Page images
PDF
EPUB

adequate to its educational wants-not one which can The non-attendance upon any schools in our cities, is dispense with the necessity of expensive private schools confined principally to these classes : —not one which by creating a living public sentiment, 1st. The children of the reckless, the vicious and the a sort of moral police, in favor of education, includes intemperate, whose natures have become so debased the children of the rich and the poor in its embrace. that they are willing to abandon their offspring to the

Take for example the official returns for Hartford, chance education of the streets, or the demoralizing New-London, Middletown and Norwalk.

training of their own criminal and vicious practices. Number of persons between four and sixteen enu

With such cases, society ought, in self defence, to deal merated in 1838,

6345 with parental severity. Better for parent and for Number in attendance of all ages and for any

child, better for society in all its present and future relength of time,

3939 lations to such, to exert the power lodged in her collectAverage attendance, excluding 186 under four and orer sixteen,

2803

ed will, to prevent what she will one day be called upChildren in private schools,

2000 on to punish. For there is a moral certainty, that such Children in no schools, private or public,

1114 children, if allowed to grow up familiar only with sights Amount of School Fund dividend,

$9,556 25 and sounds of degrading and loathsome vice, and stranAvails of Town Deposite Fund and Local Funds, less than

$1,000 00 gers to those motives which ought to stir and guide huAggregale expense of private schools,

$10,000 00

man activity, will only follow the footsteps of their paThis table is a fair specimen of the condition of ed-rents to decds of darker dye. ucation in the populous districts and cities of the State.

2d. The children of the poor, the ignorant and the Other instances would only swell the aggregates, but negligent

. These can be reached by a vigorous public not effect the proportions. It shows the fact that school sentiment in favor of education, and by the watchful sumoney is drawn on nearly twice the number of chil- perintendence of school committees.' If district comdren who attend public schools—that the attendance mittces were but half as vigilant to see who was in as shown by the general average is irregular—that ow- school, as they are to get all on the enumeration list, ing to alleged or existing defects more than one eighth the ranks of the absentees would soon be reduced. of all the children are sent to private schools at more

In New-Haven there is a school for children of this than three times the expense of the public schools-and class, supported by several benevolent ladies, which is that nearly one sixth of all are in no school, public or

one of the most useful charities of our State. It is private. And yet from the ranks of such, if they are al- most desirable to have such children brought into the lowed to grow up without the restraining influence of public school, in order to give them self respect--but if the moral code which education institutes, will come sued in New-Haven should be adopted elsewhere.

circumstances will not allow of it, then the mode purforth the idle, the vicious, the criminal, to plunder, tax, Such schools should be recognized as district schools, or wound society in its peaceproperty and happiness. But these evils will not be confined to the cities where so as to receive the advantage of the public money. they spring and are fostered. They are spread out

3d. Apprentices and clerks. These compose a very over the whole State to carry woe, poverty, crime and numerous portion of what would be the senior class of expense to communities which may have made adequate our public schools—those who from the haste of parents provision for the education of all the children within or their own necessities, are hurried into the workshop their own limits. Hence the moral importance of our lv educated, so as to love study for its own sake, have

Now if they have been properlarge towns and cities in the social and civil economy learned to read with a facility that is itself a pleasure, of the State cannot be over estimated. The evils resulting from imperfect systems of education here must be and above all

, if they have attained the true end of ed? guarded against. The same principles of supervision, ucation, which can be attained as well in a common however well they may be found to work in the conn school as in a college or an academy, the power to ubtry, cannot be safely calculated on in the city. The serve, to reflect, to compare, to judge, to adapt means same reliance cannot be placed on the obligation of pa- to onds, then they can convert their trades and their rental duty in reference to the education of children. For employments into the instruments of their own self cdthe results show, that though the State provides the ucation. means of common school education with an unprece- deem it very important that evening schools should be

To meet the wants of this large class of our cities, I dented liberality,--still large numbers of ignorant, unfortunate, vicious, or negligent parents will be found in established. I am aware that after the day's toil, such our cities

