Page images
PDF
EPUB

226 Nature of the Proposed Improvements. It meets with unanimous and decided approbation, wherever it is presented to the consideration of the citizens.'

The following are some of the leading features of what Mr H. calls his American system ; and which he designates thus because he deems it applicable to the other States as well as to Pennsylvania.

'First. A superintendent of schools and lyceums, wholly devoted to their interests. At present, this office is accessary to another, whose duties are sufficiently arduous to occupy the time, thoughts and efforts of one individual.

Second. A corps of school visitors, and lyceum lecturers, or professors, who shall travel through the State, hold meetings, visit schools, communicate improvements, propose experiments, and aid teachers, schools and lyceums in all parts of the State in corresponding, exchanging, and otherwise co-operating with each other.

Third. Social lyceums, or sinall circles of neighbors, formed in all parts of the State for mutual improvement, especially on subjects calculated to qualify and improve teachers for their high and responsible profession.

These social circles would of course receive much instruction and other aid from the lecturers just named. By such aid, with their own efforts, they will be able to make rapid and thorough progress in various subjects of science ; greater by far than is ever made by nine tenths of the schools in our country, though occupied five or six days in a week in committing and repeating a few unmeaning lessons.

Fourth. School and lyceum cabinets, commenced by legislative provision, and continued and extended by collections and exchanges among the schools and lyceums themselves.

Fifth. A school depository, or building, among the other pubtic buildings in the metropolis, appropriated to the purposes of education and internal improvement. This to be the office for depositing, distributing and exchanging specimens, both of nature and art, among all the schools and lyceums in the State, aided and directed, of course, by the superintendent and visitors, as already proposed.

Sirih. A teacher's seminary, embracing the qualification of teachers, the practical education of children, and the manufactory of apparatus. In connection with the social lyceums and other arrangements proposed, one seminary, well endowed and furnished with the best talents and skill to be obtained in the country, would be amply sufficient for supplying all the schools in the State with first rate teachers-more and better teachers than twenty such seminaries could do by their own efforts merely.'

The Public Mind awaking.

227

In these two points, adds Mr H., this system would have a decided superiority over that in highly successful operation in Prussia.

'1. It would aim at, and be calculated to reach, a higher standard, than would be practicable in a system for elementary ed. ucation merely. By the lyceum department, it would embrace a greater variety of subjects, and extend those subjects further, than it would be possible for schools to do.

2. The plan of itineracy would give the system great power and efficiency, and render it pre-eminent for its economy. On no subject can a system of weekly or circuit teaching be applied with greater effect, than in some of the sciences, especially if they are applied to the common, daily business of life.

3. It would be eminently practical, or fitted for the purpose of farmers, mechanics and others, engaged in the productive operations of the country.'

This whole plan certainly looks well on paper, and we cannot but hope it will go into operation in Pennsylvania, at least as an experiment. But we are not so sanguine as to wish it at once to supersede the systems of Ohio, New York, and some of the Eastern States. We should greatly prefer to improve and adorn, and give efficiency to the systems already existing, whose excellency, in the abstract, seems tous sufficiently tested. Even in Connecticut,-stupid on the subject of education as a large fund distributed without conditions, has rendered the people, there is far less necessity of a new system, than of something superadded to the old, which should compel people to pay one or two dollars from their own pockets, as the condition of receiving their dividend of the avails of a fund. But we still say, let the experiment be made, and fully made in Pennsylvania. - We rejoice that wherever we turn our eyes, we find abundant evidence that the public mind is awaking to a great and long neglected subject-a subject of subjects--education. We like new things, and new measures, if they are good ones. Yet after all, what is now needed is not excitement, so much as direction. What is done in this matter, should be done well. The right direction of the juvenile mind and heart, is a matter of too much importance to be trifled with, or to be retarded by half way measures or half way efforts.

228

Physical Education.

SUMMER DISTRICT SCHOOLS.

(For the Annals of Education.)

[The following article is from a veteran in the cause of education; and whatever may be thought, in the result, is certainly entitled to the attention of our readers. We like to see the experience of teachers—the conclusions we mean to which their experience has conducted them-thus boldly announced, however strange they may seem to the unreflecting. Truth will at last triumph ; opinions to the contrary notwithstanding.)

How can physical and intellectual education be best conducted, unitedly, in our summer district schools?

