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*700,000; estimating one-half of this number as females, and making a still farther deduction of 100,000, or one-seventh of the whole, for removal from the state, death, or inability'"from any other cause, to discharge the duties appertaining to the citizen—and we have remaining 250,000; -who, upon a reasonable estimate will, within a less period than fifteen years, emerge from our common schools invested with all the functions of popular sovereignty; a number exceeding by upwards of 12,000 that which has recently given to the Union a Chief Magistrate.
"On the flourishing condition of our schools repose the hopes of the present and the destinies of the future. Without a sound, moral and intellectual education, the functions of self government can neither be duly appreciated nor successfully maintained, The constitution of several of the South American Republics appeared theoretically to secure human liberty. But paper provisions are powerless unless they are also impressed on the hearts, and combined with the intelligence of the people. "Without an accurate knowlede of their rights and duties, and a determination to maintain them, no community can long be free; and the melancholy truth that the South American Republics have fallen into revolutionary decrepitude, and degenerated into military despotisms, affords to us an impressive admonition. Indeed without going beyond our own borders, premonitious of an anti-social spirit—of insubordination to the law—of combining to perpetrate violence, riot, incendiarism and murder—are sufficiently alarmmg in their rapid increase during the last few years. If the same spirit pervaded the majority of the community, the existing government would be at an end; and as human society cannot exist without a superintending power of protection, the aid of some more energetic and despotic form of government would necessarily be invoked to administer justice, to maintain order, and to shield the poor from the exactions of the rich,—the weak from the aggressions of the strong.
"Tne".great extent of the American Republic—its rapidly increasing population—the diversity of habits, pursuits, productions, and interests, some of which are regarded as hostile to others—render necessary at all times, the cultivation of a liberal spirit of forbearance and conciliation. Without the diffusion of education, such a spirit, in sufficient strength to maintain harmony, cannot exist. It may be safely affirmed, that there is now no people of equal numbers on the face of the earth, who, if placed under such institutions as ours, would maintain the government for a single year. And unless moral and intellectual culture, shall at least keep pace with the increase of numbers, this republic will assuredly fall. On the careful cultivation in our schools, of the minds of the young, the entire successor the absolute failure of the great experiment of self government is wholly dependent; and unless that cultivation is increased, and made more effective than it has yet been, the conviction is solemnly impressed by the signs of the times, that the American Union, now the asylum of the oppressed and "the home of the free," will ere long share the melancholy fate of every former attempt of self government. That Union is and must be sustained by the moral and intellectual powers of the community, and every other power is wholly ineffectual. Physical force may generate hatred, fear and repulsion; but can never produce Union. The only salvation for the republic is to be sought for in our schools. It is here that the seeds of liberty are sown, and made to germinate and grow, and produce rich fruit in abundance. Every improvement that can be given to these primary institutions, affords an additional guaranty for the permanent maintenance of rational freedom.
"The duration of the life of man should be estimated, not by the years of his physical existence, which would degrade him to the level of the brute—but by the period of the expansion and enjoyment of his moral and intellectual faculties. Thence it has been affirmed with philosophic truth, that "he who shortens the road to human knowledge lengthens life." The cradle and the grave are in such close proximity, even when the interval ie ttiost extended, that human existence may be regarded as nearly a "blank, Tinless the early portion of the brief space by which they are separated is geduously devoted to the developement of the mind. The undying part of our nature has been impressed by its creator with an unconquerable desire for knowledge, not that limited acquaintance with the external forms of things which is bestowed upon the animals by instinct—but a knowledge vastly more minute and exclusive, which embraces within its scope, all the properties and laws, both of mind and matter. The earth itself with all its appendages, is much too small a theatre, to satiate the inquisitiveness, even of children; and if human power were commensurate with human aspirations, the daring ken of man would be thrown through the abyss of Heaven, to the ultima thule of the works of God—to the farthest verge in fathomless space, in which the energies of creative power have yet been consummated—to regions where the embryon nebulae of unformed worlds are in the transition or the quiescent state, obedient to the primeval fiat of the Almighty."
