Imagens das páginas

Dr. Potter writes: “The Germans have a proverb, which has come down from Luther, that where music is not, the devil enters. As David took his harp, when he would cause the evil spirit to depart from Saul, so the Germans employ it to expel obduracy from the hearts of the depraved." Music, daily practised in a family, would impart pleasure and usefulness to the domestic circle. It might attach to a lovely home and its enjoyments, a promising and endeared son, who, without the attractions of music and its attendant delights, would, perhaps, have been dishonored and lost in the paths of folly, sin and death. That music constitutes a part of the public worship of God, a part of it too, in which all may engage, should operate strongly in favor of its composing a branch of elementary instruction.

A variety of studies, and the modern modes of teaching in schools, prevent monotony and listlessness. Practical elocution and music, are well adapted to relieve, and obviate these things.

Various reasons manifest the propriety of introducing agriculture, as connected with science, into our common schools, as a branch of popular education. Horticulture and agriculture, the philosophy of which is identical, were the earliest and chief earthly employment of mankind. They were to subdue the earth, to dress and to keep the garden, and to till the ground. It is moreover written, that the profis of the earth is for all.

When our race were perfect, a garden fraught with beauty, fragrance and food, in rich variety, was prepared by their benificent Creator, for their abode. This was the theatre of their delightful toil-their pure and sublime enjoyment. In the imaginative minds of poets, rural scenes and exercises are essential to the highest, purest earthly bliss. Although God has said to man, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,” and has thus declared that his maintenance shall be the fruit of his industry, yet he is not by consequence, doomed to perpetual ignorance and degradation. This deplorable state is not the necessary result of any condemnation or law under which man is placed by his Heavenly Father.

In whatever aspect we view agriculture, we see it invested with immense importance. From it we derive most of the necessaries, comforts and delicacies of life. They can be obtained from no other source. Without it, our condition in many regards, would be assimilated to that of barbarians. It is radical to the existence and prosperity of the arts—of manufactures, and of commerce; and of almost everything that constitutes the highest character of nations. We have a vast national domain. It possesses great fertility and variety of soil, with genial climes. It is capable, under a culture faithful to the laws of nature as applicable to this subject, of producing the most rich and abundant harvests. Without a proper respect to these laws, however, a succession of crops will soon exhaust nearly all the native fertility of the earth. Most of our learned professions are crowded. Many of our young men seem to have fancied that wealth, ease and honorable distinction, are almost exclusively allied to the professions of medicine, law or politics; and hence, have embraced one of these


as the paramount object of pursuit. Too many, perhaps, have also embarked in merchandize, for the benefit of themselves and the country. There are likewise, it is presumed, more mechanics of some kinds than can prosper in their calling. Add to these, numbets of other individuals who have no profession-are out of employment; know not what to do—are discontented—but who are capable of being useful, happy and respectable, if suitably engaged in business. Multitudes among these may have all along imagined that the business of farming is necessarily associated with ignorance, rusticity and servile labor. They do not appear to recollect that the class of farmers have furinshed hosts of champions of the rights of man-many authors of useful discoveries and inventions—aye, men who have extended in various directions the boundaries of science. The practice of farming is a most noble and useful art. It is highly conducive to the health and vigor of both body and mind. Like all other arts, it is founded upon science the science of agriculture. Let the laws of this science be discovered, studied and understood.--let an enlightened application of them be made in the prosecution of agriculture, and its theory and practice will be highly interesting-it will be elevated and popular. A vocation thus rendered pleasing, lucrative and honorable, cannot fail to command the attention of vast multitudes of our fellow citizens. Among these will be many from the various ranks to which allusion has been made. The idea that man. ual labor is incompatible with intellectual and moral improvement, and refinement of manners, is utterly inadmissible. It is nullified by the physiology and history of man. Labor is favorable to observation, study and reflection. The most laborious person may frequently find minutes, hours and days of leisure, in wbich he may indulge a fondnees for reading, study and mental cultivation. Whatever shall diffuse abroad a literary and scientific taste, is a desideratum. Solid learning promotes individual and social prosperity and happiness. It is material to the improvement and perpetuity of our political institutions.

