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Injuring the Physical Frames of Children.
boys only. In factory villages, usually, a great proportion of the scholars are young; while, in one county in the State, great numbers of the males attending school, during the winter term, are more than sixteen years of age. To follow unvarying rules, therefore, would aggrieve as many as it would accommodate. But the principles to be observed, are few and capable of a definite exposition.
A living child cannot be expected to sit still, unless he has a support to his back, and a firm resting place for his feet. As a scholar sits upright in his seat, the knee joint forming a right angle, and the feet being planted horizontally on the floor, no pressure whatever should come upon the thigh bone where it crosses the edge of the seat. If obliged to sit upon too high a seat, a foot board or block should always be provided for the feet to rest upon
Children sometimes go to school at an age when many of their bones are almost as limber as a green withe, when almost any one of the numerous joints in the body may be loosened or distorted. They go almost as early, as when the Chinese turn their children's feet into the shape of horses' hoofs; or, when some tribes of Indians make their children's heads as square as a joiner's box. And, at this period of life, when portions of the bones are but little more than cartilage, and the muscles will stretch like sheep's leather, the question is, whether the seats shall be conformed to the children, or the children shall be deformed to the seats.
I am informed by surgeons and physicians, that a pupil, when writing, should face the writing desk squarely. This position avoids all unequal lateral pressure upon the spinal column, and of course all unequal tension of the muscles on either side of it. It also interferes least with the free play of the thoracic viscera, which is a point of great importance. The edge of the desk should then be an inch or two above the bend of the elbow, as the arm hangs nearly by the side. Any slight want of exact adjustment can be corrected, by extending the elbow farther from, or bringing it nearer to the body.
· The height of the seats and desks should of course be graduated, to fit the different sizes of the scholars; the smallest scholars sitting nearest the teacher's desk.
• The arrangement of seats without desks, for small scholars, when needed, is too obvious to require any explanation. Their proper position will depend upon the other arrangements of the school room. Long benches, having separate chair-shaped seats, but with a continuous back, are sometimes used.
The older and younger Children separated.
The place for hanging hats, bonnets, and so forth, will also depend upon the general construction of the house. It should be such as to encourage habits of neatness and order.
“The instructor's desk should be upon a platform, raised so high as to give him a view of the persons of the pupils above their desks. When the school is not large, it should be at the end of the room. It should overlook the play-ground. Cases for the deposit and preservation of the apparatus and library, should be near the desk, except where a separate apartment is provided. A teacher without apparatus—however numerous may be his books—is like a mechanic with but half a set of tools.
• The average number of scholars in the schools of Massachusetts is about fifty. When the school is large, there should be a separation of the older from the younger children, and the latter, at least, placed under the care of a female teacher. The opinion is almost universal, in this State, that female teaching for young children is, in every respect, superior to male. If the number of the older scholars be large, there should be a separate recitation room, and a door and an entry for the entrance and accommodation of each sex.
In very large schools, it may be thought expedient to have desks, sufficiently long to accommodate six or more scholars, with chairs, fastened to the floor for seats, and a space between the chairs and the next tier of desks, for passing in and out. In such cases, the desks may be placed longitudinally, and the teacher's platform for himself and assistants, extend the whole length of the room, in front of them.'
We have thus presented some of the principal views of the •Report before us, on the internal structure, &c., of School Rooms. There are many other things which it would be interesting to extract, and which we doubt not would be everywhere acceptable ; but we have already exceeded our limits, and excluded other subjects of almost equal importance. We may possibly recur to the Report in some future number.
Example of Foreign Nations.
RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION IN COMMON SCHOOLS.
There is, in many parts of our country, a prevailing, if not increasing prejudice against every form of religious instruction in our Common Schools, on the ground that its inevitable tendency is either to degenerate into an unmeaning routine of exercises, alike injurious to mind and soul; or what is still worse, into the mere inculcation of sectarian views and principles. Nor is this notion confined to those who care neither for sect nor for religion, although it may have originated with such. Not a few good men have fallen into this opinion. And the consequence has been the exclusion from our schools, in no small measure, of every form of religious instruction ; not only of the old fashioned forms of catechetical instruction once or twice a week, but of reading the Bible itself, and of prayer. We have even heard of individuals as eminent for piely as talent, talking seriously of a necessity, ere long, of leaving it to each sect to educate, in its own way, its own children.
Now there are few things which we should more seriously regret, than such an extension of sectarism as should result in the breaking up of our schools in the manner last suggested. We deem it indispensable to the best interests of every community, that its children-high and low, rich and poor, and those of every party and sect-should receive their district school education together. We cannot forbear, for one moment, the thought of so narrow and unrepublican-perhaps unchristian-a plan, as that of having each sect establish elementary schools for the exclusive use of its own children. In truth we cannot believe there is much danger of such a result. The danger, as we conceive, is from the other quarter. What is most to be feared is, as we have already said, the banishment of religious instruction from our schocl rooms, altogether.
