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Lazy Apologies of Parents.
Schools, signed by Charles Brooks, as Chairman, and addressed to the inhabitants of the county. The duties and doctrines it inculcates are such, in general, as we rejoice to see set forth. They are such as we have long been, to the best of our abilities, pressing upon our fellow citizens.
The circular urges, in the first place, the importance of a new and united interest in the common schools of our country.' It pourtrays, with a master hand, the importance of our common, or town schools,' as it calls them. It complains of too long vacations; of defective school books; of the cupidity of parents, and their consequent stupidity on the subject of elementary education; of the low and often unworthy motives of teachers, and of the universal neglect not to say hatred of the sight of teachers and school houses. It recommends improved school houses, improved school districts, seminaries for teachers, school lectures, and a more elevated standard of instruction. It recommends to parents, in all the arrangements, with reference to their children, to keep the present and future good of the child, rather than their own personal convenience or pecuniary advantage uppermost; and to sacrifice almost every thing for the physical, intellectual and moral welfare of their children. This is a chord we are glad to see touched, and we hope it will produce an effect. It would do so, if the love of propertyor of pleasure, rather, under the cover of property had not frozen up, every where, the parental bosom. It would do so, if people read their bibles with as much anxiety to know how to educate their children for God and their country, as they now do for many other purposes of secondary importance. It would do so, if they considered, for one moment, the import of the plain statement of an apostle, that the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children; and if they were as careful to lay up, for them, treasures of immortal mind and heart, as they now are to lay up gold and silver and houses and lands, or to deck and pamper their bodies.
We can scarcely be cool on this subject - we ought scarcely to be so long as we see parents overlook common schools, and shelter themselves in so doing, under the most miserable subterfuges and the most wretched apologies; the sum and substance of which, after all, are little more than that they themselves love money and ease and pleasure, come what may of the future and eternal destinies of the children whom God has given them. Away with such things-we must say it. Away, especially, with the lazy, hollow-hearted excuse of those who ought to have more common sense if not more common philanthropy than they manifest, and who tell us, gravely, that the
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. I 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 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 oc
Its Bearing on Health.
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 view suppose.
'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 auxilary 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 nothing 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 roved development, by which fatal diseases shall be resis
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