Imágenes de páginas


the number and variety of institutions and agencies which are at work in every neighborhood, municipal organization, and State; to determine not only the formal instruction and training of children and youth, but to affect the health, opinions and habits, intellectual, moral and political, of every member of a community ; (2) to ascertain the name, residence, and special work of every person in the administration, instruction, and management of institutions and agencies of education, as material, with the official school documents of a State, to exhibit their condition and progress, and as the basis of a Register—which shall be to this branch of the State social service, what the Army and Navy Register is to those specially organized departments of the national service; and (3) to find, among the many thousands engaged as officers or teachers, the correspondents, who from a heartfelt interest, and a life consecration to the work, will gladly furnish, from time to time, desired information; contribute to the discussion of educational problems, and disseminate among those who would profit by their consultation or perusal in the preparation of addresses and reports, such documents and statistics as shall be issued by the Department for the advancement of any branch of the subject.

A brief explanation of the details of the Schedule will show the direction and method of the labors of this Department. As the ground of a proper understanding and use of the returns made, it is deemed essential to know the conditions of the community from which they come, or to which they refer; (Schedule A) the territorial extent, the number, occupation, and pecuniary condition of the people; the municipal organization, valuation, and public expenditures, as well as other particulars of the locality. Many of our State systems of public instruction are defective in not admitting, under regulation of a State Board or Superintendent, of adaptations in administration, to the peculiar circumstances of a city or a sparselypopulated district, to a longer or shorter experience in public schools, and to the introduction or omission of certain studies, according to the occupations of the people. While the public school in cities admits of expansion so as to embrace nearly the whole range of secondary instruction, in the rural districts it must be restricted to a few fundamental branches, and must have within itself a certain completeness, although restricted to a few subjects and to one teacher; and the branches taught and the methods must contain the elements and instruments of self-culture, because a majority of the pupils will attend no other school, and their progress in mental development and self-formation will depend on the thoroughness and vividness with which they are taught in these elementary and intermittent schools. In such schools, scattered over the most sterile portions of every country, with the favoring circumstances of good homes, simple manners, healthy occupation, and a wise use of small advantages, have been trained, or at least started in their career of mental discipline and acquisition, a larger proportion not only of useful business men, but of statesmen, scholars and professional men, than in the same number of city schools, enjoying every advantage of scientific classification, prolonged sessions, and well qualified teachers.

Before coming to a just understanding and an intelligent discussion of particular institutions, the Commissioner deems it advisable to know something of the system to which they belong, as well as of the history and condition of existing legislation, both State and municipal, on the subject, as well as the habits of the people in this regard. (Schedule, B. C.) It is much easier to bring a majority of the legal voters of any town or city to provide liberally for public schools, in States which have by force of law and habit recognized the High School as part of its system of public instruction; and on the other hand, the practice of incorporating and endowing by public or private liberality, special institutions under the name of Academies and Seminaries, will account for the multiplication of this class of institutions, and the slow introduction of public schools of the same grade. The extent to which different religious societies provide schools for the children of their several connections, is an important element in the existing means of education in any community, and will determine in no small measure the direction in which improvements can be made. Having gained a full understanding of the general condition of society and education in any community, we can justly appreciate the information given respecting the schools of that locality, be it large or small. In giving the results of this information, and in any suggestions which the Comsioner may make, founded on the same, the following classification, substantially, will be adopted.

1. Elementary Schools. By elementary education-(we use the words education and instruction here to express the aim and results of the same process, although, whether regarded as expressing either process or result, the means or the end, the words have a widely different meaning)—is understood, that formal instruction, first in point of time, simple in quality, small, it may be, in amount, but the most important in reference to mental habits and future progress, which can be given in schools open to all

[ocr errors]

children. On the number and character of these schools, whether public, private, or denominational, more than on any other grade of schools, no matter how organized or conducted, depends the successful solution of the problem of universal education. Its solution has been attempted in past times, as well as in the present—and never so strenuously and so universally in all countries, as at this very time--and in a variety of ways: (1) by the State ; (2) by the Church ; (3) by the State and Church; (4) by the State, Church, and parents ; (5) by parents, with or without the aid of legal association, and governmental grants, and with and without the powerful coöperation of religious bodies; and (6) by the State as a whole, acting with the people in their municipal organizations, by which the school is brought near to parents, and maintained in sympathy with their wishes, yet subjected to State inspection, and sustained out of the common property of the whole community. In no coun.try, by any of these systems or modes, has education, even in its lowest elementary form, been made universal; in no country has this State interest and parental duty, this civil and religious obligation, been fully met. How far, and by what systems and agencies, the several States are engaged, or have succeeded, in the solution of this great and difficult problem, the Commissioner is gathering the material to show, as well as to aid, so far as making known the experience of the most advanced communities, and the suggestions of the most eminent educators at home and abroad, can do so. There is much of encouragement in the liberality and popular favor with which the public school system, which is distinctively Americanthat in which State and municipal authority are both recognized, and the wishes of parents, so far as is consistent with a general system, respected—is sustained. There is ground of congratulation, that religious societies which withhold their sympathy from the public system, and in some cases denounce it, succeed so well in enlisting parental contributions to support denominational schools. But the statistics of school attendance, in all the great centres of population in every State—and no where more clearly than in this District, as is shown in the Special Report from this Departmentprove that the problem of universal elementary education is not yet satisfactorily solved in this country, under the combined operation of public, denominational, incorporated, and private schools. In several States, the work is yet to be begun by imperative constitutional ordinance; in others by the adoption of an efficient school system; and in all, by securing a better attendance of children of the proper school age, the more permanent employment of qualified