It is not a little remarkable, that while the nations of the old world--Prussia, Austria, Great Britain, and even infidel Franceare introducing religion and religious instruction into their schools, as the foundation of every thing else, we, of the United States are practically, and in some instances with premeditation, excluding it. A more fatal mistake, in regard to the education of its youth, was never made by a christian people ;-a mistake, moreover, as unnecessary as it is fatal.
We are of the number of those who most fully and cordially believe in the necessity and the practicability of religious instruction in every school. We believe also, that such instruction may be given in such a way as to interfere with the pecuTeaching Conscientiousness.-Reverence.
liar views of no sect or party. To show the grounds of this belief, we propose, in this and another number, to notice several methods of making moral and religious impressions in a manner which do not involve the slightest necessity of approaching the bounds of the peculiar views of any sect whatever. .
1. By a most rigid conscientiousness, on the part of the teacher, and by teaching his pupils to regard the voice of conscience as the highest authority short of the Bible--as a voice of God within them, which it can be neither wise nor safe to disregard. But this teaching, to be successful, must be something more, as I have already intimated, than mere inculcation. The teacher must be, in this respect, a living example ; known and read by all his pupils.
Nor must he rest satisfied with yielding obedience, and thus teaching his pupils to yield obedience to conscience in the larger matters of life only. This monitory voice must be heard and obeyed in the smallest matters. This is indispensable every where; but if there be one place more than another where it is so, it is in the sacred place, whether the parlor or the school room, where human character is formed ;-and on the part of the wise parent and teacher.
Here arises a mistake. I have seldom, if ever, met with a parent or teacher, who did not admit the truth of the doctrines of the last paragraph ; and yet I have seldom, if ever, met with the individual who, in practice, governed himself accordingly. Most persons, even parents and teachers, conduct themselves, in all the little concerns of life, as if there was no right or wrong about them-as if conscience had nothing to do do within them. They forget, or at least forget to apply the great rule of Paul,WHATSOEVER YE DO, do all to the glory of God.'
But he who obeys conscience, from hour to hour, and from moment to moment, and who never slights her warnings for a single instant on any occasion whatever, especially when in the presence of those whose characters, for time and for eternity, he is formning ; he it is who, other things being equal, is doing most to lay the foundations of a moral and religious superstructure. It is in vain to build on the sand ; but his is worse than a sandy foundation,who hopes to build, where there is no conscientiousness as a basis.
2. Another method of religious instruction consists in speaking reverently and seriously, when in the presence of children of all serious things. The least levity, in regard to a serious thing or subject, will often undo more than can be done by the labor of many months. Not only should the sacred name of Deity, in all its forms, be regarded reverently, but all things else
A regard for the Bible.-Sincerity.
with which we have rightfully associated any of that reverence which belongs to the Deity ; such as the Sabbath, the Bible, the ordinances and truths of religion, death, judgment and eternity.
3. Every teacher should show a proper regard for the Bible. It is scarcely necessary to say that there may be a superstitious regard for this holy book, as well as a rational one. But there is a manner of treating it which cannot fail of making very favorable moral and religious impressions. It is not, indeed easy to illustrate the idea which we are now endeavoring to enforce. Let every teacher duly consider the subjectlet him recollect the author of the book, his character, his purposes in sending it, and our responsibility in receiving it, and it seems to us he cannot fail to perceive both the force and the bearing of the sentiment.
4. The teacher who aims to be a successful religious teacher, should be a truly religious man. It is not sufficient that he wear the drapery of religion ; it is not sufficient that he attend public worship, kneel or bow at the altar, and say, Lord, Lord ! unless he is in earnest. The world, especially the juvenile world, are eagle-eyed to discern and detect insincerity, wherever it exists; and as ready to despise as to detect it.
We have seen teachers who passed with the world, for religious men; and who doubtless thought they were so. They passed current with the world, we say ; yes, even with the juvenile as well as the adult world. That is to say, their pupils, who witnessed their words on the Lord's day, and at other times, could by no means refuse to them the general character of religious people. And yet they could see imperfection. They could and did discover a heartlessness in their conduct, whose impression was inevitable. We beg teachers to remember this; and to remember moreover, to beware with what intent' they approach the sacred place and sacred services, in the presence of those whose eyes are keener to discern things as they really are, than most of us are accustomed to suppose. We do not urge them to deepen the semblance of religious devotion, and a devotional spirit; for this would be to encourage a deeper instead of a less glaring hypocrisy. But we beg them to be what they and their pupils know they ought to be. We beg them to become humble and devoted worshippers of that God who is a spirit, and who requires that we should worship him in spirit and in truth, or else quit their vocation. The responsibility of a teacher or a parent is too weighty to be borne by any but the humble and the contrite ; they who are conformed, in all things, to the spirit and temper of Christ.