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quently receive quite liberal salaries. Five have $4,000 each; one, $3,250; two, $3,000 ; five, $2,500; two, $2,400; three, $2,200; and forty others from $2,000 to $1,500. I am frequently invited to attend the graduating exercises of these schools, as well as those of lower grades, and it is pleasant to see the increasing favor with which so many of them are regarded by the more intelligent portion of the citizens. Their influence, when they are wisely and liberally supported, is incalculable. From them our Colleges receive their largest, and often their best, supplies. Not only do the High Schools in our large cities give a thorough preparation for College to all who desire it, but in some of the smaller towns similar advantages are enjoyed. I might name many such, but will select from my notes facts relating to one or two only of those visited by me during the year. From the High School of Woburn, a town having a population of less than nine thousand, twenty graduated last June, five of whom were going to College. Including these five, there were twenty-eight members of the school studying with reference to a collegiate education. Nine others who were fitted at this school were at that time in different Colleges. At the Fitchburg High School there were several last summer who were studying to enter the Sophomore class in College, and several others are now members of College from that same town.
Some of the High Schools in the vicinity of Boston do not send as many to College as they would if so many boys living in the neighboring towns were not permitted to attend the Boston Latin School without (until, perhaps, quite recently) being required to pay anything for their tuition there. At my last visit to this school, less than a year since, there were forty such boys belonging to it. It is very kind and liberal for Boston thus to throw open its schools for the gratuitous instruction of those who have no claim upon it, and for whom provision is, or would be, made elsewhere ; but the schools from which these boys are withdrawn, and from the proper maintenance of which the interest of their parents is also withdrawn, must, as they do, suffer very much in consequence.
There is one peculiarity in the management of the Woburn High School which, for several reasons, is worthy of special consideration. The “half-day system,” which has been in operation there for several years, requires the attendance of the pupil but one-half of each day, provided he has faithfully performed his duties. It is thought that this system has a good influence upon the character of the pupil, as it increases his self-reliance, and cultivates a feeling of responsibility ; upon his health, also, as during the time in which he is preparing his lessons he escapes the necessary restraint of the school-room and its vitiated atmosphere; and upon his mind, as undisturbed by the distracting influences that are unavoidable in a large school, he can accomplish much more in the same time, and with much more satisfaction. It is an economical arrangement, also. Says the Superintendent: “ The present High School-house was intended to accommodate ninety pupils. With this system it will accommodate just twice that number.” (One half attending in the morning, and the other half in the 'afternoon.) “ Hence it is to-day saving an expenditure of from twenty to thirty thousand dollars in the erection of a new High School building."
The results of this system are so entirely satisfactory to all parties interested, and its advantages so obvious, that I would commend it for adoption in those towns whose citizens are not prepared to incur the expense of erecting new High School buildings, or of enlarging existing ones, to accommodate the increasing number of pupils prepared to enter upon the High School course of study.
COMMON SCHOOL STUDIES. There is an opinion very prevalent among educators that while our schools are doing a great and noble work, they are not accomplishing all that might reasonably be expected of them, and in that opinion I am constrained to concur. In very many schools that I visit, I am pained to witness the attempt to memorize the endless and senseless details of geography and of history, the technicalities of grammar, at an age when they cannot be understood, and long examples in mental arithmetic, which with their complicated solutions must be given with closed book, and in precise, logical terms. If a portion of the time thus wasted, and worse than wasted, could be given to some studies that would really interest the children, develop their perceptive powers, accustom them to the correct use of language, and be of real practical value to them in after life, how much more satisfactory results would be exhibited at the close of the child's school life.
Carlyle has well expressed the feeling of regret which is very. generally entertained by those whose early education was similar in its deficiencies to his. “For many years," he says, “it has been one of my constant regrets that no school master of mine had a knowledge of natural history so far, at least, as to have taught me the grasses that grow by the wayside, and the little winged and wingless neighbors that are continually meeting me with a salutation I cannot answer, as things are. Why didn't somebody teach me the constellations, too, and make me at home in the starry heavens which are always overhead, and which I don't half know to this day ?” With teachers properly trained for their work, with better methods and a more systematic order of teaching, with a judicious elimination of all that is useless or of little real value from some of the studies now occupying an undue proportion of time, with a regular and progressive course of studies, pursued in a natural and logical order, and adapted to the successive ages of pupils, and with a proper economy of time, not only can all the present subjects of study in our schools be pursued with more satisfactory results than at present, but very much more can be accomplished within the same period of school life, and thus shall we better meet the reasonable demands of the day.
The subject is an interesting and important one, but the further discussion of it, in a brief report like this, cannot be pursued. The recent introduction of Hooker's admirable “ Child's Book of Nature” into the Grammar Schools of Boston, Cambridge, Worcester, and several other cities and towns, seems to me a step in the right direction towards a “consummation devoutly to be wished” in respect to an improved course of studies for our Common Schools, to which I must so briefly allude.
How to educate our children, and secure the best results with the greatest economy of time and expense, is the great problem of the day, and demands the best thoughts of all our educators. We are very far from having perfected our school system, which, with its many excellences, has also many obvious imperfections ; and while we should avoid the beautiful but impracticable theories of would be reformers, we should be ready to adopt and "engraft upon our system any and every suggestion that will tend to render it more perfect, let it come from what source it may. Above all, in imitation of our fathers, to whom we are indebted
for the inception and establishment of this noble system, we should, in all our efforts to improve it, humbly and constantly seek for that divine guidance and wisdom without which all human endeavors must prove ineffectual.
ABNER J. PHIPPS,
Boston, January, 1872.