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the skill and tact of the teacher in bringing together all the elements that can be combined and in providing in the most efficient manner for the exceptional studies that often range from the primer to rhetoric and physics. In schools that are classified, there is often no little waste in. the excess of machinery and multiplicity of rules. We criticise here with great caution, for every military man and every presiding officer in a deliberative body and every experienced teacher will tell you, and tell you truly, that many rules have borne the test of time as a means of rapid and efficient labor that, to the inexperienced, seem useless or burdensome.


But, after all, there is too much tendency in large, well-classified schools and colleges to make the machinery of government cumbersome, so that the rules become such a weight upon the student as to depress the mind and repress that spontaneity of individual action so essential to the healthy growth and development of the intellect. Just as soon as a student feels that, instead of being dealt with personally, he is only part of a great machine, that is controlled and worked as a whole, much of his individual responsibility is lost, except to do his part in the machine. Personal responsibility, constant, as though no other student were associated with him, is the true condition of development; and, unless you secure that condition fully, much of the student's time and strength is wasted, and your own strength is wasted in managing the machine, which, when the school dissolves, is worthless. Machinery is as essential in a school as in a cotton-mill, but the simplest machinery possible that will accomplish the work is best in both. Simplicity and directness are doubly essential in a school, because you are dealing with living beings, and it is the contact of the living teacher with the pupil in the whole process of education that arouses activity and makes every germ of knowledge quicken to the fullest development. This is no plea for lax government; for the teacher who cannot govern promptly and perfectly wastes a large portion of his time and strength directly, and does mischief enough to the character of his pupils to overbalance any learning he may impart to them.


Another source of waste is the copying of old mistakes and absurdities in text-books and methods of instruction and government simply because they are venerable and have been practiced or recommended by those who have been famous in the work of education. We can hardly illustrate this point fully without danger of troubling some one who has written a book or who still clings to some school-tradition that might be denounced. We must be content with stating the principle and giving one or two illustrations. The Linnæan system of classification of plants was a purely artificial

system, understood to be so by its great author, and yet such was the prestige of a name, and so persistent the custom of copying, that this system held its place in our text-books and schools long after it might have been displaced by a natural system that represented botanical truth.



The early morning prayers, as formerly conducted in many colleges, were an example of the absurdities even wise men will accept from custom. Students were called out of bed before it was light, on cold winter mornings, to hurry to a chapel without fires, and then pass to the recitation-room to recite by the dim light of oil-lamps.

The ill-temper of the students found expression in rebellions and attacks on chapel and recitation-rooms. And yet it was very difficult to change this old custom, handed down from the dark ages, a custom injurious to health and good morals and opposed to common sense.


There are two sources of waste in educational labor over which the teacher has but little control. The first is the natural stupidity of scholars, who find their way into every school and college. It is no waste of labor to spend time on dull scholars, if we attempt to teach them only what they are capable of learning and what it is essential they should learn. They are entitled to extra labor, as are the deaf and blind. But the mischief is, stupid students are often forced, by their parents or by their own orer-estimate of their powers, into classes where they are a dead-weight upon the movements of all connected with them. The exhaustion that comes to the faithful teacher from daily lifting and pulling and encouraging and driving such students is known only to those who have toiled long and seen their efforts as useless as attempts to warm snow or make the blind see by describing colors. Book-learning is not the forte of all men. And while some men attempt only those things for which they are well fitted, others are constantly attempting those things for which they are entirely unfit. Their life is a failure because they never understand their own capabilities. Almost every college has students who would make good business men, good specialists in some science, perhaps, but for whom an attempt to acquire a college education means a great waste of time and effort on their part, a waste of strength and patience on the part of their instructors.


There is a second hinderance from parents that interferes with every teacher's work; this is their encouragement to irregularity in schoolduties. It is marvelous what a number of marriages and special occa. sions occur in some families, as an excuse for taking sons and daughters from school. The sons of some families are almost constantly absent at the beginning of the term. The parent sends an excuse which every teacher feels is no excuse. The student is injured by the loss and the whole class feels the effect. If the lessons are missed or made up there is waste of labor for the teacher, which he can illy afford. His work is hard enough at best, and thus to load him with extra work or depress him by rendering his labors, term after term, defective, through the caprice of the student and the ignorance or inconsiderateness of the parent, is a misfortune to him and a shame to the offenders.


I have but two points more to make, and these relate especially to the teacher. There is failure to secure energetic work and the best re. sults from lack of enthusiasm. Without this no teacher can have the best success, however learned and faithful and hard-working he may be. Enthusiasm is the heat that softens the iron, that every blow may tell. Enthusiasm on the part of the teacher gives life to the student and an impulse to every mental power. It gives the work of the schoolroom a quickening impulse, and by this impulse makes the student a gatherer wherever he goes. It gives to the student independent power; power to go alone. When this is accomplished, there is no more waste in lifting, dragging, or driving. It was the enthusiasm of Linnæus that filled his lecture-room with students from all parts of Europe, and then sent them over the world to gather new treasures for themselves and their master. It was the enthusiasm of Agassiz that clothed the commonest things with new life and beauty; that charmed every listener and transformed the aged and the young, the ignorant and the learned, into joyful learners. Another man, with the same learning, the same devotion, and equal labor, might not accomplish one-tenth as much, because he failed to enkindle that interest that quickens every mental power and lights the fire of latent genius, which, once enkindled, reveals to its possessor truths far beyond the range of those whose minds have never been touched by this life-giving power of enthusiasm. It is said one loses this enthusiasm after a while. Then he ought to stop teaching. If he cannot grow enthusiastic presenting the plainest rules of arithmetic and Latin for the fiftieth time to a new mind, then he is unfit for his work, and should spend his strength on stone or clay, which can only yield to force, but never take form at the mere glow of enthusiasm in the worker.


But, last of all, there is a waste that brings loss and sorrow to the world. This is neglect of moral and religious instruction in connection with intellectual training. Who are the men who are causing hu.

manity to blush by their dishonesty and corruption, poisoning the world at the same time that they are cheating it and astounding it! Why, men who are educated, but who despise the slow methods of honest gain and reject the old-fashioned morality of the Bible. There must be a searching for the foundations; and that instruction or that education which does not make prominent justice as well as benevolence; lar as well as liberty; honesty as well as thrift, and purity of life as well as enjoyment, should be stamped by every true educator as a waste and a curse; for so it will prove in the end.

We understand the importance of our work, the value of mental and moral culture. We see the inviting fields that call the student to labor and the waiting world that needs his time and the strength of his best cultured powers. Let us see to it that no old notions, no routine of duty, no shrinking from work or responsibility shall spoil our harvest, so that at last we shall look back on a waste of energy and time. Let us work while the day lasts, with our might. Let us see that all our work is of the best kind. Let us train our students for the study, for the family, for the state, for the world. If we send them forth with the ability to labor, with a love of truth and justice, and with a spirit of selfsacrifice, our work will be a blessing to them and to the world.




No. 5–1875.




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