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DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRIAL EDUCATION,
DEPARTMENT OF SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENCE.
First Day's Proceedings.
The Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the National Educational Association met in Liederkranz Hall, in Louisville, Ky., at 10 o'clock, A. M., Tuesday, August 14th, 1877.
President M. A. NEWELL called the Association to order and prayer was offered by the Rev. J. L. BURROWS. The Association was then welcomed by Mayor Cras. D. Jacob in the following
It is narrated of one of the Governors of Kentucky that when a gathering of teachers similar to this was about to be convened in Frankfort, and he was requested to deliver the address of welcome, he promptly and pointedly declined, saying that "he had needs to be taught and not attempt to teach."
Those were sensible and natural words, and yet, ladies and gentlemen, for the very reason that I and so many millions of others “need to be taught,” am I here to hail with delight the advent to our city of a band who “attend unto wisdom and bow their ears to understanding;" for never before, in her hundred years of existence, has our country had more need of wisdom and moderation.
The demonetization of silver, the labor question, the amendment of the bankrupt law, and the repeal of the resumption act are most momentous subjects, and yet after all the chief requisite is the understanding to appreciate and the knowledge properly to legislate upon them.
Knowledge is power, enlightenment, progress. Ignorance is desolation, heart-burnings, anarchy.
The life of the teacher is one ceaseless roll of trials and tribulations, with nothing but the affection and advancement of his conscientious pupils to reward him. Underpaid and his labors misunderstood, he is frequently subject to the whims and caprices of men of mental capacity inferior to his own, but who being “in authority” harrass him with their petty tyranny. In short,
" From place to place,
No change but of home-nature and grace,
A man of many thoughts, a man of many woes."
But if during life he has sorrows and afflictions, oh, how glorious is the end of the faithful teacher, who, looking death calmly in the face and reviewing his past career, thanks his God without any taint of Pharisaism, that his life has been devoted alone to the development of all that is pure and holy in his fellow-being-
But virtue to pursue and knowledge high.”
The following Assistant Secretaries were appointed : First Assistant Secretary, L. S, THOMPSON, of Ohio; Second Assistant Secretary, T. MARCELLUS MARSHALL, of W. Va.; Railway Secretary, S. T. Lowry, of Ky.; also, A. ARMSTRONG, of Iowa, and WALTER KENNEDY, of Ky., as Assistant Treasurers.
The President of the Association, Hon. M. A. NEWELL, Superintendent of Public Instruction of Maryland, then read the following Inaugural Address:
THE PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS. That free institutions, resting on the basis of universal suffrage, cannot be perpetuated unless universal suffrage is accompanied and stimulated by universal intelligence, is a truism which I should not be justified in repeating before this audience, were it not that the events of the last few weeks have converted a dormant truism into a pregnant truth. “Had the public schools done their whole duty," said an intelligent fellow-citizen in my hearing, one morning after a night of riot,“ had the public schools done their whole duty, such an outbreak could not have occurred; even the most ignorant should have known that grievances real or imaginary, in a free country, cannot be redressed by lawlessness and outrage; and that even if temporary relief could be obtained by such means, the remedy would be worse than the disease.” “And,” replied another intelligent citizen, "had it not been for the public schools, the results of the strike would have been still more disastrous. The battle of the pigmies would have been the battle of the giants. It was the good sense of an immense majority of working people, created, fostered, and developed by public education, that saved us from the terrors of the French Commune."
The second speaker was doubtless right. Had educated intelligence been less widely diffused than it is, had all, or a great part of the labor of the country, taken up arms against capital, there would have been a revolution to which history offers no parallel. But was not the first speaker right, too, to a certain extent. Would such an outbreak have been possible if the working-men engaged in it had been men accustomed and trained to think as well as to toil? And if the public school of to-day has any special function, as distinguished from systems or modes of education which have pre
ceded it, is it not to add thought, intelligence, to labor? Have we entirely ✓ succeeded in effecting this union ? Let the last weeks of July answer.
Can we recognize in the wild outbursts of the mob that howled around the lurid fires whose smoke eclipsed for a moment the sun of American civilization, any higher intelligence than in the South-Sea Islander, who beats his fetish because it will not answer his prayers ?
