« AnteriorContinuar »
thought of people, they have even como round to feel that the use of these intellectual facilities presupposes moral excellence and spiritual refinement. We carry it farther than we ought to carry it. When we say of ono of our neighbor's boys that he is a nuisance to the neighborhood, he is all the time in the street, we say of his brother, “There is a good boy; he always has his book and is sitting by the tireside reading.' We really think that reading is virtue. This is because we have found out that in the training of the memory there comes in the training of the moral sense, and in the Jong run we find ourselves more willing to trust the Watt, the Franklin, the Edison, tho Lincoln, who have spent their time in diligent reading, than those who have not concentrated thought, attention, memory, imagination, or any of the faculties of the mind; those who have let them go wild, and perhaps result in nothing.
And we are sure that where street arabs, or dreaming ladies, or men of affairs aro lured into the crypts of our libraries we are going to have a suffrage more pure, administration more strong, finance more simple. We know that, as fast and as far as we tempt them by our devices to eat wisely and well of the true tree of knowledge, they will eat of the fruit of the tree which is the good tree. The tree best named, the tree of life eternal!
There are some conditions of life which we take as things of course; we see them alvvays and we are not grateful for them. They do not surprise us. Here am I! I could stand on one of your great bridges and look lour for hour on your great river as it flows by St. Louis. And perhaps there is not a man in this audience who could stand by my side there without being bored to death.
You are used to your river. To me, the miracle is wholly new. Now, just as you take the flow of your river, so does the average American, who knows what America is, take the happy, healthful flow of universal education. We take it for granted that a man can read. If he can not read he may go and perish. “Served him right," is the verdict of the coroner. “Look out for the engine”—that is the warning to the traveler in all our wildernesses, or whatever they may be called and whatever the name of the engine. The warning is printed in large letters for him to read it. Vain for him to say, when he picks up the pieces of his carriage, when he collects ono or two buckles of the harness, after the catastropho which is only not fatal-vain for him to say that the letters above his head were unintelligible to him. " Whose fault is it that he can not read ?” “It is no fault of ours,” we say; "and he will know better another time."
To learn the value of your river. here you need to be on the top of a waterless ranch in Montana, with your dumb sheep or oxen gathering around you, begging you with their plaintive eyes to give them a drop of cold water to cool their tongues. To know the value of universal education, you need to travel in some country, where not one man in ten knows A from 2, or whether the letters “b-o” spell “cat” or spell "mouse."
In Spain, which is like America, in that it is a country of gentlemen, I have said to a railway porter in his own language, “Chevalier, might I trouble you to take tbat valise across the street to the hotel,” to have the good fellow answer me as courteously, “Chevalier, I will take the valise with the greatest pleasure so soon as the chevalier yonder, who can read, will come and read to all fifteen of us the directions on the luggage.'
Till we have had some such experience, you and I do not know what it is to wait at a ticket window for a clerk to be called who can go through that mystic process which shall show how much four tickets will cost when all the company knows that 43 cents is the price of one. Our machine of lifo here runs on so steadily with our system of universal education that we do not stop to think how it would groan and falter if we had failed to oil the wheels.