, whose children will remind them rather of persons will bring with them but little of that freshness physical wants to be supplied, food, clothing, lodging, But on the other hand, I have found that many of this

of mind and body so necessary to progress in study. of all those things which concern the present in its lowest sense, than of the wants of the mind, of that moral class, whom the accidents of life, or the haste of parents and mental culture necessary to fit them for present use have hurried into active business, will gladly avail themfulness and immortal destinies.

selves of any and every means of improvement. Such Hence the means provided must be sufficient to keep means should be furnished by the opening of evening the school open the year round the superintendence schools and the establishment of school libraries

. The required every where, must here be more direct, con advantages of such schools should be made available to stant and efficient-and the instruction communicated

all over twelve years of age. be such as to induce, not only from its cheapness but its

4th. There is still another class who are among the quality

, the large majority of parents to send their chil: absentees from schools—I refer to colored children.-dren to the public schools, and thus create a public tion return. Why then should not the district or soci

There is no reluctance to include them in the enumeraopinion, active and interested, in favor of education.

ety, or city authorities see to their education? Their

[ocr errors]

education would be cheaper to the community than their brace manufacturing establishments, are constituted a crimes and vices, which are the offspring of neglect and board of visiters to ascertain annually, in the month of ignorance. While the blacks constitute but one twenti- January, or some other time by them appointed, whetheth of our population, they furnish about one sixth of er the requisitions of this act are duly observed, and if all the crime of the State. It costs the State annually, not, it is made their duty to report such neglect to the to prosecute and convict the colored inmates of the pris- next County Court. on alone, a sum sufficient to educate nearly all the col The amount of intellectual instruction thus secured, ored children of the State between the ages of four and or aimed at to be secured by the law for every child, sixteen. Separate schools for this class of children ex- is small enough; and under proper teaching, can be ist in Hartford, and perhaps elsewhere. They should communicated in a very short period. There may be opened in all our" large cities. There is, I should not be a child without this degree of instruction in any think, power enough already in the school societies to manufacturing establishment in the state. . And yet I do this. If not, for these and other purposes, cities am not able to learn that, in a single town, the proper should be clothed with the power of school societies. board of visitation established by the act above referred

Second, non-attendance at school in manufacturing, to, has been organized to ascertain the facts in the case. districts.

The returns show, that there are grounds for inquiry. Next to our cities, the largest number of children not And the interest of the children,--the honor and happiin attendance on any school, public or private, is found ness of the State, are involved in a criminal negligence in the districts in which are located factorics and man of the education of any who are so soon to become the ufacturing establishments. The comparative cheap- fathers and the mothers, the jurors, witnesses, electors ness of the labor of females, and of children, where it of the State. It will be but a poor glory for Connectican be resorted to at all, has led to its extensive intro-cut, to be able to point to her populous and industrious duction into factories, to the exclusion as far as possible, manufacturing villages as the workshops of the Union, of the more costly labor of men. From a statement in for so many articles of luxury, comfort, or necesa report to the legislature of Massachusetts, a few years sity, if they are also to become blots upon her moral since, it appeared that more than 200,000 females are and intellectual character. employed in the various manufacturing establishments It is due to the proprietors of these establishments, to of the United States. Most of this number are young - say, that as far as my own personal knowledge extends, many are still of the proper school age. In this single they are anxious to afford every opportunity for the fact, are involved considerations of the most weighty social, moral and intellectual improvement of those in character, as to the influence of such establishments their employ. Several of the most commodious school which have grown up all about us, and from the pecul- houses in the State are to be found in those villages, iar advantages of Connecticut, are likely to increase Evening schools have been opened, and school libraries still further, upon the future destinies of the State and given to the district. But much more remains to be the country. One thing is clear, from the experience done. of the past, both at home and abroad, that about such

6. LENGTH OF WINTER SCHOOLS. establishments will always be gathered a large number of parents, who either from defective education in them The law does not enforce the keeping of the schools selves, or from the pressure of immediate want, or from for any prescribed period, or declare directly that it the selfishness which is fostered by finding profitable shall be kept open both in summer and winter. The employ for their children, do not avail themselves of language that the schools must be visited twice “ during the means offered by the State, and not unfrequently cach season of schooling," would certainly imply that increased by the liberality of the proprietors, to secure it was to be kept in summer and winter. Such, howev. an education for their children. In addition to these in- er, is not the understanding, or the practice. Several fluences, the self interest of proprietors is a temptation districts have been returned as having no school the constantly operating to withdraw children of both sex- past winter ; and I know of many more, in which no es at too carly an age from the school room, to the em- school was kept during the summer.

