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ing worn out, they are soon cast aside to make way for new ones. If the additional expense imposed on each district annually, in this way, be but $5, the annual cost to the whole state would be nearly $55,000. 6th. This system, also, holds out a continual and direct invitation to book-makers, publishers, agents, &c., &c., to multiply text-books, and thus to perpetuate and extend these various mischiefs.

This diversity of text-books, though the source, at present, of unmixed evil, has grown up naturally and insensibly, and is not, therefore, to be charged, as a crime, on any party. Some books, in use twenty years since, were very defective, and called for change; and, in the absence of central authority to regulate these changes, and of proper skill and experience on the part of teachers, it is not surprising, that they have often been determined, by the caprice of parents, or the enterprise of booksellers. It is also to be considered, that the constant change of teachers has added much to this evil; it being the interest of a new teacher, on the one hand, to introduce such books as he has been used to, and of parents, on the other, to prevent an unnecessary sacrifice of their property. Hence has come the practice, whenever a book wears out, of replacing it by one, which may happen to be acceptable to the teacher temporarily employed; and, as hardly any two in succession have the same preferences, we need not wonder, that the aggregate number has become immense.

It is a subject for hearty congratulation, that the people are beginning to awake to a proper sense of this evil, and that they are demanding a reform. On this account, as well as on several others, the present seems a most auspicious time, for devising some plan, which may prove reasonably permanent, and which will gradually displace the almost endless variety of schoolbooks, by as much uniformity as can be expected in our country, and by all, perhaps, that is consistent with the highest improvement. It is not to be sup

posed that we have yet reached perfection in making textbooks; and it would be injustice, therefore, to authors, as well as to children, to close the door against all future changes. But it may be assumed, that the experience of the last twenty years has thoroughly tested the relative merits of the different works now in market, and that judicious and enlightened men might make such a selection from them, as would answer well the present wants of our schools. This selection, too, might be so arranged, that, while the books harmonize* with each other on the one hand, they should, on the other, be furnished by different authors and publishers, thus preserving proper regard for the rights and interests of those who have devoted themselves to the work of supplying this species of commodity. A selection, made with some reference to this end, would have two special advantages. It would, in the first place, make it the interest of publishers, to issue some one or two works at the least possible cost, and in the most perfect form, that thus they might secure a great and permanent sale, instead of multiplying, as they now do, works of many different kinds, of which a large portion prove to be without value, and a source only of loss. In the second place, authors would be induced, by such a course, to limit their ambition to the composition of one book of the highest excellence, instead of aspiring, as so many now do, to the composition of a whole series, embracing all the different branches of knowledge.

* In regard to the selection of books by committees, I have had occasion, during the last year, to notice a mistake or oversight which deserves to be mentioned. It consists in the selection of books which, on important points, conflict with each other, and therefore leave teacher and pupil in doubt what course to pursue; as, for instance, the selection of Webster's Dictionary, with Worcester's or Pierpoint's Reading-books, where the rules for pronunci. ation contained in the former are so different from those of the latter.-Horace Mann—Report (1842) to the Massachusetts Board of Ed


But by what means can this selection be made, and be commended to general favour? This problem is, doubtless, a difficult and delicate one; and it ought to be approached with caution, and in the spirit of true conciliation. Teachers and school officers must remember, that the schools are in the hands of the people, and that no plan can permanently prosper, that does not secure their confidence and cordial co-operation. On the other hand, parents and employers must remember, that to decide on the relative claims of different text-books is no easy task; that nothing but experience and special preparation can qualify any one to perform it as it should be performed; and that no portion of the community are so deeply interested as themselves, in having the work done well and wisely. They should also consider that, in sending their children to common schools, supported in part by the public, they have virtually consented that the state shall share in the work of regulating and superintending those schools, and that they are bound, therefore, to yield their own judgment to that of the proper functionary, and to the will of the majority. The state has created a general superintendent, with deputies in each county, and has also provided for the appointment, in each town, of inspectors, commissioners, &c., who are to exercise, severally and in due subordination, all powers necessary for the general welfare of the schools. Is it not through these officers, aided by an enlightened and patriotic public sentiment, that the reform so much desired must be accomplished?

I would suggest that, in undertaking it, the following principles ought to be kept in view:

1. It should commence in the several towns, and should be the result of a cordial understanding between the deputy superintendent, the inspectors and trustees, and the most judicious and active friends of education, whether teachers or otherwise. Town conventions for the promotion of ed

ucation would afford a most favourable opportunity for bringing about a good understanding on this subject.

2. It should aim at preserving the most valuable textbooks now in use, excluding the worthless, and reducing the number to that point necessary for uniformity within each school.

3. It should contemplate gradual rather than sudden changes. Parents should not be required, in all cases, to purchase new books immediately, but only so fast as old ones are worn out. A list of books selected should be kept posted up in the schoolhouses, and when new books are wanted, it should be understood, that none can be used but such as are on this list. To accelerate the progress of the reform, the late and present superintendents have suggested the expediency of exchanges. An extract, to be given presently, will explain this plan.

4. The body which selects books should take pains to set forth the urgent necessity for some reform in this matter, and should recommend rather than enjoin.

5. In adopting a series of books, regard should be had to the practice of neighbouring towns or counties. The most important thing is to have uniformity in each district; the next most important is to have it in towns; then in counties, &c.

6. Changes should be subject to the supervision of the state and deputy superintendents; and when a uniform series of books has once been introduced into any school, it should not be altered without their consent.

7. A uniform system for the whole state, if desirable, can only be reached after a term of years, and ought to be adopted on the recommendation of the state superintendent, by and with the advice of the deputy superintendents.

I close this subject with an extract from the instructions lately issued from the office of the state superintendent, and which are intended as a guide to the deputy superintendents.-(Instructions, p. 195.)

"The books of elementary instruction.-It is believed that there are none now in use in our schools that are very defective; and the difference between them is so slight, that the gain to the scholar will not compensate for the heavy expense to the parent, caused by the substitution of new books with every new teacher; and the capriciousness of change which some are apt to indulge on this subject, cannot be too strongly or decidedly resisted. Trustees of districts should look to this matter when they engage teachers."

"One consequence of this practice is the great variety of text-books on the same subject, acknowledged by all to be one of the greatest evils which afflict our schools. It compels the teacher to divide the pupils into as many classes as there are kinds of books, so that the time which might have been devoted to a careful and deliberate hearing of a class of ten or twelve, where all could have improved by the corrections and observations of the instructer, is almost wasted in the hurried recitations of ten or a dozen pupils in separate classes, while, in large schools, some must be wholly neglected. Wherever the (deputy) superintendents find this difficulty existing, they should not fail to point out its injurious consequences, and to urge a remedy by the adoption of uniform text-books as speedily as possible. To accomplish this, let the trustees, under the advice of the teacher, inspectors, and superintendent, determine what text-books shall be used in each study, and require every child thereafter coming to the school to be provided with the designated books. This very desirable uniformity may, perhaps, be facilitated by exchanges between different districts, of the books that do not correspond with those in general use, for such as do. For instance, in one school the great majority of spelling-books may be those of Webster, with some of Marshall's, while the latter may predominate in another district, in which there are also several of

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