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Mistakes of a Correspondent. that it is so—that all our ministers ought to use from two to four hours of agricultural or horticultural exercise, every day, during the summer, and some sort of exercise in the open air, at all times and seasons. The Christian Watchman and Zion's Herald, both of this city, have contained, from time to time, articles which had this bearing; and we have seen essays on the subject from various quarters. We do hope, most ardently, as well as believe most sincerely, that the day is not distant when no professor in our literary institutions will be found making the narrow, meagre stateinent, that “a proper education for a minister of Christ,' should be such as will, at the same time give him the most perfect command of his mental powers, and furnish him with the largest amount of useful knowledge.'
BOSTON PRIMARY SCHOOLS.
[We are under much obligation to the individual who has fur. nished us with the following article for our pages ; and who has labored so zealously to set us right, in regard to supposed errors. We have-as we trust the writer of that article has--but one object; which is to make known the truth. We have no pre. judices--how can we have?-against the Boston Primary Schools; and in so far as our own statements were incorrect, we are truly glad to have them corrected. Yet, after all, we wish our correspondent could have found a more pleasing task than that of attempting to exonerate the School Committee, in regard to their school hours, and complain of the City Government. We had hoped, when we began to peruse the article, thirt he was going to prove, or at least attempt to prove, that our statements in regard to the condition of the schools were themselves erroneous ; instead of confirming those statemenis, or at least substantially doing so by his own confessions. That the Boston Primary School Houses, are, in many instances, and in many respects, sadly deficient, is beyond debate. We are glad so much has been done, in relation not only to them, but for the improvement of school books, and for the advancement of morals. Yet, aster all, we are more confirmed than we were before we received the following article, in the belief that the primary school system of Boston, though better than nothing, greatly needs reform; and we are sorry to have good men so zealously opposed, as many seem to be, to its improvement. The facts before us, while they show that something was done in regard
Primary School Rooms.
to school houses before Messrs Woodbridge and Fisher made their visit, also show very conclusively, at least to our own mind, that in spite of the array of books and studies, they are as yet, far from being what all men, not of narrow minds, most heartily desire. But if not,-if the following article does not produce the conviction, we think a few visits to the schools will do it.
But enough of this. He who reads the following article will scarcely fail to perceive that, be the fault where it may, whether in the parents of the pupils, the City government, or the School Coinmittee, or in all of them conjoined, there is fault somewhere. All we ask is that instead of boasting perpetually of our own excellent system, and of its happy resulis, those whom it concerns would spend their strength in correcting the fault, and in making the system more worthy of the times in which we live, and of the proud metropolis for which it was and still is designed.]
It was not until a short time since, that an article was pointed out to us, in the March number of the Annals of Education, on the subject of the Boston Primary Schools. As the writer of that article has fallen into some errors, unintentionally no doubt, he must desire, that in your journal, as an exponent of the true condition of education in this country, those errors should be corrected. The refutation is contained in the following remarks on School Rooms, Books, Studies and Moral education.
First, as to School Rooms. It seems the object of the writer in question, not only to disparage the present condition of the rooms occupied by the Primary Schools of this city, but to ascribe any improvements which have been made, to some influence out of the Board, rather than to any exertions made by the Board itself. About four years ago,' says the writer in the Annals, • Rev. W. C. Woodbridge, then editor of this jorunal, ac- r. companied by Dr J. D. Fisher, visited and examined all the Primary Schools in this city, except those of South Boston; and a Report was drawn up by them, and presented to the Chairman of the Primary School Committee.' This report had special reference to the condition of School Rooms. This report, the writer goes on to say, 'was not very well received at first, and some were quite offended with its honest plainness. It did great good, however, as we have reason to believe, and as is confidently stated by a writer in a late number of the Mercantile Journal.' This writer speaks of the results, as he calls them, of the investigation so perseveringly made by Messrs Wondbridge and Fisher. Again the writer says, It is a matter of astonishment-uiterly so—that individuals worthy of being chosen
Efforts at Improvement.
as School Committee men, should slide over these matters from year to year; and only promise, from time to time, to procure better school rooms.' There is a material error in these, and various other passages of the article, which a few facts, we think, will clearly show.
The Primary Schools of Boston were established in 1818, after a strong and continued opposition from the heaviest tax-payers. The first object, therefore, of the friends of these Schools, was to organize the small number allowed in the outset; to extend them from time to time; and to ingratiate them into favor among the great body of the people, by conducting them on an economical and efficient system. They were increased from 36, the first number allowed, to 50, in about eight years. At this period, the friends of the system felt they were in successful operation, established in every part of the city, and receiving under their care a large proportion of all the children in the city between the ages of 4 and 7. It then seemed that the time had arrive.l, to do something for their external condition. A Committee was accordingly raised, in April 1827, on the subject of
procuring more convenient school rooms, who subsequently reported upon the many evils arising from the insufficiency and inconvenience of the roonis, and the urgent necessity of taking some measures to procure better accommodations ;' and it was thereupon voted-eleven years ago–That a Committee be raised "to represent to the city government the serious evils and bad consequences resulting from the want of suitable rooms, &c., and praying that measures may be adopted to remedy the evil.' This application failed ; and perhaps it should excite no wonder that it did, as an appropriation would have been necessary of $ 200,000, at least, to have given the accommodations then required for the whole number of Primary Schools.