Sball we, however, set this great engine to running, and then give it nothing to do? Shall we teach every man, woman, and chilil in the nation to read, and then give them nothing but baggage tags and danger signals for their reading? Is my boy to be initiated into the mystery of numbers, is he to get an ilea of those intricate mysteries of algebra anıt geometry and what grew from them, and then is he to be satistied with calculating that 4 times 43 is 1727 Are we to train dragoons, skirmishers, riflemen, and light infantry, and then shut them all up in a fortress and tell them that their duty is to police the parade grounds of the garrison? These are the questions to which America has now come. These are the questions which Mr. Crunden and these gentlemen who have called us here are asking you to-night. It is not enongh that the boys and the girls, the men and the women of tho nation should read the placards in the streets, whether they advertise tragedies or comedies, mustard or pepper. It is not enough that they should be satistied with anything ephemeral, and even the daily newspaper, in its pride, has to acknowledge that it is nothing more. The time has come; nay, came long ago, when man, woman, and child has a right to claim the best for reading. Theirs shall be the gate to all past history, nulocked and thrown open. Theirs shall be the other gato, to yesterday's research anel discovery, thrown wide open as well. We onght to open to them the path through the garden in which the poets shall sing for them, in which Shakospeare shall portray for them men and women like themselves, in which Dante shall lead them through hell itself to purgatory and to heaven. Has any man found a philosophy which tells him how to live? Let it be theirs! Has any Columbus or Da Gama crossed oceans or deserts? For them has he tried that adventure! Has any son of God spoken words which bring the Father nearer to His ehildren? These are not gifts for any upper ten thousand of the world. These are not like diamonds and rubies, to be locked up in caskets or store chambers for the unhappy people who are imprisoned in palaces. They are the infinito bounty of God for all sorts and conditions of men-as the rain descends upon the evil and the good; as the sunshine blazes for the just and for the nnjust. That the dew may thus distill in the darkest corner and on the dryest soil, we establish and maintain our free public library.
All that I have said is absolutely commonplace. For that reason I said it. For I am now to rush in, as fools will you know, where even angels might fear to tread. I am to say now what only a stranger can say on an occasion like this and be excusable. You will please remember, then, that I am wholly a stranger to your councils. Since I arrived hero only yesterday, I may say I have taken pains not to inquire abont your work in the past, or your plans in the future. Buton general principles, I can guess that Mr. Crunden on one hand has some plans of extravagant audacity, and that on the other hand he has some reserves which the publie and even his friends can not account for, and which they say belong to the superstitions of his profession.
On the other hand, I can take it for granted without being told that in the board of trustees there are reverses and delays which the whole press of St. Louis ridicules, and yet that there are some andacious extravagancies lying latent which strike Mr. Crunden aghast when they are whispered to him. Of all this I know nothing, but that where bodies of honorable, intelligent, and courageons men are intrusted with a great public enterpriso it must be so. I have repeated my commonplaces and compelled you to hear them, that here and now, on the birthday of this library, I may say one thing to every body. It is the same thing to some errand boy or runner who shall carry a straw's weight of the responsibility of this library as to the gentlemen yonder who are going to draw up their wills before they sleep to-night, and leave to this library the legacy of their fortunes. The great truth is this: Books are made to read.
I give it to you as a motto to be printed in gold
On the main frieze of your largest hukl. They are not made to be locked up in bookeases.
Tho greatest credit to a library is its ability to report at the end of the year that a large number of its books have been worn out in clear and honest service. The Pharisees thought that man was made for the Sabbath, but the Savior taught them that the Sabbath was made for men. So there are Pharisees who think that books were made to be kept on shelves, but the truth is that shelves and eases and alcoves and corridors and stacks and catalogues and runners and desk clerks and assistants and librarians and trustees all exist so that books may be put into the hands of readers. The sooner a book is worn out the better, so that it be carefully handled and honestly used.
I do not say that the book must be taken ontside the library walls. That depends. You are doing a good thing for students when you train them as the British Museum trains them, that they innst study where the books are. If one hundred men can consult a volume in one day, as in their almost matchless reading room, that book may do a hundred times as much good in a day as if it had been carried home by a student. This is mere matter of detail. But I repeat the words. I care not how often, so I can fix them upon the memory of anybody who is responsible. “ Books are made to read! Books are made to read! Books are made to read! They have no other purpose or object under heaven!”
