ePub 版

preparing to work at the carpenter's bench and the machinist's lathe facilities for study corresponding in some degree to the courses in book-keeping and the modern languages, and in the classics and mathematics, by which their fellows are now trained for the counting-room and the college. The welfare of the State is as dependent on the working men as upon professional men. The skilled mechanic fills no less a place than the educated merchant. Nor can taxation for the training of the one class be supported upon any principles that will not apply to both. The limits of this report will not allow us to touch upon the many advantages to be derived from the system thus inaugurated by our legislature; but we fully believe with one of the earliest of its advocates that “whatever brings manual skill again into repute, and counteracts the growing disposition to discredit every means of livelihood that does not consist in brain-work' merely, is a positive gain to our civilization.”


Training School.-Less than one year has elapsed since the organization of the Training School; so that, had it been in any true sense an experiment, it would now be too soon to speak of results with any degree of positiveness. Still I desire to express, most unequivocally, the opinion that a full acquaintance with the actual work of the school thus far, and a comprehension of the fundamental ideas governing it, would remove the doubts that any one may have entertained at the outset regarding the expediency of establishing such a school in this


Certainly the success of the school up to the present time has been more marked than we had any right to expect. The teachers have proved themselves most admirably qualified for their work, and have given efficiency to every department of the school. Fears have sometimes been expressed lest the children in this school should suffer on account of the multiplicity of instructors. Experience, which is always so much better than mere theory, has already proved such fears to be groundless. The Primary classes are in every respect in most excellent condition, and are doing thorough and successful work. The testimony of many of the best teachers of other Primary Schools confirms my own opinion that at least some of the classes of the Primary department of the Training School are already furnishing examples of such excellence in Primary-School instruction as to make this school, as was intended, a model Primary School.

· The Training School is doing just the work that was expected from it. Of the young ladies who have thus far been members of the school, some have been convinced, as they could have been in no other way, that they had not the requisite qualities for the teacher's vocation, and hence have ceased to be applicants for positions in our schools; while others have shown an aptness to teach, and have been preparing themselves for the special work for which they have proved themselves fitted.

I find that thirteen who have been members of the Training School now have permanent positions in the city; and that three, also residents of Cambridge, who were members of the last class in the Boston Training School, have received appointments,—making in all, sixteen recently elected who had received the benefits of special training. Some of these young ladies are occupying most difficult positions; but so far as I am aware, the success of all is bighly satisfactory.

I believe most sincerely that the Training School will commend itself to the judgment and sympathies of all who make themselves acquainted with the work it is doing and the place it occupies in our school system.

Evening Schools.—The small expense involved in carrying on these schools is of little consequence, when compared with the advantages resulting to the community from the diffusion of intelligence among the ignorant, who are here, as elsewhere, a source of such great weakness socially and politically. Doubtless the statutes of the Commonwealth will soon recognize Evening Schools as a part of the school system of the State; but I cannot forbear expressing the opinion that legislation will not then be complete until the law lays its hand more firmly upon the children of the citizens, and declares that the welfare and safety of the State demand that they shall be educated. We must have in this country a system of compulsory education,-one that shall be such in reality as well as in name. Ignoring this as the correct principle, we have seen, within the last thirty years, many wiser nations leaving us far behind. By practically allowing each parent to educate his child or not, as he chooses, we are seeing ignorance increase in all parts of the country with a rapidity that may well alarm us. Notice a few facts furnished in the recent report of the commissioner of education. In 1840 there were in the United States 549,850 white persons over twenty years of age unable to read and write. In 1850 this number had increased to 962,898; and in 1860 it had become 1,126,575. Adding to this last number 1,745,536 adult colored persons also illiterate, and we have the alarning aggregate of 2,872,111, or nearly three millions wholly unable to read and write. From facts given in this report, it seems evident that the returns for 1870 will show that this evil is still increasing with startling rapidity. What are the facts relating to this State,-a State which boasts so much of its system of Common Schools? In 1840 the number of white persons unable to read and write was 4,448. In 1850 it had become 27,539; and in 1860 it had reached the large number of 46,262. Doubtless the number is now very much larger, and is increasing so rapidly in proportion to the increase of population as to show a much larger per cent. of illiterate persons than at any previous time.

I mention these facts because they seem to me important, and because I believe we are all called upon to use whatever influence we have in securing legislation sufficiently stringent to teach parents that the State has rights which they are bound to respect.

Vocal Music.—Some important changes have recently been made in the department of music in the Primary Schools. Until within a few months, the singing-master was expected to visit the different classes once each week, and personally to give the entire instruction required by the regulations. With the rapid increase in the number of school-rooms, it was found impossible for such a system to continue. In October last, Mr. Lincoln, instructor in this department, addressed a letter to the committee on music, setting forth the difficulties under which he was laboring, and suggesting as a remedy, a plan which was afterwards adopted by your board. This plan is best described in the letter to which I have alluded, and from which I venture to quote a few paragraphs.

