« AnteriorContinuar »
was exceedingly great. Besides, the evils to be overcome were continually increasing. Among these was the practice of unparalleled extortions, senseless displays amid their court scenes, and unchecked extravagances on the part of the nobility which had naturally caused an estrangement to grow up between people and rulers. Unfortunately the papacy was then supreme,- emperors and kings, nobility and clergy confessing their allegiance to it,—while the pontiff, with empty arrogance and blasphemy, was claiming for himself not simply divine attributes, but mercy more infinite than the Saviour's, saying that he “alone could save souls from purgatory, and a special heaven was his sure inheritance." While it seems necessary in general to condemn the influence of the spiritual orders, this praise should not be withheld from them that behind the walls of their cloisters they preserved an interest in agriculture, commerce, science, and art.
As early as the thirteenth century the writings and teachings of some of the foremost men of France and England found their way to Germany, and had no little influence in shaking its future history. Though the masses were mostly ignorant and superstitious, there lay dormant in them a desire for freedom, which, when aroused, scorned all subjection and defied inquisition and prison-walls. With the watch word of “Chain not the spirit !” a struggle for culture began,only the more ennobled by every hindrance, — such as scarcely any other century has witnessed.
Thus it happened that the cry which was long before uttered, and which came in part from the cloisters, found a fitting response in the free republics and other corporative unions which were established in the interest of human rights. The good accomplished by these republics, which arose in Italy and ruled half the world through their commerce, cannot easily be over-estimated. The same may be said of the German cities with their firm alliances which they had formed partly with one another and partly with the south and southwest of Europe. Civilized Europe was thereby transformed into a commonwealth founded upon the rights of citizens, and closely united through commerce and other interests to the welfare of the cities. By conceding that differences of religion and national characteristics might subsist together, a sure basis was laid for industry and trade, for art, and for the freer development of scientific institutions. So great had the evils of the church become that the authorities of the cities determined to abolish the spiritual sovereignty. In this they were aided by most of the leading men of the time, who, severing their connection with the clergy, formed themselves into an independent body. Their power was first felt in the establishing of secular schools, and as these grew in consideration and influence the schools of the cloisters suffered a corresponding loss. The new schools were in reality unions which, through endowments and the granting of privileges, acquired in time a fixed location whereby the transition to those free corporations, which were recognized by the states or cities as necessary, was made easier. Like so many corporations of the Middle Ages whose privileges were securely guarded, these also under the protection of the government reached their full development.
THE TEACHING OF DRAWING IN GRAMMAR SCHOOLS.
BY WALTER S. PERRY.
It is admitted that the public schools cannot give what is called a technical education,—that is, an education which shall prepare for particular trades or industrial occupations; at the same time the growing importance of these occupations makes it necessary that in our public education we consider their demands in our provisions for the development of manual power, skill, and taste. What our public schools can give in the way of industrial training, which shall at the same time be of fundamental value in general education, is one of the important educational topics of the time.
A strong conviction is arising in many minds that more attention should be paid to manual training in education than hitherto, and we have heard much on this subject in educational conventions. Now it must be admitted that before there can be any broad development of manual training in the schools, or technical or industrial training of any kind, there must be broad, general instruction in industrial drawing. This fact is so generally recognized, that in Prof. Thompson's valuable essay on “ Apprenticeship Schools in France" we find these words: “Technical education without education in tech. nical drawing is a delusion and a sham ;" and in a report by a distinguished French commission on industrial education are found expressions equally strong in regard to the importance of drawing as a basis for industrial training.
The introduction of drawing, therefore, into public schools should be regarded as an important step toward general industrial education, and in view of this fact, what is taught as drawing in the schools becomes of the utmost importance both practically and educationally.