The introduction of Teachers' Institutes as an elementary portion of the system of Public Instruction, which was effected at about this period, constitutes an important feature in the progress of improvement, with reference to the practical qualification of teachers of common schools. The subject was first brought to the attention of the friends of education, by:a, series of resolutions submitted to the Tompkins County Teachers'Association, in October 1842, by J. S. Denman, the County Superintendent of Tompkins, setting forth the necessity of united and efficient action on the part of teachers'to elevate their profession and the standard of common school education generally, and recommending the establishment, in that County of a Teachers' Institute, where all the teachers might meet semi-annually in the spring and fall, preparatory to the commencement of the respective summer and winter terms: and spend from two to four weeks, in receiving instruction from efficient instructors, in listening to lectures from scientific men, and in the discussion of plans for the improvement of schools. The first Teachers' Institute was opened at Ithaca, on the 4th day of April 1843, under the management and direction of Mr. Denman, who had engaged the services of Salem Town Esq., the Rev. David Powell and Prof. James Thompson, of Auburn, as instructors and lecturers. Twenty eight teachers were in attendance, and instruction was given daily for a term of two weeks in the best mode of Governing and teaching common schools, including a critical analysis and review of the various elementary branches; and sundry advanced branches not heretofore in use in the Schools generally. During the Autumn of the same year, several similar institutions were opened in different sections of the State; and in the succeeding year their operations were greatly enlarged and extended. In his annual report for 1845 the State Superintendent thus alludes to them:
"In no less than seventeen of the largest counties, Teachers' Institutes have been established during the past two years, in which upwards of one thousand teachers have been instructed during periods varying from two to six or eight weeks, immediately preceding the commencement of their respective terms of instruction, by the most competent and experienced educators whose services could be procured, in conjunction with the county Superintendent. These associations are wholly voluntary, and the expenses, including board, tuition, and the use of convenient rooms, apparatus, $c., have hitherto been defrayed exclusively by the teachers. The course of instruction consists generally of a critical and thorough review of all the elementary branches required to be taught in the common schools, full expositions and illustrations of the most approved methods of communicating knowledge to the young, and of the proper government and discipline of schools, and a mutual interchange of views and opinions among the teachers, instructors and Superintendent. Among the numerous improvements which the experience of past imperfections has introduced into the practical operation of our common schools, there is none which combines so much utility and value as these local and temporary institutions; and in the judgment of the Superintendent they are highly deserving of legislative aid. A concise exposition of their general features, the mode of instruction adopted, and its effects not only upon the teachers, but upon the whole character of the schools under their charge, and upon the public sentiment generally, has, it is understood, been prepared by Mr. Salem Town, of Cayuga, a veteran teacher, who has himself most ably and efficiently contributed to the establishment and success of this species of instruction."
In reviewing the administration of the common school system, by Col. Young, it is impossible not to perceive the vast impulse which was given to all its varied operations by the efficiency, energy and public spirit of that distinguished statesman. Bringing to the discharge of the peculiar duties of the office of Superintendent no previous experience, and strong prejudices against some of the most cherished features of the system of public instruction, he not only speedily rendered himself familiar with all its details, but divesting himself of all these unfavorable pre-conceptions which had obtained possession of his mind, dispassionately surveyed the entire bearings of the whole system, and having convinced himself of its value and utility, devoted his best energies and all his powerful influence to its advancement and improvement. The plan of county and town supervision, the Normal school and Teachers' Institutes, and District Libraries, were cherished and strengthened by his exertions; and the impress of his vigorous mind and strong understanding will long remain upon the common school system of our Slate.
Upon his retirement from the office of Secretary of state, Col. Young received from the Regents of the University, the appointment of member of the Executive Committee of the Normal School, in the place of Dr. Potter, who had been elected Bishop of the diocese of Pennsylvania and had removed to that State. Harmanus Bleeker, Esq., of the city of Albany was also appointed a member of the Executive Committee to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Francis Dwight, Esq., which took place on the 18th of December, 1845.