In many, the ployment of the factories, which, if always healthful, are summer schools are not regarded as public; so far, at not the proper training ground for the moral and men- least, that it is not thought necessary to comply with tal habits of the future men and women of the State. the law in reference to visitation.

The strong conviction that such would be the results In the 1218 districts returned, the average length of of the negligence, the necessities, and cupidity of pa- the winter school is 18 weeks. Deducting that class rents on one side, and the self interest of employers on of schools which are kept the year round, or 24 weeks the other, led to the passage of a law many years since, for the winter, the average is less than 17 weeks. to secure the instruction of children employed in facto- I have not the means of ascertaining the average length ries and other manufacturing establishments. By that of the summer schools for 1838. But supposing it to act, the proprietors of such establishments are compel. be the same as in 1837, it will give an average of 8 led to see that the children in their employ are taught months for the year. to read, write, and cipher, and that due attention is

is If this is correct, it would scem that we have not paid to the preservation of their morals. And for neg- made much advance in this particular, in these latter lect in these particulars, the County Court, on a proper days of the republic. So early as in 1769, “ each town presentation of the subject, and proof, are authorized to of 70 families must maintain one good and sufficient impose such fine or forfeiture as they may consider just school for at least 11 months in the year." And those and reasonable. To secure the observance of this act, of less for at least six months in the year. So late as the selectmen and civil authority of such towns as em-1827, when an examination was made into the condi

tion of our schools, it appeared that the schools were but leads to the breaking up of regular habits of study, kept on an average about 8 months of the year. Since which will be felt in the whole future life. 1827, the dividends from the School Fund have advan-b In the second place, it leads to the perpetual and exced from 72,449,75, to 104,060,00, and within the last pensive change of school books, so much complained of, i two years, the several towns have realized at least and so justly complained of, by parents. Every teach 1 $22,000 more from the Deposite Fund, making the ag- er has his favorite text books, and is naturally desirous gregate receipt of public funds $53,000 more than it of introducing them wherever he goes. And as there was in 1827, or nearly twice the amount on every child is no system adopted in relation to this subject in any between 4 and 16. And yet the length of the school society, he usually succeeds in introducing more or less term has not been prolonged more than two weeks. of them into every school. The money now expended

Before leaving this topic, I would mention that the in the purchase of new books, caused by the change of winter schools commence at so late a period, that the teachers, would go far to continue the same teacher best portion of the school season is lost

. Out of the another month in the same school. Thus the district 1218 districts returned, 194 only, commenced in Octo- might practically gain, without any additional expense, ber, 646 in November, 339 in December. This is two months schooling each year, by employing the owing to the delay or neglect of the district committee same teacher year after year. to procure a teacher, and in consequence of this, too often one of inferior qualificaitons is forced upon a common schools nearly all those who have decided to

In the third place, this practice excludes from our district.

make teaching a profession, and drives them, almost as 7. TEACHERS.

a matter of course, into private schools or academies, The whole number of teachers employed in the 1218 Out of the 1292 teachers employed, only 100 have been districts returned, is 1292, of which 996 are males, and engaged in teaching for more than 10 years; and of 296 females. The excess of teachers above the num- this number a large proportion have only taught in the ber of districts, is owing to the employment of assist- winter. But this evil is aggravated by ihe inadequate ants, principally female, in the same schools, or the di- compensation which is given. vision of the district into two departments, under teach The average rate of wages for male teachers is ers independent of each other. This is done in some $15,48 per month, exclusive of board ; for female districts under a special act of incorporation ; in others, teachers, $8,33. This includes the very liberal salathe practical advantage of the course has led to its ries paid in some of our large cities and districts, for adoption, without much inquiry into the legality of the teachers permanently engaged. Leaving them out of practice. It is uniformly admitted in those districts the estimate, the average rate will be somewhat rewhere the practice has been adopted, that the schools duced. are better off than they were before. And I can add, « It is time for every friend of improvement in our that in such districts are to be found the best schools of common schools to protest against the inadequate and the State.

