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as large as Massachusetts, and only one tenth as large as New York.”
“Comparing the state of school education now, with what it was forty years ago, that is, before the school fund went into operation, there is a manifest advancement. At that period, nearly all the exercises of the village school consisted of reading, writing, and spelling, and arithmetic as far as the rule of three. English grammar, geography, history, and the higher parts of arithmetic, were almost unknown in these schools, but were supposed to be studies appropriate only to the superior schools or academies. At present the elements of geography, with maps are very generally taught in the common schools ; English grammar is taught to some extent, though for the most part, very imperfectly; and arithmetic is carried to a much greater extent than formerly. In a few of the common schools, a smattering of natural philosophy, of astronomy, and of history, is acquired. But while it is evident that the cause of school education has advanced since the creation of the school fund, it is equally clear, that the improvement has not been produced by the school fund. For the first twenty years after the establishment of that fund, the tone of school education was not raised at all. Reading, writing, and spelling, with a 1 ttle arithmetic, still embraced the whole encyclopedia of village learning. Had the school fund of itself wrought any important effects, they ought to have been visible within twenty years, after it went into operation; but at the end of this period, no such effects were manifested. We are compelled to conclude, therefore, that this grand provision, although it has defrayed nearly all the expenses of instruction, has contributed, in no perceptible degree to advance the cause of common education; but has wholly failed, hitherto, to secure to the State, the blessings reasonably anticipated from
“The money which was distributed to the several towns, just released the inhabitants from paying their schoolmasters out of their own pockets. It added nothing to the wages of the masters, and consequently held out no additional premium for higher talents and attainments. The schools still looked among their own alumni for their teachers, as none of higher qualifications could be bought for the sum at their disposal."
“Those who originally devised the plan of making this rich provision for common schools, expected great results from the “visiting committees," as they were called, which were appointed by every school society, to license teachers, and to inspect the schools. Very little good, however, has resulted from this organization. Of what avail is it to sit in judgment upon candidates who must, at all events, be had for $14 50 a month, the average wages paid for schoolmasters,) a compensation much inferior to what is paid to many day-laborers! And of what use is it to require able instruction from ignorant and incompetent teachers ? The tendency of such a system, manifestly is, to produce indifference and apathy in the public agents; and that tendency has, in a striking degree, led to its legitimate consequences.”
" The friends of education then in Connecticut, with chagrin and mortification, are forced to admit that their great school fund, so much vaunted, has hitherto done no good to the cause of education ; that it has only relieved a portion of our citizens from paying for the instruction of their children, while it has not in the least contributed to elevate the tone of instruction; that it has even probably done harm, by leading our people to undervalue what costs them nothing, and by creating a parsimonious feeling in regard to appropriations for the support of the cause of learning in general, in all its departments. As friends of popular education, we make this free confession, to show to other States, and to the world, that it is possible for a government to make large and munificent grants for the cause of education, without in the least benefiting that cause ; and in hope thus to exhibit the immense importance of giving a wise direction, by efficient and salutary provisions, to those ample means, which are accumulating in the new States of this Union, for securing and perpetuating the benefits of school education.”
Professor Olmsted then proceeds to inquire what with the aid of the school fund wisely managed, the state of school educa. tion in Connecticut ought to be, and how the required changes are to be accomplished. The two means suggested of effecting the change, are :
Ist, “ Time is to be gained by a better method of instruction, than is now practised in our schools.".
2d, “ The improved teachers are to be obtained through the medium of a seminary for teachers, to be erected and supported either wholly, or in part, out of the great school fund.”
The Lecture concludes with a a hope which we doubt not will be soon realized.
“While we fully admit the perversion of our ample means of common education, we may also indulge the hope that better times are at hand. During the last session of our legislature, the attention of the government was aroused to the importance of this subject, and a Board of Commissioners of Common Schools was appointed, consisting of ten distinguished citizens, whose duty it is to report to the legislature on the existing state of the common schools,--to suggest plans of improvement--and to appoint a secretary, who shall devote his whole time, if necessary, to ascertain the condition, increase the interest, and promote the usefulness of common schools. Such an officer has been already appointed, whose exertions, seconded by those of the Board, and sustained by the voice of the community, now beginning to feel the need of reform in our school system, will produce a happy era in our State.”
For the Annals of Education. ART. IV.-ON ATTENTION.
