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State, are chiefly moral. The good of the child and the good of society, alike rest down not so much on the powers of the understanding, as upon the qualities of the heart. The trained intellect is indeed a power; but so also is a whirlwind. Of what value is power when not under the control of wisdom, and directed to useful purposes? We may well pause and ask, are we conferring either a blessing upon our children, or a benefit upon the State, if our schools do not improve the hearts of their pupils as well as increase their intelligence.
It is doubtless true that intelligence itself conduces to uprightness, simply because virtue is logical while vice is always unreasonable and foolish. But it should be reflected that, without due attention, the passions may enlarge with the understanding, and the very motives offered to tempt the intellect to a higher activity, may quicken the selfishness to a deadlier power.
It cannot be denied that serious moral evils lurk around our schools. The children come alike from the hovels of vice and degradation and from the homes of virtue and piety. With the frankness of childhood they betray whatever impressions they have received, whether virtuous or vicious. The ungoverned, by their very violence overawe the peaceful; and the oath or obscene-word makes itself heard when the expressions of kind. ness and truth are unnoticed. Vice, like malignant diseases, is contagious, while virtue, like health, often affects only its possessor. But it must not be concluded that these evil influences are confined to the public school, or exist, even, in any extraordinary degree there. They equally infest the select school and the private seminary. Bad and corrupt families are not always poor, and ungoverned and vicious children are found in aristocratic homes, as often as in the families of common people; and their example is all the more pernicious since their wealth and fashion gild their vices and give them the attractiveness of virtues.
Nor are the inmoralities of our schools confined to the playground, or to the bad examples of ill.governed and vicious children. The government of the school-room is sometimes so tyrannical and unjust, the tasks imposed are so heavy and unequal, and their fulfillment is required with so arbitrary an authority; or, on the other hand, their neglect is permitted with so lazy an indifference, that all distinctions of right and wrong, all regard for truth and duty, are broken down in the pupil's mind, and he learns to believe that power is not absolutely bound to be just, and that duty has no sac. edness in its obligations.
I speak“ not of schools in general; but only of those unfor tunate ones where the teacher is not actuated by a sense of justice, nor by a genuine love for his pupils. In how many such schools does the teacher's irritable temper, kept in constant excitement by the vexations of his calling, and his vio lent tones and words, engender a disrespect which easily extends itself to his instructions, and transforms his pupils into scorners and hypocrites. I will not attempt to detail all the moral evils that may grow out of the incompetency and carelessness of a poor teacher—the falsehood encouraged by his winking at transgressions, or inspired by his questioning distrust—the coarseness produced by his lack of politeness or grace—the idleness fostered by his indolent discharge of dutythe disregard for order, provoked by his lack of system, even if there be not worse vices, instigated by his self-indulgence, his impiety, or his grosser sensuality.
An undue and needless reluctance has been felt to contemplate these moral dangers of our public schools, and to consult for their removal, lest, under the guise of moral instruction, sectarianism should creep in, and our schools be degraded from that broad ground of common sympathy and equal rights which constitutes their highest glory and greatest good. But this apprehension is neither just nor wise, and the entire history of the public schools cannot furnish one instance of a serious attempt to introduce sectarianism. And it is eminently unwise to be so terrified with a distant and improbable danger, as to neglect a nearer and more alarming one. If our public school
system should ever perish, it will be, not from the introduction of sectarian teachings, but from the neglect of sound moral instruction; not because they are made too religious; but because a too narrow jealousy of religious influences shall render them positively and perniciously irreligious.
It may startle us from our slavish fear of sectarianism, and move us to a more earnest attempt to inaugurate some systematic and thorough course of moral training, if we reflect that moral training, either good or bad, is inevitable. The human soul cannot be kept free for a single conscious hour from some appeal to its moral nature. The moral feelings so interpenetrate every part of our nature that, whether we waken the passions, or appeal to the appetites, or merely inform the intelligence, or exercise the reason, we put the moral forces in play. We cannot withhold our children from influences which daily make them better or worse. We cannot, if we would, separate their moral faculties from their intellectual faculties, and leave the one in repose while we exercise and develop the other. Every enlargement of The boundaries of knowledge will bring within the range of vision new objects of aversion or desire; and with every conscious increase of intellectual power, new ambitions will seize upon the heart.
