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causeless, how grandly have the people of the land, tutored to free thought and free speech by nearly a lundred thousand col. leges and schools, risen up to meet the tremendous brunt and burden of this war; and how magnificent and clear the testi
; mony which their prompt and wise-bearted patriotism renders back to the institutions which have nursed their youth to ko noble a manhood. Away, in the classical colleges, and among the myriads of the busy common schools, not forgetting the Christian homes of which these schools are at once the offspring and support, have been forged the mightiest weapons for this war—the quick feeling of public good and public danger, and the ripe love of freedom and of right, which now arm our soldiers with so true a courage and so invincible a purpose. As the world has never before witnessed the assemblage of so large an army of volunteer soldiers so easily and so quickly gathered, so no army ever before embraced in its ranks so large a number of educated men. “There are many single reg: . iments," said the Chief Magistrate of the nation in his message to Congress in July last, "whose members, one and another, possess full practical knowledge of the arts and sciences and professions, and whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known to the whole world ; and there is scarcely one from which there could not be selected a President, a Cabinet, a Congreso, and perhaps a Court abundantly competent to administer the Covernment."
Nor ought it to pass unnoticed how from these very halls of learning, and fresh from the lessons of their daily instruction, hosts of ardent and intelligent youth have gone forth to the defence of a beloved country. It is a most significant fact that no department has yielded so large a proportion of its members to the service of the Republic as have our higher schools and colleges. Teachers and pupils, college presidents and professors, true to the lessons of a sound learning, and to the instincts of a rightly educated manhood, with a love of country hightened by all they know of history and all they
hope for humanity, and with a sense of duty and honor that stays not to debate when the great interests of society are in danger, have promptly resigned the quiet school room for the noisy camp; and many a one already fallen in the fight, fills at once the scholar's and the soldier's grave.
And better even than all these priceless contributions to the present war, these splendid donations of scholarly thought and scholarly hands to the fighting forces of the country, is the certain and glorious promise given by the schooled intelligence of our people, that whatever the issue of this struggle, the cause of human liberty and republican government is safe. The les8ons taught in our schools, through a hundred years, must be sadly forgotten before the American people will consent to forego the enjoyment of personal liberty, or will assist to establish or maintain any other than a free, representative government.
But mounting to still higher conclusions, and sending our glance beyond these patriotic uses and values of our schools, how is their work seen to link itself with the very heart and hope of our humanity--with life as life, and with souls as souls! There are interests belonging to us as men, older and dearer even than the Union-interests which will survive when a thousand Unions may have perished. Nay, is not the Union itself dear and worthy of our mightiest efforts to preserve it, simply because, like a noble and strong casket it is essential to the safe keeping of the great jewels of life and liberty lying within it? Humanity lives on, even when nationality crumbles into dust. Its grand column might be staggered and its march diverted from the pathway of advancing civilization, into a. long detour of barbarism, by the destruction of a government so benign and free as ours; but the march will still go on. Souls will be born into the world and grow and toil and dic. Hunger will still gnaw human stomachs, and ambition and love will continue to inspire human hearts. The great problems of earthly happiness and of heavenly bliss will still press upon the minds of men, and restless many-sided life will not eease to
fill the earth with its doings and desires, whether the stars and stripes of our national ensign still float over our long cherished. Union, in its undivided greatness and power, or wrap its coffin as a shroud.
And to these grander and more enduring interests of mankind, our schools do also minister. Making us wiser and stronger as patriots, they also make us nobler and better as men; and, in either work, they prove the far-sighted sagacity of the sages who founded them, and the true wisdom of the people who so liberally maintain them.
In the light of the new and strong illustrations which this great crisis in our national history is throwing upon our system of public education, may we not hope to lead the public mind to some deeper thought of its true aims and actual successes? We can no longer rest content with mere general panegyrics upon the school system-upon its beauty of outline or harmony of parts. A great need is pressing daily closer upon us to know what it does do and what it can do—what are its true aims, and how successfully it fills them. No costly magnificence of foom and no mere smoothe movement of the gearings can save from condemnation a machine which fails to do the work for which it was constructed.
THE TRUE AIMS OF OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
In order to determine how far our public school system is a success—how well it is accomplishing its work, it is needful to inquire into the true character of that work; or in other words, what is the true aim of the public schools. This aim evidently is to train up the children of the country to be good citizens of the State and useful members of society. It is on their assumed ability to promote these great public ends, that these schools rest their sole claims for public care and support. The State cannot justly impose a general tax for the establishment and maintenance of schools unless on the ground tbat they promote the general good by making their pupils better and more useful citizens.
It is doubtless true that the public schools produce much personal and private good. They afford facilities to parents to secure that education for their children which it is at once their interest and duty to bestow. And so also they provide for every child the opportunities for that culture so necessary to his well being and success in life. But not for these private and personal ends, does the State maintain its system of Public Instruction. It is the broader and grander interests which society bolds in its members, and the State has in its citizens, that constitute the true aims of a public school system as such.
Much confusion and not a little error prevail in the public mind upon this subject. Many seem to consider that the schools are established simply to aid parents to secure a desira ble good for their children, or at best to give to children the personal advantage of an education that will enable them to win a higher place or an easier subsistence in life. With these views it is not to be wondered at that many oppose all taxa tion for education as a diversion of public property to private uses. They claim, with a seeming justice, that those who are to receive the advantages of the schools, should support them.
But there are three parties interested in the education of the young: the Parent, the Child, and Society or the State. Of all these parties, the parent's interest is the least. He is the guardian of the child during its childhood, and his natural affection as well as his parental responsibility bind him to rear it in virtue and intelligence. Once reared, the child leaves his father's roof and becomes a citizen. Often all ties of interest are here broken, and the ties of gratitnde and affection alone remain. Henceforth the parent ceases from responsibility or control, and the child passes, with all his education, to the bosomn and service of society.
Next to the parent's interest, and far higher and more enduring, is the interest of the child in its own education. To him it is the question between a life of ignorance and imbecility and a life of educated power and enjoyment. Whoever can estimate the value of a soul to itself, or tell the interest which
a man has in his own heart and intellect, can measure the interest that a child has in the education which shall waken his heart to its finest feeling, and lift his intellect to its fullest power of thought.
But the interest which society has in this great work of education is greater than that of either of the parties before mentioned. More enduring than that of the parent, as citizenship is more enduring than childhood, it is also wider and grander than that of the child, just as the interests of a multitude are greater than those of a single individual. Society embraces all men in its busom, and its safety and well being are essential to the safety and well being of all. And since its prosperity depends upon the virtue and intelligence of its members, who can measure the interest which society has in the right education of those who are to fill its ranks and wield its power? How ample then this right of society to establish and maintain schools, and how clear that the main aim of these schools is to fit children for society; to train them to be law-abiding and useful citizens, with an intelligence that shall preserve them from becoming paupers and a virtue that shall save them from being criminals. Valuable, then, as is the good done to families and individuals by education, we must still conclude that it is these public rather than any private uses, that constitute the true aims of a public school system.
Happily the true interests of individuals and of society har. monize. Whatever perfects man as man, perfects him also as a member of society, so that practically our question narrows itself to the success of our schools in rearing a true and intelligent manhood.
THE QUESTION STATED.
To return, then, does our school system do its work well? Do the schools really educate the children of the State to the extent to which they ought, considering the time and means employed? Do they make their pupils as proficient as they might, in the common literary arts of reading, writing, spell