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common schools have become so low that they cannot and will not place their children in them, so long as God gives them the means of affording them instruction in schools where their morals will be less endangered.
These parents know or ought to know -- we will not be fastidiously reserved, they do know it - that the common school will contine to be, for generations to come, the place where at least nine tenths of all public instruction beyond the family will be given; that on the character of these schools, despite of their neglect of them, depends the public sentiment; the moral atmosphere in which their children and grand children must, according to the common course of things, live and breathe; and that the first step they ought to take, even on selfish principles, if their selfishness is not bounded literally by their own dear selves without regard to their children, is to use their best endeavors to improve and elevate the common schools. The more they neglect them by sending their children to private schools, the worse they must become; or if not, it is no fault of theirs. They contribute all in their power to such a result.
In regard to improved districts,' the circular holds the following language, which, to some, may seem rather singular ; but which we believe will be found to contain more truth than poetry.
With regard to the multiplication of school districts, we think the plan recently adopted by several towns might be advantageously copied elsewhere. They have established one or two High Schools in central places, with competent masters,
for all the larger children who are within three miles of the house. Such a school is kept through the year, while the smaller children are instructed by females in the present districts. This plan takes the money now paid to several masters (whose board, wood and wages, soon exhaust all that is raised by any town,) and appropriates it to a permanent school. Thus our short lived, insufficient, and, we may add, expensive schools give place to one kept through the year by an accomplished and well prepared teacher. And we deem the difference between a transient, merely money-making master, and one whose heart and life are devoted to education, to be the difference between the meteor's random flash and the planet's steady light.'
The common notion that our children - puny and half formed and half spoiled as our pampered habits have often rendered them - cannot go so far to school as the plan involved in the foregoing paragraph seems to require, is certainly specious ; and we should not wonder if its currency should keep our towns, for some time to come, cut up into ten, twelve, fourteen — and in
Public Instruction in Vocal Music.
some few instances twenty or thirty — starveling districts. And we do not know, for ourselves, whether we could even subscribe to the plan, in all its features. We have no doubt, that for a time, all would go better, on that plan, than on the present. But we would fain hope that the time will come thanks to such spirits as are found, to some extent, even in old Plymouth
when it will be seen, by the most stupid apology maker, that it is not only for the intellectual and moral, but even for the pecuniary interest of the community to sustain schools within the present district limits. But perhaps our hopes are too high. If so, let the districts be enlarged. The health of our children will not suffer under the new system ; it will be improved. Let them walk three or four miles; it will invigorate body and mind; and both they and their parents will reap the benefit. Any thing — any measures not absolutely bad. - to rouse into life, on this important subject, a community which has a name to live, but is dead ; and which cannot be moved by the love of any thing but the love of money or - what money will buy — ease and pleasure.
MUSIC IN SCHOOLS.
[We have alluded, in a former number, to the introduction of vocal music into the public schools of Boston, and to the opposition it has met with from various quarters, especially from one or two editors of the public papers. The following article, from the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, of November 22, and coming, as it evidently does, from one whose opinion is entitled to respect, is worth more than the prating of a thousand of those editors of newspapers, who, though they set themselves up as judges on all subjects, sometimes know as little in regard to the matters of which they speak as they do of Latin, or Greek, or mathematics.]
As a Bostonian, I have been much interested in the proposed experiment of introducing musical instruction into the public schools, as a liberal measure, promising good results in several ways. But as a member of the profession, I regard it with interest in its hygienic relations to a numerous class of the community, and eventually to all.
• The circumstances under which children attending school are, by the necessary regulations, unavoidably placed during school hours, are very remarkable ; and although they have often ocIts Bearing on Health.
33 cupied the attention of the physiologist, are still too much neglected. Here we have children kept, for a fourth or fifth part of the twentyfour hours, as nearly motionless, so far as their bodies are concerned, as the efforts of the instructers, striving against the impatience of nature and of their inclinations, can make them. There are intermissions of this constraint, indeed, which are arranged as judiciously, without doubt, as the present system will admit. But these occasional outlets for the accumulated energies of the body, though invaluable, are not what we should desire. They are altogether too short to answer the desired end ; and, again, the impetuous and unnatural activity with which the interval is filled up, is as inconsistent with the perfection of the vital processes, as the opposite extreme.
