professional training schools, and presidents and other college officers, and school superin tendents, State and county, and members of school boards, so that each shall receive some special aid in his own peculiar duties, yet all come