The removal from the State of Dr. Potter, and the death of Mr. Dwight in the fulness of his faculties and the apparent meridian of his usefulness, were deeply and extensively felt by the friends of common school education. In all the measures which had been canvassed and adopted for the improvement and elevation of our systems of public instruction, both these gentlemen had borne a conspicious and an efficient part; and to their constant and uniform co-operation with the legislature and the executive authorities of the state charged with the general supervision of these great interests, the success of those measures is to a very considerable extent due. As the conductor of the District School Journal, as County Superintendent and member of the Board of Education of the city of Albany, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the State Normal School, Mr. Dwight essentially contributed to the advancement of popular education, and to the general diffusion of sound principles of elementary instruction throughout the state.
Administration of Nathaniel S. Benton—Failure of the effort to ingraft the Free School System on the Constitution—Abolition of the office of County Superintendent
On the 3d day of February, 1845, the Hon. Nathaniel S. Benton, of Her" kimer, was appointed by joint ballot of both Houses of the Legislature, See" retary of State and Superintendent of Common Schools: and entered upon the discharge of his duties on the 6th of the same month.
From his first annual report, bearing date on the 15th of January, 1846, it appeared that the whole number of school districts in the state, on the first day of July preceding, was 11,018; the number of children between the ages of five and sixteen, residing in the state, on the first day of January, 1845, 690,914; the whole number of children of all ages, taught in the common schools during the year 1844, '736,045; the amount of public money applied to the payment of teachers' wages, $629,856.94; the amount raised on rate-bills, $458,127.78, making an aggregate of $1,088,084.72, and the amount of public money applied to library purposes and school apparatus, $95,159.25. The number of volumes in the several district libraries was 1,145,250, being an increase, during the year reported, of 106,854 volumes.
In reference to the fund applicable to the support of district libraries, the Superintendent observes:
"It is not proposed to take from the inhabitants of the school districts the power of controlling the direction that shall be given to that part of the fund denominated library money ; but leave them to make such application thereof, either to the purchase of books, or the apparatus before named, or apply the whole or a part of it to the payment of teachers; subject, however, to the approval of the department. After the districts have been supplied with a given number of books, in proportion to the children in them, and after the appropriate school apparatus and maps shall have been obtained, it is believed that in many instances, it would prove highly salutary, to authorize the inhabitants of such districts to apply this money to the payment of teachers' wages generally, or of the rate-bills of exempted scholars. To ensure a faithful compliance with the conditions required, it may be necessary in all cases, to vest in the department a supervision over this expenditure. This will incite an interest in the district and its officers, where it is desired to make this application to preserve their libraries, maps, globes, black-boards and other apparatus, with the best possible care."
On the subject of teachers' institutes, the Superintendent says:
"Teachers' Institutes" and "teachers' drills" have been held during the the last year, in nearly thirty counties in the state, and were attended by more than three thousand school teachers, for periods varying from two to to four and eight weeks of continued session. These voluntary associations are rapidly spreading over our entire state, and are destined soon, to occupy much of the public attention. An ardent desire for improvement is seated in the minds of professional teachers; "the school-master is abroad," in search of that educational knowledge which will qualify him to discharge the important duties of his profession, and elevate him and his vocation in public esteem. The Principal of the State Normal School, and the Professor of Mathematics, attended a number of these county " Institutes" during the last autumn, and several of its graduates were called upon to preside over their proceedings and conduct the courses of instruction pursued in them. The pertinent and instructive lectures of the former, and the eminently successful efforts of the latter, have been duly appreciated by the members of the institutes where these services were performed, and that appreciation has been manifested in the most decided terms of approval.— It may not be out of place to remark here, that the expense of the "associations" are paid by the teachers themselves, which is somewhat burthensome to those who are females, and to others possessing limited means of support. In answer to a suggestion that some pecuniary aid and e;;cairagernent should be granted to the members attending these "institutes " by the legislature, it has been remarked that these teachers are only fitting themselves to pursue a profession for mere private gain or personal advantage, and why should this particular class more than any other, be selected as the recipients of legislative bounty and favor? But does this objection present a full and fair statement of all the facts bearing upon this subject? Our laws require that a school shall be taught in a district, at least four months in the year by a licensed teacher, to entitle such district to a participation in the public moneys devoted to the maintenance of the schools ; recognizing no act of this kind as legal, where the instructor does not possess in for.n, the evidence of full qualification; and hence it becomes a matter of the highest import to the state, and every member of the community, that these qualifications should, "in respect to moral character, learning and ability" and aptness to teach, be possessed by every instructor of youth.— The general enquiry is more as to the amount of the teacher's wages than in regard to fitness; and competition serves rather to cheapen the rewards of this employment, than to encourage an emulation to excel among the teachers. Whether these considerations should justify any pecuniary relief, and to what extent, must depend upon the view taken of the magnitude of the inconveniences to be overcome or removed, andthe extent to which the welfare of the state may be involved by permitting their continuance."