, teachers, and the thorough inspection and fullest publicity of the

working of the system of public schools and other means of popular education.

2. Secondary Schools. Under the heading of secondary schools, the Commissioner desires to obtain information respecting that class of institutions generally known as Academies, Seminaries, and High Schools, in which the work of formal instruction is taken up at the point where it is left by the elementary school, and carried on with a double purpose, viz.: (1) a general educational discipline, with special attention to studies which are preparatory to the next highest grade of our American system, the College in some of its forms; or (2) the same discipline with special attention to certain studies, considered of practical importance to the ordinary business into which a large majority of the pupils of these institutions enter on graduation. Although, historically, the first established, and found in every State under some name, and of the highest importance in reference to the schools below and above them, there is less system (except in the Public High School) in the establishment, management, and instruction of institutions of this class than in any other. Left now to the proselyting zeal and rivalry of each denomination, or to the real or fancied wants of a few families, they are started in too near proximity, without endowments, and without a definite educational purpose; frequently in antagonism and to the injury of the public school, and without sufficient reference either to the schools above, or to the pursuits of the community. The whole subject of secondary education, its institutions, studies and methods, needs investigation and discussion; and to the material already gathered or which may be contributed, the Commissioner is prepared to show how the problems of organization, management, studies, teachers, and inspection are solved in other countries, where the subject has received more attention than either elementary or superior instruction.

3. Colleges, or Superior Schools. Under the head of Colleges, the Commissioner includes all institutions of a superior grade, which have been empowered by the State to confer the usual academic degrees of bachelor and master in the liberal arts or studies, and whose course of general mental discipline and instruction, though superior to the Secondary schools, does not include special professional teaching and training. The needs of society have called this class of institutions into existence in every country and in every age, but with us, their real or supposed connection with religious and local interests have multiplied them beyond any demand for higher scholarship, and it is feared, not only to the injury of each other, but to the great detriment of


the very highest culture, which is only possible under the concentration, in a few centres of a large extent of country, of a numerous body of learned and eloquent men, representing all the great departments of literature, science and art, aided by cabinets, libraries, laboratories, and other means of original and exhaustive investigation and demonstration. But whatever the facts may be, be is engaged in ascertaining their number in each State ; the circumstances of their origin, the conditions of admission, courses of study, equipment of libraries and material aids of instruction, their students, professorships, graduates, and endowments—what they profess and what they really accomplish—as well as their relation to the schools below, and to the professional and special schools of the country. To this knowledge of the condition of superior education in the different States, contributions will be made of information respecting similar institutions in other countries, which have done so much for the advancement of literature, science, and civilization generally. Although most of them are the growth of ages, under conditions quite different in many respects from ours, a knowledge of the constitution, endowments, curriculum, and lectures of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London, of Edinburgh and Dublin, of Germany, France and Holland, and of changes proposed and advocated in them, can not but aid the intelligent discussion of the whole subject of College and University education among ourselves.

4. Professional and Special Schools. The obvious needs of society have led to the establishment of various institutions for professional and special education, such as schools of theology, law, medicine, teaching; of agriculture, manufactures, engineering, mining, and the like ;-also for certain classes of persons whose instruction can not be as well provided for in a general system, such as the deaf, the blind, juvenile offenders, orphans, etc. All the statistics and facts going to show the number, condition, and efficiency of this class of schools, have been called for; and those which relate to schools for teachers, and colleges of agriculture and mechanic arts, have been collected, edited, and made ready for publication in such way as Congress may authorize.

5. Supplementary Schools and Agencies. Besides the formal instruction given by institutions for Elementary, Secondary, Collegiate, Professional, and Special Schools, there are other institutions and agencies which in the aggregate influence very largely the education of the national mind and character. These have been grouped under the head of Supplementary Educationsuch as Sunday schools, mission schools, and other special religious

« AnteriorContinuar »