“The musical instruction is to be given by the regular teachers, each in her own room; and this to be under the superintendence of the singing master. This is the system which has been followed for 'several years in the Boston schools; is going into operation this very month in Philadelphia; has been adopted in the Salem schools for the last year; and is the system which will prevail, I think, wherever music is taught in Primary Schools. I have already taken steps in that direction. With the consent of the music committee of 1868, I requested the teachers in the Primary Schools to allow the children to study, during the week, certain exercises which I left on the board. It was entirely voluntary on their part, and I was delighted to see what progress was made. To be sure some teachers did little or nothing; but very many of them never failed to show me their classes, from week to week, perfect in the task assigned. I found—what I had been prepared for by observation among the Boston schools—that those of the teachers whose classes showed most progress in m department were not, by any means, proficient in music; some did not even sing at all. If you ask me then how they managed, I answer, by their wits,—by their native tact or acquired skill as teachers. I venture to say that there are from thirty to thirty-five of our teachers who are able to-day to give the musical instruction to their own classes in a very respectable manner. Indeed there will be found, in every building, from one to five who can do this.”

The plan, then, briefly stated, is for the regular teacher, under the direction of the singing-master, to give instruction in music as in other branches. It is now too soon to speak of results; and I can only say that, so far as I am aware, the teachers are earnestly endeavoring to make the plan a success.

As there are doubtless some who still believe that none but those who are skilled in music can teach successfully, I desire to quote from the Boston school report a paragraph relating to the instruction in music in the lower grades of the Grammar department:

“According to the report of Mr. Holt, only seven out of the two hundred and fifty-one teachers who have come under his observation have proved themselves unable to do their work satisfactorily. Of these seven,' says Mr. Holt, “three exchange work with other teachers at the time of the music-lesson; one employs a teacher from outside to aid her in this part of her work, who is present at the time of my visit to receive my instructions; while in three rooms the work is imperfectly done. I find that teachers who are regarded as superior in other branches obtain the best results in music. And many of my best teachers are among those who had no idea that they could do anything in music when we commenced.”

Such statements ought to give us courage as we enter upon a new system of instruction in this important branch of study. Believing as I do that the measure of success in this, as in other departments of the school-work, is largely dependent upon the tact, the perseverance, and the fidelity of the teacher, I certainly cannot doubt that the results hereafter will be highly satisfactory.

Drawing.The progress in drawing during the year has been as satisfactory as could reasonably be expected. The full results of the system will not become evident until the pupils of the lowest grades shall have advanced by successive steps through the entire course, and shall thus have shown the degree of proficiency which can be attained by accomplishing the entire work prescribed by the regulations.

I submit, as a matter worthy of consideration, whether it is not now expedient to appoint a teacher whose duty shall be to take charge of the drawing in the various schools of the city. If the right person can be secured to superintend the work in this department, no one can doubt that the results will be much more satisfactory than can be possible under the present system. I do not suggest that the regular teachers be relieved from the instruction of their classes; but I believe that in order to give unity and efficiency to the teaching in this subject, a special instructor is not less needed than in the department of music.

We have complied with the requirements of the law passed by the legislature of 1870, making it the duty of every city and town having more than ten thousand inhabitants to give free instruction in industrial or mechanical drawing.

An Evening School, organized in the month of November to meet this requirement, has been from the first highly successful.

All the important facts relating to this school are before you in the annual report, and need not be repeated here.

Without attempting to discuss the wisdom of engrafting upon our school system this new feature prescribed by the law to which I have alluded, I can only say that it seems to me to be a step in the right direction. We can, even in Massachusetts, learn two things from the study of the Common-School systems of the more advanced nations of Europe. One is the necessity of a system of compulsory education, and the imminent danger to the State from any system which comes short of this; the other is the importance of technical or industrial schools.

These two features united have done so much to prepare Prussia for those marvellous achievements which have recently astonished the civilized world, that one of the greatest of English statesmen has declared that “the victory of Germany over France is the victory of the Common-School system of Prussia over the ignorance of the French Empire.”

“There are in Prussia 361 schools devoted to architecture, mining, agriculture, forestry, navigation, commerce, and other technical studies, general and special. Besides schools for weaving and the textile manufactures, there are 265 industrial schools whose studies and hours are directly arranged for the use of mechanics. The provincial and municipal improvement schools, and those for foreman, workman and apprentice, all are fitted with models, tools and laboratories. There are also many drawing schools, in which the classes are arranged to suit various trades necding such instruction. In the weaving schools the pupils receive practical instruction, and also study chemistry as applied to the textile arts,” &c.

But Prussia, far from being alone in the matter of industrial education, is even surpassed by some of the neighboring nations. Würtemburg, said to possess the best educated population in Europe,

« 上一頁繼續 »