"Of course they are!” says everybody in this andience, and half the audience add the thought which they are too civil to express, “ What a fool the man is, to come all the way from Boston to tell us that! Or what fools the trustees were to invite him!" I beg your pardon. I have in other times been bullying a board of trustees who held that Pharisce doctrine. And one of them said to me, “Why! Mr. Hale, we hold this property in trust; we have receipted for it; we are like bankers whose stock. holders have paid them $1,000,000 in gold for their capital.” And was I not delighted when he gave me the simile; I hardly gave him time to finish his sentence. "Where would yonr bank be," I cried, “ if you had not lent that capital? Where would your stockholders be if you had tied their shekels up in napkins or, like that man in the other parable, if you had buried them under ground ?' And then I read him a lesson, which I trust in God he has not forgotten, how the soul of man is worth more than gold and silver. By so much should he be more eager that these precious ingots which we have inherited from the mining and minting of all time should be freely sent and invested where their value is best known. When they return from
one errand of boneficence, at the instant, if we can, we must send them out upon another. With what pride, indeed! with what heavenly glow of satisfaction, might librarian or custodian hold up beforens to-night some tattered and tear-marked volume, the gift to us of prophet or of sage, and say, “ This ragged book has comforted ten thousand mourners! I dare not tell you of the tears which it has consecrated. No man can speak to yon of the blessings which from that volume have been set flowing over the deserts of the world.” It would be sacrilege to compare that glow of satisfaction with the vanity of the collector when he uplocks his safe and with dainty fingers hands to you the morocco and the paper which his particular agent, having carte blanche to draw from, bid in at thu Apthorp sale.
Books are made to read! They serve no other use under heaven. Do we indeed prize them as the marvels which they are? You and I go to a longdistance telephone; we listen, it may be, to a sweetheart's whisper, it may be a brother's laugh; we catch the very accent. We recognize the tone, its humor, or its pathos. Well may we wonder; well may we thank God that we live in this day. She was with me in this little office; space was annihilated! Yes, and what is that marvel to the inore familiar marvel! Mr. Crunden gives me this printed volume and I am sitting with Homer on the heights of Chios, and without a sound he whispers to me of the rage of Achilles or the tears of Andromache. Or I lio on the bank of anemones in Sharon, and David tells me how the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Let ine enter Mr. Crunden's halls, and for me there is no space, there is no time!
If we highly resolve that for this generation, and the generations which follow, reading of the best books shall be the luxury and blessing of all sorts and conditions of men, the effort, the study, and the prayer which have combined to make this birthday of our library possible aro answered and rewarded. If we know that books are made to read; if we highly resolve, as we love God and hope for heaven, that all men and women shall ono day come to read them, why, the future is sure! The details will determine themselves. And each new invention of Mr. Crunden, each new victory of your trustees, will bud and blossom in a hundred more. Of these 1 dare not prophesy. In the legends of that fabled city of Sybaris, it is said that there were no locks on the library doors; they could always be opened ; and the reading room was open from midnight to midnight, from New Year to New Year, from century to century. Mr. Cranden knows, your trustees know, whether such matchless success be possible in St. Louis.
I am sure of this, because you people here are practical. I am sure no holiday will be too good for men to read in. In my own dear city, alas, wo open the library for every day in the year when the people are at work, but we shut it in their faces on their few days of leisure. We let them read on Sunday, but not on their days of independence, fasting, or thanksgiving. I can not think you will imitate us. My parting wish for you shall be, that from the beginning you shall know that no day is too good a day to read of Goil's Word or His works; that no festival is so sacred to independence but men may reap of the triumphs of the fathers; that no holiday of thanksgiving can be better spent than in praising God for the poets and the prophets. Surely it is not too much to ask of this central city, in that nation which is the central nation in the world, which is for our purposes the center of the uni
So fast as the choicest treasures of that universe are collected here you will give the fullest opportunity for each man, woman, and child to enjoy them and to
We give our child his name on his birthday. He is not only called “Library." He has two names-he is called “Public Library.” Not for one is he sent on his road, not for four hundred, not for the upper ten. He is a messenger to the public, to each and to all.
But, as I said, my mission is not one of advice, but of congratulation. When, in 1803, Robert Livingston, in many respects the first statesman, as he was the wisest prophet of his time, bought for $15,000,000 all the country between the Rocky Mountaino and the Mississippi, he wrote thus to bis prudent and careful master, Jefferson:
“I know that the price paid is enormous. I have said to them that in a century we should not send ten thousand people across the Mississippi River.".