Agricultural education in our common schools, from well adapted text books and otherwise, and by competent teachers, and introducing into our school, and other public libraries, books of a popular character, on agriculture connected with science, will, among other advantages, cultivate and diffuse that taste and learning which are so desirable. Agriculture is an ample subject. It has many auxiliary branches. The appropriate text books will no doubt be obtained or prepared. Adaptation in these, as in many other things, is all important. From the agricultural education acquired in our primary schools---extended by reading books on the subject, drawn from our public libraries, and from other sources, very many of our youth will elect farming as a livelihood. This, it must be confessed, would be a wise election—for surely it is a calling for which Heaven has many smiles. It is obvious that the text, and other books suitabe for our township libraries, should be plain—divested so far as practicable, of all technicalities-free from that obscurity usually consequent upon prolix and involved sentences. They should, at the


same time, be written in a manner sufficiently pleasing, animated and ornate, to be interesting and attractive to the great mass of read

It is a matter of surprise and regret, that a great agricultural people, as are those of the United States, should have so long postponed that attention to this subject which its intrinsic and relative importance demands. But the prospect grows more animating. Farmers, philosophers and statesmen, are now, in great numbers, directing their earnest attention to this important interest. They have poured much light upon this department of useful knowledge, and won for it the public favor. It is respectfully submitted, whether it would not be wise and prudent, to provide by law, for the delivery of lectures, annually, in every school district, upon agriculture and its kindred sciences. The salutary influence these lectures would produce on the public mind, in reference to agriculture and rural economy, those cardinal interests of our country, would evidently increase the wealth, respectability and power of the State.

In the view of the preceding considerations, and many others that might be suggested, the undersigned is decidedly in favor of the introduction into our common schools, of agricultural education, and into our township libraries, books, of a popular character, on agricul. ture connected with science.—{0. C. Comstock, Sup'i, 1845.

SCHOOL LIBRARIES. It is deemed unnecessary to advert to the immense value and importance of common school libraries. The question of their utility has been settled by the decision of experience in other States, where liberal appropriations for the purpose have been granted. To accomplish the greatest degree of good, in our State, district libraries must be established; not only that the useful information contained in well selected books, may be generally conveyed, but that teachers may have the benefit of acquiring the most extended and important theoretical information. Means for educating young men to become teachers in our primary schools, have been devised; but by the acquirement of all that these means afford, they have only reached the threshold of the temple of knowledge, and are not fitted to work out the highest degree of good without the study of books, and the consequent information and instruction they afford. Too much value indeed can hardly be attached to the establishment of school libraries; and it is believed when once rightly established, they will be the means of effecting an equal amount of good, with the schools them. selves.- [J. D. PIERCE, Sup't, 1839.

[ocr errors]


Suitable books and teachers constitute another important means of promoting a good education. Such books are highly valuable, but oompetent teachers are essential to the success of schools. A thoroughly trained and skillful teacher, with the most ordinary books, will do vastly more for his school than an incompetent teacher can, with the best books ever written. A good spelling book is important; so

is a good reading book. Both should be adapted to the capacities of those for whom they are designed. The object of a spelling book is not the definition of words; but as the designation imports, it is intended chiefly to teach correct orthography; and it should be spe. cially adapted to this purpose. A reading book is for improvement in the art of reading, and hence should contain some variety of composition. Every piece should contain something entertaining and useful, and be written in plain, simple and elegant language-in such lapguage as children use-in language easy to be understood.