BY T. H. GALLAUDET. In the former number some subsidiary helps were mentioned, to be used in cultivating the power of attention, in connection with the higher motives which the principles and prospects of the religion of the Gospel afford. One more such help deserves to be noticed, as it is not always appreciated by parents and teachers, in the training of the youthful mind, as it ought to be. I refer to what I would call physical or muscular attention; that expression of the countenance, direction of the eye, attitude of the body, and general condition of the muscular system which are most favorable to attention of mind in its highest degree of exercise.
The connection between the mind and the body in this respect is very intimate. The etymology of the word attention indicates it. That act of the mind which it denotes, is accompanied with a certain tension, or stretching of the muscles ; and the more closely and fixedly we attend to any object, the greater is this tension,—always taking place in the muscles of the forehead and countenance, and not unfrequently affecting those of the whole body. Notice this sympathy between the mind and the body in a child, when there is presented to his regard some new toy or book that, on certain conditions, he is soon to call his own. See how quickly his muscles follow the movements of his feelings. He stretches himself upward and forward. He stands firm. He extends his arms and hands. His countenance is all eagerness. His eye is fixed on the object with an intense gaze. If well and cheerful, a relaxed state of the muscular system under such circumstances, is impossible. One of the laws of the union between mind and body forbids it.
Notice the same connection between attention of mind and the tension of the muscles, in the student at his desk, the lawyer at the bar, the divine in the pulpit, the artist or mechanic engaged in his profession, the soldier on parade, the sailor at his duty, and a popular assembly when they are under the influence of the orator. Just in proportion to the intensity and steadfastness of the mental interest in the object, will be the degree of muscular attention, if the body is vigorous in health, and buoyant in spirits.
A skilful performer may play well on a poor instrument, but he can produce vastly better music on a good one,-and the good one, too, must be in tune. The body is the instrument which the mind uses in its various movements; and this is emphatically true when it attends to any object. Then the muscular system is called into exercise, and its ready obedience to the mind, and its possessing prompt and easy habits of motion, are of great moment. Besides, the body re-acts on the mind. Habitually lively movements of the body have a powerful tendency to produce cheerful teelings. A smile on the features, even if made with some effort, has often been instrumental in dispelling gloom from the thoughts. Gentle tones of voice, adopted at the suggestion of conscience, operate sometimes like a charm to allay the risings of passion, and calm the soul. Frank, open, and graceful manners are not without an influence upon the heart. And, in a more striking degree do habits of muscular attention which the eye, the countenance, the limbs, and the whole body acquire, re-act upon the mind, and predispose and assist it in fixing itself without distraction or abatement of interest, intently and continuously, on any object which ought thus to engage its regard. How often do we have to resort to this expedient, by stretching ourselves into a more upright position, and giving tension to the muscles of the forehead, and fastening the eye in a fixed and steadfast gaze, in order to wake up and give vigor to mental attention, and how osten does the mind thus obey the law of its union with the body, and the wished for influence of the latter on the former produce the desired result.
If these views are correct, it should form an essential part of the training of our children and youth to cultivate in them habits of muscular attention. When listening to instruction, or reciting a lesson, or performing a task, they should not be permitted to indulge in lazy, lounging postures of body, unmeaning expressions of countenance, faint and languid tones of voice, and vacillating or heartless looks of the eye. These will all inevitably re-act on the mind, and produce there a listless and fickle attention. On the contrary, both in the family and the school, teach them to sit and stand erect; to plant the foot firmly on the floor when they come to recite; to brace up the body ; to look to the teacher; to fasten the eye upon him ; to catch clearly and immediately the words that he utters; and to speak, though not boisterously, yet in an animated, prompt, cheerful, and distinct manner. New life will thus be infused into the intercourse of the family, and the exercises of the school. Permanent good habits will be formed. The muscles adapied to the exercise of mental attention will acquire increased vigor by use. The exertion will become easy and pleasant. The instrument will be put and kept in tune, and the performer find both greater power and success in using it.
All this, too, will be a powerful auxiliary of good order and correct conduct. Break up in the family and the school, those awkward, indolent positions and movements of the body, and indifferent and careless looks, and dull, drawling modes of utterance which too often prevail, and introduce in their stead those habits of muscular attention which have been described, and much will be done to aid the parent and teacher in cultivating among the children entrusted to their care, a spirit of subordination, and of decorous and agreeable deportment. But to do this effectually, the parent and the teacher must set the example. They must be attentive, bodily, as well as mentally. They must, thus, let those whom they wish to educate aright, see that they are them