The first gust is over. It was but a summer flaw. The ship was caught
unprepared and lost a spar or two. The damage will soon be repaired, and the "goodly vessel ” will be even stronger than before. But we are still within the storm-belt; the forces that produced the conflict of the elements are still in operation; we may expect another, longer, and fiercer tempest,- cyclone, it may be, -how are we prepared to meet it? ·
“O navis referunt in mare te novi
Fluctus." Let it not be said of us, as of the Assyrians by the prophet, “Thy tacklings are loosed ; they could not well strengthen their mast; they could not spread the sail; then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.” The commission given to the Roman Dictator, “See to it that the commonwealth receives no injury," is now the order of the day to every American citizen, in his own place and sphere of action. To us as educators, comes with especial force the order, “See to it, that so far as your office is concerned, the republic receives no injury.” But is our office at all concerned with such things? These rioters, were they not foreigners, for whom our schools are in no way responsible ? Fellow-teachers,
" For love of grace
Infects unseen.". Foreigners there were in plenty, no doubt, among those misguided people ; but many, nay most of them, were sons of the soil, for whose habits and modes of thought, so far as those habits and modes can be effected by education, we are directly responsible.
The question before us, at this crisis, is, are our public schools doing all that we have a right to demand of them, to prepare the young people who have to live by the labor of their hands, to become intelligent, moral, and industrious citizens?
I have purposely narrowed the inquiry to those who labor with their hands, both because they form so large a majority of the number to be educated, and because those who are not destined to manual labor have always been able, when they desired it, to procure education outside of a public-school system. There is a latent fallacy, in the arguments of many, with regard to the connexion between education and labor, which it may be worth while to expose at the outset. It is popularly believed, though no one makes the assertion in so many words, that education and labor are, to a certain extent, incompatible, or rather that they bear to each other an inverse ratio. When one should be highest, the other should be lowest. For those who do the hardest kind of work, the lowest amount of learning suffices; indeed an eminent pulpit orator of a neighboring State holds that no education is the best for such laborers. On the other hand, persons whose intellect and taste have been cultivated to the highest possible point, are popularly supposed to be incapacitated for any useful employment. Accordingly, when primary schools were first established on a large scale, it was commonly believed that diligent and successful pupils would be able to live without working, and in the old spelling-book thumbed in my boyish days may be read an exhortation to diligent study, closing with the remarkable assertion which the boys regarded as a historical fact,
“For learning was the only thing
That made poor Pepin's son a king." In opposition to this popular undercurrent of thought it becomes us to set forth the doctrine that public education is but the liandmaid of labor, that education, so far from superseding labor, seeks only to render it more effective, that so far from there being any incompatibility between them, the best workman is the man who has had the best education. In answer then to the question propounded, I would say,
The school system, as it operates at present, does not go down low enough. It does not stoop to take in the very classes that need it most. In its aspirations after high respectability, it is apt to look coldly on the wounded Samaritan and pass him by on the other side. Well-clad boys and girls, who can give six hours a day to the public school, and an hour or two after school hours to the preparation of lessons, are welcomed with open arms, and furnished with such opportunities of improvement as money could not have purchased half a century ago. But what kind of reception is accorded to the fatherless urchin, whose mother keeps him at home two days out of the five and three hours out of the six, to assist in the necessary work of the family? What provision is made for those who must either attend irregularly or not at all ? For those who have to work half the day, blacking boots or selling newspapers, but could be induced to go to school the other half? For those whose parents have no wish to send them to school, and for those who refuse to go when their parents send them? Finally, what do we do for those whose parents live by secret crime, and who are therefore growing up in outlawry—the Ishmaelites of our street deserts whose hand is against every man and every man's hand against them? There is growing up in all our cities, towns, villages, and even in some country districts, a class of young people who must live either by honest labor or by crime, and they are not taught to labor; what does the public school do for them ?
It will be said, perhaps, we need a compulsory law to supplement the common-school system. Would that I could believe that a disease so wide-spread and deep-seated could be removed by the application of a patent porous plaster. When an act of Parliament can make a silver dollar equal in value to a gold one, irrespective of the laws of supply and demand, when the multiplication of legal-tenders makes genuine money plenty, when legislatures can com pel railroads to run at a loss, or to run without loss, at whatever rates they may prescribe, when legislation can provide good work, at good wages, for every laborer, regardless of the laws of capital and production, when men can be made temperate by a prohibitory liquor law, or pious by a compulsory church law, when, in fine, water can be made to run up-hill by act of Congress, then, and not till, then, will I believe that the Arabs of the street and the neglected sons of poverty and crime can be reclaimed by a law requiring their attendance at school. · Not only does the public school not penetrate deep enough to reach the lowest strata of society, but its lessons are not sufficiently broad and practical to meet the wants of the majority of those whom it does reach. Could we only be certain that all who enter the primary school would