disproportionate compensation paid to female teachers. The proportion of male to female teachers would be I have no hesitation in saying, that in the schools which reversed in the summer schools The great ambition I have visited, the female teachers were as well qualiin many districts seems to be to have a “man's school” fied, as devoted to their duties,' and really advanin the winter, and a “woman's school” in summer. ced their pupils as far as the same number of male

Most of the teachers employed the past winter, have teachers. Let but a more generous appreciation of the not taught the same schools two successive seasons. value of their services as teachers, especially in the priOut of 1292 teachers returned, but 341 have taught the mary departments, prevail— let the system be so far same school before. Omitting those who are engaged \modified as to admit of their being employed more exfor the whole year, as permanent teachers, and the num- tensively than now, not only in the summer, but the ber is less than 240. And these were not engaged in winter schools, and, as far as possible, for the year the summer, but only for the winter. In this single round, and a new and happy impulse would not only fact is found an explanation of many of the acknowledg- be felt, in the more thorough intellectual training of ed defects in our schools.

youth, but in the improved manners and morals of sociIn the first place, nearly one month of the school is ety. As it is now, that class of females best qualified, practically lost in the time consumed by the teacher in by having enjoyed the advantages of superior and exgetting acquainted with the temper, wants, dispositions, pensive schools, cannot be induced to enter the common and previous progress of his various pupils, with a view schools as teachers, on account of the inadequate comto their proper classification, and to the adaptation of pensation, and the unnecessary difficulties and inconhis own peculiar modes of government and instruction. veniencies connected with the employment. If the State By the time the school is in good progress, the scholars would but furnish an opportunity for a numerous and begin to drop away, the school money is exhausted, most deserving class of young females, who are forced and the school dismissed. After a vacation of unneces- by their necessities into the corrupted atmosphere and sary length, as far as the recreation and relief of the unhealthy employments of our workshops and factories, children are concerned, the summer school commences to prepare themselves for teaching, and then remove with reduced numbers, under a less vigilant supervision, the obstacles in the way of their being employed to the with a poorly compensated teacher, to go through the best advantage, an untold amount of female talent and same course as before ;-and so on from year to year. usefulness, now in part wasted, or if employed even at The loss of time consequent on the change of teachers, better compensation, at least to a far less useful purpose, and the long intermission between the two seasons of would be enlisted in the so much needed work of mouldschooling, not only retards the progress of the school, ing the childhood and youth of this State and nation.

This is a field in which practical and immediate im-ted to teaching as a profession. No wonder that so provement can be made. Fitted by nature, education, many who have the requisite talents and general inteland the circumstances of society with us, for teachers, ligence, fail in meeting the just expectation of parents, our law should be framed, so as to encourage and ad- because they have not made the human mind, with all its mit of their more general and permanent employment. capabilities, and the best method of governing it and Schools of a higher grade than the common district regulating its culture, a study, and acquired facility in school as it exists, should be established, as well for the work from practice. No wonder that so many of other purposes, but especially with a view of adapting them feel estranged from their business, on account of the studies there to the better education of females than its unexpected perplexities, arising from their inexperican now be given. This is one of the most serious ence. No wonder that so few exhibit but little of that deficiences of common school instruction. It is not ambition to excel, and build up a reputation as a teacher, adapted to form and cultivate a sufficiently high stand- which is absolutely necessary to raise the character ard of female character. This want can be supplied, of the profession. No wonder that so many who have and is in some measure supplied, to the daughters of the resorted to the occupation as a temporary employment wealthy, by our many excellent, but expensive female for the winter, or for the purpose of providing the seminaries. But these are practically closed to two means for completing their professional, academic, or thirds of the community. This is a topic so intimately college studies, manifest quite as much interest in the connected with our future advance in all that consti- progress of school hours, as bringing the season to a tutes the true civilization and refinement of a people, close, as in advancing their scholars in intellectual and that I would gladly pursue it further. But I must leave moral attainments. No wonder that in some instances, it here.

at least, the school should present hardly a single feature To give the additional qualification, one or more of improvement at the close of the season, beyond what seminaries, for female teachers, with model schools it exhibited at its opening. And who can measure the attached, should be provided, free, as far as tuition precious hours wasted, the bad intellectual habits acis concerned, and so located as to admit of their find- quired, even in the course of the past year, from the ing profitable employment for a small portion of the employment of teachers whom nature and study never time to meet the incidental expenses of their residence intended for that holy work? there, without retarding their improvement.