Your fathers-pay, some of you-were among the first to disprove that prophecy. Their privilege and yours has been more than most men can boast to show whit America is anıl is to be. Give her an object lesson, gentlemen and ladies, in the central matter, in the central work of education. Establish here the freest and best public library in the world.
[From the report of State Supt. Addison B. Poland, for 1892-93.) STATE FUNDS SHOULD BE APPORTIONED ON THE BASIS OF NUMBER OF TEACHERS.
It is clear that some steps should be taken to secure a larger percentage of increaso in the teaching force of the State.
I would suggest here that a remedy can be found in adopting a different basis for the distribution of the State appropriation than that of school census, as now prescribed.
lor instance, a district having a school population of 45 children or over draws from the Stato a sum not less than $375. One teacher only is required. Now, an increase, say, of 45 more children in the district will largely increase the amount of State appropriation received.
But no additional teacher is required; hence, the larger the number of children and the smaller the number of teachers the cheaper the cost of maintaining the schools of a district.
Now I beg to recommend that the law be so amended as to make it for the interest of a district having 50 or more pupils attending school to employ an additional teacher.
This can be oasily effected by apportioning a part of the school tax on the basis of so much per teacher employed. The State money is now appropriated wholly on the basis of number of children to be taught; how many are actually taught or low tliey are taught, whether by tens or by hundreds per teacher, makes no difference. This is essentially wrong. The schooỉ law needs to be remedied at this vital point.
THE NEW JERSEY SYSTEM OF GRADING RURAL SCHOOLS.
Under the New Jersey school law county superintendents have the power, by and with the approval of trustees, to prescribe a uniform course of study for their respective counties. For this reason, among others, a uniform State system has never been adopted. It has been thought best by my predecessors to leave the mattor of gradiug entirely in the hands of the county and city officers, and to discourage the adoptiou of a uniform State system, on the ground that a uniform State systein for rural schools is no more needed than a uniform State system for city schools. The county superintendent stands, mutato nomine, in the same position as the city superintendent. A careful comparison, then, of the several county systems will sliow the following to be the essential features of them all:
(1) A course of study consisting of fire grades.— The first four covering all the work usually done in the primary and grammar schools of our best city systems; the last grade, the work of the first two years of the ordinary high school. This course is little more than a general outline of studies. It does not go into details in any subjert. In no c:18e does it give more than the proper sequence of topics. It aims also to fix only approximately the time at which the work of any grado may be completed.
This latter is importint, since to fix definitely the time for the completion of a grade would be fatal to the system; it would not leave sufficient latitude for the special needs of particular schools. So also a detailed programme would tend to parrow and mechanize the work, as in some cities, where it is the bane of the system.
By creatirg few grades it becomes possible for both rural and city schools to work together under the same course, since any subclassification may be made within three grades that the local conditions or exigencies of each district or city demand. While thus serving in a measure to unify the schools of a county, this system of grilling does not reduce them to the intlexible, cast-iron classitication which is 80 objectionable in many of our city systems.
In my opinion, this happy division of the course into five grades (four below the high school and one high school), each representing about two years' time for the average pupil, is the fundamental and saving feature of the New Jersey system. Eight or nine annual grailes, as in the cities, would be impossible in rural schools ; a greater number still more impossible. Such a classitication would give rise to annal or semiannual promotions, which are entirely ont of the questiou in rural schools. But five grades, on the other hand, with no stateıl time for completion, break up this system of periodic promotions. Bright pupils not infreqnently cover the whole fonr grades below the high school in six or even four years' time. So, also, a pupil may be at one and the same time in two or even three grades, according to his scholarship and capacity. It will be seen, therefore, that this grailing by biennial periods interferes in nowise with the proper classification of pupils; it leaves the door open for all the intermediate gracies or classes which local or accidental conditions make desirable or necessary. It is not necessary, for example, to find
two or even three classes doing second-grade work in arithmetic or grammar; this will depend wholly upon the number of pupils in the school, their comparative proficiency, and the time at the teacher's disposal. So far from holding back bright pupils, the chief danger of the New Jersey system has been found to lie in its enabling them to get op too rapidly. To counteract this tendency to complete the course too early, it has been found necessary in nearly every county to adopt a rule that no pupil shall be allowed to graduate under the age of 13 or 14 years. The point to be clearly apprehended is this: That the system of grading under discussion is not for the purpose of reducing to a minimum the number of classes, but for directing and especially for vitalizing the work of a school by the additional incentives that it introduces, as will be seeu hereafter. In theory, at least, every pupil is working wherever he can to the best advantage; if otherwise, it is not the result of the system, but of the natural and unavoidable condivons that limit the time of the teacher and consequently the number of recitations she is able to hear.