But it is to be remembered, that because a book comes with no merous commendations, it is not certain that it is adapted to the school room. Those concerned in the book trade find no difficulty in procuring them for any work, which they may wish to publish and have introduced. It is a money making business to exclude a book already in general use, and introduce into its place a new work But to the public, it is a money expending operation; and is often done without any adequate compensation. A real improvement, one of essential value, should be introduced, cost what it may. But to exclude an old work, for a new book of little or no additional worth, is ministering to individual profit at the public expense. To lay aside the spelling book now in general use, for a new one, would cost our State in the outset an expenditure of from five to ten thousand dollars. It highly concerns the public to determine whether enough is to be gained to pay the price of the exchange. It is confidently believed that it would be far more profitable to the people to expend that amount in giving additional qualifications to teachers.

We have a multitude of writers of school books; but few indeed are the persons qualified to write for children; and it is because only here and there one can throw himself back to the days of childhood, and call to mind how children think, feel and reason. Hence the general want of adaptedness in school books to the capacities of children. In the midst of that multitude is to be found a Webster, a Gallaudet, a Pierpont, a Peter Parley, and the accomplished Mrs. Sigourney. Perhaps to this list should be added a few others. The works of these authors will live, because to high literary attainments and talents, they have superadded that particular adaptedness, without which a school book is of little value.

The spelling book in general use is constructed on a principle of the utmost importance, so far as uniformity of pronunciation throughout the country is concerned. In the work which is now sought to be substituted in place of it, and all others indeed, this principle is entirely abandoned. “But the change of the usual mode of instruotion will be followed by a consequence not generally foreseen. Most of the present generation bave been instructed in elementary books, in which the words are classified according to the sounds of the letters, the number of syllables, the accented syllables, and the terminations. The effect has been that children learn with great facility, as uniformity and sameness assist the memory; and by the frequent repetition of words with the same accent, our common people have acquired a habit of correct pronunciation which is so remarkable as

to be a subject of observation with foreigners—and by the general use of one book, this pronunciation is almost uniform from one extremity of our nation to the other. This excellent classification, which it is believed was first made by Mr. Webster, and which has been introduced into all elementary books—is now to be abandoned.” The book, which is sought most earnestly to be introduced—“has no classification; all sorts of words are jumbled together, with no key to the pronunciation, either of vowels or consonants. For such a defect, there is no equivalent; the child loses what he cannot afterwards gain; and if he learns a few definitions, he learns what may be more correctly learned at a later period.” Let this principle of elassification be retained, and the same desirable uniformity of pronunciation will continue to prevail throughout the length and breadth of our widely extended country. But let it be abandoned and the foundation is at once laid for as many brogues and dialects as exist on the island of Great Britain, where the inhabitants of one county often find it exceedingly difficult to understand those of its nearest neighbor. Besides many of the definitions of the books proposed to be introduced, are as inaccurate as can well be imagined, and some of them supremely ridiculous. Words entirely different in their origin and signification, are put down as "definers of each other;" thereby introducing perfect confusion into the language.- J. D. PIEROB, Sup't, 1840.

UNIFORMITY OF BOOKS. The presentment against schools by the inspectors, for non-uniformity of books, is unanimous. All execrate the evil and demand a remedy. The district returns also show that not less than thirtythree different reading books are used in the schools, while nearly every known author or compiler of a spelling book, grammar, arithmetic and geography is represented, not merely in the State, but in every school. Who, under such circumstances, has not “fresh tears” to shed over the misfortunes of teachers? It is not enough to reduce his monthly wages one-fifth, but two-fifths of the time bought must be consumed in unavailing efforts to economize both time and money, by classification! If qualified for his place, and ambitious to exhibit a sehool that shall be creditable to him, how must he proceed? Twenty scholars of equal proficiency in a particular branch may be picked out and called the first, second or third class; what then? Half a dozen different text books in that class, all treating perhaps upon a similar subject, have conducted the sev. eral members through processes, and to results widely, and it may be, irreconcilably variant.

Districts change their teachers annually. Owing to a variety of circumstances, and this very want of uniformity is one of them, teaehers are driven from place to place like so many birds of passage; with this difference, however, that while the bird returns to its wonted latitude, the schoolmaster takes good care never to be caught in the same district a second time. And every succession of teachers brings with it a succession of new books. The necessary books of


« AnteriorContinuar »