The progress of the Normal School, during the preceding year was eminently gratifying and satisfactory. At the close of the second term thirty four of the pupils received their diplomas as teachers. During its third term, commencing on the 15th of October 1845, the number of its pupils had increased to nearly two hundred, embracing a representation from fifty eight of the fifty-nine Counties The board of instruction was increased and strengthened by the appointment of Darwin G. Eaton, as teacher of Mathematics, in conjunction with Prof. Perkins, Sumner C. "webb, as Teacher of Arithmetic and Geography, Silas T. Bowen, of Grammar, William W. Clark, of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry, William F. Phelps, as Permanent Teacher of the Model or Experimental School, and Miss Elizabeth 0. Hanoe, as Teacher of Reading and History.
"The end proposed in the establishment of the Normal School" observe the Executive Committee in the Annual report for the present year "was to educate teachers for our common schools; to send forth those to take charge of the susceptible minds of the children of this commonwealth, who, together with high moral principles, should possess the requisite knowledge of the branches to be taught, and withal be "apt to teach." The school was designed to educate the moral qualities of the instructor—to impress him with the solemn responsibilities of his work—so that he might feel the blessedness of being patient, longsuffering and unwearied in his efforts for the good of his pupils. It was intended to teach its students, and by their precept and example to impress all who aspired to the honor of instructing, that the work of teaching was so important that no labor of preparation could be too great, since the good that could be accomplished was vast, beyond the powers of human conception. Hence a stimulus was to be imparted to the teacher, which should never be spent, but be continually operative, urging him to the acquisition of higher attainments in virtue, knowledge and aptness to teach. This, it is conceived, was the philanthropic end which the legislature of 1844 had in view, when they established the Normal School."
On the first day of June of this year, a Convention of Delegates from the several Counties of the State met at Albany for the revision of the Constitution. On the 5th Mr. Bowdish, of Montgomery, moved for the appointment of a committee to inquire into the expediency of the establishment of a system of Free Schools for the State. On the 12th, a standing committee, consisting of Mr. Nicoll of New-York, as chairman, Messrs. Munro, of Onondaga; Bowdish, of Montgomery; A. W. Young, of Wyoming; Tuthill, of Orange; Willard, of Albany; and Hunt of New-York, was appointed by the President, (the Hon Joh* Tracy, of Chenango,) on the subject of education, common schools and their appropriate funds. On the 15th Mr. R. CampBell, of Otsego offered a resolution of inquiry as to the propriety of a "constitutional provision for the security of the common school, literature deposit and other trust funds, from conversion or destruction by the legislature, and the establishment of such a system of common schools as will, by taxation, bestow the facility of acquiring a good education on every child in the State," which was adopted by the Convention, and referred to the Committee. On the 18th, the President presented to the Convention a communication from S. S. Randall, President of the State Convention of County Superintendents of common schools, held at Albany, in April preceding, transmitting a preamble and resolutions in favor of the Free School System.
On the 22d of July, Mi*. Niooll, from the committee, reported for the consideration of the Convention, a series of propositions designed to be incorporated as a part of the new constitution, declaring the proceeds of all lands