Such are some of the circumstances complained of Thus prepared with the requisite general informa- more or less generally all over the State, and which I tion, and the specific training for the work, female have found actually existing in not a few districts. teachers could enter our schools with far better chances On the other hand, it is due to teachers to say that, of success than now. But to get the full benefit of as a class, their qualifications, viewed in reference to their peculiar talents, they should be employed, where the union of talents and virtues essential to form a first it is practicable, in the same school, so as to bring it rate teacher, and the more profitable and honorable, under the combined influence of a male and female (so far as the estimation of the public is concerned,) teacher ; or, if this cannot be, in the appropriate work fields open for such talents and virtues, are altogether of unfolding the youthful intellect.

in advance of the compensation they receive, or the This arrangement, even if it were secured at an ad- provisions which are furnished for their preparation. vance of one half of their present wages, would not Besides, their ability to do good in the school room is only be a good in itself, but, by dispensing with the ser- defeated, in a great measure, by the want of co-operavices of so large a number of male teachers, as is now tion on the part of school officers and parents. They required, would leave increased means to be applied to complain, and with justice, that no adequate steps are the compensation of a smaller number, for a longer term. taken by either to make the school room healthy, com

But whether these or similar considerations are acted modious, and agreeable to the scholar--that no suffion or not, a larger compensation must be given to cient supply of suitable books is provided, and that not teachers, and they must be engaged for a longer time, unfrequently an application for this purpose is met by or all hope of improvement in our schools must be uncivil answers—that the authority of the teacher is not abandoned.

properly sustained by the parent, but on the other hand, The best teachers in the state find this compensa- it is, in many instances, openly opposed, and not unfretion, and the longer term of employment, now, in pri- quently its just exercise leads to the withdrawal of · vate schools and academies, and of course there their children—that the punctual and constant attendance of services are commanded. Like every other article, good scholars during school hours is not secured, but is deteaching has its marketable value, and the public cannot feated by some paltry excuse or errand—and that bcexpect to get first rate teaching at a second rate price. sides all these grounds of complaint, parents do not But this is not all. The present practice discourages visit the school room, and by their presence and soulpersons of the proper character as to talents and virtue, cheering sympathy, excite the zeal of their children, from preparing themselves for this work. What induce- and animate and encourage the teacher in duties and ment is it for a young man to become a teacher, if the trials, which are, under any circumstances, delicate, average rate of wages does not exceed $10 per month, numerous, arduous, and constantly recurring. exclusive of board? There is not any kind of active I could name several teachers who commenced their employment which yields so poor a return.

labors with high hopes, and the loftiest purpose of deIt is not surprising, under these discouraging cir- serving and attaining success, who broke down under the cumstances, that so many teachers with insufficient pressure of such manifold discouragements; and with qualifications are found in our schools, or that so few their flagging zeal fled the spirit, and interest, and procompared with the whole number employed, arc devo- gress, of the scholars.

8. BRANCHES TAUGHT.

course of public instruction, is now generally conceded. As stated before, the law prescribes no course of

In looking at the books returned, you will notice study for the district schools. In all the winter schools some important omissions. There is not a single work from which returns have been received, spelling, read- which gives a sufficiently intelligent account of the prining, arithmetic, and writing, are taught. In nearly all, ciples of our free institutions, of the duties of public offisome instruction is given in geography, history, and cers, and of the relation which every citizen sustains to grammar. In a few of the larger districts, natural phi- the state. A good class book on this subject, particulosophy, book keeping, chemistry, algebra, and composi- larly adapted to this State, is needed. tion, are pursued by some of the most advanced pupils.