Intellectual education has called into existence a system according to which it is conducted-observing certain rules and occupying certain hours daily. Physical education, on the other hand, has been left too much to instinct, appetite and circumstances. The importance of the subject has, however, of late, excited extensive inquiry. Much information and repeated admonitions have been communicated by the press. Manual labor institutions have been extensively established; Lancasterian and infant schools have made arrangements for calling into exercise the functions of the body; and a more correct practice, in this department of education, is found to prevail extensively, not only in this country, but in Europe. Indeed, nothing can be more obvious than the importance of securing the health and vigor of childhood. The corporeal system, if sickly and feeble, becomes open to the entrance of suffering. When fortified by the greatest strength, it is not unconquerable by time; but when weak and tortured by disease, it is most pitiable and frail. Health is the great auxiliary of the best feelings of the heart, as well as the best purposes of the mind ; while by the want of it the most benevolent desires, and the most commendable aims are defeated. The labors of the citizen, the benevolence of the philanthropist, the affections of the parent, and the good will of the christian, depend very much upon the corporeal strength, for the accomplishment of their objects. Thus it is seen, body and mind act together; and we believe the physical and intellectual education of the young should be conducted simultaneously and equally. Time is short, and it as true in relation to the physical as intellectual improvement of children and youth, that the

moment that is lost, is lost forever.' Hence we draw the inference, that the intellectual education of the mass of children should be so conducted, as uniformly to interfere as little as possible, with their physical improvement.

No provision for it.

229

On the other hand a consideration of the advantages of mental improvement, would lead us to the conclusion, that physical education should not be allowed to interfere unduly with that. The comprehensive aim should be, to secure not the greatest separate good of either body or mind; but the greatest united good of both-an amount of happiness and usefulness greater than an excessive cultivation of either body or mind could secure. A system of general education should be a system of mutual concession from body to mind, and from mind to body. This expression I use for convenience sake, rather than for any other purpose ; for I am not prepared to allow that to gain knowledge need to impair health ; nor that to consult health need to prevent the attainment of knowledge. The above reasoning leads us to repeat our statements that physical and intellectual education should be conducted simultaneously and equally.

Now almost the entire mass of our children pursue their elementary education, for a number of seasons, in our summer district schools. Hence the importance that these schools should be conducted, with equal reference to their physical, and their intellectual nature. In our present arrangement of them we think they are not so conducted. They commence at 9 o'clock, A. M., before which the exertions of childhood are but well begun-they continue till 4, P. M., when the activity of manhood as well as childhood is principally over. The time previous to 9, is interrupted by the necessary habits of life, and affords no unbroken portion long enough for those childish labors and rambles, which might otherwise be attempted. The intervals between school, are only sufficient for a few monotonous plays, for the most part in the dusty street, or about the door of the school house. The space after school is the last remnant of the day, and if interrupted by the usual meal, the child would almost have to run, to get out of sight of the paternal roof, and be governed by the habits of the family.

Thus the whole heart of every week day except one, is devoted to school. If the whole of education were obtained in the school room, this might be right; but nothing can be more defective than that education which is gained in one small room, while it should be sought from the whole compass of nature. But are the size and number of volumes used by children, such as to require this long confinement ? The study of Webster's Spelling book, it is well known, has generally lasted new beginners for years. Or do they employ five or six hours daily upon their books? They do not, on an average, probably, half that. Is this confinement practised to gratify their desire to be inactive ? Every one who has tried, knows how difficult it is to 230

[graphic]

New Division of the School Day.

keep small children quiet. Is then this active disposition of childhood, one of the most hurtful qualities which its health and happiness require to be conquered ?

This inquiry brings us to a very important fact in physical education—that activity as a means of health and growth, may be considered nearly as important as food. Its indispensable influence may be seen in its effect to impart strength to the body, and to promote the circulation of the blood. We believe the strength thus gained is necessary to constitute the quality of durability; so that it is not present health or freedom froin pain merely, that is to be aimed at ; but a fortitude to bear up under the hand of time, to endure the conflict, and to yield a late and honorable surrender to that universal conqueror. I am aware that these things are not new; but is it properly considered, that the discipline of a child in school, such as I have above described, is not calculated to fit him for the hardships of life? The same days when he is thus restrained, is the identical time, when he should be gaining that strength, which is to constitute the vigor of his manhood. Just as much as these school going days forbid his gaining that strength, just so much will his manhood be deficient in vigor.

But does not manhood usually require the full exercise of all the energies of the body? Then, as a preparatory discipline, let the bodily functions of childhood and youth be fully exercised daily, without overdoing. On the other hand, do not the mental occupations of manhood, fully exercise the mental energies, and sometimes even over-exercise them? Then, as a preparatory discipline, let the minds of children be fully exercised daily, without overtasking them.

Is it inquired how this is to be accomplished ? 1 reply let the day be divided between activity and study; let half of it be devoted to the mental, and the remaining half to muscular employments, suited to the age of the scholar. Let school commence as early as eight in the morning, and close at noon. Let the last half the day be allowed the pupils entire; to the older ones to engage in useful labor, the younger to wander off and have their rambles out ; to indulge their mechanical propensities, to construct their play wagons, water wheels, wind mills, &c. Let them have time and be encouraged to engage in those juvenile enterprises which the present arrangement of school hours tends to discourage-employments possessing interest to call forth their exertions, invigorating their health, and promoting their manliness and usefulness.

We think it just to compare the effect of our system of hours in common schools, to the influence of the confinement of stu

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »