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We shall devote the whole of the first number of this volume, (for 1864,) and a portion of each succeeding number, until we have finished the subject, to a condensed summary of the proceedings of the various Associations, which have been organized in this country on a National or State basis, to advance the cause of education generally, and particularly to give increased efficiency to thie profess-, ion of teaching. We begin with the NATIONAL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION, the latest formed, and which promises to enlist a large number of American teachers in a work which is peculiarly their own. The nature and objects of such an organization are admirably set forth in the Address prepared by Professor Russell, for the Convention in which the Association originated, and with which we shall introduce the subject-after devoting a few words to its author.
WILLIAM RUSSELL, the early, constant, and able advocate of the professional organization and action of teachers, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1798. Educated in the Latin School and University of his native city, and thoroughly imbued with the spirit and philosophical views of Prof. George Jardine, (author of Philosophical Education,”) he came to this country in 1817, and commenced his life-long work of teacher and educator, in Georgia. In every place and state where he has since lived, he has labored with pen, voice, and personal influence to bring teachers together for consultation and united action. By his "Suggestions on Education," published in New Haven, in 1823, while he was Principal of the New Township Academy, and the Hopkins Grammar School; by his “Manual of Mutual Instruction,” in 1826; by the “American Journal of Education," Boston, 1826–9, his advocacy of “Teachers' Associations," before a county convention of teachers at. Dorchester, (Mass.,) in 1830, and of "Infant and Primary Schools," in Boston, in the same year; by his “Journal of Instruction," in 1831, the organ of the Philadelphia Association of Teachers, which he projected during his connection with a School for Young Ladies' in Germantown, and afterward in Philadelphia; by his "Lectures on Normal Training," in his Normal School at Reed's Ferry, in New Hampshire, and at Lan.. caster, Mass., since published in Barnard's“ American Bournal of Edur cation ;" by his “ Address on the Education of Females," at Andover, Mass., in 1843; by his “Suggestions on Teachers' Institutes,” first issued 'in 1846, and his annual labors and instructions in those eminently professional schools for twenty years past; by his published lectures on “Duties of Teachers," in 1850, on the "Encouragements of Teachers," in 1853, and on the “Organization of Teachers as a Profession,” before the New Hampshire State Teachers' Association, in 1849, and the Massachusetts State Teachers' Association, in 1856, and the National Teachers' Convention, in 1857, Professor Russell has done noble service to the cause of American education, and earned the profound respect and gratitude of every American teacher. How touchingly does he allude to himself and his compeers, in the closing paragraph of his address at Philadelphia, in 1857.
* To lave dwelt so long on a single point, amid the many to be carried by the establishment of a national association of teachers, may be pardoned to one who, when he looks round such meetings as the present, in search of those with whom he may most intimately sympathize, finds them few and far between, and all among fellow laborers of forty years' service in the occupation. To himself and hiş “co-mates” any personal considerations of honor to be derived from the business of teaching becoming an acknowledged profession, can be but small inducement to move in this proposal. To him and to them the lease of active life is drawing to a close. But the sight of sa many young and earnest faces, on occasions like the present, with
all the bright associations which they suggest in reference to coming years, seems to make it worth while to put forth the hand with what energy is left it, toward the accomplishment of an object in which the prosperity of the future is so largely involved, for the capable and the faithful teachers who are now commencing their professional career.
I. NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF TEACHERS.
AN ADDRESS TO THE CONVENTION OF TEACHERS OF THE UNITED STATES, HELD IN PHILADELPHIA, AUGUST 27, 1857, FOR THE PURPOSE OF FORMING A
NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF THEIR PROFESSION.
BY WILLIAN RUSSELL,
[Editor of American Journal of Education, 1826-8.]
FELLOW TEACHERS :—We are met on a great occasion. For the first time in the history of our country, the teachers of youth have assembled as a distinct professional body, representing its peculiar relations to all parts of our great national Union of States. The event is a most auspicious one, as regards the intellectual and moral interests of the whole community of which, as citizens, we are members; and, to ourselves, professionally and individually, it opens a view of extended usefulness, in efficient action, such as never yet bas been disclosed to us.
We meet not as merely a company of friends and well wishers to education, one of the great common interests of humanity, in which we are happy to cooperate with philanthropic minds and hearts of every class and calling; but we have at length recognized our peculiar duty to come forward and take our own appropriate place as the immediate agents and appointed organs of whatever measures are best adapted to promote the highest interests of society, by the wider diffusion of whatever benefits are included in the whole range of human culture. In stepping forward to take the professional position now universally accorded to us, we do so in no exclusive or selfish spirit. We are, in fact, only complying with the virtual invitation given us, by all who feel an interest in the advancement of education, to assume, in regular form, the acknowledged responsibilities of our office, as guardians of the mental welfare of the youth of our country, responsible to the whole community for the fidelity and efficiency with which we discharge our trust. The liberal measures recently adopted in so many of our States for the establishment of permanent systems of public education; the generous recognition, now so general, of the value of the teacher's office and his daily labors; the warm reception offered to every form of teachers' associations—from those which represent whole States down to the local gatherings in our towns and villages—all intimate the universal readiness of society to welcome the formation of a yet more extensive professional union of teachers of one co-extensive with our national interests and relations.
We meet the invitation, not as a mere professional recognition, entitling us to withdraw from the ground which we have hitherto occupied, in common with the friends of education, whether of the learned professions or of other occupations, in the promotion of its interests, and, by an exclusive organization, to cut ourselves off from all communication beyond the limited sphere of a close corporation. It is in no such spirit that we would act. But we do feel that there is a duty devolving on us, as teachers, which we desire to fulfill. We feel that, as a professional body, we are distinctly called on to form a national organization, that we may be the better enabled to meet the continually enlarging demands of our vocation for higher personal attainments in the individual, and for more ample qualifications adequately to fill the daily widening sphere of professional action.
We wish, as teachers, to reap whatever benefits our medical brethren derive from their national association, in opportunities of communication for mutual aid and counsel. We desire to see annually a professional gathering, such as may fairly represent the instructors of every grade of schools and higher institutions, throughout the United States. We hope to see a numerous delegation, at such meetings, from every educating State in the Union, of the men who, in their respective State associations of teachers, are already responding to the manifest demand for distinct appropriate professional action, on the part of those on whom devolves the immediate practical business of instruction.
Teaching is, in our day, an occupation lacking neither honor nor emolument. Those who pursue this employment are in duty bound to recognize the position which is so liberally assigned them. The vocation is well entitled to all the aid and support which an acknowledged professional rank can confer upon it. The personal interest of every
individual who pursues the calling, or who means to adopt it, is concerned in every measure which tends to elevate its character or extend its usefulness. Every teacher who respects himself, and whose heart is in his work, will respond, we think, with alacrity to the call which the establishment of such an association as we propose
him for his best efforts in its aid. From the formation of a NatioNAL AssociaTION OF TEACHERS, we expect great NATIONAL BENEFITS :
1. As regards wider and juster views of education, and correspond ing methods of instruction,
In a progressive community like ours, amid the vast and rapid developments of science by which our times are characterized, and the universal craving for yet better modes of human culture, to imagine that we have already attained to perfection in our modes of education, would be absurd. The statistics of society proclaim the falsity of such an opinion. The daily records of our race tell too plainly the sad story of our deficiencies and our failures, in the prevalent feeble organizations of body, and the imperfect health, which we still owe to our culpable neglect of proper educational training, by which physical vigor and efficiency might be, in great measure, secured to every human being. The teacher, in our large cities, at least, daily finds himself compelled to limit his intellectual requirements to the condition of many minds incapable of sustaining lengthened or vigorous application, or of retaining the rudimental germs which it is his desire to implant. Of our acknowledged defective moral education, it is unnecessary to speak. Throughout our country, the parent is appealing to the teacher, and the teacher to the parent, for efficient efforts which may bring about a better state of things. Who will venture, in such circumstances, the assertion that we are already perfect ?
The whole ground of education needs a thorough survey and revision, with a view to much more extensive changes and reforms than have yet been attempted. The cry for more healthful, more invigorating, more inspiring, more effective modes of culture, comes np from all classes of society, on behalf of the young who are its treasured hope. A truer and deeper investigation is everywhere needed in regard to the constitution, the capabilities, and the wants of man, equally in his temporal and his eternal relations.
Adverting thus to the acknowledged need of a renovation in the form and character of education, we would not be understood as desiring the indiscriminate subversion of existing modes of culture, or of the institutions to which we have been so largely indebted for whatever degree of mental attainment has characterized the past, or benefits the present. It belongs to others than teachers to propose those rash and headlong changes, unsanctioned by true philosophy or stable theory, which have demolished without reconstructing, and whose toppling fabrics have served the sole purpose of forming the sepulchral monuments of " zeal without knowledge.”
No: one of the surest and best results of a great national association of teachers, will be the careful retention of all unquestionable good residuum gained by the sure filtration of experience; another will be the building up, to yet nobler heights of beneficial