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the schools for children under ten years of age, during half of each year, and keeps open the union or high school but eight months. Thus both schools would, in effect, be broken up each year, and that class of children who can be best spared to attend throughout the year would, many of them, be deprived of access to school for six months out of every twelve. Would it not be better to require the female schools to be kept open ten months each year, and to receive all children under twelve years of age, and girls even later, the central or union school being kept four months? Four female teachers at $12 50 would be $50 a month; this for ten months $500, leaving $100 to be paid to the male teacher.
That some arrangement, by which the evils of feeble districts can be avoided, is absolutely necessary, will be more obvious, if we consider the peculiar distribution of population, over the face of our country. Prussia, with whose school system we are most accustomed to compare our own, has, on an average, one hundred and thirty inhabitants to every square mile, while in this state we have but about fifty-five. In another respect the difference is still greater. In Prussia, the inhabitants, even of rural districts, instead of living, as with us, in isolated dwellings, a quarter of a mile apart, are grouped together in hamlets or villages, almost any one of which is sufficiently large to furnish a school with sixty-five or seventy children. must be evident that, in such a country, there is little occasion for that subdivision of districts, which here, though carried much too far, is still, in some degree, unavoidable. When, in addition to this facility which exists in Prussia for forming large schools, we consider that, there, every profession or calling is already crowded, and that multitudes of men have no higher ambition than to be schoolmasters for life in some village or primary school; and when we consider, farther, that a sum, which, in Prussia or
France, would be adequate to remunerate a master, would not, in this country, pay the wages of a day-labourer, we shall perceive how visionary it must be, to hope that a class of men can be trained up here, willing to teach common schools for life, at the rates which feeble and thinly-peopled districts can pay. The necessity, therefore, for employing females, seems, here, to be clear and irresistible. Even in Prussia, it is thought, by many judicious friends of popular education, that they might be employed, in many instances, with much benefit. Says a late writer,
"There is this peculiarity in Dutch and German schools, that women are rarely employed in them except to teach sewing and knitting, or as mistresses of infant schools. In large rooms, filled entirely with girls, we rarely found a schoolmistress or a female teacher, unless the children belonged to the lowest class in the school, and were merely learning the alphabet, or unless the hour for needlework had arrived. The Germans greatly underrate the physical strength and intellectual power of women, as adapted for the work of instruction. They affect a great contempt for female authorship, arising partly, perhaps, from the fact that they have but few writers of that sex, or but few to be compared with the best of those of England and France. We believe this prejudice against female talent to be unfortunate and mischievous. There is nothing that a girl can learn that a woman is incapable of teaching when properly trained; and, in many cases-as every one knows who has frequented Sunday-schools-women make better instructers than those of the other sex. Women have often more talent for conversational teaching (the best of all forms of instruction), more quickness of perception in seizing difficulties by which the mind of a child is embarrassed, and more mildness of manner than a master commonly possesses; and when these important qualities are combined with the proper degree of firmness (and that, too, may be acquired),
they cannot be excelled. For teaching singing they are especially qualified, as the pitch of their voices enables them to sing in unison with children, instead of an octave below; and for the physical strength said to be wanting, no instruction can be fit for a child that is given in a form that would exhaust any frame but one of iron or brass. But we need not dwell upon this part of our subject, for English notions of delicacy would not permit schools to exist, in which girls of 13 or 14 should be left, for hours together, without any person to consult belonging to their own sex. Normal schools, therefore, if ever established in this country, must be established for women as well as for
Having discussed, so much in detail, the best methods of organizing schools in the country, where population is sparse, it may be well, before dismissing this branch of our subject, to consider the various plans which have been proposed for the improvement of schools in cities.
THE IMPROVEMENT OF COMMON SCHOOLS.
"A school ought to be a noble asylum, to which children will come, and in which they will remain with pleasure; to which their parents will send them with good-will."-COUSIN.
SCHOOLS IN CITIES AND VILLAGES.
CHILDREN residing in large towns, and, indeed, in all compact places, are exposed to peculiar dangers and temptations, and they need, therefore, more than others, the benignant influence of good schools. It is an influence, however, which very many of them are not likely to enjoy. They are, in many instances, afflicted with improvident or immoral parents; and being generally doomed, in
* Westminster Review.
such cases, to poverty, they are crowded together in dark and neglected districts, where their condition escapes observation, and where they rapidly corrupt one another. It is not strange, therefore, that a larger proportion of children grow up with idle and profligate habits, in towns, than in the country; and it is plain, that to prevent this mournful result calls for special care and attention, on the part of the friends of education. To determine, then, on the best system of public instruction for a city; to bring its advantages to every one's door, and especially to the doors of the poor; and to provide that all shall avail themselves of those advantages, is an object of the very highest interest and importance. It touches intimately the general welfare, which is always endangered by the presence of the ignorant and unprincipled; especially in large cities, where such persons have peculiar incitements, and enjoy signal opportunities for confederation and outrage.
I. DISTRICT SYSTEM.-The methods which have been proposed for school organization, in cities, are various. By one, which is considerably prevalent, the territory of a city is divided, as in the country, into small districts, and in each, a school is kept, sufficiently large for the accommodation of all the children in said district. Where the districts contain, each, but a small number of children, this system appears to be obnoxious to the most serious objections. It collects together in one apartment, and under the supervision of but one teacher, children of every age and grade of attainment; and these so divide the labours and distract the attention of their instructer, that a large portion of his energies are wasted. In a school composed of none but small children, many exercises might be introduced, admirably adapted to interest and improve them, which, in a school composed in part of larger scholars, would be quite out of place. So with discipline: if it has to be accommodated to the mixed and heterogeneous character of a school composed of children of
all ages, it must fail in adapting itself with skill and precision to the wants and capacities of those of any particular age. Division of labour seems to be quite as important in education as in the production of wealth; and we might with as much wisdom require that cotton should be picked, and carded, and spun, and woven, and bleached, and dressed, by one machine or by one person, as that children of different ages and attainments, as well as dispositions, should be successfully governed and instructed by one teacher. In the country, where schools can be maintained only by means of local districts, such an evil is, in a degree, unavoidable; but in cities and villages it is gratuitous, and ought, therefore, to be avoided.
A modification of the district system has been recently introduced in Buffalo, and a few other cities of this state, which seems to obviate some of the most material of these objections. The population is divided into larger districts, varying from one thousand to fifteen hundred, so that each district will contain nearly three hundred children. In each a schoolhouse is erected, containing two apartments, in one of which a female teacher is employed to superintend the instruction of the younger pupils, and in the other a male teacher, at a fixed and competent salary, to give instruction in the higher branches. In Buffalo, a city superintendent has been appointed, who reports that "the system has thus far succeeded beyond the most sanguine hope of its projectors and friends. Its good effects are already apparent from the anxiety to obtain admission into the schools, the prompt and constant attendance of the children, and their correct and orderly deportment while under the authority of their teachers." The estimation in which the public hold it, may be inferred from the fact that, in 1837, the whole number of children taught in all the public schools was but 679, whereas, in 1839, when the system had become fully established, it had swelled to 2450; and in