« AnteriorContinuar »
the polished brass and mahogany, like much of that we saw last year at the Centennial Exposition, we shall save no inconsiderable sum of money for the real wants of the schools.
6. Another requisite, which our schools demand for their improvement and elevation, is more attention to the special preparation of teachers for their work, and to improved and more natural methods of teaching. Professional schools, or departments, for this purpose, are indispensable in these times, if teachers would achieve the highest success. Teachers need an education that shall give them varied discipline and broad culture; a thorough understanding of the human mind, and its faculties, and the philosophy and means of their development. There is a demand for such a preparation, and the demand must be met. The public are beginning to understand that the employment of a poor teacher is a waste of money, an injury to the pupil, and a libel on education itself. We are told that there is a great surplus of teachers at present: let us all hope for the survival of the fittest.
And have not teachers themselves some claim for a share of the benefit to be derived from this needed educational reconstruction? Can they not, at least, be relieved from some of the shams and needless vexations that seem to fall to their lot ? When will that farce, the teachers' annual examination, as now too often conducted, be a thing of the past ? Why can not a teacher, once examined and certificated, be permitted to teach anywhere in the State, without a re-examination ? If school-boards can be elected for a term of several years, why cannot teachers, as well, be chosen for a term of more than one year ?
7. We need to follow nearer to the footsteps of our
fathers, in 'respect to moral education. We may not ask to have the catechism restored to the school-room; but we ought to demand that children shall be taught the elements of a well-balanced, vigorous moral character; and be taught, also, that character is infinitely higher than scholarship. I know very well you may say that this is approaching debatable ground; and I understand the frequent declamation about sectarianism and the danger of invading the rights of individual conscience — all of which has nothing to do with the subject; for morals are not sectarian, and they who can not teach morals, and exemplify their teaching by their daily lives, without teaching sectarianism, should never go within the shadow of a school-house, - except as pupils to a moral teacher. It behooves all concerned, to remember well that the character and usefulnessness of the man or woman depend very largely upon the care and culture received in youth; and it is especially incumbent upon teachers, to bear in mind the duties that devolve upon them by nature of their office, and for the performance of which parents and the public may hold them responsible.
But this cursory review of our subject need not be extended. The past is rich in valuable experience, and, as it seems to me, the present and the future reveal to us, at this time, grand opportunities, which we ought to improve, to place our whole educational system on a high, advanced plane; where it shall do more and better work for mankind, and whence the outlook will be, in al arge measure, full of encouragement and promise.
THE LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL POW. ERS OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT IN RE
LATION TO EDUCATION.
BY HON. P. EMORY ALDRICH, S:J.C.,
I have not ventured to appear before this association of teachers for the purpose of discussing questions relating to systems or methods of instruction with which you are familiar and I am not. The single object I have in view, is to submit some considerations upon what may properly enough be called the legal or constitutional powers of civil government, as established among us, in relation to the subject of popular education.
What may the State do, and what ought it to do, to provide for and promote the education of the people ? First, what are we to understand by the term State ? With the citizens of a self-governing Commonwealth like ours, the word has no such limited meaning as would satisfy the subjects of a government resting upon a narrower basis than the free consent of the governed.
Nor is the word employed in our question a synonym for government or administration. The forms of gov- , ernment change; administrations follow each other in rapid succession; the policy of the controlling majority of to-day may be repudiated by that of to-morrow; but
the State remains, through all these vicissitudes, unchanged, indestructible, and immortal. France, though rent by a century of revolution and counter-revolution, has never lost its identity; but through and after every convulsion has continued to be the same France still, and, through all changes of dynasties, has maintained its place as one of the States of Europe. And England, whether under the reign of a Tudor or a Stuart, or controlled by the stalwart arm of a Cromwell, has, in the steady growth of a thousand years, no more lost her individuality, than has one of the sturdy oaks springing from her soil and numbering as many years. And to use a single other illustration, this ancient Commonwealth, in the comprehensive and true sense of the term, has been and remained the same State or jural society throughout her colonial, provincial, provisional, and constitutional periods.
A distinguished representative of this State, in a speech of great eloquence and true historical insight, delivered a few months since in the National House of Representatives on the presentation from Massachusetts to the United States of the statues of John Winthrop and Samuel Adams, said, “When John Winthrop died, in 1649, the colony of which he had been the foremost planter was firmly established as a Christian State.”
And this was true, although, as every reader of our colonial history knows, the colony had then been in existence only nineteen years, and scarcely more than twenty of the more than three hundred towns now found on the map of the State had been organized, and these twenty were occupied by only a few thousand inhabitants; yet not only had a colony been planted, but a State had been formed; the germinal life of a great coinmonwealth was already manifest. The college, the
public schools, the church, the town meeting, had all at that early period been instituted, and became, and have ever since remained, great factors in the material and intellectual development of a State which has no superior and few equals among the civil and political communities of men. But let us pursue our definition a little further.
“A nation,” says Milton (and the same is true of a commonwealth), “ought to be as one huge Christian personage, one mighty growth or stature of an honest man, as big and compact in virtue as in body, for look, what the ground and causes are of single happiness to one man, the same ye shalỊ find them to a whole State.”
And Burke affirms that “the State ought not to be considered as a partnership agreement, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and dissolved at the fancy of the parties. It is to be looked on with other reverence, because it is not a partnership in things subservient to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art ; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection.”
“The State,” says Lieber, “is a form and faculty of mankind to lead the species toward a greater perfection.” From these brief expositions, it will be seen that the State may antedate all specific forms of constitutions and governments; it adopts the one and organizes the other as convenient and, perhaps, necessary instruments for carrying into execution the objects of its own existence.
And it is of this original, necessary, continuous, identical organization of human society, that the question is propounded, “What are its rights and duties in relation to the important subject of education ?" The adminis