It may be said, however, that the tendency of the system is to reduce somewhat the number of daily recitations common in ungraded schools.
(2) The second essential feature of this system is that it broadens the work of the county superintendent. The success of a school ilepends largely upon the ability and intelligence of the teacher; the success of any system of grading, whether city or rural, diepends also in a great measure upon the superintendent. This does not imply, liowever, that some systems are not better than others. Some may be run with less friction; some produce better results than others. The graded system under discussion needs just as careful supervision to make it efficient as a city system. Many, if not most, of the evils that attend the closely graded city system also appear in the ungraded rural schools. Thus, for instance, “ marking time” will be found in its worst form not in the city, but in the ungraded country schools.
I woll remember how the district school teacher of my boyhood days always started the advanced class in arithmetic at common fractions. This enabled us to get on to percentage, say, at the end of the term. At the beginning of the next term it was the same old story—“The first class in arithmetic will begin at common fractions." But in rural schools this evil of “marking time" is not dne, as in the city systems, to annual or semiannual grading, but rather to no grading. The tendency of rural schools is always toward too many classes for economy in teaching; of city systems toward too few. There is a point where the two extremes meet. I believe it is found, so far as rural schools are concerned, in the system under discussion. But no system will make careful and intelligent supervision unnecessary. One of the chief aidvantages claimed for uniform grading is that it compels and encourages the county superintendent to live in the sadelle, so to speak; to visit, inspect, and supervise his schools with indefatigable industry and untiring zeal.
(3) Uniform county examinations.-It was early found in the history of the New Jersey system that uniform examinations could be made an important and valuable accessory. These are helil annually at or near the close of the school year. The questions are made out by the county superintendent. The examinations are concluçted in the several schools by the principal or regular class teacher, by whom also the papers are all first examined and marked. The results are tabulated and sent to the county superintendent. In most counties, also, the papers of the three upper grades are submitted to the county superintendent, who is assisted in reviewing them by a county board of examiners.
By all who object to stated examinations this feature of the New Jersey system will be regarded as a defect. We must not, however, lose sight of the fact that examinations in rural schools are less frequent than in city schools, and for that reason are looked upon with much greater favor by both pupils and teacher. Properly conducted they are not only a great incentive to pupils, but are anticipated with pleasure. The demoralizing effect of examinations as ordinarily conducteil is clue to the fact that a pupil's promotion depends thereon. Remove this feature, as may be done under this system, and examinations are no longer a bugbear. A pupil's promotion at the end of any given period will depend, under this system, upon the conditions that prevail when new classes come to be formed. The county examinations will be only one factor of many to determine this result.
It is not improbable, however, that under certain conditions a system of county grading, just as a city system of grading, could be carried on successfully without examinations. Where, for instance, principal, teacher, and pupils are doing the best they can, the spur of an examination is not necessary. But it is not true, in my opinion, that examinations are always and necessarily an evil. They have their proper place in the school system; not their use but their abuse is to be deplored; they can be made so comprehensive as to render cramming impossible; they may be 80 carefully and discreetly conducted as to reduce deception and fraud to the barest minimum.
(4) Permanent and systematie records are indispensable to this system.—One of the most common defects to be noticed in ingraxicd schools is the lack of permanent records. The frequent change of teachers in rural schools makes them especially