The subject is comparatively so new a one in education, and efforts to introduce it into schools have been so independent of one another, that there has been no opportunity till now for a general exchange of views and a comparison of results. Further than this, teachers of drawing have hitherto labored quite independently of one another, and have found it extremely difficult to get any proper recognition of the study in their respective schools. Let us hope, however, that this discussion inaugurates an era of conference dan
coöperation in this matter. The field before us is a broad one, and to guide us we need all the light that experience can give. Industrial education is becoming a question of great importance, and drawing is seen to be one of the fundamental elements in this education; yet it is a significant fact that there are but few trained teachers directing the study in the schools, while some of the very largest cities have only one teacher of drawing for all their schools. We need to elevate the educational and practical importance of the subject before the public; to make clear the aims of our instruction; and as the first step to this end, we should endeavor to come to some general agreement in regard to what is to be taught as drawing, and also in regard to proper methods of teaching.
How is Drawing Usually Taught ?— It has been remarked that it is quite universally recognized that drawing should be taught in the public schools, and in the best schools of the country it is taught, but how is it taught? I think I am safe in saying that in more than half of the schools that claim to teach drawing the subject is merely mentioned in the course of study, and not much else can be said in regard to it. Vague directions are sometimes added, but these are of little practical value to the teachers, who, left without any intelli- . gent idea of the object or aim of the instruction, do little or nothing with it. In many places where special teachers are employed, and where regular work is attempted, there is not a fixed purpose or aim in the instruction, and the system or method is therefore changed as often as there is a change of teachers; in fact, schools might be mentioned which have been experimented upon with three or four different systems in as many years.
Under this condition of things, with no fixed principles estab. lished, school committees are at the mercy of agents of so-called sys. tems of drawing who crowd upon them from all parts of the country; and the average committee is puzzled to decide between their conflicting claims. With rare exceptions, the member of the school board is entirely ignorant in regard to the study; his ideas of its practical and educational value are usually of the vaguest kind, and quite possibly he regards it as an ornamental study only. Such persons see nothing that looks pretty upon the printed page; a skillful agent dwells upon the training of the eye and hand, and the neces. sity of securing more beauty in our industrial objects; votes are secured, and the question of industrial training in the schools of communities may be given in an entirely false direction. Teachers and children accept the inevitable, and boldly plunge into work of which they understand neither the object nor nature.
And with all due respect to my co-laborers, I must say that the ideas which prevail among teachers of drawing, themselves, have tended not a little to add to the confusion of mind which prevails in regard to the nature and educational treatment of the subject. Some think drawing means one thing, and scme another; and the member of the school board may well look puzzled, and ask what is meant by drawing,—what are the underlying fundamental principles,—when we, as teachers, say there must be taught Freehand Drawing, Model and Object Drawing, Dictation and Memory Drawing, Geometrical and Mechanical Drawing, Perspective, Historic Ornament and Design; a nomenclature that is enough to discourage any teacher or committee. All this tends to confuse, because it is not an educational arrangement. Is it not time for us to get out of this vague, indefinite, into some more coherent method of work? To make a beginning in this direction, it seems to me, is our duty and privilege.
What is Drawing ?-Drawing is the language by which a true idei of the form, the appearance, and the decoration of an object is conveyed from one person to another. It is the main language of the skilled constructive industries, and its importance to the designer and artisan is only comparable with reading and writing. Consider for one moment that wonderful piece of mechanism that breathes the breath of steam ; who has not seen it, as the piston moves swiftly backward and forward with the same steady motion? The various parts move in their allotted places. As the great wheel turns, electric life seems to fly along the belt; pulleys and shafts catch the spirit, and drive here and there the endless number and variety of machines, ever changing raw materials into goods necessary for our life and comfort. Again, look at our buildings, at our ships that sail the sea, laden with the commerce of the world, -all these and the thousand and one industrial objects about us, intricate in design, wonderful in construction, beautiful in ornamentation, were first conceived in the brain of man; but their construction has been made possible mainly by the use of this language-drawing, which enables the designer to express the minutest fact in their construction so as to be readily understood by the workman, and embodied forth by his skilled hand.
General Divisions.-Inasmuch, then, as drawing is the universal language of our vast manufacturing industries, it certainly would seem that the drawing which we teach in the grammar schools should be such as will include the elements of this all important means of expression.
But drawing has applications not alone in the construction of