The neglect of the moral nature does not, by any means, leave it simply uncultured: it exposes it to frightful corruptions. Daily the wild play of the passions may grow wilder, the appetite may become more gross and sensual, the selfishness may grow more selfish, the conscience feebler and all the aims and purposes of life meaner, lower and more degrading. How many a parent has been sudderly awakened from his apathetic dream of security, to find that his child is already ruined—that habits of the grossest sensuality have ripened into full powerthat all the sacred restraints of conscience have been cast off as the scruples of superstition, and that all belief in virtue, and all love of goodness have been dismissed as nursery tales and babyish fancies.
Not even an “armed neutrality" can hold the soul secure against the insidious approaches of vice. Beaten at one point, it would renew its attack at another, and ultimately claim the soul as its own. Only the most active and positive inculcations of virtue can save the heart from the entrance of vice.
But a more convincing argument in favor of positive and systematic moral education, may be urged, if we can show any practical means by which such an education can be carried on in the schools. I proceed, therefore, finally, to note the various elements and methods for this work.
1st. Let the schoolhouses be made clean. Wipe out from desks and walls, from door-posts and lintels, from clapboards and fences, those foul scriptures of vice and pollution which deform so many school buildings, and help to corrupt successive generations of children. Go farther, and make such an air of neatness and beauty reign everywhere, that the childish spirit of destructiveness shall be repressed, and the pupils shall be won insensibly to carefulness and order.
2d. Let the school-yards be separated by a high and close board fence, in the rear of the building, so that each sex may have its own grounds, free from all intrusion of the other.
3d. Let the play-grounds never be left without the supervision of a teacher when the pupils are there. To accomplish this they should not be opened to pupils till a fixed hour, when the teacher should be present. If the recesses, also, be given to both sexes at once, the teacher may go with his pupils on to the play-ground, and while he encourages the cheerful hilarity of the games, his presence will hold in awe the quarrelsome spirits or profane lips, which will otherwise work so much evil. It is the unrestrained and unwatched association of the pupils, good and bad, upon the play.ground, that forms one of the most fruitful sources of moral corruption. Remove this, and we have abated, at one blow, more than one-half of the dangers that attend our schools.
4th. Secure teachers of sound moral character. The teacher is the living presence whose example and influence fill the moral atmosphere of the school-room with a wholesome fragrance, or taint it with poisonous vice. No qualification of the teacher is 80 important as those moral attributes which win children by their kindness, and inspire them by their purity. There are teachers whose goodness is so evident, that vice feels abashed in their presence, and whose genuine kindness of heart is so ģenial, that every noble sentiment and every right affection flourish spontaneously under their eye. “It is mean to lie to Dr. Arnold," said the boys of Rugby school. The open-hearted 'candor and the generous trustfulness, of their great teacher, shamed them from their habits of falsehood.
With a weak and selfish, or a passionate and fretful teacher, the very air of the school-room will be haunted with a spirit of evil and misrule, and no amount of Bible reading and public prayers can make the moral influences good. The teacher who would successfully teach morals, must keep in active exercise the kindliest feelings of his heart. Let him 'aim steadily and honestly to be what he would have his pupils become, and ask no more of goodness in them than he exhibits in himself.
5th. Good government in school is one of the most potential of all moral influences. And by government, I mean, not merely the administration of justice or the repression of noise, but the maintenance of good order and regular system throughout all the exercises of the school. Neatness, order, and quiet; those are the indices of good government, and these are all friends of virtue. The child that has been taught the great lesson of cheerful obedience to rightful authority, and has been trained to the wholesome habits of regular industry and good order, will easily be led to virtuous principles and an upright life.
6th. But besides all these unconscious teachings, there are direct and conscious instructions in morals, which ought to find a place among the daily exercises of the schools. Not, however, in the form of homilies on the several virtues, or set lectures against vice; but rather illustrative stories from history or experience, in which virtue and goodness shall shine out in