In 1828-ten years ago- another memorial was presented to the city government for an annual appropriation of $3000, for the erection of Primary school houses. That body was not yet prepared to adopt the policy of erecting houses expressly for these schools. But this application resulted in a vote authorising the Board of Aldermen to hire a suitable number of school rooms of such location and of such size, as after consultation with the Primary School Committee, shall be deemed suitable, for a term not exceeding ten years. At that time, the whole number of Primary Schools was 57, and only 20 of them deemed satisfactory. This power to lease for a term of ten years, was used by the Committee with great alacrity and efficiency. A large number of better rooms was obtained under this order. But not being able to obtain them in all situations, they applied
Appropriation for School Houses.
again, in 1829—nine years ago to the city government, that school rooms should be purchased or built, on account of the city, in places where they cannot now be obtained on lease, of suitable character or size.'
This application was not received with favor. The city had still doubts of the policy of erecting houses permanently for the use of these schools.
From this time forth, the record is covered with applications 10 the city government for the use of rooms not otherwise improved by the city, such as unoccupied rooms in the Grammar school houses, gun houses, engine houses, ward rooms, &c. &c. By this means, many of the poor or bad rooms were exchanged for better. About the same time many new churches were erected with spacious vestries, and many of these were obtained by the Committee for the use of the Primary schools.
But as the number of schools was constantly increasing, and the difficulty of obtaining rooms every day becoming greater on account of the increased value of properly, the Primary School Board, at their meeting of August 6, 18:33— five years ago—and before the visit of Messrs Woodbridge and Fisher, resolved to make another vigorous effort to obtain an appropriation from the city government, for the erection of Primary school houses. Ac cordingly a Committce of ten was appointed to make application for an appropriation of money for the purpose of building and furnishing rooms for the accommodation of Primary schools, whenever suitable opportunity may offer, in any of the districts.' This application was supported by all the influence of the Board, both from without and within the council. In 1834, the city government recognised the principle, and built one house at the expense of the city; and in 1835 an appropriation of $ 12,500 was made ; with an understanding that it was to be continued yearly until all the schools were supplied with suitable rooms. This appropriation has been annually made and expended every year but one, when land was so high, and suitable places so difficult to be obtained, that it was absorbed for other purposes, by the city council.
By these and various other subsidiary measures, which it is not necessary to mention, it appears from a report of the Primary School Committee, 10 which reference is made in a note to the article on which we are commenting, that of the 78 schools then under the care of the Board, there were only · 12 rooms unsuitable or inadequate,' and it is further stated that it is expected that this number will soon be diminished, if suitable locations can be procured (by Committees who have the subject under consideration,) for building new school houses.' Could the wri304
Remarks on School Books.
ter in the Annals, if he had made himself acquainted with these facts, have made the assertion that “it is a matter of astonishment-utterly so—that individuals worthy of being chosen as School Comunittee men, should slide over these matters from year to year, and only promise, from time to time, to procure better school rooms ? The writer in the Mercantile Journal says, 'school rooms of improved construction, have been erected in various parts of the city. Two just completed in Moon street, reflect great credit upon the architect, &c. &c.' The writer in the Annals adds, we are happy in being able to confirm the statements of this writer, in relation to improved school rooms.
There is certainly a great deal doing, in ihe way of improvement, for which credit is due somewhere. Do not the facts which we have stated, prove to whom we are indebted, for what has been done-and that if credit is due' anywhere, it is (without any impulse from abroad) to the Primary School Board?
The charge with regard to school books is in these words. · There is great and lamentable neglect in regard to school books and studies. Now a few words only will be sufficient, we trust, to set this matter right. The early records of the Board were unfortunately burnt in the year 1825. The schools, however, when established in 1818, were furnished with the best books then to be obtained. A card, a spelling book, and the New Testament, we believe, were the books originally used. Soon after, they authorized a new spelling book to be compiled expressly for the schools, which resulted in the adoption of Fowle's Rational Guide. In 1826, an easy Reader was compiled for their especial use, called the · Bosion Primary Lessons,' and introduced, with a new Spelling Book in the place of Fowle's, which was found to be too difficult. In the same year, the study of Arithmetic was introduced for the first or highest class, and Emerson's North American Arithmetic adopted for their use. In 1827, a new.elementary card for the fourth class, was introduced. In 18:0, another card on the Edinburg Sessional School plan, was prepared by a Committee, and adopted. In 1833, a new Reading Book, (Blake's Reader,) for the first class, in connection with the New Testament, was introduced. Since which tine, Arithmetic in all the classes, a numerical calculator, slates for the fourth class, Gallaudet's Mother's Primer, Abbott's Mount Vernon Junior Reader, and Pierpont's Young Reader, have successively been added to the number of books, and to the means of instruction in the schools. If this is proof of great and lamentable neglect in regard to school books,' the committee must sit down and bear it with what patience they may. “We are nnwilling,' the writer remarks, wholly so, that a school system which has so good a name, should reinain stationary year after