The grand desideratum, therefore, if it be necessary to continue the time of confinement at school the same as now, must be something to relieve the dulness and oppressive inactivity of school hours on the one hand, and thereby moderate on the other hand the violence of excitement and exertion during play hours. This desideratum the introduction of singing promises, at least in some small measure, to supply. And the advantages of even a small acquisition in this way, if it become general (and for this I have no fear), will be incalculable. Nor will the gain of healthy exercise and relaxation be so small as we should at first
Under the circumstances of the schoolroom, the mere change of situation and object of attention is something; but that the absolute exercise — the consumption of nervous and muscular energy in even half an hour of disciplinary practice in singing is very considerable, no one will deny who is acquainted with the modern thorough mode of teaching. Few kinds of exertion call into action so much muscle at once as singing ; which brings into moderate action (these muscles being designed never to be exhausted, cannot be urged to violent effort) all the principal and auxiliary muscles of respiration. At the same time the viscera, both of the thorax and abdomen, are all subjected to a vigorous action in the highest degree salutary and natural. This must be a great relief and aid to the vital functions when embarrassed by the constrained positions of the schoolroom.
· Again, there seems notbing irrational in the position assumed by the advocates of singing, that it fortifies the lungs, when not already morbidly disposed, against disease; on the contrary, it is highly probable that the noted increase in their capacity, and the temporary vigor conferred by it, may be connected with a permanently improved development, by which fatal diseases shall be resisted,
Mr Palmer's Notions of Teaching Reading.
“We must add to these advantages of singing in schools, the peculiar manner in which it exercises and awakens the attention, and the pleasant, yet harmless exhilaration which it must afford, thus acting like a safety valve upon the animal spirits, otherwise waiting to explode in uproar and mischief. The moral effects which must follow in the execution of the proposed plan, from the union of voices in harmony as opposed to discord, well deserves attention ; but they cannot probably be fully appreciated till seen and felt. The subject at present might seem to be one of local interest only, but I conceive it to be far otherwise. I confidently look upon the experiment here as a starting point, from which will proceed results that will rapidly become as universal as they will be important in their bearings. And I earnestly hope that the attention of the profession generally will be directed to it as the germ of a more complete system of general education, in the future development of which they will be peculiarly called upon to give their aid.”
ONE READING BOOK IN A CLASS.
In giving our meagre sketch of the late Lectures before the American Institute of Instruction at Worcester, in No. 11, of the last volume, among other views of Mr Palmer, from Vermont, we noticed his suggestions on reading and writing. One book to a class,' he says, is quite sufficient. Let one read and let the rest hear. There is an advantage even in requiring the whole school, at times, to listen to a single reader. When one pupil has read “a sentence, or verse, or paragraph, the book may be passed to another, and so on.'
These views of Mr Palmer have attracted the attention of not a few individuals engaged in teaching, among whom is a teacher in Athens, in the state of New York ; from whose letter, received some time since, we make the following extract.
'If, by“ let the rest hear,” (v. No. 11, p. 486, Mr Palmer only meant to prevent a “ habit of inattention and mental wandering," I think he divests the exercise of half of its utility. I have seen one book to a class,” used, not only to induce fixedness of thought, but also, to elicit the corrections of the hearers.
'For instance, if one of the readers in a New Testament class should read the fifth verse of the first chapter of second Thessalonians in the following manner, “Which is a manifest token of the righteousness judgment of God,” &c.- one of the
Mistakes in ' School Keeping.'
hearers would immediately correct the reader by saying righteous judgment, &c. Again ; should another read. “In Haming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and they obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” one of the hearers whould immediately set him right, by saying, and that obey not, &c.
· Let no one say it is impossible to correct mistakes without a book; for I know that by a careful attention to the meaning of words, and to grammatical construction, it is quite possible.'
We are pleased with this little criticism, by our correspondent, of what he supposed to have been an error or rather an omission of Mr Palmer; but it gives us pleasure to be able to assure him that the omission was not Mr P.'s, but our own. Mr P. not only spoke of that particular advantage of the exercise to which our friend resers, but of many others. We were more willing to insert too few of his remarks, than to make wrong statements. The truth is, that the volume of the Lectures referred to will be published shortly, when the whole of Mr P.'s remarks, as well as those of the other lecturers, will appear in their own proper dress, and the public will then judge of their character for themselves. We greatly mistake if the single lecture to which we adverted, delivered by a plain, common sense man, with no pretensions to scholarship, or to much else except a head with a pair of eyes in it, will not be found richly worth, of itself, the price of the whole volume.
CONFESSIONS OF A SCHOOLMASTER. NO. VI.
[The following is in continuation of the series referred to in our last number. No. 5, which precedes this, will be found at page 538, of vol. vi.]
ONE serious mistake was made, this winter, which produced many unpleasant feelings among the inbabitants of the district; and which, had I not been in other respects generally acceptable, at least to the parents and masters of the pupils, might have destroyed much of my influence.
The hours for school were from nine to twelve in the forenoon, and from one to four in the afternoon. It was not uncommon, in those days, for people to complain of teachers that they did not keep their hours,' that is, did not teach their pupils the full sir hours prescribed. Indeed I believe nothing was more common, with many of our teachers, than to cut short the time a little.