There is an entire omission as to what relates to There are still other branches, such as geometry, trig- physical education. The first principles of physiology onometry, rhetoric, mental and moral philosophy, properly taught, and familiarly illustrated, would be of Latin, &c., attended to.

immense service to society. Several show a course of study almost as complete as

The whole field of moral education is almost abana university. They have the advantage, in point of doned. The Bible, or the New Testament is found in cheapness, that they require but one professor, at a

almost every school, and where used as a reading book, salary not exceeding one hundred and fifty dollars a will necessarily carry along with its daily use much

moral instruction. But the tendency of the present year.

From the silence of the law on this subject, in refer- course of instruction is to give undue precedence to ence to the district schools, and its expressly declaring the intellectual developement, omitting, if not checking, the object of the schools of a higher order” to be, “ to give discretion, I am aware, must be used in this branch

growth and expansion of the moral feelings. Much instruction in English grammar, composition, geogra- of education, and poorly qualified teachers frequently phy, and the learned languages," and requiring of pupil before he shall be admitted to such school, that he do more harm than good by their ill advised methods. should have passed through the ordinary course of Still, the indispensable nesessity of the case requires instruction in the common schools,” some districts that the science of morals should form an essential part have objected to the introduction of any thing but spell- of every child's instruction. No child should grow up ing, reading, writing, and arithmetic, into the school: to the responsibilities of active life, to the exercise of and have denied to the school visiters, the right of re- all his rights

, and to the discharge of all his duties, as a quiring the teacher to pass an examination in any other. citizen, and a member of society, a stranger to those Without expressing any opinion on the validity of this motives which ought to guide and govern all human construction, or the wisdom of employing a teacher activity. with only so much knowledge as he is required to com

I have made these brief suggestions because I think municate, or in limiting the attainments in common

the condition of education in our common schools de. school education to such narrow grounds, I am free to mands it. The course of instruction there will be radically say, that the variety of studies introduced into by far defective, unless it embraces the harmonious developethe greatest number of schools, is a serious practical ment of the whole nature of the child,—the physical, evil. Ranging, as the course too often does, from the intellectual, and moral powers; and till it shall all end first rudiments of language up to the higher branches in a preparation for the real business of life,not for of mathematics, it distracts the attention of the teacher, any particular pursuit, but for any and every pursuit. prevents proper classification, leads to a smattering ac

But if our schools are to remain as they are,

,-if the quaintance with many branches, and too frequently to a present system is to be rigidly adhered to,-if but one shameful neglect of the foundation of all sound cduca- teacher of inadequate qualifications is to be employed, and tion, correct spelling and reading. This last is

at the cheapest rate, for pupils of every age, and of every omission complained of by teachers in our academies and degree of proficiency, then, instead of adding to this large colleges, as existing in a large number of their pupils

, circle pursued, it should be reduced, and the attention of whose primary instruction was received in the district the teacher confined to the primary branches. True, schools.

these branches would not be education, even in its limitOn the other hand, scarcely one of the studies which ed sense, but they would become far more efficient inhave been enumerated as pursued in any school of the struments of education than now. state, ought to be omitted in the course of common

9. SCHOOL BOOKS. school education.

No express provision is found in our school law in Book keeping, for instance, is an acquirement of so reference to school books. The regulation of this subobvious utility that it should be taught to a much great-ject is generally considered as belonging to school visiter extent than it is now. Its acquisition requires ers. , I know not of a school society where any very but little time, and can be connected with the instruction decisive steps have been taken. Not one has returned in arithmetic and writing.

a uniform set of class books as in usc in all the schools Composition, the expression of one's thoughts in clear under the supervision of the same committee. On the and correct language, especially in its application to other hand, not only is there a great variety in the difwriting of familiar or business letters, ought not to be ferent schools of the same society, but not unfrequently omitted.

a specimen at least of all these varieties is found in each Vocal music, as an instrument of discipline in the school. school—as a source of innocent recreation in the whole The returns on this point are not complete. They future life, and a part of family or public worship, is still show, however, that there are more than 200 different now taught in some of our schools, with great success; school books used in the several studies pursued ; viz: and the importance of its constituting a part of every 12 in Spelling, 60 in Reading, 34 in Arithmetic, 21 in

an

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »