« FöregåendeFortsätt »
system of education, which is now requisite to answer the ends of legislation on this subject, as the enlargement and improvement of that which already exists.
The convention of Education in Augusta, the last winter, passed for substance, the following resolution: That the time has come for the establishment of a board of education in the State, and that its establishment should be demanded of the Legislature, with a power and energy which will not be resisted. The language employed in this resolution by the convention, is expressive of their deep sense of the utility of the measure which they recommend. They evidently regarded it as a fundamental measure; as the measure upon which the utility of others, tending to the same effect, will mainly depend. From the opinion of the convention, the commit-, tee cannot dissent; and they are induced to propose the resolution to the Legislature, asking for it deliberation.
Nor must the language in which it is couched, be understood as intending to cast invidious reflections on past legislation, or to be in any way disparaging to ourselves. It was intended to be only, the earnest expression of fact.
The time has come, say the convention. As a state we have existed scarcely more than a quarter of a century; and to have imposed burdensome taxes upon the people at the outset, for the support of a good cause even, would doubtless have proved impolitic. Besides, means of advancing the cause of learning, which a few years since were considered of doubtful tendency, have been found to be highly advantageous. Instead therefore of attempting to advance by the uncertain light of untried theory, we may now do so by the light of theory justified by experiment.
The time has come, the convention repeat, when those who have the power to act must be urgently solicited to act.
The arguments in favor of this measure, have some of them, been already adduced. They are found in the defects of the practical operations of our school system, and also in the positive and relative worth of education itself.
That these arguments will be appreciated, we confidently believe. « We believe, that upon the importance of free schools—an institu
tion, which in its action, comes home to the mind of every child in the State; which does or may do more than any other, to bring out his powers, to furnish him with good knowledge, to form his character, to give him noble aims, and to fit him in all ways for his duties as a citizen and a man, and for his whole future existenceany statement we could make would fall far short of the truth, and of the convictions of the wise and patriotic citizens who represent the people of the State.”
If the foundation be insecure, how shall the fabric stand? and, if other interests of far less value, are deemed of sufficient importance to engage the attention and efforts of persons designated to the service, why shall this be treated with less respect, and be left to a more casual or uncertain supervision ?
Another argument in favor of this measure is, that wherever a board of education has been established, whether in Europe or this country, it has proved to be highly beneficial. Prussia, in respect to her schools, is the admiration of all intelligent travelers. The sarne is true to a degree, of France and Holland. In Prussia, as early as the reign of Elector Joachim the second (1546), visitors were appointed to inspect the town schools of the electorate, with express directions to report in relation to the measures deemed necessary for their improvement. These appointments have been renewed by succeding rulers, at various times, till the present.
Referring to this and kindred exertions in that country, President Bache, who had for a considerable time resided there, inquires :
What is the real social result of all this? How has it affected the population--for good or for ill? How is it likely to affect them for the future? The narratives given by Pestalozzi, De Fellenberg, Oberlin, and Pere Girard, of the singular revolution, mental and moral, I may also add physical, effected by the application of their system of teaching on a hitherto ignorant and vicious population, though admitted to be isolated experiments, ought not the less to be considered evidences of the intrinsic force of the instrument itself, and of its power to produce similar results wherever and whenever fairly tried, without reference to country or numbers; that is, whenever applied with the same earnestness, honesty, and skill in other instances as in theirs. And of this portion of Prussia, of the Rhenish province, it may be surely averred, that it has now been for some time, under the influence of this system, and that during that period, whether resulting from such influence or not, its progress in intelligence, industry and morality—in the chief elements of virtue and happiness, has been steadily and strikingly progressive. In few parts of civilized Europe is there more marked exemption from all crimes of violence than in this happy land; not only from those graver delinquencies which stain the calenders of the more luxurious states of Europe, but even from those minor offenses against the person, such as riot, assault, &c., from which none scarcely are to be wholly excepted. The safety of the public roads, contrasted with their notorious insecurity in many parts of England, is supported by unequivocal facts. The same abstinence from offenses against property is conspicuous in towns. I have already had occasion to refer to the comparative rarity of theiving amongst the lower classes, especially to the diminution of the offense in that very class and age most subject to it in England, and most likely to be influenced by the want or supply, the badness or goodness of education. There is not only little amount of crime and juvenile offenders, but this amount and number are progressively diminishing. Doubtless much of this most gratifying result may be ascribed to comfort and employment. But this again must ' be ascribed 10 some still higher cause. There is comfort because there is frugality; there is employment because there is the desire and search and love of it. There is industry, incessant, universal, in every class, from high to low; because there are the early habits of useful occupation, and there are these habits, because there is sound and general education. In all those relations of life where truth, honor, confidence, and mutual kindness are most requiredwhere fraud is most easy, but most injurious—where reciprocal good faith is of such import, but so easily disturbed-in all pecuniary, especially in all commercial transactions, the “ Deutsche Treue" is more than ever proverbial. A promise is a bond—a word, an oath. The clergyman admitted that his flock had not become worse christians for becoming more intelligent men ; the officer,
that his men had grown more obedient, as they had grown more instructed—a word now led where a cane formerly was insufficient; the farmer, for the increased profits of his farm, as the manufacturer for those of his factory, thanked the school. Skill had increased and conduct had improved with knowledge ; profits with both. Even household management had reaped its advantage, when the first vanity and presumption arising out of the partial nature of instruction had worn off-when it had become general, sound, and appropriate. The servant, especially the female servant, was not less faithful, and had become far more useful than before.
In Massachusetts, a board of education has existed for a period of about eight years. Ai recent interviews with intelligent gentlemen of that State, the following have been stated as some of the beneficial results of that organization.
An increased interest in the subject of education among the people of the State generally. As an evidence of this, works on education are more read than formerly ; lectures on this subject are more popular; schools are more the topic of conversation at social gatherings and in public conveyances; they have assumed greater importance in the transaction of town affairs ; school committees are selected with more caution, the election usually turning in favor of the most intelligent, discreet, and high minded men; schools are more often visited by parents and others; the office of teacher is more respected. Another result is, that the qualification of teachers bas been greatly advanced and greater pains are taken by teachers to keep themselves informed on all matters relating to their employment. The government of schools is more effective, at the same time its severity has been greatly diminished ; teaching is more practical and thorough; a better classification of scholars and greater uniformity of text books, have been secured. Through the influence of district libraries, a taste for appropriate and useful books has been extensively induced; the length of schools has been increased on an average one month ; school houses have been essentially improved. In some of the more populous towns, elegant edifices have been erected for this use, at an expense of eight and ten thousand dollars each. And, what is worthy of remark,
all these results have followed, while yet the taxes for the support of schools have not been materially increased.
A board of supervision has also for some time existed in New York; and assurances are given by many of the most intelligent and influential men there, that this agency has effected results no less important in New York than in Massachusetts. Similar reports are made of the effects of this instrumentality in Ohio and in Rhode Island.
Two questions respecting the subject of the establishment of a State board of education, claim brief attention ; to which the further consideration of the Legislature is respectfully solicited. The first. What shall be the duties of this agency when elect
And the second; by what method shall it be elected ? The duties of the board cannot be legislative, but must be suggestive,'advisory and executive entirely. The board must be a servant, acting from derived powers, and not from those which are self-originated ;'or if at all so, to a very limited extent. A specification of its duties might include the following: The devising of means for the improvement of teachers, and for the formation of better teachers; the imparting of instruction to those interested on these subjects—on the position, construction and furniture of school houses, and the recommending of ways by which schools may be encouraged. It might also come within the duties of the board, to make suggestions upon the subjects of discipline, classification, &c.; and in these respects as well as others, to endeavor to secure among the several schools of the State, concert of action ; to collect and present to the Legislature, the experience of other States, and foreign countries on subjects interesting to the common schools.
“From a knowledge of the condition and wants of the agricultural and manufacturing population of the State, the board could do much towards enabling the Legislature to determine the question whether any thing can be done, better to adapt the instruction given in common schools to their wants, or whether separate institutions may with advantage, be established. The board might also determine the questions, whether further instruction in the useful arts can be introduced into all our schools; and whether a higher